THE TAO AND GOD: THE WAY OF MAN VS. THE WAY OF GOD

By Marcia Montenegro, March/June 2014
Responding to New Age views in the West......

"The Tao is the source of all. So is God."

"Yin and Yang need each other just as God needs Satan."

These comments might be said by those involved in New Age or Eastern spiritual beliefs. Are they true? This article examines some teachings about the Tao in the first section, and then Yin and Yang in the second section, with a comparison to the living God, and a section on Jesus with summary.

The Tao

In the ancient Chinese religion of Taoism, the impersonal Tao is the source of all that exists. But the Tao supposedly cannot be described in words. In the famed Taoist text from the 3rd/4th centuries B.C., the Tao Te Ching, it states "the Tao that can be spoken of is not the Tao" (http://www.beliefnet.com/Wellness/2000/04/On-Taoism.aspx#SpK9L9vpoxF38v4r.99). (Of course, saying anything about the Tao, even claiming it cannot be described, is describing it).

The Tao is defined as

literally 'the path' or 'the way.' It is a universal principle that underlies everything from the creation of galaxies to the interaction of human beings (http://www.taoism.net/articles/what_tao.htm).

Following the Tao involves the principle of Wu-Wei:

Wu Wei means living by or going along with the true nature of the world - or at least without obstructing the Tao - letting things take their natural course.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/taoism/beliefs/concepts.shtml

According to Taoist teachings, the truth of the Tao can only be understood indirectly, through experiences, or through a process of enlightened living. Happiness is gained by living in the flow of the Tao, which is the flow of the universe. This belief has no personal God (though Taoism has non-eternal deities and divine beings, which may come from the blending of Taoist teachings with indigenous animistic religions).

Referring to the Tao, Taoist teacher Wen-Tzu states that

The Way has no front or back, no left or right: all things are mysteriously the same, with no right and no wrong.
(Wen-Tzu, Further Teachings of Lao-Tzu [Boston: Shambhala, 1992], 109)

There is no life and death because "Life and death are one, right and wrong are the same," (from the Chuang Tzu as quoted in World Religions, Geoffrey Parrinder, 333).

From this and other sources, we see that the Tao is impersonal, cannot be described, is a principle, is amoral, and is part of the created universe.

The Creator God
The Creator of the universe, the one true living God, the I AM (eternally existent), is a personal God who made man in such a way that we can communicate with Him and understand what He wishes to convey.

He is the source of all in the sense of having created the universe, but He is distinct from His creation (Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1: 16, 17). God sustains the universe and has revealed Himself in His word and through His son, the God-man Jesus Christ (Isaiah 45:5, 46:9; Luke 22: 67-70; John chapter 1, and John 8:19).

Being finite, we cannot comprehend God in His totality, but we can have sufficient knowledge of Him via the attributes He has revealed. His eternal attributes are that He is: without beginning, not confined by space, self-sustaining, transcendent, omnipresent, and omniscient. His moral attributes include righteousness, mercy, love, long-suffering, judgment on sin, and faithfulness, (Psalm 90:2; Isaiah 40: 25; Psalm 139: 7; Psalm 86:15; 1 John 1:5; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Corinthians 1:9 (see "What Are the Attributes of God?" at http://www.gotquestions.org/attributes-God.html).

Summary of the Tao and God:
The Tao is impersonal; God is personal
The Tao cannot be described or known; God has revealed His attributes and is known through Jesus Christ
The Tao is part of creation; God is distinct from creation
The Tao is amoral; God is holy and righteous
The Tao cannot offer love or mercy; God is love (1 John) and merciful
The Tao is remote: God is transcendent and imminent and has revealed himself through His son, the God-Man Jesus Christ

Yin and Yang

Where do the complementary forces of Yin and Yang come in?

Through the dynamics of yin and yang, the female and male cosmic principles, the Tao creates all phenomena. Whereas the Tao is perfectly harmonious, the cosmos is in a state of constant disequilibrium.
(Spirituality By The Numbers, Georg Feuerstein, p. 146).

The Tao represents ideal harmony and balance rather than ideal goodness or love.

In many pagan, occult, and Gnostic worldviews, male and female forces are the basis of creation. We find this in Egyptian religions (represented by the Ankh intertwining a female with a male symbol), in the Kabbalah (where the Kabbalistic God, Ein Sof, is represented with male and female sides which must be balanced), and in some forms of modern Witchcraft.

Yin is the female principle and Yang is male. Each is associated with nature as specified through Taoist teachings: Yin is darkness, watery, receptive, the moon; while Yang is light, dryness, active, the sun and so forth. The Yin and Yang forces are the substance of creation and the matrix of every aspect of life, including a person's physical organs and the unseen forces within the person.

Early Chinese medicine (now often called Traditional Chinese Medicine), including acupuncture, is mostly based on the Taoist views of Yin and Yang and the universal life force, chi, and how to bring health and harmony back to an ill body. It is believed that illness results from the imbalance of yin and yang due to blocked chi.

In such a view, balance is the ideal. Balance between yin and yang is continually sought through various techniques in order to bring about harmony between heaven and humanity, and humanity and earth.

Satan and Evil
Satan, which is a title meaning "adversary" and is not a proper name, was created as one of God's angels. God did not create Satan as an evil angel. Satan chose to rebel and other angels joined him in this repudiation of God's authority and rule (Luke 10:18; Revelation 12:9), setting up a kingdom of darkness (Acts 26:18; Colossians 1:13, 14; Ephesians 6:12). Satan continues to defy God and to deceive people though his power and time are limited and he will be utterly vanquished.

God, who has no beginning, existed before creation, and creation includes all of the angels, including Satan. Satan is not an opposite to God since he (Satan) is a creature; God has no opposite since there is no one like God (Isaiah 44:24ff; 45: 5, 6, 21, 22). God has never needed Satan as yin and yang supposedly need to exist for each other, because God does not need anything or anyone. God's existence is not dependent on anyone or anything.

The yin and yang are dynamic, constantly merging with each other; thus, there are no absolutes. However, God is totally righteous.

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).

Nor is there a balance sought between God and Satan or good and evil. In fact, Jesus came to destroy the devil's work (I John 3:8). One day, the devil will be thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10). There is only light in God's kingdom (Revelation 21:23, 22:5). Jesus never taught there is a world of complementary opposites needed for each other's existence.

Evil is not a force but is the result of sin, which is rejection and defiance of God's will and holy nature. Evil is found in everyone's nature (Romans 3:23) as the desire to do one's will versus submitting to God, and manifests in behavior and actions. Since evil is not a force, it does not exist in any way on its own.

Jesus

Jesus Christ, the son of God and God the son, is the light of the world.

I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness (John 12:46).

The evil nature of man, a result of disobedience to God, cannot be fixed through human means. Religious acts, moral living, purification rituals, meditation, acts of service, kindness, or altruism, can never balance out evil nor defeat it. Since God is righteous, he cannot abide this evil (sin) and must judge it. The penalty is death (Romans 6:23). Only the God-man Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life on earth as man, was able to pay this penalty through death on the cross, and conquer death through his bodily resurrection on the third day after his crucifixion.

Through faith in Jesus Christ as the one who paid this penalty, one is credited with the righteousness of Christ and free of the penalty for sin, which is eternal separation from God (John 3:16; Romans 3:28, 5:8; Galatians 2:16, 3:22; Ephesians 1:7, 2:8, 9; Titus 3:5). This salvation from eternal death is called redemption.

He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12).

Summary

The Tao is the "Way" in Taoism but Jesus said

I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except by me (John 14:6).

The Tao is impersonal and offers no love. But we are told

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Yin and Yang are darkness and light, needing each other for balance. But Jesus is all light. Those who believe in Jesus as the Savior who died and took on the penalty of eternal death for sins walk in light.

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life" (John 8:12).

Links on Taoism

http://www.patheos.com/Library/Taoism.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/taoism/

http://www.sacred-texts.com/tao/

Selected book sources used

Bowker, John, ed. Cambridge Illustrated History of Religions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Bowker, John, ed. The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Campbell, Eileen and J. H. Brennan. Body Mind & Spirit. Tuttle Publishing, 1994.

Feuerstein, Georg. Spirituality by the Numbers. Tarcher, 1994.

Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. Harper's Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experience. Edison, NJ: CASTLE BOOKS/Books Sales, Inc., 1991.

Hopfe, Lewis M. Religions of the World, 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1994.

Melton, J. Gordon. New Age Encyclopedia. Gale Group, 1995.

Osborne, Richard and Borin Van Loon. Introducing Ancient Eastern Philosophy. Totem Books, 1992.

Parrinder, Geoffrey. World Religions, From Ancient History to the Present. Barnes & Noble, 1999.

Wen-Tzu, Further Teachings of Lao-Tzu. Boston: Shambhala, 1992.

Wong, Eva. The Shambhala Guide to Taoism. Boston: Shambhala Publications, Inc., 1997.
 

 

 

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