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Confucianism: Beliefs and Practices

Confucius Ritual.

Confucianism is predominately practiced in China, Asia, and in some areas in North America. The Confucius teachings and principles were founded around 500 BC, in China. The teachings and principles play a major role in the Chinese culture today. The teachings put a big emphasis on the importance of achieving Harmony.

In Confucianism, social harmony is the ultimate goal of every follower. This means that everyone must know their place in the social order. Relationships among different groups of people, is key in Confucianism. The five cardinal relations include: Ruler and subject; father and son; husband and wife, elder and younger brother, friend to friend. These bonds are categorized in ways that show respect and obedience from one group to the next. It is greatly emphasized that family is the center of everything and comes before the individual person.

There are five virtues taught in Confucianism.

  • The first virtue is Ren, which is humaneness; Humaneness can be defined as the quality of compassion for others, which can include both people and animals. Three of the key concepts of Ren are love, mercy, and humanity.
  • The second virtue is Yi. Yi means honesty and righteousness.
  • The third virtue is Li, which means propriety and correct behavior.
  • The fourth virtue is Zhi, which stands for wisdom or knowledge.
  • The fifth virtue is Xin, which stands for fidelity and sincerity.

These five virtues teach the followers of Confucianism the basic ideas about how a person should behave.

The ethical principles in Confucianism are the most important beliefs. Other than these principles, there are not any specific practices that Confucianism followers must abide by. The Confucianism followers fill these practices with practices from other religions like the Chinese religion, Taoism, and Buddhism. In Confucianism, the acts of everyday life can be considered practices/rituals.


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