Confucianism Beliefs, Symbols and Practices

Confucianism Beliefs, Symbols and Practices

Confucianism is a philosophical belief system that originated in China in about 500 B.C. The concept of Confucianism is derived from the beliefs and teachings of a Chinese philosopher named Confucius. Confucius’ real name was Kong Fuzi and Confucius is the Latin version of the same name. His teachings had a significant impact on China as well as its neighboring countries. Here are some facts on the teachings, beliefs and practices of Confucianism.

Confucianism Beliefs

  1. Confucianism carries forward the belief that ‘Do not do to others what you would have them not do to you.’
  2. Confucianism is not a religion, but a set of principles and ideas that it advocates people to live by in order to have a happy and satisfied life.
  3. Confucianism lays importance on valuing others, treating others with kindness and having a mutual respect for each other.
  4. Confucius believed that individuals in a society can only be happy if there is a social order in the society. Confucius was born at a time when his state was engulfed by administrative feuds between the princes. This was what motivated Confucius to think of a moral code that could bring happiness to people.
  5. Confucianism consists of 5 basic virtues that people should adhere to:
  • Li: Each individual should have a proper social conduct and good behaviour.
  • Ren (Jen): People should direct their energies towards social welfare activities like altruism and humanity.
  • Xin: An individual should stay faithful and loyal to their relatives as well as their work.
  • Zhi: Wisdom is the only way to truth.
  • Yi: To understand the value of righteousness and truth and hence, to always speak the truth.
  1. Confucius also gave 5 cardinal relations:
  • Sovereign-Subject
  • Father-Son
  • Elder-Younger Brother
  • Husband-Wife
  • Friend-Friend
  1. As per Confucianism, an individual should put family before himself.

What is Filial Piety and why is it important?

Filial Piety is an important cultural value in China that has its roots in Confucianism. Filial Piety, known as xiào () in Chinese, means having loyalty to one’s parents. Confucius mentions the importance of strong family bonds in society through his book Xiaojing or “Book of Filial Piety”. As per Chinese traditions, a filial son serves his parents and, fulfills their wishes at any cost. The idea behind Filial Piety is that the parents give birth to their child and bring him up by giving him food, shelter and, education. Filial Piety is important in Confucianism because Confucianism considers family as the building blocks of society.

Symbols of Confucianism Philosophy

Confucianism has 4 symbols that represent its teachings. These four symbols are Confucius, Chinese character for Water, Chinese character for Scholar and Yin Yang.

  • The Confucius symbol is there to represent the philosopher who produced the ideas and teachings of Confucianism.
  • The second symbol, water, represents one of the five elements.
  • The third symbol, Scholar, represents wisdom and knowledge. Confucius laid a huge importance on knowledge.
  • The fourth symbol, Yin and Yang are an integral part of the Chinese Philosophy. It represents attainment of balance.

Writings on Confucianism Philosophy

Writings associated with Confucianism include four books and five classics.

Four Books on Confucianism:


This books is the most widely studied book on Confucianism. It was written by the followers and disciples of Confucius. It consists of his ideas and teachings.

Great Learning

It represents Chinese philosophies and thinking.

Doctrine of the Mean

This book is written by the grandson and disciple of Confucius – Zisi.


It consists of conversations of a scholar named Mencius with the ruling kings.

Five Classics on Confucianism

Classics of Poetry

It is a collection of 305 poems which are sung at sacrifices to gods and the ancestral spirits of the royal house.

Book of Documents

It is a collection of documents and speeches written by princes and kings of the early Zhou period.

Book of Rites

It contains a description of ancient rites, social forms, and court ceremonies.

Book of Changes

The books is based on principles of Yin and Yang

Spring and Autumn Annals

It gives a historical reference to the state of Lu.

Related Reading:

Interesting Facts About Confucius


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