孔子生平 The Biography of Confucius

孔子生平 The Biography of Confucius
(Proper nouns such as name of a person, titles, name of a book, feudal state, and places will be included as Chinese in order to keep the correct reference.   A brief note to explain may be followed immediately.  Since I do not have the reference book on standardized Pinyin, I have no choice but to use the phonetic either from the computer or from other sources. Confucius is the Romanization or in Latin version of 孔夫子; Con Fu Ci means Professor Con.)


Per the information in The Noble Confucius Family recorded in the History Archive  (《史记·孔子世家》, a record being considered as the most authority history writing in China), Confucius was born in the era of the 22nd year of Lord Shiang, Duke of Lo (鲁襄公) but the month and the day were not identified.  Per the record of Guk Liang (《谷梁传》, a book footnoted writings about Confucius), Confucius was born in the tenth month and the gang-ji day (庚子).  Therefore, his birthday should be in September 8th 551 BC.  


Confucius was born in Dukedom of Lo (鲁).  Lo was a feudal state granted to Baak Kam (伯禽), son of Lord Dan, Duke of Jau (周公旦).   Lo was known in keeping the culture and all documents of the Imperial Jau Dynasty (周朝) in good condition, and also the state practicing the righteous ritual and music(礼乐之邦). In the era of the 29th year of Lord Shiang, Duke of Lo, i.e. 554 BC, Sir Gwai Ja, son of Earl Wu (吴公子季札), commented that ‘the music in Lo is ultimate’.  In the era of the 2nd year of Lord Chiu, Duke of Lo (鲁昭公), after reading the official records of Lo during his visit, Hon Suen Ji (韩宣子), the high-ranking officer of Jun (晋) commented that ‘the righteous ritual of the Imperial Jau Dynasty is virtually in Lo’.    The ideology development of Confucius was greatly influenced by the traditional culture of Lo as well as the contemporary switching of the qualification to be a scholar.


Confucius lost his father in his young age; the family was in deterioration. He said, ‘ I was in the  low and poor level, therefore I could do a lot of worthless jobs’. When he was young he worked as a warehouse keeper (委吏) and as a cattle keeper (乘田). Although living under such poor situation, Confucius ‘determined to study’ since at the age of 15. He was good to adopt the good examples of others.  He said ‘ Even though there are only three persons, I can still find a teacher there; I practice their good points and repent the bad from them.’    He did not study under the same teacher continuously; he was tirelessly to learn.  People respected his all around knowledge.  
Confucius was intellectually matured at the age 30, and started his teaching profession.  Even a small gift such as ten sticks of dried meat, he would accept that person as his student.  People like Yan Lo, Jang Dim, Ji Lo, Baak Ngau, Yim Yau, Ji Gong and Yan Yuen etc (颜路,曾点,子路,伯牛,冉有,子贡,颜渊), were his students during the early stage.  However, Meng Yi Ji and Nan Gong Ging Suk (孟懿子, 南宫敬叔), sons of Meng Hei Ji (孟僖子) the high-ranking officer of  Lo, were learning rituals from him too.  From this, we know he was also well known in the high society. He started the private school teaching system, a break through from the traditional ‘education for nobles only ’.  This is an additional step lowering the social economic status to be educated.  


Since the era of Lord Suen, Duke of Lo (鲁宣公), the governing power of the dukedom of Lo was in the hands of Gwai Si (季氏), the prime minister as well as the head of the Three Woon families (三桓).   At the beginning of the era of Lord Chiu, Duke of Lo (昭公), the Three Woon families divided the military control power from the Duke.  Confucius was furious about the imperial Eight Rolls Dance performed in the court of Gwai Si.  In the 25th year of Lord Chiu era, about 517 BC, Lo was in revolt, and Confucius left Lo to Chaai (齐, another feudal state). Lord Ging, Duke of Chaai (齐景公) asked him the skill to rule.  Confucius said, ‘ruler as a ruler, minister as a minister, father as a father, son as a son.’ and a ‘policy of controlling economic.’  However the ruling power of the dukedom of Chaai was in the hands of the Chan Si (陈氏, a high-ranking officer). Although delighted by the teachings of Confucius, Lord Ging still could not recruited Confucius in his court.       


Since he could not practice his wishes, Confucius returned to Lo.  He edited the poetry, archived records, ritual records and official music (诗书礼乐) and also taught a substantial amount of students.  Students came from far away almost from every feudal state.  At that time, Lo was controlled by the Gwai Si (季氏), who in turn was controlled by Yang Foh (阳货) a subordinate officer of the family.  Being not satisfied by such type of minor-officer-in-charge but not ruler-in-control situation and particularly ‘subordinate officer holding the fate of a state’ situation, Confucius refused to be commissioned as a ranking official.  He said, “ To me, to gain wealth and dignity under such not rightful manner, it is just like obtained the floating clouds.”  


In the 9th year of the era of Lord Ding, Duke of Lo (鲁定公), Yang Foh was disposed. At the age of 51, Confucius was commissioned as the Officer-in-charge of Jung Doh (中都宰).  ‘By one year under his governing, Jung Doh was the model city of the area’.  He was promoted as Director of Engineering (司空) and then as Minister of Justice (大司寇).  During the 10th year of the era of Lord Ding, i.e. 500BC, Chaai and Lo states had a summit meeting in Hap Guk (夹谷, name of a place), and Confucius served as the Master of Ceremony.  His concept was that ‘ even in a civil function it must be backed by the military force; in a military action it must have a civil support’, so he prepared for the unexpected.  By this vision, the Duke of Chaai could not exercise his hostage plan to the Duke of Lo.  By his diplomatic skill, Confucius regained the lands in Gwan, Goon and Gwai Yam (郓, 灌, 龟阴name of places) that were once captured by the Chaai state.  In the 12th year of the Lord Ding era, i.e. 498 BC, trying to suppress the power of the Three Woon families and to restore the power of the Duke, Confucius quoted the old doctrine that ‘ no military force in a dignitary family and no township should have a city wall over thirty thousand feet long’.  He suggested eliminating the power of the three capital-like towns.  He pushed his plan by Ji Lo, his student and the Officer-in-charge in the Gwai Si Family.  Utilizing the conflicts between the Three Woon families and their family subordinate officers, Confucius made the Gwai Sun Si (季孙氏) and Suk Sun Si (叔孙氏) to agree to destroy the power of Fai Township and the Hau Township (费邑与后邑). Yet the Meng Sun Si  (孟孙氏), as convinced by his family subordinate officer Gong-gim Chu Fu (公敛处父), objected the elimination of the Sing Township (成邑).  Even after surrounded the Sing Township, Lord Ding was not able to conquer on his invasion and the plan was obstructed.             


Because of the appointment of Confucius in the Lo dukedom, the Chaai state was worried that they would be attacked with the rising of the Lo.  They sent a female musical group to Lord Ding and Gwai Woon Ji, (季桓子the Prime Minister). Gwai Woon Ji accepted this female musical group from Chaai, and absented from his office for three days.  Since his political ideology was not accepted, Confucius led Yan Yuen , Ji Lo, Ji Gong , Yim Yau, and about ten other disciples to leave his home town, starting his fourteen years of unsteady wondering life, the well known and so called States Visiting Trip of Confucius.  At that time, Confucius was 55 years old already.  He arrived the Dukedom of Wei.  At the beginning, Confucius received high level of receptions from Lord Ling, Duke of Wei.  Later he was spied; he left to the state of Chan to avoid imposed accusations.  At the time passing by Hong  (匡地), they were surround for five days.  After the release, they wanted to go to Jun (晋) originally en-routed by Po (蒲); it was interrupted due to the revolt in Jun. They returned to Wei. He visited Nan Ji (南子), the Duchess of Wei; because of this visit, he was criticized and commented.  Lord Ling lost his interest to rule, so he did not appointed Confucius to any offices.  Confucius expressed that ‘ if I were appointed, I can have some result by a month and achieve the goal by three years.’  Then Wei was in revolt, Confucius left Wei to Sung (宋), passing by Cho(曹).  Woon Fooi, the Director of Military of Sung state (宋司马桓魁) wanted to kill him.  Confucius changed his attire to escape from Sung to Chan (陈), passing by Jeng (郑) (these are small feudal states).  He was 60 years old by now.  After that he went back and forth between Chan and Choi (蔡) states many times, and was even in danger once on the trip.  Per the writing in the History Archive, ‘it was because King Chiu of Choh Kingdom (楚昭王) wanted to appoint Confucius to his court, officers of Chan and Choi encircled Confucius for seven days without food.  After release, Confucius arrived Choh; shortly afterwards King Chiu died.  Lord Chut of Wei (卫出公) wished to recruit him.  Confucius replied the asking of Ji Lo ‘ the right title should comes before the taking of the administration.’    After returning to Wei, although he was treated as a Respectful Scholar (养贤), Confucius still did not get any appointment.  At the 11th year of Lord Oi of Lo era, i.e. 484 BC, Yim Yau, his disciple, returned to Lo and won the war against Chaai in Long (郎).  Gwai Hong Ji (季康子, the prime minister) sent representative with treasure to welcome Confucius to come home. Finally, Confucius arrived home at the age of 68.  



After his return to Lo, Confucius was honored, known as an Elder (国老, a senior consultant of the state).  At the beginning, Lord Oi, Duke of Lo (鲁哀公), and Gwai Hong Ji, often asked advices from Confucius in formulating policies, but they never appointed him to the government.  During his late years, Confucius put his affords to organize documents and continued his teaching profession.  At the 16th year of the era of Lord Oi, Duke of Lo (鲁哀公), Confucius died.  He was buried by bank of the Si River (泗水) , a location by the north of the Lo City (鲁城).

( Since there are many old terms, titles and usage differences, particularly the changing of dukes and ministers by this 73 years, I hope this article is understandable.  Should there be any question(s), please ask or provide your opinion.


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