OtherPapers.com - Other Term Papers and Free Essays
Search

A Comparative Examination of the Similarities Between the Taoist and Buddhist Texts

Essay by   •  March 10, 2013  •  Essay  •  1,546 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,042 Views

Essay Preview: A Comparative Examination of the Similarities Between the Taoist and Buddhist Texts

Report this essay
Page 1 of 7

The relationship between Taoism and Buddhism is complex but existent and long standing. Though born of different period and origin the two schools of thought frequently correlate and turn their similarly sighting eye on tantamount ideology. Whether this agreement is the result of enduring regional concerns or of a direct influence of Taoist writing on Buddhist writing is not made evident, however, like a spider web, interwoven at places and separating at others, there are aspects of both schools that overlap with each other and run together in a corresponding style of thought and reasoning. As a result, it is possible to find clarity on comparing Taoism and Buddhism texts in these places where they meet each other. An example of these intersection ideologies can be found between The Platform Sutra of Hui-neng and the Tao Te Ching. Specifically, both texts address similar issues such as nothingness, the nature of opposites, earthly attachment, and the non-duality of nature. When taken through the lense of the direct simplicity of the Tao Te Ching verses, the complicated and at times contradictory doctrine of The Platform Sutra can be more clearly analyzed.

ON NOTHINGNESS & THE VOID

In the second chapter of The Platform Sutra, Hui-neng introduces the idea of the essence of mind as "a state of absolute void" (The Sutra of Hui-neng 80). However, he goes on to emphasize that when considering the mind as a void one must not "fall into the idea of vacuity [because this involve the heresy of the doctrine of annihilation]" (The Sutra of Hui-neng 80) and compares the voidness of the mind to the voidness of the universe which "is capable of holding a myriad of things of various shape and form, such as the sun, the moon, stars, mountains, rivers, worlds, springs, rivulets, bushes, woods, good men, bad men, dharmas pertaining to goodness and badness, deva planes, hells, great oceans, and all the mountains of the Mahameru. Space takes in all these and so does the voidness of our nature" (The Sutra of Hui-neng 80). Hui-neng puts great emphasis on this comparison of the voidness of the mind to the voidness of space. Rather than suggesting "The Void" is and absence, Hui-neng instead suggests instead that "The Void" means unlimited capacity rather than emptiness. Hui-neng's comparison, however, focuses on a purely allegorical level and despite his emphasis that vacuity is not an issue, the problem of the emptiness of a void still remains.

The Tao Te Ching grasps this issue of emptiness and space and solves it. Verse 11 of the Tao Te Ching presents this solution: "Wu is nothingness, emptiness, non-existence / Thirty spokes of a wheel all join at a common hub / yet only the hole at the center / allows the wheel to spin / Clay is molded to form a cup / yet only the space within / allows the cup to hold water / Walls are joined to make a room / yet only by cutting out a door and window / can one ender the room and live there / Thus, when a thing has existence alone / it is mere dead-weight / Only when it has wu, does it have life" (Verse 11). Rather than dismissing emptiness and nothingness, the Tao Te Ching reveals it's importance and provides example of how emptiness is necessity and potential; "Tao is empty / yet it fills every vessel with endless supply" (Verse 4). Just as the emptiness within the center of the cup allows it to hold water, the voidness of the mind allows it to hold knowledge and wisdom, which is necessary for achieving the Buddha.

ON THE NATURE OF OPPOSITES

Despite the limitless capacity of "The Void" Hui-neng makes it clear that there ideas and concerns which one should fix their minds on and other which should be discarded and dismissed. Of the latter category he spotlights opposites, instructing his followers that "We should get rid of the pairs of opposites and all defiling conceptions. We should fix our mind on the true nature of tathata [suchness], for tathata is the quintessence of idea, and idea is the result of the activity of tathata." (The Sutra of Hui-neng 97) This idea would seem to correlate with the advocating of the dismissal of names and forms present in both The Platform Sutra and particularly in The Diamond Sutra. Without names and distinctions the function of opposites would be obsolete and futile. However, in His Final Instructions, Hui-neng seems to be making one of his characteristic contradictions of ideology by advising his students to answer questions "in antonyms so that a pair of opposites will

...

...

Download as:   txt (8.8 Kb)   pdf (111.8 Kb)   docx (12.1 Kb)  
Continue for 6 more pages »
Only available on OtherPapers.com
Citation Generator

(2013, 03). A Comparative Examination of the Similarities Between the Taoist and Buddhist Texts. OtherPapers.com. Retrieved 03, 2013, from http://taremaku.info/essay/A-Comparative-Examination-of-the-Similarities-Between-the/43288.html

"A Comparative Examination of the Similarities Between the Taoist and Buddhist Texts" OtherPapers.com. 03 2013. 2013. 03 2013 <http://taremaku.info/essay/A-Comparative-Examination-of-the-Similarities-Between-the/43288.html>.

"A Comparative Examination of the Similarities Between the Taoist and Buddhist Texts." OtherPapers.com. OtherPapers.com, 03 2013. Web. 03 2013. <http://taremaku.info/essay/A-Comparative-Examination-of-the-Similarities-Between-the/43288.html>.

"A Comparative Examination of the Similarities Between the Taoist and Buddhist Texts." OtherPapers.com. 03, 2013. Accessed 03, 2013. http://taremaku.info/essay/A-Comparative-Examination-of-the-Similarities-Between-the/43288.html.

Clinique | APEXEL (1) | Richard Widmark