Confucianism, therefore, expounded the importance of four virtues which we all possess: benevolence (jen), righteousness (i), observance of rites (li) and moral wisdom (te). A fifth was later added – faith – which neatly corresponded to the five elements (in Chinese thought) of earth, wood, fire, metal and water. Once again, the belief that there is a close link between the physical and moral spheres is illustrated. By stating that all men have such virtues, two ideas are consequent: education must nurture and cultivate them and all men are equal – ‘Within the four seas all men are brothers’. With suitable application, anyone can become a sage (sheng). It is not innate talent which is important but one’s will to mould one’s character into the most virtuous possible.
The Main Beliefs of Confucianism
There are six main groups of beliefs in Confucianism, these include:
- Yi – Righteousness
- Xin – Honesty and Trustworthiness
- Chung – Loyalty to the state, etc.
- Li – includes ritual, propriety, etiquette, etc.
- Hsiao – love within the family, love of parents for their children, and love of children for their parents
- Jen – benevolence, humanness towards one another (the most important Confucianism virtue)
The essence of knowledge is, having it, to apply it; not having it, to confess your ignorance.
Symbol of Confucianism