Problem of Evil in Taoism

Document Type : Research Paper


Associate Professor of Religions and Mysticism, University of Tehran, Iran


This paper attempts to present the Taoist understanding of evil. In the Taoist tradition, especially in Tao Te Ching, evil is divided into two categories: causal evil and consequential evil. Causal evils are those evils that are said to be the causes of other evils; consequential evils are those that are said to be the consequences of the causal evils. Causal evils originate from human will, and cause suffering. This means that evil is not equal to suffering. Lao Tzu does not clearly talk about natural suffering. He regards all evil and suffering as resulting from human actions that are not in accordance with Tao, which is the source of all life. Therefore, the way to overcome evil is to follow Tao, to actualize wu-wei in life.


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