How does Confucianism view Daoism


*** An overview of Confucianism and Taoism ***


The life of Confucius

Confucius comes from the Shang royal family through Tschung-se, the prince of Wei. He was born in Che-fozu; His great-grandfather, Kung Faeng-Schu, is said to have been the governor of Che-fozu. His father Tschu-liang Ho, a poor military leader, had a daughter and a crippled son from his first marriage. At the age of over 70 he married Tsching-Tsi, a very young girl who made a pilgrimage to Mount Ni Kiu to implore a son (hence Master Kung's nickname Kiu). So Isaac and Lao-tse were also conceived of their fathers at the end of their life.

At the age of three, Kung Kiu (or Tschung-ni) lost his father. His mother was only 18 years old and, in order to support her son, had to do heavy farm labor on the piece of land she had been given as the widow of a civil servant. He himself reports: "When I was little, I was in an extremely humble position." From the age of 15 he attended the scribes' school. Soon he was interested in the past with its traditions. He is said to have already dealt with the offering of sacrifices and their rites in his games. At the age of 17 he gave private lessons and at the same time became acquainted with the military and the ceremonies at court. There he learned archery, driving a chariot, history, literature, dance, music. Then there were writing and arithmetic. He had been taught three main virtues.

    1. Loyalty to the princes

    2. Loyalty to the Master

    3. Faithfulness to the Father

He married at the age of 19 and had a son, Li, who did not excel in any way. At the age of 22 he opened his own school in Lu. In addition to outdoor subjects and skill exercises (archery, chariot driving), he gave lessons on antiquity, the Shu-King (book of documents about the history of kings) and the chronicle of the state of Lu. One day he left with his pupil and servant in a horse-drawn cart to the east, along the embankment of the Yellow River. He separated from his wife in order to live for himself. On his pilgrimage he also met Lao-Tzu. Master Kung's return to Lu was a great success.

The teaching of Confucius

If one wants to understand Confucius correctly, one also has to deal with the ancient religion of China. Because the tradition remained unbroken in China. According to the ancient Chinese conception, heaven, earth and man, a great comprehensive unity, are a universism. In this context it may be interesting that in Chinese painting there is no separation of earth and sky, but one merges into the other. The ancient religion was based on human living conditions: the role of agriculture, the seasons, irrigation, warlike and protective behavior of the hunters and later of the local liege lords as well as the importance of the clan, their cohesion and their activity.

Family gods were formed. Deities of nature, mountains and springs, rivers and trees, who were worshiped and asked for help. An ancestor cult also existed at an early stage. In this way, the presence of the invisible ancestors could be embodied in objects and tablets that became a kind of fetish. The power of the ancestors was great; if they were neglected, misfortune and misery ensued. Religious ceremonies aimed to raise the human soul above the everyday and to become aware of itself. Superstition and magic overgrown religion. Konfutz has kept things tidy here. He showed people a way to their spiritual liberation. For him, the human being and his inner life is a kind of microcosm, a reflection of the macrocosm of the universe.

Konfütze, whom we call the great sage, did not apply his concept of the perfect man, of the ideal sage (Ju) either to himself or to his contemporaries. He said: "Every person who intends to develop his inner life simply has to look for the times in human nature and stick to them". The Jen, the virtue of humanity, is a term that affects human relationships. The first level of Jen is to be a good son, a good father, a good citizen.

The central point of the teaching of Konfeute, the "Great Master" concerns (Li) the prerequisite for the success of any social order. Concise ethical principles and proverbs can be found in thoughts and conversations. "In everything, man must constantly check whether he is acting in harmony with the cosmic order, and as soon as this is not the case, he finds out how he can get back on the right path. That is why the oracles are so important. The idea of ​​harmony and the cosmic order is all human life. "

The power of the spiritual forces is at work everywhere in the universe. Invisible to the eye, inaccessible to the senses, it permeates everything. "To make sacrifices to heaven and earth means to serve God. To hold a celebration in the temple of the ancestors means to honor the ancestors." Only those in the world who really know themselves can be fulfilled. "Seek to recognize yourself and relate to the Li (the cosmic order from which the social order proceeds."

The main point of the doctrine of Konfeute is established as the guiding principle that the moral law (Li) is the prerequisite for the success of any social order. The book "Thoughts and Conversations", from which we quoted a few, is dedicated to the exemplary behavior of the noble man of Confucian stamp. He placed particular emphasis on his regulations on sacrificial acts and rituals. Since Konfütze, like all Chinese, believed in the original sin of man, but also in the good core of man, he considered strict laws superfluous. The good can be taught and learned; Confuse never had any doubts about the omnipotence of goodwill. As an example: "If a person is virtuous, so will the people." Confuse did not want to be the founder of a belief. In the course of time his students have given him cultic honors from his teachings through his schools of thought, initially as a sage and example, but later also as God. 495 BC The emperor showed him cultic veneration.

What confusion ethics was about are: humanity, kindness and a sense of morality. From Jen he derives forbearance and tolerance. So Konfütze demanded: "Don't do to others what you don't want people to do to you."

The Ju concerned the gradual self-education according to the golden rule of reciprocity: "What you don't want to be done to you, don't do it to anyone else." The moral man, the Ju, is humble, says Confucius. "The common man wants to attract attention. The common man does evil in his private life, which he tries to cover up from the wise man. That is completely in vain, because one only has to look at him to read his heart." The saying goes: "The righteousness in a person's heart is written on his face." He describes his portrait of the sage as follows: "This is a person who forgets to eat when he is enthusiastic about something, who no longer thinks about his successes, when he is happy and notices that old age is approaching."

Further sayings and thoughts of Confuse:

  • "When the actual, real me and the truth and the true harmony are realized, the universe becomes a cosmic order where all things grow and unfold in all their fullness."
  • "The power of the spiritual forces is at work everywhere in the universe."
  • "Invisible to the eye, inaccessible to the senses, it permeates everything .."
  • "To make sacrifices to heaven and earth means to serve God."
  • "Holding a celebration in the temple of the ancestors means honoring the ancestors. If one only understood the meaning of these sacrifices (and these celebrations), one could rule a people in no time at all."
  • "Only those in this world who really know themselves can be fulfilled. Only those who can fulfill themselves succeed in helping others to fulfill themselves."
  • "The moral laws belong to the same system as the laws that determine the course of the seasons, days and nights ..."
  • "Seek to know yourself and relate to the Li (the cosmic order from which the social order proceeds)."
  • "As soon as a person, no matter what position he occupies on the social ladder, exercises the law of humanity (the Jen) in harmony with the law of heaven, if he advances on the good path (the Tao), he creates ipso facto through his example a beneficial order in his environment, in his family, in his office, in his state. "

Master Kung's attitude towards his disciples was exemplary. No artificiality, a lot of simplicity and cordiality, also humility and a dignity that prevented any inappropriate confidentiality. Conversations with his disciples give the impression of truth and freedom. The deification of Confucius is a late phenomenon of popular Confucianism. There is no trace of it in the first disciples. "The master was gentle, amiable and cheerful, but at the same time dignified and respectful. He was not violent, but very courteous and nevertheless aware of his worth." The attitude of Confucius and Menzius, his great commentator on married life, should be mentioned here:

Both got married. Both showed great respect for their mother. But neither one nor the other took them into account in their work. The women kept modestly in the background and left their sons and husbands to their literary tasks and their pilgrimages. In reality, both men lived with their disciples and ancestors in the confines of their own homes. The inferior position of women has remained throughout Chinese history, and the Confucian school certainly did nothing to change that. Confucius believes, as we have seen, that the gods should be left where they belong and not mixed up with human affairs.

However, one must not confuse the diversity of the gods with the uniqueness of the supreme ruler, with the universal law, which is life and reason and rules over all things. From the fact that Confucius set aside the metaphysical problems and put the gods in the background, where they only played a decorative role, one must not infer that he imagined the sky to be empty or that he believed man and his reason filled him entirely. The opposite is true: Heaven permeates all of man's reality, and when he withdraws, it leaves nothing in him but nothing or chaos. Confucius' agnosticism was a blow to the all-too-widespread superstition and presumptuousness of the human race, which caused a lack of respect for the supreme ruler, the embodiment of heaven, by opening up the substance of the universe, the primordial principle of life, reality itself demeaned the extent of a god in the image of man - even if it was the greatest and wisest of all.

Respect at the religious level entails every other kind of respect. That is why we want to end with the quote from a Confucian classic: "If a man is constantly occupied by the environment and he is not in control of his desires and aversions, he is devoured by this environment - he loses his sense of what is human and becomes a materialist ... Then there is disorder. "


Laotse, the old master (from 604-517 BC) was born in the Yangts Province. Neither birth nor death have been proven with reliable data. He is portrayed as a nobleman who lived in seclusion. He accompanied the office of an imperial archivist. If pragmatism was the driving force in Confucianism, in Taoism it is quietism; inaction is the ideal. Many magical and occult practices overgrown Taoism in the early days.

Meditation was at the center of life. His thinking was on the Tao, the way to personal immortality. Many people moved to the mountains to seek spirituality in remote hermitages.

Over the centuries Taoism declined to pure idolatry and superstition. Ghost spanning, fortune telling, sorcery, amulet trading and alchemy gave rise to the similarity to primitive fetishism. In Taoism one dealt primarily with the hereafter. Rest and dream were the means with which they penetrated directly into immortal existence. The influence of Buddhism brought the belief in transmigration of souls. The tolerance of the Asian religions allowed such syncretism. This changed the deeply mystical philosophy of the Lao Tzu over the centuries.

Juxtaposition of Confucianism and Taoism

1. Konfutzes teaching: Education, moral change, loyalty. Sincerity. He attributed an essential influence to the rite (Li), including the ancestor cult. Common to both is the importance of the way, the Tao. By this Konfütze means the way in which a state or person should walk the path of virtue.

2. Laotse: Lao Tzu described the path of Taos through semi-mystical utterances, often dark and enigmatic. For him it is about life in harmony with the source of the world. His virtues were: humility and lack of interest in the world of appearances, in complete contrast to Confuse. "Everything is done by doing nothing," said Lao Tzu. So he has kept and preserved three jewels.

The first is called love, the second thrift. The third: Never dare to be the first in the world: "Heaven arrows with love the one he wants to save."


& copy 2000 Dr. Gerhard Fetzner


| at the beginning of the text |

Copyright © 2000 by Dr. med. Gerhard Fetzner
All rights reserved. Published with permission.
This paper is intended for personal use only.
Posted on 09/01/2002; last change: 02/28/2016
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