Many individuals who lived on this earth have made contributions to world religions. Long after their deaths some of the teachings they made still influence some world religions. Therefore they left a lasting legacy. This paper shall look at one such personality in history called Confucius. Give his historical background, his contribution to world religions, and the effects of this contribution to the world.
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Confucius was a Chinese countryman. He is considered the greatest teacher by the Chinese. He was born in 549BC in Loo northeastern China. During his birth china was subdivided into nine states but three centuries later the states united and formed one country (Loomis and Legge, p.44). Confucius started his pursuit of knowledge early in his life. His father was a politician and prime minister in his state, therefore Confucius developed an interest in political studies. He devoted himself to study the history of his country. His father died and he became an orphan who was raised by his mother. Both the mother and the grandfather educated him.
His anecdotes in his boyhood show his distinguished knowledge and the reason why his countrymen regard him so highly. His grandfather noted his wisdom when one day he asked him the cause of his sorrow with so much respect. Confucius went on to say that a person who does not follow his ancestor’s virtues was not worthy of carrying their name. This came from him when the grandfather asked him where he had learned all the knowledge he had (Loomis and Legge, p.45).
He started teaching people but few paid any attention to him. At this time immorality was rampant and he took it upon himself to teach virtues (Loomis and Legge, p. 46). In addition he was made the prime minister and he transformed his state that t become the envy of the neighboring states. He was attacked and forced into exile at the age of fifty-six and he started writing verses to express himself (Loomis and Legge, p.47).
Confucius’ contributions to world religions
He wrote books about the ancients. Some of those books were: the Book of Documents, the Book of Songs. He also put together classics like Spring and Autumn Annals and so on (Riegel, p.1). These books were considered sacred and any Chinese student who aspired to enter politics had to study them. The wisdom in the books has continued to influence some people in the world to date (Loomis and Legge, p.49).
Riegel says that Confucius’s teachings were recorded in Analects also referred to as Lunyu. He was of the belief that human beings live under the control of heavenly authority. He believed in the existence of a Supreme Being. In addition he acknowledged nature and its cycles but also reckoned that a human being has a responsibility for their behavior and the way they treat others. He went on to say that we can not change our fate but we sure can choose what to achieve in our lives and what we would be remembered for (p.1). other world religions also share the same opinions for example in Buddhism a human being determines what they will be reincarnated as by their actions. If they had good deeds they are reincarnated as beings of a higher nature and if the deeds were evil they are reincarnated as lowly animals for example as a dog. Therefore a human being has control over their lives and actions.
Confucius also taught that we should not do to others what we would not like done to us. Therefore he taught that people had to be sensitive and caring about their fellow human beings. All the other religions of the world also have similar teachings. They call upon their followers to love one another and act in the best interest of their fellow human beings. Confucius went on to teach how children should respect their parents and all the other religions teach the same. Parents are considered to be next to God and therefore they deserve respect from their offspring.
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He claimed to have found a connection with heaven and that he knew what humankind was required to do by the heavens. He taught his followers that they should do their duty of giving their offerings to the Supreme Being. He had respect for the divine and said that utmost respect was required in worship. Other religions in the world also taught their followers the same. In addition those in other religions in china for instance Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Shinto still follow the Confucius teachings (Riegel, p. 1).
The influence of Confucianism was so strong that Buddhists and Taoists that they made attempts to purge their religions of its influence (Gort, Jansen and Vroom, p.58).
Effects of Confucius contribution to the world
Confucius’s contributions are still evident in the world. In politics he taught that governments must serve their people. The rulers in government are supposed to exercise self-discipline and treat their subjects with concern. This means that all the citizens should be treated equally. Today the governments are supposed to show concern for their subjects for example providing them with their basic needs. When Confucius became the prime minister in his state he started by ensuring that all the people had food to eat and after that he started building infrastructure for the state (Loomis and Legge, p 47). Governments today do the same they are charged with the responsibility of improving the infrastructure.
Corrupt leaders should be removed from government offices. When Confucius was the prime minister he sacked all the corrupt leaders. Today in many countries corrupt leaders are expected to step down from their positions or they get a vote of no confidence. Therefore leaders are supposed to be accountable for all their actions in leadership (Loomis and Legge, p. 46).
He taught virtues to the people who listened to him. He noted the importance of people having virtues because laws and punishment in case of breaking them would not work alone. He said that people would try to avoid the punishment but not because they thought it was the right thing to do. Therefore virtues are necessary to guide people in doing the right thing not necessarily because they fear punishment but because it is the right thing to do. The governed should be responsible and play their role in society and strive to be good at it (Riegel, p. 1).
In education Confucius made great contributions. He believed that students must be willing to seek knowledge by devoting themselves to books. He made the teaching profession respectable he was a respected teacher and teachers were seen as second to parents. Many discussions about education have urged the adoption of his education ideas. His education was by example (Hua and Ames, p.30).
There is no doubt that Confucius made a great impact on the world. However it remains a mystery to many. More importantly Confucius emphasized virtues that make a society moral. Every human being should exercise virtues starting with oneself than with family members and finally with the society. This would ensure that human beings lived in peaceful and orderly societies. If anything can bring the human race together then virtues can. Imagine a world where everyone did to others only what they want to be done to them.
- Gort, Jerald, D, Jansen, Henry and Vroom, H.M. Religions Views Religions, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2006.
- Hua, Shiping and Ames, T. Rogers. Chinese political culture, 1989-2000, New York: M.E. Sharpe, 2001.
- Loomis, Augustus Ward and Legge, James. Confucius and the Chinese Classics, or, Readings in Chinese Literature, Alexandria: A. Roman, 1867 2006
- Riegel, Jeffrey. Confucius. 2006. Web.