Confucianism and Daoism Have the Same Roots (II): A Short Discussion of Confucius'; Life of Cultivation

Huzhang (Taiwan)

PureInsight | July 8, 2002

First, as an introduction into Confucius’ life of cultivation we wish to contrast Confucianism and Daoism. It’s important the reader understands the fundamental facts of these two coexisting ideas/practices, which influenced Asia and to a lesser degree people throughout the world. It was best said by an unknown author: “Daoism and Confucianism are like night and day, two basic philosophies that have ruled over Chinese culture and mindset over thousands of years, giving its adherents, the largest population block in the world, a distinctive completeness. The differences lay in the attitude towards life, with one more structured and socially oriented and the other yielding and nature oriented. Confucianism is a secular religion that focuses on the conduct and practices of people in daily life. Responsibility to parents and ancestors is a central duty and virtues include benevolence, duty, manners, wisdom and faithfulness. Daoism is based on the solidarity of nature and humans; the cycles of nature in which all things return to their starting points; as well passivity, peace and meditation. Each one has distinctively different features, and yet these philosophies complement each other, and the Chinese believe that one is not “balanced” if he/she does not have a measure of both.

One author, Judith Berling, stated very eloquently the basic tenets in an article, published in Focus on Asian Studies. She wrote that Confucianism, “although characterized as a system of social and ethical philosophy, is in reality a system built on an ancient religious foundation to establish social values, institutions, and transcendent ideals of traditional Chinese society,” that is, a system that modern scholars would call a “civil religion.”

The founder of Confucianism, Master Kung Fu-Tzu, known in western society as Confucius and named Chiu Chung-Ni by his parents, was born in the state of Ku, which is known today as Shandong province. He lived between 551 B.C. and 479 B.C. During his lifetime, Confucius was a teacher of history, a low and high-level public official and, in his later life, wandered for 12 years with a few of his disciples from place to place. Confucius described his own lifetime, as recorded in the Analects, 2:4:

“At fifteen I set my heart on learning. At thirty, I was firmly established. At forty, I had no more doubts. At fifty, I knew the will of heaven. At sixty, I was ready to listen to it. At seventy, I could follow my heart’s desire without transgressing what was right.”

An unknown author stated that “in the times of violent upheaval that brought out the worst in the human experience, Confucius was believed to have had an epiphany, that is, to put society back into a stable state while not instigating violence. He believed that a ruler who controls his people should be of great virtue and appoints only those to rule that have likewise reached a superior level of virtue.”

We wish to put forward our thoughts on the life and times of Confucius, a man who promoted virtue at a time when ethical values were at a rapid decline. It was approximately 2,500 years ago, a time of great celestial and historical changes, when mankind’s human morals had been degenerated daily, reaching a point where civilizations, such as the Greek civilization in the western hemisphere, entered the last phase of decline and then fell. During that time, the time of Chunqiu, the Warring states (453-222 B.C.) and when the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-220 C.E.) gradually lost control of China, China experienced political upheaval and moral decline. Yet, there were those of virtue and hundreds of large-scale religious movements were established. Among those promoting virtue in China during that era, the most prominent, whose philosophy still finds followers today, were the sage Lao Tse (around 500 B.C.) and the revered philosopher Confucius. The values promoted by Lao Tse and Confucius were the driving force that kept China proper from degenerating into disintegration. In my view, this provided a stable foundation so sentient beings could establish their pre-destined relationships in the Middle Kingdom (China, phonetically in Chinese, means Middle Kingdom).

As discussed in an earlier section, Confucius left the world the doctrine of the golden mean, where societal behavioral norms were governed by a morally based interaction between individuals, although more paternalistic and with no hint of individual liberty. Lao Tse based his teachings more on the individualistic and mystical, which were governed by nature. Yet, when one views the Chinese societal development, one realizes that “the Chinese have blended the Confucian ideas with the Taoist ideas.” (From “Not Cultivating the Dao, Yet Already in the Dao,” Volume II, Zhuan Falun). Thus, Confucian and Daoist (Taoist, based on the teachings of Lao Tse) philosophy could be viewed in the strictest sense as a religion/cultivation system that governed society in China proper for many centuries. Master Li states, “In fact, a religion has two aims: one is to really make those who are good and can go up through cultivation obtain the proper way; the other is to maintain the morality of human society on quite a high level.” (From “Preaching the Law at Lantou Island” in Volume II, Zhuan Falun).

Three centuries later, Buddhism, taught by Sakyamuni in India, was introduced into China. During that time the Han dynasty had surprisingly purged all spiritual practices, with the exception of Confucianism. Over time, Confucianism underwent many transformations and eventually blended with Daoism. An unknown author wrote, “Confucius’ drive toward humanity was transformed into utilitarian thinking. Confucianism became a system of study and examinations and not a system where every individual acquired the virtue himself.” The basis for Confucian and Daoist thinking was thus established in China, becoming the root for the dissemination of Dafa in our lifetime. This was definitely no accident!

Although Confucius did not put his teachings into writing, his disciples recorded his conversations and sayings in the analects after his death. As a matter of fact, if it was not for Confucius’ disciples, his philosophy would have not been made known. Confucius did not intend to found a religion, he merely wished to interpret and revive the unnamed religion of the Zhou dynasty. Confucius merely quoted from “Book of Odes” and “Shangshu,” commented on “Book of Rites” and “Yuehing,” analyzed “I-Ching” and catalogued the “Book of History” and “Liujing.”

Confucius’ life was multi-faceted. An unknown author wrote, “The ‘outer’ side of Confucianism was conformity and acceptance of social roles, while the ‘inner’ side was cultivation of conscience and character. Cultivation involved broad education and reflection.” His entire life was based on these principles. Thus, we refer to the earlier section where we quoted Confucius’ lifetime in his own words. At age fifteen he was determined to become a man of letters. At thirty he understood that although one was established, one could still experience times of uncertainty and insecurity. At the age of forty he had no more doubts, thus his inner self had become strong in character and could not be swayed by human attachments. In my belief, he thus had reached the early stages of a cultivator at the age of forty. After another decade Confucius enlightened to meaning of life, that is, he understood the reason for being human and “knowing the predestined fate.” He understood that he was born to suffer tribulations, to endure the unendurable and to overcome life’s tribulations. He recognized the way back to his origin. As cultivators in Dafa, we recognize clearly that he had become a cultivator. Therefore, we wish to interpret some of Confucius’ statements based on our knowledge as cultivators of Dafa.

1. “He who does not know his fate is no gentleman.” Doesn’t this mean that those who do not understand the meaning to life may not lead a virtuous life? To me, this clearly states that a cultivator knows fully the meaning of life, which is to return to ones origin.
2. “A base person does not know his fate and is fearless.” It is heartrending that those who are not cultivators and do not know of the high level principles will through their competitive and selfish action accumulate karma instead of virtue. Master Li states, “The heart unattached----In harmony with the world” (From “In The Dao” in Hong Yin). Thus we can see with certainty that Confucius had achieved a higher level in his cultivation at the age of sixty. He was unaffected by human sentiments and had mastered the overcoming of human emotions.

Confucius died at age seventy-three. During the last two years of his life he focused on the tenets of a cultivator. We can interpret his demeanor and actions during those years as those of a cultivator. Our practice in Dafa allows us to recognize another cultivator from his behavior.

There are many recorded instances where a true practitioner of the orthodox Fa can recognize that Confucius was a practitioner of an orthodox Fa. Confucius stated in his analysis of I-Ching, “Without thoughts, without actions, motionless and firm, perceptive of all.” Isn’t this an unmistakable evidence of a cultivator reaching a level of purity and confirmation of supernormal abilities? This statement tells that Confucius is a cultivator who can see wide and far without leaving his home. Isn’t that the supernatural ability of clairvoyance? Furthermore, I can see evidence of other supernatural abilities, such as precognition and retrocognition. Confucius’ analysis of I-Ching indicates that he saw beyond the mere words, that is, he understood the meaning he was allowed to know at his level. Another excerpt reads, “a holy being is fast without speeding and arrives without traveling.” My understanding of this sentence is that of a cultivator’s Primordial Spirit breaking through different dimensions and entering other time-spaces. This also tells me that the ancients could travel thousands of li (a distance of half a kilometer) a day. What also comes to mind are flying objects that are able to travel through time dimensions solely through nonphysical means.

Confucius’ only regret was that he did not cultivate in his earlier years, but instead so late in life. He stated, “Had I studied the I-Ching in my fifties I would not have made all the additional mistakes nor committed so many errors.” This indicates to this cultivator of the orthodox Fa that Confucius knew he accumulated karma at the time when he did not understand the true meaning of life. Confucius regretted the omissions he had, thus he felt sorrow for not obtaining the Dao in his younger years. It was clear to Confucius that the later in life one obtains the Dao, the more karma one accumulates, the more virtue one losses and the harder it is to become enlightened.

Another of Confucius’ statements left a deep impression on me, which lead me to believe in his sincerity in attaining the Dao. “Teaching without writing; believing and fond of classics; striving by comparing myself with Lao Tse and ancestor Peng.” Learned men in this human society do not take Confucius’ clarifications of I-Ching seriously and thus state that these are superstitious ramblings. On the other hand, this cultivator of the orthodox Fa sees validity in these words, understands that Confucius was a genuine cultivator and truly believes that he saw Lao Tse and ancestor Peng as role models. Law Tse and ancestor Peng were cultivators in the Dao. Didn’t Master Li say, “After its cultivation reaches a very high level, Confucianism belongs to the Tao School; …” (From “The Falun Emblem” in Lecture Five of Zhuan Falun)?

When I view Confucius’ life of striving towards enlightenment, it’s clear that Confucius was not an enlightened being who came to spread the Fa in human society. Wasn’t he a politician, teacher, and ideologist before attaining the Dao and beginning his path of cultivation? Isn’t Confucius’ life similar to today’s Dafa disciples? Dafa disciples have received the orthodox Fa, can validate the Fa and came upon the path of cultivation with many human careers that they have or had. Dafa disciples come from different races, backgrounds, economic strata and walks of life. Just as Confucius’ story towards attaining the Dao was recorded, Dafa disciples’ discussions and articles will become records for the future. Today’s Dafa disciples will be the role models for future practitioners of the orthodox Fa. Many humans will attain the orthodox Fa in the future. Those of future generations will see the truth of the universe and come to understand the meaning of life. There will be many taking the path of cultivation and returning to their origins.

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