Throughout the Chinese civilization, people, dynasties, concept and ideas keep emerging from the history. As the development of teaching keep forwarding, these ideologies incorporated in different government and aspect of society. However, imbalances between ideologies were created. At the same time, some ideologies have deeper impact than the other, such phenomenon that was created by these ideologies play a very important role in the Chinese civilization. Although, there is various dynasties throughout the Chinese history, a considerate amount of ideologies such Confucianism, legalism, and Buddhism played a huge impact on the people of china during various dynasties. These impacts not only do impact the people in history, but as well as the country as a whole. The influences of these ideologies; Confucianism, legalism, Buddhism were a very big contribution to the Chinese civilization.
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The founder of Confucianism is Confucius. It has been thousand years since he started Confucianism, however, the path of Confucianism are not very stable. First, the idea of Confucianism was created in according to the environmental need of spring and autumn period, which were the accumulation of civilization and the advancement of practical lifestyle. The need of people had resulted in emerging three main characters in Confucianism teaching; they were Confucius, Mencius and Xunzi. However, since Confucius was the founder of Confucianism, his teaching of Confucianism established the foundation for the Mencius and Xunzi to follow which later turn into their own vision of teaching, and that was how the teaching of Confucianism comprised. The four ideas from Confucianism in analects are; the gentleman, Humanity, filial piety, and on governing. These ideas are very significant in the time because society was ruled by a group of people who rule the land and thus people who are inferior to the rulers must follow the rulers. As a result, social inequality was created amount different class of people. However, Confucianism open a way to balance the inequality for a perfect society in which everyone; rulers, nobles, parents and children, men and women would all accept. For example, in the selection from the analects, Confucius said, “the gentleman looks to himself; the petty looks other people.”
This example suggests the fact that gentleman looks to him, while this sentence sounds very selfish from a point of view of a modern person. Indeed, the meaning could change dramatically in the point of view as a man who lives in the spring and autumn period. A man who looks into himself at that time meant not to compare oneself with other, but see into the capacity of what he can do, this idea of not comparing is a great way to transform people to ponder the fact that; one’s destiny was not defined by giving birth into which class of family, but rather by what one can do to contribute to the society.
On the other hand, petty looks for other means the need to compare themselves with those who are inferior to them, as a way to pleased themselves by point out others’ weakness. In addition, the five things that transform a man into humanity are through the practice of these five significant things, such as reverence, generosity, truthfulness, diligence, and kindness. While this seems to be the necessity for human being, it was also the way to transform people in relationship of everyday life. This is a very important aspect in regarding to the periods. Mencius also added to Confucius where he states that the rulers should also love his people as a way to driven the society forward. As he had said “Everyone has a heart that is sensitive to the suffering of others. The greatest kings of the past had sort of sensitive heart and thus adopted compassionate politics.” It was a suggestion for all rulers to conduct politic in the heart of people. Although, the idea of Confucianism was a great teaching in Chinese civilization; it was burned at the beginning of Qin dynasty by a system called “burning books and burying Confucian scholars alive” which was the reason why this idea of Confucianism struggle in the next few dynasties.
Legalism is another ideology which the Chinese have used to define the need for the people. By the third century, many small states were conquered by large one which result the need to create better system to oversee the whole land. Rulers cannot depend on their moral qualities as a way to guide the country but by the law that was established by his officials. Legalism emphasize on using law to govern the people. Legalism is the opposition of Confucianism because it goes against the basic principle of Confucianism which Confucianism was based on human principles. Legalism is an idea that focuses on the need of landlord which set them a thought of being equal with Aristocracy. It also create a sense of self-motivation to enhance people to reward themselves to do what is according to the law and at the same time, this system created a way to put villain in the line of fear, so they would not conduct criminals. This does not only put villain to fear, but those who has high power or authority because law is what set everyone, even ruler, lord, pleasant to behave themselves.
In addition Legalism believes that it is in the nature of human to be selfish, there is bad and there is good, and the way to regulate them is through the system of law. As Gong sun Yang states: “you have expressed the conventional wisdom. Ordinary people feel secure with old habits and scholars are mired in why they have heard.” What Gong sun points out is the idea that people feel secure for keep doing the same way to secure their own comfort, but indeed, Gong sun means that the old habit is what stuck the civilization to driven forward. The law that was created by legalist was also the way to balance disagreement between different dynasties as showed in the following example. “The founders of the three dynasties became kings using different rituals; the five hegemons established their supremacy using different law. Therefore, the wise person creates law while the ignorant are controlled by them.”
This suggests the fact that it was a working system which had leaded three dynasties that happened in the same time to use legalism as a way to oversee land as a whole. It also suggests that the wise people make laws for people to follow. Legalism also emphasize on high authority and universal. When talking about authority, it puts a restriction on people, officials and even the lord of the country. The idea of Legalism from traditional thoughts that discussed in Confucianism shows that Legalism treats law as an important movement for civilization to make progress. Legalism strongly advocated authoritative and binding law, mainly emphasizing on the people, government officials, and even the ruler should abide the law and act according to law. Those who go against the law shall be punished by the law.
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Buddhism is another important ideology which impacted Chinese civilization profoundly. Buddhism was introduced into China from India in the late Han and was later wide spread through Tang and Song dynasties. Buddhism was a great contribution to the society of China whereas now there are still a lot of temples located in different part of China. It also bought a lot of great literacy to china because people have to translate the language of India to Chinese which gave scholar an expansion of new abstract words to replace the meaning of the original language. Buddhism gives insight to the people about the universe. The main teaching of Buddhism is that life is evitable unsatisfactory but yet bring hope for the people that it is possible to escape the cycle of rebirth by moral conduct. However, Chinese people practice what was being told by the basic description of Buddhism which was later translated in to Chinese languages. The origin of Buddhism was from India, so people in that time transform the concept of Buddhism and mix up with some philosophy of the Chinese.
The inevitably imbalance between these three ideologies is that these ideologies create a boundary line between what Chinese can come up with and what other people in other country can come up with . It also created disagreement between these three ideologies which later serve a basis. However, depending on different period in history and the need of the people, these ideologies are enviably separate from how much people are willing to adapt one or the other. Within these three ideologies, some survived through various dynasties but the one that impacts Chinese ideologies the deepest was perhaps the Buddhism because Buddhism is a mixture of human philosophy that were from different perspectives. Human are undoubted the most complicated living creature in the universe. They create law, philosophy, principles; all for the sake of human being. However, religion is the primary reason for why many people in history treated Buddhism as a way to escape suffering.
In conclusion, these ideologies were the reason that make today’s Chinese civilization forward, there is no right or wrong ideology for which dynasty should fit in, but through the impact of Confucianism, legalism and Buddhism, people learn what is the best way to unite the country, through the unity of one country, it helps society to step closer to a better world.
Buckley Ebrey, Patricia. “Chinese Civilization, A source book 2nd edition.” 1993, Printed in the United States of America. Pages 17, 19, 33, 97
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