Home > China Specials > Religion > Confucianism


painting of confuciusIntroduction
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system, developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius. It is a complex system of moral, social, political and religious which had tremendous influence on the history and culture of East Asia.

The Founder
Confucianism was founded by K'ung Fu Tzu (K'ung Fuzi), born in 551 BCE in the state of Lu (in Shandong Province today). In all his life, he wandered through many states of China, giving advice to their rulers. He accumulated a small band of students during this time. The last years of his life were spent back in Lu, where he devoted himself to teaching. The teachings of Confucius are contained in the Analects, a collection of his sayings as remembered by his students.

Soon after Confucius' death, his hometown the state of Lu, Qufu in Shandong Province today, became a place of devotion and remembrance. Many Chinese people visit his grave and the surrounding temples. There are also many temples dedicated to him, which have been used for Confucian ceremonies. Confucius's works, words are studied by many scholars in many other Asian countries, such as Korea, Japan, Vietnam, etc.

confucius templeThe Themes
Confucianism in its broad sense embraces not only the immediate teaching of Confucius, but also the traditional rites and Confucian texts, which have been venerated as sacred heirlooms in all ages. Its main themes are as following:

Ren (仁, Rén): In English, it means benevolence, charity, humanity and love. Kindness is the fundamental virtue of Confucianism and refers to love others.

Yi (义, Yì): In English, it means right conduct, morality, duty to one's neighbor and righteousness. Its opposite is Li (利, Lì), profit, gain, advantage in English. As Master Kong said: "The gentleman understands Yi. The mean man understands Li (利, Lì)."

Li(礼, Lǐ): In English, it means ritual, propriety, good manners, politeness, ceremony and worship.

Shu (恕, Shù): In English, it means reciprocity, altruism, consideration for others, As Master Kong said: "What you don't want yourself, don't do to others".

Zhong (忠, zhōng): In English, it means doing one's best, conscientiousness and loyalty.

Xiao (孝, Xiào): In English, it means filial piety, to honor one's parents.

Related Reading

Top China Tours