ConfuciusAs Confucius’ philosophy still remains in the heart of many Chinese people. Hisimages of the greatest professional teacher of all time, the greatestphilosopher in Chinese history and his influence toward the future and the past2000 years of Chinese civilization has made his thought the essence of theChinese culture.
He always said the importance of teaching could change thefuture of the civilization. And he also encouraged his students to explore thevarious things to learn, but be very selective and careful. The purpose ofConfucius’ teaching was practical and designed to help each person improve hischaracter and conduct, and perhaps become prepared for an official position inthe court. According to one passage in the Analects, Confucius taught fourthings: culture, conduct, loyalty, and truthfulness. 1 Culture consisted ofliterature and music. Confucius suggested the value of each: “Let a man bestimulated by poetry, established in character by the rules of propriety, andperfected by music.
“2 These pursuits were means by which one may achievethe higher ideal of following the Way. “The gentleman extensively studiesliterature and restrains himself with the rules of propriety. Thus he will notviolate the Way. “3 And also “Set your heart upon the Way. Supportyourself by its virtue.
Rely on goodness. Find recreation in the arts. “4Confucius put the moral duties before the arts as the essential activities ofthe gentleman. “A young man’s duty is to behave well to his parents at homeand to in love to all, and to cultivate the friendship of the good. If, when allthat is done, he has any energy to spare, then let him study the culturalarts. “5 Confucius taught many topics around these subjects, but the mostimportance of these is the propriety, ritual and the Way of being a Gentleman.
From these to achieve the Jen. Confucius had one overwhelming message: if we areto achieve a state of orderliness and peace, we need to return to traditionalvalues of virtue. These values are based entirely on one concept: Jen, which isbest, translated as “humaneness. ” This humaneness is a relativelystrange concept to Western people, because it is not primarily a practicablevirtue. The rules of propriety offered a code of accepted behaviour thatdemonstrated to themselves and others that they were cultured and propergentlemen.
For Confucius, the gentleman knew and behaved according to the rulesof propriety. In the first chapter of Analects, Yu-Tzu gives the value of therules of propriety. “Among the functions of propriety the most valuable isthat it establishes harmony. The Way of the ancient kings from this harmony gotits beauty. It is the guiding principle of all things great and small.
If thingsgo amiss, and he who knows the harmony tries to achieve it without regulating itby the rules of propriety, they will still go amiss. “6 Confucius explainswhat can happen if conduct is not guided by propriety. “Courtesy notbounded by the rules of propriety becomes tiresome. Caution not bounded by therules of propriety becomes timidity, daring becomes insubordination,straightforwardness becomes rudeness. “7 Nevertheless, Confucius did notbelieve in over-wallowing in ceremonies, and the feelings should be proper tothe situations.
“In ceremonies it is better to be sparing than extravagant. Funeral ceremonies should be observed in deep sorrow rather than in fear. “8By the same mean, “When substance, one becomes pedantic. When substance andrefinement are properly blended, then one is a gentleman. “9 Confucius knewthat the ancient routes had been reduced in his time, and that such reductionwas politic.
“Were anyone today to serve his prince according to the fullrules of propriety he would be thought a sycophant. “10 Many Confucius’students were interest to become officials in government and so as Confuciushimself, wanted the opportunity to advise rulers. His aim is to put hisknowledge into practice. “A man may be able to recite the three hundredOdes; but, if when given a post in the government, he does not know how to act,or when sent on a mission to far parts he cannot answer specific questions,however extensive his knowledge may be, of what use is it to him. “11Nevertheless, an official must improve himself and regulate his own conductbefore he could hope to rule over others.
Hence, self-improvement wasprerequisite to engaging in politics. “If a minister makes his own conductcorrect, he will have no difficulty in assisting in government. But if he cannotrectify himself, how can he possibly rectify others?”12 Despite Confuciusillustrates wisdom and Jen as essential to ruling, they still must beaccomplished with dignity, and according to propriety. He explains why.
He whosewisdom brings him into power, needs goodness to secure that power. Else, thoughhe gets it, he will certainly lose it. He whose wisdom brings him into power andwho has goodness to secure that power, if he has not dignity to approach thecommon people, they will not respects him. He whose wisdom brought him intopower, who has goodness to secure that power, and dignity to approach the commonpeople, if he handles them contrary to the rules of propriety, full excellenceis not reached. 13 Confucius believed that official’s political action shouldfollow the Way.
His actions will vary depending on whether the government isfollowing the Way or not. Confucius gives this advice for the differentcircumstances: Have sincere faith and love learning. Be not afraid to die forpursuing the good Way. Do not enter a state that pursues dangerous courses, norstay in a chaotic one. When the Way prevails under Heaven, then show yourself;when it does not prevail, then hide. When he Way prevails in your own land andyou are poor and in a humble position, are ashamed of yourself.
When the Waydoes not prevail in your land and you are wealthy and in an honourable position,are ashamed of yourself. 14 These was someone misunderstand how to put the Wayinto practice. Chi K’ang-tzu asked Confucius if it would be a good idea to killthose who had not the Way in order to help those who had the Way. Confuciussaid, “You are there to rule, not to kill. If you desire what is good, thepeople will be good. The essence of the gentleman is that of wind; the essenceof small people is that of grass.
And when a wind blows over the grass, then itbends. “15 The proper relationship between a ruler and his minister is theruler should love his people, while the minister should be loyal to the ruler. Confucius explains the proper behaviour of each. “How can he be said trulyto love, who exacts no effort from the objects of his love? How can he be saidto be truly loyal, who refrains from admonishing the objects of hisloyalty?”16 Confucius summarizes the art of the ruler as follows: A countryof a thousand war-chariots cannot be administered unless the ruler attendsstrictly to business, punctually observes his promises, is economical inexpenditure, loves the people, and uses the labour of the peasantry only at theproper times of year. 17 The main subject matter in Confucius’ teachings was howto become a good and virtuous person by improving his own character. When Tzu-luasked if courage was to be esteemed by the gentleman, Confucius said, ” Thegentleman holds justice to be of highest importance.
If a gentleman has couragebut neglects justice, he becomes insurgent. If an inferior man has courage butneglects justice, he becomes a thief. ” 18 Confucius’ main methods forachieving these virtues was learning. However, learning is not enough to fulfilthe need.
People must be able to think. “He who learns but does not thinkis lost; he who thinks but does not learn is in danger. “19 Confucius alsomentions the friendship and the virtues of faithfulness and sincerity. “First and foremost, be faithful to your superiors, keep all promises,refuse the friendship of all who are not like you; and if you have made amistake, do not be afraid of admitting the fact and amending your ways.
“20Confucius explain to his students which kinds of friends are beneficial andwhich are harmful to their characters. “There are three sorts offriendships which are advantageous, and three which are injurious. Friendshipswith the upright, friendships with the sincere, and friendships with those wellinformed are advantageous. Friendships with those who flatter, friendships withthose of weak principle, and friendships with those talk cleverly areinjurious.
“21 The master also reveal there are three sorts of pleasureswhich are advantageous, and three which are injurious. Finding pleasure in thediscriminating study of ceremonies and music, finding pleasure in discussing thegood points in the conduct of others, and finding pleasure in having many wisefriends, these are advantageous. But finding pleasure in profligate enjoyments,finding pleasure in idle gadding about, and finding pleasure in feasting, theseare injurious. 22 Ritual, was an important subject of study. It has beenillustrate by the poetry and music from the study of Confucius. It is also theWay of teaching people to the Gentleman level.
“If a man is not humane,what has he to do with ritual? If a man is not humane, what has he to do withmusic?”23 Confucius had explain the relationship between ritual and Jen ingreater details. Yen Hui asked about humaneness. The master said, To subdueoneself and return to ritual is humane. If for one day a ruler could subduehimself and return to ritual, then all under Heaven would respond to thehumaneness in him. For does humaneness proceed from the man himself, or does itproceed from others. .
. do not speak what is contrary to ritual, and make nomovement, which is contrary to ritual. 24 Poetry had broader humanistic valuesfor understanding oneself and other people, and even increased one’s awarenessof the natural world. My children, why do you not study the Book of Poetry? TheOdes serve to stimulate the mind.
They may be used for purposes ofself-contemplation. They teach the art of sociability. They show how to regulatefeelings of resentment. From them you learn the more immediate duty of servingone’s father, and the remoter one of serving one’s prince. From them we becomelargely acquainted with the names of birds, beasts, and plants.
“25Confucius was also a great lover of music and played some himself. However, theteaching of this art was apparently handed over to the Grand music master towhom Confucius gave his ideas on how music should follow the ideal of theancient pattern and then allow for some improvisation while still maintainingharmony. “Their music in so far as one can find out about it began with astrict unison. Soon the musicians were given more liberty; but the tone remainedharmonious, brilliant, consistent, right on till the close.
“26 Ssu-maCh’ien quotes this exact passage, but then goes on to give more information inregard to Confucius’ use of poetry and music. He once also said, “After myreturn to Lu from Wei, I have been able to restore the musical tradition andclassify the music of sung and ya and restore the songs to their respectiveoriginal music. ” In the ancient times, there were over three thousandsongs, but Confucius took out the duplicates and selected those that were suitedto good form. The collection began with the songs of Ch’i and Houchi, coveredthe great period of the Shang and Chou kings and carried it down to the times ofthe tyrants Yu and Li. It begins with a song of marital love, and therefore itis said “the song Kuan-ch’ih heads the collection of Feng; Luming heads thecollection of the ‘Little ya’; and Ch’ingmiao heads the collection of theSung.
” Confucius personally sang all the three hundred and five songs andplayed the music on a string instrument to make sure that it fitted in with thescore of hsiao, wu, ya, and sung. Through his efforts, the tradition of ancientrites and music was therefore rescued from oblivion and handed down toposterity, that they might help in the carrying out of this ideal of a king’sgovernment and in the teaching of “the Six Arts.”