A philosopher named Confucius founded Confucianism in China 2,500 years ago. Confucianism is a system of ethical behavior and social responsibility that became the great traditions of the East.1 It played an important role in the evolution in Chinese culture over the centuries. It has influenced near-by countries and had made a mark in the history of religion. There are today over six million people who call themselves Confucianists. Most Confucianists live in East Asia where Confucianism is thought to be born. For over two thousand years, Confucianism has been the dominant philosophical system of Chinese government, which has still a great hold on their people. Because Chinese culture has spread to the counties of Vietnam, Korea, and Japan, the values of Confucianism can be found there too.
Confucius was born in 551 BC in the village of Zou in the country of Lu. During that time, the Zhou dynasty was in decline-this was controlled by King Zhou. As a child, Confucius would have make-believe rituals; as a young adult he quickly earned a reputation for politeness, fairness and had a love for learning. He traveled often and studied at the imperial capital, Zhou, where legend has it he spoke with Lao Zi, the leader of Daoism. When Confucius returned to Lu, he became a renowned teacher. At the age of 35, Confucius followed Duke Zhao into war. Duke Zhao was later captured and Confucius again followed. Zhao often went to Confucius for advice, but was later advised not to by one of his advisors. Eventually Zhao stopped going to him for advice and Confucius returned to Lu. When he returned, he saw that conditions have been unchanged so he retired from public life to concentrate on teaching and studying. At the age of 50, he was asked to lead a defense against a rebellion, but he declined. Although he did not lead in war, he later became City Magistrate. Throughout his governmental career, he was promoted several times. Later he became Grand Secretary of Justice and, at age 56, he became Chief Minister of Lu. Because of Confucius? increasing power, many nearby countries became worried that Lu would over power them. They sent messengers with gifts and dancers to distract the Duke during a sacrifice holiday and the Duke later abounded his duties. When Confucius received word of this, he resigned and left the country. Confucius spent the next five years of his life wandering China with his disciples until he was able to send messenger to the sympathetic king of a nearby country, who sent his own band of soldiers to rescue them 2. At the age of 67, Confucius returned to Lu where he spent the rest of his years teaching until he died at 72.
The teaching of Confucius still has a great effect on the culture of China today. His followers wrote down all of his teachings after his death and have been translated into many different languages so that the entire world may benefit from them. Below are some examples...