Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Confucious in Modern China

Below is an excerpt from an article that appeared on Yahoo. If you click on the title of this post, you'll be directed to the full article.

In changing times, many Chinese find wisdom in Confucius

By Peter Ford, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor Tue Jul 10, 4:00 AM ET

Beijing - Come back, Confucius, all is forgiven.For nearly a century the ancient sage was confined to the intellectual doghouse in the land of his birth.

Today he is fast supplanting communism as Chinese rulers, businessmen, and ordinary citizens turn back 2-1/2 millenniums to his teachings to help them cope with the economic and social changes racking their country.

"The economy is developing very fast, but people feel the need for wisdom and morality," says Gu Qing, who publishes books on traditional Chinese culture. "Now we've solved the problem of filling people's stomachs, they are looking for something to fill their minds."

The signs are everywhere. Confucianism is now on the curriculum at the Central Party School for high-flying Communist officials; private schools inculcating the Confucian classics are sprouting around China; and a recent self-help book of Confucian answers to modern questions has sold 4 million copies – outstripping Harry Potter.

For most of the 20th century, Chinese leaders reviled Confucianism as a feudal philosophy whose emphasis on respect for elders, propriety, and the harmony of hierarchy had trapped China in its past. The nadir for the man whose precepts defined society for more than 2,000 years came during the Cultural Revolution, when Red Guards went on a weeks-long rampage of destruction in his hometown.

The current government sees Confucius in a more positive light: President Hu Jintao's key slogan, "a harmonious society," is a conscious evocation of the Confucian value of harmony and balance.

"For the government, this is a way to provide some sort of legitimacy for what they do" as corruption scandals and a growing gulf between rich and poor feed public skepticism about official policy, says Daniel Bell, who teaches political philosophy at Beijing's Tsinghua University. "Socialist ideals do not do it, and economic growth works only to a certain extent.

"The government needs to think about deeper sources of legitimacy, of resolving conflicts in peaceful ways. Confucius points to a peaceful way," he adds.

Authorities might also hope that officials would be inspired by Confucius's ideal of the "gentleman," a righteous person who puts service to others before his own interests.

At the same time, suggests Zhang Huizhi, vice president of the Chinese Confucian Association, the government has a more political goal in mind. "Another purpose is that through the study of Confucianism people will realize the glory and brilliance of Chinese traditional culture," says Professor Zhang.

"A lot of Western culture is invading China at the moment, so developing Confucianism helps people develop self-confidence in their own culture," he adds.

Beijing "is using two legs to walk on," Zhang says. The government is encouraging academic research into Confucius and the tradition of thought he spawned. It is also "spreading the results of academic study into ordinary peoples' lives."

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