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The West considers Confucius as mysterious with Eastern Wisdom

Confucius born in China is one of the greatest philosophers of ancient world. His social, political and educational philosophy dominated the ancient and modern day world of China. There are of course questions and confusions regarding his understanding and mentioning of Gods. Wisdoms of the West are based on God and religion. Religion and God format the basis of western social life. The West thinks Confucius’s reference to Heaven does not include Spiritual World/God. So the West regards Confucius as mysterious. Confucius should be considered as one of the best accomplished philosophers of all time by virtue of his ‘The Analects’ on understanding the spiritual world, understanding the norm of organization of a state of a country, the concept of a good ruler of a country, understanding the proper relationship between human and nature, understanding and helping fellow human beings and environment.

Confucius philosophy, one of the ancient Eastern wisdom, is not mysterious as stated in the second line of the topic. Confucius Analects mention about influence of Spiritual world on humane being. In one of the Analects Confucius confesses his relationship with spiritual world. Confucius’s understanding and attitude towards spiritual world are revealed in his Analects. “The Analects passages that reveal Confucius’s attitudes toward spiritual forces (The full Text of Lun Yun, Lunyu 3.12, 6.20, and 11.11) do not suggest that he was skeptical. Rather they show that Confucius revered and respected the spirits, thought that they should be worshiped with utmost sincerity, and taught that serving the spirits was a far more difficult and complicated matter than serving mere mortals”

Confucius mentions about the state organization in Analects by saying that state should be organized as per protocal (The full text of Lun yan lunyu 13.3).  Confucius said, “…. A gentleman evades what he does not know. When protocol is not instituted correctly what is said is not accepted; Thus with protocol instituted, a gentleman may begin to speak and what is said may be enacted”

Like Western philosophers, saints and sages Confucius was concerned about norm on behavior of a good ruler as mentioned in question 2 of the topic. The following quotes with Analects represent his philosophy on   ruler/government: “You may rob the Three Armies of their commander, but you cannot deprive the humblest peasant of his opinion.” ( The full text of Lin Yau Lunyu 9.26),  “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.” (The full text of Lin Yun Lunyu 12.11)

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Confucius mentions about virtue by saying that virtue is good morality. Once the ruler or a person has a good virue then there shall be good ruling and good following resulting in good government (The full text of Lun Yan lunyu 2.1, 12.9)

Confucius mentions about proper relationship between man and nature by saying that mankind and nature are closely bonded together. The Confucius says ‘ At fifteen I aspired to learning, at 30 I establised my stand, at 40 I had no delusions, at 50 I knew my destination, at 60 I knew truth in all I read, at 70 I could follow wishes of my heart without doing wrong,’  (The full text of Lun Yan lunyu 2.4), ‘ do offerings due to heaven’ ( The full text of Lun Yan lunyu 3.13).

Confucius Analects affirm good human relation by mentioning that there is a relationship between human being and his fellow human beings and environment. He mentions that Human being, others around, and Nature (immediate environment) form a close relationship. Under these conditions a human being should do purposeful things for which one shall be remembered. Purposeful things include loving others, helping others in their endeavors, respect seniors, have good education from teachers so that one can gather knowledge of life, science, government etc. The love for others is presented in Analects as “What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others;” “Since you yourself desire standing then help others achieve it, since you yourself desire success then help others attain it.” (Full Text of Lin Yun  Lunyu 12.2, 6.30).

Analects are the scripts of Confucius philosophy and thoughts on desirable human behavior to family, society, nature, government, and spiritual world, on desirable government purpose and duty to society and country, on desirable behavior of teachers, students, government, and society to education. Some of the world figures call Confucius the Socrates of East. “Fung Yu-lan, one of the great 20th century authorities on the history of Chinese thought, compares Confucius’ influence in Chinese history with that of Socrates in the West” (Riegel 1 URL=). Confucius mentions about spiritual world in his Analects.. Understanding of faraway Universe is the basis of Confucian philosophy: “The Confucian world outlook is generally based on two questions: a person’s understanding about heaven, and people’s relationships with heaven” ( Ministry of Culture PR China Confucian Philosophy 1).

Confucius mentioned about spiritual world in his Analects. Confucius’s social philosophy emphasizes the understanding of Nature that includes immediate natural environment like air, water, climates, faraway natural environment like heavenly bodies and spiritual world. Human being’s existence is subject to the presence of nature, presence of other human being, society, government, and knowledge through education. Confucius also emphasizes that human being is responsible for his accomplished living in the nature and society. Faraway natural environment here refers to entities in the form of spirits or Supreme Being/God. ‘Confucius not concerned about invisible God’ as stated is not a suitable statement.  The statement contradicts with his Analects 3.12 and 6.20 (Full Text of Lan Yun). Confucius Quotes on spiritual word: “While Confucius believes that people live their lives within parameters firmly established by Heaven—which, often, for him means both a purposeful Supreme Being as well as ‘nature’ and its fixed cycles and patterns—he argues that men are responsible for their actions and especially for their treatment of others. We can do little or nothing to alter our fated span of existence but we determine what we accomplish and what we are remembered for” (Reigel, 2. Confucius Social philosophy). His Analects on education are:.“He who learns but does not think is lost. He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger.” (The full Text of Lun Yan Lunyu 2.15). “I only instruct the eager and enlighten the fervent. If I hold up one corner and a student cannot come back to me with the other three, I do not go on with the lesson.” (The full text of Lun yan Lunyu 7.8).

Thus from the study of Analects it may be concluded that the review of topic has strengths in supporting Confucius is a great moral teacher with respect to state organization, good ruler, virtue, respecting nature, and love others. But the review has failed to recognize that Analects are not mysterious and Analects mention about spiritual world and it’s relationship to mankind.

 Cited Works

Full Text of Lun Yu in English

Riegel, Jeffrey, “Confucius”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Ministry of Culture, P.R.China

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