September 28th marks the anniversary of Confucius’ birthday. I think Confucius must be one of the most recognisable historical names. Do you know a lot about him? My knowledge was limited to some sayings of the form, “Confucous says……” On Sunday I went along to take a look at the Confucius temple in Taipei.
A philosopher sage and teacher, it’s impossible to distill all his teachings down into a few words. But we can get a simple grasp of his beliefs. He is considered a great teacher in China. He was a huge proponent of education, believing strongly in free education for the masses.
His teachings tackle ethics, morality. Some points of focus were how individuals behave as families and citizens as part of society.
While there is a temple to confucius we shouldn’t consider this as religion, but rather as a place to pay respects to a great teacher.
Let’s take a look at ‘cute’ confucius at the temple entrance.
I think to get a deeper understanding of Confucius it’s a good idea to pick up a book of his teachings; such as the analects.
It’s shocking how relevant his teachings are today. Let’s look at some roughly translated quotes:
- Chose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
- Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.
- To see and listen to the wicked is already the beginning of wickedness.
- When we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves.
- The superior man is modest in his speech but exceeds in his actions.
- The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.
Some more pictures from the Confucius temple.
In the above picture you can see the stage set up for the birthday celebrations which involves dancing on Wednesday.
After a walk around the temple you can relax with a Confucius coffee. Eat your heart out Starbucks!
I mentioned in a recent post that I was reading “The Way of Zen” by Alan Watts. In his book, he discusses some of the major eastern philosophies and religions as a build up to understanding Zen. One thing he touches on is Confucianism and Taoism.
Confucius was a teacher who primarily deals with guiding people on how to be an effective part of society. With this in mind we can say his teachings may be targeted to the young and to the working.
Taoism is quite different and more difficult to understand. To get a glimpse of it we can consider the translation of Tao as ‘way / road / path’ and go further and say it is ‘the one’; natural, spontaneous, eternal ‘flow of the universe’. In my simple way of thinking I interpret it as the universe being one connected thing and that changes by ‘growth’ which can be spontanious and unexpected.
It is key to understand it is not a machine that can be built from seperate parts.
This is a major difference in Western and Eastern thinking.
So perhaps Taoism is more rolevant to people as they become older and start to look for the deeper meaning behind the universe and life.
Take for example skin. In the West we consider skin to seperate the body from the external environment. But if you think in a Taoist way, they skin is not separate, in fact it connects the body to what is next to it.
Believing in spontaneous growth also brings about a certain amoung of “letting go” of trying to hard and going with life.
I think this is deeply interesting and will write more on it when I understand it better.