Confucius was born in the year 551BCE in China and was known as Kong Qui or K’ung Fu-tzu. There isn’t a lot known about his childhood and records written by a historian offer the most detail about Confucius. Some contemporary historians are skeptical about this early history and see it as myth rather than fact. According to the account written by the historian, Confucius was born into a royal family of the Chou dynasty; other accounts have him born into poverty. What is undisputed though is that during his lifetime China was in a in a time of philosophical and moral conflict. He loved the arts, literature, music, traditional ceremonies and “life at the courts of nobles” (Matthews 183). Carl Crow suggests that after his first job keeping the accounts of a granary, “…the experience opened his eyes to the injustices that burdened peasants with heavy taxes to support leisure and luxury for the extremely small ruling class” (1938).
Confucius married and had a son (and some say a daughter) and became a teacher, but he felt he could make a bigger difference in social change if he worked for the government and he worked in a number of positions. He soon became disenchanted and began looking for other positions. Often he was rejected, once he was imprisoned and a powerful official even tried to have Confucius assassinated. He traveled as a scholar and was well received by some but other noblemen wouldn’t give him a position. He came back and spent his last years as a scholar editing the classic and he died in 479BCE.
Confucius fundamental belief was that humans are by nature good and learn best by example. He felt that every society needed a junzi (chun-tzu) – someone who was a model human being and would set an example for others to follow. The junzi is opposite a person who is selfish, petty or aggressive. Confucius tried to be a junzi for his followers. Confucius taught five basic ideas about behavior:
· Always be considerate to others.
· Respect your ancestors.
· Try for harmony and balance in all things.
· Avoid extremes in behavior and emotion.
· If you live in peace and harmony, then you will be in contact with the spiritual forces of the universe, including nature.
Confucius taught five basic virtues:
Confucius also taught that your well-being depends directly on the well-being of others. This principle is called Jen. Jen stresses the importance of showing courtesy and loyalty to other people.
Crow, Carl. Master Kung. 1938. New York : Harper. Print.
Matthews, Warren. World Religions. 2010. Wadsworth : Belmont. Print.