Corifucianism=-which means the "fanlilr of scholars started as a school of thought or a tradition of learning before its eventual leader, Confucius. was born (Wei-ming,1995). Confucius (the Latinized form of K'ung Fu-tzu) lived in China between 551 and 479 B.C.E. and emerged as a teacher at about the same time that the Buddha became a significant figure in India. COllfucius'- whose sayings are collected in the Analects- taught that people 'lust learn the importance of order in human relationsin, ~ and must follow a strict code of moral conduct. inclu.ling respect for others. benevolence, and reciprocity 0' rtz, 1995). A central teaching of Confucius was that hi.mans are by nature good and that they learn best bv having an example or a role model As a result. he reated a junzi rchunrzu"), or model person, who ha _'chattributes as being upright regardless of outward c+cumstances, being magnanimous by expressing forgivene-s toward others, being directed by internal principles ro.tilerthan external laws, being sincere in speech and action. and being earnest and benevolent Confucius wanted to demonstrate these traits. and he believed that he should be a role model for his students. Thejunzis behavior is to be based on the Confucian principle of Li, meaning righteousness or propriety,which refers both to ritual and to correct conduct in public. One of the central attributes exhibited by the junzi is ren (jell). which means having deep empathy or compassion for other humans (Matthews, 2004).
Confucius established the foundation for social hierarchy- and potential conflict-when he set forth his Five Constant Relationships: ruler-subject, husbandwiJe, elder brother-younger brother; elder Jriend-jl/llior fnend, andJOlher-soll. In each of these pairs. one person is unequal to the other. but each is expected to carry out specific responsibilities to the other (Matthews, 20(4). Confucius taught that due authority is not automatic; it must be earned. The subject does not owe loyalty to the ruler or authority figure ifthat individual does not fulfill his or her end of the bargain. Confucianism Isbased on the belief that Heaven and Earth are not separate places but rather a continuum in which both realms are constantly in touch with each other. According to this approach. those who inhabit Heaven are ruled over by a supreme ancestor and are the' ancestors of those persons who are on Earth. These forefathers are eventually joined by those who are currently on Earth; therefore. death is nothing more than the promotion to a more honorable estate. Until the Communist takeover and the establishment of the People's Republic. Confucianism was the official religion of China. After the takeover. political leaders sought to replace Confucianism. Taoism. and Buddhism with Maoism-beliefin the teachings of the Chinese Communist leader-but the Confucian intluence remains in East Asian countries such as Japan. Korea. Taiwan. and Singapore. How prominent is Confucianism in the United States? It is difficult to provide an accurate answer to this question because some people view Confucianism as a set of ethical teachings rather than as a religion (Smith. 1991). However. many recent immigrants from China and Southeast Asia adhere to the teachings of Confucius, although perhaps mixed with those of other great Eastern religious philosophers and teachers. Neo-Confucianism, which has emerged on the West Coast. is heavily influenced by Buddhism and Taoism (Matthews. 2004).
We now move from the Eastern religions (Hinduism. Buddhism. and Confucianism). which tend to be based on ethics or values more than on a deity or Supreme Being, to the Western" religions (Iudaism,Christianity. and Islam). which are founded on the Abrahamic tradition and place an emphasis on God and a relationship between human beings and a Supreme.Being. The original locations of all six of these