|Confucius: Heart and Soul of A Nation, Philosopher of All Times|
The Confucius Institute of Greece will be inaugurated in Athens University of Economics and Business on October 8,2009. Recently the rector of the institute Mr. Gregory Prastacos asked the Chinese Embassy in Greece for articles about Confucius the philosopher. The full text follows.
Confucius: Heart and Soul of A Nation, Philosopher of All Times
His ideas of rule of virtue and governance of benevolence were often met with skepticism and hostility throughout his life, yet they became the orthodoxy of political thoughts for over two millennia in China and East Asia.
He was forced to resign from office of minister as an unsuccessful politician, yet his readiness to serve the state and refusal to compromise with evil helped shape the way of thinking of the Chinese intellectuals from generation to generation.
His students were slaughtered and books burned two centuries after his death, yet the knowledge he accumulated and disseminated had survived and reached afar, such that education was no longer an aristocratic privilege and a special strata of social elites, shi, mushroomed from under rural roofs.
A thinker, an intellectual and an educator, Confucius had left a rich historical legacy: meritocracy in the shadow of monarchy, emphasis and experiences on learning and education, and doctrines for good government and stable society.
Above all, he pointed out for all of us a way to personal perfection and public good in this life. He urged people to approach wisdom through diligent learning, approximate benevolence through arduous undertaking, attain to bravery by sensing the shame, conform to propriety by practicing fidelity, fraternity and honesty, and strive to excel before dying in obscurity.
Even if understanding Tao, the supreme good, requires one to die at dusk the same day, it would be worthwhile. When tempted by profits, bear on mind Yi, the righteousness, for unjustly sought richness and prominence are no more than scattering clouds. Should accomplishing Ren, the benevolence, necessitate sacrifice of life, so be it.
Such said and did the philosopher. At the age of fifty-five, he chose to defend his ideals and go on a perilous fourteen-year exile.
And thus did many others after him: hundreds of Chinese ministers shed blood for trying to dissuade their emperors from dissipation and decadence; numerous men of letters rose up against the enemies of the state, internal or external, in writing or in arms.
Five hundred years after Confucius passed away, Sima Qian the historian detailed the influence and prestige the philosopher had then enjoyed. Another two thousand years later, we are still able to perceive the prowess of his words:
A benevolent man worries not.
A wise man puzzles not.
A brave man fears not.
(by Liu Wei)