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Confucius and Chinese Culture 1. Terminology - Confucius


									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
      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
       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

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."

    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?"






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


           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

      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

       - 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?"


       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."

       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."



       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:

       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."

    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."

       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.



   Heavenly decree :
    Besides to managing the country by virtue, it is very important to follow the will of
    heaven by his belief.

         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."

         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.”

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)

       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

       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)

       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

  Kung Tzu layed a solid foundation for China's enduring civilization through different

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

      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.

      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

   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.”




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