Confucius, K’ung Fu-tzu, Maestro Kong or Kong Qui (Lu State, China 551 BC – ibid. 479 BC). Chinese philosopher, who lived during the Chou dynasty and was concerned with developing a doctrine of righteousness and harmonious social relations, later known as Confusionism, which would be the ideological basis of the Chinese Empire, during the Han dynasties, Tang and Song, after their death.
His work as a teacher and state official of Lu, as well as his important reflections, have earned him the admiration and respect of his people for generations.
He is believed to have been born around 551 BC in Lu state, near what is now Qufu, China’s Sandong Province, where he died in 479 BC. Very little is known about his early years.
His most extensive biographer is the writer Sima Chi’en (145 BC-86 BC) although modern historians believe that the facts narrated in his writings correspond more to myths than true facts.
However, according to Chi’en, Confucius belonged to the Kong clan, a family of royal landowners. His father died, being just a three-year-old boy, which brought the financial ruin of his family. However, he received an excellent education.
In his youth he began working as an official of the state of Lu, dabbling in positions related to the management of the barns. He became Minister of Justice, whom he resigned when he no longer agreed with the policies of the ruling Prince.
Principles of Confuscionism
It is thought that his path as a teacher began at the age of 50, when his social responsibility impelled him not to remain passive in the face of what he considered a degradation of the values of his people.
According to some chronicles, in the 6th century BC, the rivalry between the states undermined the central power of the Chou Empire, a dynasty that had reigned for more than five centuries, resulting in society departing from its principles, living a moment of moral decay.
Confucius saw the need to impart in all spaces the knowledge of ancient traditions, as well as a doctrine of compassion and awareness of the other, based on the principle of not doing to others, what is not desired for oneself.
Government of self-discipline
He believed it necessary to impart moral principles, under which the Government and its rulers would be guided. In this sense, good government should seek conduct based on the values of charity, compassion, justice, respect for hierarchies, interest in teaching traditions, meditation and education.
For his part, a good ruler should practice self-discipline, tolerance, kindness, respect for ancestors, being aware at all times of his social responsibility to serve as an example of his people, preserving humility and compassion.
The five social relationships
It also established the rules of conduct under which the five social relations, in which he believed, should be organized, should be organized. Confucius believed that there are pairs given by the hierarchy, whose harmony dictates the proper functioning of the people as unity.
These would be given for the relationships of mutual benevolence, respect and loyalty between the social duos governor-minister, husband-wife, father-son, big brother-younger brother and between friends, without anyone forgetting to be inevitably tied to the T’ ien-chih (command from heaven) main source from which emanates the moral order, from which not even the Emperor escapes, who is also due to the T’ien-chih.
The six arts of education
Regarding Education, this philosopher enacted a doctrine based on “Six Arts” that would provide the disciple with the greatest amount of skills, which would enable him to walk a path marked by virtue, benevolence and knowledge and respect for traditions and Chinese ancestors.
For Confucius, Ideal Education should be made up of the disciplines of archery, mathematics, calligraphy, music, horse riding and spirituality, with special emphasis on conveying the importance and practice of ancient rituals.
Confucius traveled to different places to impart his teachings to the small group of disciples he managed to gather. He shared his teaching work with the elaboration of some literary works that he considered essential to be read by his contemporaries. He reissued some of the most important classics of the Chinese tradition, including the Book of Odes.
He also compiled the history of the 12 dukes of the state Lu, which he compiled under the title Annals of Spring and Autumn. His teachings were collected after his death by his disciple Zhu Xi, under the name Of Lunyu, known in the West as “The Anacletas of Confucius”.
Confucius believed that the implementation of these guidelines would lead to social perfection in three years. However, the decline of his society dismissed his doctrine. Confucius died on 21 November 479 BC, sure that his teachings had been useless.
A few centuries later, in the 2nd century BC, the Han dynasty took the doctrine of Confucius as the ideological basis of its state. Confucius is considered one of the 100 most influential people in history and one of the wisest teachers. In 1994, the temple, cemetery and residence of the Kong family was declared a Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
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July 20, 2019