Comparison of Eastern Influences

Confucianism

Confucianism is technically defined as “a Chinese ethical and philosophical system originally developed from the teachings of early Chinese sage Confucius” (Wikipedia, 2007). It actually covers moral, social, political, as well as, religious thought and it largely contributed to the period of Chinese civilization until the twenty first century (Wikipedia, 2007).  Furthermore, it should be known that it is not at all unanticipated that here in Confucianism, the mechanisms of change revolved around three elements which are highly associated with ethics and human nature including: 1) human relations; 2) virtues; and last but not least 3) rituals (Gotiangco, 2001). All the aforementioned, in their own way, present the necessitated components that are conducive, favorable or advantageous in reaching the kind of socio-political system hoped for (Gotiangco, 2001). Its reiteration on human relations is one of the most vital features of Confucianism (Gotiangco, 2001). Furthermore, it says that “every man in his proper station of life, with his commensurate responsibilities and duties” or “an awareness of one’s social position enables a person to act and decide according to social order” (Gotiangco, 2001).

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Moreover, it states that the ethical foundation of suitable human relations sprouts from the family, and then it spreads to the immediate surroundings or community, then finally on to the state (Gotiangco, 2001). In addition, it proclaims that human relations are the foundation or basis of harmony and happiness, though this idea may be excruciatingly difficult for laymen to comprehend simply because it appears to be absolutely idealistic to be able to achieve a certain goal, however, if investigate upon a little deeper the ethical contents of Confucianism clearly makes available concrete thoughts and ways that could make an ideal society a real one (Gotiangco, 2001). Also, there were five kinds of social relations and these are the following: 1) parents – children; 2) husband – wife; 3) older – younger; 4) friend – friend; and last but not least 5) ruler – subject (Gotiangco, 2001). In all of the aforementioned relations, according to Confucianism, there were preconceived concepts an individual was born with, for instance:

1) a parent should understand what a parent really means;

2) a husband should know what it is to be a husband;

3) a daughter or girl should be able to internalize the allusions highly related with being a female or a daughter; as well as

4) a ruler or a subject should be familiar of being a ruler or a subject respectively (Gotiangco, 2001). Here, everyone was expected to relate in accordance with the aforementioned relations in order to uphold the social system’s harmony, as well as, stability (Gotiangco, 2001). This is why, in the family, everyone must be trained to carry on with the appropriate values applicable to the kind of social relations that preside over them (Gotiangco, 2001).

Among the appropriate values aforementioned, the most strategic of which include the following: 1) loyalty; 2) filial piety which is technically defined as the Chinese way of showing respect to parents and ancestors; 3) obedience; and last but not least 4) conduct (Gotiangco, 2001). The reason behind this is the fact that, being familiar with such virtues and applying it makes individuals more conscious and thus, later possessing the capability of carrying himself better and relating with others much better (Gotiangco, 2001).  The process of internalization begins in early childhood with parental guidance as the initial mechanism to it (Gotiangco, 2001). Some of the mechanisms pertained to above are actually customary rituals, which the Chinese were obliged to comprehend, and therefore large parts of their lives (Gotiangco, 2001). Some of the most significant mechanisms are the following: 1) Formal education; 2) Worshiping of ancestors; 3) Contemplative reading or meditation; 4) Training in the so-called Confucian Six Arts, namely: a) Music and Literature; b) Mathematics; c) Calligraphy; d) Martial Arts; e) Archery; f) Chariot racing and 5) Confucian Literature Reading. It should be understood, however, that Confucianism be criticized simply because of its idealism (Gotiangco, 2001). Explaining further, because of the fact that Confucianism dwells too much on optimism (Gotiangco, 2001). It views man as extremely optimistic of human nature, as well as, the faculties of man (Gotiangco, 2001). Confucius insists, however, that only if the individuals who are obliged to lead, including parents and political leaders, will only serve as good examples, then achieving a national environment that is encouraging and beneficial to human effort will become a reality (Gotiangco, 2001).

Buddhism

         Buddhism, on the other hand, is characterized by the following: 1) Conditioned Genesis which means that: a) an effect is brought about by a certain cause, for instance, we came to exist because a sperm and an egg joined together; b) every incident occurs in unity with the truth, for instance, if a human being’s sperm and egg joined together, this will not of course give rise to an elephant, it will of course come out as a person; and last but not least, c) emptiness leads to existence, for instance, if the stomach isn’t empty then how will the existence of a baby become possible  (Gotiangco, 2001). 2) Emptiness or “Sunyata” means: a) everyone is treated equally; b) it is omnipresent and may go anywhere; c) it does not have any boundaries and limitations; d) it goes against presented facts and theories; and last but not least e) it may not be reached (Gotiangco, 2001). 3) Nirvana, which means that whatever happens or no matter how disordered incidents may turn out to be, there will always be perfect peace, as well as, fairness in the end (Gotiangco, 2001). 4) Combination of Compassion and Wisdom, which are two indivisible rudiments that have to be practiced by individuals (Gotiangco, 2001). Here, it is very important that we sympathize with others and this may be developed by understanding the real meaning of life (Gotiangco, 2001). Wisdom should be developed as well to be able to impart the right teachings of Buddhism while compassion should also be present to be able to appropriately carry out the appropriately the teachings of Buddhism (Gotiangco, 2001). 5) Development of Wisdom and Faith, which entails belief with tolerance to be able to see clearly other people’s point of view without any bias; conviction with extremely deep consideration to be able to recognize its validity; devotion with efforts to be able to really understand it; and belief with consciousness and apprehension to be able to acknowledge that there is no really difference between the belief of an individual and the truth (Gotiangco, 2001).

            Furthermore, Buddhism’s fundamental teachings may be found in the Sermon of the Turning of the Wheel of Law or “Dhammacakkapavatana sutta” wherein the ways of obtaining the “definitive life of bliss” and the teachings everybody needed to know is revealed (Thapar, 1966). These teachings include the following: 1) the Four Noble Truths which include the following: a) Noble Truth of Sorrow; b) Noble Truth of Arising Sorrow; c) Noble Truth of the Stopping of Sorrow; and d) Noble Truth of the Way which leads to the Stopping of Sorrow; as well as 2) The Noble Eightfold Path which consists of the following: a) Right Speech; b) Right Views; c) Right Conduct; d) Right Resolve; e) Right Effort; f) Right Recollection; g) Right Mediation; and h) Right Livelihood (Olson, 2005).

            Also, Buddhism is characterized by a number of tangible steps to achieve “a life of bliss and perfection” (Wolpert, 1993). These steps are the following:  First of all is finding out what brings about suffering, which is I technically defined as “anything that hinders preference or anything which go against an individual’s will, for instance death, illnesses, etc” (Wolpert, 1993). Second is discovering what to do to get rid of suffering, wherein an individual should know how to control himself to fight off suffering which presents itself through lust, negative emotions, hatred, lapse in judgment, as well as, self-centeredness (Wolpert, 1993). The aforementioned may be reached through continuous reading of suitable Buddhist teachings and regular meditation to internalize the release of wants and the annihilation of destructive obsessions (Wolpert, 1993). Through such, an individual’s mind and body is calm, it also has the capability of coming up with a rational judgment, and last but not least, goodwill is always initiated (Wolpert, 1993). Last but not least is technically referred to as karma (Wolpert, 1993). Since the calmness, rational judgment and goodwill are already present then it can be claimed that rebirth or karma has already taken place (Wolpert, 1993). An individual who now apparently has greater control of himself may now achieve perfect bliss or nirvana (Wolpert, 1993).

Personal Opinion: Most Persuasive Eastern Philosophy

            Comparing Confucianism and Buddhism, I strongly believe that Buddhism is more persuasive than Confucianism. This is because of the following reasons: First of all, a divine being is the center of all things in Buddhism unlike in Confucianism wherein even old ancestors are being worshipped. Second, in Buddhism, it is believed an individual may become one with God through the practice of meditation, passivity, as well as, seclusion carried out religiously. Third, Buddhism advocates that to be in seclusion is actually a way of life and should be carried out for the deliverance of the soul. Fourth, Buddhism believes in the soul’s transmigration as well. Fifth, Buddhism believes that the reason individuals are alive is because of the cycle of rebirth. Last but not least, Buddhism is more persuasive because its ultimate goal is an experience of perfect bliss.

References

Gotiangco, G. G. (2001). A History of the Asian Peoples. Quezon City: Rex Publishing.

Olson, C. (2005). The Different Paths of Buddhism. Wisconsin Bookwatch.

Thapar, R. (1966). A History of India. Middlesex: Penguin Books.

Wolpert, S. (1993). A New History of India, 4th Ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Wikipedia. (2007). Confucianism. Retrieved June 12, 2007 from

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confucianism

 

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