Confucius As Confucius’ philosophy still remains in the heart of many Chinese people. His images of the greatest professional teacher of all time, the greatest philosopher in Chinese history and his influence toward the future and the past 2000 years of Chinese civilization has made his thought the essence of the Chinese culture. He always said the importance of teaching could change the future of the civilization. And he also encouraged his students to explore the various things to learn, but be very selective and careful. The purpose of Confucius’ teaching was practical and designed to help each person improve his character and conduct, and perhaps become prepared for an official position in the court.
According to one passage in the Analects, Confucius taught four things: culture, conduct, loyalty, and truthfulness.1 Culture consisted of literature and music. Confucius suggested the value of each: “Let a man be stimulated by poetry, established in character by the rules of propriety, and perfected by music.”2 These pursuits were means by which one may achieve the higher ideal of following the Way. “The gentleman extensively studies literature and restrains himself with the rules of propriety. Thus he will not violate the Way.”3 And also “Set your heart upon the Way. Support yourself by its virtue. Rely on goodness. Find recreation in the arts.”4 Confucius put the moral duties before the arts as the essential activities of the gentleman. “A young man’s duty is to behave well to his parents at home and to in love to all, and to cultivate the friendship of the good.
If, when all that is done, he has any energy to spare, then let him study the cultural arts.”5 Confucius taught many topics around these subjects, but the most importance 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 are to achieve a state of orderliness and peace, we need to return to traditional values of virtue. These values are based entirely on one concept: Jen, which is best, translated as “humaneness.” This humaneness is a relatively strange concept to Western people, because it is not primarily a practicable virtue. The rules of propriety offered a code of accepted behaviour that demonstrated to themselves and others that they were cultured and proper gentlemen. For Confucius, the gentleman knew and behaved according to the rules of propriety.
In the first chapter of Analects, Yu-Tzu gives the value of the rules of propriety. “Among the functions of propriety the most valuable is that it establishes harmony. The Way of the ancient kings from this harmony got its beauty. It is the guiding principle of all things great and small. If things go amiss, and he who knows the harmony tries to achieve it without regulating it by the rules of propriety, they will still go amiss.”6 Confucius explains what can happen if conduct is not guided by propriety. “Courtesy not bounded by the rules of propriety becomes tiresome.
Caution not bounded by the rules of propriety becomes timidity, daring becomes insubordination, straightforwardness becomes rudeness.”7 Nevertheless, Confucius did not believe in over-wallowing in ceremonies, and the feelings should be proper to the situations. “In ceremonies it is better to be sparing than extravagant. Funeral ceremonies should be observed in deep sorrow rather than in fear.”8 By the same mean, “When substance, one becomes pedantic. When substance and refinement are properly blended, then one is a gentleman.”9 Confucius knew that the ancient routes had been reduced in his time, and that such reduction was politic. “Were anyone today to serve his prince according to the full rules of propriety he would be thought a sycophant.”10 Many Confucius’ students were interest to become officials in government and so as Confucius himself, wanted the opportunity to advise rulers. His aim is to put his knowledge into practice.
“A man may be able to recite the three hundred Odes; 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.”11 Nevertheless, an official must improve himself and regulate his own conduct before he could hope to rule over others. Hence, self-improvement was prerequisite to engaging in politics. “If a minister makes his own conduct correct, he will have no difficulty in assisting in government. But if he cannot rectify himself, how can he possibly rectify others?”12 Despite Confucius illustrates wisdom and Jen as essential to ruling, they still must be accomplished with dignity, and according to propriety. He explains why.
He whose wisdom brings him into power, needs goodness to secure that power. Else, though he gets it, he will certainly lose it. He whose wisdom brings him into power and who has goodness to secure that power, if he has not dignity to approach the common people, they will not respects him. He whose wisdom brought him into power, who has goodness to secure that power, and dignity to approach the common people, if he handles them contrary to the rules of propriety, full excellence is not reached. 13 Confucius believed that official’s political action should follow the Way.
His actions will vary depending on whether the government is following the Way or not. Confucius gives this advice for the different circumstances: Have sincere faith and love learning. Be not afraid to die for pursuing the good Way. Do not enter a state that pursues dangerous courses, nor stay 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 and you are poor and in a humble position, are ashamed of yourself. When the Way does 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 Way into practice. Chi K’ang-tzu asked Confucius if it would be a …