An Overview of Eastern Philosophy

What is eastern philosophy? Also known as Asian philosophy, this branch of philosophy focuses on the philosophy of Asia. The various branches of this philosophy include Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese. In this article, you will learn about the various schools of eastern philosophy and discover what they have to offer. This branch of philosophy also includes Taoism and Buddhism. There are many differences between the four branches, and there are several examples of each. Here is an overview of each.


Popular Taoism explains the universe as being run by a government with various gods responsible for different aspects. One of these gods, the Jade Emperor, administers all physical existence. However, he is not all-powerful; a greater god, the Heavenly Sage, reigns supreme. This theory of eternal life, which is the essence of Taoism, also states that once life comes to an end, the universe will be recreated by the Tao.

Among the main principles of Taoism is that everything has a balance. This means that the universe is a harmonious whole and that opposites work in unison. This idea also helps explain why everything is connected to each other. Westerners refer to this force as God. Therefore, Taoism believes that a person is a product of both yin and yang. As such, a person who practices Taoism is a priest.

In Taoism, the fundamental laws of nature are considered sacred. Consequently, the way one lives their life is based on these laws. According to Taoists, they should live a simple and harmonious life by letting go of their pride and seeking to align with the natural world. Consequently, the practice of Tai Chi and mindfulness can help people develop their skills in these areas. As with any other ancient philosophy, Taoism emphasizes a peaceful, tranquil approach to life.


Western psychology and Eastern philosophy both draw inspiration from various traditions. For example, the Four Noble Truths in Buddhism are similar to the approach of ACT, which focuses on experiential learning. Similarly, the Eightfold Path in Buddhism aims to promote compassion, a sense of connectedness with others, and a decrease in the fusion of self and anger. In short, both Eastern philosophy and Buddhism have much in common, but there are also differences.

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As part of its emphasis on the Three Dharma Seals, Buddhism emphasizes the existence of impermanence, the non-self, and extinction of ignorance. This leads to a deep understanding of the present-dimensional reality and contact with the ultimate dimension, which ultimately ends suffering. Buddha also maintained that enlightenment is not achieved intellectually, but rather through personal experience, meditation, and other practices. This approach is complemented by a supportive community.

Buddhist sutras use the word “self” in idiosyncratic ways. In the Buddha-Nature Treatise, “the true self” is described as “the wisdom of not-self”. Buddhists adopted the language of both orthodox teachings and essentialist non-Buddhist philosophers. In the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, “the luminous mind of the Nikayas” is identified as the tathagathagarbha.


The tenets of Confucianism emphasize a person’s ability to cultivate himself or herself for the benefit of the community. The philosophy encourages self-cultivation and leading by example. It has also been described as the most humane of all the major philosophical traditions. Confucianism is the oldest of these. It was developed in ancient China, but modern versions can still be found in many Chinese cities.

The difference between Taoism and Confucianism is most evident in the way the two are interpreted. Although both schools of Chinese thought emphasize individuality, there are also differences between men and women in their attitudes toward social roles and moral requirements. Women were generally more likely to endorse certain tenets of Confucianism than men. Women endorsed the empowering Confucianism subscale of human heartedness more strongly than men.

One aspect of Confucianism that many people don’t recognize is its theological aspect. Confucius believed in a concept called Tian, which is the source of all life. This source created order from chaos. The Confucians also believed in the constant flux of Yin and Yang. The theory of Yin and Yang was a major part of Chinese society, but it was also part of everyday life.

Although Confucius gave the name to the school, he was not the first to discuss its concepts. Confucius had other priorities, and it was his students who collected his wisdom. His followers, including Xunzi and Mencius, continued to elaborate on Confucianism. However, despite its influence on Chinese philosophy, Confucianism would not become a part of Chinese culture until Han declared it the state philosophy.

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Daoists view violence as an affront to the Way of Nature. They believe that violence is the ultimate manifestation of ignorance. As such, they counsel against violence. They also urge rulers to govern by virtue. Ultimately, Daoism aims to lead a life free of violence. The way to achieve this is through self-cultivation. Daoists believe that living in harmony with the Way is similar to being a child in play.

The Way of the Celestial Masters was founded in 142 CE. It was followed by the Shangqing Shang Qing, which means “Highest Clarity,” and the Quanzhen Quan Zhen, which means “Complete Perfection.” The historical evolution of Daoism and its influence is problematic. Scholars and Western sinologists have historically divided it into two separate categories. In doing so, they often ignore or essentialize aspects of Daoism and fail to consider the complex process of conceptual appropriation and poetic influence within the tradition.

While Buddhism became the dominant religion in China, Daoism has emerged as a distinct religion in China. As a result, there are as many interpretations of the tradition as there are vantage points. Adapting to the changing circumstances of modern life, the Daoists evolved their religion into an organized religion. Daoism is one of the most popular religions in Chinese-speaking areas. Daoism is a practical religion, offering guidance through physical regimens, ritual services, and codes of behavior.

Mahayana Buddhism

The Mahayana school of Buddhism is one of two major schools of Buddhism. It takes its name from the Sanskrit word for “Great Vehicle.” Most practitioners of the Mahayana school of Buddhism are found in Asia, particularly in Korea, China, Indonesia, and Tibet. The boundaries between the two schools are largely arbitrary, though both emphasize the notion of emptiness and bodhicitta, the desire to liberate others from suffering and the Buddhist cycle of rebirth.

In Buddhism, the world is a continuous cycle of rebirth and transmigration. Nirvana is the state of spiritual perfection and absence of suffering, and for the Mahayana school, this is the highest degree of reality. The school also emphasizes that all sentient beings are interconnected and nothing is untouched by the processes of nature. This is why suffering is natural, not a result of evil.

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While the salvific vision of the Mahayana school is quite broad, it also is deeply rooted in the doctrine of skillful means. While buddhas are motivated by compassion and wisdom, their actions are guided by insight and ultimately lead ordinary beings to enlightenment. Although their methods may appear deceptive, their superior insight enables them to be justifiable. The most famous examples of skillful means come from the parables of the Lotus Sutra, which have served as influential models for later interpretations.


In the context of eastern philosophy, Mohism relates to the concept of moral right. According to the Mohist hypothesis, a person’s nature can be shaped by the incentives that he or she receives. A courtier may change his or her appearance and go on a diet if the ruler is in the mood. But this radical change to one’s lifestyle or motivation is not the intention of a Mohist.

However, many scholars have discredited the concepts and ideas of Mohism in Eastern philosophy. One of the most influential Chinese philosophers, Wing-tsit Chan, once stated that Mohism’s ideas are superficial and unimportant. He saw Mohism as an attempt to counter Confucianism’s influence. Yet, there is much to admire in Mohism. While many of its most influential followers have made strident statements about the importance of morality, it is nevertheless interesting to know that the Chinese philosopher had many criticisms.

In the case of “impartial concern,” the Mohists respond to the main objection against the doctrine. They point to historical examples to show that the requirements of this doctrine are no harder than those of a ruler. For example, he or she may not have been able to do the same for every subject. Yet, Mohists believe that they can reshape people to adopt a more impartial concern by offering the right incentives.

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