Truth is One Paths are Many

A Comparative Study of various Traditions & Philosophy of Several World Religions
Will Some One Tell Me What the Great Religions Believe?
A Primer of World Religions - What they are & What they believe

12. Confucianism

Founded: Confucianism began about 2,500 years ago in China.
Founder: Supreme Sage K'ung-fu-tsu (Confucius) and Second Sage Meng-tzu (Mencius)
Major Scriptures: The Analects, Doctrine of the Mean, Great Learning and Mencius.
Adherents: Estimated at 350 million, mostly in China, Japan, Burma and Thailand.
Sects: There are no formal sects within Confucianism.
----- Followers are free to profess other religions yet still be Confucianists.


Confucianism is, and has been for over 25 centuries, the dominant philosophical system in China and the guiding light in almost every aspect of Chinese life.

Confucius and his followers traveled throughout the many feudal states of the Chinese empire, persuading rulers to adopt his social reforms.

They did not offer a point-by-point program, but stressed instead the "Way," or "One Thread," Jen (also translated as "humanity or love"), that runs through all Confucius' teachings.

They urged individuals to strive for perfect virtue, righteousness (called Yi) and improvement of character.

They taught the importance of harmony in the family, order in the state and peace in the empire, which they saw as inherently interdependent.

Teachings emphasize a code of conduct, self-cultivation and propriety-and thus the attainment of social and national order.

Stress is more on human duty and the ideal of the "superior man" than on a divine or supramundane Reality.

Still, Confucius fasted, worshiped the ancestors, attended sacrifices and sought to live in harmony with Heaven.

Confucianism is now enjoying a renaissance in China.

Confucian Beliefs

1. I believe in the presence of the Supreme Ruler in all things, and in Heaven as the Ethical Principle whose law is order, impersonal and yet interested in mankind.

2. I believe that the purpose of life is to follow an orderly and reverent existence in accord with Li, propriety or virtue, so as to become the Superior Man.

3. I believe in the Golden Rule: "Never do to others what you would not like them to do to you."

4. I believe that Confucius, China's First Sage, is the Master of Life whose teachings embody the most profound understanding of Earth and Heaven, and that Mencius is China's Second Sage.

5. I believe in the writings of Confucius as scriptural truth and in the Four Sacred Books: The Analects, Doctrine of the Mean, Great Learning, and Mencius.

6. I believe that each man has five relationships, entailing five duties to his fellow man: to his ruler, to his father, to his wife, to his elder brother and to his friend-the foremost being his familial duties.

7. I believe that human nature is inherently good, and evil is an unnatural condition arising from inharmony.

8. I believe that man is master of his own life and fate, free to conduct himself as he will, and that he should cultivate qualities of benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom and sincerity.

9. I believe that the family is the most essential institution among men, and that religion should support the family and the state.


The Goals of Confucianism

The primary goal of Confucianism is to create a true nobility through proper education and the inculcation of all the virtues. It is described as the return to the way of one's ancestors, and the classics are studied to discover the ancient way of virtue. Spiritual nobility is attainable by all men; it is a moral achievement. Confucius accepted the Tao, but placed emphasis on this return to an idealized age and the cultivation of the superior man, on the pragmatic rather than the mystical. The superior man's greatest virtue is benevolent love. The other great virtues are duty, wisdom, truth and propriety. Salvation is seen as realizing and living one's natural goodness, which is endowed by heaven through education. The superior man always knows the right and follows his knowledge.

Path of Attainment

Besides virtue, the five relationships offer the follower of Confucianism the means for progressing. These five relationships are to his ruler, his father, his wife, his elder brother and his friend. Ancestors are revered in Confucianism, and it is assumed that their spirit survives death. With respect to a Deity, Confucius was himself an agnostic, preferring to place emphasis on the ethical life here rather than to speak of a spiritual life beyond earthly existence, guiding men's minds not to the future, but to the present and the past.



Truth is One :: Paths are Many
A study comparing the essential beliefs of World Religions