THE LIVES OF CONFUCIUS AND GUATAMA SIDDHARTHA
World Civilization 121
September 19, 1996
Professor: Helju Bennett
Section Teacher: Sara Abosch
The Life Of Confucius
Throughout the time span that man has lived on earth, there have been many religions in existence. Two very important and influencing religions that have been around for over two thousand years are Confucianism and Buddhism. The founders of these two religions, Confucius and Buddha, respectively, lived different lives and had different thoughts. Although this made two totally different religions, they both had one common goal. That common goal was to assist the human population and improve their lifestyle.
Confucius was a sage in China and also it's greatest philosopher. He was one of the most prominent figures and is respected throughout all of China. He was born at Tsou, in the state of Lu, known today as the Shandong province, in the year 551 B.C. He was named Ch'iu, meaning 'hill', because he had a very large bump on his head. This name has rarely been used because of the Chinese way of showing "reverence by avoidance". (Encyclopedia Americana, v. 7; 540) K'ung Futzu was what was used. The name got Latinized and it became Confucius.
Ever since Confucius' birth, he was a great student. All throughout his childhood Confucius liked to play religious and cultural roles. By the age of 15, Confucius began to take his studies very seriously. He was a diligent and studious learner and put forth his whole effort on his studies. Nothing is known about his educators or his education.
Confucius started work at an early age, due to the fact that his father died. By the age of seventeen, Confucius received a job in the public service. Most likely this job was being a keeper of fields and cattle, a town governor, or a court arbiter of ritual. Confucius, because he loved to learn and he loved his studies so much, became a very educated man and in turn was highly respected.
In 529 B.C. Confucius' mother died and observed the standard withdrawal from life of three years. This included the withdrawal from his duties as a public worker. After this long observance, Confucius returned home and opened his house up to students and began teaching. This became his full time job and he took it seriously. At one point, Confucius' teachings were wanted by so many that he had 3,000 students attending his school. 72 of them had mastered the six arts-rituals, music, archery, charioteering, literature, and mathematics. He was a great teacher, well known and respected. He was able to get his disciples responsible positions in the Chinese government and also able to get them jobs as teachers. He knew many and the favors that he asked for were granted by others.
Confucius believed that "knowledge meant wisdom", (Encyclopedia Americana, v. 7; 540). He thought that this in turn would help him become more educated and not only to help himself but to also help the country. He was a reformer and preached for good government. He believed in such idea like "avoidance of needless wars, decrease in taxes, and mitigation of severe punishment". (Encyclopedia Americana, v. 7; 540) He finally received that opportunity in the state of Lu. The state of Lu, where Confucius was born, was in turmoil. There were three major families fighting. Each one fighting against each other just to see who could become more powerful. One of these families, the emperor of Mang He, allowed Confucius to come to his capital. Mang He wanted Confucius to teach his son the teachings and allow him to become a disciple.
This enabled Confucius to learn a great deal about past empires and past emperors. He was able to obtain resources that only officials had access to. It also allowed him to collect materials and information for works that he would produce later on in his life.
Confucius soon returned back to Lu to find more disorganization and more fighting. The ruler, Duke Chao, fleed for refuge and Confucius followed. Here Confucius thought that he could become ruler but there was great envy that suppressed his advancement.
Soon after, Confucius was appointed governor of Chung Tu. Here is where Confucius had success. In such a short time, he reformed this state. It became a model for many other states to follow. After four years of government and a disagreement with a Duke, Confucius went into wandering for 13 years.
Confucius traveled about trying to help reform different states. But no one really needed his help so at the age of 67 Confucius returned back to his home state of Lu. His wife, son, and two of his favorite disciples all died in a short time span. He spent his last years editing the classical texts and continuing teaching to his students. Confucius knew his life was not worth much anymore and that it was coming to an end. In 479 B.C. Confucius died.
The Life Of Buddha
The Buddha, otherwise known as Guatama Siddhartha, had a very different life than that of Confucius. The Buddha was born in 566 B.C. to Queen Maya and King Suddhodana. He was given the name "Siddhartha" which means which means "all wishes accomplished". Seven day's after the birth, his mother, Queen Maya died. Queen Maya's younger sister, Mahapajapati, took the responsibility of raising Guatama and the King made her his second wife. Right from the birth of this prince, his father, mother, second mother, and the whole kingdom knew that he was bound to be an important figure in the Chinese society.
From a very young age Guatama Siddhartha was cared for extensively. Starting at the age of seven, Prince Siddhartha began taking lessons on how to read, write, and reckon. The prince also took astronomy and archery. He took his courses seriously and also excelled in them. Anything and everything that he wanted was gotten for him. Guatama Siddhartha never had to work. He had slaves that would take care of everything for him. In addition, the slaves that worked for him were fed rice and meat, while any other average slave-servent working for an average man were fed broken rice and sour gruel. This is just how well treated the prince and the princess's servants were treated. The prince always had women surrounding him, shelter over his head in any type of weather and a different palace for different seasons. In short, the prince was spoiled.
Around the age of eighteen the prince got married and within the first year a son was expected. Before the birth of the son, the prince asked his father for permission to wander outside of the palace gates. The father agreed but let everyone know beforehand that the prince was leaving the palace and that nothing should be in his view that might disturb him.
The prince wandered outside the gates four different times. In these trips he saw an old man, an ill man, a funeral procession and a reclusive man. The first three incidents upset him greatly. The prince never thought that man could become so horrifying. But the forth encounter intrigued him. Upon his encounter with the recluse man he asked: " "What gain is there in the life of a recluse?" the person answered and said: "I depart from the impermanence of age, illness, and death, and gain the freedom of deliverance. I forsake the illusive love of life, walk the path of Right Dharma, and save living beings with compassion." The prince exclaimed: "What could be more noble than the path of a recluse."" (Takakusu, 15)
Soon after this incident, his son was born. The palace celebrated and so did the town. The kingdom had yet another son. The kingdom was proud, the palace was proud, the King was proud but yet the prince was still troubled. Why was he so troubled? What was the prince thinking so much about?
The prince, after seeing and knowing that he was no longer pleased with his palace life, decided to leave the castle and flee into the country. Upon his call, the charioteer Chanda arrived, and the prince told about his plan to leave. The charioteer brought a horse. The prince, Chanda and the horse left. The prince left everything behind him. His father, wife, son and riches were now of the past.
Upon entering the countryside, Guatama Siddhartha began to take off his clothes and talk to his charioteer. He talked how not to be sad, that he was going to search for Enlightenment and to go tell the palace that he was not coming back. With this, Chanda received the princes clothes and jewels, and with sadness in his eyes rode away back to the palace knowing that he was the messenger of bad news.
The prince, who for 19 years was looked after with great detail and who could have anything he wanted, was now on his own. He wandered around the Himalayas, down to the plains, followed the Gandaki river south, crossed the Ganges, into Madadha. Everywhere that the lonely prince went, he was looking for answers about life but nothing truly satisfied him. He kept on traveling and eating just enough food to get by. Everyone he encountered was impressed with the prince's lonely and newly deprived life. Soon there was a following of the prince and it grew daily. The prince, knowing this, still deprived himself of meals: Going from just one a day to one a month to just eating a grain of rice a day. "He became hollow-eyed; he was barboned, and the belly and the back touched. The pains physical and mental reached the last point" (Takakusu, 27). Guatama Siddhartha realized that by practically killing himself he was not going to receive enlightenment. "He made up his mind that he must yet work out means to attain the end" (Takakusu, 27).
The prince revived himself to the point where he was alive again and he began wandering again. He ended up in Gaya where "there was a great pipal tree, and that the platform surrounded by the roots of the trees was fit as the seat for attaining Enlightenment for the Buddha's and the three times of the past present and the future" (Takakusu, 30).
The prince now sat there and said to himself that he was not going to move until he gained Enlightenment. With many distractions from others, the prince sat there looking for Enlightenment. And then it happened. The prince attained Enlightenment. The sun shined, flowers blossomed and music was played. The prince was now "The Buddha"--"one who is awake".
He received ideas he had not received before, he opened his mind in ways he had not done before, and he began preaching to anyone that would listen to any of his "great ideas".
The Buddha taught years and years. He educated men on everything. From eating to sleeping, to talking and writing the Buddha was a mentor. But he was over eighty years of age now and growing weaker and weaker. He soon died and as fast as the sun shined and flowers blossomed the sky went black and "the world again turned back to old darkness" (Takakusu, 53).
Similarities and Differences
There are many similarities between two of the greatest philosophers of all time. One of the most common and basic similarity is that both religions emerged around the same time period. Each religion in this world was brought up in a time period. For example, Christianity emerged around 40 A.D., but Confucianism and Buddhism both emerged in the 6th century B.C. This similarity is basic but it is an important one only for the fact that since these two religions emerged around the same time period they both have a lot of the same views on life. One example of this is that in Buddhism there are eight basic paths to follow. This is called the Noble Eightfold Path. The Noble Eightfold Path included Right Views, Right Aspirations, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindedness, and Right Rapture. In Confucianism there were similar beliefs that each person followed but these beliefs were not given the names that Buddhism gave them. For example, Confucius believed that "if everyone knew his or her place and kept it, then, said Confucius, all would be well" (McNEILL, 153). This part of Confucianism could be translated in Buddhism to one of the Noble Eightfold Paths: Right Conduct.
Another similarity of the two religions was that both Confucius and Buddha taught others about their views and the teachings that they had established. After Confucius worked for the government he went into his "wandering" state. Here is where he came to many opinions and beliefs on life that still hold true in the religion today. He had these basic rules and values on life that he taught to anyone who would listen. He had students and followers that would listen to his views and in turn practice them. As for Buddha, once he achieved Enlightenment he went around teaching what he believed was right for society. He taught everyone. From Kings of states in Asia to just an ordinary person he was more than willing to try and install new beliefs in them. Both of them used their power that they received to try and help other individuals.
One last similarity between Confucianism and Buddhism is that both have a set of rules that are followed by the followers. In Confucianism, The Deliberate Tradition is part of how one can receive advice on their life when they need answers. There are five parts of The Deliberate Tradition: Jen (relationship between two people), Chun tzu (ideal relations), Li (propriety), Te (power), and Wen (arts of peace). All of these Deliberate Traditions helped form a lot of how a person would act and how a person would live. The Deliberate Tradition gives the basics of Confucianism. Similarly, Buddhism has the Eightfold Path. This list is what a follower of the Buddihist religion should abide by. This includes: Right Views, Right Aspirations, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Kindness, and lastly Right Rapture. The Eightfold Path describes how a person should perform their everyday tasks. Both Confucianism and Buddhism followers use these lists to help them live from day to day. These list in each religion are respected and followed by greatly.
There are also many differences between the two religions. One major and noticeable difference is Confucius was brought up much differently than Buddha. Guatama Siddhartha was brought up in a wealthy environment. He was given more than enough and was not expected any less than the best. For example, the prince had different houses for different seasons. There was always a cover over his head to protect him and there was always servants waiting for him. As for Confucius he had a much different lifestyle. He had to work at an early age only for the fact that his father had died. He worked hard and brought his standard up instead of staying at the same lower class that he was born into. At times he would hardly have enough to eat. But he always worked hard and it paid off for him. This is just one example of how two great philosophers that were brought up so differently impacted society so great.
Another example of how different these two great philosophers were was in how their views emerged and how they came up with answers to their questions. Confucius always had answers to questions that were asked to him. He was well educated and he was very logical. His answers to questions made sense to everyone and soon everyone understood that what he was saying was correct. As for Buddha he had to gain his education through his wanderings. He was very wealthy and there was really no need for him to become educated. But soon realizing that he was not happy as a rich man he left and went into his sojourns. He thought that maybe if he starved himself then he would be able to receive Enlightenment. But this did not work for him. Finally while underneath a pipal tree Buddha attained Enlightenment. This is where he gained his knowledge to help others and to set the standards of Buddhism. Therefore, the way in which each philosophers views emerged were different each still came to conclusions on life and how a human can become satisfied with ones life.
One last difference between Confucianism and Buddhism is that Buddhism has a final goal, Nirvana. Nirvana is one reaches an ultimate state where everything in ones life is perfect. On the contrary, Confucianism is a philosophy that gives only rules and proverbs to follow. These rules do not have a goal to strive for in the end. These proverbs just try and guide a person through life and help that person achieve a satisfactory life for oneself.
In conclusion, Confucius and Buddha had totally different life's. How they were raised by family and how their life was overall in comparison to each other was totally different. Guatama Siddhartha was born into a very wealthy family while Confucius had to work hard for every thing he earned. In addition, the way in which the conclusions that they came to about life were totally different. Confucius was knowledgeable and was able to answers others questions about life while Buddha had to attain Enlightenment. These two major philosophers have/had a major impact on society. Even though these religions are very different they are also very the same. They wanted to help society and help the individuals in the society. They were two very smart individuals that have affected the world when they were alive and will affect anyone who follows their religions in the future.
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