Confucius

 

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551 BC – 479 BC

Keeper of Grain, Tutor, Political Advisor, Teacher, Philosopher

Chinese

“As for the good man: what he wishes to achieve for himself, he helps others to achieve; what he wishes to obtain for himself, he enables others to attain.”

“To see what is right and not to do it
is want of courage.”

Confucius spent many years wandering throughout China with his disciples. His presence was rarely tolerated by nobles, who would drive him out. He was arrested once and put into jail for five days.

Confucius came from a very poor and humble beginning. His lifelong dream was to help reform his society. He never achieved this goal during his lifetime, but, after he stopped, his teachings spread and arguably became the most significant force in Chinese life for 2,000 years. His real name was K’ung Ch’iu -- Confucius is the Latin form of the title K’ung Futzu, which means “Great Master Kong.” Confucius believed that men, especially rulers, should be virtuous and sincere in thought and in deed. He taught that true leadership and greatness were not dependent upon the class a number was born into but rather a willingness to follow a moral structure called “the Way of Heaven.” In doing this, one could achieve greatness. Confucius’ teachings were not popular. He lived during a turbulent, violent and greedy time in Chinese history. Those in power did not want to listen to someone who taught about finding joy in morality and virtue or about a government whose purpose was to promote the welfare and happiness of its numbers. Confucius did have a few loyal disciples, who followed him to the end of his life. They kept his teachings alive. These teachings were written down in a book called the “Analects of Confucius.” This became a guide for Chinese government, education, personal behavior and duty from the 100s BC until Mao Tse-Tung and Communism came to power in the mid-1900s.