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Confucianism. Deity: Confucius held a more personal conception of the way of nature (Tao) than did Taoism, but he does not hold to a “ Creator ” God. Shang-Ti and T ’ ien are both terms used in Scripture. “ Heaven supports my work. ” It is imp to know the ways of Heaven

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Confucianism

Deity: Confucius held a more personal conception of the way of nature (Tao) than did Taoism, but he does not hold to a “Creator” God. Shang-Ti and T’ien are both terms used in Scripture. “Heaven supports my work.” It is imp to know the ways of Heaven

Cosmos (Reality): Tao; yin/yang; “10,000 things;” Confucius was not so much an innovator, as a transmitter. He held the traditional view. The sky represented the “way of Heaven” and was good and natural

Human being: No dualism of body and spirit. Heart/mind and flesh. Essentially good, endowed by Heaven. We need to nurture and cultivate this innate and potential goodness. Man is hierarchically superior to woman.

Human problem: The ancient ways of virtue are ignored. The proper way of the ancient sage kings are not followed. Proper relationships are not followed.

Salvation: Return to the way of the ancestors. Study the “classics” to find the ancient way of virtue. There is a “looking back” rather than a “looking forward”

Conduct: Follow the way of the ancients. The “five great relationships” define all human relationships. Li (propriety) is a guide to proper conduct

Scripture: The Five Classics (Ching) and Four Books (Analects, Mencius, Ta Hsueh (Great Learning), Chung Yung (Doctrine of the Mean, or Grand Harmony)

Destiny: Confucius is agnostic concerning one’s destiny


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  • Kung Fu Tzu (“revered master”) 551 – 479 BC

  • “Confucius” and “Confucianism” are not meaningful terms in Chinese

  • Born in Shantung province

  • His father died when Confucius was 3 years of age

  • He was taught first by his mother, then by others

  • He was a very eager student – a deep love of learning

  • Thus, he received a high-quality education

  • Served in various minor government posts

  • Married at age 19

  • Mastered the “six arts” (ritual; music; marksmanship; horsemanship; calligraphy; math)

  • He began a brilliant teaching career when he was in his 30s

  • In his late 40s and early 50s Confucius served in minor posts, finally as the Minister of Justice in Lu, his native home

  • His loyalty to the king caused him “political” problems at the court (he was “framed” by unrighteous scholars “lesser” than he was)

  • He left at age 56 to find rulers who might be interested in his ideas

  • His reputation as a teacher spread (as many as “10,000 disciples”)


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  • Of the 100 schools, Confucius Classics’ school was the Ju chia, the school of the literati, or scholars 유가

  • In a stratified society: literati; laborers; artisans

  • Ju literally means “literatus” or “scholar”

  • Followers of this school were scholars as well as thinkers. It was a broad intellectual tradition based on the continuing interpretation of a body of writings known as the classics.

  • They, above, others, were the teachers of the ancient classics and therefore the inheritors of the ancient cultural legacy

  • Confucius was the leading figure of this school, and may be considered its founder, but the term Ju not only denotes Confucian or Confucianist, but has wider implications as well

  • Confucius considered himself as a transmitter, not as an innovator

    • At the time of the ancient sage kings (Yao, Shun, & Yu) there was a period of Grand Harmony between the cosmic and the social order

    • A transmitter of the “classics”

    • Analects VII, 1, p 123


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Comparison of Taoism and Confucianism (basic values are very similar)

Taoism Confucianism

In retirement, a Taoist In office or society, a Confucianist

Life of the individual A public life

Lao Tzu – advocate of naturalism Confucius – advocate of culture

People should return to the origin, to Tao People should reform the world through moral education

Minimal human role in society; small Magnified human role in making

human - vast majesty of nature a perfect social order

Ideal state – a return to the uncorrupted Improvement of human nature

state of nature through development of civilization

Yin philosophy Yang philosophy

Get the foundation of the self in tune with Make an effort to build up a

Tao and let behavior flow spontaneously complete pattern of ideal responses

to consciously imitate

Simplicity Formalism; meticulousness

Romantic Classical

Spontaneity and naturalness Social responsibility

Focus is beyond the human as individual Focus is on the human element

Wanders beyond society Roams within society


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  • The study of philosophy is not a profession, but a life work similar)

  • It is not to increase knowledge, but to elevate the mind and character

  • In the tradition of Chinese philosophy, there is a distinction between working on learning, and working on Tao (the way)

  • The purpose of “working on learning” is the increase of positive knowledge

  • The purpose of “working on Tao” is the elevation of the mind

  • Chinese philosophy belongs to the latter (elevation of the mind)

  • “Set your heart on the Tao” (Analects VII, 6)

  • (Moral/ethical) Education is supremely important in Confucianism

  • The novelty of Confucius’ teaching: it is character, not birth, that matters

  • Education is a form of learning (“learning” for the sake of oneself)

  • The fundamental concern is learning to be human - character building

  • A ceaseless effort to make

    • A healthy body

    • An alert heart/mind (moral thinking)

    • A pure soul

    • A brilliant spirit

  • Learning is considered as a continuous holistic process of character building

  • People are teachable; improvement is possible


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  • The process of self-learning is for the purpose of acquiring self-knowledge

    • Self-reflection

    • Personal introspective examination

    • These are constant practices (Analects 15.29-30, p 199)

  • Learning for the sake of oneself signifies a process of deepening

    self-awareness for the sake of broadening one’s human relatedness

  • Self-cultivation is an end in itself, and its main purpose is self-realization

  • The Confucian idea of the self is not built on the idea of individuality as the core of the person (as in Christianity or Hinduism)

  • The “self” is understood as the center of relationships

  • The “self” is an open self, not a closed self

  • Self>family>community>country>world>beyond

  • The process of learning to be truly “human” never really ends

  • The secret of human life lies with human beings (ITB) and their better relationships (CB) [concepts taken from Unification Thought]

  • The Chinese/Confucian project: “Sageliness within and Kingliness without”

  • The human being is an integrated being


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  • The truly novel element in Confucius self-knowledge’ teaching is the idea that the man of real quality – the gentleman, or chun tzu – is a person of character (education, training, and cultivation of character), and not of birth or class, as traditionally understood

  • Human beings are teachable, improvable, perfectible through proper endeavor

  • A teacher and student: sincerity, effort, guidance, learning

  • Julia Ching: “Self-cultivation is not so much an end in itself, as it is a basis for the service of others—in the family, the country, and the world. The Confucian is a man (or woman) for others, even in his/her pursuit of sagehood.”


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The issue of a Deity in Confucianism self-knowledge

  • Shang ti – ancestral spirit (Lord on high)

  • T’ien (Heaven) “one Great” a sky “hierophany”

  • Confucius felt that Heaven supported his work; he believe in prayer to Heaven

  • Analects Vii, 22 (p 127); IX, 5 (p 139); XIV, 38 (p 189); XIV, 41 (p 190); XI, 8 (p 154);

  • XVII, 19 (p 214): He who offends against Heaven has none to whom he can pray

  • Confucianism offers a transition from the earlier personal deity of the Classics, to the later God-Absolute of the philosophers (Julia Ching, 113)

  • The idea of heaven and the Mandate of Heaven:

    • Heaven is identified with what is good, and the aim of good men should be to promote and preserve the balance between Heaven and earth


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The issue of Ming self-knowledge

  • We should do our best what we know we “ought” to do

  • We should not care whether we succeed or fail

  • To act in this way is to “know Ming”

    • Analects XIV, 41 (p 190)


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Five key themes in Confucianism (Huston Smith) self-knowledge

  • Jen (goodness, benevolence, human-heartedness, etc.)

  • Chun Tzu (“gentleman,” the “ideal man”)

  • Li (propriety or “good manners” - etiquette)

  • Te (government by virtue; power of moral example)

  • Wen (the “arts of peace”– versus the “arts of war”: Hsun Tzu)

  • Te is the “power” by which men rule

    • It is not physical power or oppressive rule

    • Te lies in the power of a moral example; the impress of a great personality

    • Government by virtue

    • Men of this order are completely beyond (petty/small/selfish) personal ambition

    • Analects IV.25 p 106 (and footnote)

    • Analects XIII.12 p 174 (and footnote)

  • On this foundation let us look at the Confucian view of the human being


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    The Human Being self-knowledge

    • Human beings have a natural goodness endowed from Heaven, but it needs to be realized and fulfilled

    • This requires education/training/inculcation of character

    • The story of the boy and the well (Mencius, 82-3)

    • The “four beginnings” and the “four constant virtues”

      • 4 “seeds” and the 4 “blossoms” which derive from them…….


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    4 beginnings 4 constant virtues self-knowledge

    Seed Blossom

    Heart of compassion benevolence (goodness): Jen

    Heart of shame righteousness (dutifulness): I

    Heart of courtesy/modesty propriety (good manners): Li

    Heart of right/wrong wisdom: Chih

    (conscience)

    The heart/mind of the human being is important

    • It is the locus or place of man’s meeting with heaven

      • If you know human nature, you know heaven

      • Mencius 7A.1 (p 182)

      • The heart comes from heaven (Mencius 6A.15, p 168)

      • It is given by Heaven


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    The Human Problem self-knowledge

    • Human beings have failed, from moral causes, to live by jen (the will to seek the good of others), as their ancestors have done (or did)

    • The ancient ways are being ignored

    • Analects IX.17 (p 142) re: the power of sexual desire

    • Analects XV.26 (198)

    • Analects XVII.2 (209)


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    self-knowledgeSalvation” in Confucianism

    • “Salvation” is restoration of the proper relationships between people

    • Jen (인) names the ideal relationship which should pertain between people

    • Goodness, man-to-man-ness, benevolence, love, human-heartedness

    • It is the virtue of virtues (perfect virtue); a kind of transcendental perfection

    • Jen or human heartedness is the highest virtue an individual can attain

    • Jen is the ultimate goal of education

    • The education of an individual is a preparation for a peacefully ordered society

    • Related attitudes: magnanimity, good faith, charity, sincerity

    • Jen is always concerned with the relationship between person and person

    • Jen is the expression of the ideal human nature

    • Dealing with other human beings as a human being ideally should

    • Jen is the sum of virtues possible only for the superior and mature man

    • The boy, or the inferior man, is capable only of hsiao (filial piety)

    • Confucius did not feel that any of his contemporaries had achieved jen!

    • Jen is the implicit capacity for goodness and harmony in the individual

    • It must be cultivated in a social way, in interaction with others; it is an art

    • The practice of jen is the practice of “chung” and “shu”

    • Chung and shu: the alpha and omega of one’s moral life

    • Chung = loyalty

    • Shu = reciprocity…..


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    • Chung = loyalty: to one self-knowledge’s own heart and conscience

      • Chung is the full development of the heart of jen within the self

    • Shu = reciprocity: respect for & consideration for others (Analects XV.23 p 198)

      • Shu is the extension of the heart of jen to others

    • The practice of jen is the practice of chung and shu (Analects IV.15 p 105)

    • Jen is the center of man’s nature; yi is its external expression

    • (Li) formal essence: Yi or I (sense of “oughtness”) Hyung Sang (형상)

    • (Li) loving essence: Jen (“loving essence”) Sung Sang (성상)

    • Yi (I) carries the sense of duty or obligation

    • Jen and shu are applied to specific social relationships by means of I

    • I means the “oughtness” of a “situation.” It is like Kant’s “categorical imperative”

    • It is the thing that one ought to do simply because it is (morally) the “right thing to do” and thus should be done for its own sake, apart from other considerations, in whatever situation one finds oneself


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    The important concept of Li self-knowledge

    • The transformation process leading to the realization of jen is the practice of Li

    • The path to the attainment of jen is the practice of Li, which is “social norms”

    • The English translation of Li has been “rites”“rituals”“proprieties”“ceremonies”“courtesy”“good manners”“politeness”“etiquette” etc.

    • Li is not something fixed and forever; it is flexible and subject to change according to concrete or specific individual situations; contextual

    • The principle governing the adoption of Li is I (Yi) or “righteousness” or the sense of “oughtness” (connected with the moral reason)

    • Two meanings:

      • Propriety

      • Ritual


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    • As for self-knowledgeritual, Li has to do with extensive formal ceremonial and details of ceremony and etiquette

    • Appropriate response

    • The individual’s life becomes stylized into a vast, intricate, ceremonial rite

    • The Confucian regards human society in terms of personal relationships and the ethical responsibilities resulting from such relationships

    • Life is completely ordered down to the minutest detail

    • This is the well-conducted life

    • Exemplified in the late Yi dynasty in Korea

      • “The True History of Queen Inhyun”


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    Li as self-knowledgepropriety is a very important concept in Confucianism

    • The quality or state of being proper

    • The standard of what is socially acceptable in conduct or speech

    • The outward expression of jen

  • The Mean

    • The way in the middle; avoiding extremes; bringing harmony and balance

  • Rectification of Names (Cheng Ming)

    • The various roles and relationships of life have been normatively delineated & defined

    • People should inculcate the appropriate attitudes and expressions


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    • The Five Great Relationships self-knowledge

    • Starting with filial piety, Confucian ethics analyzed all human behavior in terms of five key relationships

    • There is a basic sense of hierarchy to these relationships

      • Three are directly related to the nuclear family

        • Father – Son

        • Husband – Wife

        • Elder brother – Younger brother

      • Two are related to the broader (extended) society

        • (elder) friend – (younger) friend

        • ruler – subjects

    • You are never alone when you act

    • What jen requires in specific instances is carefully prescribed by the delineation of graded love, the Give Great Relationships

    • The sum of the conduct befitting these relationships is li

    • A ritualization of the entire social process

    • The ways of heaven are reflected in society

    • All human relationships can be condensed into these 5 great types


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    • These five relationships should all be governed by appropriate dispositions

      • Father – son

        • Father should show kindness

        • Son should show filial piety

      • Husband – wife

        • Husband should show love

        • Wife should show obedience

      • Elder brother – younger brother

        • Elder brother should show nobility

        • Younger brother should show respect

      • Elder friend – younger friend

        • Elder friend should show humaneness

        • Younger friend should show deference

      • Ruler – subjects

        • Ruler should show benevolence

        • Subject should show loyalty

    • All should embody chung (loyalty) and shu (reciprocity)


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    Li as appropriate dispositionspropriety also focuses on the family

    • Basic unit of society

    • Moral education should start with the family. It first develops through filial piety

    • Key value is children’s respect for parents (filial piety): hsiao

    • The process of developing moral virtue is the process of socialization through the practice of Li

    • Li is crucial in moral education

    • A respect for age (for the elderly) is important

    • The Confucian society is “one large family” (Analects XII.5 p 163-4)

      • The supreme method for governing a nation is to rule people by jen, the ruler being a model for all his people

    • To govern a society which is “out of order,” the method of “rectification of names” has to be used; this is the enforcement of “li”

    • Confucianism is a “deliberate” tradition


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    The Conduct of the individual appropriate dispositions

    • Li as propriety is the right guide to conduct

    • Li is the norm of human behavior in all social circumstances

    • The conduct of the Chun-tzu is the norm


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    Chun-tzu appropriate dispositions

    • The Chun-tzu is the ideal man in Confucianism, the perfect gentleman

    • If Jen is the relationship between two people, the Chun-tzu is the person

    • True Manhood, the Superior Man, Manhood-at-its-Best

    • A gentleman in the most significant sense

    • The person who is fully adequate, poised, confident, competent, and balanced

    • Opening chapter of the Ta Hsueh (Great Learning):

    • Righteousness in the heart leads to beauty in the character

    • Beauty in the character leads to harmony in the home

    • Harmony in the home leads to order in the nation

    • Order in the nation leads to peace in the world

    • Analects XIV.32 p 188; XV.20 p 197; XV.31 p 199

    • The Chun-tzu’s attitude toward others is jen (benevolence, goodness)


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    • In Neo-Confucianism, there is the concept of the Shung run or Sheng Jen

    • The ideal person with not only moral qualities, but an almost ontological quality as well—a person whose every thought and deed are in harmony with the universe

    • There are a fewer number of Sheng Jen in the world than even the Chun-tzu

    • The Family Pledge speaks of the 성인 (saint). This is the equivalent of the Sheng Jen in Confucianism

    • An important part of education is to study the “arts of peace” (wen)

      • Smith, Religions of Man p 186-

      • The arts of peace are in contrast to the art of war (by Hsun tzu)

      • Music, art, poetry, the sum of culture in its aesthetic mode

      • Art, for example, is an instrument for moral education

      • The arts have relevance for international relations

      • It is necessary for the Chun-tzu to study the arts of peace


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    • The root of jen is filial piety (hsiao) or Sheng Jen

    • The blossom of filial piety is jen

    • 3 ways of saying: Dr. YOKim p 131

    • The root of jen is filial piety

    • The basis of all virtue is filial piety

    • The source of all culture is filial piety

    • Filial piety comes before loyalty to the sovereign, conjugal affection, and all else

    • TF: the parent-child (father-son) relationship is the center of the universe

    • The family pledge speaks of 효


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    • or Sheng JenSalvation” in Confucianism is closely tied with “conduct”

    • Salvation is a return to the (ancient) ways of the ancestors

    • We need to study the classics to discover the ways of the ancients, the ancient way of virtue

    • We must realize that nobility of character is not a matter of birth, but is a moral achievement, open to everyone, though actually attained only by very few

    • Analects XV.3 p 193

    • Confucius set forth a deliberate tradition in order to improve relationships and establish a well-ordered society

    • As for one’s destiny, Confucius was agnostic (Analects XI.11 p 155)


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    Confucian scriptures or Sheng Jen

    • Confucius looked back to a golden age of virtue – the age of the sages

    • The age of the sages was the source of the holy books

    • The books are intimately linked to the tradition of the sages

    • These books are the records of their words and deeds

    • The sage thoroughly understood things

      • Understood the ways of heaven

      • Understood the ways that best serve human society

    • The sage is he who hears the ways of heaven and manifests or reveals them to humanity

    • The sage penetrates the feelings of heaven and earth and understands the nature of man and the world

    • For Confucius the issue of transmitted literature is less a sense of textual authority as it is a living contact with the virtuous sage-kings of China’s past

    • For Confucius, the study of this literature (broadly speaking) is wen, the means by which individuals and societies might fully become human and virtuous


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    The Confucian Scriptures or Sheng Jen

    • The literary works that have stood the test of time are called “Ching” (classic)

    • They record the very deeds and sayings of the sages

    • Wu Ching and Ssu Shu (5 classics and 4 books)

      Five Classics (Wu Ching)

    • Depending on who you consult: 5, 6, 9, 12, and 13 classics

    • I-Ching (Book of Changes) very popular in the West

      • A divinatory work with philosophical commentaries (called “wings”) which explain the patterns of change inherent in the universe

    • Shih-Ching (Book of Poetry or Songs)

      • An anthology of about 300 poems/songs

      • Thought to exemplify the essential expression of poetic beauty and moral virtue

      • Analects II.2 p 88

    • Shu-Ching (Book of History)

      • Records the words and deeds of ancient sage-king rulers


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    • Li-Chi (Canon of Ritual and Protocol) or Sheng Jen

      • Detailed accounts of the philosophical meanings of the rituals of the ancient sage-kings

      • The Universe Story Virtuous Women (Queen Inhyon p 265)

      • Sokdam 47

    • Chun Ch’iu (Annals of Spring and Autumn)

      • A record of events

    • Sometimes a sixth one: Hsiao-Ching (Classic of Filial Piety)


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    The Four Books (Ssu Shu) or Sheng Jen

    • A unique combination of works that served as an entire program of learning and self-cultivation

    • They were arranged in a specific order to reflect a cumulative learning experience

    • Chu Hsi: “I want people first of all to read the Great Learning to set a pattern, next to read the Analects to establish a foundation, next to read the Book of Mencius for stimulation, and next to read the Doctrine of the Mean to find out the subtle points of the ancients.”

    • A programmed order of one’s moral and ethical education in terms of studying these texts.


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    • The Great Learning or Sheng Jen (Ta Hsueh)

      • Theme: the ordering of society through self-cultivation of the individual

      • Expounds the three guiding principles and the eight general rules (or 3 cords and 8 minor wires)

      • The Ta Hsueh was placed first so that it might provide a framework in terms of its enunciation of stages of learning (handout)

      • Individual, family, nation, world, etc.

      • Compare with Bennet (Book of Virtues)

    • Analects (Lun Yu)

      • Embodiment of Confucian ideas

      • Words and actions of Confucius and his disciples

      • Was placed second to reinforce the primacy of Confucius’s teachings as the foundation upon which learning can best be built


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    • The or Sheng JenBook of Mencius (Mencius)

      • Lengthy conversations providing insight into his thought

      • Was placed third to indicate its basis as the interpretative tool and elaborative text of the basic Confucian teachings

    • The Doctrine of the Mean (Chung Yung)

      • It deals with the personal and political implications of human nature and self-cultivation and looks at the relationships of moral human beings to a moral universe

      • Was placed fourth; a text appreciated for its subtlety and abstraction, as well as its depth of thought


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    Confucianism or Sheng Jen

    Deity: Confucius held a more personal conception of the way of nature (Tao) than did Taoism, but he does not hold to a “Creator” God. Shang-Ti and T’ien are both terms used in Scripture. “Heaven supports my work.” It is imp to know the ways of Heaven

    Cosmos (Reality): Tao; yin/yang; “10,000 things;” Confucius was not so much an innovator, as a transmitter. He held the traditional view. The sky represented the “way of Heaven” and was good and natural

    Human being: No dualism of body and spirit. Heart/mind and flesh. Essentially good, endowed by Heaven. We need to nurture and cultivate this innate and potential goodness. Man is hierarchically superior to woman.

    Human problem: The ancient ways of virtue are ignored. The proper way of the ancient sage kings are not followed. Proper relationships are not followed.

    Salvation: Return to the way of the ancestors. Study the “classics” to find the ancient way of virtue. There is a “looking back” rather than a “looking forward”

    Conduct: Follow the way of the ancients. The “five great relationships” define all human relationships. Li (propriety) is a guide to proper conduct

    Scripture: The Five Classics (Ching) and Four Books (Analects, Mencius, Ta Hsueh (Great Learning), Chung Yung (Doctrine of the Mean, or Grand Harmony)

    Destiny: Confucius is agnostic concerning one’s destiny


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