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Watch Over one Another

Watch Over one Another

My son likes to pay his respects at various temples we pass on the way to and from school. I think the rituals are fun for him, and he finds the gods and deities interesting to look at. Explaining religion to him is a bit of a challenge for me, because I didn't grow up with worship as a large part of my life. So, today's chat is inspired by Confucian philosophy. ⁠

Rather than look to "otherworldly sources of spiritual values," Confucian philosophy holds human relationships to be sacred. Each of us is fundamentally good, and capable of developing our moral nature through communal effort and self-cultivation of the Five Constants (五常): ⁠

  • Compassion⁠
  • Justice⁠
  • Propriety⁠
  • Wisdom
  • ⁠Integrity⁠

The goal of Confucian philosophy is to create a world -- government, families, citizens -- centered on morals. Our world is constantly changing, and while we can never predict what the future will bring, nor what situations we find ourselves in, Confucianism argues that if we have a strong foundation in recognizing right from wrong, and create a society that promotes right over wrong, then humanity should be able to make good decisions and do right by each other.⁠

All of this is kind of ironic, because Confucianism now has a reputation of being an extremely traditional, rigid, and ritualistic philosophy... not to mention anti-women, so I'll just take the core of its teaching and leave the rest.

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