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Jesus and Tao-te ching


Is there any correspondence between Jesus' sayings and the Tao-te ching? Many think there are and try to show us where and how.

I recently found a book by Martin Aronson(1) publishing several quotes in order to compare and judge them as identical. Still I am sure that they are not. Let me comment the following comparison:

    Bible: Martha, Martha, you are busy and bothered about many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which shall not be taken from her (Luke 10:41).

    Tao-te ching: If you keep your mouth shut
    and guard the senses
    life is free of toil.
    Open your mouth
    always be busy
    and life is beyond hope.
    (Tao-te ching, chapter 52, verse 2)

The meaning of the first quote is simple to seize: Maria chose the good path as she is interested in learning from Jesus while her sister is bothered by the day-to-day business. You must also read the previous verses in order to understand the meaning.(2)

The quote from Tao-te ching has but little in common with the Bible's. Moss Roberts, the author of a new translation of the Tao..., believes this verse is a reprise of the theme of keeping the people away from knowledge.(3) "Guarding the senses" would be like having no interest in learning.

There is still another meaning of this verse, namely: one should keep from waste his inner essence in order to prolong his life and even acquire immortality. This meaning as well as the first one doesn't fit the Bible's. They are different as referring to different things.

To sum up, Jesus invites us to learn from him rather than be bothered by mundane business, while Lao-tzu speaks about rejecting knowledge of any kind as it is the path to estrangement.

I shall give more examples of quotes from both books not having anything in common.

(1) Jesus and Lao Tzu: The Parallel Sayings (p. 5-6).

(2) V. 39-40: She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" (From https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%2010:39).

(3) Dao De Jing - The Book of the Way (p. 137).

Paper by Jhian

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