Confucius was born in Lu State of Spring and Autumn Period, and his forefather removed from Song State. The name-known ancestor of Confucius was Kong Fangshu(孔防叔), Kong Fangshu gave birth to Kong Boxia, and Kong Boxia gave birth to Shu Lianghe(叔梁纥) who was the father of Confucius. Confucius was the love child of Shu Lianghe and a lady from Yan Family(颜氏女). In the 22nd year of Lord Xianggong of Lu State, Confucius was born. Confucius was said to have a hill-like forehead, so Confucius was named Qiu(丘, Hill). |
Confucius naturally preferred to the traditional rituals originated from Zhou Dynasty, exactly from King Wenwang(周文王) of West Zhou Dynasty and Lord Zhou(周公, a Son of King Wenwang). When Confucius was young, he learnt from the ancient rites to exercise the procedures how to sacrifice and worship to ancestry and heaven. To some extent, such a traditional rite became a gene of Confucius, and Confucians of Chinese different dynasties. Confucius has an inferior family background and ignored by authorities of Lu State, as he grew up, he acted as a low official in charge of goods calculation and domestic animals management in governmental sectors controlled by Ji Family, one of three largest families controlling the whole Lu State
The profile most popularized in the world, though his portrait is not standardized up to today. This is the general tntroduction of Confucius in brief based on Shi Ji,or Records of the Grand Historian
Important Events in Confucius Life
Confucius Buried His Parents:
Unfortunately, in his childhood, his father died and buried in Fangshan Mountain without the vivid sign on tomb, what’s more, his mother never told him the exact place of his father’s tomb. Later, his mother died as well, Confucius planned to bury his mother together with his father, but he did not know where his father’s tomb was, and he had no other choice but cry on the Road of Wu Fu(五父之衢), and a local sympathized him and told him the place of his father’s tomb as this local’ son once helped bury his father. Confucius eventually buried his parents together.
Confucius’ First Humiliation from Yang Hu:
Traditionally, the ancient people must stay at home for three years for their closest died family members, mainly their parents, so did Confucius. Confucius led a poor life and kept at home for three years, and after three years, Ji Family, one of the most authoritative families of Lu State, invited the related people for dinner and Confucius got there as well, but a servant of Ji Family named Yang Hu(阳虎, or阳货) who was a well-known figure in pre-qin history and the man who rode the whirlwind in Lu State looked down upon Confucius and told him:”Lord Ji invite people from a certain class rather than you, and who are you?”. Confucius felt frustrated and embarrassed. Actually Confucius was not so deeply discriminated. At the age of 17, Confucius had been well known by Meng Xizi(孟釐子) or Sun Yue(孙彠) . Before his death, he expostulated his son Meng Yizi(孟懿子) to learn from Confucius. He said:“Confucius was the descendant of the saint living in Song State, and his ancestors were all respectable and great. I have heard that the offspring of the saint will be widely known though they are not the dominators. Today. Confucius is young and specialized in rites. I will die, you must learn from him.”Meng Yizi and a man named Nangong Jingshu(南宫敬叔) learnt from Confucius. Nangong Jingshu once volunteered to accompany Confucius and visited Zhou Kingdom or Fiefdom for study traditional knowledge of rituals
Confucius’ Meeting with Lao Zi：
Confucius left from Lu State to Zhou Kingdom and was said to visit Lao Zi. When he left, Lao Zi gave him some suggestions:＂I hear that the rich men present people treasure and the brilliant men present people words. I am not rich at all and also unqualified as an intelligent man, but today I present you some my words in the name of so-called ’brilliant man’. The big-mouthed people or gossip will nearly die from their brilliance; people who always see others’ evils will bring danger and disaster to themselves, to be the son of others should ignore himself and to be the officials should ignore himself as well.＂Confucius was inspired a lot and more students learnt from him.
Also, Lao Zi also admonished Confucius when Confucius asked him about Rituals and Morals. Lao Zi said:”The figures you said have gone away and their bones also been the ashes, but their words remain. The real gentlemen go in accordance with the occasions, if not, they would make themselves unknown and as common as the ordinary people. I also hear that the professional businessmen’s storehouse seemingly is vacant even if they has stored a large amount of goods and the gentleman filled with morals and wisdom looks like a foolish man. What you have to do is abandoning your arrogance and complacence as well as your over-appetency. The abusive desires and irrationalities do harm to your development. What I can share with you is just this.” Confucius left and told his students:”I know the birds can fly high, fish can swim deep and animals can run free, but the runners always get confused, the swimmers always fall into fishing net and the fliers always suffer from the net of the birds. As for the dragon or Long, I never know nothing but it can fly up to the sky via wind and cloud. Today I saw Lao Zi and I saw the real Long or Dragon as well”
Confucius Appreciated Music in Qi State
At the age of 35, Confucius moved to Qi State at the historical background that the infighting and the civil war of Lu State between Lord Zhaogong(鲁昭公) and Ji Pingzi(季平子) for a tiny conflict which was caused by a cockfight between Ji Pingzi and Lord Zhaogong’s preferred official named Hou Zhaobo. As a result, Lord Zhaogong’s troop was defeated and Lord Zhaogong fled to Qi State. Confucius became a family official of Gao Zhaozi and felt like getting connection to Lord Jinggong of Qi State. During his stay in Qi State, he got familiar with royal musician and heard the legendary Music of Shao. Confucius addicted himself into the music too much and learnt it. There was a word depicting his learning like this: Confucius did not know the taste of meat for three months during his learning, and it is widely praised by people of Lu State.
Incidentally, in Qi State, the Lord Jinggong asked Confucius about politics. Confucius answered shortly:”Lord to be a real Lord, Official to be a real official, Father to be a real father and Son to be a real son”. Lord Jinggong was quite satisfied with his answer and said:”It is great! I will be short of food if it is not like what you say”. Some days later, Lord Jinggong asked him about politics again. Confucius said:” Saving Treasure Beautifies Politics”. Lord Jinggong was pleased and planned to assign Ni Xi as Confucius’ feudality. However, Yan Ying(晏婴),the prime minister of Qi State, refused and persuaded the lord into reconsidering his decision on the basis that Confucianism consumed too much and could not solve any problem. Subsequently, Lord Jinggong did not consult Confucius about Etiquette. One Day, Lord Jinggong summoned Confucius and told him:”It is hardly possible for me to treat you as Ji Family in Lu State but I can treat you between Ji Family and Meng Family”. Officials of Qi State envied Confucius too much. Confucius and Lord Jinggong both figured out. Lord Jinggong told him:”I am old and can not do anything based on your thinking”. Confucius finally left Qi State and returned Lu State.
Confucius’ Explanations about Something Special:
At the age of 47, Ji Huanzi(季桓子) dug a well and discovered a pot from the underground. There was a strange animal in it like a goat, and he asked Confucius what animal it was. Confucius said:”According to my understanding, it is the goat. I heard that Wang Liang (魍魉), Kui(夔) Monsters are from stone and woods, Wang Xiang and Dragon from water. Feng Yang (a kind of goat) is from underground.”
Wu State defeated Yue State and got a chariot of big bones when they occupied Kuai Ji, today called Shao Xing. The ambassador of Wu State asked Confucius whose bone is the largest. Confucius said:”King Yu(大禹)gathered all gods together in Kuai Ji for meeting and Fangfeng was late and killed by Yu. His bones were the largest and kept in chariot”
A bird killed by a stone-made arrow in the governmental hall of Chen State. The arrow was quite long, and the lord of Chen State was pretty puzzled and questioned Confucius. Confucius said the bird came from afar and this arrow also had a story. In the ancient time, King Wuwang of Zhou conquered Shang and opened the road to many undeveloped area in order to civilize the local residents and facilitate the administration, and the local residents in today’s northern China gave the tribute named Su Shen Arrow(肃慎). King Wuwang presented this special arrow to Lady Taiji who got married to Lord of Yu Hu, the offspring of Shun, so this arrow came from the palace of Chen State. The Lord of Chen State checked in store house of palace and really found some others.
In the 14th year of King Aigong reigning Lu State, there was a royal hunting, and a warrior named Ju Shang got a special animal, and nobody knew the name of this animal. Lord asked Confucius. Confucius saw it and sighed sorrowfully. He said:”this is Lin( The female Kylin, 麒麟，a mythical composite animal, often figured on Chinese and Japanese ceramics ), It is really over!”. From then on, Confucius stopped academic study and classics classification and compilation.
Confucius’s Contributions as the Minister of Civil Security Ministry of Lu State
Lord Dinggong of Lu State assigned Confucius as Zhongdu Zai(中都宰，Zhongdu where today is called Wenshang County in Shandong province, and Zhongdu Zai roughly as equal as today’s small city or county governor). One year later, Confucius’ efforts and achievements were great and all the governors in the other areas of Lu State learnt from Confucius. Hence, Confucius was exalted as Si Kong（司空, mainly in charge of the water conservancy and project construction was a high official indeed）of Lu State soon. Some time later, Confucius became Da Si Kou(大司寇，just like today’s attorney general was the privileged top administrator in charge of all cases and laws nationwide ) of Lu State.
After Confucius reached the reform and domestic administration of Lu State, Qi State, the north neighbor, begun to be anxious about the dramatic development of Lu State in national power. In summer of 509 BC, the policymaking official of Qi State named Li Ju(黎鉏) advised Lord Jinggong of Qi State:”The situation has become worse since Confucius was quickly ascended in Lu State, and it is better to have a peaceful meeting with Lu State in Jia Gu(夹谷)“. Lord Jinggong of Qi State agreed and sent the messenger to Lu State. Lord Dinggong of Lu State got there and Confucius played the role of Premier of Lu State. Confucius told Lord Dinggong:”Your Majesty, I heard that the cultural affairs should be prepared with warriors and the warring affairs should be prepared with learner ” . During the meeting, Confucius strictly followed the traditional rites and rules regulated by Lord Zhou and kept the equal status of Lu State to Qi State. Besides, resorting his eloquence and splendid knowledge concerned about history and culture, Confucius got back three towns located around Wen River. It frightened the whole Qi State too much. At the same time, many intellects of think bank of Qi State begun to seek for some reliable measures to undermine the relationship between Confucius and Lord Dinggong of Lu State in order to protect the advantageous position between the diplomatic negotiations. Due to many uncertain reasons from interiority and exteriority of Lu State, Confucius eventually was forced to exile abroad for more than 10 years.
Confucius’ Unusual Experiences during His Exile Period
The Reason for Confucius’ exile
Acting as the Zhong Du Zai, Confucius intentionally weakened the privilege of Three Superior Families who controlled the politics and state management for many years. In the 13rd year of Lu State under the reign of Lord Ding, Confucius advised Lord by a traditional regulation that the officials were unqualified to possess the armor and the general local administrators were prohibited from building a town with an illegal height. According to this, Confucius planned to break the illegal town walls of three local authoritative towns as the centers of three superior families of Lu State. Amid his implementation, the revolt of Gongshan Buniu(公山不狃) and Shusun Zhe broke out. It made the whole political condition ups and downs. And Lord Ding started to worry about the reform of Confucius.
It is really difficult to judge the importance of this reform; instead, the whole interior management fell in mess, which was deadly harmful to keeping a certain balance to other neighboring states like Qi and Chu States, who were both two powers. Moreover, Three Families in Lu State was the backbone of Lu State existence and development, to some extent, they indeed did some violated behaviors, but they on the whole maintained the stability of inner society and fixed relationships with other states. If Lord Ding offended them absolutely, he would suffer a bigger and worse conclusion at last. Lord Ding, frankly, was not agloat and confident at all, and they agreed with Confucius’ reformative suggestion mostly just for warning these complacent families and officials that the Lord of Lu State was him, Ding Gong. As the implementation went further, he gradually found it was unworthy, so in this way, Lord Ding set off getting a reason to postpone or extinguish the reform and the passion of Confucius. On the other hand, three families also hated Confucius too much because of their vested interest was ruined or threatened by Confucius and his reform. They certainly wanted to end this reform as soon as they could and drive away Confucius as far as possible. Lastly, Qi State was quite anxious about the inner reform of Lu State operated by Confucius. They presented Lord Lu and Three Superior Families of Lu State many beautiful dancing girls to undermine the will of reform of upper class of Lu State. It was effective; Lord Ding loved them too much and indulged himself into the dancing all day long. Since then, the inner administration of Lu State was never well-arranged any more. Finally, Confucius was out of sight of Lord Ding and his ambitious reform failed at last. It contrarily kicked off the long-term exile life of Confucius in other states with his students.
Confucius in Wei State(卫国)
Confucius had no choice but to begin his exile life and his first destination was Wei State, and dwelled in the family of the wife’s elder brother of Zi Lu, who was said to be the eldest student of Confucius. The Lord Ling of Wei State heard Confucius lived in his state and met him by himself. He highly respected Confucius and intended to have Confucius act as an official in his state. He asked Confucius how much payment he got in Lu State and paid him the same as Lu State. Confucius stayed in Wei State for some time; somebody envied Confucius and spoke evil of him. Lord Ling begun suspected Confucius and regularly annoyed the daily life of Confucius. Confucius knew what Lord Ling wanted and considered. After his stay in Wei State for 10 months, Confucius left to Chen State. Later on, Confucius returned to Wei State. Concubine of Lord Ling of Wei State, actually the queen of Wei State, privately met Confucius. This queen named Nan Zi(南子, a famous and beautiful lady at the time). Nan Zi fairly respected Confucius and admired him a lot. Before Confucius’ arrival in Wei State, Nan Zi had a plan to meet Confucius. When Confucius met her and made a bow to her, Nan Zi was quite excited and gave back a bow formally and sincerely. It made Confucius moved and happy. Confucius in Wei State was highly treated. In this year, Lord Ding of Lu State died.
Confucius Suffered from Detention on His Way to Chen State(陈国)
On his way to Chen State, Confucius passed by Kuang Area, and the local residents mistook him to be Yang Hu, who used to insult them too much, hence they avenged themselves on Confucius and detained Confucius in Kuang Area for five days, because Confucius looked like Yang Hu. Yan Yuan(颜渊)accompanied Confucius, and Confucius told him” I thought you had died”; Yan Yuan said”You are here; I do not dare to die”. Confucius sighed and said” Morals and Rituals have died out since the pass-away of King Wenwang”. Confucius’ students were quite worried about the safety of Confucius, and via their efforts, Confucius came out
Other Destinations in His Exile
Confucius left from Cao State to Song State; on the way, he taught his students the lessons of Rituals under a big tree. The top military minister of Song State named Huan Zhui(桓魋) wanted to kill Confucius and pulled out this tree and threw to Confucius and his students. Confucius and his student fled quickly, subsequently, Confucius told his students” Anyway, the heaven gives me morals, Huan Zhui can not kill me”
On their way to Zheng State, Confucius went astray, and he could not connect his students timely. Confucius had to stay at the East Gate of Guo and waited for his students. A local citizen told Zi Gong, one of famous students of Confucius that there was an old man who forehead looked like Yao’s, neck like Gao Tao’s and shoulder like Zi Chan’s standing at the gate and seemed to be a homeless dog. After their meeting, Zi Gong shared what that citizen commented about Confucius. Confucius smiled happily and said” His depiction about my shape is not true but he is right to describe me as a dog”
Confucius learnt how to play Guqin from Shi Xiangzi (师襄子)and made sense of the importance and significance of relationship between human and music. Later, the real administrator of Lu State, Ji Huanzi got sick and regretted his original decision of exiling Confucius. He wanted to make Confucius come back before his death. He got gloomy and sighed to tell his son:”Our State could be more powerful, but it does not come true because I displeased Confucius. You can be the premier after I die and you must make him come back”
Confucius stayed in Cai State for three years. At that time, Wu State attacked Chen State but Chu State protected Chen State. The conflict happened. Chu State’s troops stationed in Cheng Fu(城父), The authorities heard Confucius lived between Chen State and Cai State and invited Confucius to Chu State. The officials of two states heard of this piece of news and discussed together. Finally they thought Confucius’ visit to Chu State would be greatly harmful for their administration and benefit, and Confucius was placed under the house arrest and surrounded by the troops from these two states for a long time. He and his students fell in the danger of famine. Many followers were ill except Confucius who hid his despair and sorrow in mind and played Guiqin all day long. He sent Zi Gong to inform Chu State Authorities of what they suffered from and Lord Zhao of Chu State sent troops to help Confucius get rid of the crisis of hunger and house arrest. In Chu State, Lord Zhao want to give Confucius a fiefdom named Shu She with seven hundred miles, and the officials of Chu State objected. And Lord Zhao of Chu State died.
During his exile period, Confucius met a lot of reclusive talents like Jie Yu(接舆), Chang Ju and jie Ni, all of who lived among common people but criticized Confucius a lot, meanwhile their criticism had Confucius know much. After 14 years’ exile, Confucius at lat returned to his homeland, Lu State and begun his academic life. He and his students were highly treated again. A lot of his students acted as the important official and officer in Lu State, and Confucius got old and just wanted to stay in his study for academics. His academic contributions were great and influenced China for thousands of years. Exception to his academic achievements, in some way, Confucius was ancient China’s first great educationist. He has more than 3,000 students and 72 of them were talented and outstanding. The teaching content was concentrated on Liu Yi(六艺, Book of Songs, Book of Rites, Book of Changes, Book of Music…. ) Confucius traditionally respected as the Saint of China and Chinese Learners, He to a most degree is equal to western Jesus dominated Chinese people and Chinese Culture. His descendants were all divinized as Yan Sheng Gong(衍生公) in later dynasties.
Confucius’ Family Tree before Han Dynasty
Confucius’ son was Kong Li(孔鲤) who also called Bo Yu and died at the age of 50 before Confucius. Kong Li was the father of Kong Ji(孔伋) who also called Zi Si was one of the greatest Confucians before Qin Dynasty and teacher of Mencius. Kong Ji was the founder of Confucian’s Simen School or (Zisi-Mencius Confucian School), which was one of most influential branches of Confucianism. Besides, Kong Ji was also the writer of Zhong Yong(中庸, one of classics of Confucianism) and Kong Ji similar to Confucius once also fell in trouble in Song State and he passed away at the age of 62.
Kong Ji had a son named Kong Bai(孔白)whose another named was Zi Shang, and he died at the age of 47.
Kong Bai was the father of Kong Qiu(孔求) who also called Zi Jia and died at the age of 45.
Kong Qiu’s son was Kong Ji(孔箕) who also named Zi Jing and died at the age of 46.
Kong Ji was the father of Kong Chuan(孔穿)who was called Zi Gao and died at the age of 51.
Kong Chuan was the father of Kong Zishen(孔子慎) who used to be the premier of Wei State and died at the age of 57.
Kong Zishen was the father of Kong Fu(孔鲋) who served as the teacher of Chen She(陈涉), the leader of farmer insurgence against Qin Dynasty, and died at the age of 57 in Chenxia(陈下).
Kong Fu’s young brother named Kong Zixiang(孔子襄) used to be the close official of Emperor Xiaohui (孝惠帝, the second emperor of West Han Dynasty and son of Emperor Gaozu and Empress Lv Zhi of West Han Dynasty)of West Han Dynasty and the local leader of Changsha Large Area, traditionally an ancient administrative zone probably larger than today’s province, and he died at the age of 57.
Kong Zixiang(孔子襄) was the father of Kong Zhong(孔忠) who died at the age of 57. Kong Zhong’s son was Kong Wu(孔武), Kong Wu’s sons were Kong Yannian（孔延年）and Kong Anguo(孔安国) who was the famous academic master during West Han Dynasty reigned by Emperor Hanwudi.
Kong Anguo died earlier and his son was Kong Ang(孔卬), and Kong Ang was the father of Kong Huan(孔驩)
Confucius Temple, Confucius Mansion and Confucius Cemetery
Confucius Temple, Confucius Mansion and Confucius Cemetery are called San Kong (三孔)for short. They are the famous historic and cultural attractions themed with Confucius’s living residences. Today they are under the national-level protection and belong to the World Heritage Site. Their architectural status is equal to the Forbidden City or Imperial Palaces. In China, it is the only place as a non-governmental architecture equating imperial palaces. The architectural complex has a long history and a lot of stories, but unfortunately, all of them were all seriously broken by The Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution.
Movie Named Confucius
Recently, a hot movie named Confucius directed by Hu Mei(胡玫), a famous domestic director of China, has largely and widely shown in nearly all the cinemas. Some commentators even highly regarded it as a milestone of Chinese biography-oriented movie in the history of Chinese movie industry. It is a themed movie with the life experience and considerable contributions of Confucius to Chinese cultural and academic development. Incidentally, Confucius in the movie was played by Zhou Runfa（周润发）and it has been focused by many people throughout the world. Some pre-Qin cultural and historical experts represented by Prof. Zhang Shuguo of Hangzhou Normal University highly commented it as a vivid audio-visual biography of Confucius.
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