: World Religions - Confucianism


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Confucianism, the religion originating from China, is an ethical and philosophical system that is normally considered one of the world religions.

A main idea of Confucianism is the cultivation of virtue and the development of moral perfection. Confucianism has no church, no clergy and no sacred book. It regulates relations between the people.

Most people who adhere to the teachings of Confucius follow Chinese traditional religion, which is a blend of Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism and traditional local practices and beliefs.

It has spread to Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam. Confucianism is not a religion in the customary sense. It has neither priesthood nor any monastic order. In Confucianism, people are taught and moulded through personal and communal influence.

Chinese language is considered as an art since, drawing is needed to write in Chinese and children learn it at a very young age. ll Chinese read and comprehend the same written language.

However, the spoken language, changes from area to area. A Chinese writing dates back more than 3,500 years. The language is made of characters, with strokes of a pen or brush.

It involves 3,000 symbols and to read books, the knowledge of minimum 7,000 characters is needed.

According to Confucianism, death does not mean the annihilation of man.Confucianists believe that, the spirit which wanders in space as an exile should be brought back to the family altar and be worshiped.

Besides, respecting the elders, is the primary duty of all Confucianists. That the reason why, on all solemn occasions, the ancestral spirit is invoked and offered liquors, flowers and fruit, accompanied with prayers and incense.

It is developed from the Chinese philosopher, "Confucius" (551-478 BC), born in the feudal State of Lu, on the north-eastern seaboard of China.

Philosopher Kung-fu-tse

The name of Confucius in Chinese is Kung-fu-tse (the statesman-philosopher Kung). However, he was called by Latin name- "Confucius", since the Europian scholars found the Chinese name difficult to pronounce.

Confuciasm existed in China long before the time of Confucius. As per the records, he speaks of himself as a 'transmitter' and not a 'maker' or 'originator'.

He did not give a new religion or a new ethical code to the world. He gave to the world was a powerful restatement of the fundamental principles of human morality or ethics. The moral code he framed was most admirable, which contained grand ethical truths.

Vietnam has a strong influence of Confucianism. It has given a highly organized hierarchical society to Vietnam. The three fundamental principles, which govern Vietnamese women are the obedience to father till marriage, the obeying the husband, the obedience to eldest son when husband is no more.

China is the home of great dynasties, dating back centuries, being a group of rulers from the same family, who succeed one another in power.

This group usually has great wealth and power for several generations. This form of rule in China ended in 1912 after Manchu Dynasty.

The official language of China is called Mandarin, but most of the inhabitants of Hong Kong speak Cantonese. There are up to ten tones in this language.

These tones are spoken by millions of Chinese. Cantonese is a 'spoken' language called a dialect, which is based on a tone approach to speech.

Chinese food is cooked quickly so it retains the fresh taste, its garden color and do not lose its vitamin content. It involves spices and sauces such as soya, oyster, sesame etc.

The Chinese do not waste anything. Every stalk and bone is used for some tasty dish.Different provinces have their own style of preparation.


Special Features

1- Acupuncture

This is very old Chinese method of piercing the body with needles to relieve aches and pains.Some 5,000 years ago a soldier was hit by an arrow.He felt a numb sensation in a different part of his body,which gave birth to the study of the acupuncture.

This method can treat the patients of high blood pressure,appendicitis,spondilosis etc. and is also used as anaesthesia.It involves the insertying of needles painlessly into certain points of the body.The needles are placed in very specific points, depending on the sickness to be treated.The instruments and the guide book is available in the market.

2- Buddha

Buddha means 'The Enlightened One'. Lord Buddha's birthday is a very important celebration for the Chinese and there are many Buddhist temples in Hong Kong.

Buddha refers to Prince Siddhartha Guatama, an Indian prince who lived more than 2,500 years ago. After years of study ,Siddhartha founded the Buddhist religion, based on the "Eightfold Path".

These paths include the understanding of the Four Noble Truths, correct thoughts, correct speech, proper actions, the right work and efforts, the right state of mind and the ability to concentrate.

Buddhism has remained a simple and democratic religion through the centuries. The Asian working class immediately accepted Buddhism.

3- Abacus

It is a calculator, rectangular in shape,having an outside frame with sliding beads strung on thirteen wires or wooden slats. The Chinese have been using this method since many years.

The abacus was used widely before the nine plus 'O' counting method was adopted. An abacus is available at very reasonable rates, in any Chinese department store.

4- Yin and Yang

The balance of the world is explained in terms of the Yin and the Yang, since the olden times. It is believed that, there are two forces acting on all things in life, which oppose each other.

The one is the bright force, called the Yang and the other one is the dark, cold and solid force,called the Yin. The earth and any solid is the Yin while the light, air and sun are the Yang. So, it is a part of everyday chinese life to maintain the balance of Ying and Yang.

5- Kung Hei Fat Choy

Kung Hei Fat Choy is the same as 'Happy New Year'. The Chinese people exchange the greetings on new year day, by saying this to each other. It is also seen written on colourful banners, shops etc. in various designs.

6- Chopsticks

The Chinese eat their food with chopsticks, which is a pair of thin, handy sticks made up of wood, ivory, bamboo or plastic.It can be easily learnt by practise with patience.

7- Dragon

For the Chinese, the dragon is a symbol of nobility, which was the national emblem untill the year 1912. It is considered as a worshippable God, by many chjinese.

Thus, the dragons appear in everywhere in the Chinese culture. The dragon has always played a major role in Chinese literature. During the festival time, dragon made decorations are seen everywhere.

Children's books are full of the legendary appearances of dragons and, frequently the dragon is found helping a poor or unfortunate victim overcome his enemies.

During Dragon Boat Festival, giant heads of the serpent, decorated with fierce markings are painted on the front of the boat,to gain the victory.

8- Typhoon

It means "Big Wind" and Hong Kong is often affected such storms, which generally occurs between July and September.There are news announced of a big alert before the typhoon strikes, with the information of the intensity of the storm.

9- Eggs

The eggs sold in the markets and restaurants are duck eggs, usually a few days old. They are soaked in a solution of tea leaves, lime, soda and rock salt for some days.

These eggs are eaten with ginger and is a delicacy among the Chinese.'100 year old eggs', is a term referred to such old eggs.

10- Feng Shui

'Fung Shui', means the influences of wind and water, is the Chinese science to ward off evil spirits and bad omen. By the twelfth century, fung shui played an important role in all aspects of Chinese life, from birth till death.

A compass with a magnetic centre and seasonal markings is to choose the site of a person's new home or burial place.This is done to avoid offending demons, who inhabit the earth.

If a grave is facing the wrong direction,it gives ill fortune to the family members of the deceased.

11- Silk

The luxurious cloth, silk, was discovered in China many centuries ago. Lei- Tsu, the wife of the emperor Huang Ti, discovered that by unwinding the cocoon of a worm, a shining strong thread could be produced.

Further by weaving the thread she discovered the fabric of silk. Thus, the worms were called 'silk worms' and soon they were harvested for producing silk. Today the Chinese are regarded as the finest silk merchants in the world.

12- Ginseng

Ginseng is an aromatic root which has medicinal value. It is believed to cure many diseases. The Chinese drink ginseng tea to keep them healthy.

13- Incense

Incense when burned, produces a sweet aroma, hence the Chinese use it during the festivals and in honour of the Gods and for the good luck of family.

14- Jade

The emperors of China held jade, the green stone, in great esteem and adorned their homes, places of worship and themselves with it.

Jade is still considered a precious stone by the Chinese and all types and qualities can be found in Hong Kong.Real jade is expensive and sold in quality stores.

15- Junk

A junk is a Chinese sailing vessel, which the Chinese have been using for centuries and there is no change in the original design.

Marco Polo had appreciated the genius design of the first ships to have watertight compartments. A junk usually has three sails made from sewing strips of light bamboo into straw. There is a foresail, a mainsail and in the stern, a mizzen sail.

16- Kites

Kites is very significant in Chinese culture. Traditionally, kites appear mostly during the festival times, especially in the late autumn at the Festival of Climbing the Heights.

People fly their kites by attaching small lanterns to the them, which gives a spectacular view in the night sky. The kite fliers try to cut each others kites in the air.

The kites are made in to lovey shapes like- butterflies, birds,animals, flowers etc. Kites are available at reasonable rates in many stores.

17- Lanterns

This tradition continues from ancient times till today and in a big way during the festival times. The Chinese rulers used to hang lanterns in their gardens, in the houses, temples and boats.

Lanterns festival is celebrated,at the end of the Chinese New Year and on the fifteenth day of the first moon.Lanterns in various shapes,designs and colors are exhibited through out the nation.

18- Lion Dance

The lion dance is being performed in China since ancient times, which is performed during many Chinese festivals, by scary dancers, on the background music of drums.

Two people wear a moulded lion head perform this dance by expressing the playful,bashful and angry feelings of a lion.It takes years of practice to become a professional lion dancer as it requires coordination and big skill.

19- Mahjong

Mahjong is one of the most popular pastimes of the Chinese people, which is an ancient board game played with plastic or ivory tiles and played with thirteen pieces. During the shifting of tiles a big clattering sound is heard.

20- Zodiac

The Chinese have deep faith in the stars and the lunar calendar, which is based on the movement and position of the star system ie the Zodiac. Each year is named after an animal, representing good fortune, wisdom, laziness etc.


The Preaching Of Confucianism

The indivisual is busy in the improvement of himself, but the cultivation of a person basically influences the society, and subsequently the whole nation.

So, everyone should cultivate his person, having a due regard for others besides himself. Each man must guard his words and watch his conduct.

He must fly all that is base and disquieting and must take benevolence as his dwelling-place, righteousness as his road, propriety as his garment, wisdom as his lamp and faithfulness as his charm.

Dignity, reverence, loyalty and faithfulness make up the qualities of a cultivated man. His dignity separates him from the crowd, being reverent he is beloved; being loyal, he is submitted to; and being faithful, he is trusted.

Have sufficient self-control even to judge of others in comparison with yourself and to act towards them as you would wish them to act to you. This is what one may call the 'doctrine of humanity' and there is nothing beyond this.

The way to become a superior man is to set one's affections on what is right, to love learning, which is the source of knowledge and virtue, with which nothing else can be compared. When righteousness is pursued with sincerity and a mind free from self-deception, the heart becomes rectified.


Confucius Prayers

Confucius Temple

In the cinnamon-scented tower
Above the Palace of Van Thi (Confucius)
Ninety-five incarnations
Sowing charmed poetic seeds.
Hundred thousand transformations
Manifested lightning quick,
And miraculous as a mountain of pheasants,
Always persevering
Expressing a mountain of goodwill
The goal to cultivate virtue,
Bringing honor to parents and Country.
Intuiting in dreams the way of service
To one another.
Having compassion for the miserable,
Building humaneness and piety,
Becoming saintly through compassion,
Cultivating mind and honor.
Piety, virtue, faithfulness, compassion;
Even treasure to a king.
These are the attributes of Confucianism.
Confucius engendered prosperity
of the human spirit,
As a lord who lifts his people.
Through purification he gained his insights,
As well as sincerity and equanimity,
And was sainted therefore
with deep wisdom and unbounded humanity.

Flower Offering
The light of god shines upon the temple gate.
bearing blooms of five colors we come to celebrate;
our brightly petaled homage his ray illuminates
as we pray celestial blessings bestow our sanctioned fate.

Wine Offering
Blessings illuminate the holy inner shrine;
in honor to god we offer fine wine.
gladly prostrating ourselves before the divine,
we pray for release of the sufferings of humankind.

Tea Offering
We come bringing tea to god's altar;
apricot in spring, chrysanthemum in fall,
hear our sincere, respectful call
upon merciful god to bless us all
The great way a light to pierce the pall,
may each living being your peace befall

The 5 Vows
We pray that the wisdom of the great tao
Be widely spread on earth.
Shining the way to all creatures of nature's birth.
May all humanity be redeemed,
And our whole world know peace.
And may the places we meet to worship you
Be granted safety's lease