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Hasso 1 Tian Vs.

Dao Western religious thought tends to focus on the contrasts between heaven and hell and how to get to the desired destination, heaven. However, this is not the case for eastern religions such as Confucianism and Daoism which do not contain the notion of a heaven and a hell in the western context. Confucianism focuses on Tian which is translated as heaven and is where the ancestors dwell and Daoism focuses on Dao which means The Way. Tian is important as honoring the ancestors is crucial to Confucian teachings and the ancestors essentially take care of the earth and nourish its inhabitants. The Dao is crucial as it is The Way, however it cannot be found by active seeking but can only be stumbled upon, in a matter of speaking, through wu wei or noninterference (RAT 271). Confucianism and Daoism stress different ideas in that Confucianism takes a human based approach with the center of focus being the individual and their ability to uphold their duties on earth whereas Daoism considers a laissez faire approach as human action is said to interfere with the balance of things. A Confucius and a Daoist may be very different in their approaches to living but both stress the importance of creating balance. The Confucian notion of Tian or heaven and the Daoist concept of Dao or The Way are different largely due to the Confucian focus on action in the form of honoring the ancestors and living a morally upstanding life whereas Daoism focuses on passivity in something called wu wei, but in the end they are similar as they both are based on the idea of creating a natural order in the world and in the fact that non-action is still action. Confucian teachings stress human and ancestral relationships along with a set of moral and life codes whereas Daoism focuses on avoiding human interference in the world. The Confucian notion of Tian is not so much heaven in the sense that a person lives a good life and is rewarded with an eternal jubilee but is where the ancestors live who nourish and provide for the

Hasso 2 earth. In a sense this does not differ far from why the Daoist attempts to live and not interfere with the world as both attempt to create order. Although, Dao cannot be found through action and must be achieved through noninterference in something called wu wei, this non-interference is a form of action. As Lao Tze stated, If you keep feeling a point that has been sharpened, the point cannot long preserve its sharpness (Tao Te Ching 9.1). Daoists believe the right action is noninterference whereas Confucianisms focus is right actions and creating order in the world. However, the Daoist and Confucian both aim to create order through either noninterference or human actions. Both Confucianism and Daoism stress the creation of order. As one of the Analects state, A wassail-bowl that is no longer used as bowl! What a bowl! What a bowl! (Analects 6.23). For Confucianism it is very important that things be used for their purpose and in this case an unused bowl is viewed as a sorry sight. Although the Daoist may argue that he bowl should not necessarily be used as a bowl, the Confucian and Daoist are both trying to in the end create order in the world. It is true that Confucianism focuses on the individual and their ability to maintaining the balance of things through filiality in honoring the ancestors, but Daoism also teaches the effect of human actions and simply stresses a different kind of human action. Confucianism is focused on humans creating order in the world through action whereas Daoists insist that humans cannot create order through action but only maintain order through noninterference. A good Confucian will pray to the ancestors in Tian and ask them to bless the world and will also try and live what they view as a good life. On the other hand the Daoist will try and interfere as little as possible to try and retain the order in the world created by Dao. However, to fail to see the similarity between Tian and Dao would not consider why Tian and Dao are so important. They both create order and without Tian or Dao there would not be order.

Hasso 3 Confucianism prescribes action in the form of right actions, living a moral life, and honoring the ancestor whereas Daoism in a sense prescribes the action of noninterference. As seen from the Bhagavad Gita, non-action is really no different than action. In that sense considering that Tian and Dao both create order and both focus on some form of action, the teachings are really quite similar. The main difference merely lies in the fact that of how order is created, but to say that Confucianisms focus on right action and Daoisms focus on wu wei are reciprocals would be forgetting that the right action in Daoism is noninterference. What is the difference between one of the Analects stating in practice [people] grow wide apart in stressing right actions as the way to create balance and order and Lao Tze discussing the way in which someone is skillful in managing the life entrusted to him (Analects 17.2; Tao Te Ching 50.4)? Do not they both stress human conduct and action in one form or another? The fact of the matter is although Dao and Tian on the surface appear to be very different, boiled down they are a very similar concept. As Dr. Larson discusses, someone can be a Confucius by day and a Daoist by night. If the two ideas contained such different concepts then a person could not really be a Confucius in the day and a Daoist by night. It would be impossibility as the two would overly contradict each other; however, as both are focused on the natural order of things and only recommend different routes, it is possible to be both a Confucian and Daoist at the same time. When a person is active they might be called Confucian but when they allow themselves to relax and let Dao create order, they can be called a Daoist. The Daoist and Confucian traditions concepts of Dao and Tian, although differ in regards to the means by which order in the universe is created, both focus in the end on some form of action, whether by noninterference through wu wei or honoring the ancestors in filiality. Tian refers to heaven but is not so much a destination as much as where the ancestors live who

Hasso 4 create balance in the world. Tian can be compared quite easily to the Dao which is also responsible for order through Yin and Yang. There are some clear differences between Daoism and Confucianism but in the end the concepts both have to do with creating balance. It must be considered that both action and non-action are essentially action and so the Confucian and Daoist only differ in what they believe is the right action to take. Although this can be seen as a major difference, the fact that someone can be Confucian by day in that they go to work and Daoist by night when they relax suggests that the ideas of Tian and Dao are not so far off and are really quite similar. The Daoist notion of Dao or The Way and the Confucian notion of Tian are similar in the least and create order in the natural world. It would be fair to say that Confucian teachings stress the family unit more than Daoism but as family is a general focus of Chinese culture, it would be unfair to dismiss a Daoist as not caring about the ancestors. In reality the idea of Tian and Dao are very similar and both the Daoist and Confucian try and create order and although Daoism teaches that human action cannot create order, in the end both the Confucian and Daoist live their life in accordance with attempting to create or maintain order in the natural world. Both the Confucian notion of Tian and the Daoist notion of Dao consider human action whether the plethora or lack of it to be the best way to create order or maintain order and as action and noninterference are both forms of actions, are not the two notions very similar?

Works Cited

Hasso 5 Crofts, Thomas. Confucius The Analects. N.p.: Dover Thrift, 1995. Print. Larson, Dr. "Religions of China and East Asia." Religious Studies. University of California Irvine, Irvine, Ca. 26 Nov. 2012. Lecture. Esposito, John L., Darrell J. Fasching, and Todd Vernon Lewis. Religions of Asia Today. New York: Oxford UP, 2009. Print. Legge, James. Tao Te Ching. Mineola: Dover Thrift Publications, 1997. Print.