Confucianism is a complex system of moral, social, political, and religious teaching built up by Confucius on the ancient Chinese traditions, and still is the state religion down to the present day. Confucianism aims at making not just a man of virtue, but the man of learning and good manners. The perfect man must combine the qualities of a saint, a scholar, and gentleman. Confucianism is a religion without positive revelation with a minimum of dogmatic teachings.
Confucius was born in 551 BC, in what was then the fudal state of Lu, now included in the modern providence of Shang-tsung. His parents were not wealthy but still belonged to the superior class because his father was a warrior. Confucius was still a boy when his father died. From childhood the showed a great aptitude for study. In order to support himself and his mother, he had to labor in his early years as a hired servant for a noble family. His ability and faithful service earned him a promotion to the office of minister of justice. Under his administration the state attained to a degree of prosperity and moral order the people havent seen before. After he resigned he was accompanied by faithful disciples and went about from one state to another seeking a ruler who would agree to put his political doctrine into practice.
Throughout the years his confidence to find a ruler never left him. At the age of sixty-eight he finally returned to Lu where he spent his last five years of his life encouraging other to study and practice the virtues.
One morning Confucius felt the approach of death. He walked about the courtyard, humming the words: The great mountain must collapse, the mighty beam must break and the wise man wither like a plant. When an alarmed pupil said: No wise ruler arises, and no one in the Empire wishes to make me his
teacher. The hour of my death has come. He lay down and eight days later he died (Jaspers 6).
Confucius possessed a noble, commanding personality. It is shown by his recorded traits of character, by his lofty moral teachings, and by the men he trained to continue his life work. They declared him the greatest of men, the sage without flaw, and the perfect man. He is described in Analects, VII, 18, as one who in the eager pursuit of knowledge, forgot his food, and in the joy of attaining to it forgot his sorrow (Jaspers 10). He was a man of affectionate nature, sympathetic, and very considerate towards others. He loved his disciples dearly, and in turn got their undying devotion. He was fond of vocal and instrumental music, and often sang. Confucius said that music is a primary factor in education. He says that the spirit of community is formed by the music it hears. In music he says that the individual finds the themes that order his life. Confucius is often held up as a virtuous man without religion. His teachings were chiefly ethical.
Confucianism is humanism, a philosophy or attitude that is concerned with human beings, their achievements and interest, rather than with the abstract being and problems of theology. In Confucianism, man is the center of the universe. It says that man cannot live alone, but with other human beings. For human beings, the ultimate goal is individual happiness, and the necessary condition to achieve this is through peace. Confucius discovered the only way to obtain peace is to abolish war and the The Great Unity of the world should be developed. Confucius did not wish to look for a paradise in the next world but rather wanted to have paradise on earth. People will elect virtuous and talented persons for the government and they will promote good faith and friendship.
Thus men will not consider only their parents as their parents, nor treat only their own children as their children. The aged will find a meaningful life till their death; the able persons are fully employed; and the young are provided with upbringing; and the forlorn and helpless people, the disabled and the sick, will all be supported by the state (Jaspers 1).
So evil plotting is prevented in advance and rebels will not arise and perfect security will prevail everywhere, and this is what Confucius calls The Great Unity.
Confucius says that the nature of man is humanity and morality in one. He also calls this Jen. A man must become a man. For man is not like the animals, which are as they are, whose instincts govern their existence without conscious thought; he is a task to himself. Men actively shape their life together and, transcending all instinct, built it on their human obligation
(Jaspers 5). Confucius says that the person in Jen can truly love and hate. Jen is all embracing and not just any virtue but the soul of all virtues. The foundation for the life of perfect goodness, Confucius insisted mainly on four virtues, which were sincerity, benevolence, filial piety, and propriety. To Confucius, the sincere man was a man whose conduct was always based on the love of virtue, and who sought to observe the rules of right conduct in his heart and in his physical actions. Benevolence is also a fundamental element in Confuciuss teachings. It was viewed as the characteristic trait of the good man. A man should have charity and loving-kindness. Another fundamental virtue in the Confucian system is filial piety. Confucius said: Filial piety is the root of all virtue. Of all the actions of man there are none grater than those of filial piety (Confucius 10). To the Chinese, filial piety promoted the son to love and respect his parents, contribute to their comfort, and bring happiness and honor their name by honorable success in life. Another important virtue is propriety. It prompts the superior man always to do the right thing in the right place. The right conduct towards parents is to serve them in life, and bury them properly after death. A son must cover up for his fathers mistakes. A good person should take no friends that are not as good a himself. Loyalty is the foundation. Friends should loyally admonish one another and always set one another right (Confucius 9). Friends can be relied on no matter what the problem. The superior man gives his servants no ground for complaint that he makes insufficient use of them, but does not expect perfection.
The superior man should have all goodness, beauty, and truth. He should be noble in ability; he should have the manners of a gentleman and the wisdom of a sage. The superior man becomes what he is through self-discipline. He should be able to endure long misfortune, live free from fear, avoid all competition, be slow in words but quick in action, and should first act, then speak accordingly. The superior man is concerned with justice, he is quiet and serene, dignified without arrogance, steadfast in distress, goes searching for himself, strives upward, and is independent.