About Confucianism


About Confucianism



Confucianism began 2,500 years ago in China.


Supreme Sage K’ung fu tsu (Confucius) and Second Sage Meng

tzu (Mencius).

Major Scriptures

The Analects, Doctrine of the Mean, Great Learning, and writing of

Mencius are the sacred books of Confucianism. The Analects

contain the basic teachings and was compiled by the students of

Confucius after his death. Because it was not written as a

systematic philosophy, it contains frequent contradictions and

many of the philosophical doctrines are ambiguous.


There are no formal sects within Confucianism. Followers are free

to profess other religions yet still be Confucians.


Estimated at 350 million, mostly in China, Japan, Burma and



The primary goal of Confucianism is to create true nobility through

proper education and the inculcation of all the virtues.

It is described as the return to the way of one’s ancestors, and the

classics are studied to discover the ancient way of virtue. Spiritual

nobility is attainable by all men. It is perceived as a moral


Confucius accepted the Tao (see Taoism), but placed emphasis

on the return to an idealized age and the cultivation of the superior

man and on the pragmatic rather than the mystical. The superior

man’s greatest virtues are benevolent love, duty, wisdom, truth,

and propriety. Salvation is seen as realizing and living one’s

natural goodness, which is endowed by heaven through

education. The superior man always knows what is right and

follows his knowledge.

Path of Attainment

Besides virtue, the five relationships offer the follower of

Confucianism a means for progressing. These five relationships

are ruler and ruled, father and child, husband and wife, older

sibling and younger sibling, and friend and friend. Ancestors are

revered in Confucianism, and it is assumed that their spirit

survives death. With respect to a deity, Confucius himself was an

agnostic, preferring to place emphasis on the ethical life here

rather than to speak of a spiritual life beyond earthly existence;

while guiding men’s minds not to the future, but to the present and

the past.


Confucianism, the philosophical system founded on the teaching

of Confucius (551 - 479 BC), dominated Chinese socio-political life

for most of Chinese history and largely influenced the cultures of

Korea, Japan, and Indochina.


Confucianism is and has been for over 25 centuries, the dominant

philosophical system in China and the guiding light in almost every

aspect of Chinese life. Confucius and his followers traveled

throughout many feudal states of the Chinese empire persuading

rulers to adopt his social reforms. They did not offer a point by

point program but stressed instead the way or “one thread” Jen,

which is translated as humanity or love, that runs through all of

Confucius’ teachings. They urged individuals to strive for perfect

virtue, righteousness (called i), and improvement of character.

Confucius was dedicated to the preservation of traditional ritual

practices with an almost spiritual delight in its performance.

He taught the importance of harmony in the family, order in the

state, and peace in the Empire. Teachings emphasize a code of

conduct, self cultivation and propriety, and thus the attainment of

social and national order. Stress is more on human duty and the

ideal of the “superior man” than on a divine or suprämundane

reality. Still Confucius fasted, worshipped the ancestors, attended

sacrifices, and sought to live in harmony with Heaven.


There is a presence of the Supreme Ruler in all things, and in

Heaven as the ethical principle, whose law is order, impersonal

and yet interested in mankind.

The purpose of life is to pursue an orderly and reverent existence

in accord with “Li,” propriety or virtue, so as to become the

superior man.

The Golden Rule: Never do to others what you would not like them

to do to you.

Confucius, China’s first sage is the master of life whose teachings

embody the most profound understanding of earth and Heaven,

and that Mencius is China’s second sage.

The writings of Confucius are a scriptural truth. The four sacred

books are; The Analects, Doctrine of the Mean, Great Learning,

and Writings of Mencius.

Each man has five relationships entailing five duties to his fellow

man: to his ruler, to his parents and children, to his wife, to his

brothers and sisters, and to his friend. The foremost is doing his

familial duties.

Man is a master of his own life and fate, free to conduct himself as

he wills, and that he should cultivate qualities of benevolence,

righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and sincerity.

The family is the most essential institution among men, and

religion should support the family and the state.


This is the Chinese sign for Water. It symbolizes the life giving


Holy Water

 Tukaram the saintly poet of India once traveled on foot all the way

from Maharashtra state to Banaras to bring holy water of the river

Ganges for a Grand Bathing Ceremony (Abhisheka) of his deity.


On his way with the holy water in a copper pot, he saw a donkey

lying almost dead on the ground, suffering from the scorching heat

of the sun. Seeing the donkey suffering without water, his tender

heart was moved with compassion. He spontaneously poured the

precious holy water which was meant for the deity in the mouth of

the donkey.

Soon after the donkey drank the water, he slowly came to life and

opened his eyes. There was an expression of satisfaction on his

face, the donkey was alive.

Tukaram seeing the donkey revived back to life took a great sigh

of relief and experienced a spiritual ecstasy. He said to himself,

“My Abhisheka to God is complete,” and returned home without

holy water.



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