In between Taoism and Buddhism

Casual conversation between friends. Anything goes (almost).
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Kim O'Hara
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Re: In between Taoism and Buddhism

Post by Kim O'Hara » Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:16 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 6:52 am
I know he has plenty of critics, but in this subject don't overlook Alan Watts.
I should have mentioned John Blofeld, too.
His translation of the I Ching is good, IMO, and he wrote a delightful book about Guan Yin tracing connections to other Chinese beliefs.

:namaste:
Kim

amanitamusc
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Re: In between Taoism and Buddhism

Post by amanitamusc » Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:20 am

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:00 pm


In other words, the foundation for Buddhism is built upon a series of logical arguments. For Taoism, the foundation of personal experience with Tao builds the subsequent logical arguments which may not even be necessary.



Thanks again, and this is a great conversation for me. Please feel free to continue :)

The foundation of Buddhism is ones True Nature.
Do you have Personal Experience with Tao?
Despite your several disclaimers you write that the foundation of Buddhism lacks personal experience.This is absurd.
You might like this site.http://www.daoisopen.com/DaoTaoisOpenForum.html

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: In between Taoism and Buddhism

Post by Kim O'Hara » Tue Apr 16, 2019 1:07 am

amanitamusc wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:20 am
...
You might like this site.http://www.daoisopen.com/DaoTaoisOpenForum.html
The site has technical problems. None of the links from this page took me to the forum per se.

:shrug:
KIm

Simon E.
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Re: In between Taoism and Buddhism

Post by Simon E. » Tue Apr 16, 2019 8:56 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:16 am
Wayfarer wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 6:52 am
I know he has plenty of critics, but in this subject don't overlook Alan Watts.
I should have mentioned John Blofeld, too.
His translation of the I Ching is good, IMO, and he wrote a delightful book about Guan Yin tracing connections to other Chinese beliefs.

:namaste:
Kim
John Blofeld spent his last years as a semi sequestered student of Dudjom Rinpoche. In his own words, he knew that he 'had to start a serious practice of Vajrayana dharma with renewed focus'. A fact covered in his Wiki article by the words 'he also studied the Vajrayana'... :smile: Very Wiki.
He was open about the fact that in his earlier life he had been a dilettante in his approach to Buddhadharma.
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.

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Anders
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Re: In between Taoism and Buddhism

Post by Anders » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:11 am

The most daoist inspired Buddhism you can find is pre kumarajiva, when the geyi (matching concepts) translation style of matching Buddhist concepts to Chinese, primarily daoist, concepts was in vogue. Prior to the 5th century it was not uncommon for interpreters to consider themselves both neo-daoist and Buddhist.

By the 5th century onwards, Chinese Buddhism begins to take on a more uniquely Buddhist character, became the dominant religion in China and it becomes far more a case of Buddhism influencing daoism and confucianism than the other way around.

But prior to that: Check out Wang Bi as a seminal daoist thinker whose ideas served as a platform for the neo daoists to match Buddhism with daoism. On the Buddhist side, Daosheng is an excellent example of a Buddhism/daoist syncretist whose primary focus was Buddhism. He's also the first one in Chinese Buddhism to talk about sudden enlightenment. As good an egg as you can find from the syncretist thinkers.

Contrary to popular perception, Chan Buddhism is not a particularly good example of daoist influence (it is a good example of distinctly Chinese non-high brow Buddhism and shows daoist influences to the extent that daoism has influenced Chinese culture along these lines). I'd say even someone like Sengzhao, who was a classically trained madhyamikan and student of kumarajiva, showed more daoist influence in his style than the later Chan masters.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

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Re: In between Taoism and Buddhism

Post by Simon E. » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:27 am

Lobsang Chojor wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:13 pm
LoveFromColorado wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:03 pm
Feng Shui is taught by the Wisdom Academy (at Wisdom Publications) by a Tibetan monk if I am not mistaken. So, yes :)
It's taught at Wisdom by Ven Jampa Ludrup because Lama Zopa Rinpoche likes Feng Shui, in my experience most Tibetans don't take it seriously.
I have never met a lineage-holding Lama who name checks Feng Shui in any way other than as a humorous aside.
I have heard Situ Rinpoche being particularly witty on the subject. :smile: *

CTR once funded a collaboration between psychologists, Dharma practitioners, and architects to look at the possibility of creating spaces that could help those with depression and anxiety..but it had nothing to do with populist folk religion.


* On one occasion when funds needed to be raised swiftly for a particular cause he joked that he was going to do a tour of Malaysia to offer a Feng Shui consultancy..'that should do it' he quipped.
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.

LoveFromColorado
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Re: In between Taoism and Buddhism

Post by LoveFromColorado » Tue Apr 16, 2019 2:23 pm

amanitamusc wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 12:20 am
Despite your several disclaimers you write that the foundation of Buddhism lacks personal experience.This is absurd.
I certainly do not mean to indicate personal experience does not exist in the foundational principles of Buddhism. Perhaps my new found zeal for Taoism is coming out more than I intend.

One of the more quoted paraphrases from the Buddha is his exhortation to verify his teachings for oneself, ie through one's experience.

My point here is more like this - Buddhism arguably rests on the Four Noble Truths as a premise, and these are philosophical statements about the state of the world we observe. In contrast, the opening of the Tao Te Ching is that Tao is not definable by words or anything else implying that it must be experienced. There is nothing stated that needs logical proof.

I am not claiming a personal experience of Tao here. I am just finding that my own existential experience connects to Tao, at least for now, and I am trying to dig more into it. I am also not discrediting Buddhism and would still consider myself an adherent to Buddhist teachings albeit perhaps not in as strict a way as I once was.

LoveFromColorado
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Re: In between Taoism and Buddhism

Post by LoveFromColorado » Tue Apr 16, 2019 2:26 pm

£$&^@ wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:27 am
Lobsang Chojor wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:13 pm
LoveFromColorado wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 10:03 pm
Feng Shui is taught by the Wisdom Academy (at Wisdom Publications) by a Tibetan monk if I am not mistaken. So, yes :)
It's taught at Wisdom by Ven Jampa Ludrup because Lama Zopa Rinpoche likes Feng Shui, in my experience most Tibetans don't take it seriously.
I have never met a lineage-holding Lama who name checks Feng Shui in any way other than as a humorous aside.
I have heard Situ Rinpoche being particularly witty on the subject. :smile: *

CTR once funded a collaboration between psychologists, Dharma practitioners, and architects to look at the possibility of creating spaces that could help those with depression and anxiety..but it had nothing to do with populist folk religion.


* On one occasion when funds needed to be raised swiftly for a particular cause he joked that he was going to do a tour of Malaysia to offer a Feng Shui consultancy..'that should do it' he quipped.
I think the point was that Feng Shui had an influence on Tibet. It is not embraced wholesale, but Indo-Tibetan-Chinese thought has much overlap and cooperative influences on each other. Another example - it does not take much to see the similarities between Dzogchen and Taoism, for example, at least in principle

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Lobsang Chojor
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Re: In between Taoism and Buddhism

Post by Lobsang Chojor » Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:18 am

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 2:26 pm
I think the point was that Feng Shui had an influence on Tibet. It is not embraced wholesale, but Indo-Tibetan-Chinese thought has much overlap and cooperative influences on each other. Another example - it does not take much to see the similarities between Dzogchen and Taoism, for example, at least in principle
I don't see any evidence that Feng Shui had an influence on Tibet, the Tibetans interested in Feng Shui developed this interest in countries like Malaysia and Singapore.
"Morality does not become pure unless darkness is dispelled by the light of wisdom"
  • Aryasura, Paramitasamasa 6.5
ༀ་ཨ་ར་པ་ཙ་ན་དྷཱི༔ Oṃ A Ra Pa Ca Na Dhīḥ

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Re: In between Taoism and Buddhism

Post by Lobsang Chojor » Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:20 am

£$&^@ wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:27 am
I have never met a lineage-holding Lama who name checks Feng Shui in any way other than as a humorous aside.
I have heard Situ Rinpoche being particularly witty on the subject. :smile: *

CTR once funded a collaboration between psychologists, Dharma practitioners, and architects to look at the possibility of creating spaces that could help those with depression and anxiety..but it had nothing to do with populist folk religion.


* On one occasion when funds needed to be raised swiftly for a particular cause he joked that he was going to do a tour of Malaysia to offer a Feng Shui consultancy..'that should do it' he quipped.
:rolling: I love your witty anecdotes and tales Simon, they are the highlight of DW for me
"Morality does not become pure unless darkness is dispelled by the light of wisdom"
  • Aryasura, Paramitasamasa 6.5
ༀ་ཨ་ར་པ་ཙ་ན་དྷཱི༔ Oṃ A Ra Pa Ca Na Dhīḥ

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PeterC
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Re: In between Taoism and Buddhism

Post by PeterC » Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:24 am

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 2:26 pm

I think the point was that Feng Shui had an influence on Tibet. It is not embraced wholesale, but Indo-Tibetan-Chinese thought has much overlap and cooperative influences on each other. Another example - it does not take much to see the similarities between Dzogchen and Taoism, for example, at least in principle
Could you elaborate on those two points? I've seen absolutely no evidence from Tibetan architecture or interior decor that feng shui had any influence at all on Tibet. The astrological systems are different: and Tibetans don't spend time figuring out how to moving furniture around rooms to avoid offending the Tai Sui and things like that.

I'm also not clear what similarities you see between Dzogchen and Taoism - and I'm also unsure which set of texts / sects you're referring to as Taoism. Sure, there are texts in both traditions that say things like, you can't express X using language. But there are many religious and philosophical traditions that claim that certain things can't be explained with language - that doesn't mean they're all talking about the same things.

LoveFromColorado
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Re: In between Taoism and Buddhism

Post by LoveFromColorado » Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:12 am

No, because I'm not really interested in that discussion.

My OP was more for obtaining resources that balance Taoist and Buddhist thought together. How Buddhism might compare to Taoism and vice versa might fall into that by default due to context, but I've been participating in a digression in this thread that I'm ultimately not interested in.

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Re: In between Taoism and Buddhism

Post by PeterC » Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:33 am

LoveFromColorado wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:12 am
No, because I'm not really interested in that discussion.

My OP was more for obtaining resources that balance Taoist and Buddhist thought together. How Buddhism might compare to Taoism and vice versa might fall into that by default due to context, but I've been participating in a digression in this thread that I'm ultimately not interested in.
Well, you're being told by people familiar with both areas that there really isn't much overlap at all. If you're not interested in hearing that, that's your choice. But then your assertion that they have something in common doesn't carry much weight.

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Re: In between Taoism and Buddhism

Post by Anders » Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:40 am

PeterC wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:33 am
Well, you're being told by people familiar with both areas that there really isn't much overlap at all. If you're not interested in hearing that, that's your choice. But then your assertion that they have something in common doesn't carry much weight.
Sometimes I feel like people fail to see the forest for all the trees on topics like this and overload their position to extremes.

There is obviously a great deal of overlap between daoism and Buddhism, to such an extent that it is in many ways a quite remarkable example of parallel development. I don't think there is any other non indic tradition with as much similarity to Buddhism as daoism. This similarity is strong enough that great masters such as hanshan deqing even considered Laozi a pratyeka-buddha.

The daoist notions of wu, te, wu-wei and the strong contemplative and experiential focus of the dark learning tradition of daoism all have a fair amount of kinship to Buddhism. And it's not as if there is a shortage of great masters who appreciate Chuang-tzu and laozi and draw freely for poetic inspiration from daoist writers.

And it is easy to see why. The daoist dialectic is often beautiful, Chuang-tzu especially I feel was an extraordinary writer with points pertinent to any seeker. And I can see the appeal in the more organic approach of daoism vs much of Buddhist presentation.

But, it of course also follows for context that just as western Buddhist teacher taking the poetic liberty of stating that "the kingdom of heaven is within" does not make such a teacher Christian, drawing on daoist influences does not necessarily equate to heterodoxy. there is wide berth for inspiration and influence to be had without departing from the fundamentals. And daoism gives as wide a berth as any non Buddhist tradition owing to its many parallels.

Personally, where I feel daoism departs from Buddhism most significantly is in the subtler understandings of emptiness. The heart sutra is not something I see reflected in daoism. And, more importantly for me, its benign indifference to the world and the beings in it is quite a departure from the spirit of Mahayana Buddhism and the bodhisattva vows. But, being generous, one could perhaps also concede that the daoist conception of emptiness is perfectly serviceable for its reclusive goal.

This is of course comparing Buddhism to the most Buddhist-like version of daoism. Once we get into daoist alchemy and path of immortality etc., the family semblance begins to fade.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

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Re: In between Taoism and Buddhism

Post by Simon E. » Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:16 am

For me the acme..the acid test... for determining closeness to the Buddhas' Dharma, is
'Does this teaching endorse or promulgate Dependent Origination?'

I have seen no evidence that Taoism does.

In one of the previous re-runs of this topic on this forum there were various attempts to show that various Taoist teachers had.. kind of ...But they were entirely unconvincing and required a lot of stretching and editing.

I wonder whether parallels aren't at heart cultural rather than of the essence.
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.

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Re: In between Taoism and Buddhism

Post by PeterC » Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:35 am

Anders wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:40 am
PeterC wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:33 am
Well, you're being told by people familiar with both areas that there really isn't much overlap at all. If you're not interested in hearing that, that's your choice. But then your assertion that they have something in common doesn't carry much weight.
Sometimes I feel like people fail to see the forest for all the trees on topics like this and overload their position to extremes.

There is obviously a great deal of overlap between daoism and Buddhism, to such an extent that it is in many ways a quite remarkable example of parallel development. I don't think there is any other non indic tradition with as much similarity to Buddhism as daoism. This similarity is strong enough that great masters such as hanshan deqing even considered Laozi a pratyeka-buddha.

The daoist notions of wu, te, wu-wei and the strong contemplative and experiential focus of the dark learning tradition of daoism all have a fair amount of kinship to Buddhism. And it's not as if there is a shortage of great masters who appreciate Chuang-tzu and laozi and draw freely for poetic inspiration from daoist writers.

And it is easy to see why. The daoist dialectic is often beautiful, Chuang-tzu especially I feel was an extraordinary writer with points pertinent to any seeker. And I can see the appeal in the more organic approach of daoism vs much of Buddhist presentation.

But, it of course also follows for context that just as western Buddhist teacher taking the poetic liberty of stating that "the kingdom of heaven is within" does not make such a teacher Christian, drawing on daoist influences does not necessarily equate to heterodoxy. there is wide berth for inspiration and influence to be had without departing from the fundamentals. And daoism gives as wide a berth as any non Buddhist tradition owing to its many parallels.

Personally, where I feel daoism departs from Buddhism most significantly is in the subtler understandings of emptiness. The heart sutra is not something I see reflected in daoism. And, more importantly for me, its benign indifference to the world and the beings in it is quite a departure from the spirit of Mahayana Buddhism and the bodhisattva vows. But, being generous, one could perhaps also concede that the daoist conception of emptiness is perfectly serviceable for its reclusive goal.

This is of course comparing Buddhism to the most Buddhist-like version of daoism. Once we get into daoist alchemy and path of immortality etc., the family semblance begins to fade.
Anders - a couple of thoughts on this.

This is a difficult topic to discuss because it's very hard to define what we're really talking about when it comes to Daoism. Even if we limit it to the philosophical canon, the DaoZang post-dates several of the sects (Lingbao, Shangqing, etc.) and predates Quanzhen, which probably had the most influence. The texts in the canon show a lot of philosophical variety and inconsistency, and the canon itself never really gave rise to a unified philosophy. Then on top you have the ritual aspect, and the yogic practices, which are very diverse and extensive, and in many schools were a lot more important than study of the philosophy itself, and I agree with you that once you get into this territory it's not clear that it has much at all in common with Buddhism. From what we know of the biographies of premodern Daoists, they were primarily ritualists and yogins, or people post-retirement who sought spiritual consolation from a more forgiving philosophy (and perhaps a few extra years of life). It wasn't a source of great scholars or philosophers. It was a great source of inspiration for artists, though (as with Buddhist influences on Chinese art) the artists themselves were typically not very notable as spiritual practitioners. But some of the core concepts - "uncarved", for instance - are fundamental to Chinese art.

I also agree that you can't read things like emptiness into texts like Zhuangzi. There is certainly an undermining of personal identity, attachment to permanence and connection to the material world and conventional behavior. But it's trying to do something very different from the Buddhist analyses of the two truths, etc. But since Daoism never really developed a clear philosophical position on things like reality, eternalism, self etc. it's very hard to say what it's *not* because we can't really say what it *is* - and that's one of the recurrent themes of Zhuangzi, that if you don't get it, you don't get it. (That superficially might look like mahamadhyamaka - refusal to take a positive position - but again, it isn't, really.)

I would also agree that there's nothing like bodhicitta in Daoism. Indeed there isn't really anything like karma. There isn't any particular reason or motivation to help others achieve enlightenment - and indeed there isn't a lot of direct description of the path to enlightenment in Zhuangzi at all, aside from the analogies of how the enlightened state is incomprehensible to those outside it. There's something a little like anicca and anatman - for instance, the discussion of the tumor sprouting from someone's arm in Zhuangzi - but it's pretty nascent and not really developed, and certainly never gets close to something like the theory of dependent origination. There's no presumption of dukkha. So our starting point for comparing them has to be that a lot of the defining concepts in the Buddhadharma are not found in Daoism.

There are, however, at least two points that appear similar. The first is the advice to retreat from the world, live in the mountains, etc. etc., though the advice of withdrawing from distractions is perhaps common to many religions, not just these two. The second is ideas like wuwei, which sound a lot like certain instructions in the Buddhadharma, particularly ones talking about the enlightened mind (e.g. "may we be spontaneously perfected in the nature of nonaction"). But again I think this is mostly apparent similarity. In a Daoist context often these are passages talking about the relation or attitude of the sage to the world, whereas in the Buddhist context they're talking about the experience of realization, and those aren't quite the same thing.

I have nothing against Daoism at all - indeed I have a lot of interest in how it influenced Chinese art. That said, I suspect that a lot of people today who think they're studying or practicing it don't really know much about it. I also think that it doesn't really have a lot to do with the Buddhadharma, and if someone's interest in this short human life is to study and practice the Dharma, then they should probably do that and leave Zhuangzi alone, because searching for some sort of hidden truth that underlies the two is likely to be a fruitless exercise.

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Re: In between Taoism and Buddhism

Post by Anders » Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:41 am

£$&^@ wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:16 am
For me the acme..the acid test... for determining closeness to the Buddhas' Dharma, is
'Does this teaching endorse or promulgate Dependent Origination?'
Not for me especially. I think you can get through a large swathe of Mahayana teachings with nary a hint of dependent origination that I nonetheless believe have liberating capacity. And of course we have a goodly number of adepts who attained realisation without ever hearing about dependent origination. I think it's a great thing to have, but I don't really look at teachings as tick boxes for authenticity as much as I look at them as having degrees of facilitating skilful practice.

I look at the Buddha of the Pali Canon for my acid tests. While he refuted many of his contemporary gurus views, When he commented on the depth of other teachers compared to his own teaching, his focus was not on specific teachings. Would have been easy for him to pull out depending origination or anatman and so forth and say "this teacher does not teach this and I do". Instead, he focused on the effect of the teaching, arguing that "though this teacher teaches cessation of clinging, he does not teach the full cessation of clinging" and so forth.

Of course also worth noting that the abstract body of teaching as an object of evaluation, such as "Buddhism", "jainism", etc was not something that seemed to register on the Buddha's radar. If was more of "what can you expect from studying with this particular teacher or that particular teacher". In other words, the depth of the teaching and depth of the teacher was not really separated. Food for the thought perhaps also in evaluating the depth of "Buddhism" in the abstract, as a set of teachings.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

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Anders
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Re: In between Taoism and Buddhism

Post by Anders » Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:42 am

PeterC wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 10:35 am
Anders wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:40 am
PeterC wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:33 am
Well, you're being told by people familiar with both areas that there really isn't much overlap at all. If you're not interested in hearing that, that's your choice. But then your assertion that they have something in common doesn't carry much weight.
Sometimes I feel like people fail to see the forest for all the trees on topics like this and overload their position to extremes.

There is obviously a great deal of overlap between daoism and Buddhism, to such an extent that it is in many ways a quite remarkable example of parallel development. I don't think there is any other non indic tradition with as much similarity to Buddhism as daoism. This similarity is strong enough that great masters such as hanshan deqing even considered Laozi a pratyeka-buddha.

The daoist notions of wu, te, wu-wei and the strong contemplative and experiential focus of the dark learning tradition of daoism all have a fair amount of kinship to Buddhism. And it's not as if there is a shortage of great masters who appreciate Chuang-tzu and laozi and draw freely for poetic inspiration from daoist writers.

And it is easy to see why. The daoist dialectic is often beautiful, Chuang-tzu especially I feel was an extraordinary writer with points pertinent to any seeker. And I can see the appeal in the more organic approach of daoism vs much of Buddhist presentation.

But, it of course also follows for context that just as western Buddhist teacher taking the poetic liberty of stating that "the kingdom of heaven is within" does not make such a teacher Christian, drawing on daoist influences does not necessarily equate to heterodoxy. there is wide berth for inspiration and influence to be had without departing from the fundamentals. And daoism gives as wide a berth as any non Buddhist tradition owing to its many parallels.

Personally, where I feel daoism departs from Buddhism most significantly is in the subtler understandings of emptiness. The heart sutra is not something I see reflected in daoism. And, more importantly for me, its benign indifference to the world and the beings in it is quite a departure from the spirit of Mahayana Buddhism and the bodhisattva vows. But, being generous, one could perhaps also concede that the daoist conception of emptiness is perfectly serviceable for its reclusive goal.

This is of course comparing Buddhism to the most Buddhist-like version of daoism. Once we get into daoist alchemy and path of immortality etc., the family semblance begins to fade.
Anders - a couple of thoughts on this.

This is a difficult topic to discuss because it's very hard to define what we're really talking about when it comes to Daoism. Even if we limit it to the philosophical canon, the DaoZang post-dates several of the sects (Lingbao, Shangqing, etc.) and predates Quanzhen, which probably had the most influence. The texts in the canon show a lot of philosophical variety and inconsistency, and the canon itself never really gave rise to a unified philosophy. Then on top you have the ritual aspect, and the yogic practices, which are very diverse and extensive, and in many schools were a lot more important than study of the philosophy itself, and I agree with you that once you get into this territory it's not clear that it has much at all in common with Buddhism. From what we know of the biographies of premodern Daoists, they were primarily ritualists and yogins, or people post-retirement who sought spiritual consolation from a more forgiving philosophy (and perhaps a few extra years of life). It wasn't a source of great scholars or philosophers. It was a great source of inspiration for artists, though (as with Buddhist influences on Chinese art) the artists themselves were typically not very notable as spiritual practitioners. But some of the core concepts - "uncarved", for instance - are fundamental to Chinese art.

I also agree that you can't read things like emptiness into texts like Zhuangzi. There is certainly an undermining of personal identity, attachment to permanence and connection to the material world and conventional behavior. But it's trying to do something very different from the Buddhist analyses of the two truths, etc. But since Daoism never really developed a clear philosophical position on things like reality, eternalism, self etc. it's very hard to say what it's *not* because we can't really say what it *is* - and that's one of the recurrent themes of Zhuangzi, that if you don't get it, you don't get it. (That superficially might look like mahamadhyamaka - refusal to take a positive position - but again, it isn't, really.)

I would also agree that there's nothing like bodhicitta in Daoism. Indeed there isn't really anything like karma. There isn't any particular reason or motivation to help others achieve enlightenment - and indeed there isn't a lot of direct description of the path to enlightenment in Zhuangzi at all, aside from the analogies of how the enlightened state is incomprehensible to those outside it. There's something a little like anicca and anatman - for instance, the discussion of the tumor sprouting from someone's arm in Zhuangzi - but it's pretty nascent and not really developed, and certainly never gets close to something like the theory of dependent origination. There's no presumption of dukkha. So our starting point for comparing them has to be that a lot of the defining concepts in the Buddhadharma are not found in Daoism.

There are, however, at least two points that appear similar. The first is the advice to retreat from the world, live in the mountains, etc. etc., though the advice of withdrawing from distractions is perhaps common to many religions, not just these two. The second is ideas like wuwei, which sound a lot like certain instructions in the Buddhadharma, particularly ones talking about the enlightened mind (e.g. "may we be spontaneously perfected in the nature of nonaction"). But again I think this is mostly apparent similarity. In a Daoist context often these are passages talking about the relation or attitude of the sage to the world, whereas in the Buddhist context they're talking about the experience of realization, and those aren't quite the same thing.

I have nothing against Daoism at all - indeed I have a lot of interest in how it influenced Chinese art. That said, I suspect that a lot of people today who think they're studying or practicing it don't really know much about it. I also think that it doesn't really have a lot to do with the Buddhadharma, and if someone's interest in this short human life is to study and practice the Dharma, then they should probably do that and leave Zhuangzi alone, because searching for some sort of hidden truth that underlies the two is likely to be a fruitless exercise.
I read Zuangzi in a similar manner to Buddhist poetry - in either case it would be a fool's errand to try and construct a cohesive teaching from it. But nonetheless, such readings can serve other purposes, of the more inspirational and intuitive variety, in informing our practice.

I see little issue with this because, just as you say, it is easy to read it either way. So my readings perhaps inevitably take on a Buddhist character. But then I am not so much personally interested what Zuangzi really really meant or harmonising it with some underlying truth, as I am in what use I can make of it. It suits me well enough to read him as a kind of pre-buddhist sage with sufficient generosity of interpretation to gloss over incongruities as the eccentricities of a sage having to do it from scratch without the benefit of being informed by Buddhism.

I have some sympathy for the OP's project, but ultimately I agree that creating our own structure of spiritual meaningfulness will lead no further than just that: having a sense of meaningfulness.
Necessary perhaps in some phases of spiritual seeking, but can easily end up as a platform defining the limitations of one's path according to one's own views and preferences (and we all know what Sengcan had to say about that).

At the end of the day, I do believe stitching an outlook together oneself is a path with a lot more potholes, harsh terrain and sidepaths leading to nowhere than learning from an authentic realised teacher whom one has affinity with. The whole game of looking at traditions, texts etc. for spiritual affinity is to me tertiary to the affinity one may have with a person of living realisation.

Which is not to mention that eventually the meaning and worldview that one may develop from such an endeavour eventually has to go on the bonfire of our 'dark learning'. I am not saying it should not be done, perhaps it cannot be avoided to some extent, but I would advise that it be checked and contextualised against the direct pointings of a living teacher
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra

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Wayfarer
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Re: In between Taoism and Buddhism

Post by Wayfarer » Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:51 am

One point that hasn't been stated explicitly in this thread is that Taoism has had a particular influence on Chinese Buddhism (and through that to other East Asian schools.) Not so much on Tibetan and none at all on Indian Buddhism, for the obvious reason that whilst Chinese monks travelled to India in search of Buddhist scriptures, there was no traffic of literature from China to ancient India (to my knowledge).

As far as Tibet is concerned, there was the famous Samye debate in the eighth century in which representatives from Indian and Chinese schools were invited to participate. The Chinese delegation presented the 'sudden enlightenment' teaching and the Indian delegation the more orthodox 'gradual' approach. In any event the then-ruler of Tibet decided in favour of the Indian party, thereby diminishing Chinese cultural influences on Tibetan Buddhism.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

LoveFromColorado
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Re: In between Taoism and Buddhism

Post by LoveFromColorado » Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:37 pm

I have some sympathy for the OP's project, but ultimately I agree that creating our own structure of spiritual meaningfulness will lead no further than just that: having a sense of meaningfulness.
I think that largely depends on how dogmatic one might be about one's own spirituality. I am a subscriber of the notion of finding your own "inner guru" so to speak but, then again, perhaps that is why Taoism is a refreshing look at spirituality for me. I am 100% comfortable with weaving together what I have studied in Buddhism with my budding Taoist studies. I also recognize that this is anything but orthodox to traditional Buddhists and am not trying to persuade anyone otherwise.

Of course, it also logically follows that I don't think any one particular stripe of philosophy or spirituality has the monopoly on truth although I think it is fairly intuitively obvious that the more one's belief structure connects with one's experience and vice versa the more meaning it derives. In the end, one can only speak directly to one's own experience and accepting dogma is another form of grasping and reification unless it resonates with experience, at least to me. No judgment, of course - I'm not interested in grading anyone's spirituality.

To say it more simply, I don't see a single path to enlightenment outside of one's own experience

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