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Taoism and Confucianism: Their Effects On Society

by Tristan Diep & Lexi Luna

Tristan Diep

on 4 September 2012

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Transcript of Taoism and Confucianism: Their Effects On Society

Taoism by Lexi Luna (cc) photo by Jakob Montrasio With Confucianism being the basis of most philosophy in countries all over East and Southeast Asia, especially in Confucius and Mencius's time, it ended up affecting the roleplay of Chinese emperors, and the education of youths like us. Confucianism by Tristan Diep What effect does Taoism have on culture? Taoists believe that one will be at peace and live a happy life if they do not disturb the balance of nature. Taoism focuses mainly on going with the flow of things, instead of interrupting the natural balance of life. You're probably familiar with the Chinese Yin Yang symbol. This commonly known symbol represents the Taoist belief of balance in the universe. Taoists believe that if you let things happen naturally, and just let what happens happen instead of rearranging the world to meet your desires, you will find peacefulness and live a happy life. Similar to Buddhists, Taoists believe that this can be achieved through meditation. ... Some of these effects included how emperors ruled Ancient China, like how they were believed to have been allowed by heaven to rule, a worthiness named "The Mandate of Heaven." The "Mandate of Heaven" was lost to a ruler when a person overthrew them, which may be why dynasties existed throughout Ancient Chinese History. Confucianism's teachings were also based on the ruling methods demonstrated by legendary emperors, Yao and Shun. They influenced Confucius's outlook on daily behavior, which is to be based on honesty, justice, propriety, and compassion. See? It's balanced! However, unlike Buddhists, Taoists don't believe that life is suffering. They believe that life can be happy and peaceful, if one follows the Dao (Way) and becomes one with nature. Taoism influenced a lot of Chinese writings and works of art. Here's what a modern day Taoist temple looks like: Wu Wei means "without doing, causing, or making." (-Hoff 68) It doesn't necessarily mean that those who follow this belief are lazy... ...It means that people do things without resisting, or struggling, or playing around. They just do it, the simple way. This is related to the Uncarved Block, P'u, which is seeing things the way they truly are. If you were to see things the way they truly are, without trying to be clever or smart, and without worrying or being depressed, how would that make things different from your life right now? The first dynasty to use "The Mandate of Heaven" was the Zhou Dynasty. The founders of the Zhou Dynasty may have used this as an excuse and a justification as to why they overthrew the Shang Dynasty. Some of the beliefs of Confucius were that only "learned and virtuous" officials would be able to make a change within their communities, despite rank. This is why his disciples were taught about government service and this influenced most of them to take up government posts throughout the kingdoms, as listed in the Analects. But just because he wanted political change, that didn't mean he only took in wealthy pupils. He took in any type of scholar, whether in wealth or in poverty. Finally in his 50's, Confucius was given the opportunity to become a government official, where he could hopefully fulfill his dream of recreating the values found in ancient scripts from the beginning of the Zhou Dynasty. Given the title of Chief Magistrate for a village named Zhongdu, Confucius immediately set to fulfilling his goal. Some of the values he implied was the segregation of genders, so men and women were forced to walk separately, and he enforced honesty and justice to an extreme by stating that if a wallet is dropped, it is left where it is, untouched, until the owner of that wallet reclaims it. Unfortunately, Confucius's time as a government official ended shortly. Other officials were alienated by his philosophy, so they tricked him into resigning from his position, which would also mark the end of Confucius's political career. Well, even after his career as an official ended, Confucius still taught his students about the Dao, or Way. Confucianism states that the Dao is divided into 3 parts. Ren- Ren is the part of the Dao representing respect for one's superior as well as kindness to inferiors. Li- Li encompasses social etiquette as well as proper rituals performed in that time period. Shu- Closest representation is Habit 5, "Seek to Understand, then to be Understood."
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