What do the teachings of Jesus (Matthew 5-7) and the teachings of the Dao De Jing have in common?

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Jessica Pope | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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Both texts advise against judging others. They encourage individuals to be content with their station in life. Both texts also contain numerous references to avoiding trickery and exercising wisdom in daily life. They each emphasize the message that things are not always as they appear. Both texts present their teachers (Jesus and Lao Tzu) as speaking directly to a group of devoted disciples or students. The texts teach against worry and greed, and encourage devotees to adopt a loving and peaceful disposition.

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scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In general Matthew 5-7 (The Sermon on the Mount) and the principles of Dao De Jing promote living selfless lives of virtue. Below are specific similarities.

1. Humility--Both philosophies promote being humble and avoiding self-glory. Jesus promises wealth and power if someone practices humility, and the Tao selection threatens a fall from glory if someone practices extreme arrogance.

  • Matthew 5:5 (one of the Beatitudes) states that if someone is meek (humbly patient) that he will inherit the earth.
  • #9 Hubris from Dao De Jing: "Claim credit and honour and you will soon fall."

2. Avoid Materialism--Throughout both works, the authors stress the futility of accumulating possessions.

  • Matthew 6:19-21--Jesus warns against clinging to and hoarding earthly things which can be easily destroyed. Instead, he advises his listeners to focus on intangible, eternal "treasure" that will demonstrate the virtue of someone's soul.
  • Similarly, Selection 19 "Simplicity" from Dao De Jing suggests that if humans could do away with profit, then theft and corruption would disappear.

3. Living in Peace with Others

  • Several portions of Matthew 5-7 discuss forgiving one's enemy, turning the other cheek, loving one's neighbor, and going the "extra mile" if someone asks you to go with him or her.
  • Dao De Jing is slightly more assertive on how important it is for humans to get along with one another. Its teachings argue that if humans could rid themselves of their notions of "duty" and "justice," then they would live peaceably together because no one would be thinking about how he had been treated unfairly.

Of course, the philosophies of these two religious/philosophical texts share many more commonalities because they both asks adherents to think beyond themselves and the present.

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