Comparative Analysis of Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism


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For many, religion plays a critical role in answering some of life’s most daunting and complex questions. There are those who turn to religion in their quest to understand the fate of man after death. For others, religion helps to define how they should relate with fellow man. While nearly all major belief systems and religions shed light on a wide range of issues, it is necessary to focus on just a few so as to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of religion. Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism are among the belief systems which require special focus. The relationship between humans and the environment is among the issues that the three belief systems address.

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One of the key tenets of Buddhism is that all things in nature are interconnected. This can be taken to mean that Buddhism challenges man to conserve the environment since the sustainability of the human race is tied to the health of the environment. Daoism and Confucianism are not silent on how humans should relate to the environment. On its part, Daoism holds that humans should strive to maintain harmony with nature since all elements in the cosmos are interconnected. Confucianism also shares this position. It calls on humans to abandon materialistic desires and instead focus on acquiring insight and living virtuously. Overall, the three belief systems are in agreement regarding the need for man to protect the environment.

Human to human relations are yet another issue that the three belief systems address. Love, benevolence, humaneness and human-heartedness are among the key pillars of Confucianism. These virtues indicate that Confucianism requires that humans should love one another and demonstrate benevolence and kindness. Compassionate giving is among the basic principles of Daoism. The followers of this belief system are urged to be selfless and to help those who are poor and vulnerable. Daoism regards the human race as a single community where each individual has a duty to safeguard the wellbeing of others. On human relations, Confucianism placed emphasis on justice in human societies. This belief system held that the strength of human communities’ hinges on the fair and just administration of communities.

On the question of the role that the physical body plays, Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism speak with one voice. Daoism acknowledged that the physical body was vital for human health and wellness. In particular, it recognized that energy and vitality are needed for a full life. Buddhism approached a position that is intriguing. Buddha identified the body as central to enlightenment. Through the body, individuals experience pain and suffering. These undesirable experiences allow one to rise above pain and embark on the eight-step path that leads to enlightenment. Confucianism held that the physical body was a manifestation of the inner world and encouraged believers to cultivate it through moral conduct. According to Buddhism, the highest good towards which all humans should strive is enlightenment. The Buddha advised his followers to pursue enlightenment through which they could gain control over their minds. Moreover, Buddhism notes that through enlightenment, one is delivered into a state of Nirvana where they transcend human experiences. While Confucianism encourages a number of virtues, selfless service appears to be the highest good. On the other hand, Daoism presents harmony is the highest good. Believers are urged to live in harmony with others and to perform good deeds and develop moral characters.

One of the questions that are often raised concerns whether Daoism, Confucianism and Buddhism are religions or mere philosophical movements. A careful review reveals that while these belief systems promote various philosophies, they qualify to be considered religions. Some of the main features of religions include established rituals, deities and worship. These features are key components of the three belief systems. For example, in such countries as China, there are thousands of nuns and monks who live in temples where they engage in a wide range of rituals. In Buddhism, there are various gods who are worshipped. Similar practices are found in Daoism. For example, in this faith, Tao is recognized as a god who is revered. While it is true that they are religions, it should be understood that the belief systems are also founded on critical philosophies.

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