Thursday, June 12, 2008

Confucius say "Follow Halacha"

Yen Yuan asked about benevolence. The Master [Confucius] said, 'To return to the observance of the rites through overcoming the self constitutes benevolence. If for a single day a man could return to the observance of the rites through overcoming himself, then the whole Empire would consider benevolence to be his. However, the practice of benevolence depends on oneself alone, and not on others.'

Yen Yuan said, 'I should like you to list the items.'

The Master said, 'Do not look unless it is in accordance with the rites; do not listen unless it is in accordance with the rites; do not speak unless it is in accordance with the rites; do not move unless it is in accordance with the rites.'

-Lun Yu (The Analects), 12:1


Interesting: this symbol of Confucianism means "total harmony, righteousness, in your own life and in your relations with your neighbor." Reminiscent of a couple of familiar tablets, eh?

10 comments:

Miri said...

What exactly were "the rites?" Were they specific ritualistic observances? Or is the plain meaning of the passage "Good is what you do, not what you say?"

Orthoprax said...

You know the stereotypical Chinese actions demonstrating deference and propriety, how and when to bow, giving offerings at meals, etc.

Obviously it's not exactly like Halacha as we know it, but they are ritualized actions that are specifically Chinese. A big thing about Confucianism is that people will learn to naturally do right by properly doing the rituals. Not so different from Jewish ideas, actually.

FedUp said...

When I was interested in studying comparative religion, I stumbled across the Confucius - Jewish connection. There's even a book on the subject.

Orthoprax said...

It's funny. Whenever I make a post showing similarities between Judaism and some independent Eastern religion someone invariably tells me in the comments that there's a book already written on the topic.

I think there's a lot to be said in seeing Judaism through the abstract philosophies and ways of life as mirrored in the paths of Eastern peoples. I've heard it expressed that even though there are major philosophical differences between Confucianism and Judaism, the practical ways of life are based on similar constructs. Dao and Halacha both mean 'Way' so there's good ground to make links.

Lvnsm27 said...

interesting :)

The Raz said...

I’ve noticed some interesting similarities as well.

ddeear said...

Someone recently told me they consider Sh'ma to be the first haiku. Depends on how you pronounce the shva in Sh'ma, I think.

Casey said...

The similarity between Kabbalah and Taoism is also quite interesting. In China, the concept of yin and yang is the balance between the masculine (Philisophical) and the feminine (Spiritual). Therefore the majority of Chinese people practice both Confucianism(Judaism) and Taoism(Kabbalah) because being too focused on rituals (being too frum) without introspection of self (Kabbalistic ideas of bringing oneself closer to god / perfecting oneself) and vice versa is out of balance. I think many Orthodox Jews would benefit balancing out in such a way.

Ron said...

Confucius also taught about a "Mandate of Heaven", part of which describes how "Supreme God" would remove a ruler if he was excessively wicked or corrupt. Sounds a lot like the G-d I worship. Also note that Confucius claimed no authorship but derived his wisdom from "older writings". I wonder about those earlier works. Could they be an heirloom from the time of Noah?

Cialis said...

Confucious it's a very wise man, that I've ever read about.