Confucius - The Great Teacher Illustration

Confucius - The Great Teacher

Kong Fu Zi (c 551-479 BC) known in the west as

Confucius was born around 551 BC in Zhou times. Although there was one ruling family, the real power was in the hands of local warlords. Each warlord ruled a feudal state. Aristocrat-scholars, called shi, traveled from one feudal state to another, offering advice on everything from politics to weddings to war. The most famous shi was Confucius.

His parents were nobility, but had become poor when the empire fallen apart into feudal states. When he was about 15 years old, he became quite interested in learning. In those days, only the nobility and royals were allowed education. All the teachers were government officials. It was hard for him to find a way to learn. To solve this, he went to work for a nobleman. This gave him the opportunity to travel to the imperial capital.

Confucius studied and learned until he probably was the most learned man of his day. People heard of his knowledge and sent their sons to study with him. He was the first private teacher in China. Confucius taught anyone who was eager to learn. His ideas, called Confucianism, stressed the need to develop responsibility and moral character through rigid rules of behavior. Confucianism is not a religion; it's a way of behaving, so you'll do the right things.

Good Moral Character:  reverent in worship; respect father/ruler; study constantly; guided by Rules of Conduct

Rules of Conduct: Confucianism was a social code of behavior, a very set and rigid code of behavior, that honored ancestors and ancient rituals. Everything had to be done a certain way. One of his rules, for example, was that gentlemen could only display their skill as archers on three hunts a year, in the spring, autumn, and winter. There's a saying about Confucius: "If the mat was not straight, the Master would not sit."

To sum it up: Teachings of Confucius:

  • He believed in respect; people should respect the ruler. 
  • He believed that people should respect each other.
  • He believed in good moral conduct. 
  • He believed in a code of behavior, a structured life. 

In ancient China, Confucianism became both a philosophy and a religion. It was the state-sponsored "religion" of many Chinese dynasties. It was the favorite philosophy of many Chinese rulers. People today still quote and study the many sayings and ideas (rules) that Confucius taught to his students about 2,500 years ago.

Today, the people of China celebrate Confucius Birthday (Teacherís Day) in honor their ancestor, Confucius, the great teacher.

Here are just a few of his rules, including the very famous golden rule:

Excerpts from The Analects of Confucius, c.400 BCE

Over 2,500 years ago, Confucius said:

Do not do unto others, what you would not want others to do to you.

If you make a mistake and do not correct it, that is called a mistake.

Do not plan the policies of an office you do not hold.

Exemplary persons do not promote others because of what they say, nor do they reject what is said because of who says it.

Exemplary persons are steadfast in the face of adversity, while petty persons are engulfed by it.

Learning without due reflection leads to perplexity.

Never give a sword to a man who can't dance.

Honorable Links

The 3 Teachings for Kids - Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism

Comparison of Beliefs - Taoist, Confucius, Legalist

Who was Confucius? (cartoon video for kids)

What is a philosophy?

Ancient China for Kids

Free Powerpoints about Confucianism