Throughout my growing up years, I have not much contact with Confucius works or teachings, as I was taught in Malaysia’s public national school. So, the only thing I know about Confucius was from the school’s history book. Which was close to naught!
As I grew up, I started to learn more about him & his ideas. Although I do not know much of his teachings (back then), in certain ways, they did manifest. For example, I heard of my mum telling me “a woman should listen to her dad’s words, and then husband’s when she gets married. If her son grew up & matured, then she should listen to the son”. I thought that is an interesting theory and start to observe if that is still relevant now. Also, I heard one of my cousin telling me “we should follow this steps in life. First, we should cultivate our mind & moral character. Second, we should start a family & establish career. Last, we should take control of a kingdom”. I thought, ‘wow’, that’s ambitious but is that right?
I came to realize that those are 2 of the essence of confucianism. I really like the “xiu shen yang xing, cheng jia li ye, zhi guo” (cultivate body and moral, start family & career, control a kingdom). It really breakdown step-by-step how someone should proceed in one’s life. Like a guide map. Although in the ancient time, this was created more for male, but female should be able to use this now (if they want). Basically, if you have not cultivate yourselves, you shouldn’t be getting married. And if you have not even start a family, don’t think about controlling an empire. In our age, a kingdom/empire can be a company. With capitalism, corporate world is the king, haha. Anyway, I did a search online and found the below:-
Confucianism is more of a philosophy or belief than a religion. It was founded by Kong Fuzi or known as Confucius ( 551BC– 479 BC) by the Westerners. Confucius, who lived about five hundred years before Christ in the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods, was also a great thinker, and educator. Confucianism was actually written down by a disciple named Mencius (孟子), who also believed that all men were basically good. Confucius also codified the status of the ruler in Chinese political thought: the Emperor was the Son of Heaven (while Heaven in a Western context is a place, Heaven in the Chinese context is a divine/natural force) and had the Mandate of Heaven to rule. Confucianism started to spread across China after Confucius unfortunately died. It started with the Han dynasty in 206 BC to AD 220, and became the main belief. The Han government attached great importance to Confucianism due to its advocation of loyalty and thus remained stable for a long time in history.
Basic Teachings and Beliefs
Five Constant Virtues (五常 Wu chang )
义 (Yi): personal loyalty
礼 (Li): courtesy or politeness or propriety
智 (Zhi): wisdom
信 (Xin): faith
Five Cardinal Hierarchical (等级的）Relationships (五伦 Wu lun)
君臣 (Jun Cheng): the emperor over the subject
父子 (Fu zi): the father over the son
夫妇 (Fu fu): the husband over the wife
兄弟 (Xiong di): the elder brother over the younger one
朋友 (Peng you): friend and friend
Among the above relationships, the relationship between friends is the only equal relationship.
Three Obediences and Four Virtues for Women ( 三从四德 San Cong Si De ）
未嫁从父: obey her father as a daughter
既嫁从夫 : obey her husband as a wife
夫死从子: obey her sons in widowhood
妇言: proper speech
妇容: modest manner
妇功: diligent work
The three obediences and four virtues were the spiritual fetters of wifely submission and virtues imposed on Chinese women.
Good stuff, I must say. It sets the hierarchy of society for everyone to obey. But this should not be cast in stones. There must be special cases where you can and should break this guidance. For instance, if you have an abusive/alcoholic father. You have to be smart enough to stand up against him right? Same with your husband. If he is generally a useless bum (I don’t know why u marry him in the first place), you will have to be smart to maneuver your way around him. To me, in most cases, where if you have a good & decent husband who treats you well, it is wise to listen to his words. The above also list out what should a perfect wife be. Listen to your husband, have high moral standard, always say the right words, to be modest and not vain, a hard-working woman. This one is for u, W.