Considered one of the most prolific thinkers, Confucius was versatility personified donning many hats, that of a Teacher, Philosopher, Sage, Editor and Politician.
Also known as Kong Qui or K’ung Fu-tzu, Confucius was born in 551 BC in Lu state, China. While some records show that he was born into a royal family of the Chou Dynasty, there are other accounts which state that he was in fact born into poverty. Losing his father when he was just 3, Confucius did grew up in poverty making it necessary for him to take up several jobs to support his family, which included the roles of a shepherd, cowherd, clerk and book-keeper. Barring a wooden sculpture of Confucius created by one of his disciples, no other record of his physical appearance is available.
It is widely considered that as a child Confucius had the wisdom, perception and sensitivity well beyond his biological age. Only 15, he resolved to direct his energies in the pursuit of learning, reforms and justice for all. This in fact is believed to have formed the essence of `Confucianism’, a school of thought developed from his teachings and philosophy which establishes humanism as the core and emphasizes the moral principles of benevolence, righteousness and justice.
Confucius married at the age of 19 and became father a year later, both of whom he subsequently renounced to pursue his learning and develop his ideologies. At 23, he lost his mother and keeping up with the tradition mourned the loss for 3 years. When 22, he is said to have initiated what is largely accepted as the first private school, making public his ideals of compassion, rituals, justice, personal and societal conduct. After this, he began spreading his ideologies and beliefs to other parts of China.
Confucius is credited with writing and editing some of the most influential traditional Chinese classics, collectively and popularly known as the “six classics” : The Odes, The Book, The Book of Change, The Book of Rites, The Book of Music and The Spring and Autumn Annals.
Confucius died in 479 B.C. in Qufu, China, buried at a place which now has become a beautiful forest with an 8 km perimeter. While it is believed that he was saddened by his experiences and the low acceptability of his teachings, he got his due recognition centuries after his death in shape of state honors and coveted titles. Confucius is referred to by many names including “the Master”, “Extremely Sage Departed Teacher”, “Great Sage”, “First Teacher”, and “Model Teacher for Ten Thousand Ages”.
Some wise quotes by Confucius:
- Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.
- Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.
- To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it.
- The object of the superior man is truth.
- What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.
- A superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.
- I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.