Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Correcting my Misperceptions

Jan 10 prompt: Famous Figure

Confucius (551BC - 479BC) was a Chinese teacher, editor, politician and philosopher. His philosophy mainly dealt with personal and state morality, social relationships, justice and sincerity. Write at least 500 words, either from the perspective of this historical figure, or someone observing them from the outside. You could focus on their character, their work, their achievements, or the perceptions that others had about them.

The first time I ever heard of Confucius was from a random coffee table book which was filled with rather coarse, and some wittily funny, sayings. Up until yesterdays research, I truly believed that Confucius actually DID write those sayings.

It was puzzling to me that a man, whose name I had seen together with Buddhism and other religions, could be “followed”. How can one so crude be at the centre of a religion? It's much clearer to me now that I know he did not, in fact, pen any of those crass one liners.

I have seen people write quotes like these on Facebook:
  • Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
  • I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
  • Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
  • Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

Did you know that all of these, are sayings of Confucius? I have honestly heard them all before, more than once, and never knew it came from him. 

Born Kong Qui in the Lu state of China, I had not realised that he lived 500 years before Christ! Reading some of his quotes, they are so close to what Christ taught:- What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” Which is written in Luke 6:31. “Do to others as you would have them do to you”.

What is fascinating is that the Chinese called their supreme god ShĂ ngdi, also meaning “Lord on High” or Di, meaning “Lord”. Tian was synonymous with this figure and “heaven worship” was the orthodox state religion of China. 

The fact that Confucius didn't know Gods name, is completely beside the point since I find it amazing that the "Lord on High" was already speaking about worship, morality, love and social justice, to the wider world, not only to Israel, (which we know from Scripture), and also long before he descended to earth to teach us himself.

While Confucianism is listed as one of China's religions, as far as I know, Confucius never proclaimed to be any sort of god. His was more a philosophy of life that he shared with a band of disciples, based on “loving one another”.   Sound familiar?

I believe China have attributed him with a “godlike status” due to their admiration of his philosophy, sorely needed at the time since China had sunk into a depraved pit and desperately needed that voice, urging them back to a place of morality and social justice.

It is sad, that like with many others, people's worth are only realised long after they are gone, and Confucius wasn't an exception. He died in 479BC and it was only 200 years later that China adopted his ideas as the foundation for Chinese ideology.

I have so enjoyed this skim read about him and will definitely be reading up more on his fascinating history – there is so much more about his life to read.

518 Words

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