'Confucius', in Chinese is called “Kung Futzu”, Master Kung(551-479 BC), who was born in troubled times during the Spring and Autumn (770-481 BC) period. Confucius regarded himself as a transmitter rather than a creator and a gentleman faithfully devoted to learning the ancient classics. Confucius insisted on learning and spreading the Way in his life.
Confucius was a sage and social philosopher of China whose teachings have for many centuries influenced East Asia, including China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. The relationship between Confucianism and Confucius himself, however, is tenuous. His ideas were not accepted during his lifetime, and he frequently bemoaned the fact that he remained unemployed by any of the feudal lords. As with many other prominent figures, such as Jesus, Socrates, and Buddha, Confucius did not leave any writings of his own. But we still have texts with recollections, passed down from his disciples and their students.
Confucius was a man of letters who worried about the troubled times in which he lived. He went from place to place trying to spread his political ideas to many kings who contended for supremacy in China. In the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (772–221 BCE), kings of the Zhou gradually became mere figureheads. In this power vacuum, the rulers of small states began to fight with one another for political dominance. Confucius persuaded the rulers with his mission. Confucius tirelessly promoted the virtues of ancient illustrious sages such as the Duke of Zhou. Confucius tried to amass sufficient political power to found a new dynasty. As the common saying that Confucius was a "king without a crown" indicates. However, he never gained the opportunity to apply his ideas. He was expelled from states many times and eventually returned to his homeland to spend the last part of his life in teaching. The Analects of Confucius, the closest primary source we have for his thoughts, relates his sayings and discussions with rulers and disciples in short passages. There is considerable debate over how to interpret the Analects.
Confucianism as passed down to the 19th and 20th centuries derives primarily from the school of the Neo-Confucians, led by Zhu Xi, who gave Confucianism renewed vigor in the Song and later dynasties. Neo-Confucianism combined Taoist and Buddhist ideas with existing Confucian ideas to create a more complete system of metaphysics. At the same time, many forms of Confucianism have historically declared themselves opposed to the Buddhist and Taoist belief systems. Confucianism was chosen by Han Wudi (141–86 BCE) for use as a political system to govern the Chinese state. Despite the loss during the Tang Dynasty, Confucian doctrine still remained a mainstream in Chinese orthodoxy for two millennia until the 20th century. It was still dominant in most parts of China until it was attacked by radical Chinese thinkers as the vanguard of a pre-modern system and an obstacle to China's modernization. Especially culminate in its repression during China's Cultural Revolution. Since the end of the Cultural Revolution, Confucianism has been revived in China.
Elements of Confucianism accumulated over time and matured into the following forms:
In Confucianism the term "ritual" was soon extended to include secular ceremonial behavior, and eventually referred also to the propriety or politeness which colors everyday life. Rituals were codified and treated as a comprehensive system of norms. Confucius himself tried to revive the etiquette of earlier dynasties. After his death, people regarded him as a great authority on ritual behaviors.
It is important to note that "ritual" has developed a specialized meaning in Confucianism, as opposed to its usual religious meanings. In Confucianism, the acts of everyday life are considered ritual. Rituals are not necessarily regimented or arbitrary practices, but the routines that people often engage in, knowingly or unknowingly, in the normal course of their lives. Shaping the rituals that leads to a content and healthy society, and to content and healthy people, is one purpose of Confucian philosophy.
Relationships are central to Confucianism. Particular duties arise from one's particular situation in relation to others. The individual stands simultaneously in several different relationships with different people: as a junior in relation to parents and elders, and as a senior in relation to younger siblings, students, and others. While juniors are considered in Confucianism to owe their seniors reverence, seniors also have duties of benevolence and concern toward juniors. This theme of mutuality is prevalent in East Asian cultures even to this day.
Social harmony—the great goal of Confucianism—therefore results in part from every individual knowing his or her place in the social order, and playing his or her part well. When Duke Jingo of Qi asked about government, by which he meant proper administration so as to bring social harmony, Confucius replied:
There is government, when the prince is prince, and the minister is minister; when the father is father, and the son is son.