I. Confucianism defined
A. A system of thought in China developed from the teachings of Confucius.
B. Confucianism is concerned with the principles of good conduct, practical wisdom, and the exercise of political power by rulers.
C. Confucianism became the official ideology of China in 2nd century B.C.
D. It has never existed as an established religion.
II. History of Confucianism
A. The founder of Confucianism is Confucius (551–479 B.C.).
B. He was born to a young woman.
C. His father died when he was young.
D. "Confucius" is Latin translation of Kung Futzu.
E. Confucius was born during a time of violence.
F. The time was ripe for a leader with wise and peaceful instruction.
G. Confucius studied many things from an early age:
H. He wanted to become wise so he could teach others.
I. At 19 he married and had a son and daughter.
J. Confucius served as a teacher.
K. He also served the Duke of Lu.
L. He initially attracted 3000 followers.
M. Near death, Confucius worried that he made no difference (he was wrong).
N. Chinese scholars consider him a great teacher but they do not worship him.
O. Confucius never claimed deity.
P. In the 2nd century B.C. one emperor offered animal sacrifices at his grave.
III. Important writings
A. The principles of Confucianism are contained in the nine ancient Chinese works handed down by Confucius and his followers.
1. "The Five Classics"
a) The Book of History
b) The Book of Poems
c) The Book of Change
d) The Spring and Autumn Annals
e) The Book of Rites
f) NOTE: The Five Classics were written before Confucius was born.
2. "The Four Books"
a) The Analects
b) The Book of Mencius
c) The Great Learning
d) The Mean
3. The Four Books describe what Confucius and his followers thought was important.
4. The Analects is the most important text in Confucianism. It is the most reliable source of knowledge about Confucius.
IV. Main ideas of Confucius
A. Two main principles of Confucius:
1. Humans are good.
2. Humans learn best from example.
B. The great need in every society is a model human being.
C. Confucius called this model person—junzi.
D. A structured society under a strong dependable leader is best.
V. Worldview of Confucianism
1. No specific teaching on the absolute.
2. Confucius participated in sacrifices to heaven—the home of ancestors. Thus, Confucius appears to have adopted the traditional metaphysical beliefs of his day.
3. Some accepted the concept of the Dao but saw the Dao as present in humans and society.
B. The World
1. The natural world is a good place.
2. When humans work with nature, the earth brings forth what people need.
1. Humans are good.
2. Humans require education.
3. Humans must have role models.
D. Problem for Humans
1. Disharmony with others.
2. Being disrespectful to others hurts society and sets a bad example.
E. Solution for Humans
1. Harmony with others.
2. People should obey a good ruler.
3. Harmony requires a good government.
F. Community and Ethics
1. Reciprocity—people should avoid doing to others what they would not want done to them (however, loving friends and family more important than loving enemies).
2. Fulfilling duty to superiors is important.
3. Marriage and childbirth held in high regard. (That is why Theravada Buddhism did not take root in Confucian societies.)
1. Lacks sacraments and liturgy.
2. Spirit of unborn child protects mother.
3. Mothers get one month of rest after birth.
4. At Death
a) Relatives cry out loud.
b) Body is washed and put in a coffin.
c) Mourners bring incense and money.
d) A Buddhist or Daoist priest performs a burial ritual.
VI. Other info
A. Confucianism is no longer the state religion of China since the communist takeover in 1949.
B. Mao Tse Tung viewed Confucianism as out of date (too much focus on old feudalism model)
C. It is experiencing a rebirth in some parts of Asia.
D. The study of Confucius's book is mandatory in Taiwan.
E. Nearly all Confucians live in China and East Asia. About 25,000 live in North America.