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Confucius and Chinese Culture 1. Terminology - Confucius “Confucius” means two things: 1). Confucius as a person: He was called Kung Fu-Tzu , the master teacher Kung, Latinized as Confucius. (Kung is his surname). 2). The theory developed by Kung Tzu, defined as a religion and/or political system. In fact, there is no form of religion or political system, but there is an essence of a religion and political idea, and its implementation. The Chinese word for Confucius is “儒”, which combined two characters - “people” and “need”. 2. Confucius 2.1 The era background Chinese culture had a long history from the ancient sage emperors through the Emperor Huang (2690 – 2590BC), Xia Dynasty (2183-1752BC) to the Shang Dynasty (1751-1112BC) and into the Zhou Dynasty (1111-249BC). Since King Wen, King Wu and Zhou Gong, the Zhou Dynasty was very glrorious, wether considered from infrastructure development, economic development or the art. Unfortunately, following its development, the power of the feudal lords increased. They overthrew the king and established a new capital, marking the beginning of the Eastern Zhou period in 770 BC. The era from 770 – 476BC was called Spring and Autumn period in Chinese history. The various states struggled against each other to expand their borders. Within the state there were also struggles and political intrigues among ministers and officials seeking more power. 2.2 Confucius K'ung Tzu (Confucius) was born in such circumstances in the state of Lu (in modern day Chufu, Shantung Province) in 551 BC and died in 479BC at the age of 73. During the crisis of the Spring and Autumn Period, Kung Tzu sought to end the chaos of the times. Believing this disorder to be a reflection of declining 1 morals in society, he exhaustively toured (497BC – 484 BC) the various warring Chinese states to advise rulers and officials on the merits of ethical rule in order to create the harmony world. Confucius said, "Riches and honors are what all men desire. But if they cannot be attained in accordance with the Tao they should not be kept. Poverty and low status are what all men hate. But if they cannot avoided in while staying in accordance with the Tao, they should not avoid. If a Superior Man departs from benevolence, how can he be worthy of that name? A Superior Man never leaves benevolence for even the time of a single meal. In moments of haste he acts according to it. In times of difficulty or confusion he acts according to it." 子曰：「富與貴,是人之所欲也;不以其道得之,不處也。貧與賤,是人之惡也;不以其道得之 ,不去也。君子去仁,惡乎成名。君子無終食之間違仁,造次必於是,顛沛必於是。」 Mencius went to see King Hui of Liang. The King said: "My good man, since you haven't thought one thousand meters too far to come and see me, may I presume that you have something with which I can profit my kingdom?" Mencius said: "Why must you speak of profit? What I have for you is Benevolence and Rightness, and that's all. If you always say 'how can I profit my kingdom?' your top officers will ask, 'how can we profit our clans?' The shih(a person with offical rank) and the common people will ask: 'how can we profit ourselves?' Superiors and inferiors will struggle against each other for profit, and the country will be in chaos. In a kingdom of ten thousand chariots, the murderer of the sovereign is usually from a clan of one thousand chariots. In a thousand-chariot kingdom, the murderer of the sovereign is usually from a clan of one hundred chariots. Now, to have a thousand in ten thousand, or one hundred in a thousand is not really all that much. But if you put Rightness last and profit first, no one will be satisfied unless they can grab something." "There has never been a Benevolence man who neglected his parents, and there has never been a righteous man who put his prince last in his priorities. King, can't we limit our conversation to Benevolence and Rightness? Why must we discuss profit?" 孟子見梁惠王。王曰：「叟不遠千里而來，亦將有以利吾國乎？」 孟子對曰：「王何必曰利？亦有仁義而已矣。王曰‘何以利吾國’？大夫曰‘何以利吾家 ’？士庶人曰‘何以利吾身’？上下交征利而國危矣。万乘之國弒其君者，必千乘之家； 千乘之國弒其君者，必百乘之家。万取千焉，千取百焉，不為不多矣。苟為后義而先利， 不奪不饜。未有仁而遺其親者也，未有義而后其君者也。王亦曰仁義而已矣，何必曰利？ 」 2 2.3 His idea Central to Confucius' teachings was the concept of "benevolence," which he considered to be the apex of self-cultivation. In its most simple sense, benevolence is the act of loving others, and more specifically, according to Confucian moral standards, involves: obeying one's parents, loving one's brothers, being honest to one's friends, and being loyal to one's country. Country, Parents Brothers / Me/Partner Friends Sisters Children Confucius said, "There are five achieved ways in this world, which are carried out by 3 things. The five achieved ways are ruler and minister, father and son, husband and wife, older brother and younger brother, and between friends. The three achieved virtues of practice are wisdom, benevolence and courage. They are practiced in oneness. 子曰：「天下之達道五，所以行之者三。曰：君臣也、父子也、夫婦也、昆弟也、朋友之交也，五 者，天下之達道也；知、仁、勇，三者，天下之達德也；所以行之者，一也。」 Self-cutlivation: Through self-improving to accumulate “virtue” is the dominant subject in Confucius teaching. The “Virtue” is the “De” in Chinese which the 2nd part of Lao Tzu’s Tao De Chin. - filial piety (to parents) - sib affection (to brothers and sisters) - loyalty (to country, king) - trustworthiness (friendship) - Propriety - Righteousness 3 - Integrity - sense of shame Yu Tzu said: "There are few who have developed themselves filially and fraternally who enjoy offending their superiors. Those who do not enjoy offending superiors are never troublemakers. The Superior Man concerns himself with the fundamentals. Once the fundamentals are established, the Tao (proper way) appears. Are not filial piety and obedience to elders fundamental to the fundamental of benevolence?" 有子曰：「其爲人也孝弟,而好犯上者,鮮矣;不好犯上,而好作亂者,未之有也。君子務本,本立而 道生。孝弟也者,其爲仁之本與？」 Confucius said: "A young man should serve his parents at home and be respectful to elders outside his home. He should be earnest and truthful, loving all, but become intimate with benevolence. After doing this, if he has energy to spare, he can study literature and the arts." 子曰：「弟子,入則孝,出則弟,謹而信,汎愛衆,而親仁。行有餘力,則以學文。」 Yen Yü an asked about the meaning of benevolence. The Master said, "To overcome selfishness and keep to propriety is benevolence. If for a full day you can overcome selfishness and keep to propriety, everyone in the world will return to benevolence. Does benevolence come from oneself, or from others?" Yen Yü an asked: "May I ask in further detail how this is to be brought about?" Confucius said, "Do not watch what is improper; do not listen to what is improper; do not speak improperly and do not act improperly." Yen Yü an said, "Although I am not so perspicacious, I will apply myself to this teaching." 顏淵問仁。子曰：「克己復禮為仁。一日克己復禮，天下歸仁焉。為仁由己，而由人乎哉？」顏 淵曰：「請問其目？」子曰：「非禮勿視，非禮勿聽，非禮勿言，非禮勿動。」顏淵曰：「回雖 不敏，請事斯語矣！」 Confucius said: "If a person lacks trustworthiness, I don't know what s/he can be good for. When a pin is missing from the yoke-bar of a large wagon, or from the collar-bar of a small wagon, how can it go?" 子曰：「人而無信, 不知其可也。大車無輗, 小車無軏 , 其何以行之哉 」 Confucius said: "When the Superior Man deals with the world he is not prejudiced for or against anything. He does what is Right." 子曰：「君子之於天下也, 無適也, 無莫也, 義之於比。」 The relationship between person and country: 4 Confucius said: "Loving study, you approach wisdom; putting effer on practicing, you approach benevolence. Understanding shame, you approach courage. If you understand these three, you know how to self-cultivate; knowing how to self-cultivate, you know how to handle others; knowing how to handle others, you know how to govern the world or country." 子曰：「好學近乎知，力行近乎仁，知恥近乎勇。知斯三者，則知所以修身；知所以修身，則知所 以治人；知所以治人，則知所以治天下國家矣。 Basically, Confucius believed government by the virtue is the way to manage the country. This is the “Wu Wei” in Lao Tzu’s idea. Confucius said: "If you govern with the power of your virtue, you will be like the North Star. It just stays in its place while all the other stars position themselves around it." 子曰：「為政以德。譬如北辰，居其所，而眾星共之。」 The Duke of Ai asked about government. Confucius said: "The records of the governments of King Wen and King Wu are on the ancient tablets. When there is the right people, the government functioned, and when there is no the right people, the government failed. When human power to be used properly, the government flourishes; when the ground is right, the plants flourish. The proper governments would flourish like fast-growing weeds. Therefore, the skillful handling of government is contingent upon having the right people. You attract the right people by your own character. You cultivate your character through the Tao and you manifest the Tao by Benevolence. Benevolence is “humanity” and its most obvious function is in loving people. "Justice" means "setting things right" and its most obvious function is in venerating the Good. The differing levels in loving people and venerating the good are expressed through propriety. Wanting to cultivate his character, he cannot do it without serving his parents. Wanting to serve his parents, he cannot do it without understanding others. Wanting to understand others, he cannot do it without understanding Heaven. 哀公問政。子曰：「文武之政，布在方策。其人存，則其政舉；其人亡，則其政息。人道敏政，地 道敏樹。夫政也者，蒲盧也。故為政在人，取人以身，修身以道，修道以仁。仁者，人也，親親 為大；義者，宜也，尊賢為大。親親之殺，尊賢之等，禮所生也。故君子不可以不修身；思修身 ，不可以不事親；思事親，不可以不知人；思知人，不可以不知天。」 Heavenly decree : Besides to managing the country by virtue, it is very important to follow the will of heaven by his belief. 5 Confucius said: "The Superior Man stands in awe of three things: (1) He is in awe of the decree of Heaven. (2) He is in awe of Great men. (3) He is in awe of the words of the Sages. The inferior man is not in awe of anything because he does not know the decree of Heaven, and will take great men lightly and laugh at the words of the sages." 子曰：「君子有三畏：畏天命，畏大人，畏聖人之言。小人不知天命而不畏也，狎大人，侮 聖人之言。」 Confucius said: "He who does not understand the decree of Heaven cannot be regarded as a superior. He who does not know the rites cannot take his stand. He who does not understand words(talking), cannot understand people.” 子曰：「不知命，無以為君子也；不知禮，無以立也；不知言，無以知人也。」 3. The Chinese culture system God/Universe is the very important in Chinese prospect since the ancient time. As human beings, we are between Sky and Earth. As Superior man, he has the responsibility to assist Sky and Earth in transformation and sustenance. So, Superior man, the Noble Being, forms a trinity with Sky and Earth. God/Universe always delivers the messages to human being by the thing beforehand. Once you are in the Path of fully actualized sincerity, you have foreknowledge of things. When a nation or clan is about to rise up, there are always omens of their fortune. When a nation or clan is about to fall, there are always omens of their misfortune. It can be seen in the milfoil stalks, tortoise shells and in the movements of the body. When good or evil fortune is imminent, the perfectly sincere person will know without obstruction. With fully actualized sincerity are like a god. (Doctrine of Mean) 至誠之道，可以前知：國家將興，必有禎祥；國家將亡，必有妖孽；見乎著龜，動乎四體。禍福將 至，善，必先知之；不善，必先知之。故至誠如神。 Fu Xi (about 3100BC) and King Zhou Wen (about 1100BC) are two very typical examples as Sage to read the message from holy tortoise and horse and to write the Ba-Gua. The Gua has explained all the changing rules of Universe. Lao Tzu (about 600BC, from Western Zhou dynasty to Eastern Zhou dynasty) wrote another book called Tao De Chin to explore the idea of God/Universe in 6 words. He called this Tao. Many years after, the Taoism was formed, which inherited all the teachings from Fu Xi, King Zhou Wen, Lao Tzu and other Sages. Confucius always has been compared with Lao Tzu. They are generally considered to be different philosophers. But, in fact, Kung Tzu inherited all the ancient teaching and re-expounded in words which were easier to be understood at that time. He even spent much of his last years working on some of the classics. I-Chin is one of the very important books to be commented by Kung Tzu. No matter for Lao Tzu or Confucius, to reveal our original nature is the kernel issue. What Heaven confers is called "nature." Accordance with this nature is called the Tao. Cultivating the Tao is called "education (religion)." (Doctrine of Mean) 天命之謂性，率性之謂道，修道之謂教。 For the nature, they use different terms from different perspectives to explain what it is. Five Five constants Five Elements constants for for human’s when Five Organs Five Direction Universe original nature menifest Trust Soil Stomach, Spleen Center Yun Benevolence Wood Liver East Hang Propriety Fire Heart South Li Righteousness Mental Lump West Zhang Wisdom Water Kidney North Fu Xi Confucius Taoism Medicine Kung Tzu’s disciples continued to explore Confucius’ idea with ancients teaching to write the book such as the Great Learning, The Doctrine of mean (by Tzu Si), Mencius (by Mencius). The Analects of Confucius, The Great Learning, The Doctrine of mean, Mencius called four books which are the most important books in Confucius. Kung Tzu generalized from Chinese culture to form the theory of Confucius. 4. His Influence 7 Kung Tzu layed a solid foundation for China's enduring civilization through different ways. 4.1 Education In the history of Chinese education, Confucius is a paragon of all teachers, symbolizing the philosophy of "Educate all without discrimination, and teach according to the abilities of one’s students" using the six arts of rites, music, archery, chariot driving, learning (including reading and writing), and mathematics. The basic idea of his education is to build up the complete personality. Confucius had more than three thousand disciples during his lifetime. In practice of his credo, the Sage never refused a student because of his class or character, requiring only that his pupils possess a sincere desire to learn. He encouraged people to study. Confucius said: "At fifteen my heart was set on learning; at thirty I stood firm; at forty I had no more doubts; at fifty I knew the mandate of heaven; at sixty my ear was obedient; at seventy I could follow my heart's desire without transgressing the norm." Confucius said: "Be of unwavering good faith and love learning. Be steadfast unto death in pursuit of the good Tao. 子曰：「篤信好學，守死善道。」 The greatest sage and teacher When the Republic of China was founded, Confucius' birthday, August 28, was designated as a national holiday, ‘Teachers' Day’, to remember Confucius' enormous contribution to Chinese culture and society. Today, Teachers' Day not only commemorates China's foremost teacher in history but also honors all teachers for their hard work during the year. Every year during Teachers' Day, the Confucius Memorial Service is solemnly held at the Confucius Temple to show respect and honor for the Sage. At the ‘Teachers Day Celebration’ held by the Ministry of Education and the various local governments, teachers with the highest seniority and best qualities are recognized for their contribution to society. 4.2 Political System 8 Kung Tzu had implemented his idea in Lu. It only took three months to change the clan to become a harmonious, secure county. Unfortunately, King Lu could not continue to implement his idea. And no other ruler could take his advice, either. Easter Zhou gradually fell down as the Warring State, which was worse than the Spring-Autumn period. After Zhou dynasty, Confucius became the main trend in the Qin and Han dynasty. After the warring period, they realized the importance of Confucius after reflection. Such reflection happened many times in Chinese history, eg, Tang, Song and Ming. For the Qing dynasty, the third emperor implemented Confucius’ ideas for a different reason. He was aware that the best way to govern the country was to govern by the Chinese way. He spent a lot time to study Confucius. He turned out to be very a successful emperor. 5. Chinese Culture Confucius is not the only factor for the Chinese culture. Confucius has the very important role in processing Chinese culture. In the mean time, Taoism played another very important role, as did Buddhism, of course. In Tang Dynasty, the idea Confucius, Taoism and Buddhism is one family to be raised up. 6. Confucius Today - Discussion Lao Tzu: “Using the ancient Tao to manage the affairs of now In able to know the beginnings it is called the law of Tao.” 執古之道 以御今之有 能知古始 是謂道紀。 9
"Confucius and Chinese Culture 1. Terminology - Confucius "