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Mrs. Gorton

Belief Systems in Ancient China


Confucianism, founded by China's most respected teacher and philosopher, Confucius, is not a religion. It is merely an ethical and moral code of conduct that the Chinese have been following for more than 2,000 years. The core value of this school of thought centers around one Chinese word, "ren," which means "benevolence," "humanity," or "kindness" in Chinese. One time, a disciple asked if there is a word a person can use as a rule of conduct; Confucius replied, "Reciprocity." He then explained, "What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others." This seemingly simple verse underlies the core meaning of "ren." When he was in his fifties. Confucius was promoted to be the Minister of Crime in his home state, Lu. He introduced many reforms. He carried out justice fairly. And he managed to lower the crime rate. Unfortunately, Confucius' ideology was largely ignored during his own lifetime, but it became prominent about 200 years after his death. Ever since then, it has been the doctrine that everybody in China strives to achieve. Many people think Confucianism is a religion. They are wrong. Confucianism is actually a set of behavioral and moral guidelines. Its ultimate goal is to make people understand, embrace, and practice "ren."