Confucianism: From a Philosophy to a Religion
Religion has been for centuries one of the most essential pillars upon which culture is defined. Confucianism can be considered either as a philosophy or a religion, but many people agree that it is a religion because of the amount of followers it has and its method to achieve a better society and life. Confuciusproposed an ideal ethical system to upgrade the standards of society. Although it lacks a holy book or a specific view of the afterlife, his teachings have been accepted by large amounts of people in Eastern Asia. His ideals and teachings were expressed in literary works such as the Analects and the Five Classics. The life of Confucius was simple, without any grandeur, but it was some time after hisdeath, when an emperor built a temple near Confucius grave, that people started to worship him as the link between their trinity: Heaven, Earth, and Man.
Confucius was a Chinese thinker and a social philosopher that emphasized on the human and governmental morality, justice and sincerity. Confucius thoughts developed a system of philosophy known as Confucianism. Confucianism first developedas a philosophy among people teaching about morals and values to have a virtuous lifestyle, but as people continue following it, it became a religion; religious aspects grew out of it and became more institutionalized. Confucianism, in Chinese mind, is a teaching which is not
exclusively a religion. Even though Confucius was not considered a deity for people, notmore than the Great Master, now his teachings were considered part of their lives. The Confucian world outlook is generally based on two questions: a person`s understanding about heaven, and a person`s relationship with heaven. The significance of the human being is highly valued even as great as heaven and earth are with one`s effort and creation. To design and build an ideal human society is themost primitive concern of Confucianism. To build an ideal society, the family relationship is an essential part of thinking, thus the doctrine of filial piety is the cornerstone of all ethics in the Analects of Confucius. This shares many kind of living and morals that grouped together to become part of religious aspects. People followed what was the concept of community and private, as alsofollowed sincerity, piety, honesty.
Although many people say that Confucianism lacks of a holy book, the followers of Confucianism do consider a collection of dialogues, called the Analects, as their sacred writings. The Analects is a collection of dialogues and sayings that evoke the essence of Confucianism and its teachings. It is assumed that this collection was created by the secondgeneration of Confucius’ disciples to preserve his teachings for the future generations in similar way Plato wrote books reflecting Socrates teachings in order to preserve the teachings of his master (Britannica, pg. 654). Many critics of Confucianism view the Analects as a random collection of senseless dialogues without any connection between them. In reality, the Analects are a series of dialogues notintended to show or present the reader an event, but to incorporate the reader into a conversation where each dialogue represents a part of Confucius personality (Britannica, pg. 655). The purpose of Confucius
teachings was to change society through a process of moralization, from which he expected to upgrade the moral standards of society. This upgrade in societycould only be achieved by upgrading each individual through education. That is the reason why Confucius believed that knowledge should be shared and that each individual should be willing to accept knowledge. One of the Analects state: “I do not enlighten anyone who is not eager to learn, nor encourage anyone who is not anxious to put his ideas into words” (Analects 7:8). The Analects are a...