Confucianism is an ethical and philosophical system among the Chinese people. It did raise and developed from the teachings of Confucius, a great philosopher about 500 BC based on a great deal of study and implementation of cultural studies. It was mainly about ethical and sociopolitical teachings but the teachings which later did have more significant meanings. The main theme of Confucianism is humanism. A lot of emphasis on the belief that all human beings can be taught, made to improve, and perfected. This possibility of both personal and communal endeavors did promote self-cultivation and self-creation. Confucianism later involved religion like Daoism and Buddhism and thus some scholars shifted their attention to Neo-Confucianism during the renaissance.
Neo-Confucianism was an attempt by some scholars to create a more rational and secular based form of the original Confucianism. They did oppose the religious point of view that the Confucianism did try to eradicate. The superstitious and mystical elements of Daoism and Buddhism during the Han Dynasty by the middle of the ninth century. It reached new and greater levels of social and intellectual creativity in the 11th century in the Song Dynasty.
The argument if neo-Confucianism is a Confucianism is a matter to be desired. Essentially, Confucianism was the original way of life for the Chinese people. Later on there was the integration of the religion into the culture of the people. The religion involved the belief in supernatural and mystical features, which Confucianism did not believe in it. Buddhism and Daoism did contribute in the development of Neo-Confucianism. However, this did not have to mean that all the beliefs and cultures of Buddhism and Daoism did get integration into the neo-Confucianism. Only certain elements were borrowed and incorporated into the existing Confucianism culture. This did bring up a more efficient and preferred way of life and culture among the Chinese people, the neo-Confucian way. The integration of best and achievable elements from the previously studied philosophies and working principles of life.
The integration of both the Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism over the ages by the scholars during their time who have waned to make a difference in the people’s way of thinking. The basic and the simplest of the Confucianism tradition did start in the Xia, Shang and Zhou kingdoms. The improvement of these works was put to perfection by kings and ministers at the time then later perfected by the scholars of the time like Kongzi and Xunzi. Various kings where followed by Confucianism masters as advisers and this played a significant role in the development of Confucianism.
The biggest role of Han Dynasty was to develop the Confucianism. The scholars of the Han Dynasty edited the texts by adding their own critical and comprehensive commentaries. Their work overshadowed the previous work that other scholars did. After the fall of the Han Dynasty, there emerged the religious facets that had existed before. These religious facets did contain Daoist traditions. These traditionalists talked ill about Confucianism traditions and what they stood for. The founders of the Daoist Traditions, which exist to this present day, wrote their own texts which included Daodejing, Zhuangzi and the Yijing. They were called the Xuanxue, and they were highly eclectic.
The arrival of Buddhism in china eventually killed the Xuanxue thinkers and their ways. The Chinese scholars and monks of the time created scripts and schools to spread Buddhism all across Asia. After the great division in the Tang Dynasty, three prominent Confucianism scholars Han Yu, Li Ao and Liu Zongyuan started attacking Buddhism from all its points of weakness. They were fighting for the restoration of the Confucianism way of life and thinking. After the death, of these three scholars, a Tang emperor started the persecution of Buddhism, and this went a long way in restoration of the Confucianism. Thus, neo-Confucianism arose.
A lot of scripts are still based on the Confucianism thus the integration of Confucianism and neo-Confucianism. The scholars who were writing the scripts claimed they were not trying to invent something new of their own but only restoring the original Confucianism way of life. They considered their own culture and the best way of life that they could follow. The traits, concepts and themes that were maintained and followed from the classical, origin repertoire included:
Various scholars learnt the Confucianism ways. Kings, ministers and individual from affluent backgrounds then took the study further by editing the scripts with time. Zhu Xi was one of these individuals. He inherited Confucianism rich scripts from various song masters and developed a script that other scholars would take as reference. This greatly revolutionaries the neo-Confucianism new ways. The mind and heart notion was also cultivated during this period. The mind and heart was not just cognitive, but it also involved affective abilities. The mind, human nature and inner self cultivation were the main themes of Confucianism and these were able to be maintained by all the scholars through the ages. As much as there was the dropping of religious and mystical features from the Confucianism scripts, ways and culture, the Neo-Confucian system did not lose direction in the implementation of the important aspects of the Confucianism thought.
Buddhism was a religion with complex metaphysical philosophies, and mystically that the original Confucianism culture totally ignored. The neo-confucianists wanted to be able to explain the universe, and human behavior is a way that was logical rather than religion. Buddhism had vastly spread among the people. For this reason, it was hard to eradicate the Buddhist principals, way of life and culture. Sage hood was another aspect of Confucianism that was directly transferred to neo-Confucianism. This is the metaphysical absolute and spirituality manifestation in one after intense inner, personal development.
Daoism advocated for living in harmony among the Tao, which was the reason for the existence of everything. The ethics insisted by Daoism revolve around compassion, moderation and humility. The Daoism thought basis on the relationship between humanity and nature, health, longevity and action through inaction. These are some of the elements that the neo-Confucianism had to maintain from the religion and integrated into Confucianism.
The sung dynasty had a strong group of scholars who came up with a way of preserving the Confucianism principles but still maintaining their religious values they had developed. Mencius, of the greatest scholars wrote the “Four Books” and the “Five Classics” that became instrumental to the development of neo-Confucianism over a period of close to seven hundred years. Sage hood was one of the main things borrowed from Buddhism. Apart from the belief of supernatural beings and faith in the unknown religion was integrated into the basic principles and cultures of Confucianism.
In Daoism, the theology revolved around certain principles naturalness, vitality, peace, non action, emptiness, detachment, flexibility, receptiveness and spontaneity. The main elements in the theology that were borrowed were: Tao which means way, road, channel, path, doctrine, or line. Wing-tsit Chan stated that Tao meant a system of morality to Confucianists but that it meant the natural, eternal, spontaneous, indescribable way things began and pursued their course to Taoists. Tao can be roughly stated to be the flow of the universe, or the force behind the natural order, equating it with the influence that keeps the universe balanced and ordered.
The flow of Qi, as the essential energy of action and existence, is often compared to the universal order of Tao. The comparison of Tao is what it is not, which according to De means “power; virtue; integrity”, shows the active living that was to take place in society. Wu Wei refers to any effortless action. It is a paradox whee action that depicts without action that is without doing the actual thing.
This is used in the Daoism way of life to show the invisible and untapped power within tings that can lead to extraordinary and unexpected events and occurrences. Pu is a term used by the Daoism to show the simplicity. It literally means uncut wood. It represents pure uninfluenced potential. The Daoism way of life encourages individuals to view life from this point of view where by nothing to view from a biased point of view.
All the above factors are core of the neo-Confucianism as they were borrowed and integrated into their way of life.
Buddhism is an indigenous form of religion based on traditional practices, beliefs and practices founded on the teachings of Buddha. Most of the literature in Buddhism memorized, and there was little writing. However, after the rise of neo-Confucianism, the scholars of the time integrated the area of interest from Buddhism into Confucianism to come up with neo-Confucianism. Some of the elements borrowed from Buddhism were to do with the morals and ethics of individuals in the society.
These principles that put into perspective the points of view of everyone in the society no matter their social or economic class did govern how people did behave and interact with others.. These features and attributes to behavior were universal and worked well in maintaining peace, order, justice and development in the society. They include: call for peace and non-violence life, refraining from taking life, taking that which does not belong to, sensual and sexual misconduct, deceiving others and telling lies, intoxicants that are drugs and alcohol, eating at the wrong time and luxurious lifestyle.
Living uncomplicated lives had always been a characteristic of the Chinese people and it started with the Confucianists, was part and parcel of Buddhism and Daoism. It was still later adopted by Neo-Confucians. Their life was based on needs and not wants. This enables them to get to the inner selves and reason logically and rationally rather than emotionally and illogically.
Buddhist did practice the art of meditation and yoga. They took time in peace and tranquility to meditate upon their lives and do whatever is possible to make the best out of life. This element was also borrowed by the Confucianism scholars when they were writing scripts for neo-Confucianism. This art of meditation was known as Zen. The art of bringing mind, body, soul and nature together for a greater purpose is an element shared by Confucianism, Buddhism, Daoism and neo-Confucianism. Self realization and accomplishment of certain goals in life whether health wise, knowledge wise or socially can only be achieved through the bringing together of these elements of life.
The Confucianism way of life considered people who practiced it as learned people and gentlemen. The individuals had outstanding characteristic sin terms of morals, history and rituals concerning their cultures. The individuals also committed themselves to learning and interpreting ancient classics in order to be able to live right in the present and make near perfect plans for the future. There were expectations to serve politically, ethically, as a group and individuals. These themes and principles were integrated and clearly maintained in the Neo-Confucian way of life. Unlike the religious aspects of Buddhism, the non-Confucians have a strong belief that reality exists and that it can be understood by perfectly by human beings. They also both advocate for the inner, personal understanding and self realization that builds an individual to achieve the impossible.
As illustrated above, the Neo-Confucianism is clearly a modification of Confucianism, which principles base on the principles of the famous Chinese philosopher Confucius. Thus, neo-Confucianism is indeed Confucianism. Confucianism had basic principles, terms, ideas and concepts that were borrowed and ideally integrated into the Neo-Confucian way of thought and life. The integration was done by the scholars of the time progressively with the main intention of restoration of the Confucianism way of life that has been corrupted by religious mystification. However, religious beliefs had come up, and many people had believed in spirituality and mystical powers rather than logic. The scholars of the time then integrated some of the teachings from Buddhism and Daoism that were favorable and according to the principles of the original Confucianism. The elements borrowed were based on the ethical and moral guidance of the people that were not initially in the Confucianism culture. There was the incorporation of the beliefs and practices like meditation.