The three religions that have influenced Chinese culture are Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Confucianism is basically an ethical religion geared for social and political life.
Religion in ancient China took the basic form of ancestor worship. Confucius did not interrupt these ancestral rites but at the same time his emphasis was directed towards the living family. He said: "While you are not able to serve man, how can you serve their spirits?"
(Using the analogy of a tree)
Jen (the root) – stands for a man’s good relationship with others. It has as its heart the important Confucian concept of Shu (reciprocity) i.e. What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others. It is the motivation force in moral life. It is this virtue that separates man from the beasts.
Yi (the trunk) – this is righteousness by justice.
Li (the branches) – is that reverent propriety which is expressed by acting correctly in both a moral and religious way, Confucius conveyed the meaning of Li through maxims: anecdotes in which he sought to order an entire way of life so that no one properly raised need ever be left to improvise his responses on momentary impulse because he is at a loss as to how to behave.
Chih (the flower) – is wisdom.
Hsin (the fruit) – is faithfulness.
The superior man (Chun-tzu) or true gentleman is able anywhere and everywhere to have these virtues. As a son he is always filial, as a father just and kind, as an official loyal and faithful, as a husband righteous and judicious, as a friend sincere and tactful.
Chu His is regarded as the best interpreter of Confucianism. He was not only a scholar but he led an exemplary life. He would rise at dawn, clothe himself decently and pay homage to his ancestors and to Confucius. Then he went to his study and attended to his daily work. Sitting and sleeping he held himself erect, working or resting he behaved according to the model of behaviour prescribed by Confucius in his Classics. Everything in his home was permanently in good order, and in this way he lived from youth to old age.
Chu His found his spiritual and moral development best served by devoting a certain portion of each day to solitary meditation, something he called ‘Silent Sitting’. This was primarily a form of introspection in order to get oneself into a state of equanimity in which one could feel at one with the order and harmony of the universe.
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