What are the similarities of Taoism, Confucianism, and Shintoism? the diffs?

Pagoda in Gray Scale Shot
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Understanding Taoism
Baso was a disciple of the Zen Master, Buko. At the time this incredibly beautiful haiku was born, he was living in a small hut by the side of an old pond. One day, after a brief rain, Master Buko visited Baso and asked, “How is your understanding these days?”

Remember, the Master has not asked, “How is your knowledge?” He has asked, “How is your understanding?”
Understanding is totally different from knowledge. Knowledge is borrowed, understanding is one’s own. Knowledge comes from without, understanding wells up within. Knowledge is ugly, because it is secondhand. And knowledge can never become part of your being. It will remain alien, it will remain foreign, it cannot get roots into you. Understanding grows out of you, it is your own flowering.
It is authentically yours, hence it has beauty, and it liberates.
Truth can never be borrowed from anybody, and the borrowed truth is no longer truth. A borrowed truth is already a lie. The moment truth is said, it becomes a lie. Truth has to be experienced, not to be heard, not to be read. Truth is not just going to be a part of your accumulation, part of your memory. Truth has to be existential: each pore of your being should feel it. Yes, it has to be a feeling.
Each breath should be full of it. It should pulsate in you, it should circulate in you like your blood.
When truth is understood, you become it.
Hence the Master Buko asked his disciple, “Baso, how is your understanding these days?” And don’t forget those two beautiful words, ‘these days’.
Truth is always growing. Truth is a movement. It is not static, it is dynamic. It is a dance. It is like growing trees and flowing rivers and moving stars. Truth is never, at any point, a static phenomenon.
It is not stasis; it is utterly dynamic, it is movement. To be alive it has to be moving.
Only death is static, only death is stagnant. Hence the people who are dead may look alive on the surface, but if their truth is no longer growing they are dead. Their soul is no longer growing. Truth is not an idea but your very being, your very soul.
Hence the Master asked, “How is your understanding THESE days?” He is not asking about the past. Knowledge is always about the past, imagination is always about the future. He is asking about the present, he is asking about the immediate.
Basho responded Rain has passed Green moss moistened.

Just a few moments before, it was raining: the rain has passed, green moss moistened. It is good, but not VERY good. It is already past. It is no longer immediate. It is a memory already, it is no longer experiencing. Buko was not contented – the answer was good but not great. And a Master is never contented unless the answer is absolute unless the answer is really as it should be – and certainly not with the potential of a man like Baso.
Now nobody knows about Buko, his Master. He is known only because of Baso. The disciple had infinite potential; the Master cannot be contented so easily. Remember it! – the more potential you have, the more you will be put to hard tasks. The Master will be severe with you. He is going to be very hard on you.
The answer was good if it had come from somebody of lesser potential than Baso; the Master might have nodded his head in consent – but not to Baso. Even a few minutes’ gap is gap enough. The rain is no more there, the clouds have dispersed, it is already sunny, the sun is shining all around, on the old pond, on the hut…
He said, “Say something more!”
And when the Master says, “Say something more,” he does not mean talk a little more about it. He does not mean ‘more’ in a quantitative sense. He means: say something deeper, say something more intense, say something more existential. say something more, qualitatively!
At that instant, Baso heard the plop of a frog jumping into the pond.
He said, Frog jumps in The sound of water Now, this is Tao: the immediate, that which is, alive, throbbing, this very moment. Tao knows no past, no future. Tao knows only one kind of time, that is present. Tao knows only here now. Just let your mind disappear and then there is no past and no future. Past and future are mental creations. In reality, there is only present. And when there is no past, no future, how can you even call it present?
– because the present has meaning only in reference to past and future.
The present is sandwiched between the past and the future. If you have taken away past and future, the present also disappears. That is the moment of Tao when time disappears when one is in utter immediacy when one is utterly here now, neither roaming somewhere in the ghosts of the past or in the unborn images of the future. This is the moment of enlightenment: when time is not, and when you are utterly here and nowhere else. And when there is no time, there is no mind. Mind and time are synonymous. The more mind you have, the more you are conscious of time. That’s why in the Western world a great time-consciousness has arisen: it is because of the cultivation of the mind.

Excerpts of stories from Osho Book The Secret of Secrets Volume 2

Understanding Confucianism
Confucians are the first Behaviourists of the world. Pavlov and B. F. Skinner are their disciples.

Confucius says that a man’s behavior can be changed, manipulated, through punishment and reward. That is the technique that has been used down the ages by moralists. You reward the child if he follows your idea, you punish the child if he goes against you. Through punishment and reward you by and by condition his mind.

All minds are conditioned – and what Maoists are doing in China today is very ancient in China.
Confucius taught it very well. The idea has to be understood. The idea is that a man can be manipulated if you torture him or if you reward him. Through greed and fear, a man can be manipulated. That’s what you have been doing to your children, that’s what has been done to you by your parents and by your society.
What are you doing to criminals in your prisons? Torturing them. Trying to condition their mind. Why does the priest go on talking about hell and heaven? What is the idea of hell and heaven? It is just the simple idea of punishment and reward. If you follow the priest you will be rewarded in heaven; if you don’t follow the priest you will be punished in hell. And they have painted hell in such colors that everybody will become afraid, everybody will start trembling. Then one starts holding on to oneself, repressing oneself’.
Excerpts from Osho Book Tao The Pathless Path

Buddhism and Confucianism can be said to be polar opposites. Confucianism is an ancient type of communism – no God, no soul, but only morality, social conduct, social ethics … a better way of behavior, of being a gentleman, nice and cultured. Confucianism is the education of personality, while Buddhism is not a study at all. And secondly, Buddhism is absolutely against personality. The more cultured the personality is, the more difficult it to penetrate because the cultured personality becomes a solid rock.

Excerpts from osho Book Zen The Solitary Bird
Understanding Shintoism
The old religion of Shinto in Japan dissolved into Buddhism, just as a river meets an ocean – no conflict, just a welcome merger.
Shinto and Zen have grown together, side by side. Zen masters go to Shinto temples and monasteries and live there. Shinto masters come to Zen monasteries and live there
Excerpts from osho Book Sermons in Stones

When the philosophy of meditation reached Japan, it already had a religion, Shinto – very primitive, without any great philosophy or any great arguments. People were only formally related to it; their hearts were not dancing with it. It was out of date, there was a vacuum. They needed something to fill the vacuum, and then came the philosophy of meditation.
Excerpts from Osho The-New-Dawn
About Osho
Osho is Indian Born Mystic, known for his revolutionary contribution to the science of inner transformation, with an approach to meditation that acknowledges the accelerated pace of contemporary life. His unique Meditations are designed to first release the accumulated stresses of body and mind so that it is then easier to take an experience of stillness and thought-free relaxation into daily life.

Osho can be reached at www.osho.com


  1. Confucianism, Taoism/Daoism, & Shintoism they are all east Asian philosophies/religions and also called as the ascendants of nature.

  2. Taoism, Confucianism and Shintoism are all Dharmic. Taoism is based upon the fact of yin and yang. So say there is no good without bad, there is no pretty without ugly, No smart without dumb…etc. Taoism (or Daoism) is based on the teachings of a man named Loa Zi. It is more of a philosophy than a religion. Focuses on people?s inherent goodness and individual freedom.:) It does focus upon nature and how you should treat it. Confucianism was a teaching made by a man name Confucius (well duhh). It is based in order and family, society, and traditional culture. Shintoism is a religion where nature, spirits, and ancestors are worshiped. The creator is unknown but it originated in Japan… Yeah that’s all that I know but well I tried

  3. this is what i think are the differences just off the top of my head by the way great responces im doing the hsc so i just want to see what u guys think 🙂
    Shinto is not an orthodox practice and not related to Taoism.
    There have been low level Daoists in China for years and they are popular. “In the Daoist small worldly paths they don?t cultivate longevity. What they do is all about fortune-telling, feng shui reading, exorcising evil, and healing people, and most small worldly paths use sorcery.”, copied from page #105 in the Zhuan Falun Lecture on the web. See page #8 for higher level of Daoist practice.
    Daoist teaching can be found in Dao Te Ching and Daoist Canon. In order to comprehend the ancient scriptures, you’ll need to be an excellent Chinese scholar in Chinese literature. Or you’ll need to find a high level Daoist master, who is difficult to come by.
    There is an alternative, you learn about the Taoist belief from the online lecture: Zhuan Falun.
    Not relating to Buddhism nor Daoism, Falun Gong is a unique Buddha School, combining the Daoist and Buddhist practice. consisting of five sets of powerful exercises.
    Falun Gong, Tibetans, other Buddhists, and Christians have been persecuted in China. The most offensive human right violation is the organ harvesting from the Falun Gong practitioners in China.

  4. I don’t want to suggest that there’s anything wrong with Tim’s response, but I have a different take on things which is completely fair. These paths are large, wide, diverse. We can both be right.
    I would like to draw parallels between these three paths and their counterparts in Western culture.
    Shintoism is the indigenous religion of Japan. It is like Native American religion in the US. I don’t know much about it beyond that, but I do know that it isn’t the same as Buddhism which is also popular in Japan.
    Taoism is more of a philosophy to me than a religion. It did go through that immortality phase, but I liken that to the middle ages where alchemy was a big deal in Europe. For my money, I would say that Taoism as a philosophy basically says that yin and yang arise together. Everything is a blessing, everything is a curse.
    Confucianism is big on social order. While they may have been hard on women (I don’t know this personally, but will take Tim’s word on this), there are some benefits to this approach that aren’t immediately evident to our individualistic society we have in the West. So this approach taught that everybody in the family has a part to play, for the team or family. I’m reminded of one of the opening songs to Fiddler on the Roof where every member of the family describes their responsibilities. This is part of Confucianism.
    To me, Shintoism is a native or indigenous religion.
    Taoism is a philosophy.
    Confucianism is social rules and behaviors.

  5. Taoism is very different from other religions. One of its main doctrines is to get immortality, well, through endless zazen practices and physical practices, not evil black magic and spells, but still supernatural.
    it is said that they can absorb the five basic elements in the physical world, the elements of metal, wood, water, fire and soil, into their bodies. The more they do so, the longer they live, and the more powerful they are, until finally they fly to heaven (another dimension, i guess)and become immortal.
    And as i know, Taoism doesn’t preach salvation. it just encourages people to feel and understand Nature, try to be part of it like a piece of stone and forget the inner me, like the sensation of ashes to ashes, dust to dust. It sounds unfeeling and cold.
    According to my knowledge, you can barely call Confucianism a religion. It is more like a kind of ideology. It doesn’t have doctrines like other religions. No salvation, no heaven, no afterlife. The core values of Confucianism are still ethics, but all of them are about worldly matters and politics, not about myth or religious vision or belief.
    Confuciansim is just an ideology that serves the ancient feudal system.
    Confuciansim lowered women’s social status, and turned them into mere baby bearer and private property.
    We say Confucius was a saint, but Confuciansim is another thing. At the very beginning, Confuciansim was not so bad, it taught people virtues and wisdom. So we also call Confucius a great educator. But later, the ruling class took advantage of it to manipulate people’s minds.
    If you want to find nobility or virtues in Confuciansim, you will find them filled between the lines. But if you want to find humanism or democracy or liberty in it, forget it.
    In China, there are some people who resist Confuciansim, but most of us choose to ignore it. And there are no Confucian fanatics or even loyal followers, either, because it is not a religion at all.

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