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Taoism and Confucianism

To: alt.magick.tyagi
From: (mordred)
Subject: Re: Taoism and Confucianism
Date: 29 Jun 1995 17:39:03 -0700

[from alt.philosophy.taoism: (MillerJew)]

~Subject: Taoism and Confucianism

>>>>James Chiang wrote: I'm fairly new to the study of Chinese
philosophies, but I find it very interesting. I was wondering if
someone could outline the major ways in which Taoist thinking
differs from Confucian thinking...... I'm a bit muddled in this
can someone strighten me out?<<<<

Wow! How to condense 2500 years of tension and harmony into one
or two pages? (for me, 25 years of books strewn around and under
my keyboard trying to answer this :-). But here's a quick sketch
on Confucius and the Taoist thinking and how I see each of their
values mete. I am sorry not to put in Confucianism, instead
"Confucius", but I think you can get some ideas going... 

CONFUCIUS (because Confucius came before Confucianism :-) did not
see us as an ultimate atom nor a societal cog on the wheel, nor
some puppet to a god, nor some contract with society designed to
maximize individual pleasure. He does not talk in the his
"Analects" about society nor the individual. He talks of what it
is to be a human, and he says that human is a special being with
unique dignity and power deriving from and embedded in li (
benevolence). Confucius felt it's not enough for us to merely
eat, breath, drink, and enjoy sensual satisfaction. Animals do
this. To become civilized is to establish correct human
relationships, defined by tradition, convention, and rooted in
respect and obligation. 

Confucius did believed that a human is holy, but not holy by
excellence of Absolute possession, nor for own's self, nor
independent of others, as if a 'object' of the divine. Nor does
he care about the 'awakening', nor the 'flowering' of an
individual as the central theme. Instead he advocated the
flowering of HUMANITY within the ceremonial acts between
ourselves.  Our self-cultivation is true, to be chiseled and
polish like a gem, but no more central than the preparation of
"good will to all others" is central. It is this interfusion
(this vessel) through our identification in "jen" (two as one/or
as Chang said, "fellow-feeling"), that is central. This jen
cultivation between us and our fellow human's is the central CORE
to Confucius thought. He said: "Seek not every quality in one
individual!." Thus, all the elements and relationships and

actions we endow to each other, "for each other", is in itself
sacred and holy, (even though each of us have our own special

A Confucian sympathizer, Herbert Fingarette, quoted a line from
Confucius (or Confucian text) to above effect so well, I can only
verbatim it, (that): "The noble man is the man who most perfectly
having given up self, ego, obstinacy, and personal pride follows
not profit but the Way. Such a man has come to fruition as a
person; he is the consummate Man. He is the Holy Vessel." 


In the highest sense I know, Tao is not a religion, but rather,
the undefinable, "Uncomprehensible" (TTC 1) ROOT, that created us
and all.  Yet is free from all human descriptions and concepts
because Tao came before the human. The Lao Tzu ( and that period)
further clarified Tao, philosophically, by saying it is the
primoridal 'perfection' of everything (that is existent and
germinating). Tao is the immediate expression and actualization
of It's perfection, present in every person, animal, ecological,
---> beyond, at every moment. From the expressed forms manifested
out of Tao, all religions have sprung; All ecologies. All

I think we may not know the complete fullness of Tao but we may
know much. Tao, reflected, shadowed, created "Mother" nature; as
Prodigy of Tao, to us, in which we may know Tao's handiworks. Our
thinking is born out of our earth matter as it is in the divine. 

Chuang Tzu (3BC), his greatest disciple, expanded him, but
(technically) clarifying interfusion and identification to
quicken our self-realization to the Tao. Expanded Tao to us, by
detailing to us, the need for an intuitive awareness of the
process of differentiation from nondifferentiation, the
realization that the multiple diversities of existence emanate
from the unity of the Absolute realm of Tao. He shows us the way
of creating to "Te" (insight). ("Te", which needs not
intellectual explanation in terms of process, but by us using
intuitive reflecting on material forms). Through such
intuitive/intellectual contemplation, he showed us how "The
fishing net is used to catch fish; let us have the fish and
forget the net. The snare is used to catch rabbits; let us have
the rabbit and forget the snare. Words are used to convey ideas;
let us have the ideas and forget the words." 


"Creativity and Taoism" by Chang Chung-yuan, Harpers, 1963.
"Confucius--The Secular As Sacred" by Herbert Fingarette, Harper,
"Works of Chuang Tzu", Ch XXVI.  
"The Ethics of Confucius" by M.M. Dawson, The Knickerbocker
Press, London, 1915. 

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