What is Taoism?
Taoism can be considered both a philosophy and a religion. Its principles were first expressed in the classic text Tao The Ching, often attributed to the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, written about 500 BC. The essence of Taoism is "Tao," which means "the way." It is considered to be a universal principle that underlies everything from the creation of galaxies to the interaction of human beings. It has been described as the flow of the universe, or the force behind the natural order which keeps the universe balanced and ordered.
Tao is closely associated with nature, as it is believed that nature illustrates the way. Adherents consider the workings of Tao as vast and often beyond human logic. In order to understand Tao, they believe reasoning alone will not suffice. One must also apply intuition.
Religious Taoism includes a belief in many gods. Ritual is an important part of religious Taoism, and the rites are specific to particular deities and departed ancestors. According to their beliefs, anyone can, and should, perform their own rituals without the intermediary of a priesthood.
A central tenet of Taoism is wu wei. The literal meaning of wu wei is "without action". It is often expressed by the paradox wei wu wei, meaning "action without action" or "effortless doing." In ancient Taoist texts, wu wei is associated with water through its yielding nature. Water is soft and weak, but it can move earth and carve stone. Taoist philosophy proposes that the universe works harmoniously according to its own ways. When someone exerts his will against the world, he disrupts that harmony.
Who is Jesus Christ?
Jesus Christ is neither a philosophy nor a religion, but the very embodiment of the God of the universe. He is the one that makes the invisible, distant, mysterious, unknowable God real, near, and tangible to us. He is the Tao incarnated. The translation of the Bible in Chinese reads,
In the beginning was the Tao, and the Tao was with God, and the Tao was God….and the Tao became flesh. (John 1:1, 14)
For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form. (Col. 2:9)
Jesus is Tao personified. He is the Tao in bodily form—a Tao-man. Jesus Himself is called “The Way.” He does not merely show man the way to live, but His very living Person becomes our daily personal way into divine reality.
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14:6)
Jesus is the real living Tao! Whereas Tao is considered to be a universal principle that is behind all interactions in the universe, Jesus Christ is the universal Person:
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Col. 1:16-17)
Christ Himself is the flow of the universe. He created all things and holds all things together. All nature expresses Him, as He is the divine artist that is creatively expressed. His beauty, power, and grandeur are in nature. He keeps all in balance and order.
Today, Christ is not just a historical figure to follow. Through His death and resurrection, He became the Spirit to indwell those who receive Him.
If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Rom. 8:10-11)
The Christian way is to find Christ as the secret to all things. In Him we find peace and order. In Him we find the will of God. Jesus describes His life within us as living water. He is soft and refreshing, reviving us. Yet at the same time he is unrelenting and transforming, just as water can carve stone:
If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.' But this He spoke of the Spirit. (John 7:37-39)
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. (2 Cor. 3:17-18)
In Him we find the will of God, and we yield our will to Him. In this way we find peace and contentment in all circumstances:
I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philip. 4:11-13)
The Christian life joins itself to Christ and lives by Him. He is the resurrected One, who can terminate our old self and live in us with His power. It is a true wu wei, effortless action, just as a branch produces fruit by merely abiding in the vine:
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 14:5)
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Gal.2:20)
Yin and Yang Reconsidered
Taoism holds to a concept of duality, in which all things have their balancing property. Thus male cannot exist without female, light without darkness, and good without evil. But the salvation of Christ aims to defeat all antagonistic things, bringing peace. His light is eliminating all darkness; His grace is overpowering sin, His goodness is vanquishing evil, and death is being swallowed up by life. In eternity, only God will permeate the creation, making it a new creation. In the world of Tao, it may seem the status quo is eternal, and good and evil co-exist. But God will not allow this. There is no harmony with God and Satan.
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? (2 Cor. 6:14-16)
Christ is a dynamic savior, entering into our life, freeing us from all that opposes God, and making us one with Him. Tao does not acknowledge sin, because it has no solution for it. It seeks either to re-label it or ignore it, imagining a harmony between disharmonious things. But sin is real, and only through Christ can it be defeated. While Tao seeks to harmonize opposites via philosophy, Christ harmonizes us with God in reality. Tao believes all men are by nature good. The Bible agrees with that, but also shows us our evil nature. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, we have a practical way to overcome both sin’s guilt and power.
I hope you can see how similar Tao is to Christ. If you are Taoist, I would welcome you to consider the Person of Jesus Christ. By analogy, consider the matter of “friendship.” We may all agree that the principle of friendship, with such qualities as companionship, understanding, loyalty, and love, is a good thing. But if you just have the principle of friendship, and yet have no actual friends, the principle falls short.
It seems the genius of Lao Tzu was to see the principle of God, hundreds of years before He came to become incarnated in the Person of Jesus Christ. Now that He is here, available to bring you into the living Way, it would be a shame to miss Him in preference to following a mere principle.
Here is a simple prayer to try. Open yourself to Jesus. Ask Him sincerely to reveal Himself to you. I wish you well on your way!
Lord Jesus, if you are the real Tao, show Yourself to me. I want to know the reality of God and Your salvation. Breathe Your Spirit into my spirit, and grant me the divine ability to start living according to You as my living Way. Amen.
Synclesian (author) on October 27, 2015:
Thanks for your comments sandorini. It helps me understand Taoism more. I still think what you did is relabel sin, as I said in my writing above. Our body is who we are. Christian belief acknowledges the reality of our physical life, and reveals our body is both good, created by God, and evil, tainted by Satan's sin. The Bible shows we are both body and spirit, and denies neither as unreal, which Taoism does. Our hope is eventually a resurrected body, which abolishes sin, which brings even our physical body into oneness with God, as Paul describes in Philippians 3:
"For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself."
Good deeds cannot ever rid ourselves of the sin in our nature. It is a like a lion, trying to be a "good lion", thinking that somehow, with good effort, or maybe an incarnation event, they will be released from being a carnivore. Only Christ, received and indwelling us, can change our very nature. Again, the way of Tao is a denial of our actual state of being.
sandorini on March 29, 2013:
There is truth to this and there is also something about Tao that is misunderstood. Tao doesn't ignore sin. Sin is recognized through the concept of karma which can be good or bad. Tao believes that our true/original nature is pure because we come from an original pure source but since we were born into a relative world ying and yang forces came into play and karma created creating attachments that didn't exist in our original form. This creates delusion and so we believe our true nature is actually our physical body and not our spirit which in fact is our true form. This also creates reincarnation. The only way to change our destiny is to cultivate our true nature by ridding karma by practicing good deeds through sincerity. The more you cultivate the more pure you are eventually leading to enlightenment and ending the cycle if reincarnation. Instead of reincarnation the soul would be elevated to a higher plain - a pure whole and enlightened world.
Enlydia Listener from trailer in the country on January 17, 2012:
I like this and rated it up...awesome that the Chinese Bible refers to Jesus as Tao. Glad I found this.
Chris Vogel on November 18, 2010:
I am an Acupuncturist and my wife is Chinese but we both have found that what the writer said is TRUTH. Jesus is the real Tao and we love Him.
jimmo42 from Rohr, Germany on July 21, 2010: