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World Religions





World Religions

How did Confucianism begin?
A Chinese philosopher named K'ung Fu-tzu or Confucius, the Westernized version, believed that a society could become perfect, if the people who lived in it exhibited "beautiful conduct." Confucius was born in 551 B.C.E. He had a government job which he gave up to devote his life to teaching people how to behave. Today over five million people, mostly in China and the Far East, practice Confucianism.

What did Confucius teach people?
Confucius taught people 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:

1) kindness
2) righteousness
3) sobriety
4) wisdom
5) trustworthiness

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.

Those who practice Confucianism also believe the family and family values are very important. Children are taught to be very respectful of their parents and are taught to obey their parents.

Where are Confucius' ideas written down?
There are five texts which contain Confucian scriptures. These include poems, history,
rituals, and sayings.

Where do Confucians worship?
Some say Confucianism is more a description of how to be a good person than a spiritual practice. However, after Confucius's death, people built temples in his honor. There are ceremonies that take place in these temples. Confucius believed that "Heaven is the author of the virtue that is in me." He meant that he saw heaven itself as a kind of god, the god or supreme being who created virtue in us. This helps show how Confucianism is more than just a code of behavior. Also, over time aspects of Buddhism and Taoism have influenced Confucianism. Many people practice a combination of these religions.

© 2002 United Religions Initiative