Christ’s Golden Rule vs. Confucius’ Golden Rule

Christ’s Golden Rule vs. Confucius’ Golden Rule

Introduction

I have been told to learn one important figure in human history, to be specific in Christian world and in theistic territory in general: that is the Christ, the savior of mankind.  This figure plays important role in my life and is the central point of every move I make, every breath that I take in my life. Without Him nothing is worth valuing in me. Every single thought that I think is worthless and everything that I enjoy in this passing world will not be worth experiencing without this figure. Further, it is because of this figure, that I am studying philosophy, the central core of my vocation-so to speak- my state of being a seminarian who is on the way towards priesthood. In short, this figure-whom earlier I deliberated and pondered as the Christ, my savior, my Alpha and my Omega, my beginning and my end, my first and my last. And so far, this figure has been my guiding star and my sole archetype of how to live a life in right manner and good conduct, the sole pattern of what it means to live a life.

However, as I the Chinese philosophy a long with its philosopher-Confucius-to be particular, interest me a lot. This figure, in fact, has a lot of beautiful and amazing life story which more or less, can be considered as a model of how to live a meaningful life and make some remarkable influences out of it; that is by set up an example of ethical life in the society where one lives in. To me, understanding these two figures: Christ and Confucius as well as their teachings will really help me in my vocation, and depart from my status as a Christian, I am asked to evangelize and for me, a good and an effective evangelist must understand well the background of those to whom he evangelize. Otherwise he finds it difficult to relate with them.

 

Discussion

Looking deeper on the similarity of doctrines of Christ to Confucius  as well as the mind-set and the flow of reason, makes me, at least to recognize the profound wisdom of Confucius which leads me to say that Confucius was Christ for the oriental people. But this claim seems to be exaggerated and extravagant, So, I come up with a more considerate statement that is: Confucius may have been a prophet who foretold the teaching, deeds of Christ and a glimpse of Christ character for the oriental people: but Confucius is not Christ.

Moreover, regarding my former claim that, Confucius may have been the “Christ” for oriental people; for some people, especially those who definitely close their mind from Confucius teaching, might find this claim to be highly heretics in content and those who consider Chinese philosophy to be superstitious.

However, this is my claim and how I came up with that claim is the question that I am going to answer in this discussion; that my claim is based on the teachings of both figures: Christ and Confucius wherein, I find very close similarity. Thus, this term paper is made with a purpose to seek out the said-claimed.  But prior to the claim, I keep the authenticity of teachings and mind-flow of each figure.

Moreover Christ introduces His Golden rule that will serve as the basis for daily basis of His follower: “So always treat others as you like them to treat you.”[1]  The translation has different choice of words but the thought is just one and the same. Another translation: “Do to others whatever you would have them do unto you. This is the law and the prophets.”[2]  Both the first and second translation are all in the form of positive proposition and thus it is positive implication in content.     

   On the other hand however, Confucius’ authentic teaching–serve as the golden rule for his disciples consist of the positive and negative implication. The positive implication is called “chung”-“Do to others what you wish yourself.” And the negative implication, taken from its original language is called “Shu”-“Do not do unto others what you do not wish yourself.”[3]  This ‘’Chung” and “Shu” of Confucius serve as the result of Jen. “chung” and Shu” is the practicality of the doctrine of Jen. It is Chung and Shu that Jen is manifested in reality or carried out in day-to-day basis, daily experience of every individual.

However, what is Jen? Jen is the cardinal principle of humanism, it is the supreme virtue, it is the perfect virtue that transcends race, creed and time. Confucius summarizes Jen –as in practice- the principle of Chung and Shu. Thus, the practice of Chung and Shu becomes the alpha and the omega.[4] Jen can be equated to charity in Christianity: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Both doctrines serve as the golden rule for the follower of both figures. Thus, those who are faithful to the teaching of both figures ought to follow them which serve as the model of good and ethical conduct in in everyday life with oneself, with the others or surroundings and with the society. Moreover, there some sayings of Confucius that are reflecting the words of Christ, though not in very precise manner but more or less similar in content. Like when Jesus says, I am not speaking of my own but I am speaking in behalf of the one who sent me. On the other hand, Confucius will say (especially when he is correcting someone or indeed the saying is used in correcting someone), “I am transmitter, and not a creator.”[5] When Jesus says, the Sabbath is for man, not man for Sabbath, it sounds pretty similar to that of Confucius when he says: “ It is the man that can make the way great not the way that can make man great”[6] or when he says: “if a gentleman departs from humanity, how can he bear the name.”[7]it is the same when Jesus says: be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect. The Christian understanding of perfection is to be found on humility. A Christian is not worthy to be called perfect if he is not humble. Moreover, humility is grounded of humanity. Human are not perfect and accepting this fact-means humility. Thus if someone forgets his humanity then how can he be humble—further,  how he can be humble as to be perfect?

From the presented argument, I can confidently say restated my claim that it is necessary to understand both figures by looking inside their mind through their teachings, and to know them, their teaching is profitable to my current state of life as well as my future state.

Footnotes:

            [1] The New Jerusalem Bible, Mathew 7:12
            [2] The Holy Bible, Mathew 7:12
        [3] Magdalena A. Villaba, Philosophy of the East, 133
      [4] Ibid,.
                [5] As quoted by Dr. Alfredo P. Co in his Philosophy of Ancient Chine, p. 121-123
                [6]Ibid.
                [7] Ibid

Term Paper Submitted

By

RikardusDjegadut Sang Putracongkasae

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