Who Was Confucius?


Confucius was China's most famous Philosopher. He lived in Ancient China during the Zhou Dynasty.

Confucius was a government official, and during his lifetime (he lived from 551 to 479 B.C. ) he saw growing disorder and chaos in the system.

Perhaps due to the turmoil and injustices he saw, he set himself to develop a new moral code based on respect, honesty, education, kindness and strong family bonds.

His teachings later became the basis for religious and moral life throughout China.

The Five Virtues of Confucius

Confucius believed that a good government was the basis for a peaceful and happy society. And the basis for a good government was good officials.

In order to become a "good official" a person had to master the following Five Virtues:
Confucius Five Virtues Li Li for ritual etiquette, manners, gravity
"Men's natures are alike, it is their habits that carry them far apart"
Confucius Five Virtues Ren Ren stands for Kindness to the fellow man
"Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses"
Confucius Five Virtues Xin Xin stands for truthfulness, faithfulness and sincerity
"The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions"
Confucius Five Virtues Yi for righteousness or honesty, generosity of soul
"When we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves"
Confucius Five Virtues Xiao for filial piety, for strong family values
"The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home"

Confucius and Family Values

Confucius believed that strong family values and relationships were key to a stable society.

"To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right"
Mutual respect and family loyalty were central to Confucius teachings.

This extended to the living as well as the deceased. Paying respect to the ancestors has become an important Chinese tradition.

He also stressed the importance of seniority: The old educate the young, and the young respect the old.

"Let the prince be a prince, the minister a minister, the father a father, and the son a son"

On Knowledge and Education

Confucius was a member of the upper class, but he believed education and knowledge belonged to anyone who had the desire to learn. He opened a school in his home, and legend has it, some of his poorer students lived with him.

He insisted on honesty, hard work, and teaching by example. He taught through conversation, by asking questions and expecting his pupils to find their own answers.

He wanted to prepare his students for public service, to develop compassion and respect for others.

"Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance"

Confucius Quotes and the Analects

Confucius Sayings were recorded after his death by his followers in a book called the Analects. His teachings are still felt in China today. Here are some more of this famous Chinese Philosopher's Quotes:

"Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart"

"It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop"

"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do"

"Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous"

"The firm, the enduring, the simple, and the modest are near to virtue"

"What a superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others"

"Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it"

"He who will not economize will have to agonize"

"He who learns but does not think, is lost. He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger"

"Knowledge: when you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it"

"Ignorance is the night of the mind, but a night without moon and star"

"When anger rises, think of the consequences"

"Respect yourself and others will respect you"

"A man who has committed a mistake and doesn’t correct it, is committing another mistake"

"The superior man acts before he speaks, and afterwards speaks according to his action"

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