|Learn from Confucius!
Now that Sri Lanka has a new government a little bit of philosophy from Confucius, the 2nd century Chinese sage is not out of date. It can be said that the essence of his attempt to restore a social order, and what he preached is of relevance to the present day.
He was once said how he would begin if he was given state power. His answer was that he would begin by the rectification of names, i.e., calling a spade a spade. When he was asked what he meant he went further by saying "If the name is not rectified then the whole style of ones speech is not in form; then orders cannot be carried out; if orders are not carried out, then proper forms of worship and social intercourse cannot be restored; if the proper form of worship and social intercourse are not restored, the legal justice in the country will fail, then the people are at a loss to know what to do or who not to do." Confucian philosophy which was used or is still in use in countries like Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Vietnam may have been the basis of the economic success of those countries.
His philosophy was mainly based on humanism he recognised that "The measure of man is man". The central theme of Confucian teaching is Humanity, benevolence, perfect virtue, or "The moral sense". The others are to tolerance or reciprocity.
The golden words pronounced by Confucius was "Do not do unto others what you would not have others do unto you."
How applicable this is to our country!
The five virtues listed by Confucius were "Courtesy, magnanimity, good faith, diligence, and kindness. He who is courteous is not humiliated, he who is magnanimous wins the multitude, he who is of good faith, is trusted by the people he who is diligent attains his objective, and he who is kind can get service from the people."
Confucius once said that if one does not acquire the habits of love and respect in the home, one could not extend this mental attitude of love and respect to others, like parents, elders, and state authorities.
In his book of "great learning" he says:
"Those who wish to order their national life would first set about regulating their family life. Those who wished to regulate their family life would first set about cultivating their personal life. Those who wished to cultivate their personal life would first set about setting their hearts right. Those who wished to set their hearts right would first set about making their wills sincere"
The ideal man according to Confucius is the gentleman. He is not an aristocrat but nearly a kind of person of moral principles. "The gentleman makes demands on himself; the inferior man make demands on others.
Another essence of Confucian teachings was that he identified politics with ethics. Here, he was aiming at the moral basis for peace in society out of which political peace can be attained.
He preached that it was not enough if government was to guide the people by governmental measures and regulate them by the threat of punishment and the people will try to keep out of jail but will have no sense of honour or shame. If the people are guided by virtue and regulated by a sense of propriety and then the people will have a sense of honour and respect."
Confucius was trying to restore a social order.
This philosophy of Confucius created a vital influence on the way of life in China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam and to a certain extent in Singapore.
Perhaps Sri Lanka can learn a great deal from Confucian philosophy.
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