Taoism vs Buddhism: Difference and Comparison

The earth, besides being home to many creatures, also houses numerous religions. Every religion roots from the difference in its beliefs, cultures, and principles.

However, every religion has its distinct representation. Pointing fingers towards any wouldn’t justify anybody’s righteousness. But in some regions, there exist pretty similar beliefs that people face confusion about.

So in the following paragraphs, we will be filtering the difference between Buddhism and Taoism.

Key Takeaways

  1. Taoism emphasizes harmony with the natural world and the Tao, or “the Way.”
  2. Buddhism focuses on attaining enlightenment through mindfulness and ethical conduct.
  3. Taoism has its roots in Chinese culture, while Buddhism originated in India.

Taoism vs Buddhism

The difference between Taoism and Buddhism  is that Taoism follows the ideas of Tao. It refers to an interconnected network of beliefs. On the other hand Buddhism is followed by the ones who learn and preach the teachings of Buddha. The contents of these teachings are branched from Buddha. 

Taoism vs Buddhism

Since the birth of Taoism in China ages back, it believes that there should exist a balance between humans and animals concerning this vast universe that shelters them.

Parallel to that is another belief that states the immortality of the soul. When simplified, it means that the soul after departing from the body merges with the universe to find its peace.  

Buddhism consists of all the life teachings and lessons of Lord Buddha. One of the widespread religions whose followers can be found in every corner of the earth apart from the streets of China.

The Buddhists believe that this life we have been gifted with is a test in disguise—a challenging test to examine our humanity. Thus, spiritual activities, concentration practices are the ones most required to jump this test successfully. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonTaoismBuddhism
BeliefIt believes in karma. The soul gets what it deserves from its previous deeds.It is about attaining eternal peace when the soul leaves the body and merges with the universe.
Perspective of GodThere is no specific God to follow. More of a philosophy-based life to walk on.It believes in the essence of substances. Thus also believes in a superior power.
Philosophy of lifeIt focuses on eliminating mental suffering. It prioritizes maintaining the balance of the universe and its contents.
PrinciplesIt unfolds the four truths of life along with an eightfold path to follow.With no definite principle, it focuses on the tao, i.e the balance as discussed earlier.
Root of teachingsIt comes from Gautam Buddha himself.It comes from Lao Tzu and other Taoism masters.

What is Taoism?

With its ground from China, Taoism is a religion that rests its belief on a fact. It says that all the creatures on the earth should maintain a balance among themselves about the universe. The “tao” symbolizes the essence of spirit in every substance.

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Besides that, Taoism has tagged its motto as the three treasures, namely, compassion, frugality, and humility. Its prime focus lies in leading a life full of natural ways and subtlety.

In actuality, there are no definite wordings for what tao is to date. It varies from person to person. It also differs from one place to another. 

Taoism has a network of beliefs. It begins with accepting ourselves for what we are. After this, we would be gaining peace with life. It teaches us to absorb everything with open hands.

Time has everything pre-planned for us. Thus, without any conflict, if we accept what it throws at us. There would be no complaints. 

After this, the network extended itself into various practices. Subtle ones insist we lead a simple greed-free life. Understanding what our heart longs for, reaching out for help, accepting the time, being truthful to others and us as well.

This belief is put to work once you join Taoism. 


What is Buddhism?

The great heir Siddharth Gautam, otherwise known as the Buddha, is the one to give birth to Buddhism. Like Taoism, it has its own beliefs and cultures.

Life here is described as a stage for enduring pain and emerging from it. Thus Buddhism is all about passing this test of suffering. 

At last, it is attaining eternal peace, otherwise called nirvana. It enlightens me about leading a life that oozes a simple mindset. Free from any anxiety, jealousy, and greed.

This site also has a network of beliefs. Unlike Taoism, Buddhism believes in rebirth. The soul takes up another form of the body depending on the way it spent its previous life. In simple words, we can call it karma.

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Apart from these, Gautam Buddha, during his search for nirvana, brushed aside four truths of life. The first is ‘pain and suffering.’ It states that every individual has something to deal with in his life. Next up is the ‘origin of suffering.’

It states that every suffering roots in the expression of desires. The third is ‘cutting off the suffering.’ It signifies the possibility of the breakage of suffering.

The last on the list is ‘the path to get rid of suffering.’ It brings up the steps essential for achieving enlightenment.

zen buddhism

Main Differences Between Taoism and Buddhism

  1. Taoism preaches about how the soul attains peace after merging with the universe. At the same time, Buddhism believes in the karma cycle, i.e., the soul, based upon its previous deeds, would get treatment in its next life.
  2. Taoism believes in the essence of the substance that drives the universe. Thus the balance between this essence and the universe is essential. On the other side stands Buddhism, which has no principle of following any God. It runs on its philosophy of attaining a peaceful, subtle lifestyle that gives you nirvana. 
  3. Taoism, without any specific direction, goes with the ‘tao.’ It means keeping alive the essence of substances and going parallel with the universe. Buddhism unfolds the four truths of life, which one can tag as their principles. Along with that, the eight gold paths one has to walk on. 
  4. Taoism believes that attaining balance with all life forms and with the universe is enormous. In contrast, the philosophical view of Buddhism lies in the elimination of mental suffering. 
  5. Taoism imparts its teachings from Lao Tzu and Zhuangzi. In Buddhism, all the teachings root in Lord Buddha.
Difference Between Taoism and Buddhism
  1. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1389953
  2. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11089-012-0442-3.pdf

Last Updated : 09 August, 2023

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