Confucius Essay, Research Paper
Confucius is the founder of Confucianism. The name “Confucius” is the Latin name for Kong Qiu-zi. Confucius was born in the village of Zou in the country of Lu in 551 BC. He was a poor descendant of a disposed noble family. As a child, he held fake temple rituals; as a young adult, quickly earned a reputation for fairness, politeness, and love of learning, and he was reputed to be quite tall. When he was 35 years old, Duke Zhao of Lu led his country to war, this was routed and fled to Qi. While he was there, Duke Zhao would frequently go to him for advice, but after the counsel of one of his minister, Zhao was unable to give Confucius land and eventually stopped seeking advice. He eventually went back to Lu.
At age 50, he was approached by the Baron of Qi to help defend against a rebellion, but he declined. Later on he became a city magistrate by the new Duke of Lu, and under his administration the city flourished; he got promoted several times, eventually becoming Grand Secretary of Justice, and at age 56, Chief Minister of Lu. Neighboring countries were afraid that Lu was becoming too powerful, so they sent gifts and dancers to distract the Duke during a sacrifice holiday. As the Duke was abandoning his duties, Confucius resigned and left the country.
Confucius spent the next five years wandering China with his disciples, finding that his presence at royal courts was rarely tolerated for long before nobles would begin plotting to drive him out or have him killed. He was once arrested and jailed for five days, and at age 62 he was pursued, along with his disciples onto the countryside by a band of soldiers sent by jealous nobles, until he was able to send a messenger to the sympathetic king of a nearby country, who sent his own soldiers to rescue them. Once again, Confucius was to be given land, but he denied it upon counsel of another minister. After more wandering, he eventually returned t Lu at age 67. Although they welcomed him there, he was not offered public office anymore, and he did not seek it. Instead he spent the rest of his years teaching and writing. He died at age 72.
After his death Confucius’ followers spread this system of belief. It had a major impact on the Chinese culture.
A symbol that is used or associated with the religion of Confucianism is the yin-yang. Yin-yang are ” the two countervailing forces of the universe, each necessary for balance yet each constantly changing in power.” Yin refers to any thing that is negative, yang refers to anything that is positive. The irony is that these two things tell people everything they know, it is impossible for the both not to be in coexistence with each other.This is saying that life attracts opposites, such as: good and evil, light and darkness, and war and peace. ” It shows the two opposites, yin and yang, eternally pursuing each other in a harmonious way.” It is true they are opposites, but there is no conflict, there is only balance.
” This drawing symbolizes the way life should be lived. No one can hope for all pleasure and no pain, or all life and no death, or all happiness and no waiting, or all agreement and no disagreement.” This means that no one’s life can be set to perfection, there is always room for adjustments.
If “harmonious interplay between yang and yin” is the goal of one’s life then the question is how to achieve it? Confucianism answers the question by stressing tradition and stressing to be rational.
Related to the yin and the yang theory is the idea that all things are composed of the five elements: wood, metal, fire, water, and earth. Like yin and yang, these elements are continually influencing each other in the balance of nature.
The number five had a great significance in the Chinese view of the universe. Each of the five elements was identified with one of the five primary colors, the five directions, the five principal grains, and the five planets.
The Five Elements
Correspondence Wood Fire Earth Metal Water
Seasons Spring Summer Autumn Winter
Animals sheep fowl ox dog pig
Grains wheat beans panicled millet hemp millet
Organs spleen lungs heart liver kidneys
Numbers 8 7 5 9 6
Colors green red yellow white black
Tastes sour bitter sweet acrid salty
Smell goatish burning fragrant rank rotten
Directions East South center West North
Creatures scaly feathered naked hairy shell-covered
Beasts of Green Scarlet Yellow White Black
The Directions Dragon Bird Dragon Tiger Tortoise
Virtues benevolence wisdom faith righteousness decorum
Planets Jupiter Mars Saturn Venus Mercury
Officers Minister Minister Minister Minister Minister
Of Agriculture Of War Of Works Of Interior Of Justice
“Confucianism is not a religion. It does not teach about God, heaven, and life after death. It is a philosophy that teaches people a way to live on earth wisely.”
Confucius’ mother grave gave birth to him in a cave in Qufu.
The Xing Tan or “Apricot Temple,” where Confucius lectured his students is part of the complex buildings at Qufu.
The stone stele in front of Confucius’ burial mound was erected in his honor in 1443.
Among the buildings at Qufu is the Da Cheng Diah, or “Hall of Great Accomplishments.” This Confucian temple contains statues of Confucius, his four major disciples, and the twelve other followers who were called sages.
In the Confucian Educational Institute, Confucians believe that their form of Confucian philosophy is closest to the original doctrines of Master Kong.
SCRIPTURES OR HOLY BOOKS
There are two books that must be read and used in Confucianism. One is called The Five Classics, The second book is called The Analects.
The Five Classics
The Five Classics are the basic writings of Confucianism. Confucius referred them to his teaching. Many scholars say that the Duke of Zhou and Confucius’ ideal ruler may have written some parts of them. Parts of The Five Classics are from ancient times, but they were added and modified through the centuries since Confucius lived.
Books of Poetry
The Shijing contains the oldest Chinese poetry. It is a collection of more than three hundred poems, they were sometimes called songs because at that time they were sung. Many of the poems describe experiences common to all people, such as: love, work, and war. The other poems are court poems. They include praise of the founders of the Zhou dynasty and hymns used in sacrificed rites. Confucius loved to sing, so he selected the poems for the book. He urged his students to memorize them and used them in his teachings.
Book of Rites
This book consists of three separate ritual writings: The Rites of Zhou, which describes the bureaucratic system of the Zhou dynasty; The Ceremonial, which contains descriptions of the etiquette of events in the life of the aristocracy, such as: weddings, banquets, sacrifices, funerals, and archery contests; and The Liji, which describes government regulations as well as providing instructions on how to manage a household, cook, behave at a dinner party or funeral, drive a carriage, and naming a baby.
The Book of Rites, as it is known today, is not one that Confucius studied himself. It contains a collection of stories and essays put together during the Han dynasty from earlier writings, this includes many stories about Confucius. They described Confucius’ comments on ancient sacrifices.
The Book if Rites today describes Confucius as saying: “To treat the dead as dead would show lack of love and therefore cannot be done; to treat the dead as living would show a lack of wisdom and likewise cannot be done.” This describes ways of treating the deceased and law to grieve properly.
Book of History
The Shujing is the source of Chinese history. This begins with the legendary emperors who brought the tools of civilization to the Chinese. This book is sometimes called the Book of Documents, and Confucius himself referred to it that way. This is a more accurate description of its contents, which include decrees, speeches, advice from counselors, and similar reports on government affairs. The Chinese think of history as the present. So it was taught and educated, because they believed by studying one’s history they would not be doomed to repeat it.
Spring and Autumn Annals
The Chun Qiu is a brief chronicle of the events in Confucius’ home state of Lu between the years 722 BC and 481 BC. The officials of the state of Lu complied it as a season-by-season record of events because the end date comes so close to the death of Confucius. His followers often thought that he was the actual author. The writings is hard to understand and has been the subject of many commentaries dating back as far as the Han dynasty.
Book of Changes
The Yijing book of divination that helps its followers foretell future events and understand human existence and natural occurrences. The book consists of sixty-four hexagrams with accompanying interpretations.
The Yijing filled a need in Confucian thought that was not met by the other Classics. Confucian scholars were concerned with ethical and political problems, but the Yijing provided a mystical key to the workings of the universe. Later Confucian scholars wrote many volumes linking its messages to Confucian thought.
The Analects were written from the followers of Confucius. They wrote down what they had heard from Confucius. The Analects consists of 497 verses. The Analects doe not say anywhere that Confucius discussed philosophical principles or detailed regulations for a way of life. The Analects gives insight into the wisdom of Great Master Kong.
The Analects basically served as a guide to life for billions of people since the time it was written. Students of Confucianism memorized the whole entire book as the first step of their education, but they were not expected to understand it full, but since they memorized they would create a mind-set that would deepen in significance, as they grew older. It would make them contemplate its meaning and discovering how it applied to their own lives for the rest of their lives. The Analects has remained to be on eof the most read writings all around the world because through young adulthood, middle age, and old age, one comes to understand Confucius’ words more fully and appreciate their importance.
The emperor was the chief priest of the nation, and every father of a family that lived within were also priests. Tablets with their ancestors’ names were kept in shrines within their house. It was the duty of these priests to report family matters and to make sacrifices to these shrines. His eldest son or wife sometimes assisted him, but only the father could identify the ancestors by name.
Larger homes typically contained offering hall located east of the main room. The offering was also used for events, such as a marriage or a child’s achieving adulthood.
In later centuries, foreign travelers noted that virtually every home in China possessed a copy of Zhu Xi’s book. From the 13th to the 20th centuries, it served as a household guide to ritual and belief. It was also used in Vietnam, Korea, and Japan.
The different treatment of boys and girls began at birth. As soon as possible children were taught to show proper behavior and show respect to their elders. When the children were old enough to eat should be given food and taught to use their right hands in eating. When they were old enough to walk they should be taught their names and greetings. When they failed to behave properly, they must be scolded and warned not to act like that again. At the age of six, they were taught words for numbers and directions. Boys were learning how to write and girls were taught simple women’s work. Both boys and girls were both taught to recite the Analects. By the time they were ten they knew how to recite other important books. At ten, boys went away for school and the girls stayed home.
Coming if Age
Manhood and Womanhood were occasions that were celebrated through special ceremonies. The one for boys was when he was between 15 to 20. For girls it was somewhat the same when they became engaged, usually between 14 to 20.
The parents of the people who were getting married arranged marriages. They consulted their ancestor first for permission. In the wedding day the groom picked up the bride on horseback bringing the traditional present of goose. The traditional bridal color was red. They then went back to groom’s house. They were honored with a feast. No priest officially pronounced them wed. By exchanging cups of wine they made themselves a married couple. The day after that, the groom visits the bride’s family and they entertain him.
A family unit remained together for life. As long as the bride’s parents lived she had to serve them with humility and respect. This was the same for the groom. Even as adults they had to say when they were leaving the house. If children invited friends to the house, they could not hang out in the main room because it was only to be used by the parents. “In his service to his parents, a son should like what his parents like and respect whomever his parents respect. This holds for even dogs and horses, so of course even more for people.” Said Zhu Xi.
Children, back then, were not always kind and they did not behave well. Zhu Xi said to the parents that experienced this that “, Should their son or daughter-in-law not be respectful, the parents should not try to take an immediate dislike. Instead they should teach him or her. I he or she remains intractable, they should try rebukes. If there is still no improvement, they should try a lashing. If after many lashings, he or she still cannot behave properly, then they should expel their son or have their daughter-in-law divorced . . . Even if the son likes his wife very much, if his parents are displeased with her, he should divorce her. On the other hand, if the son dislikes his wife, yet his parents say she is good at serving them, then the son should fulfill his duty as husband for the rest of his life.”
Confucianists respected the dead very much. Ceremonies for dead family member would be long and elaborate. The head of the family would have the longest. Mourning lasted for about three years and family members wore special clothing during this time, the type of clothing was according to he length of time that passed since the death.
There was much detail on the proper behavior one should have. If a person receives the news of a death while they were away from home “, On entering the gate, he goes to the front of the coffin, bows twice, then changes his clothes twice, and take up his place for waiting.”
After the death of a loved one, one must first place rice in the mouth of the deceased. Second, the body would be washed, dressed, and placed in a coffin. Third, next to the coffin there would be a soul seat and a soul cloth placed near the coffin. On the soul seat, food and drink would be placed there everyday. The soul sloth was the repository of the dead person; soul while his or her body remained in the house. To announce the death of a family member to their friends or neighbors by placing a banner in front of the house. Mourners would bring presents, such as: incense, candles, fruit, wine, tea, silk, or money.
Three months later, the body would be buried. A procession accompanied the body to the cemetery, offerings were made to the god of earth. Gifts, such as food and clothing would be buried with the body. The name of the dead one would be added to the wooden tablets listing the family ancestors. During the three-year mourning period, many sacrifices were made. Two were good for tune and one for peace.
The ancestral tablets were changed if the head of the family died. He would be the first generation of ancestors. As for the past generations, they were adjusted upward. Only five generations were actively venerated, this meant that the head of the family’s great-grandfather’s tablet was to be taken down.
Veneration of Ancestors
Respect and duty did not stop from the parents because of their death. Someone in the family had to visit the offering hall where the ancestral tablets were kept at least once a day. The new head of the family, which would be the eldest son, had to perform regular devotions to his father and ancestors. This included reports on certain events, such as: births, capping, and weddings. If the son would be gone away from home for more than ten days the son would have to explain why he was gone to ancestors before he would leave.
The son might have the pleasure of reporting a promotion granted the ancestor by the court. These were awards given to accompany promotions won by living. There is a formula from Zhu Xi that was to be read word-for-word reads as follows “, On such we received an edict conferring on our name [name of relative] the [name of office] . . . [Name of living head of family], due to the instruction he received from his ancestors, holds a position at court beyond hat he deserves. Through the grace of the sovereign, this honor has been conferred. [Head of family]’s salary came too late to support his parent, which leaves him unable to choke back his tears.”
During season of the year and on holidays special offerings were performed to the ancestors. The day before to prepare, the offering hall was purified with incense, and in the hall a table was set for dinner, complete with utensils, bowls, cups, and plates. At the start of the day the family rose at dawn and set out the food and drink. Around the table the wooden ancestral tablets were set at their places. The family greeted the spirits and then according to Zhu Xi’s books “, The spirits are urged to eat, then the door is closed. After the door is opened the sacrificed meat is taken away. Then the spirits are bid farewell . . . . The leftovers are eaten.”
TEACHINGS AND MAJOR EMPHASIS
Confucianism is system of thought based on the teachings of Confucius. Confucius taught a moral code based on ethics, humanity, and love. One day a disciple asked Confucius “, is there on word that should cover the whole duty of man?” To this question Confucius replied “, Fellow, feeling, perhaps, is that word. Do not do unto others what thou wouldst not they should do unto you.” This rule became an important part of Chinese thought.
Even though Confucius lived during a time of uproar, his philosophy emphasized the ideas of order and harmony. The main idea of Confucianism is the idea that people should live in harmony, both with each other and nature. T o gain these goals Confucius created a system of interpersonal relationships and good government.
Confucius taught his followers to be gentlemen. His philosophy stated that a gentlemen was a person who had developed the five virtues of courtesy magnanimity, good faith, diligence, and kindness. A man who had these qualities should employ them in governing the state. To Confucius, being a part of the government was the highest calling of all because good government would bring happiness to all people. Confucius believed that through education, anyone could reach the standard of a gentleman.
In China, the family served as an economic, social, and political unit, since family members participated as a group in those areas of life. The family was the natural environment for moral training and the bridge between the individual and society. Confucius taught that it was within the family that the individual fully achieved his human potential. Confucius stressed the duties and obligations of each family member and believed that each should act according to his or her particular role. Of the five human relationships, according to Confucius, three were within the family: father/son, husband/wife, and older brother/younger brother. The other two are friend/friend and ruler/subject.
BRANCHES OR DIVISIONS
The only branch of Confucianism is Neo-Confucianism. Neo-Confucianism is a form of Confucianism developed during the Song Dynasty, Combing elements of Buddhism and Daoism with traditional Confucianism.
During the last years of the Tang dynasty, Confucianists started to question Confucianism. A new innovation would come into Confucian writing that would reach its high point during the Song dynasty. Buddhism and Daoism would influence a new way of thinking. This questioning and new way of thinking would develop into a philosophical system called the School of Li in China, and Neo-Confucianism in the West.
Neo-Confucianism was progressing slowly. At that there were many schools of thought. These schools both had a lot of Buddhism and Daoism in it. Buddhism and Daoism inspired followers, but they still supported the philosophy of Confucianism.
Neo-Confucianism adopted the Buddhism idea that the universe is endlessly changing. However, they stilled used the philosophy of the yin-yang and the I Ching to explain this process. From the I Ching came the Diagram of the Supreme Ultimate. Neo-Confucianists used the concept of the Supreme to explain the origin of things in the universe. This soon became the basis of all later Chinese ideas of cosmology. The Supreme Ultimate is not the same as the Western religions’ God. It is read, but it is a force that produces yin and yang. It differs from the Buddhist concept of the Void, which is the ultimate peace of those who achieve salvation. Neo-Confucianists also adopted the mystical diagrams of the I Ching to show the relationship between Heaven and Earth.
All around the world there are about six million people who consider themselves to be Confucianists. The majority of Confucianists live in Asia, particularly East Asia because Confucius was born in China. Still, Europe, North and South America, and the other continents have small numbers of people who consider themselves Confucianists. Mainly because they are from Asian descent.
Still, Confucianism has an influence far greater than its active followers. For more than two thousand years Confucianism was a dominant philosophical system of China. As a result, it combined all phases of Chinese life. It reflects China’s poetry and history, government, social life, and in the ethics that formed the model for action.
Since Chinese civilization spread to Vietnam, Korea, and Japan, elements of Confucianism can also be found in these country’s’ culture. Even though few Japanese call themselves Confucianists, the values still exist in modern Japan. The same is true of Vietnam, North and South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and the People’s Republic of China.
WHAT THE RELIGION IS FAMOUS FOR GIVING TO THE WORLD OR WHAT BENEFITS THE RELIGION HAS HAD. . . .
Confucianism spread deeply in the national belief system of China and it is also in the culture of such East Asian countries as: Vietnam, Korea, and Japan. This was amazing considering that Confucianism had no missionaries, monks, or pilgrims, unlike Buddhism. Confucianism and its ideas never left China. The most important idea was the family and the state.
Confucianism also spread to other East Asia countries. The Chinese believed that their culture and learning were universal. This means it was open for all who would want to become civilized. Confucianism offered things such as a writing system, sophisticated philosophy and religion, and fine art.
Countries, such as: Vietnam, Korea, and Japan loved the culture because they could now read and write some even spoke Chinese languages. Many officials read the Five Classics. As time went on, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan became adapted to the Confucian values that shaped China. This new found relationship China was linked to the one of the Five Relationships, elder brother/younger brother.