May 8, 2010
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Contrary to popular belief, Confucianism is not a religion. It is a philosophy or way of life. Confucianism was found in China by Kung-futze, also known as Confucius. He believed that you could please God by having “good conduct” with your family, neighbors, and society. Confucius had a highly optimistic view of human nature.
The main principle of this belief system is ren (“humaneness”). This signifies excellent character in accord with li (ritual norms), zhong (loyalty to one's true nature), shu (reciprocity), and xiao (filial piety). Filial piety consists of five relationships. The relationships are Ruler to Subject, Father to Son, Husband to Wife, Elder Brother to Younger Brother, and Friend to Friend. Specific duties were assigned to each of the participants in these sets of relationships.
The classical books of Confucianism are the Four Books and the Five Scriptures. The Four Books are the Analects, Mencius, The Higher Education, and The Doctrine of the Mean. The Five Scriptures are The Book of Poetry, Book of History, Book of Changes, Book of Rites, and Spring and Autumn Annals.
In the book, The Good Earth, Confucianism is mentioned many times. Even though Wang Lung hated his uncle’s laziness, he was required to respect him and his uncle knew that. Therefore, his uncle repetitively asked Wang for money. When Wang Lung was ready to stop giving money to him, his uncle threatened to tell the entire village lies that would hurt Lung’s reputation. The lies would show the village that Lung didn’t respect his uncle.
When Lung is in the South, he takes a man to a Confucian temple to pray. Lung also prays and buys incense to take to the temple of the earth. In the temple, Lung prays to the spirits for a good year for his crops. Later on, Lung also prays to have a son and a grandson. Wang Lung is also very superstitious. As he prepares for his wedding day, we see him commit many superstitious acts. O-lan is very respectful of Lung, and she tries hard to make him happy.
Confucius believed that each member of society had a specific duty to play to rid the world of greed and jealousy. This “code of conduct” helped govern China while it was transitioning through a time of chaos. This code of conduct had a tremendous impact on how many Chinese people, including, Wang Lung, lived their life.

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