Confucius: Great Chinese Teacher
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 5 Dec 2011
One of the greatest Chinese teachers of all time was Confucius, who was also known as Kong Fu Zi. He has been viewed as a good scholar to this very day. This admired philosopher was born in 551 B.C. in Lu, China, which is today known as Shandong province. He died in 479 B.C. In his teachings he adopted a humanitarian approach to social harmony based on the belief that, deep inside, all people want to live at peace with each other. His main instructions were conveyed to us by his students under the name of Analects.
Nature of Teachings
By the process of time, his teachings evolved into a political and religious system. This was during the Han Dynasty in the 3rd century. His teachings soon evolved into becoming the state religion of China until the latter part of the 20th century. Nowadays, some critics condemned Confucianism because it had been perceived as an impediment to modernization. Confucius was born into a poor family. He was mostly self-educated and developed mastery of six arts known as rites, music, archery, charioteering, calligraphy and mathematics.
In his thirties he became involved into a teaching career. He viewed education as constant self-improvement with its primary goal to produce noblemen. Throughout his life-time he emphasized the importance of family, school, community, state and kingdom. Most of the quotations of Confucius have evolved to become very popular. Among these we find: Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it…… Forget injuries, never forget kindness…. Ignorance is the right of the mind, but the night without moon and stars….
In addition, we find also: Men’s natures are alike, it is their habits that carry them far apart….. Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do…. Respect yourself and others will respect you…. Study the past if you would define the future…. It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop…. Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves… When anger rises, think of the consequences…..
Confucius was a deeply spiritual man who felt convinced he had special and privileged relation with Heaven. He seems to have viewed Heaven as a spiritual power that was capable of providing peace and harmony in the world among all people. For him a good life was revealed in one’s compassion and love for others. He always advocated the Golden Rule: What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others. This man of wisdom often advocated devotion to parents and older siblings in addition to the practice of self-discipline.
Besides, Confucius also advocated harmonious relationship between ruler and subjects, between husbands and wives as well as between friends. He also emphasized the importance of the practice of self-discipline. The educational goal of Confucius was simple. He concentrated on creating gentlemen who carry themselves everywhere with grace, speak correctly, and show integrity in all things. Confucius spent most of his adult life travelling from town to town in China accompanied by his students and friends.
In these journeys he took the opportunity to provide rulers he came across with adequate advices. In quite a few instances, his advice was not appreciated and, as a result, he was put in jail for quite a few times. At 67 Confucius returned to his native place of Lu where he remained until he passed away five years later. Throughout his life he tried to provide peace and harmony among all people, which explains why he was viewed as a deeply spiritual man who was revered and admired by all those who came across him.
When scholars analyze his teachings and writings they tend to view him as one of the greatest spiritual figures in history. Among such great spiritual figures we find Buddha, Jesus of Nazareth, all the way to Francis of Assisi, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa and even the late Pope John Paul II. What did all of these great spiritual figures have in common? They all revealed detachment from the material things of this world. They all attached great importance on the spiritual aspect of the human being.
Besides, it was systematically noticed that all those who followed the teachings of these great spiritual teachers never regretted it. On the contrary, such teachers tended to feel deeply self-confident and fully satisfied with what they had at their disposal. Each statement they made was so spiritually deep and significant that books could eventually be written for everyone to enjoy and cherish. Considering that Confucian philosophy had dominated China for some 3,000 years we need to listen carefully to this great Chinese teacher since this way we do have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
Charles Mercieca, Ph.D. – President, International Association of Educators for World Peace, Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace Education, Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament.
-Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University.
-Hon President & Professor, SBS Swiss Business School, Zurich.
-Member, TRANSCEND-A Network for Peace, Development and Environment.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 5 Dec 2011.
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