There is a lot of confusion about “Confucianism” but the term itself relates to a way of life that was intended to remove chaos and bring about peace and order! Some people practice it as a religion, while others consider it a way of living. Whatever the attitude towards this set of beliefs; these beliefs have influenced people for over 2500 years and still continues to have its own set of ardent believers.
It is believed that “Confucianism” was started by Confucius; well, that was not how his name was actually spelt! It is more like K’ung Fu-Tse and pronounced Kong Fuzi. That also brings us to the origins of these beliefs – China!
Kong Fuzi did not intend to start a religion; but then, neither did Gautama Buddha or Jesus Christ! Getting back to our protagonist, he is believed to have lived during the period 551 to 479 BC. He was not a prophet or a saint; he was just a scholar and educator who believed that peaceful coexistence could be achieved through following a moral code, respect for elders, and by following traditions that were based on wisdom and discipline.
Confucianism propagates a way of living that requires its believers to engage in a community way of life and its founder believed that this could not be achieved through realism or through universal love!
Confucianism focuses a lot on the need to respect and follow elders. This was because they were considered the connecting pathway between heaven and earth. According to this belief, the heaven is full of our ancestors and the earth is full of people waiting to go to heaven! And it is our dead elders who help us stay in touch with heaven and ultimately help us get there.
Confucianism is high on rites because this was considered the means by which people on Earth could share things with their ancestors in heaven and it was also considered the means by which the ancestors communicated with the people on Earth! The latter communications were through omens.
Although many people consider “Confucianism” as another religion, it does not have a specific deity. The founder of this belief honored the dead spirits and believed in heaven but emphasized more on earth and the people who lived in it. Therefore, it can be considered more of a way of life that emphasizes on harmonious living through discipline.
There are five basic keys on which “Confucianism” has been built. These are Jen – human virtue, Chun Tzu – the maturity of a person, Li – the need for a model, Te – gaining power through trust, and Wen – the arts that relate to peace such as music, poetry, culture, and the arts in general which were considered powerful weapons.
“Confucianism” has its origins in China; but like other religions has gone beyond the boundaries of its place of origin and is now practiced widely in Korea, Vietnam, Japan and other parts of Eastern Asia. It has also spread to the West and has a following of about 100, 000 in the US. In fact, there are 6.3 million followers the world over.
The ‘Bible’ of Confucianism is the ‘Lunyu’ or the Analects that contain the teachings of Kong Fuzi, the discussions and conversations he had with his disciples, and some of the teachings of his prominent disciples. And all of these are written in Chinese!
Confucianism has only one holiday – the birthday of Confucius! However, it does have several religious places of visit, including the schools of many of its scholars and prominent followers.