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Speaking about Abrahamic and Asian religions it should be noted that there are significant differences between them, which are shaped by historical and cultural conditions.  While Christianity is monotheist and is based on a human image of God, Taoism, typically for several Oriental religions, speaks rather about impersonal divine force. At the same time, the passages under analysis suggest that both religions have core principles or laws, which work as moral guidelines to believers.

When looking at the Sermon on the Mount, it can be treated as a concise guide to Christian ethics. Speaking about Christianity in terms of its historical context, it should be noted that it emerged as a result of necessity for old values reconsideration. Not only these values were outdated but they led to decay of ancient civilization such as Roman and Greek ones. It was clear that having multiple deities who bless wars, envy, lust, and anger is a deadlock for human civilization, so necessity for a new universal monotheist religion was historically justified. The ancient world was torn by conflicts, so a more peaceful philosophy was desperately needed. Judaism was the only powerful monotheist religion, yet it could not become universal because of its focus on exclusively Jewish nation and its covenant with God. The newly emerged Christianity, in contrast, offered support and salvation to everyone regardless their ethnicity or social background. It this context, it looks significant that the people who wrote down Christ’s ideas, his disciples, originated mainly from lower social layers of Jewish and Roman society. Thus, first of all, integration and unity that Christianity brought was particularly relevant to the situation in the world of the epoch. Secondly, it was a democratic religion which encompassed wide circles of population.

Tao Te Ching is one of the key works of Taoism, one of ancient Asian religions, which originated in China. Its major difference from Christianity is the fact that it is rather in the middle between a religion and a philosophy. Taoism is a set of spiritual practices and laws, which are written in a much concise form, rather like guidelines than like story-telling. It does not have a deity in the sense as Abrahamic monotheist religions offer but it speaks of laws on which Universe is based. Like all main teachings, Tao Te Ching speaks about the idea that everything is closely related in the world, starting from a leaf on a tree to a human being. In this sense, because of such close relationship with nature, Taoism suggests that being simple and natural are qualities that can be taken by humans as main virtues.  It took centuries for Taoism to refine into a clear set of sacred texts from individual philosophical works, which were written by several philosophers. Unlike Christianity, Taoist texts are not claimed to be a direct message from God but rather a fruit of harmony and wisdom that righteous people had as a result of their spiritual labor and meditation. Laozi is believed to be the founder and the cult figure of Taoism, and the author of Tao Te Ching.

 Speaking about the chosen passages from the two texts, The Beatitudes section of The Sermon on the Mount focuses on the major human virtues. As opposed to older pagan religions where bravery and sometimes even cruelty of a warrior was glorified, Christianity blesses quite opposite values such as humility, love, compassion. Thus, several verses of the Sermon of Mount suggest that these qualities, which used to be less valued before, became crucial for the new religion: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth…Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy…Blessed are the peacemakers,   for they will be called children of God”. In fact, it would be true to say that these values served as the basis for building a new world, and enable to unite it. At the same time, the main historical discrepancy between Christ’s teaching and Christian church was the way how religion was spread around the globe. Under the historical conditions, it appeared to be impossible to convert nations into Christianity by mere preaching and good examples, as Christian ethics suggests. Instead, violent methods appeared to be more effective in establishing Christianity worldwide.  At the same time, the ethical ideals remained almost unchanged for centuries, and make up the core of Christianity even now. Moreover, they appear to have shaped Western Civilization and changed the face of the world completely. Besides, it is obvious that the role of the given text was to introduce new principles into Judaist background that would meet new historical spiritual expectations. So, the Sermon of Mount offers mercy instead of revenge, which expects for people after their death. Judaist God was powerful and based on the idea of justice, while the new spirit of Christianity changed the imaged of God completely. The passage implies that people are not going to be punished but they are going to be soothed, even though they suffer at the moment: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted… Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me”. Thus, to sum up, Christianity is a religion that brought hope and peace to people.

Despite the fact that Tao Te Ching has a totally different background, it contains principles that are universal. Thus, for instance, the implication of Tao is similar to Christian understanding of the good: “The supreme good is like water, which nourishes all things without trying to. It is content with the low places that people disdain. Thus it is like the Tao.”In fact, like Christianity, Taoism believes that goodness is natural for a human soul, that people are initially born good. Thus, it is just worth recollecting about this and reconnecting to Tao in order to live gracefully. Simplicity is another aspect that Tao Te Ching suggests as a criterion of goodness: “In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple.

In conflict, be fair and generous”. It is also interesting how the Christian principle of trust to God is parallel to Taoism. Thus, it is suggested by Christianity that one should not care about survival as it is God’s work, and a similar idea is expressed in the analyzed Tao Te Ching Passage: “In governing, don't try to control”. Although it can have several implications, one of possible interpretations is trust one life to the divine force without trying to influence or control it.

Personally, I believe that both the Sermon of Mount and Tao Te Ching (Section 8) speak about the universal truths, although they originate from different religions. The idea of goodness as the key principle of human life is appealing and is not offered to be achieved through extraordinary practices or feats. Both Taoism and Christianity suggest that everyday life in society, at work and in a family is the main and the most important religious practice, which requires decisiveness to follow the moral rules. It might be simple to follow them when no temptation emerges, but when one lives in the world where both the good and the evil are present, it gives an opportunity for a personal and spiritual growth.

Code: Sample20

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