Deep And Without Oxygen – Chinese Confucianism
JOURNEY TO CHINA
It’s already 23:30 P.M., and I’m stuck with Confucius analects on my table. The long lines of text, filled with wisdom, inspire me and simply keep me going further. Bottom line: the essay won’t write itself you know….
For all who slept on the history class, the analects represent the quotes and views of Confucius in regards to the state, government and pretty much everything else, but we won’t stray from the subject. Our topic is Chinese Confucianism in China and its influence, heritage and so forth. The two important dynasties in our focus will be the Chin and Han dynasties that had opposite approaches to Confucianism as a whole.
The typical “bad guy” was the Chin dynasty. They were a non-Confucian dynasty and performed all kinds of repression on all kinds of Confucian scholars and went to such lengths as book burning, exiles and even prohibition. The most ardent ruler in this “murdering” was the emperor Huang-di, the very founder of the Chin dynasty. The core of Confucian thought regarding the state was the moral rule by an emperor or king sage. The ruler had to strive towards perfection and cultivation, so he could govern his realm with both virtue and justice. However, Huang-di hadn’t shared this position, so he formed a constitutional state, a total opposite to the Confucian ideal, and this can be seen as his “brutality” finish.
Unfortunately for Huang-di, his empire was a short-lived one because all the successive emperors were weak and incapable to rule the vast Chin empire. This was the downfall of the Chin.
The man who stepped up and took the ruling mantle was the farmer Ling Bang, under the name Gao Dsu. The Han dynasty that he created nurtured Chinese Confucianism, bringing it into the golden age so to speak. Confucianism became the empire’s ideology, the state exams that regulated the entrance into bureaucracy became the mandatory element in one’s rise in the system. This offered “fresh start” opportunities to anyone who mastered Confucian texts. During the great Han dynasty, Confucianism entered other fields of life – art, architecture, literature and so on. Cities were built geometrically so that the ideal of order and through it peace could be materialized into this world.
The Han dynasty ruled well from the Confucian position, but in time it also faltered. Nonetheless, its patronage of Confucianism, a big number of written books, first organized administration and The Silk Road were left to the future dynasties. This ended the golden age of Confucianism also.
Many like to say that the Chinese Confucianism became humanistic, because unlike the Japanese, it didn’t stress the extreme loyalty towards one’s lord, but rather made it relativistic. It was YOUR conscience that made the choice whether to follow or not. The motto “service till death” was not implemented in China because the emperor after all was the son of the heavens, the sky (Tien) and had to rule in accordance with it. This is why despotism wasn’t common, and unlike the Japanese emperor, the dynasties in China came and went.
Confucianism in China still lives today, maybe in a purer form than in Japan. The love towards humanity in China was much more respected than cruelty that was often the offspring of the “Japanized” virtue of loyalty in Japan. Even in martial arts, we see Confucius: use the art to defend and protect, not to kill or oppress. In China, Confucianism from its very beginning taught self-control, learning, morality, ceremony respect and endurance, but maybe the most important one, was the love for your fellow man. This is something that we all can learn from.
Especially from the last one.
Continue to study independently and critically, share history and form your own opinion. That is the message of Confucius.