THE TEACHINGS OF CONFUCIUS
Confucius was born about 551 BC. with the family name K'ung. The respect he gained for his teachings led to his being referred to as Grand Master K'ung — K'ung Fu-tzu. The Western version of his name comes from this. He said that at fifteen he bent his mind to learning, and he continued to express a deep admiration for learning throughout his life. Confucius married at 19, his son being born a year later. Subsequently he had two daughters, one of whom died when she was quite young.
In his twenty-second year, Confucius started his career as a public teacher, and his house became a gathering place for young people who wished to learn from the lessons of the past. He was concerned with opening up education to all, with an emphasis on character building rather than vocational training. In his fifties he became a magistrate and a minister of justice. At 56 he sought to spread his doctrines by traveling extensively with some of his students. After 13 years he returned somewhat disappointed to his own state, where he is believed to have written down his philosophy and compiled the Chinese Classics. He died in 479 BC.
Confucius lived in times when there was constant warfare between neighboring states and local warlords had little concern for the high moral principles enunciated by an itinerant teacher. While his goal was to bring peace and order to states his words had little effect during his lifetime. His ideas subsequently became the foundation for most of the concern for humanity found in subsequent Chinese philosophy. Unfortunately, his name has often been used as a cloak for despotic rule, by a false analogy between a dictator and the head of a family.
Confucianism is the complex system of moral, social, political, and religious teaching built up by Confucius and the ancient Chinese traditions. Confucianism goal is making not only the man virtuous, but also making him the man of learning and of good manners. The perfect man must combine the qualities of a saint, scholar, and gentleman. Confucianism is a religion whose worship is centered in offerings to the dead. The notion of duty is extended beyond the boundaries of morals and embraces the details of daily life.
As a foundation for the life of perfect goodness, Confucius insisted mainly on the four virtues of sincerity, benevolence, filial piety, and propriety.
SINCERITY was a cardinal virtue. It meant more than a mere social relation. Sincerity also meant to be truthful and straightforward in speech, faithful to one’s promises and to be conscientious in the discharge of one’s duties to others. The sincere man in Confucius’s eyes was the man whose conduct was based on the love of virtue, and who sought to observe the rules of right conduct in his heart as well as in outward actions.
Showing a kindly regard for the welfare of others and in a readiness to help them in times of need (BENEVOLENCE), was also a fundamental element in Confucius’s teaching. These things were viewed as the traits of the good man. In the sayings of Confucius, he states many things that can be compared to the Golden Rule. For example, when a disciple asked him for a guiding principle for all conduct, Confucius answered: "Is not mutual goodwill such a principle? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others". This is almost exactly like the form of the Golden Rule found in Christianity.
The third fundamental virtue in the Confucian system is FILIAL PIETY. In the "Hiao-king", Confucius is recorded as saying: "Filial piety is the root of all virtue."—"Of all the actions of man there are none greater than those of filial piety." To the Chinese, filial piety prompts sons to love and respect their parents, contribute to their comfort and bring happiness and honor to their name by honorable success in life. Filial piety included the obligation of sons to live after marriage under the same roof with...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document