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Why People Confuse Buddhism and Taoism?

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Why People Confuse Buddhism and Taoism?

event 14 December 2021

Buddhism and Taoism are the most densely followed religions in Singapore and bear some similarities that make people confuse them with each other.

An outsider differentiates a religion primarily based on the religious ceremonies that practically demonstrate any faith. Both the Buddhist funeral Singapore and Taoist Funeral Singapore look fairly similar, primarily because of their shared belief in reincarnation.

But in reality, it is nothing but generalization as both Buddhism and Taoism have distinct differences in their belief system.

This blog will discuss four major differences in the religions and explain how the confusion might have begun in the first place. 

  1. Origin:

Buddhism and Taoism have two totally different origins and do not meet at any point in history. Buddhism is considered to have its basis in Hinduism and has its origin in the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, where as Taoism originated from the philosophical concepts of Lao Tzu.

  1. Human Nature:

Like any other religion, Taoism and Buddhism also have their concept regarding human nature and how human life came into being.

According to Buddhism, a human being is a combination of five basic and non-physical elements of life. These elements are the physical form, feelings, ideations, dispositions, and consciousness, referred to as rupa, vedana, sanna, sankhara, and vinnana, respectively.

Buddhism believes that there is no self or soul and human existence is just a composition that contains the elements mentioned above.

Where as Taoism believes that humans originated from nature and are a pure segment of it. But as life continues after birth, human nature is polluted by society’s cultivated beliefs, which has led to human beings becoming destructive for themselves and others.

  1. God:

Another important concept of any traditional religion is the concept of God, a higher being that created humans, who control their lives and the rest of the universe and judge them on the concept of good and evil.

Both Buddhism and Taoism reject the idea of the presence of any higher power that controls their lives, which adds to the confusion, but if you get into a bit of detail, you will find out that their counter-concepts are completely different from each other.

Buddhists believe in a concept of Devas that are an equivalent of gods, but they believe them to be divine beings. They believe that the devas are not eternal and will eventually face death, but they serve the purpose of a guiding light and works for the betterment of humanity.

On the contrary, Taoists reject the idea of the presence of any superior being entirely and consider Tao to be the ultimate power. Tao is a natural sequence that exists under the apparent layers of the universe and controls how everything, including the universe, nature, and its beings, works.

  1. Death:

As every traditional religion explains the fundamental concepts of the origin of human beings and the presence of a higher being, they also address the phenomenon of death.

Both Buddhists and Taoists believe in the concepts of reincarnation or rebirth, i.e., death is not permanent, and after a human dies, he gets a rebirth into a new life as a new person.

These beliefs have constructed the system for Buddhist funeral Singapore and Taoist funeral Singapore. Both of them include certain religious practices.

But both of them also believe in conclusion to life, and that is where the difference lies.

The Buddhists believe that life is suffering and reincarnation is the continuation of this suffering. They believe that the conclusion to this cycle is breaking the samsara, which is only possible by achieving the state of Nirvana.

Attaining Nirvana is the primary goal, and that’s what Buddhism guides its followers towards.

According to Taoism, the end goal is going back to the origin, i.e., Tao. They believe that the cycle of reincarnation continues until one becomes pure, and that’s when the process of reincarnation ends, and one is allowed to fulfill his purpose.


Buddhism and Taoism do not only have their followers in Singapore; the religions are shared among all the East Asian countries, including China, Malaysia, Thailand, etc.

There is no denying that both religions share some superficial similarities, and the blog discussed how one might confuse them with one another.

But we also went through the fundamentals of each traditional religion to investigate the similarities and differences between Buddhism and Taoism.

After the arguments presented above, it is evident that Buddhism and Taoism not only have two different origins, they also have totally different concepts regarding human beings, their birth, their purpose, and the concepts of death.

Both religions motivate their followers towards a similar harmonious attitude and preach to them to do good and avoid evil, but if you look deeper, their belief systems do not cross each other at any point, let alone align with each other.