Samsung Case - Confucius - World Teacher, Political and Spiritual Master - Confucianism - China
Confucius - World Teacher, Political and Spiritual Master - Confucianism - China
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Confucius - World Teacher, Political and Spiritual Master - Confucianism - China
Confucius (or Kongzi) was a Chinese Teacher, philosopher and Spiritual Master who
lived in the 6th century BCE and whose thoughts, expressed in the philosophy of Confucianism,
have influenced Chinese culture right up to the present day.
His school was revolutionary as it was the 1st to accept students from all classes, with
no concern for status (noble, wealthy etc.). Before school was only for the Noble classes.
Authors Note - Raul: One key point is that rarely have such elevated Masters teaching reach
the masses. But Confucius teachings and example did reach the masses in China and
all over the world. His emphasis on LEARNING, morality and the virtues is surely a basis
of the economic progress in these countries as it became a guiding light for many
businessmen, intellectual and the so-called common man. When the opposite
happens and corruption and illiteracy abound, then poverty abounds.
In between the lines we can see of man of extreme sensibility, humility and love for all
beings. He was revolutionary is his statement that Noble deeds not Noble birth give
one honor, the Mothers and family Love of more value than gold! So true even today.
Physically he suffered a lot due to poverty, rejection due to a large body (6-9 feet tall)
with some rare traits, and he was an illegitimate child.
He loved his Mother deeply, but she died early in his life, and he became an orphan.
Confucius was educated at schools for commoners, where he studied and
learned the Six Arts: Rites (禮),Music (樂),Archery (射),Charioteering (御)
Calligraphy (書) and Mathematics (數).
He is considered the FIRST teacher and his teachings are usually expressed in short
phrases which are open to various interpretations. Chief among his philosophical
ideas are the importance of a virtuous life, filial piety and ancestor worship.
The Importance of Study - his main lesson:
In the Analects, Confucius presents himself as a "transmitter who invented nothing".
He puts the greatest emphasis on the importance of study, and it is the Chinese
character for study (學) that opens the text.
Far from trying to build a systematic or formalist theory, he wanted his disciples
to master and internalize older classics, so that their deep thought and thorough
study would allow them to relate the moral problems of the present to past political
events. This was a very similar preparation to Lao Tzu - the study of the classics.
Key Meeting: Confucius seeks Lao Tzu
Confucius and Lao Tzu were both seekers of spiritual truth and were also
contemporaries. Lao Tzu was 20 years Confucius' senior. In his early 30s
Confucius paid a visit to Lao Tzu, who was the famous author (later on)
of the "Tao Te Ching" and a renowned philosopher in China.
At the time of the visit, Lao Tzu was the curator of the National Archives in the
bustling Chinese capital of Luoyang. The two men shared concerns about their
country's crumbling social order, but offered very different solutions.
When their legendary meeting took place, Lao Tzu cautioned Confucius,
"Get rid of your arrogance and your ambition." Confucius was so impressed
by Lao Tzu, he described him as "a dragon riding the winds and clouds in the sky."
Thus, we can conclude that here Confucius met his Master.
His teachings emphasized is the necessity for benevolent and frugal rulers,
the importance of inner moral harmony and its direct connection with harmony
in the physical world and that rulers and teachers are important role models for wider society.
He led a very active political life, influencing kings and leaders via his
immense reputation to educate their followers, and thus increase their value.
This was revolutionary and it is so today.
Confucius' Early life
Confucius is believed to have lived from c. 551 to c. 479 BCE in the state of Lu
(now Shandong or Shantung).
It was whilst he was teaching in his school that Confucius started to write.
Chinese philosophy, and particularly Confucianism, has always been concerned
with practical questions of morality and ethics. How should man live in order
to master his environment, provide suitable government and achieve moral harmony?
Central to Confucianism is that the moral harmony of the individual is directly
related to cosmic harmony; what one does, affects the other.
Mencius & Xunzi
The thoughts of Confucius were further developed and codified by two important
philosophers, Mencius (or Mengzi) and Xunzi (or Hsun Tzu). Whilst both believed
that man’s sense of morality and justice separated him from the other animals,
Mencius expounded the belief that human nature is essentially good whilst Xunzi,
although not of an opposite position, was slightly more pessimistic about human
nature and he, therefore, stressed the importance of education and ritual to keep
people on the right moral track.
Confucianism expounded the importance of four virtues which we all
possess: benevolence (jen), righteousness (i), observance of rites (li) and
moral wisdom (te). A fifth was later added - faith.
According to the Zuozhuan, Confucius returned home to his native Lu when he was 68,
after he was invited to do so by Ji Kangzi, the chief minister of Lu.
The Analects depict him spending his last years teaching 72 or 77 disciples and
transmitting the old wisdom via a set of texts called the Five Classics.
During his return, Confucius sometimes acted as an advisor to several government
officials in Lu, including Ji Kangzi, on matters including governance and crime.
Burdened by the loss of both his son and his favorite disciples, he died at the
age of 71 or 72. He died from natural causes. He had crossed China several
times - probably over 2,000 miles, in his quest to unify China and end corruption.
He had before his death over 2,000 disciples of which about 100 were advanced.
They must have a great devotion to him since his teachings spread
far and wide, while in his life rulers tended to ignore him as a form of protection.
Following his death in 479 BCE, Confucius was buried in his family’s tomb in Qufu
(in Shandong) and, over the following centuries, his stature grew so that he became
the subject of worship in schools during the Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE) and temples
were established in his name at all administrative capitals during the Tang Dynasty
Throughout the imperial period an extensive knowledge of the fundamental texts of
Confucianism was a necessity in order to pass the civil service selection examinations.
Educated people often had a tablet of Confucius’ writings prominently displayed in
their houses and sometimes also statues, most often seated and dressed in imperial
costume to symbolize his status as ‘the king without a throne’.
Authors note - Raul:
Together with Chinese Philosophy and Lao Tzu i studied Confucius early in life.
I preferred Lao Tzu teachings as more universal in todays life, but no doubt Confucius
extended Lao Tzu wisdom far in time and space. Morality seems outdated but in fact
experience shows that without this foundation there will be no lasting achievement.
Very similar to Ramakrishna and Vivekananda or Christ and Peter, the original
Masters were not into building religions or changing the world - but more
focused on changing hearts. But one item that is paramount is Confucius emphasize
on LEARNING! That was true then and is true now.
There are endless resources on the web and print and videos on Confucius.
Some powerful videos of his life:
Biography (Bio) - Vimeo - Confucius: Words of Wisdom (1998)
Words of Wisdom - audiobook (3hrs):
Summarized from the Ancient History Encyclopedia
by Mark Cartwright - published on 2012
and Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confucius
By Susie Zappia