The Lives Of Confucius And Guatama Siddhartha

Essay, Research Paper

The Lives of Confucius and Guatama Siddhartha

Dariush Nazem

World Civilization 121

September 19, 1996

Professor: Helju Bennett

Section Teacher: Sara Abosch

The Life Of Confucius

Throughout the time span that man has lived on earth, there have been

many religions in existence. Two very important and influencing religions that

have been around for over two thousand years are Confucianism and Buddhism. The

founders of these two religions, Confucius and Buddha, respectively, lived

different lives and had different thoughts. Although this made two totally

different religions, they both had one common goal. That common goal was to

assist the human population and improve their lifestyle.

Confucius was a sage in China and also it’s greatest philosopher. He

was one of the most prominent figures and is respected throughout all of China.

He was born at Tsou, in the state of Lu, known today as the Shandong province,

in the year 551 B.C. He was named Ch’iu, meaning ?hill’, because he had a very

large bump on his head. This name has rarely been used because of the Chinese

way of showing ?reverence by avoidance?. (Encyclopedia Americana, v. 7; 540)

K’ung Futzu was what was used. The name got Latinized and it became Confucius.

Ever since Confucius’ birth, he was a great student. All throughout his

childhood Confucius liked to play religious and cultural roles. By the age of

15, Confucius began to take his studies very seriously. He was a diligent and

studious learner and put forth his whole effort on his studies. Nothing is

known about his educators or his education.

Confucius started work at an early age, due to the fact that his father

died. By the age of seventeen, Confucius received a job in the public service.

Most likely this job was being a keeper of fields and cattle, a town governor,

or a court arbiter of ritual. Confucius, because he loved to learn and he loved

his studies so much, became a very educated man and in turn was highly respected.

In 529 B.C. Confucius’ mother died and observed the standard withdrawal

from life of three years. This included the withdrawal from his duties as a

public worker. After this long observance, Confucius returned home and opened

his house up to students and began teaching. This became his full time job and

he took it seriously. At one point, Confucius’ teachings were wanted by so many

that he had 3,000 students attending his school. 72 of them had mastered the

six arts-rituals, music, archery, charioteering, literature, and mathematics.

He was a great teacher, well known and respected. He was able to get his

disciples responsible positions in the Chinese government and also able to get

them jobs as teachers. He knew many and the favors that he asked for were

granted by others.

Confucius believed that ?knowledge meant wisdom?, (Encyclopedia

Americana, v. 7; 540). He thought that this in turn would help him become more

educated and not only to help himself but to also help the country. He was a

reformer and preached for good government. He believed in such idea like ?

avoidance of needless wars, decrease in taxes, and mitigation of severe

punishment?. (Encyclopedia Americana, v. 7; 540) He finally received that

opportunity in the state of Lu. The state of Lu, where Confucius was born, was

in turmoil. There were three major families fighting. Each one fighting

against each other just to see who could become more powerful. One of these

families, the emperor of Mang He, allowed Confucius to come to his capital.

Mang He wanted Confucius to teach his son the teachings and allow him to become

a disciple.

This enabled Confucius to learn a great deal about past empires and past

emperors. He was able to obtain resources that only officials had access to.

It also allowed him to collect materials and information for works that he would

produce later on in his life.

Confucius soon returned back to Lu to find more disorganization and more

fighting. The ruler, Duke Chao, fleed for refuge and Confucius followed. Here

Confucius thought that he could become ruler but there was great envy that

suppressed his advancement.

Soon after, Confucius was appointed governor of Chung Tu. Here is where

Confucius had success. In such a short time, he reformed this state. It became

a model for many other states to follow. After four years of government and a

disagreement with a Duke, Confucius went into wandering for 13 years.

Confucius traveled about trying to help reform different states. But no

one really needed his help so at the age of 67 Confucius returned back to his

home state of Lu. His wife, son, and two of his favorite disciples all died in a

short time span. He spent his last years editing the classical texts and

continuing teaching to his students. Confucius knew his life was not worth much

anymore and that it was coming to an end. In 479 B.C. Confucius died.

The Life Of Buddha

The Buddha, otherwise known as Guatama Siddhartha, had a very different

life than that of Confucius. The Buddha was born in 566 B.C. to Queen Maya and

King Suddhodana. He was given the name ?Siddhartha? which means which means ?

all wishes accomplished?. Seven day’s after the birth, his mother, Queen Maya

died. Queen Maya’s younger sister, Mahapajapati, took the responsibility of

raising Guatama and the King made her his second wife. Right from the birth of

this prince, his father, mother, second mother, and the whole kingdom knew that

he was bound to be an important figure in the Chinese society.

From a very young age Guatama Siddhartha was cared for extensively.

Starting at the age of seven, Prince Siddhartha began taking lessons on how to

read, write, and reckon. The prince also took astronomy and archery. He took

his courses seriously and also excelled in them. Anything and everything that

he wanted was gotten for him. Guatama Siddhartha never had to work. He had

slaves that would take care of everything for him. In addition, the slaves that

worked for him were fed rice and meat, while any other average slave-servent

working for an average man were fed broken rice and sour gruel. This is just how

well treated the prince and the princess’s servants were treated. The prince

always had women surrounding him, shelter over his head in any type of weather

and a different palace for different seasons. In short, the prince was spoiled.

Around the age of eighteen the prince got married and within the first

year a son was expected. Before the birth of the son, the prince asked his

father for permission to wander outside of the palace gates. The father agreed

but let everyone know beforehand that the prince was leaving the palace and that

nothing should be in his view that might disturb him.

The prince wandered outside the gates four different times. In these

trips he saw an old man, an ill man, a funeral procession and a reclusive man.

The first three incidents upset him greatly. The prince never thought that man

could become so horrifying. But the forth encounter intrigued him. Upon his

encounter with the recluse man he asked: ? ?What gain is there in the life of a

recluse?? the person answered and said: ?I depart from the impermanence of age,

illness, and death, and gain the freedom of deliverance. I forsake the illusive

love of life, walk the path of Right Dharma, and save living beings with

compassion.? The prince exclaimed: ?What could be more noble than the path of a

recluse.?? (Takakusu, 15)

Soon after this incident, his son was born. The palace celebrated and

so did the town. The kingdom had yet another son. The kingdom was proud, the

palace was proud, the King was proud but yet the prince was still troubled. Why

was he so troubled? What was the prince thinking so much about?

The prince, after seeing and knowing that he was no longer pleased with

his palace life, decided to leave the castle and flee into the country. Upon

his call, the charioteer Chanda arrived, and the prince told about his plan to

leave. The charioteer brought a horse. The prince, Chanda and the horse left.

The prince left everything behind him. His father, wife, son and riches were

now of the past.

Upon entering the countryside, Guatama Siddhartha began to take off his

clothes and talk to his charioteer. He talked how not to be sad, that he was

going to search for Enlightenment and to go tell the palace that he was not

coming back. With this, Chanda received the princes clothes and jewels, and

with sadness in his eyes rode away back to the palace knowing that he was the

messenger of bad news.

The prince, who for 19 years was looked after with great detail and who

could have anything he wanted, was now on his own. He wandered around the

Himalayas, down to the plains, followed the Gandaki river south, crossed the

Ganges, into Madadha. Everywhere that the lonely prince went, he was looking

for answers about life but nothing truly satisfied him. He kept on traveling

and eating just enough food to get by. Everyone he encountered was impressed

with the prince’s lonely and newly deprived life. Soon there was a following of

the prince and it grew daily. The prince, knowing this, still deprived himself

of meals: Going from just one a day to one a month to just eating a grain of

rice a day. ?He became hollow-eyed; he was barboned, and the belly and the back

touched. The pains physical and mental reached the last point? (Takakusu, 27).

Guatama Siddhartha realized that by practically killing himself he was not going

to receive enlightenment. ?He made up his mind that he must yet work out means

to attain the end? (Takakusu, 27).

The prince revived himself to the point where he was alive again and he

began wandering again. He ended up in Gaya where ?there was a great pipal tree,

and that the platform surrounded by the roots of the trees was fit as the seat

for attaining Enlightenment for the Buddha’s and the three times of the past

present and the future? (Takakusu, 30).

The prince now sat there and said to himself that he was not going to

move until he gained Enlightenment. With many distractions from others, the

prince sat there looking for Enlightenment. And then it happened. The prince

attained Enlightenment. The sun shined, flowers blossomed and music was played.

The prince was now ?The Buddha?–?one who is awake?.

He received ideas he had not received before, he opened his mind in ways

he had not done before, and he began preaching to anyone that would listen to

any of his ?great ideas?.

The Buddha taught years and years. He educated men on everything. From

eating to sleeping, to talking and writing the Buddha was a mentor. But he was

over eighty years of age now and growing weaker and weaker. He soon died and as

fast as the sun shined and flowers blossomed the sky went black and ?the world

again turned back to old darkness? (Takakusu, 53).

Similarities and Differences

There are many similarities between two of the greatest philosophers of

all time. One of the most common and basic similarity is that both religions

emerged around the same time period. Each religion in this world was brought up

in a time period. For example, Christianity emerged around 40 A.D., but

Confucianism and Buddhism both emerged in the 6th century B.C. This similarity

is basic but it is an important one only for the fact that since these two

religions emerged around the same time period they both have a lot of the same

views on life. One example of this is that in Buddhism there are eight basic

paths to follow. This is called the Noble Eightfold Path. The Noble Eightfold

Path included Right Views, Right Aspirations, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right

Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindedness, and Right Rapture. In Confucianism

there were similar beliefs that each person followed but these beliefs were not

given the names that Buddhism gave them. For example, Confucius believed that ?

if everyone knew his or her place and kept it, then, said Confucius, all would

be well? (McNEILL, 153). This part of Confucianism could be translated in

Buddhism to one of the Noble Eightfold Paths: Right Conduct.

Another similarity of the two religions was that both Confucius and

Buddha taught others about their views and the teachings that they had

established. After Confucius worked for the government he went into his ?

wandering? state. Here is where he came to many opinions and beliefs on life

that still hold true in the religion today. He had these basic rules and values

on life that he taught to anyone who would listen. He had students and

followers that would listen to his views and in turn practice them. As for

Buddha, once he achieved Enlightenment he went around teaching what he believed

was right for society. He taught everyone. From Kings of states in Asia to

just an ordinary person he was more than willing to try and install new beliefs

in them. Both of them used their power that they received to try and help other


One last similarity between Confucianism and Buddhism is that both have

a set of rules that are followed by the followers. In Confucianism, The

Deliberate Tradition is part of how one can receive advice on their life when

they need answers. There are five parts of The Deliberate Tradition: Jen

(relationship between two people), Chun tzu (ideal relations), Li (propriety),

Te (power), and Wen (arts of peace). All of these Deliberate Traditions helped

form a lot of how a person would act and how a person would live. The

Deliberate Tradition gives the basics of Confucianism. Similarly, Buddhism has

the Eightfold Path. This list is what a follower of the Buddihist religion

should abide by. This includes: Right Views, Right Aspirations, Right Speech,

Right Conduct, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Kindness, and lastly Right

Rapture. The Eightfold Path describes how a person should perform their

everyday tasks. Both Confucianism and Buddhism followers use these lists to

help them live from day to day. These list in each religion are respected and

followed by greatly.

There are also many differences between the two religions. One major

and noticeable difference is Confucius was brought up much differently than

Buddha. Guatama Siddhartha was brought up in a wealthy environment. He was

given more than enough and was not expected any less than the best. For example,

the prince had different houses for different seasons. There was always a cover

over his head to protect him and there was always servants waiting for him. As

for Confucius he had a much different lifestyle. He had to work at an early age

only for the fact that his father had died. He worked hard and brought his

standard up instead of staying at the same lower class that he was born into.

At times he would hardly have enough to eat. But he always worked hard and it

paid off for him. This is just one example of how two great philosophers that

were brought up so differently impacted society so great.

Another example of how different these two great philosophers were was

in how their views emerged and how they came up with answers to their questions.

Confucius always had answers to questions that were asked to him. He was well

educated and he was very logical. His answers to questions made sense to

everyone and soon everyone understood that what he was saying was correct. As

for Buddha he had to gain his education through his wanderings. He was very

wealthy and there was really no need for him to become educated. But soon

realizing that he was not happy as a rich man he left and went into his sojourns.

He thought that maybe if he starved himself then he would be able to receive

Enlightenment. But this did not work for him. Finally while underneath a pipal

tree Buddha attained Enlightenment. This is where he gained his knowledge to

help others and to set the standards of Buddhism. Therefore, the way in which

each philosophers views emerged were different each still came to conclusions on

life and how a human can become satisfied with ones life.

One last difference between Confucianism and Buddhism is that Buddhism

has a final goal, Nirvana. Nirvana is one reaches an ultimate state where

everything in ones life is perfect. On the contrary, Confucianism is a

philosophy that gives only rules and proverbs to follow. These rules do not

have a goal to strive for in the end. These proverbs just try and guide a

person through life and help that person achieve a satisfactory life for oneself.

In conclusion, Confucius and Buddha had totally different life’s. How

they were raised by family and how their life was overall in comparison to each

other was totally different. Guatama Siddhartha was born into a very wealthy

family while Confucius had to work hard for every thing he earned. In addition,

the way in which the conclusions that they came to about life were totally

different. Confucius was knowledgeable and was able to answers others questions

about life while Buddha had to attain Enlightenment. These two major

philosophers have/had a major impact on society. Even though these religions

are very different they are also very the same. They wanted to help society and

help the individuals in the society. They were two very smart individuals that

have affected the world when they were alive and will affect anyone who follows

their religions in the future.


Encyclopedia Americana; 1994; S. v. ?Confucianism?

Encyclopedia Britanica; 1991; S.v. ?Confucianism?

Creel, H.G., Confucius and the Chinese Way, New York: Harper and Bro. Publishers,


Legge, James, The Philosophy of Confucius, New York: The Peter Pauper Press,


McNeill, William H., A History Of The Human Community Volume I: Prehistory to

1500, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1992.

Nakamura, Hajime, Gotama Buddha, Los Angelos: Buddhist Books International, 1977.

Smith, Huston, The World’s Religions, New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991.

Starr, Frederick, Confucianism, New York: Covici-Friede, 1930.

Takakusu, Junjiro, A Life of the Buddha, Japan: Mitsutoyo Mfg. Co., Ltd., 1964.

Yamamoto, Kosho, The Buddha, Japan: The Okazakiya Shoten, 1961.


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