Confucius Essay Research Paper Who is Confucius

Confucius Essay, Research Paper

Who is Confucius? To some he may appear as a joke. However, Confucius,

in reality, was not a laughingstock. He was a man who strived to bring

peace and happiness to a world ravaged by crime and war. Confucius ” did

not look for paradise in the next world ” like other religions but

rather he was more concerned with achieving happiness in one’s own


A respected Chinese philosopher, Confucius, or “Kung Fu Tzu,” began as

a teacher, stressing the importance of self-discipline and generosity.

He thought the gentlemen, or “Chun Tzu” was the key to a good social

life. Although “Chun Tzu” was a title reserved for princes, Confucius

expanded its meaning to include anyone of “good moral character.” He

believed that these people were rulers and that others would be

encouraged to follow in their example. He believed in treating others

with respect and in turn, they would reciprocate that respect. This

could be linked to what came to be referred to by Confucius as the

“golden rule” – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

More philosophical than religious, his teachings act more as a guide

for self-improvement. It is based upon these teachings for a better self

and an improved government that led to the concept of Confucianism.

Confucius took an angle with his teachings that was moral, political

and ethical. He felt that if there was righteousness in the heart that

it would to beauty in the character, which would lead to harmony in the

home and then order in the nation. Finally, if there were total order in

the nation, order would create peace in the world. Confucius believed

that rule should be through morality and not violence or force.

He believed that the center of relationships was the self and it forms

from interactions with others. His goal was to become more human and

this served as the basis for forming strong relationships.

The teachings of Confucius contain many values. The most important

value is jen. This virtue deals with love and humaneness towards others.

This is the highest Confucian value. An early form of this is hsiao,

which is honoring your parents. Other staples of Confucian thinking

include Li and Yi.

Li is respect towards ritual practices. Confucius believed that

combining it with jen would help to improve social standards.

Yi is responsibility towards others. Yi represents the strong bonds and

commitments that are formed out of friendship.

The supreme deity of Confucianism is called T’ien. Although translated

to mean Heaven, T’ien appears to be more of a god in charge of

maintaining moral order. The path to T’ien is called the Tao, or way.

The Tao is composed of the struggle for balance of two opposite forces:

the yin and the yang. The yin and yang bring about change through

manipulating five material elements. The five material agents, water,

metal, fire, earth, and wood, alternate with each other through a cycle.

It is the yin and yang’s control over these elements that brings about

change through the universe and make up the Tao.

Confucianism also extends its belief to certain ritualistic practices.

For instance, birth is a major event. While the woman is carrying the

child, she is prohibited from doing anything physically strenuous. From

the moment of conception to the day of birth the mother is believed to

be guarded by a spirit called the Tai’shen. After the child is born, she

continues her rest period for another month. After the first month of

the child’s life, they are named in a special naming ceremony.

The act of marriage takes place in six stages. The first stage involves

matching the horoscopes of the bride and groom. The second stage is the

wedding announcement. The third stage is the exchange of the dowry. In

the fourth stage, the groom escorts the bride from her home. In the

fifth stage, vows are exchange. In the final stage of the marriage

ceremony, the bride makes breakfast for her in-laws.

In death, people must continue to be treated with honor and respect.

The death rites are usually performed by a priest of another religion.

Once the dead is laid to rest it is very important to maintain the

gravesite. If the spirit world is unhappy then this can have

repercussions on the physical world.

The beliefs and teachings of Confucianism were documented into

scripture. Confucian scripture consists of four books and five classics.

The four books are:

? The Lun Yu (Analects) -This book contains many saying of Confucius

? The Chung Yung

? The Ta Hsueh

? The Meng Tzu

The five classics of Confucianism are:

? Shu Ching – Classic of History

? Shih Ching – Classic of Odes, consisting of poems and songs

? I Ching – Classic of Changes

? Ch’un Ch’iu – History of Confucius’ home province of Lu

? Li Ching – Classic of Rites

Confucianism became the accepted state ideology and orthodoxy under the

Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD). Emperor Wu (140 – 87 BC) wanted to use

Confucius’ doctrine to guide and maintain law and order, but

Confucianism soon came to extend far beyond that. Books and lectures

about Confucius’ moral principles and responsibilities began to spread

across China. Duty to people and the state were emphasized. Confucian

works “formed the basis of civil service examinations” (Confucian

Schools of Thought, Confucianism).

Confucians were divided into at least eight schools of thought with

each claiming to be the true teaching of Confucius after his death.

These schools differed in respect to rituals, sacrifices, and sacred

dress. Eventually, two major schools of thought would form. Mencius (372

- 289 BC) would bring the first.

Mencius believed that “humanity was the innate virtue of men” (Eber

29). He believed that a person’s innate goodness “can become depraved

through one’s own destructive effort or through contact with an evil

environment” (Confucian Schools of Thought, Confucianism). Mencius took

Confucius’ beliefs about relationships with people and equated them with

society. He saw righteousness as a social standard that helped determine

and shape a person’s conduct. For a person to have humanity and

righteousness, society must exhibit it, but society must in turn get it

from the people. He is also responsible for writing one of the four

books: The Meng Tzu.

The second school was brought about by Hsun-Tzu. Hsun-Tzu disagreed

with Mencius. He believed that people naturally possess an evil nature

but it can be corrected through moral education. For Hsun-Tzu the answer

to morality lied within rituals and ceremonies (Eber 35). Hsun-Tzu

thought that rituals would help establish social guidelines that would

lead people to moral goodness.

After the Han Dynasty came to an end, Taoism and Buddhism started to

emerge and Confucianism became less prominent. Confucianism would not

rise in popularity again until the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD). During

this period, a new form of Confucianism would appear, known as

Neo-Confucianism. It fused together beliefs of Confucianism, Taoism, and


The influence of Confucianism can still be seen today in many Chinese

festivals. One such festival is the Duan Wu Yjie, or the Dragon Boat

Festival. The festival is in honor of a Chinese patriot and

Confucianist, Qu Yuan.

Qu Yuan was born around 340 BC, in a time known as The Warring States.

He was a nobleman in the kingdom of Chu, so he had the privilege of

being educated from youth. Word of his intellect eventually spread to

King Huai and he was appointed to his court in his twenties.

Qu Yuan felt that the state of Qin possessed the largest threat to the

state of Chu so at his suggestion, the six-nation alliance was formed.

In Chu Qu Yuan learned of the people’s disdain with the aristocracy so

he attempted to suggest to King Huai to attract better people to the

court. Before he could succeed, the court convinced the king that Qu

Yuan was arrogant and was not showing him the proper respect so Qu Yuan

was dismissed from his court post.

With Qu Yuan away, the king of Qin tricked King Huai into coming under

the ruse of peace talks. Once there, King Huai was imprisoned in the Qin

court and died three years.

Qu Yuan went on to wander around aimlessly through life, moving from

place to place, watching helplessly as the Qin began to take over his

home. To see his people suffering made him so distraught that over time

he withered away becoming frail and old. Left with nowhere to turn, Qu

Yuan ended his own life by jumping in the Mi Luo River.

Once news of his death spread, the people began an exhaustive, but

unsuccessful, search for his body in the river. Realizing that they

would not find it, they threw rice wrapped in leaves into the river so

that the fish would not disturb him.

Today, on the fifth of May in the Lunar month, people make rice wrapped

in leaves and race boats to honor Qu Yuan.

Despite the celebration of lavish festivals, however, it is believed

that Confucianism will never again be formally practiced in China. It

has succumbed to a communist government that has no place for it.


Religions of the World CD-ROM- Mentorom Multimedia – 1995

The World Book Multimedia Encyclopedia 1997

Attachment: quyuan.html


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