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Published: March 19th 2012
Stele in front of the tomb-mount of Confuscius
The stele and altar with tomb-mount in rear marks the grave-site of China's most renowned philosopher, Confucius. It is located in the Confucius Forest, in the city of Qufu, Shandong Province.
The time is so limited these days, though my thoughts and heart are always with my friends. Sharing these TravelBlog-entries and photos these past six years in China are one of my great joys. Researching and composing them is the best way for me to reflect on my adventures and experiences during my stay and travels in China. Most importantly, I love spending my time with the lovely and eager students of Taizhou Teachers College in the Province of Jiangsu.
I always appreciate, that you are willing to take the time, and share these experiences with me.
I spent February 2012 visiting my family in Florida, to lend support and share some of their joys and difficulties during this time of their lives.
Unfortunately, as I had to take my own physical, my dermatologist found some cancer growing inside my forehead, which needed to be surgically removed. (I have a photo at the end of this TravelBlog, not to shock anyone, but the scar has been healing well and very successfully). Please take it as a warning, as you enjoy the strong sunshine on the beaches of Florida and the world.
In addition, I wanted to visit
some of my friends at the University of Forida in Gainesville, and I must say sorry, that because of the surgery, this time, it was not possible. As I will return to Florida again during my summer vacations, and I hope we can make the plans to meet at that time.
I hope, that all of you have been spending some great months, as we are approaching the first signs of spring, and that you are all sharing the joys and the love of family and friend.
In this TravelBlog #139 and its 81 photos, I will take you to the hometown of one of China's most famous teachers and most respected sages of history, CONFUCIUS. Most of the ancestors of Confucius still reside in the city of Qufu, in the Province of Shandong. Thousands of visitors make journeys in honor of this influencial man every year. High-speed trains now ferry pilgrims and tourists in a few hours from various cities, including Beijing and Nanjing, and tourism has become a major source of revenue for this lovely and ancient city, Qufu.
As the birthplace of China's most revered sage, the city of Qufu occupies a
In front of Qufu City Gate
The city walls completely encircle the ancient city of Qufu.
hallowed place in the minds of not only the Chinese, but also the legions of Japanese and Koreans who come here on pilgrimage. Every September this small city comes alive during the annual festival that celebrates Confucius's birthday. Although Confucius lived in relative obscurity, his descendents dwelt in the grand Confucius Mansion (Kong Fu) in the heart of the town and hundreds of his descendent still reside within Qufu.
Wielding immense political authority and wealth, the Kong family - referred to by the Chinese as the "First Family Under Heaven" - built a palatial mansion occupying over 40 acres, now known as the CONFUCIUS MANSION. Arranged in a traditional north-south axis, the mansion is divided into residential and administrative quarters, with a beautiful temple in the east and a lush garden at the rear. Most of the halls of the mansion date from the Ming dynasty.
The Gate of Double Glory in the north was used for the emperor's visits, while to the east stands the Tower of Refuge, where the family assembled in times of strife.
Next to the mansion, the CONFUCIUS TEMPLE (Kong Miao) is a lengthy complex of memorial gateways, courtyards, halls, stelae pavilions,
Wall entrance into the family mansion of Confucius
Though it is now a major museum, visited by pilgrims and tourist from around the city, it reminds of the power, political authority and wealth bestowed on the Kong family.
minor temples, beautiful gnarled cypresses, and ancestral shrines.
Originally a simple shrine in 478 BC, the year after Confucius's death, the temple grew gradually over the centuries before suddenly expanding during the Ming and the Qing eras.
Beyond the entrance stand 198 (stone) stelae, listing the names of as many as 50,000 successful candidates in the imperial examinations, during the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties. Some of these huge stelae are supported on the backs of mighty "Bixi", primitive, turtle-like dragons.
A long succession of gateways leads to the 11th-century Kuiwen Pavilion, a triple-roofed building.
Confucius instructed his disciples from the Apricot Pavilion, accessed throught the Great Achievements Gate.
On top of a marble terrace with incredible columns, that are elaborately carved with dragons, the "Great Achievements Hall" (Dacheng Dian) forms the temple's splendid nucleus.
Beyond, the Hall of the Sage's Relics houses carved stone plates with scenes from Confucius's life.
The Lu Wall in the eastern section is where one of his descendents hid his books to save them from Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi (259-210 BC), who wished to burn them. The books were re-discovered during the Han era, some 300 years
"Bixi", primitive, turtle-like dragon supports a stele.
Over 190 stone stelae are sprinkled within the 40 acre Kong family compound.
In the North of the town, the walled and expansive CONFUCIUS FOREST/CEMETERY (Kong Lin) contains the grave of Confucius and other members of the Kong clan. Even today, descendents continue to find their last resting place in this tranquil forest. The forest is mostly pines and cypresses, interspersed with shrines and tombstones.
All around Qufu, smaller temples and mansions of Confucius's desciples are available for visits.
***ABOUT CONFUCIUS AND CONFUCIANISM:
The teachings of Confucius (551-479 BC), China's most renowned philosopher, profoundly influenced the culture of China as well as other nations, including Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. Born in the state of Lu during an age of uninterrupted war, Confucius (whose name was derived from his Chinese name, Kong Fuzi or Master Kong) was prompted by the suffering around him to develop a practical philosophy, built upon the principle of virtue, in the hope that rulers would govern in a just manner.
Finding no audience among his native rulers, he communicated his beliefs to a body of disciples and embarked on a journey in search of a ruler, who would apply his rules of governance. He died unrecognized and never recorded his philosophy in writing,
but his thoughts were compiled by his followers into a volume called the "Analects" (Lunyu),and promulgated.
Championed by successive great thinkers, Confucius's philosophy later achieved predominance and formed the basis for the civil service examination system, a major hurdle to a career in officialdom until the 20th Century.
Confucianism is a "Code of Conduct" to live "this" life, and it has had a tremendous impact on how the Chinese live their lives. It has, and still has, a great influence in Chinese government, education, and attitudes toward correct personal behavior and the individual duties to society.
Confucianism has no church nor clergy. It has no teaching on the worship of God or gods, or life after death.
Confucianism is actually a philosophy of life, not a religion, similar to Buddhism. The precepts and principles of Confucius were incorporated into the Chinese Law in 210 BC. His way to please God or the gods is through a "good conduct" with your family, neighbors, and society. If you are a good person, God is going to like you.
Confucianism is no religion in reality, because Confucius is a philosopher, moralist, statesman and academic, not a "religionist". The
thoughts and teachings of Confucius are "ethical philosophy", political and educational principle, but not a religious philosophy.
The essence of all his teachings may be summed up under this one word "JEN". The nearest equivalent to this difficult word is "SOCIAL VIRTUE". All those virtues which help to maintain social harmony and peace like: benevolence, charity, magnimity, sincerity, respectfulness, altruism, diligence, loving kindness, and goodness are included in "JEN".
His "Golden Rule" is (more than 400 years before the birth of Christ): "What you do not want done to yourself, do not do unto others". "The injuries done to you by an enemy should be returned with a combination of love and justice".
His "UNIVERSAL VIRTUES" are: Wisdom, Benevolence, and Fortitude. Asked about what is "Benevolence"? he answered: "It is to love all men"; what is "Knowledge:?: "It is to know all men"; and the Perfect Virtue?: "Gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness, and kindness to all men".
Confucius said: A virtuous man has three AWES: 1. AWE for Heaven's decree, 2. AWE for great men, 3. AWE for saint's words. "When worshipping God, one must feel as if He were visibly present".
Holding-up one of the 100s of ancient cypress
The hundreds of gnarled cypress are sprinkled and cared for among the ancestal shrines of the Confucius Temple complex.
great stress on "the cultivation of character, purity of heart and conduct". He exhorted the people to develop a good character first, which is "a priceless jewel" and which is the best of all virtues.
The nature of man, according to Confucius, is fundamentally good, and is inclined toward goodness. The perfection of goodness can be found in sages and saints. Every man should attempt to reach the ideal by leading a virtuous life, by possessing a very noble character, and by doing his duty unselfishly with sincerity and truthfulness.
He who is endowed with a good character and divine virtue is "a princely type of man". The princely man sticks to virtue, and the inferior man clings to material comfort. The princely man is just, while the inferior man expects rewards and favors. The princely man is dignified, noble, magnanimous and humble, while the inferior man is mean, proud, crooked and arrogant.
In the "Great Learning", Confucius revealed the process, step by step, by which self-development is attained and by which it flows over into the common life to serve the state and bless mankind. The order of development, which Confucius set forth, is as follows:
The Great Achievements Hall (Dacheng Dian)
Visitors surround the main structure of the Confucius Temple, with its amazing terrace of marble columns, that are carved with dragons. It forms the nucleus of the Confucius Temple.
1.Investigation of phenomena, 2.Learning, 3.Sincerity, 4.Rectitude of purpose, 5.Self-development, 6.Family-discipline, 7.Local self-government, and 8.Universal self-government.
His teaching was largely concerned with "the problems of good government". He said, "The Ruler himself should be virtuous, just, honest and dutiful. A virtuous ruler is like the Polar-star which, by keeping its place, makes all other stars revolve around it. "As is the Ruler, so will be the Subjects."
Confucius held that "Society was made up of five relationships": 1. Those of husband and wife, 2. Those of parent and child, 3. Those of elder and younger brother (generally of elders and youngsters), 4. Those of Ruler and Minister or Subjects, 5. Those of friend and friend.
A country would be well-governed when all the parties performed their parts dutifully and rightly in these relationships. Confucius said: "There is a way or road of righteousness (Tao) only when fathers were fathers, when sons were sons, when Rulers were Rulers, and when ministers were ministers."
It would seem, that according to Confucianism and its relationship with any other religion in China, any Confucianist would also be very happy to become a Christian, and Christianity is growing religion in China.
The columns are hand carved of solid marble.
Most notible are the elaborately carved dragons on the columns at the entrance of the Great Achievement Hall of the Confucius Temple.
THE ANALECTS (Lunyu) is a short collection of the discussions of Confucius with his disciples, compiled hosthumously. These contain an overview of his teachings. Confucius presents himself as a transmitter who invented "nothing" and his greatest emphasis may be "on study", the Chinese character that opens the book. In this respect, he is seen by Chinese people as the Greatest Master.
Far from trying to build a systematic theory for life and society, he wanted his disciples to think deeply for themselves and relentlessly study the outside world. For more than two thousand years, THE ANALECTS had also been the fundamental course of study for any Chinese scholar, for a man was not considered morally upright or enlightened if he did not study Confucius's work.
QUOTES BY CONFUCIUS:
Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.
Be not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes.
Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses.
I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.
It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.
Men's natures are alike, it is their habits that carry
A PHOTO JOURNEY THROUGH QUFU, THE CITY OF CONFUCIUS.
THE FOLLOWING PHOTOS WILL TAKE US TO THE MOST FAMOUS PLACES OF QUFU, SHANDONG. IT IS THE BIRTHPLACE OF CONFUCIUS, CHINA'S MOST FAMOUS SAGE AND PHILOSOPHER WHO LIVED BETWEEN 551-479 BC.
them far apart.
Respect yourself and others will respect you.
Study the past if you would define the future.
To see what is right, and not to do it, is want of courage or of principle.
What the superior man seeks is in himself; what the small man seeks is in others.
When anger rises, think of the consequences.
When we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves.
Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.
By nature, men are nearly alike; by practice, they get to be wide apart.
Fine words and an insinuating appearance are seldom associated with true virtue.
He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good.
If a man takes no thought about what is distant, he will find sorrow near at hand.
It has taken me sometime to research this entry of TravelBlog #139 on Confucius and I hope it will bring you some additional insight into the life and thoughts of this most famous of men. As always, your comments and suggestions or opinions will be greatly appreciated.
Do enjoy the 81 photos more, by enlarging them.
****PLEASE SCROLL DOWN, BEYOND THE ADVERTISEMENTS, TO ENJOY ALL OF THE 81 PHOTOS, AND CLICK ON PAGES 2,3,4 ETC. TO COMPLETE THE SERIES OF PHOTOS.
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