Confucianism as a Religion

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“We have two lives, and the second one begins when we realize we only have one.”


I have read, heard, and learned quite a bit over the summer dealing with the religions of world. Each one opened my sociological eye and gave me a bigger perspective on the world. There were countries, people, and cultures I knew very little about or had no idea they even excited. There were times I grew bored over some of the religions; however, most were very interesting and peaked my curiosity to dig deeper into researching more. Let’s see what I researched and what I found.

Master Kong, otherwise known as Confucius developed the concept Confucianism. However, before we get into the religion or philosophy, some might call it, we first have to know more about Confucius. Confucius lived between 551- 479 BCE. Confucius was known to be a great thinker, political figure, educator, and also the founder of the Ru School of Chinese Thought. Confucius is described, by Sima Qian, as having undergone poverty and an embarrassing youth with been forced to reaching manhood, to undertake such petty jobs as accounting and caring for livestock. While, Confucius believes that people live their lives within limitations confidently and established by Heaven which, often for him means both a strongminded Supreme Being, as well as ‘nature’ and its fixed cycles and patterns. He argues that men are responsible for their actions and especially for their treatment of others. This is very true in all aspects. Confucius claimed that he enjoyed a special and lucky relationship with Heaven and that, by the age of fifty, he had come to understand what Heaven had instructed for him and for mankind. Given his amazing impact on Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese thought, it is ironic that so little can be known about Confucius.

Confucianism is refereed to be a social and ethical philosophy, rather than religion. Confucianism built on an ancient religious foundation to establish the social values, institutions, and transcendent ideals of traditional Chinese society and these are some of the things Confucius focused on. Confucius didn’t mean to create a new religion, but he intended more on translating and recovering the religion Zhou Dynasty.

Confucius believed in the perfectibility of all men and he was against the idea that some men are born superior to others. Which I think is very good thing to keep in mind while living in this world. Confucianism is based entirely on kindness, mutual respect and an appreciation for character qualities. It is founded on the belief that society can function only when people learn to interact positively with each other. Confucianism expanded on the importance of five virtues which we all possess, benevolence, and righteousness, observance of rites, moral wisdom, and faith which neatly corresponded to the five elements of the earth, known as, wood, fire, metal and water.

I do believe that the reason I picked Confucianism, even though it wasn’t a main topic in this course, and the little I learned about it was very intriguing to me. Confucius himself is very interesting, due to his views and what he stands for. He was an influencer to many and still is today. Just the way he thinks deeply into the way of life is very positive, real, and sort of relatable. Everything he stands for is reflected in Confucianism, which what makes this that much better. My take away from Confucius is, that all people are equal, all people are worthy, all people have a path, and all people can things if they put the right amount of faith, will-power, and mental strength.

Confucianism originally appeared in China, but it also took different forms in Korea, Japan, or Vietnam. The Koreans, who brought their own creativity to the religion. Confucianism came to Korea around the same time as Buddhism. As Buddhism is still very present and well known in Korea through its temples and sculptures Confucian places remind us of the crucial role that Confucianism played in Korean education which help shaped some of the cultures in Korea and even areas outside of Korea. In Japan, Confucianism ideals played a major role in the ethical and political philosophies during Japan’s developmental years 6th to 9th centuries, when Confucianism and Buddhism were brought to Japan from Korea and China. Confucianism in japan was very popular in the warrior class communities.

‘Do not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself.’ This quote by Confucius, says a lot about his legacy and his mission in life. Confucianism is a great reflection on this quote. Chrisitanity and Confucianism are quite similar, in regards to their religions being based on a person’s action and character. Just like Confucius quote, there is a bible verse similar in the bible, Luke 6;31, which says, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Different wording, but has the same message.

There is this long debate about whether Confucianism is a religion or more of a philosophy. The main reason people say Confucianism is not a religion is, due to the fact Confucianism is looked at more as a way of life and a guide to follow to have ethical relationships with families to societies. To be quite frank, it is very hard to hard to say what is a religion and what is not. Confucianism is that grey smudge between the lines of philosophy and religion. More than most people see Confucianism as more of a philosophy, because its saw as a way of life more.

As a Christian, I see the Bible as a way of life and a guide to live by, so I don’t really see what makes this so different from Confucius’s concept. However, there is one thing that comes up when discuss whether it is a religion or not, and that is what God or higher power is Confucianism looking up to, Even though Confucianism was built on a religious grounding, it still hard for many to see it as a religion.

While Confucius has been gone for many centuries, his teachings are still talked about, taught, expressed, and lived by in today’s world. Confucianism is not starting back up again, but more just remembered for its influence on the Chinese culture. Many Chinese would say that Confucian is more a diffused religion. Manly due to the fact that Confucian is not the separation of church and state, but more of the separation of school, society, and state. Numerous people all over the world look to Confucius and his concept for spiritual nourishment and guidance that might be missing or just can seem to find in their own life.

Referring back to Christianity and Confucian being compared to one another, they also had and still are having a rivalry in the chines culture. Confucianism is rooted very heavily in the Chinese culture, but on the other hand we Christianity looked at Confucius’s concept as sneaky way to take over the Chinese culture. This friction between the two religions is fired by distrust and anger. However, still today both religions are big in china and other places. Even though Confucian is the ideology of the Chinese people, one of the many reasons why people say it’s not a religion is because it is not established with a church nor is it with a priesthood.

Confucian had five types of relationships that Confucius focused on. The first one is ruler and subject, which means the subjects, should bow down to the ruler, however the ruler should also be the subjects’ mole model. The second one is, husband and wife, this refers to the man has to also be a role model to his wife, but the wife must respect, listen, and as the man wishes. The third one tells, the roles of father and son, the father must show his son good deeds so, his son can be a good person in life. The fourth one is younger and older brother; these show that the younger brother follows the older one to see what path to follow in life. The fifth one is, friend and friend, where both people are on equal grounds. All these relationship bring balance to the world and keep us relatively stable in society.

Just like other religions with a book of rules and guidelines to follow, so does Confucianism, called The Analects. The Analects holds the great saying and the deep things of Confucius. For over two thousand years The Analects is the most used and studied boo in china. Unlike the bible where the chapter and stories come together, The Analects flow and readings are very much so random. Still, this book was a huge influence and used for Chines education. Many used this book and its teaching to gain employment, guidance, and spiritual help.

Man! Confucius, Confucianism, and the whole culture behind the both are very interesting to me. Just the fact that one person, like many other influencers, change the culture of a whole country and even more it wild to me. I often thought to myself , “What would Confucius think about our world today?” Even, all the way in BCE, we are still living in the same concepts her thought about over two thousand years ago. One thing is for sure, Confucius was an iconic person who thought well into the future and into his thoughts.

I knew I was going to enjoy this research into Confucianism, but I found out loads of information. I hope you learned something from paper as well. Even through, this topic had limited information about it as a religion, I still like this is a religion, but in its own way. I would love to visit china and find more things about Confucius from the root of the religion; however, it might just be an excuse to visit china. Wow, this summer class is over all ready, I cannot say it moved fast, but it sure did teach me a lot of the religions of the world. Now I have new deeper knowledge of a different religion other than my own.

Cite this paper

Confucianism as a Religion. (2021, Jan 15). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/confucianism-as-a-religion/

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