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Comparisons and Contrast of Jainism and Daoism

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Comparisons and Contrast of Jainism and Daoism

Both Jainism and Daoism (Taoism) have ancient roots going back a few thousand years. Statues and yogic seals found in the Indus Valley show that Jainism was practiced by civilizations as far back as around 2500 BCE, while Daoism appears to have originated around 2000 years ago. Although Jainism is older by about 4500 years both have continued to have to be practiced by numerous followers seeking a level of enlightenment.
Although having over 6 million followers little has been known about Jainism outside of India. This may be due in part to there being no written scriptures in regards to this religion for a large part of its history. Rather the teachers of Jain would orally spread their knowledge whilst wandering the land.
While Jainism was more or less “contained” in India, Daoism teachings are widespread throughout the world. Unlike Jainism, Daoism is a philosophical teaching and not a religion. This may help explain why so many people around the world choose to follow it as an escape from the “industrial rat race.” Yet when compared side to side, it is easier to understand how one would choose to follow Daoism over Jainism.
To say that Jainism is strict is an understatement. To follow Jainism successfully one would have to adhere to teachings such as the teachings of Mahivira, the man credited with giving Jainism the form that is practiced today. These teachings include the three jewels: Right belief, Right knowledge, and Right conduct. Emerging from these three jewels and relating to right conduct are the five abstinences, which are the vows of:
• Ahimsa (non-violence)

• Satya (truthfulness)
• Asteya (not stealing)
• Aparigraha (non-acquisition)
• Brahmacarya (chaste living)
A person following these five abstinences must be prepared to not harm any living thing, neither in words nor deeds, be truthful in all they say or do, let go of all personal possessions, and live a chaste life.
Daoism, on the other hand takes a less disciplined approach. Being a religion of unity and opposites; Yin and Yang, it seeks to find harmony with nature instead of avoidance due to fear of destroying life. Similar to Jainism, there is no, God, but unlike Jainism there are deities that are worshipped at Dao temples.
When it comes to acts of aggression or violence both Jainism and Daoism take a non-violent approach; Jainism through never becoming violent, and Taoist through ceasing to have any preference and practicing Wu-wei; action less actions, taking the no intentional or invasive action contrary to natural flow. The best way to achieve this is by withdrawing from the busyness of everyday life, contemplated life and love of nature, and harmonizing with the cosmos. Acts of meditation and feng shui; a type of geomancy which determines natural flows of qi through the earth as revealed by the flows of wind and water, are major draws to the teachings of Dao, especially Westerners.

Although from different locations and having different practices, Jainism and Daoism share similarities in the fact that both teach a message of non-violence, calm, and relaxation. This is seen in Daoism with its laid back approach to life, and Jainism with its strict discipline and adherence to abstinences.

References:
Living Religions (Fisher 2013)
Jainism, BBC: Religions, BBC.co.uk (http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/jainism/)
Daoism, BBC: Religions, BBC.co.uk (http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/taoism/)

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