The Birth of Confucius – 551 BCE

Statue of Confucius in Nanjing, China
Statue of Confucius in Nanjing, China

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
– Confucius

Around the same time as the Buddha was spreading his enlightened teachings in northern India, one of the world’s greatest philosophers was more or less doing the same the same in China. He was called Kong Qiu, but the western world would call him by his now more famous name, Confucius. Confucius’ philosophy focused on personal and governmental morality, harmony in one’s social relationships, universal justice and the importance of sincerity in all actions.

He is believed to have been born poor into a warrior family in the Chinese state of Lu. Despite this, he held several positions and eventually rose to become a minister of justice in Lu. Dissatisfied with the mundane aspects of life and also appalled at some of the injustices and social inequality that he witnessed, he developed a philosophy that today is known as Confucianism. Similar to the Buddha, he believed that all people should show compassion to one another and that they are ultimately responsible for their own actions. He was also a proponent of filial piety and respecting one’s elders.


Though first taught over 2500 years ago, Confucianism is still woven into the fabric of everyday Chinese life and culture, even after the Cultural Revolution of Mao Zedong.

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