Associating according to the tradition, Confucius was born

Associating the book of changes at the base of Confucianism and Taoism may seem a bit strange, as notoriously Confucius and Lao Zi represent two opposing philosophical doctrines. However, if we look just beyond appearances, the situation is not as contradictory as it seems.The name of Confucius is at the base of the Chinese philosophical doctrines and in the  “Dialogues” he uses citations, which he himself declares to have modified, altered and even amended. Surely we can say that such texts already existed at the time of Confucius, and indeed they served in his teaching. By using them,Confucius has undoubtedly rehashed and reinterpreted it in his own way, in what can be called an ethical and pedagogical perspective.In particular, Confucius has given a notable contribution to the completion of the Yi Jing (the commentary on the images, the commentary on the individual lines of the hexagrams, and the appendices, called “Ten Wings”). However, at the same time, also Lao Zi and Zhuang Zi knew this book and were both inspired by it during the writing of their “classics”, the Dao De Jing and the Zhuang Zi. In fact, the connection between the Yi Jing and Taoism is very narrow: all Taoist thought is based on the theories of Yin and Yang , on that of the five elements and on that of the eight trigrams. The eternal alternation of primordial energies, the cyclic flow of the seasons, the generative/destructive interactions of the five elements are intimately linked to “The Book of Changes”.But who were then these characters? And what did they say of so important to have fame still in our days? PART 1Confucius and his doctrine Confucius (Confutius) is the Latinized translation made by the Jesuit Missionaries of the Chinese name Kong Fu Zi (Master Kong). The biographical news that we have are scarce and very posterior to his death: according to the tradition, Confucius was born in 551 BC and died in 479, aged seventy-two years. He was originally from the small State of Lu (located in Shandong, on the coastal province south of Beijing). Apparently of aristocratic descent, Confucius in the “dialogues” talk about himself as a youth of modest conditions. Due his social background, Confucius is the representative of an ascending class, intermediate between the warlike nobility ,the people of the peasantry and the artisans. This was, in fact, the class of the Shi which, by virtue of their competences in different fields and in particular in the cultural field , will end up forming the famous category of the literati-officials of the Imperial China.Confucius was engaged as a young man in Lu’s political life, and after having held a subordinate administrative positions he eventually became Minister of Justice. The legend goes that he then left the native country to protest against the misrule of his sovereign: it is said, in fact, that in the fifties he renounced to the political career. Disappointed by the sovereign of his country he later tried to offer his services and his advice to others,however it seems without great success.After sixty years he returned to Lu, where he spent the last years of his life teaching more and more numerous disciples. It is during this period that, according to the tradition, he would have composed (or at least reordered) the texts which are attributed to him. Confucius is influenced by the moral attitudes that once characterized the noble class: moderation, respect for rites, fidelity to ancient traditions. His perspective was essentially conservative in the sense that he aimed to restore respect for values and above all traditional behaviors, even from a formal point of view. In the vision of the Confucians, the society had to structure itself on a well established hierarchical network and on the principle of an authoritarian paternalism, enshrined by formalistc practices and prescribed behaviours. The state organization was based on the model of the relations existing in the family. As the authority of the father, shaped by his commitment to procuring to the family prosperity and security, was undisputed. Therefore, in the state management, the pervasive conditioning of every thought and every act was deemed indispensable to ensure order, peace and material prosperity. For him first of all there was ‘ learning ‘, consisting not so much as an in intellectual process but rather as an experience of life, as a practice that is shared with others, which is a source of joy. According to him,the practical purpose of education consisted in the formation of a “man of value” on the moral level, and also on the formation of a man able to help others in the social aspect of life. In this way the “political” destiny of the cultivated man is immediately delineated.One of the qualities of the man of value is the “sense of humanity”, which is manifested in relational virtue based on reciprocity and solidarity. The relationship that in nature establishes the belonging of each individual to the human community is that of the child towards the father. The “filial piety” is based on the political relationship between the subject and the prince, the family relationship between wife and husband and social relations between friends. Because the family is perceived as an extension of the individual, the state as an extension of the family, and since the prince is, compared to his subjects, what a father is compared to his children, there is no solution of continuity between ethics and politics. The sovereign, in the Confucian Ideal, should spontaneously incarnate the sense of humanity, imposing itself with benevolence and not by force, should in fact possess the «Virtue», which is not so much virtue in a moral sense, but rather in the sense of the “virtus” Latina understood as a natural ascendant, charisma, which allows a person to establish himself without any coercion. Confucianism after Confucius death After the death of Confucius, Mencius (372-287 BC) rationalized the teaching of Confucius on “benevolence” (or goodness of heart) and on the importance of moral values in society, thus initiating a dispute that would occupy the Confucian thinkers for several Centuries. Mencius, in fact, argued on the importance of morality in the human nature, which according to him is fundamentally good, so that the moral life needed only a process of self-improvement. Here the religious discourse becomes more explicit, since the attempt is to show how the God-Heaven (conceived as a moral force) relates to man and helps him to realize himself.Dong ZhongShu (197-104 BC) managed to adopt Confucianism as a state religion under the Han dynasty (136 BC). Thanks to him, the imperial bureaucracy and the meritocracy, which consisted in the system of examinations, was given strong impetus. Under this dynasty, Confucianism was enriched with the cosmology and metaphysics, based on the dualism of Yin (female principle, shadow, cold, rest, passivity, Earth) and yang (male principle, light, heat, energy, activity, aggression, sky).Xunzi (298-238 BC), who is the third founder of Confucianism, argued instead that human nature is prone to evil and only through an education imposed from outside, the human beings can live peacefully and with dignity. It should be noted that it was above all Xunzi to develop the practical side of Confucian religion with its doctrine of ritual action. Confucius had focused above all on the need to live life with humanity and preserve the traditional rites. Xunzi formalised and codified this practice, introducing new rites, which being predominantly the state’s official sacrifices, were scarcely felt by the people.With the advent of the Song dynasty (960-1279 A.D.) the Confucian thought entered into its new and final phase of elaboration. Starting in the 12th century, it evolves practically into the “neo-Confucianism”, in the direction of the pantheism and under the influence of Taoism and Buddhism. The fundamental concern was to study the past history and the classical texts, considered as custodians of the ideal model of “good governance”.The setting of the Confucianism given by Dong ZhongShu remained practically unchanged until 1905. Then the state cult was reorganized in 1907 but finally suppressed in 1912. During the Maoist “Cultural revolution”, the communist hurled themselves against Confucianism without distinguishing the original ideas of the founder. An anti-Confucius campaign was also conducted in 1973: the accused were those teachers who used authoritarian methods. During this period the house of Confucius was sacked by the “Red Guards” and the precious editions of ancient Confucian texts preserved in the library, the statue of Confucius, those of his four most famous disciples and followers, the sacrificial vases, the ancient instruments Music, including the lute were destroyed.The current Chinese government has decided for a few years to revive in great style the figure of Confucius. The Confucius Institutes – now present in more than 36 countries – serve not only to learn the language and culture, but also to have a clearer view of  modern China.One can guess, in the light of these notes on the Confucian thought, how the project of the Chinese Government intends to promote not only the study abroad, but also to spread the  ideas of the great philosopher at home. In the the search for its identity, China has pointed everything to the philosopher of the fifth century BC, underlining the morality he preached, especially the filial piety, the obedience to the authorities, the sacrifice for the clan etc. The apparent contradiction is that it is the communist government that has brought to light a philosopher that Mao has tried in every way to destroy and that the Cultural Revolution has judged a symbol of “feudal backwardness”. However, as the Chinese say, “The wise man changes his opinion “.   PART 2The Taoist School of thought Parallel to the development of Confucianism, there were tendencies that may seem antisocial and even anarchist, which continued to nourish, even in the imperial era, one of the most original and vivid currents of Chinese philosophies. The ‘ Taoist School ‘ is the most important of these tendencies. The condemnation of luxury, technology, institutions, the indifference and detachment for things, suggest an ideal of sobriety which refers to small and isolated rural communities. For the Taoist, The Dark times in which men ignored all the refinements of civilization were the Golden Age: every technical progress, every new institution represents an increasing step towards the enslavement of man and the degradation of its natural virtues. The state was to be light and limited to the size of the village, the virtue of the rulers was to be measured on an intuitive wisdom and not on an elaborate possession of notions, the relationship with nature could be established in terms of coexistence and not of liability. Taoism has constituted in the civilization of China the libertarian moment of evasion from obligations and coercion, the individual initiative, the pleasure and the personal curiosity (moreover it has made a contribution without any equal to the elaboration of science, Technology and medicine), the fantasy (Chinese painting and literature are dominated by the Taoist conceptions) and also the transgression from the political or the family obligations.According to the legend that makes him a contemporary of Confucius, living in the fourth fifth century B.C., it would be Lao Zi (??) to open the «Taoist way». However, there are scientific doubts about the real historical existence of Lao Zi. Like all mythical characters, strange legends have been handed down on his birth. The most interesting one says that his mother would have carried him in his womb for 81 years (that is nine times nine years, since the number 9 is a magic number), and would have come to the world with white hair and eyebrows. Hence the nickname of Laozi, which besides “Old Master” can be translated as “Old child”. Soon he was given by the gods a fabulous longevity: 80 years, then 160, 200 years, and even more.Later, the figure of Lao Zi underwent a process of deification: it became the god of longevity under a particular form, that of Shoulao, one of its emanations. Shoulao is very popular in China, and in the museums is often found its image (ceramic, painting, etc…). It is easily recognizable by the bald skull, bullet-shaped head,the prominent forehead, the long white beard, the wooden stick, often carried by a little boy, his assistant.Tradition has it that in a moment of countless and bloody wars between the different kingdoms and feuds in which the Chinese territory was composed, Lao Zi developed a doctrine aimed at halting the wars that were raging. This doctrine, Taoism, tried to stimulate a balance in society by referring to a force that shapes, surrounds and always flows between all things. Also according to the legend, Lao Zi, demoralized by the decline of the Zhou, would have left to head west. When he came to the last step before the steppe, the Guardian said to him: ‘ Since you are about to retire from the world, please compose a book fo