Confucius created a system of thinking called Confucianism. If only one word could be used to summarize the Chinese way of life for the last two thousand years, that word would be Confucian. No other person has had as great an effect on the life and thought of the Chinese people as Confucius. He is the most adored person in Chinese history. Confucius claimed no greatness, instead he looked to a past time that he saw as the golden age. He told one of his disciples, "I transmit but I do not create. I am sincerely fond of the ancient. I would compare myself to Old P'eng who was fond of talking about the good old days." Confucius was a transmitter of the wisdom of the past. From his study of Chinese tradition, he gathered the teachings that would influence people throughout time to the present. Despite the fact that Confucius lived in a time of turmoil, his philosophy emphasized an ideal society filled with order and harmony.
Confucius was born in the village of Zou in the country of Lu in 55 BCE, he was a poor descendant of what used to bee a noble family. As a child, he held make-believe temple rituals; as a young adult, he earned a reputation for being fair, polite and he had a great love for learning. He travelled a lot and studied at the capital, Zhou, where he is said to have met and spoke with Lao Zi, the founder of Daoism.
When Confucius returned to Lu, he became a renowned teacher, but when he was 35, Duke Zhao of Lu led his country to war and Confucius was drafted. Duke Zhao frequently came to him for advice, but when being counselled by one of his ministers, he decided against granting land to Confucius and gradually stopped seeking his help. When other nobles began plotting against Confucius, Duke Zhao refused to intervene and Confucius returned to Lu. When he got there he realized conditions were no better than before and Confucius decided to concentrate on teaching and studying.
At age 50, he was approached by the Baron of Qi to help defend against a rebellion, but he declined. He was later made a city magistrate by the Duke of Lu and under his administration the city flourished; he was promoted many times, eventually becoming Grand Secretary of Justice(see figure3-1) and at age 56, Chief Minister of Lu. Neighbouring countries began to worry that Lu would become too powerful and so they sent messengers with gifts and dancers to distract the duke during a sacrifice holiday. When the duke abandoned his duties to receive messengers , Confucius resigned and left the country.
Confucius spent the next five years wondering China with his disciples, finding that he was rarely wanted at all royal courts and it did not take long before nobles would begin plotting to drive him out or have him killed. He was arrested once and jailed for five days and at 62 he was chased, along with his disciples, into the countryside by a group of soldiers sent by a jealous nobles, until he was able to send a messenger to the King of...