Confucius' real name was K'ung Fu-tse, and he lived in China between 551 and 479 B.C.E.
Almost all Confucian's live in China -- 100,000 live in the United States.
Unlike Buddhism which taught spiritual withdrawal, Confucius instructed his followers to engage society through a code of moral behavior.
Confucius was an educator, rather than a spiritual prophet. He based his principles of social order on what he perceived to be the moral imperative of the universe.
Confucianism has been received as an ethical philosophy and as a religion.
Confucius has influenced one-fifth of the world's population for over 2,500 years.
SOCIETY IN DISARRAY:
In China many barons were fighting for power and social anarchy loomed. There were reports of mass executions of 400,000 people. People were no longer blindly accepting traditions, but were replacing their group obligations with self interest. The society was falling apart. Confucius studied the central issue: What keeps anarchy in check? What holds society together?
Confucius rejected two opposing answers to the problem of social solidarity:
Realism = need more police, more laws, more punishment to keep people in check.
Universal Love = would conquer human selfishness.
THE UNIVERSE OF CONFUCIUS:
Heaven and earth were connected. Heaven consisted of ancestors. Earth consisted of people waiting to join their ancestors in heaven - much like graduation. The two realms were in constant communication. The dead ancestors were worshiped.
Earth spoke to heaven through sacrificial fire - sharing goods with ancestors.
Heaven spoke to earth through augury (omen) - ancestors would share knowledge with their living relatives telling them of things to come.... or warning them. These warnings could be body symptoms such as sneezing or natural events such as lightning.
Before Confucius, the emphasis was on Heaven. Confucius honored the spirits, but turned people's attention to earth. People should come first.
Confucianism did not communicate a clear sense of deity.... in some ways it is less a religion and more a model of social harmony and disciplined living.
DELIBERATE TRADITION -- FIVE KEY PROCESSES
JEN - relates to goodness or benevolence and love or human virtue. It requires a humanity toward others and self respect. It means subordinating self interests to a higher moral principle.
CHUN TZU - how the mature person acts. For example, a man does not talk too much; he is not boastful and does not flaunt any superiority he has. A person is relaxed and poised, confident and competent - not petty or mean or building oneself up at the expense of another.
LI - everyone needs models on how to act. The underlying principle is the "respect for the mean" - balance and compromise and the avoidance of extremes when dealing with others. Five key relationships need to be balanced so the selfhood can be achieved not at the expense of but in coordination with key groups.
PARENTS need to be loving.... children reverential.
YOUNGER BROTHERS / SISTERS respectful.... older siblings gentle.
WIVES supportive listeners.... husbands are good.
ELDER FRIENDS considerate.... younger friends deferential.
RULERS benevolent.... subjects loyal.
TE - power through trust. This tradition concentrated on government and how men are ruled. "An oppressive ruler is more cruel than a tiger." Government should rule through moral example, admiration, and devotion to public welfare.
WEN - "the arts of peace." Music, art, poetry, culture in general are more powerful than the mightiest sword.
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