Confucius (the Chinese call him Kongzi) lived 500 years before Christ. His teachings still influence almost a quarter of the earth's population.
In his philosophy he stressed order: "Look at nothing in defiance of ritual, listen to nothing in defiance of ritual, speak of nothing in defiance of ritual, never stir hand or foot in defiance of ritual."
"Of all virtues, filial piety is the first."
(ancient Chinese saying)
What did Confucius call the most important relationship in a society? That between father and son.
"... no single Confucian teaching has been drummed more persistently into East Asian minds over the past 2,000 years than the sage's vision of the ideal family... Confucius forged a very strict pattern of hierarchical relations within families... The well-regulated Confucian family is built on the concept of filial piety, or xiao. Confucius believed if you were a child who revered your parents, you would also be a loyal citizen, an honorable gentleman, and a devoted spouse."
Assorted sayings of Confucius:
- "Good government consists in the ruler being a ruler, the minister being a minister, the father being a father, and the son being a son."
- "When his father is alive, you observe a man's intentions. It is when the father is dead that you observe the man's actions. If for three years he makes no change from the ways of his father, he may be called filial."
- "Fathers cover up for their sons and sons cover up for their fathers. Uprightness is to be found in this."
- "Only be dutiful towards your parents and friendly towards your brothers, and you will be contributing to government."
Chairman Mao despised Confucius. He "launched the most concerted assault on Confucius in Chinese history... A society once dominated by the great sage became ignorant of the man, his ideas, and his moral mission. Ceremonies venerating Confucius that had been a routine feature of Chinese life for almost two millennia were banned...
"The Red Guards, mostly students, swept across China rooting out the 'four olds' -- old customs, old habits, old culture, and old thinking."
Now, with Mao's influence on the wane, China has come back to its senses. Its recent leaders are stressing tradition and the need to learn from Kongzi.
|The temple in Qufu, home town of Confucius|
(midway between Beijing and Shanghai)
"If a man takes no thought about what is distant, he will find sorrow near at hand." – Confucius
UPDATE: Speaking of the centrality of the Father/Son relationship, ponder once again the words of our Lord in the Gospel of St. John (chapter 14):
Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves."