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Taoism and Christianity

Discussion in 'Interfaith Discussion' started by lunamoth, Jul 30, 2006.

  1. lunamoth

    lunamoth Will to love

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    Hi Friends, The aim of this thread to explore Taoism in comparison and complementation to other religions, esp. Christianity. I have not yet done much reading in Taoism; I plan to start with The Way of Life According to Lao Tzu (Lao Zi), so in way I'm looking for people to explore the path with me. If you have studied Taoism to any extent, I'm particularly interested in your participation if you are willing.

    So, my first question is whether you think that Taoism is compatible with Christianity, i.e., could a Christian also be a Taoist?

    Is there any relationship (historical, ideological, metaphorical, cosmological) between the two?

    How might the priciples or practices of Taoism conflict with those of Christianity?

    Anyway, sorry this is such a meager start. I hope to have more input as I progress in my reading and research, but for now any thoughts you all have would be of interest.

    luna
     
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  2. fantome profane

    fantome profane Beyond your borders do not live a lesser people..
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  3. Scarlett Wampus

    Scarlett Wampus psychonaut

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    So, my first question is whether you think that Taoism is compatible with Christianity, i.e., could a Christian also be a Taoist?

    Lunamoth there was a thread a while ago, 'Compare Lao Tzu to Jesus', that you might find interesting regarding this. The short answer is...maybe! Tao Chia (philosophical Taoism) lays down so very little in the way of metaphysical concepts, and Tao, the Way, is not codifiable. Because of this vagueness Tao Chia is not much like a religion and is therefore quite flexible to interpretation. In that thread above it was mentioned that to most interested in Tao Chia it would not seem contradictory for there to be Christian Taoists or Atheist Taoists, but a Christian Atheist is much harder to imagine. Um...I googled and found this: -

    From the point of view of a Christian reading the above I imagine Taoism might best be thought of as an agnostic or apophatic approach towards God. Otherwise Taoism and Christianity may conflict on the concept of God. For instance, many influenced strongly by Tao Chia in the West feel that fixed ideas (if any) about God, and indeed The Way and the Life personified by Christ, are anthropomorphic overlays upon nature. That is, rather than representing fundamental forces in the universe they are human constructs (The Way is not codifable, etc.) There is much room for interpretation but head too far in the direction of rigid metaphysical beliefs that are not open to question and the spirit, not to mention the primary principles, of Tao Chia will be lost.

    Is there any relationship (historical, ideological, metaphorical, cosmological) between the two?

    Virtually none!

    How might the priciples or practices of Taoism conflict with those of Christianity?

    Other than what I've already mentioned above its a confusing question. I saw a thread 'The Problem With Christianity' pop up in Tao Speaks forum recently. It was meant as a space to examine conflicts between Taoism and Christianity that people had encountered but so far no one has had anything to say worth noting here.

    The many religious sects of Taoism (Tao Chiao) may conflict simply because they are so very different to Christianity, but that's a huge subject and way beyond the scope of this thread in its meager beginnings :)
     
  4. JerryL

    JerryL Well-Known Member

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    I'd have to ask "which"?

    Are we discussing purely philosophical Taoism, or the Taosim practiced by the indegenous peoples? Which Christianity? The one that thinks there are multiple ways to heaven or theone that doesn't? The one that asserts a quazi-literal Bible, or the one that sees it as inspired?
     
  5. ChrisP

    ChrisP Veteran Member

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    This thread is a topic that's been discussed at length in the Taoism forums, and reading what Master Vigil had said regarding their differing method's of teaching in particular had an impact on my thinking regarding Tao a few months back.

    Regarding humility there is certainly a difference there. Lao Tzu didn't even hand down his name (Lao Tzu means (Lao)"Aged/venerable" (Tzu)"Nobleman/boy/Master"), and only wrote down his mindset when pressed.

    Jesus is supposed to have taught what is known as "law", to be heeded, obeyed and regarding humans only. Lao Tzu offered advice on the nature of everything and nothing. The disparity here stems from Jesus claim of deity (as recorded in the canon... I'm not gonna stir up the Badger man). While God sends his Law, Lao Tzu offers his observations on the nature of the world, painting a picture of how things interact.


    I'd like to take back nearly everything I said in that thread, esp. the quote below.

    There is a sickening quagmire of bs in this. Please if you've read the linked thread, disregard everything I've written.

    An aspect of Christianity and Taoism I'm looking at in my spare time atm is judgement, and the nature of such.




    Tao te Ching

    Biblical Quotes:

    Due to the continued and crippling inability to explain my thoughts, I'm going to leave you to interpret the above yourself... because imho that's how it should be anyway.

    The parts I find particularly blatant/interesting are bolded. Taoism, I think, focuses on judgement removing individual aspects from their collection of circumstances we are constantly confronted with. This negates the ability to notice the usefull/less-ness of the aspect within these circumstances.

    Christianity focuses on Judgement as a matter of Character, rather than a matter of use. And so there, for me lies the difference within the two with regard to judgement.
    Christianity regards judgement as a final decision on Character, grown from the idea of a deity who wishes to decide if we are good or bad. Taoism focuses on ignoring judging where things individually are good or bad and attempts to see the usefulness of a situation and the collection of circumstances... which leads to intention, but I've been at this long enough.
     
  6. Scarlett Wampus

    Scarlett Wampus psychonaut

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    JerryL its philosophical Taoism (Tao Chia) being discussed.

    Hmm yeh if there is a 'law' in Taoism then it would be discussed as something like Li, the pattern of the cosmos, which to be in accord with requires direct intuitive/instinctual response to the transrational rather than rational/conceptual thought. Its especially not something that could be preached to others as verbally communicated law. That's not to say that such passed down laws are not of great use, just that Taoism suggests that they are inferior to a direct line.

    Lao Tzu is not someone who said we must follow him or some other, not in the least. Rather than a law it is a kind of spirit that is passed on when reading the Tao Te Ching, a spirit of deep receptive enquiry into the nature of things and a love of such a spirit as revealing of nature.

    So...kinda like...good and bad are transient qualities of a process rather than fixed characteristics of an object?

    That's like inviting someone for dinner then giving them a bag of groceries and shoving them in the kitchen! If you think you're a bad cook then that's a fair excuse I guess.
     
  7. lunamoth

    lunamoth Will to love

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    Hi All, I just wanted to pop in to thank you for the replies and let you know I have not forgotten this thread. I've read about half of the poems in "The Way of Life According to Lao Tzu" translated by Witter Bynner. I hope to return to this thread soon to respond to some of your posts. Thank you all for some great posts.

    luna
     
  8. lunamoth

    lunamoth Will to love

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    Thank you for the link fp!
     
  9. lunamoth

    lunamoth Will to love

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    Hi All, Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to this thread. Got distracted...

    There's a lot in each of these posts and you all have obviously been thinking about it for much longer than I have. :) So, thank you very much for posting your thoughts.
    Forgive me for not addressing every point (it is all interesting!), but this one caught my eye:
    Did Jesus really teach law to be heeded and obeyed and as a measuring stick for judgement? I don't believe He did. He was the embodiment (fulfillment) of the Law, which is Love. He was the Message.

    True, Jesus did say that we should pick up our cross and follow Him. But I think He meant to follow Him in manifesting Love, and I see this much as you say here about it being a kind of spirit, or gift, that is passed to us.

    luna
     
  10. Mr. Hair

    Mr. Hair Renegade Cavalcade

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    Perhaps; as Lao Tzu says, 'Names can't name no naming thing.' Any and each particular way we can conceputalise can never be entirely the way, at most it can be an incomplete, fallible and personal way; simply because one separate path differs from another does not necessarily make it any less valid or worthwhile.

    A river may change direction as it moves across the landscape, but all rivers eventually return to the sea. (Add in various other water analogies as appropriate ;))

    As a religion develops and solidifies itself, it gains attributes and complications that are (at least in part) due to the cultural background and theological baggage of its early followers, when and where it develops and the particular understanding of life and the divine that it's prophet/founder gave. Thus we can and should expect differences and discord between their various teachings, given their radically different lineage. But once we accept that any religion can only be an imperfect manifestation created to express something higher, and return to the root of that manifestation; we can see that any path is a path seen from one particular viewpoint, and conflicts in conventions and traditions can be reconciled.

    As Chuang Tzu notes, 'Tao is obscured when men understand only one of a pair of opposites, or concentrate only on a partial aspect of being. Then clear expression also becomes muddled by mere word-play, affirming this one aspect and denying all the rest... What use is this struggle to set up "No" against "Yes", and "Yes" against "No"? Better to abandon this hopeless effort and seek true light!'

    Whether the two ways can indeed be reconciled I think depends to a good extent on a particular individual, and their understanding and appreciation of both paths. In other words, the most fitting answer I feel I can give is perhaps. :)
     
  11. Mr. Hair

    Mr. Hair Renegade Cavalcade

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    Oh, fudge... This is becoming quite the habit. :cover:
     
  12. lunamoth

    lunamoth Will to love

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    Hmmm, would you be referring to Taoism, Christianity, or posting on RF? :D
     
  13. Mr. Hair

    Mr. Hair Renegade Cavalcade

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    Mostly I was referring to the uncannily numerous occasions of my posting on a topic only for it to cease... Erm... Topic'ing (hence my signature); though a small amount of it was simply to allow me to revel in the delicious word 'fudge'. :p
     
  14. lunamoth

    lunamoth Will to love

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    It is no reflection on you NB. :) This has been a slow thread in spite of the very high quality responses. Actually, I'd enjoy posting TtC verses here and reflecting together on how we think they fit a Christian worldview, or not.

    luna
     
  15. lunamoth

    lunamoth Will to love

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    No doubt, fudge is a delicious word. For some reason my daughters have taken to using the phrase, 'Oh pickles!' when things are not as they'd wish them to be. I have no idea where it came from, but my three-year-old started it this summer (or else I'd suspect school-mate influence).
     
  16. doppelganger

    doppelganger Through the Looking Glass

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    Several were posted on another thread, though the OP is a little different. Should we just pull those over and beginning discussion in light of this topic?

    the doppleganger
     
  17. lunamoth

    lunamoth Will to love

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    Are you referring to the one on the Tao and compassion? It's fine with me if it's OK with Sunstone. The other thread was not specifically about Christianity and Tao, but I'm fine with opening it up to all traditions and philosophies if there is interest.

    luna
     
  18. doppelganger

    doppelganger Through the Looking Glass

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    Yes, that's the one. It sorta turned into a comparison of "love" "compassion" and agape in Christianity and Tao. Seems like a good place to start for a comparison of "Taoism and Christianity". But I don't want to start cross-posting those excerpts here unless it's okay with everyone.

    the doppleganger
     
  19. lunamoth

    lunamoth Will to love

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    Oh, yikes, it could get confusing. I'll just go over to that thread until people get annoyed by my Christian slant on things...:D

    luna
     
  20. doppelganger

    doppelganger Through the Looking Glass

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    No problem. I'll drop it.

    the doppleganger
     
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