Zen is not Taoism
Taoism and Zen are easily confused, making a coherent comparison that respects both hard to come by, for many years I assumed they were both different shades of Buddhism. Later in life important distinctions become apparent. It is the, ‘open closedness’ that draws us Westerners to Zen, mirrored by the, ‘closed openness’ of Taoism which only later the experienced mind finds concurrent with western mysticism . Perhaps in reality they form opposite sides of the same pyramid.
Here’s the explanation:
Although Taoism influenced the development of Zen Buddhism, Zen and Taoist practices differ both in intent and technique (see below).
The intent of Zen practice is to put an end to self-centered thinking so that one can focus on genuinely helping others. Another name for this is “enlightenment.”
The intent of Taoist practices can vary, but generally they focus on personal qualities of longevity, harmony, health, or stillness.
In general, Taoist teaching does not incorporate the bodhisattva ideal of Buddhism – the commitment to ease the great suffering in the world.
Buddhism doesn’t place much emphasis on cosmological or ontological explanation. Rather, it focuses on how the mind functions to create suffering and how to transform the mind’s function so that suffering does not arise.
Taoism, on the other hand, provides a fairly comprehensive view of the natural world and humanity’s place in that world. And Taoism has developed many techniques to bring a person into greater harmony with the world. Taoism also has a large and diverse set of beliefs about immortality, deities, and creators. Most of this belief system is quite different than anything imagined in Western religion.
There are 5 types of mind training used in Zen meditation. This link gives you a description of each type of training: http://kwanumzen.org/practice/sitting.ht…
There are many types of mind and body training used in Taoist meditation, including both sitting and movement meditations.
Taoist sitting meditation often includes a combination of special breathing techniques and visualizations that produce certain energetic results.
Taoist moving meditation includes tai chi and qi gong practices to heal the bodies energy pathways and cultivate certain healthful energy states.
This link describes many of the types of meditation techniques used in Taoist practice: http://taoism.about.com/od/meditation/Me…