Here are some interesting facts about Confucius:
#1 He was born in 551 B.C. and became a famous philosopher and teacher in China. He belonged to the Lu state, in Shandong province.
#2 His real name was Kong Qiu. The name ”Confucius” is actually a European invention, created by Jesuit Matteo Ricci, one of the first western visitors to China.
#3 While some historians state he was a member of the Chou Dynasty, others claim that he was born into poverty.
#4 His father died when he was only 3 years old. Furthermore, he lost his mother at the age of 23 and according to the local tradition, he spent three years in mourning. It was the physical death of his mother which made him distance himself from his lifestyle and drove him toward teaching.
#5 He studied music, archery, calligraphy, arithmetic, ritual, and charioteering.
#6 He wanted to make some important changes in the society so that the people of China can have a better life. Therefore, he propagated the Five Constant Virtues, also known as the Wu Ch’ang:
- Jen (humaneness) – it focuses on benevolence;
- Yi (justice) – it says that you should sacrifice even yourself for what is right;
- Li (etiquette) – it is the principle of the sense of propriety and self-restraint that an individual should develop. Moreover, according to this principle, an individual should always respect others and give honor.
- Hsin (faithfulness) – this principle is described by living up to one’s word and being dependable to others.
- Chih (knowledge) – it puts emphasis on the act of wisdom and knowing.
#7 He also said people should be kind, honest, polite, and wise. In addition, he encouraged the leaders of society to be role models of outstanding behavior.
#8 Family was very important to him and he considered that the relationship between father and son, servant and master, younger and elder siblings, wife and husband, and two friends must be honored. More importantly, he encouraged his disciples to honor others’ cultural customs and to learn from everyone they encountered.
The Silver Rule
#9 According to the Silver Rule – ”One should not treat other people in the manner in which one would not want to be treated by them.”
#10 He became a judge when he was 50 years old. The next year, he became Minister of Public Works and then Minister of Crime of the state of Lu. Furthermore, in the next years, he was in charge of making better laws in order to improve the life of people in the state of Lu.
#11 At age 60, he was asked to return to his home by the chief minister of the state of Lu.
#12 He is known as the 1st teacher in China who was instrumental in establishing the art of teaching as a vocation and also making education broadly available.
#13 After his death, his teachings and beliefs have been developed in a system presently known as Confucianism.
#14 Kongmiao is a temple situated in the South Gate of Qufu in China and the largest temple built in his honor.
#15 He is credited with writing some of the most influential traditional Chinese classics, like the book of ritual, the Records of Rites (Li chi), and the Book of Changes (I ching). Actually, he never wrote them himself but his students compiled his thoughts into a big compendium.
#16 His thoughts were further codified by 2 philosophers: Xunzi (or Hsun Tzu) and Mencius (or Mengzi).
#17 The most detailed information about his life is contained in the Shih chi (Records of the Historian) by Sima Qian.
#18 His biggest legacy was not an organized religion, but a world view which mixed social ethics, philosophy, political ideology, and scholarship.
#19 Confucianism is based on the idea of compassion and love as two main virtues of a human being. It is also founded on the belief that society can flourish and improve only when people learn to communicate positively with each other.
#20 Confucianism became the state-sponsored “religion” of many Chinese dynasties.
#21 “Confucianism is perhaps the most well-known of the textual traditions in China” – according to the Columbia University.
#22 Confucianism has profoundly influenced political and spiritual life in China. More importantly, its influence has extended to Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. Presently, it is spread around the world, however, it is still more pronounced in China.
#23 He spent his last years in Qufu, his hometown, teaching his disciples. He died in 479 B.C. and was buried in a cemetery called Kong Lin.
#24 He is revered among the Chinese as their Foremost Teacher and Supreme Sage.
#25 His family lineage is traceable for over 2,000 years, from the Eastern Chou dynasty to the present day.
”Never give a sword to a man who can’t dance.”
“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
“Ability will never catch up with the demand for it.”
”Man who jump off a cliff, jump to conclusion!”
“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”