The term Confucianism is a system of living inseminated and disciplined by a philosopher known as Confucius (Oldstone-Moore 294). It is a practice majorly used in the period between the 5th and 6th Century BC. It was a way of living practiced by the Chinese for over two millennia. Not only has Confucianism made predominance to the Chinese, but also it had repercussion to the Japanese, Vietnamese, and Koreans. Although it is associated among several historical religions globally, it contrasts completely in that it is not a well-organized religion as others. The practice of this religion has indelibly led to creation of society, education, families, and governments of Asian communities in the East. In addition, it has served as an insight for Asians and a tool used by the court of appeal for dealing with issues relating to human interaction between nations and communities.
Confucius is a term generated from Latin from a Chinese word Kung-Fu-Tzu. The two terms Confucianism and Confucian are words derived from western culture, from Europeans dating recently in the 18th century. Confucius played a major role in the establishment of Confucianism religion. However, he is not the sole founder of this religion like Christianity by Christ. He majorly advocated for the need for a ritualized life by the proposal of the past meanings renaissance thus leading to Confucianism emergence. He sunk deep into historical data for the information he viewed as the humanity tool for communication and self-belonging.
Confucius dispatched a well-comprehended ideology of both social and political philosophy to a group of disciples after delineating it. Analects were a book in the West, which contained the Confucius sayings and teachings that the disciples collected. These teachings focus primarily on two areas: political and social. Social teachings involve individuals’ proper conduct to their peers and in the society. On the other hand, political teachings involve governance of a ruler and his relationship he has with the people he exercises authority. Confucius perceived the greatest tool for proper conduct achievement to be education.
Through his social teachings, he educated individuals to be compassionate towards one another. Further, he proclaimed that individuals should treat others according to the way they would like to be also treated. Altruism and self-restraint are virtues he stressed for individuals to have to be compassionate (Oldstone-Moore 296). Confucius affirmed that in social relationships there arise mutual obligations that need to be adherence for proper conduct exercise. Therefore, it results to relationship that is harmonious between them and provides a source of society’s stability.
Heaven, Earth, and Man
Chinese philosophers studied relationship between man and heaven largely coming up with different theories. They expounded this relationship heavily to coin its meaning. Xuniz professed that in heaven and earth there exist a distinction. The Chinese philosophy teaches individuals to behave humanly. The requirements for individual to be humane they need proper standards, the good and the beautiful, and truth. Moreover, Confucius believed that in keeping with heaven’s mandate, the say of a saint is crucial. He proclaimed that people should comprehend heaven, know their lot, and do their deeds heartily. Xuniz main objective was that the will of Heaven should be bending for man’s benefits in order for heaven integration. Lastly, the heart carries no intrinsic content, but the earth, heaven and all things entails the response in the content.
Classical Filial Piety
In a firm stance, Confucius believed that the society’s key for reformation was better family relations, which in turn leads to reforming governments. He encouraged his scholars to portray solicitude towards their parents, for this will lead to restoration of people’s virtue. Nonetheless, he believed that people would have the ability in performing society and government roles accordingly if they did so with their roles in family. Through the Analects, he made a comparison of the emperor’s roles and that of the emperor to that of the father. Just like the father’s love for his children, the loyalty and respect they will show to him is important. To add with, if for years a man does not abandon his father’s behavior occupation, he is truly filial.
Confucius believed that the transformation process life undergoes, has developmental stages that are different, with each containing its own process and task. He considered that birth was a creative form of life with individuals as the past link to the coming future. Having no offspring was an unforgivable thing because children were the continuity of individual family tree. Having a boy child especially was a very important thing to families. The off springs at home were educated on honoring the ethical code (Li). The code entailed trusting colleagues, loyalty for the nation and family and above all honoring their parents. Reaching adulthood, the expectation of these children was high for them in performing their roles with assistance from their peers and family members adequately. Participation in social activities and the assumption of related responsibilities guaranteed them obedience to the ethical code to the society. At the maturity mental age 40, an individual is capable and has self-reliance for looking after oneself. Nevertheless, spiritual age 50 is the time an individual recognizes the Ultimate and he reconnects himself to it. The acceptance age 60 is where an individual will lead diversity acceptance with the community or his family and act as a source of leadership for community. Unification age 71, entail purification of an individual mind from negative thoughts and self-disbelief. Finally, the funeral service is to honor and for remembrances of the dead.
Sima Guang, Wang Anshi, and Emperor Shenzong
Emperor Shenzong was the sixth emperor conferred in 1066 year as the Crowned Prince. He was later dethroned as the prince the following year as still a young twenty-year old Prince. Shenzong’s dissatisfaction of the inherited weak regime led to the appointment of Wang Anshi to a high government positioned. Wang’s appointment was to carry out reforms for rescuing the Northern Song Dynasty from the financial crisis it faced. However, this attempt was a failure and subsequently led to Wang dismissal.
Sima Guang was born in Guangzhou on November 17 in the year 1019 and later died in Kaifeng, Henan in the year 1086. A popular scholar, poet, and a diplomat, he made a compilation of Zizhi tongjian monumental. Guang’s rapid rise to high office coincided with his study of Confucian classics of which he had excellence in the civil service examinations (Wilhelm, 95). As a conservative, he made arguments on the purpose of good governance. He stated that moral leadership was part of quality governance rather than assertive measures. Before his death, he had success in dislodging the faction of Wang from the government. He later became the minister mandated with the task of reforming the nation’s financial crisis which Wang failure massively.
Women Virtues and Vices
Women were a subject of various forms of oppression during the Confucian philosophy in East Asia between the 4th and 12th century. Their roles were minimal in the society and were consequently subordinates for their male counterparts. Political power was not for women in China, Korea, and Japan. However, there were few cases of exceptions in these regions, which had empresses and queens for example the Tong Dynasty’s Empress Wu. The willingness of women to accept and support the repression from the society was a criterion embraced among the social class. Consequently, this ideology reflected due to the duty women had in supporting the harmonious virtue ideally of Confucianism.
Bang Zhao was a prime example of a woman who had support of this ideal of women’s role in the society. He had belief that girls’ education should be different from that of boys. He purported that girls acquire education on how they will satisfy their husbands. Additionally, she offered political advice to Empress Deng on issues relating to government policies. In comparison to Empress Wu who was a legend between the Chinese, Empress was simply a minority figure in the monarchial ruling. Empress Wu differed with Bang Zhao’s woman hood notions. Moreover, women’s role in society is possible due to Confucianism, which limited their abilities.
Rites and Ceremonies
Ancestral worship is one of the oldest ritual practices of Confucianism. The participation in ancestral worship was a necessity in Confucianism (Wilhelm, 92). Contrastingly, most East Asians practice this ritual even though some do not follow Confucian tradition. This trajectory was greatly an attribute to the Chinese tradition of Confucianism that spread across East Asia. Ancestor worship was Confucian spiritual and moral message main focal point. The Confucians viewed it as a tool for infusing harmony in the society and for building filial piety.
Confucianism is generally a way of living practiced by the Chinese and not necessarily a religion as commonly viewed.