Qufu and Confucius

IChing350

Confucius stressed adhering to the rites handed down from the ancients. Adhering to the power, authority and benevolence that was to emanate from the Emperor who was seen as the personification of the divine, or God in China , i.e, became the basis of the “Middle Kingdom”. The dragon represented the ultimate deity between the shaman, sage, and what represented this supreme connection. The emperor was to be the arbiter of how this was to play out on earth. Confucius understood this connection and provided the context for Chinese society others would follow. Today many see Confucius as representing a feudal past that kept things in place for the powers that be at the moment. Confucius himself codified the past into a way that told a foreseeable future. Those that followed used him to tell their own story and justify their own power and authority through him. What is amazing is how much of Chinese history originated in this small city of Lu in Shandong – Qufu.  The Yellow Emperor was here two thousand years before Confucius, and the Duke of Zhou who brought forward the Book of Rites, five hundred years before him.  Qufu has always been the “center of the universe” in China, and the place to be.   

I have been going to Qufu in Shandong Province, China since October 1999 and have now made almost fifty trips since then. On our first trip we were on our way to Urumqi to adopt our second daughter, Emily and discuss the possibility of building a Chinese designed friendship park using ancient Chinese construction. Looking on the internet I found a company in Qufu that does this kind of construction and emailed a company in Qufu. We made arrangements to go to Qufu in October 1999 on our way to get out second daughter Emily. Emily was six at the time and is now twenty-four and a recent graduate of Florida Atlantic University with a degree in public administration, she is currently there continuing with a second degree in civil engineering in South Florida.(July 2017)

The outcome of that initial trip was the City of Boynton Beach, Florida where I lived and Qufu became sister cities in 2001.

ACon my picture
Painting of KongDan in 2011

We still have a great relationship between Qufu and Boynton Beach sister cities program more than sixteen years later. Over the years, our two cities have exchanged several delegations and participate every year in the Sister City International Young Artist Program.  I have also taught at the high school and university level in Qufu (Qufu Normal School and Jining University in Qufu in 2011-13) and in Jining in the fall of 2010 at Cambridge English School.  I have been there so frequently over the years that my friends gave me the Chinese name Kongdan. Later this became the name of my foundation. My editor in Beijing suggested my writing a book about my travels to Qufu and it (the manuscript) appears below.

Kongdan over China – Confucius as Therapy for Today’s Heart and Soul

Introduction to Living my China Dream

A book such as this one that is primarily autobiographical, i.e., the story of my own coming to China is truly a yin and yang saga. Telling the story of Confucius and those I have referred to as dragons, his contemporaries Lao, Chuang and Lieh Tzu and my living in Qufu as a teacher, is both a challenge and a great joy. It is as if I am coming home to China and Qufu to tell both my story as well.

From my first encounter when I read a book on Taoism it was as if my spirit was captured by what it had always been attracted or attached to, but seemingly had forgotten. Since that time it is as if my single passion has been to relay how one should approach their highest endeavor and destiny and to rediscover the sage, this man known as Confucius.  As though picking up the book in the bookstore at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, in December 1993 called “The Elements of Taoism” was to refocus my attention to my purpose.  I sensed with the arrival of dragons and this book by Martin Palmer that I have always been pursued by them as if they were calling out my name trying to get my attention. As if they were telling me it was time to begin planning my journey home to China and to accept the mantle of who I was meant to be and to remember who I have always been with the dragons representing the metaphor, or symbol, of the eternal sage.

It took me almost another twenty years, from that point to the present, to lose the attachments I clinged to in the here and now as I began to focus on my writing. First, a book about the I Ching, where all serious study begins written in 1994, that set the stage for what was to follow by first casting aside the premise of who I thought I was meant to be. The Book of Change, or I Ching and the Taoists, my mentors Lieh, Chuang and Lao Tzu, were intent on getting my attention and keeping me focused on what I was ultimately here to do. Soon I was busy capturing the essence of the I Ching by becoming a part of the story. As if it came to me in an instant. Keeping to the lower clouds and earning my keep as a dragon  was to be the key to my acknowledging who I really am and left no doubt as relayed in something I wrote in March 1995.

A Conversation with Dragons

Please show me the way. The Way is within yourself.  Please teach me the Way. You know all that there is to know.  Have no fear of the reality yet to be made clear that you must follow.

The path you must follow wil be difficult to travel until you lose the attachments not needed for the journey at hand. Refrain from clinging to that which is external to yourself and the way you must travel will be made clear for you to follow. Come forward with peace in your heart, an openness of your mind, spirit and body to find the knowledge in all things that have been, are now and are yet to be discovered.

Remember that what you write is who you are to become. Seek only truth, balance and justice and all will be made perfect. Just as it should be.    3/4/95

Following this personal journey it was as if Chuang and Lieh Tzu took me under their wing so to speak and next led to my writing a still yet unpublished book “My travels with Lieh Tzu” the next year in 1995 following the book, “The Book of Lieh Tzu” by A.C. Graham as my guide. This book about the Taoists – Lao, Chuang and Lieh Tzu, Confucius, Yang Chu and so many others passed through me as if I was immersed in a refresher course session to remember things that I had always known but simply had forgotten. The story “A Conversation with Dragons” on the previous page is from that book.

The dye was cast and we moved from Massachusetts to Boynton Beach, Florida, where I became a city planner and later neighborhood specialist. From this point I knew my day job as a planner was not who or what I was meant to be doing.  But this segue continuing over the next ten years until my retirement in 2005 allowed my wife and I to adopt two beautiful little girls from China, first Katie from Maoming and then Emily from Urumqi. Along the way it was as if the dragons had been monitoring my progress gaining attachments I would need later and losing the one’s I didn’t need, I wrote my third book in May 2000 seven months after my first visit to Qufu in October 1999. This was to be my final book I would write for over ten years until I came to China and Qufu to stay. Entitled Thoughts on Becoming a Sage, the Guidebook to leading a Virtuous Life, was as if Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching was not only passing through me, but conveying the final installment I needed to find my way.

It was as if the dragons were guiding their own student through school. First by getting my attention, second by telling me I am a dragon too, third going through the ritual of the I Ching, studying Taoism through following Chuang and Lieh Tzu, and finally the ultimate rite of passage and my capturing the eternal spirit found in the Tao Te Ching. Now it was up to me to lose the attachments I had been clinging to, do the work, and find my way home to Qufu where the next installment would continue, first as a teacher and second to tell their story as only I could and to remind and to convey the importance of Confucius to the world.

It is as if the dragons were reminding me of the very first line in my very first entry I wrote on Christmas Day in December 1993 that was entitled In everything there is Tao that read… “It is through you Dan we speak” that appears in my first book about the I Ching.  It was as if each of us has things we have always innately known but forgotten or simply refused to acknowledge or act upon. It’s as if we either can not handle the truth, or more often than not, are afraid or fear we are not up to the task once we come to know what it is. What of course complicates things further is when you discover your best friends, your mentors and peers, lived over two thousand years ago.

IChing350This large bowl, or gang as it was called, shows one of two flying dragons was excavated from Xuande near Jingdezhen during the Ming Dynasty (1426-35). The emperor liked to use the large bowls for keeping fish. It now resides in the British Museum in London where I took this picture in the Spring of 2012. This is the bowl shown as the heading . The dragons have always loved having a great story to tell, especially my friends Lieh and Chuang Tzu. While it was Lao Tzu who inspired Confucius to be the ultimate conveyor of Taoist thought at the time, it was Chuang Tzu who taught him to be a storyteller conveying benevolence and virtue and not to take himself to seriously. As for me, it was as if they were calling on me to fulfill my ultimate endeavor in the here and now by returning to China and Qufu before rejoining them once again. As if you’re ultimate destiny is tied to helping to finally setting the record straight and to remind me of the role I am to play.

Not as some brilliant scholar who might have passed the Junxi examination at a young age then rest on my laurels as many of my contemporaries have done over the centuries. But to come to know the real living history of the people and places the dragons have always known and enjoyed the most. As if I am doing it for all of them simply as an author, writer and teacher and to fulfill my destiny as an educator. To come and go hardly noticed by those I encounter except for my students who I am here to impart the wisdom and knowledge of the ages and to others who may be listening along the way.

It is as if the dragons, the ancient Taoists, have never gotten over the paradox that Confucius would get all the credit, or so it would seem.  As if we would draw straws in eternity to see who would give it a try and I drew the short straw again.  The other thing I was to remember would be that it is through my writing that I would define who I ultimately am here to become which brings us now to Qufu and Confucius. As if there was an agreement for eternity’s sake. The Taoists could define the environment or set the stage in which the Confucian doctrine or philosophy would endure as one with nature and the universe. Confucius knew he would be forever indebted to Lao, Chuang and Lieh Tzu who laid down the framework onto which he would provide the structure for how to live a virtuous life. The ensuing Confucians never forgot this caveat and its evidence is found everywhere you find Confucius depicted today and over the thousands of years since they all lived. As any visit to a historic or cultural site now depicts here in China, Confucius teachings were to become paramount, but the wrapping you would find them in is attributable to the Taoists, thereby illustrating a respect for nature and man’s eternal place in the universe. Although over time the Taoists would become so overshadowed by Confucius in Chinese culture that they always found it difficult to gain the foothold they felt they rightfully deserved. It was to be a price worth paying.

Since those two initial trips to China, first to adopt Katie in Maoming in 1997 and that trip in October 1999 to get Emily in Urumqi and its fateful side trip to Qufu, I have made more than forty trips to Qufu and now live within the confines of the reconstructed ancient wall on Gulou Street, a stone’s throw from the Confucius Mansion and Temple. . Each trip a step in letting go of who I thought I was until I acknowledged and accepted what my true identity and role was to become.

This picture is of me, three and a half year old daughter Katie, my mother AConcaveFaye Kleeman, and wife Marie inside the cave where Confucius is said to be born in our first visit to Qufu in October 1999. A truer beginning could never be.

Over the years until I came to begin teaching at Qufu Normal School and Jining University in March 2011, many people came to know me as a writer with a passion for China and Qufu. Almost all I encountered would say… “But Dan, (later as Kong Dan) you must also write about Confucius.”  I always knew that when I was ready I would.

In my writing and study, I have read and reread the Confucian Analects many times over the last twenty years or so. I also seem to recall a much earlier introduction writing and studying the Analects back in college in a world philosophy class many years earlier in the early 1970’s. But I always knew my approach to Confucius and Taoist teachings was much bigger than what the typical scholar had written for literally thousands of years.

It was his story about his influence today along with his Taoist influences that needed an updating. Not another version of his Analects, but how they have been reconciled over the centuries as words to live by and are to be seen and accounted for in the future. I did not need approval because my previous writing dispelled any doubt as to my authenticity or passion for my subject. But simply writing another tomb, or book, about the Confucian Analects was not my purpose in coming to Qufu and Shandong Province. That task had been done many times over and honestly is still being done as a rite of passage by others who see that as their own personal endeavor. Seeing as to how the ancient philosophers would be seen in their proper context collectively was more the role I was here to convey.

It is the people in the here and now in Qufu and in cities, towns and the countryside here in Shandong Province who represent the lifeblood of who Confucius was that tells the story of how he is seen now and in the future. Those I would consider as the junxi of today. Confucius above all else taught the importance of strong relationships… from the family onward. To get to know and tell the real Confucius I had to get to know the people here in Qufu and feel his continuing influence here and in Shandong Province first. Now after more than a dozen years of coming to Qufu, I feel I am ready to tell their story.

It is as if I am still a Taoist first sent here to temper the wisdom and words of Confucius so that they continue to fit into the natural order found in the universe. But that’s a tall order for one book. Besides, while now seen here as a teacher in Qufu, my personality still fits the mold much more as my peers Lao, Chuang, and Lieh Tzu than the structure and discipline found in the teachings of Confucius.  Although adhering and teaching his basic truths about benevolence and virtue in the natural setting found here in Qufu and Shandong Province as a teacher means I have come full circle with the ever present Tao. Back to where it all started all those years ago. Or as Chuang Tzu would question “Am I coming home once again, or perhaps just living a dream”?

Now that I am here in Qufu it is as if it’s time to fulfill my role first and foremost as a teacher, and secondly to add my two cents about Confucius as the dragons would have it. We shall see. Teaching my students here at Qufu Normal School that was first established by the Kong Family, the descendents of Confucius, and at Jining University is pretty heady stuff.  Although in the background, I can always hear my good friend Chuang Tzu reminding me to be ever humble and not to take myself too seriously.

As I follow the footsteps of Confucius and my Taoists friends around Shandong I am reminded once again that I have seen and done this all before and probably will again. That is unless of course I get it right this time and when there will be the need for another update sometime in the future when the dragons will again send one of there own.  I also acknowledge I am here to honor all those who have traveled here to Qufu in pursuit of their own chosen path, or personal journey and their own finding Confucius or better said their own “China Dream. Over a period of time spanning over twenty five hundred years and in reality much longer that’s a long time and a lot of people to get to know. It is as Confucius and my Taoists friends would say today that everything must be done in context of where you have been, are now, and will go in the future and most importantly who you have kept close along the way. With all this said, it should go without saying that this book needs no further introduction except for a special thanks to all who are included herein who have agreed to be part of my story and my coming to Qufu and the times in which we live.

As a final thought, it is said a man should consider himself lucky if in the course of his life he has made five good friends. This being said, I have been eternally blessed with “forever” friend through the ages both with the dragons and with those mentioned herein. For me to be so truly blessed is certainly true bliss and remembering to the end that Confucius was about benevolence, virtue, and relationships. With my own destiny assured, for now I am happy to simply live as a teacher and Confucian in Qufu… with all my old friends and new ones in tow. And as for the contents of this book itself it need no further introduction and speaks for itself… and is dedicated not to the dragons or Confucius whose accolades belie history. But to my own students who I hope in some small way I have taught how to live for the ages as well.

Dan C DeCarlo a/k/a KongDan a/k/a Dantzu                May 2013

Preface 

The human mind as medical teacher: Confucius – the preface to Kongdan over China. Confucius was born in China 2560 years ago, the world famous thinker and educator.

AConMaria

Professor Luo, KongDan and friend Maria

Dan C DeCarlo (KongDan) has always stood for Sino-US friendship and has been coming to and/or lived in the hometown of Confucius, Qufu, Shandong for about 12 years.

In Qufu, he has visited the Confucius Temple, the large deep Cemetery and the mansion which is known as “the world’s first” lineal descendants of Confucius where he lived, and Ni Hill which is the birthplace of Confucius for many times and the hometown of Confucius. He is in contact with and has gotten to know a variety of different identities of Qufu people and experts, academics, read and listened to the doctrine of Confucius specifically personally and feels the far-reaching impact on future generations of Confucius.

Mr. Kongdan through long-term observation and experience has identified Confucian thought as the knowledge of being a good person and how a person should live. In today’s world with technological progress, materialistic values and expansion of some desires some people do things or are doing some selfish and unscrupulous things and have spiritual defects. The core idea of Confucius is “harmonious virtue”. He contributed his life for social harmony. More than two thousand years later his claims are still respected and pursued by a large number of peace-loving people in the world.

Two thousand years later he advocates of the forbearance of man and Confucius correctly shows how to handle the relationship of people, countries, and nature. Mr. Kongdan introduces Confucius and his hometown to the United States and the world in this work; it is a good thing and should be supported and praised. So I did the introduction for him.

Luo Chenglie, Vice Dean of Institute of Confucius Culture of Qufu Normal University  April 2012 Qufu China   (Mr. Luo is considered the foremost living scholar on Confucius. He is the author of more than one hundred books and according to Guinness Book of World records has the largest personal collection of Confucius related materials in the world. I was happy while teaching in China to get to know Mr. Luo and consider him a good friend.)

Forward

It has been my pleasure to have known Mr. Dan DeCarlo for many years, even though he has been teaching here as Jining University in our Foreign Language Department for only a little over a year. During this relatively short time he has made a lasting impression on our school and especially the lives of our students. His knowledge of Qufu, its people, and history of Shandong Province has been very helpful to the growth and development of our university. He has developed quite a following of students at Jining University and our sister school, Qufu Normal School that is very positive and helpful. But it is Dan’s, or I should say Kong Dan’s, knowledge as a living scholar of how Confucius has influenced our Chinese culture that is most amazing.

It is with that knowledge and wisdom that has endeared himself to the people in Qufu and throughout Shandong Province. Since his first visit in October 1999 to Qufu and Jining and learning of our plans to build our new campus, Dan (Kong Dan), has followed our progress to build a modern up-up-date campus environment in with his connections in both the Jining and Qufu Planning Bureau as a former city planner in the United States. For him to now be teaching both here at Jining University and as our representative foreign teacher at our sister school the Qufu Normal School is remarkable. He has known us from our Qufu campus beginning until today. We think this helps him in his desire and commitment as a teacher here and his enthusiasm is admired and appreciated, especially by our faculty and students.

His insightful writings regarding the history of the four families and Qufu Normal School are especially well documented. Even more impressive is his recounting of people here in Qufu who he knows that live happily within the Confucian lifestyle and are dedicated to keeping Confucius memory alive. Clearly he has shown an understanding and appreciation of how Confucius has impacted the people of Qufu and Shandong Province.

This book about Confucius as he is seen today along with KongDan’s activities here in Qufu show a dedicated spirit that could not be done by someone without a thorough understanding of Confucian principles and how he continues to impact China and the world. What is most amazing to those who know Kong Dan is that he leads as not only as teacher in the classroom, but how he lives and builds on the teacher/student relationship in everyday life.. As an educator myself, I have seen and come to know many professors and scholars here in Shandong and would rate Mr. DeCarlo knowledge to rank in the highest level of understanding. Not so much focusing on the scholarly approach to Confucius, as much as the practical application of how to live one’s life following Confucius words of benevolence, virtue, and wisdom. With this said, I am happy to write this forward to Kongdan over China.

Song Si wei
President Jining University
April 2012
Kongdan over China
Confucius as Therapy for today’s Heart and Soul

Pictures – My China Dream    

Listed are the pictures that appear in the book below.  Adding them in the text is beyond me at this point, however someday I’ll figure it out… Maybe.

Preface                                                          Picture taken by:

  1. Dan with Professor Luo and Maria……Katie DeCarlo

Introduction

  1. The Li gang (large bowl) dragon……Dan at British Museum
  2. Dan DeCarlo with family in Confucius cave……Zhu Bensheng

Forword

  1. Dan with university president, Li Gang, Sonny and Dean

Chapter 1 – Finding Confucius and my coming to Qufu

Cover page –The Li gang (large bowl) dragon……Dan at British Museum

  1. Image of Confucius……Free ware
  2. Katie and Emily at the Great Wall……Dan DeCarlo
  3. Katie and Emily striking a pose…….Dan DeCarlo
  4. Young Artist painting by Dong Guan……Dan DeCarlo
  5. Young Artist judging with Dan, Kevin and Jenny……Katie DeCarlo
  6. 2017 Young Artist Program in Qufu……student
  7. Qufu Wheelchair Donation…..Zhe Bensheng
  8. Sister city delegation in Beijing Tian anmen. ….Zhu Bensheng
  9. Sister City banner…..Chris Francois
  10. Qufu Unity Daily Word…..Dan DeCarlo
  11. Qufu/Boynton Beach Wheelchair…..Zhu Bensheng
  12. Adoption of daughter Emily in Urumqi…..unknown
  13. Katie’s doctor in Baoding Hospital…..Song Guohua
  14. Daughter Emily’s high school graduation.…unknown
  15. Dan at 2009 Confucius Festival…..Zhe Bensheng
  16. Bookcover An American Journey I Ching,….Dan DeCarlo
  17. Bookcover Thoughts on becoming a Sage….Dan DeCarlo
  18. Confucius Painting Academy Letter of Apointment……Dan DeCarlo
  19. Dan with students from Qufu Normal School…..Katie DeCarlo
  20. Image of Yin/Yang…..free ware
  21. 25. Entrance of Qufu Normal School…..Dan DeCarlo
  22. Jining University Library…..Dan DeCarlo
  23. Dan with foreign teachers at Jining University…..Katie DeCarlo
  24. Foreign Expert Tree Planting in Jining..…Li Gang
  25. Tree Planting in Jining …Li Gang
  26. Katie, Milo and Dan on Qufu waterfront..…unknown
  27. Queli Hotel in Qufu..…Dan DeCarlo

Chapter 2 – Mirroring and Emulating Confucius as the teacher

  1. Cover page – Jiande dragon in the Clouds…..Dan at British Museum
  2. Image of Confucius….free ware
  3. Painting of Confucius and student……Qufu Painting Academy
  4. Image of the dragon….free ware
  5. Painting…..from Qufu Painting Academy
  6. Entrance to Confucius Mansion in Qufu…..Dan DeCarlo
  7. Main gate to re-constructed ancient Qufu city wall……..Dan DeCarlo
  8. Dan along Qufu city waterfront.….Katie DeCarlo
  9. Dan at Confucius Hill in Qufu……Katie DeCarlo
  10. Painting…..from Qufu Painting Academy
  11. Painting…..from Qufu Painting Academy
  12. Images of three dragons..…Dan at the British Museum
  13. Confucius grave in Confucius Cemetary.….Dan DeCarlo
  14. Qufu Bell Tower next to Confucius Temple….Dan DeCarlo
  15. Qufu Drum Tower on Gulou Street….Dan DeCarlo

Chapter 3 – My Travels around Shandong Province

  1. Cover page – Meeshu dragon……Dan at the British Museum
  2. Dan at the 2007 Confucius Festival.….Zhu Bensheng
  3. Front cover of May 2006 Qufu Daily Word….Dan DeCarlo
  4. Qufu Normal School College English Class..…unknown
  5. Dan with student Yang Xia (Mary) and family……Katie DeCarlo
  6. Dan with Yang Xia (Mary) and Yue Wenhua (Tina)…..Katie DeCarlo
  7. Dan with Yang Xia (Mary)….Katie DeCarlo
  8. Dan with Yang Xia and mother Zhang Yunfeng…..Katie DeCarlo
  9. Painting…..from Qufu Painting Academy
  10. Dan teaching in Fall 2010 at Cambridge School…..Zhao Yonghua
  11. Dan with friends Cassie and John in Jining….….Katie DeCarlo
  12. Dan and Katie with friends at Qufu Normal University…..Unknown
  13. Dan and Katie with student and family in Jining……Xu Ran (Cloris)
  14. Dan and Katie with student and family in Jining……Zhai Xizi(Vivian)
  15. Katie with students from Jining……Dan DeCarlo
  16. Li Yizhong, Wang Li and Dan at Jining Museum….Katie DeCarlo
  17. Xue Yu and student Gloria at museum in Jining……Dan DeCarlo
  18. Painting at Musuem of Jining Culture….’Dan DeCarlo
  19. Painting at Musuem of Jining Culture…..Dan DeCarlo
  20. Dan on tractor at age 3 or 4 on farm in Lamar……unknown
  21. Painting…from Qufu Painting Academy

Chapter 4 – Teaching at Qufu Normal School and Jining University

  1. The Zhushan White Dragon……British Museum
  2. Image of Confucius…..free ware
  3. Dan, Wang Yumin, Yan Wei at Qufu Normal School…..Katie DeCarlo
  4. Dan and student Yang Jinhuan (Lily) and family…..Katie DeCarlo
  5. Dan and student Gao Zhongsheng (Tom) and family….Katie DeCarlo
  6. Dan and student Gao Zhongsheng (Tom) and family…..Katie DeCarlo
  7. Dan with students Tom, Paula and Du Chiangyin….Katie DeCarlo
  8. Student Zhang Xueyan (Alisa)……Dan DeCarlo
  9. Dan, Alisa, both grandfathers and village elders….Katie DeCarlo
  10. Dan, Alisa and her parents…..Katie DeCarlo
  11. Dan with student Olivia, sister and Mother in Jinan……Katie DeCarlo
  12. Dan and Olivia in front of Olivia’s apartment……Katie DeCarlo
  13. Wei Shan Special School students..…Katie DeCarlo
  14. Wang Baozhen, Dan and Wang Shidong…..Dan DeCarlo
  15. Dan with staff of Wei Shan Special School……Katie DeCarlo
  16. Dan with student Tian Zhiwei (Jane) and family…..Katie DeCarlo

Chapter 5 – Making the Past present once again

  1. Cover page – The Jue Hongwu White Dragon….Dan at the British Museum
  2. Dan at the entrance of the Daimiao Temple in Tai’an…..Song Xiangnan
  3. Dan and student Song Xiangnan…..unknown
  4. Peitian Gate at Dai Temple……Dan DeCarlo
  5. Temple at Taishan Mountain……Dan DeCarlo
  6. Seeing the sunrise from the top of Taishan Mountain….
  7. Taoist Temple on Taishan Mountain……Dan DeCarlo
  8. Painting of Confucius ……from Qufu Painting Academy
  9. Dan at the entrance to Nishon Hill Temple……Xu Hong Tao
  10. Dan and Xu Hong Tao (Andy) at Confucius cave……unknown
  11. Academy of Nishon Hill……Xu Hong Tao
  12. Graduating class from four families dated 1904……unknown
  13. The Jue Hongwu White Dragon……British Museum
  14. Tortoise shell with inscriptions…… verify
  15. Gate of Fu Sheng Temple of Yan Hua.….Dan DeCarlo
  16. Entrance of Mencius Temple with student Lily……Dan DeCarlo
  17. Dan at the Mencius Temple……Yang Jinhuan (Lily)
  18. Dan at the Mencius Mansion……Yang Jinhuan (Lily)
  19. Dan at entrance of Mencius School  Gao Zhongsheng  (Lily)
  20. Sitting at a student’s desk at Mencius School…Gao Zhongsheng.
  21. Statute of Zeng Zi at entrance to Jiaxiang……Dan DeCarlo
  22. Mining operation in Mandong……Dan DeCarlo
  23. Mining operation in Mandong……Dan DeCarlo
  24. Dan and Katie at entrance of Zeng Zi Temple..…Yue Pengxi(Snow)
  25. Dan’s students Ann, Snow and Amy….. Dan DeCarlo
  26. Dan taking notes at Zeng Zi Temple……Katie DeCarlo
  27. Scene from Zeng Zi Temple…… Dan DeCarlo
  28. Katie and dog Milo…..Dan DeCarlo

Chapter 6 – Making Friends from Afar/Getting to know Qufu

  1. Cover page – The Changsa Dragon…..British Musuem
  2. Image of Confucius…… free ware
  3. Dan with Luo Cheng Lie…. Mao Shehua (Maria)
  4. Dan inspecting tile factory in 1999……Marie DeCarlo
  5. Chinese ancient construction design……Dan DeCarlo
  6. Chinese ancient construction design……Dan DeCarlo
  7. Li Yizhong accepting pretigious award in USA……unknown
  8. Dan and Li Yizhong toasting friendship… .Christiane Francois
  9. Map of Qufu inside the old city……Qufu Planning Bureau
  10. Map of new Qufu and surrounding area…..Qufu Planning Bureau
  11. Dan with members of Qufu Planning Bureau…..unknown
  12. Red Guard criticizing Confucius……unknown
  13. Dan and Liu Hixia from Cultural Heritage and Tourism.….Chen jing
  14. Dan with members of Jining Planning Bureau….Miao Deyu
  15. Business card of Hua Jian…..Dan DeCarlo
  16. Dan and Hua Jian…. unknown
  17. Dan’s membership in Confucius/I Ching Society….Gao Zhingsheng
  18. Dan with Dr. Gui Qingman…….Gui Han(Gloria)
  19. Dan with Dr. Gui Qingman……Gui Han(Gloria)
  20. Dan at Guan Qing Tea Shop with Meng fanmei……unknown
  21. Dan at Tea of south China Tea Shop with Alisa Hu……Gao Zhingsheng

Chapter 7 – The Confucius Institute Program

  1. Cover page – The nine dragon wall at Beihai Park……Dan DeCarlo
  2. Image of Confucius……free ware
  3. The dragon plate…..Dan at British Museum
  4. Image of Confucius Institute Program……Free ware
  5. 136, Miami Dade College Confucius Institute Program………Xuejun Yu
  6. Miami Dade College 2011 Chinese New Year……Xuejun Yu

Chapter 8 – Confucius as Living History

  1. Cover page – Green Dragon Plate….Dan at British Museum
  2. Dan at Mencius School at the Mencuis Mansion…Gao Zhongsheng
  3. Pictire of Mencius……Mencius Temple at Zhoucheng
  4. Porcelain stem bowl from Ming Dynasty…..British Museum
  5. Taking the Civil Service Examination…..Ch’ing Dynasty
  6. Replica of actual examination room…..Ch’ing Dynasty
  7. Picture of Pu Songling……Free ware
  8. Dan with student Lark in Zibo……Katie DeCarlo
  9. Dan at statute of Pu Songling……Katie DeCarlo
  10. Painting of Pu Songlie………Dan DeCarlo
  11. Dan and Gao Shili at Qufu Guoxue College…… Zhao Li
  12. Teacher Li Wei with students in classroom…..Dan DeCarlo
  13. Dan with teachers Zhao Li,Li Wei and Lu Panpan…..Gao Shili
  14. Graduation ceremonies……Qufu Guoxue College
  15. Calligraphy class at the school…… Qufu Guoxue College
  16. Dan at the Confucius Cultural Festival in 2007….…Zhu Bensheng
  17. 154.Opening ceremony Confucius Festival….Qufu.Guoxue College
  18. Session of the Confucian World Conference…Qufu.Guoxue College
  19. Painting …..from Qufu Painting Academy

1. The Li Gang (large bowl) drragon

“I hear and I forget, I see and I remember , I do and I understand.” – The Analects

My China Dream

Chapter 1 – Finding Confucius and My coming to Qufu

Why study Confucius today – but to find the way to live the life that our spirit, our heart and soul really needs that it yearns to rediscover what have always knows know but forgotten.

Image of ConfuciusWhat is it about Confucius wisdom that has endured over the centuries that has enabled or empowers us to strive for and find spiritual enlightenment, becoming as one with our true selves and how does that fit into today’s needs of the 21st century?

First and foremost, Confucius often gets a bad wrap. It was never left to him, or his disciples, or those who believed in the core values of what he said to be what was and has been put in place over the twenty five hundred years since his presence here in Qufu and Shandong Province. After he died in 489BC, his principles became the way to control society by the Emperor and powers that be with every succeeding dynasty up until the twentieth century. Confucius himself was guided by the basic premise that man should be bound by his inner virtue and his relationships should be grounded in benevolence and proper behavior. That pretty much says it all, but does not fully explain why or how his philosophy should be considered as relevant today. The paradox being Confucius has never been more relevant today than at anytime in history.

The prevailing attitude over the succeeding hundreds of years after his death was that the emperor of China ruled as the son of heaven. If a controlling philosophy could be adopted by the State, and Confucianism could be molded to accommodate this idea, then Confucius could serve a purpose. Where his teachings would work they would be adopted and when they were seen as not in keeping with where the status quo was headed, they were not. Also Confucius never wrote anything down, so what he really meant was always a matter of interpretation. While thankfully we have his analects, they always served to give authority to those in power. What gets lost in this cursory, or small piece of the puzzle that defines him, is the analects were not the only thing that he left behind. It was his ability as a teacher and his ability to attract students who were devoted to his personal magnetism and the loving kindness he showed them that made him so enduring. It is his basic teachings that have endured and far outweigh how those who have seen him as a way to achieve personal power or wealth for their own benefit that has become so universal.

Even today there are those whose personal motivation cannot quite reach Confucius teachings of virtue who downplay his significance, while they themselves seek fame and fortune as they pay him or what he is to have said little mind at their own peril. However, this has been tried for centuries and as those who tried to downplay or use him for personal means, Confucius is still here long after they are gone… why do you think that is? How and why should Confucius matter to the simple farmer, or merchant, businessman, public official or teacher today? Who was this man Confucius and why should it matter today?

It was his philosophy of how to establish, nurture and sustain ourselves and our relationships with those we are responsible to and for with those we encounter or meet everyday that has had such a lasting impact on Chinese daily life and culture. That it is how we live our lives in the constant state of becoming who we ultimately will be that matters. This was not something to be left to those outside of ourselves.

katie and Emily Great Wall

Katie and Emily at the Great Wall

As if through our own internal therapy for living and ultimately defining who we have been, are now, will determine our future. Following Confucius has always been as if planting seeds of greatness within yourselves. Unfortunately the bar to achieve or find this was commonly seen as beyond the everyday common individual. Today’s China is changing as chances for one with education and determination can succeed are much greater now. My daughters Katie and Emily at the Great Wall at age five and eight.

That life is simply a continuum of our heart and soul – our essence of who we have been, who we are now and who we are yet to become. How we manifest that essence determines the balance we are here to find and nurture. But what was it about the teachings of Confucius in the scheme of things then and why should it matter now?

I live now in Qufu, the birthplace of Confucius in an apartment

Katie and Emily striking a pose

Emily and Katie in Guangzhou

provided by Qufu Normal School and Jining University where I teach college English. This is about a stone’s throw from the Confucius Mansion and Temple… just up Gulou Road from the Confucius Cemetery. Confucius family name was Kong and over half the residents of Qufu also have the name Kong. Over the years of coming to Qufu I have adopted the name Kongdan. Now a resident of Qufu as well, I feel a part of something much bigger than myself. As a teacher, my job is to teach English to college students who live here in Shandong Province who will become teachers too.. But what I really teach is how to become a better person.

My students, many of whom are from the countryside, are direct descendants of people who have lived in the shadow of Confucius for more than twenty five hundred years…. Over eighty generations. It is their own lives that tell the story and it is they too who will also become teachers in their own right who will continue as teachers to tell the story of Confucius as well. Not necessarily only from a textbook, but just as importantly how to live. It is my role as the teacher of teachers that gives spirit and meaning to this book about Confucius in the 21st century and beyond.Young Artist painting by Dong Guan

I have had many roles since coming to Qufu for the first time in October 1999. First as the founder of the sister city relationship between Boynton Beach, Florida in the USA, and Qufu where I still maintain the role as chairman of the sister city committee in Qufu for Boynton Beach and many other ongoing roles as well.

Highlights over more than ten years of the sister city relationship would be the Young Artist Program of Sister City International between Boynton Beach and Qufu where hundreds of high school students have

Sister City Banner

Zhu Bensheng (Ben), Dan, Mr. Luo and Stormi Norem of Sister City Committee in 2002

competed over the years. Their artwork has served to introduce students to

Young Artist Judging with Dan Kiven and Jenny

Dan with Kevin and Jenny judging artwork

their peers and win prize money as well. The painting above is from Dong Guan of Qufu. Middle and high school students in the Young Artist program continue again this year, in 2017 at the Shishang

Qufu Young Artist

Shi Zhiming, Dan and Jenny Jiang with students in 2017 Young Artist 

Training School in Qufu. Here is the picture of participants.

Another project of the two sister Qufu Wheelchair Donationcities was in 1997 when the Boynton Beach Sister City Committee donated two hundred wheelchairs to the City of Qufu. With contributions gathered in Boynton Beach Qufu Wheelchair Donation 2headed by the late commissioner Bob Ensler, a delegation headed by Christine Francois, Josh Dominick and myself, made the contribution as shown below.

This is a picture of one of our delegations from the City of Sister City Delegation in Beijing Tian anmenBoynton Beach touring Tienanmen square in Beijing. From left to right are myself, Carol Miller, Stormi Norem, Jeanne Heavilin, Christine Francois, and Kathy and Larry Clark… Pictured below is our sister city banner and members of our committee.  (Pictures of book are omitted from WordPress)

I was a participant as a joint venture partner in a shopping center that lasted only for a few years, then as the publisher of the monthly Christian magazine “Daily Word” for two years through my foundation known as The Kongdan Foundation for the Christian Church Association of western Shandong Province and as a consultant to and member of the I Ching/Confucius Society of China that continues to evolve today.

QuFu Untiy Daily Word

2006-07 copies my China Daily Word

These activities, plus many others, in addition to teaching and living in Qufu have allowed me to get to know many people in Qufu and the surrounding communities, especially in Jining very well and to establish many lasting, warm friendships with the people of Qufu. It has been in my role as the liaison for many of these activities that I have been able to observe the Confucian tradition of “welcoming friends for afar”.

First was in adopting two Chinese daughters, Katherine (Katie) from Maoming in Adoption of daughter Emily in UrummqiGuangdong in 1997 when she was one and Emily Jimin from Urumqi at age six. My wife Marie and I have always had a love of China and bringing these two little girls to Florida from China was certainly the way to cement our relationship. There is a saying in China that having a daughter is like having two thousand pieces of gold… so having two daughters, well we have certainly been blessed.

Katie's doctor in Baobing HospitalEven my daughter Katherine’s epilepsy, an illness she has had since she was five, has allowed me to gain perspective on Chinese medicine as she was treated here in Shandong by Dr. Wang and his able assistant and nurse Song Guohua at his hospitals in Sichui and later in Baoding. Katie was under his care for over three years before having brain surgery at John Hopkins in Baltimore, Du=aughter Emily's high school graduation Maryland in the USA. Katie still sees Dr Wang for an annual check up to measure her progress here in China.

Katie is now in the ninth grade taking virtual school classes from Florida living with me here in Qufu and Emily is a freshman in college at Florida Atlantic University in Florida. This is her high school graduation picture from Atlantic High School in Delray Beach, Florida with her mom from June 2011.

Another activity would include my participation in the Fourth Annual Confucian World Symposium held last fall (September 2011) here in Qufu every year in conjunction with the Confucius Festival at the Confucius Institute. As one of the hosts of the Dan at 2009 Confucius Festivalsymposium the I Ching Society is very active in participating in this activity. In past years I have participated in numerous activities including the traditional march and program at the Confucius Temple during the Confucius Festival.. Somewhere along the way over the years I got my Chinese name Kongdan.

Next as a published author of Chinese history and philosophy, I have written extensively about Confucius, the I Ching and Taoism, especially Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching. Over a period spanning over twenty years my writing first began with focusing on ancient China predating writing and the I Ching, not focusing on fortunetelling common in popular culture today in China, but as a storyteller Bookcover An American Journey I Chingconveying the words and messages conveyed thousands of years ago to today in a book written in one hundred days as one hundred entries from January through March 1993 entitled An American Journey through the I Ching and Beyond. This was my first book published later in 2004 and just as Lao Tzu told Confucius to begin with the beginning and the I Ching… so was I. It was here from the beginning that I first experienced the dragon in my writing. Not only as a metaphor, but taking on the role of the dragon, that lead to an as yet unpublished manuscript entitled “My Travels with Lieh Tzu” written over the next year from August 1994 to May 1995. This book is a compilation of my own version of the  “Book of Lieh Tzu” in which Taoist thought, philosophy, myths and legends, Confucius, Chuang Tzu, and many other characters passed through me and came through my writing as I quite literally become enmeshed and one with my peers as a dragon as a I feel I remain to this day. Being born in 1952 as a dragon as noted in the Chinese lunar calendar, to now be writing this update for the benefit of all those now assembled in 2012 another dragon years seems appropriate.

The outcome of this studying Confucius and TaoisBookcover Thought on becoming a sagem led me to Lao Tzu and his book the Tao Te Ching. After several years of further contemplation, writing, and study, my own interpretation of Lao Tzu came as though in an instant in May 2000 when I wrote my next book that was entitled Thoughts on becoming a Sage, The Guidebook for Leading a Virtuous Life. This book would eventually be published in 2006 in Beijing by Blue Wind Press and then with this my writing stopped. Except for my daily log of activities I have been writing over the past twelve years, that is, until last year 2011 when I wrote the first in a book series as yet unpublished entitled Finding yourself with Virtue.

Over this period of time coming to Qufu, I was also reminded that while I have read and studied the Confucian analects thoroughly, I needed to keep approaching Confucius not only as a scholar, but as Lieh Tzu’s everyday man coming to understand how his work has influenced China and the rest of the world. As if the dragons were reviewing Confucius work and seeing if it would first pass muster today and second coming to understand what it would take to enliven his words with new meaning and understanding. This was not to be a casual affair of the heart… but must also include my soul and nothing to be taken lightly with the passage of my own life’s events the threshold that would give meaning to my own understanding and nurturing of the thoughts, ideas, and words of the ancient sage, not just of Confucius, but those of his contemporaries as well..

Living in Qufu, it is the same today as it was in my first encounter here in October 1999. When I walk the streets of Qufu it is as if I am walking in the footsteps of Confucius as if I have been here many times in the past. Having made almost fifty trips from the USA until finally coming to stay, I have always felt as if I were being drawn to my eventual destiny like a moth to a flame until I was eventually zapped as if being told this was where my own heart and sole was to find eternal peace. As if I had come home to a place I had always known. My first conclusion was that when I was ready to write about Confucius and his analects it would not be just another interpretation and recounting of his sayings… his words. They were never what he wrote only his words anyway… they were always what someone else said he said. There is no doubt he was transcribed as he spoke, but in the retelling it is hard to know. It was left up to those that followed him to tell us. And they did a great job as we shall see.

Three people were mostly responsible for the telling of his initial greatness. Those were Mencius, Yan Hui and Zeng Zi. We will try to get a “hometown” feeling about these three later in this book through their descendents.  Many others followed over the centuries and his writings have been analyzed and re-written again and again by university professors or self described scholars, as a seeming rite of passage for a very long time just as they were written for over a thousand years in China as a prelude to getting a job in the government… Some of those thoughts are included here as well. The first step was always developing an understanding of the analects that was to be followed by a life of virtue emulating them. Finding your voice through your writing or paintbrush through strokes of perceived genius because you could find your way through contemplating the Tao and true meaning of your mentors and ultimately Confucius and Lao Tzu.

Expressing yourself through your artistry and calligraphy and in doing so become one of them too, as if their eternal genius resides in each of us if only we can find and discover why we are truly here. As if therapy for our own soul making our way through the universe as we come to find our own place in it as we travel. Being a resident in Qufu, and yet always looked upon as a “foreign guest and teacher”, does have its advantages. One of the great honors was in 2006 to be made an advisor on International Cultural Affairs of the Confucius Painting Academy here in Qufu. This helped to open many doors as it was always through his pen and brush the artist was recognized as following the traditions set forth by Confucius. Below is the certificate granted me as a scholar and writer of ancient Chinese history, I will also try to show and illustrate some examples of this artwork done by local artists here in Qufu and Shandong Province several times throughout this book. (not on WordPress)

Latter of Appointment

 

Committing oneself to history has always been the greatest endeavor so that once found a person can come to find who they truly are and why they are here they can see themselves and be happy. This is what Lao Tzu and the Taoists knew and conveyed to Confucius. But the underlying contradiction has always been why, and for what and whose purpose did one commit his life’s endeavor to and for such a purpose always seemingly just beyond our mortal grasp. For the common man such an effort to catch glimpses of becoming a sage was always out of reach. But not if you to could follow the path of Confucius and the Taoists’ teachings simply by following the way of virtue and discovering what that meant for and to you and knowing that in itself would always be enough.

Dan with students at Qufu normal schoolThis is why and how the simple farmer living in the countryside with nothing but knowing that he and this ancestors and his children will always be a part of something much larger than him is happy to simply be a farmer, or to be whatever endeavor life brings because he can define and know himself and that will always be enough. Living a virtuous life will always be enough for him, but for his children who have come of age in the computer age and popular culture often this is not enough. So an updating of the structure that binds him to both his children and his past becomes important. Hens the need and desire for an understanding teacher to show the way. Especially when his children are to become teachers in the local village as they teach innately, or almost subconsciously, that who you are will always be more important than will you do.

Living as a Confucian is a way of life and in Shandong Province you can see that in every city, town and village and throughout the countryside. I have visited friends here in Qufu and surrounding countryside whose family has lived in a simply three room hutong for more than three or four hundred years. Or have recently built a new home adjacent to the old. They can trace their ancestors back hundreds of years because in many cases they are always close by. For a simple farmer whose family has tilled the same field for hundreds of years it is not uncommon for him to be buried in the same field when he dies. Truly living a virtuous life as not only a Confucian, but as the Taoist being one with nature… literally becoming one with nature for eternity.

Today that means living a very simple, unassuming, knowing lifestyle and like the knowing sage bringing no attention to oneself and as we say, just being by doing nothing,Tree Planting in Jining or finding the wu wei within us. Living a life of simply virtue means that you are content in knowing what may be coming in your life because you have seen and done everything before based on knowing who you already are. Change becomes adapting to your new surroundings or environment with your virtue intact and knowing that is all you will ever need. Over thousands of years the Chinese had become adept at thinking about change and its meaning in their own lives.

The wisdom of the I Ching, otherwise known and recalled as the Book Image of Yin and Yangof Change, never far from their mind, not as fortune telling, as much as having a sense of how one should live one’s life with an understanding or sense of what may come next. This is sometimes a hard thing to do when you see a foreigner with a long beard and hair, such as me coming up the path, that is unique and different from what you would expect coming to your home for a visit. I think in a way though my appearance helps to breakdown barriers though. It is like the saying change is universal and must occur and “it is what it is”. It is you becoming who you are or were meant to be, or perhaps always were but forgot along the way. Its coming home again and being happy with whatever outcome may possibly occur.

For me, teaching now at Qufu Normal School, in the center of what would be the ancient Entrance of Qufu Normal Schoolor old City Lu, now Qufu, I find myself occasionally looking at the wall next door to the school that surrounds the Confucius Mansion and Temple. I pause and contemplate all those who came before me who too were struck by the magnitude of what it could possibly mean for their own sense of enlightenment and in some large or small way would become teachers of teachers as well. As for me, it is as if I am being reminded of the challenges of what my students will face when they return home to become teachers too…

I am also a teacher at Jining University here in Qufu. Jining University Library Jining University has an enrollment of over 12,000 students. Qufu Normal School is a subsidiary of  Jining University. Pictured at left is the library on the Jining University campus. It is considered to be the largest library in the university system in Shandong Province .

 

 

Officially, I teach students who will become teachers oral english and a newspaper course at Jining University and oral english at Qufu Normal School. But with over three hundred students on QQ, or the Chinese facebook, what I really teach is how to become Dan with foreign teachers at Jining Universitya self fulfilled person. In my teaching I use not only Confucius, but philosophers and teachers throughout history to show how one can best find their place in the world. I am one of four “foreign teachers”. Pictured here we are Mike Gullimero, Daniel Roth, Dan and Ray .

 

 

Foreign Expert Tree Planting in JiningIn spring 2012 we participated in a tree planting in the new North Lake of Jining with other “foreign experts” from around the Jining area. Our own university campus in Qufu has been laid out beautifully as is well designed and lies about 3 miles to the northwest of the center of town in what is considered the new Qufu. We will discuss the planning of the new city of Qufu later in this book.

 

In my own way I have been approaching Confucius my whole life… but not just Confucius. First and foremost Confucius was a Taoist even though there was no such name for it in his day. If anything, I too am a Taoist first, then a Confucian, then a Christian, then a Buddhist…. Confucius understood the competing thoughts and philosophies of his day and it was as if he was the one chosen for a certain task; simply to be the one to make sense of it all. The most enduring aspect of Eastern religions and philosophy for me is that you can encapsulate, or identify with various aspects of each that helps to define the path one have chosen. I have many friends and acquaintances here that see themselves as Confucian and Taoist who have studied the Bible for years and believe in many tenets of the Christian faith as well without the needs to choose one over the other. It is said that some of the basic tenets of Zen Buddhism came from the early Taoists, especially Zhuang Tzu.

For me now to return to the waterfront here in Qufu and walk up and down the rivers edge, I can still see Confucius in contemplation and mild argument making his point to his students and others competing for his attention always taking time to explain and cajole others to think things through to their logical conclusion. It was always what the hoped for outcome that was best for all putting pettiness and ego aside that ruled the Katie, Milo and Dan on Qufu waterfrontday. This was why he was such a great teacher. It is if I was there too… and yes he had a kind heart, knowing soul and wisdom of and for the ages. It was always his wisdom we came back for time and time again. His words were always meant to be therapeutic… a tempering of the heart as he would say. He always knew his ultimate task was twofold… to know the simple truth as the way of benevolence and virtue and be able to convey or express it. I often find myself wondering almost unknowingly along the same rivers edge on occasion today in contemplation when needing a second opinion. Pictured here is Dan, his daughter Katie and her dog Milo.

Until now I was hesitant to tackle the idea of bringing Confucius into today’s modern reality because I felt the task too great and my place, even if as a knowing sage used to writing in metaphor with dragons always at my beck and call. As if they are looking over my shoulder guiding my hand and my writing always re-confirming who am I to assume such a daunting task. As I remain always humble while finding my ultimate endeavor has always been to write and tell the stories of the ancients. To write as I have in the past about the I Ching, with Lao, Chuang, Lieh Tzu and many others as my mentors. To no longer simply be the student myself, but become the teacher so that I too may convey the wisdom of Confucius and the others in everyday terms for today and tomorrow. To continue approaching the task until I am ready.

It is for this reason I live here, living and writing a block away from the Confucius Mansion and Temple. To tell their story as the storyteller through not only my writing but through my teaching as well, or better said, using allegory and metaphor becoming one with them as if this is my own story and destiny. As if after coming to Qufu for more than a dozen years I am ready. As if the dragons have chosen me to follow in their footsteps, as well as those of Confucius. In effect, finally following their advice and counsel as therapy for my own eventual reckoning that will come again as one who follows the eternal truths of the universe…

To be able to walk again on the same streets everyday where Confucius and all those who followed him over the centuries have walked and make him come back to life… as a teacher in my own rite of passage. Confucius himself had many teachers as well and to be here as the teacher of soon to be other teachers here in Qufu and Shandong is as if I too have many teachers to learn from as I go forth. As I travel the back roads in and around Qufu and Shandong Province I find this a great challenge as well as a great honor and opportunity.

During my first trip to Qufu in October 1999, we stayed at the Queli Hotel that sits Queli Hotel in Qufuadjacent to the Confucius Mansion. Early one morning I went for a walk at daybreak and I could sense I had been here in Qufu many times before. It was as if I had been in the ancient city before. Later that day I went on what would become many visits to the Confucius Mansion and Temple next door. As our tour guide, Zhu Bensheng, took my family and I around the mansion and later the temple, it was as if I recognized most aspects of the buildings and grounds. I knew from that moment that there was something here that I must come to know and remember. It was as if I was returning to Qufu to discover and know myself.

The tour guide, Ben as he is known, would become a dear friend over the years. Often the one meeting me at the train station at Yanzhou near by or here in Qufu on my many trips and seeing me off for my return home to Florida. Hardly a week goes by that I often turn the corner somewhere in my travels or will be riding in a bus or car and see vistas and places that are almost too familiar. As if I have been here and there many times before…but more on that later in the story.

Chapter 2 – Confucius as the teacher

Confucius was himself a student as much as a teacher. He was alive when there were many ideas, thoughts and philosophies prevalent and competing for attention. At the time, Lieh Tzu was always talking about endeavor and destiny, while Chuang always looked to humor and not taking ourselves too seriously taking on anything and anyone who claimed to be in authority. Confucius became adept through his verbal instructions and talks in showing the folly of one taking oneself too seriously. I think in many ways Chuang Tzu was the best antidote for Confucius and his writing because he showed him how to step away from his talks with others to see and get a feel for how things worked in practical terms and how humorous he appeared sometimes at the severity of his taking life so seriously, thereby, giving him a sense of humility that betrayed any outward appearance of real importance.
While Confucius understood the value and importance of what was understood of what he and others had to say, it is also this same sense I try to gain by visiting with my own students in their hometown and listening and get a feeling for his influence in what is said and not said as well.

Although others had influence on Confucius, none had more than Lao Tzu. Lao Tzu was truly the old master who everyone wished to emulate and model after their own thoughts and writing. Confucius just did this better than any of his other contemporaries. Sometimes when I am visiting with students and their parents and grandparents, many of whom having never seen a foreigner before, they wonder, “Who is this foreign teacher who is spending so much time in the countryside and teaching our sons and daughters?” I comfort them with a gift of my books either from the I Ching or Lao Tzu that I have written that shows my ultimate love for their culture and that I am here to hear and write down their own story so that it too can be remembered.  As they look at my books I have written and learn of my own two daughters I adopted from China, Emily from Urumqi and Katie from Maoming, they become aware of my love for China and they know their son or daughter is in good hands as they prepare to meet the challenges of a new world.

For over twenty five hundred years scholars, teachers, artisans, those in government, and everyday common folks have tried to bring some sense of meaning to their lives by adhering to their own innate strengths thought to be found through abiding by the words, i.e., the principles of Confucius. As briefly described above however, Confucius was heavily influenced by those who later would be known as Taoists. This is most obvious when you travel to historic sites throughout Shandong Province and China. The words you read on stone tablets carved over the centuries are attributable to Confucius. But the design, layout of buildings, and trees and landscaping are attributable to the Taoist influence of becoming one with where you are and how you see yourself fitting into the universal balance that defines us.

For Lao Tzu, Zhuang Tzu, and Lieh Tzu their writings portrayed an early Taoism that was very transitory, hard to define or pin down. They often used allegory, paradox, and metaphors or just simple argument to make or prove a point. Their writing though lacked structure and cohesion that provided direction as to how to live. Confucius knew instinctively how to make the pieces fit and was able to do so through his then modernized adaptation of the five classics of Chinese literature and then later through the discourse of his own analects and what he learned from Lao Tzu.

It was as if Lao, Zhuang and Lieh Tzu had their heads in the clouds with their thoughts and someone had to pull them back down to earth and bring a practical application to their undertaking. Of course, in doing so he got all the credit. Confucius could say things in a common way that made common sense – that was the secret of his ability and success. But it was always coming back to the mythical dragon and how the Chinese people always saw it as whom the sage would spend eternity… the sage would become a dragon and the return again if he so chose to real life again. It is the dragon that symbolizes the virtue found in the Perfected Man, or as Zhuang Tzu would say the “go between heaven and earth.”

However, in more earthly or practical terms, it was left to the students of Confucius to convince future generations of his value and genius. Later in this book we will focus on three men who were responsible for helping to ensure Confucius place in history would be assured and travel to their hometowns with my students who grew up there and meet their families. Those men were Mencius of Zhoucheng; Yan Hui, who was Confucius favorite student from Qufu, and Zeng Zi from Jiaxiang. These three did more to develop the central focus of what would later be known as Confucianism than anyone.
Also there is a woman in Chinese history who was named Ban Zhao (45-114 CE), who wrote a Confucian text for women that was known as Lessons for Women (Nujie) my students and I want to learn more about. Since over ninety-five percent of my students are girls I feel compelled to shine a light and focus on her achievements.  Her primary input was that while education was the major qualification for being a junzi, or noble person, she understood two thousand years ago that such a distinction should not be limited to just men. She insisted on the need for educating women and girls as well. Although bound by Confucian orthodoxy, the needs of women were being expressed then as today. Later in this book, we will visit Mencius, Yan Hui, and Zeng Zi, in each of their hometowns with my students and try to learn how their influence has carried over until today.

In traveling around Shandong Province and especially in Qufu you are often reminded of where you are from remnants of the past that remain today. In my professional life for more than twenty years I was a city planner specializing in master planning and neighborhood preservation USA so I know the difficulties in balancing the old verses the new in concrete terms as well. The past is prologue to whatever the future brings. You must study and know the past to ensure that you plan for a bright future. This thought is as ancient as the I Ching and as current as today. This is a basic theme to understanding how the Chinese built on the Confucian philosophy. It was as if my time in the planning profession would be a perfect segue for where I am now in Qufu.

Here in Shandong Province and Qufu, honoring a community’s history and legacy is a tremendous challenge as cities reconcile sometimes more than three thousand years of history in modernizing and bringing them into the 21st century. Deciding what to save from the past verses what must be lost for the benefit of today and future generations is a challenge. This is especially true today because tourism and preserving the past is many times the key to the local economy. For Qufu this is especially important as it does not even rank in the top fifty in size in cities in Shandong Province. So tourism and honoring the past is a way to bring money into the local economy in a very big way. It is estimated that Qufu sees over three hundred thousand tourists every year. Another critical thing about Qufu is everyone is seemingly connected to everyone else. Either through family, school, business, or the local government… as the foreign teacher at Qufu Normal School and one of the foreign teachers at Jining University, and having been coming here now for over twelve years, most people know me by my Chinese name Kongdan, or sometimes Kong Dan.

Not only within the reconstructed ancient walls of what was Qufu in Confucius day, but you are reminded that Qufu is the only city in the world with three world heritage sites within its boundaries, the Confucius Mansion, Temple and Cemetery. In Qufu there are one hundred and eighty four sites recognized as deserving of protection as cultural and heritage sites. Thinking back to the City of Lu, as it was known during his lifetime, you are reminded that Confucius was a product of his times. Leaders of his day were accustomed to holding on to power often through brute force of armies of tens and hundreds of thousands of conscripts. They held ground not necessarily through their brain but more often than not through the brawn or strength of their military, but also by having a wall around their city to protect them from intruders. . Confucius was a great tactician at the time because he could read people and know what action they would likely take based on their previous record or actions. Studying cause and effect and knowing predictable outcomes was essential.

Another genius and favorite son of Shandong named Sun Tzu, made famous due to his work entitled The Art of War, would come along centuries later. He too would study the Confucian analects and Taoist teachings as a precursor for defining both victory and defeat in warfare and the ultimate success and failure found in both. In doing so discovering that there could there be a virtuous side to justifying warfare with our enemies…. a caveat that makes our own virtue all the more essential in knowing when to act and just as important when not to. The analects are full of examples where Confucius used what today would be simply called common sense through words and phrases that could direct attention and pointedly point people in the right direction and many times, more importantly help others to judge the errors of their ways before starting out. He was also quick to tell the powers that be the truth as he saw it. The idea that truth or in keeping with our inner virtue meant there could be no right or wrong if what was found good for one must also be good for another. This was a major contribution from Lao Tzu and the Taoists of his day. Many believe that it was this knowledge and wisdom that kept him from getting the respect he deserved while he was alive as his advice often fell on deaf ears. Those in power and authority often used whatever means they found necessary to hold onto, or retain power. Having Confucius remind them of ruling through benevolence and virtue often fell on deaf ear and not always well received. Many scholars would agree he was not all that popular during his day and it took his death and the work of his students and followers to preserve his legacy.

One of my favorite places to walk and visit in Qufu is along the waterfront. I can be here and just imagine Confucius walking up and down the rivers edge with those who traveled to the City of Lu (Qufu) to obtain his counsel. He was here – and along any place I sit he could also have sat as well. The City of Qufu has now designed and built a beautiful park along the same river. The highlight of which for me, as I have previously mentioned, is the place close by called Confucius Hill where Confucius is said to give lectures to his students. To go there now more than twenty-five hundred years later and see what I would call a living memory to his legacy is a good thing. It is as if you can still hear his voice calling on the wind… and his presence still here and felt in so many ways.

Confucius taught his followers something I would call the circle of life. That what we send out from ourselves is what we see in return. Most people may be familiar with a few of his sayings taken from the analects, but for now we are interested in capturing a glimpse of the man and what his continuing legacy means to the people of Qufu, Shandong Province, China and throughout the world. It is just like us in that it is often not what we say or do, but how we make people feel this defines us. This is what makes the teachings of Confucius so relevant in that we are changed for the better by knowing him.

Ultimately looking at and to those universal values and how each of us fit into the world we create for ourselves. How and why is that important today? In my own meditation, I can see Confucius teaching his followers logic and common sense or better said – what was best for all involved. This was the paramount essence his followers were attracted to along with the concepts of benevolence and virtue. These were carried forward after he was gone. This guiding principal was later adopted by the emperor, who we must remember, was seen as the Son of Heaven in China. He was considered the transmitter of all that was good in the world. It was through the emperor that later the decree came down that every city must have a Temple dedicated to Confucius. In doing so this ordained Confucianism as a state religion.

Although Confucianism has always been more fitting as a philosophy and not a religion, this deification has earned Qufu the moniker, or to be named as the “religious center of China for a thousand years”. If Confucius teachings could be adapted from top to bottom throughout the culture, then a predictable order could manifest and peace and harmony would reign. For the emperor this would serve to re-enforce his place in the scheme of things and strengthen his hold over the population. What made it work over the centuries was this meant his innate wisdom would not be beyond the grasp or capacity of every man and made Confucius easy to follow. That it is how we govern ourselves and transmit that sense of ethics and love from Confucius and Mencius and virtue from the Taoist Lao Tzu that everyman could become the perfected man as defined and described by Zhuang Tzu who saw man as the bridge between heaven and earth. Chuang Tzu felt that to be able to live the life of the Perfected Man here of earth would be the epitome of living as what the Chinese would call a junzi.

Confucius would say this is someone free of worries and fears as they have found their rightful place between heaven and earth. This became the perfect resting place for the sage or dragon, as such an enlightened person who had learned how to transcend his human frailties and truly become immortal. Living a life of virtue meant doing nothing outside of one’s chosen endeavors and in doing so what you do becomes nothing more than who you are. It was this finding of oneself as the scholar or artist that propelled the Confucian analects and wisdom over the centuries up until today. It was this essence captured in Taoist poetry and painting, even to how one built his house and surroundings through what today we call feng shi, that would help show the way, or better known as following the I Ching, Confucius, or the Tao.

It was this logic, or teaching of how to live and learning how to create relationships, i.e., how we act and respond to others around us that made the analects of Confucius so endearing and enduring. The idea of life having some logical sequence to it following if/then, or cause and effect had as much meaning then twenty five hundred years ago as it does today. And this prevailing thought at the time was definitely a Taoist understanding of human interaction. Confucius immediately saw this and began capturing this essence in his own style of extemporaneous speaking and conversing with others. As such the structure of the writing of the analects follows a pattern of very short sentences. They deal with single issues describing how to respond to everyday events in such a way that would be come to be known as common sense that would ultimately take hold and flourish. One can see this transition going back to the shaman, the I Ching and intervening centuries leading to Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching and everything beginning to make sense. The foundation of Confucius speaking was clearly predicated by his ability to see this and be able to express it.

Even so, it would be up to Confucius’ followers to convey the central message of his teaching to future generations and their ability to enhance his teachings with their own wisdom that made Confucius the center of Chinese life and culture for generation after generation. Living a virtuous life in simple harmony with all around you following cause and effect like the seasons, just as the Taoists would say, thereby becoming the guidepost for others to follow in the way of virtue. Living and dying with both your heart and soul for today as yesterday fades into but a memory. Connecting the two you come to know the inner peace that was always present but forgotten due to the clutter of events and attachments we find while we’re here. The ancient Taoists would call this wu wei, or quite literally non-action. Wu Wei is the art of being. It is the art of being in such harmony with the universe, or Tao, that everything happens. That things just happen as they should… not forced, not sought after, not planned, not bought, not desired… it just happens. It happens as we become one with the universe around us. The picture above is where Confucius is buried in the Confucius cemetery in Qufu.

This idea though was not in keeping with solely where Confucius and his later follows saw as the way to live. Finding that as people are left to themselves without structure they often can never find the meaning of why they are here. It would be as if Confucius would be holding one’s heart and Lao Tzu one’s soul. The Perfected Man was to become the marriage between Confucianism and Taoism bringing us forward to find our eternal selves. Over the centuries we have continued to attempt to resolve the paradox. What Confucius and Chinese culture have done, and especially those who have followed him did in practice, was to find a way to harmonize the two. This is what you find endearing about the small city of Qufu because in practical terms it cost little or nothing to live here. It is the perfect place for the perfected man to seek the balance between old and new and his heart and soul. To remember what he has forgotten living as a Taoist when alone as the sage in thought and contemplation and as a Confucian when with others. What could be more perfect? Living a virtuous life in perfect harmony – following cause and effect – like the seasons and becoming a guidepost for others to follow in the way of virtue; ie, to live with both your heart and soul is universal. You live your life for today through your heart and once you find your ultimate endeavor and destiny you live your life through your soul. It is in or by connecting the two we find inner peace.

Finding oneself in perfect harmony with one’s surroundings is not wholly a Chinese thought however. About the same time as Confucius the seeds of what would become the Roman Empire whose center was Rome and what would later become the country of Italy begin developing their take over the centuries of the idea of “la dolce vite”, or more simply put the sweetness or art of doing nothing. The similarities and parallels of the two are pretty amazing. To live one’s life with virtue and remaining unconcerned about whatever outcome may follow is the ultimate endeavor we have while we are here. It is this that the ancients and Confucius have taught for millennia. From the time of the first shaman who looked to the sky and wondered or asked why things occur as we do up until today, we look to those who have found the answers we too are here to find and follow for ourselves through our virtue and look to find the ability to do so for ourselves as well. Who knows, maybe Marco Polo brought back to Italy from China the idea along with silk and noodles.

In an example of the saying the more things change the more they stay the same… this would be the area of the old city next to the Bell and Drum Towers in Qufu. The Bell Tower is adjacent to the Queli Hotel on Queli Street along the eastern side of the Confucius Temple built during the Ming Dynasty. About a block away east of the Confucius Temple on Gulou Street is the Drum Tower. Historical records show that the Bell Tower was used to wake everyone up in the morning and the Drum Tower was used at night to tell people when to go to bed during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Today every morning at Qufu Normal School where there are hundreds of students living in dormitories and teachers apartments someone comes out at 6:30AM and blows a whistle to tell everyone to wake up… the whistle is blown again every night at 10PM telling everyone it is time to go to sleep. No kidding. If you step outside the gate onto the street and look closely to the east you can see the Drum Tower from our school. As if nothing has really changed.

One can get a sense of this in today’s real world by traveling the countryside in Shandong where old China still persists in both the faces of grandparents happy to cling to what they know and remember and through the eyes of their grandchildren, my students, who are rushing headfirst into the future. Both innately have a story to tell. And in both ultimately it will be by connecting the heart of today’s generation with the soul from the past that both they and I will find inner peace and truly come to understand this man known as Confucius and help me in defining my own ultimate role as the storyteller in the scheme of things… but for now simply as their teacher.

Sometimes while in meditation every morning I listen for the Bell Tower from old waking everyone up and while lying in bed at night I feel sometimes I can still hear the cadence of the drumming from the Drum Tower that’s just a ways down the street on Gulou telling me its time for bed. Living in harmony with everyday events you can see and begin to feel again the oneness of the universe and the perfect order Confucius and the Taoist dreamed of as you yourself drop off to sleep.

Chapter 3 – My travels around Shandong

In American history there is an Indian legend, or saying, that says you must first walk in a man’s moccasins, or shoes, to know from what he speaks or from where he has come. It is a statement of eternal truth. To know from where someone comes from and how they interact with others is to know how to approach them. This was also a very basic underpinning of how Confucius would approach others. His focus was always geared to pursuing both the perfection of society and the person or individual solely by virtue. This was a trait he learned from Lao Tzu as he understood one without the other would never be successful. This was the cornerstone behind the idea of benevolence and treating others as we would want to be treated ourselves. This basic tenet of harmony that underscores all of his teachings begins and ends with one’s own heart and soul and our own lives we live each day as our own personal therapy.

This is not something that can be found only in China and sayings and teachings of Confucius, but also as a central theme of the Bible that would run parallel in western civilization to how Confucius thought was put into action over the centuries in China. This can be best expressed in the book of Galatians 5:22,23 “The fruit of the spirit is love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control; against such there is no law.” This is a truism for all mankind, i.e., for our spirit to be guided by our inner virtue that transcends our personality here on earth. Very similar sentiments as expressed by Confucius.

For Confucius and the Taoists, a person’s success or failure was measured by how he or she was able to express their inner virtue through and by their relationships with others and/or how they would display their inner virtue through their writing of calligraphy or as an artist through his painting. There would always be a unity of spirit present that rose above what one would call his own spiritual belief. A person could or would not be found to be on a singular spiritual journey because you affect everyone you come in contact with and are also affected just the same by those you meet every day.
Since your eternal spirit is universal your connection to a higher presence or being was/is not something to be questioned. So you can be born a Taoist, live as a Confucian, and die a Buddhist, or add other “religious thinking” to the mix and… mei guan xi… it doesn’t matter. Each person was/is a child of God regardless of what they believed or did not believe.

Or as we say today… it goes without saying. You are who you are… I am that I am. We all came from the same place and we all will return. To question another’s innate divine presence cannot therefore gain traction or footing in your own belief because we are all children of God. Rather Taoist, Confucian, Moslem, Jewish, Christian, etc, etc, etc. Of course, this is my own opinion and goes beyond Confucius. But not really… One cannot begin to understand how the Chinese people see themselves in the universal scheme of things without seeing the world through their eyes, or better said how they see themselves.

I have always felt and sensed people are free to practice and believe whatever they want in China. They just must grant the same courtesy to everyone else as well. This means that overt attempts to convert others to your own religion are discouraged. Every city has a Department of Religious Affairs office that oversees and coordinates religious affairs in their community. I am speaking as someone who was allowed to publish a monthly Christian publication for two years in conjunction with the Christian Church Association of western Shandong Province (2006-2007). We stopped only because financial resources were too limited to continue. The Daily Word was very well received and many people were disappointed when we stopped the publication.

Of course, in China for well over a thousand years every city was required to have a temple to honor Confucius and Qufu was accordingly known as the religious center of China… and still is by those who follow Confucianism. But as I have said Confucianism was a way of life as a philosophy and Confucius would never have allowed or seen him as defined as deity. Three men who were responsible for promoting Confucius after his death have their own temple in their own hometown as we will see in later chapters of this book.

There is an ancient saying I often teach and repeat in my classroom. It is that a common man breathes through his stomach and that a wise man breathes through the soles of his feet that are grounded to the earth he walks each day. Teaching college English here in Shandong is fascinating because students have to express themselves within the limits of their understanding of how to say or express themselves when their vocabulary is very limited. This means they have to express themselves through their essence of whom they are and where and how they see themselves in the world. This is pretty powerful stuff. For me as a teacher it helps me to show how important their roles will be when they become teachers as well… and to learn to speak more English. This is one of my classes at Qufu Normal School. I have traveled with most of them back to their hometown or village here in Shandong Province on weekends to visit them and their families to express the importance of their learning English.

In Qufu, just as in Shanghe, Linyi, Jiaxiang, Taian, Weifang, Qingdao, and in cities, towns and villages throughout Shandong Province you can see China through the eyes and ear of grandparents and stories handed down from generation to generation. This is not necessarily unique here in China, but when you have well over four thousand years of uninterrupted history to lean on and learn from, the memory curve can get to be quite long. However, it is the twentieth century when China came of age in the world. From the last emperor, Aisin-Gioro Puyi, who left his throne in 1912 signifying the end of dynastic rule, to the dawn of the Communist Party and socialism up until today China has changed dramatically, but not so much in the countryside. Now, one hundred years later, the transformation of China has eclipsed most all other developments in the world in over a little more than a century’s time. For China, however, this has been just a passing phase of transition it has made for thousands of years. A good parallel or analogy would be when a city or ever individual needs to modernize its infrastructure or home. They decide what is still structurally sound and useful and what no longer meets today’s standards. What still works is kept and what does not is discarded…. same as the world over. This idea plus the idea of centralized planning helps to modify the future to meet limitations experienced in the past and known to exist today. This structured pace for growth and change fits well into how China has adapted to fit Confucian ideas into everyday practice and is another reason for why his philosophy is still so relevant.

In looking back at China’s history, we don’t tell time as by centuries that have past, as much as dynasties and their lasting impact on the future. Amazingly it is not only the rule of the dynasty we look to in order to understand the times, but the tenure, growth, and influence of Confucianism and Taoism that we consider that tells us the progress they may have made.

To get a sense of what Confucius stands for you must first understand how people in China view him today. While he continues to be honored and admired for his role in Chinese history, popular culture has become somewhat insulated from the traditional feelings toward him, except for the role of traditional medicine for example that stresses living a balanced life. I often think that one of the keys Lao Tzu conveyed to him was to look to the I Ching and history for balance, and yin and yang that permeates all things in China.

An area where this is especially true is in traditional Chinese medicine. This follows the traditional yin and yang and opposites and the need for balance in all things in life. This is the first thing a doctor does in trying to reach a prognosis, or diagnosis, as to symptoms that are not in keeping with a person’s natural rhythms. This is true for all events where a pattern tells us what is happening and the likely outcome we should expect. When you are traveling the countryside and spend time in a village of four or five hundred families where it is obvious things have not changed much over hundreds of years, this becomes much more obvious.

In my travels I visited Liangshan, a little over two hours from Qufu to visit two of my students from Qufu Normal School Yue Wen hua (Tina) who is from Jiaxiang and Yang Xia (Mary), her brother Yang Xian li and her mother Zhang yun feng and her village Jia zhuang cun south of Liangshan.

On my trips to visit my student we always try to find a local landmark and here we found a big one…Liangshan Mountain is famous for one hundred and eight heroes who fought to protect their homes… known as Yi Ling hao. One of the highlights was what was left of the Zongliang Stockade built by an insurgent army. What is interesting is how the idiom came into being. The saying above the door in the picture above reads “bi shang Liangshan” in Chinese. It literally means “to be driven to join the Liangshan Mountain rebels.” It was made famous by the Chinese classic, Outlaws of the Marsh,” which is about a band of outlaws in the Song Dynasty and is about someone named Lin Chong and his wife. While at a temple another man named Gao Yanei, the son of an army commander took “liberties” with Lin Chong’s wife… This ultimately led to Lin Chong’s banishment and later him forming an army, killing his enemies and leaving fr Liangshan Mountain. The story does not say if he got his wife back though. But the story makes for great reading though. That’s my student Mary and I at the ceremonial gong on the way up to the top of the mountain.

You can certainly see the generational difference people feel in Shandong Province, especially for the younger generation who listen to popular music and watch movies, videos… surf the internet and can now see and experience the world in a new way. You can easily gain an understanding of how seeing the relevance or even caring about Confucius and China’s history becomes a challenge, never mind the importance of looking at and understanding Confucius for the 21st century. There is an age old saying, describing human belief passed down from the shaman throughout history until today that belies all understanding describing events we encounter each day and it is that “this too, whatever it may be, shall pass”. It is this sense of faith in the human spirit that enables us to go forward in the face of the greatest tragedies and misfortunes mankind has or will encounter in the future. Just as it is what the ancients have tried to teach and tell us in that it is and will be only our virtue that defines us and lives after we are gone.

You can also understand the criticism of Confucius today by some who say he represents a feudal or parochial China that in many cases does not exist anymore. It is as if they are taking him out of context for who he was and how his continuing influence defines the fabric of the Chinese people today. Removing Confucius from the picture would be as if you removed the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, and all the other natural characteristics that make China what it has been become over the centuries. It is just as these rivers have defined the topography of China over time, Confucian and Taoist philosophies have done so as well. For someone to belittle their importance would signify they don’t understand the subject, or have not reflected on the true meaning of what they have meant over time and history and will continue in the future long after such an argument has been made and those who make it in their own time have passed by.

It is when you travel the back roads and visit cities, towns and villages where people’s history defines who they are that this icon of a man whose virtue defines their character becomes crystal clear again and again. Confucius philosophy grew up in feudal times yes, but his ideas and philosophy are still as relevant today as ever. All they require is the wisdom of our times, or age, to demonstrate and live the teachings he taught for ourselves and future generations to come. Or as my mentor Zhuang Tzu would say “there is nothing new there is only new ways to teach nothing and in doing so everything you need to know is thereby revealed.” Or as Lao Tzu told Confucius himself, “If all you possess is virtue then what else could possibly matter.” Following the way of virtue is not feudalistic. It is a roadmap to each person’s ultimate and eternal destiny.

Confucius presence is everywhere here in Shandong Province. As a teacher you are continually reminded of this and you can sense it in the classroom in so many ways. First and foremost, is the respect shown by students to their teacher. Certainly a tradition taught over generations when the teacher was paramount because oftentimes your entire future was predicated on a student’s ability to capture the essence of what the teacher had to say and what he taught. Devotion to study and learning took precedent over everything else. For some, especially my own students, gaining an appreciation and understanding of how you as a student would someday become a teacher yourself is at times a frightening prospect. Just as we are reminded that the common tread of teaching for thousands of years was Confucius own analects and how one was to approach, appreciate, and learn from them then to convey our understanding of them.

Even today, beginning in primary school children are taught to speak by reciting Confucius. They are taught to read by reading Confucius and they are taught writing by memorizing and writing about Confucius and virtue. Treating others as you would want to be treated yourself. In middle and high school the hallways of schools are filled with posters and banners of the sayings of Confucius. As a student in school whatever you learned historically, subsequent to the teachings of Confucius, was only to show your appreciation of these principles now ingrained within you. Confucius became the platform onto which all other learning would reside.

In November and December 2010 I was a guest teacher at Cambridge English Learning Center in Jining. Teaching middle school students I could sense they had studied about Confucius and knew about his role in Chinese history as students often used the sayings of Confucius, learning about virtue and how to be a good person. A Dean and teacher at Cambridge named Zhao Yonghua (Cassie) and another teacher from Pakistan, John and I often meet at the Lumbasa Restaurant at the Canal Mall in Jining for pizza on weekends with our students to practice English.

Traditionally, once this sense of living as a Confucian was ingrained at a young age what you did to earn a living was not important because the virtue of Confucius was now instilled within you. The same as was taught generation, after generation, after generation, etc, etc, etc…If in meeting and making friends in China you gets no other sense of the influence of Taoism and Confucianism than this concept, this is enough for now. Repeating again… If you could grasp the principles taught by Confucius, then whatever you did afterwards would be ok because those principles now becomes a part of you as well. Its like getting to know someone and appreciating them for who they are and for me after thirty years of study I often know them better than they know themselves. I think this is what makes me a good teacher.

Your success in life would be measured by those you encountered in your daily life as to how you were perceived to have grasped this as a way of life. This is why a modern day understanding of Confucius is so vital and essential to understanding the Chinese way of life and how they see themselves. Even for me walking down the street and passing one of my students or fellow teachers, there is always the salutation of “good morning teacher” or “hello dear teacher.” To the left are several students from Qufu Normal University and their teacher Maria who have been helping my daughter Katie in her schoolwork tutoring her here in Qufu.

There is a reverence reserved for teachers seldom seen displayed to others, except of course those you have been taught to also show deferential respect to as well. Something you learned by learning about living a virtuous life by knowing Confucius. It is said that there are three kinds of death. First, when your body ceases to function, second when your body is consigned to the grave, and third, sometime in the future when your name is spoken for the last time.

As I travel the countryside visiting with my students and their families in places like, Linyi, Li Hang, Jiaxiang, Jining, Liangshan, Zhaoshang, and many others, I am often the first foreigner their parents, but mostly their grandparents ever have seen, more or less spoken to. For their son or daughter, or grandson or granddaughter to have invited their foreign teacher for a visit is a very auspicious occasion. And for one of my students to get to practice their English for their family can be a little nerve wracking and for myself being there in their home sharing a meal is quite an honor. Again, it is good here to remember that most all of my students in college are studying to become teachers.

Two students I want to mention here are Zhai Xizi (Vivian) and Xu Ran (Cloris) also from Qufu Normal School, Vivian is studying to be teacher and Cloris an artist. In one of my frequent visits to Jining I visited both in their homes on a cold Saturday in March. First we visited Vivian in her sixth floor apartment with her mother Wang Liping, who is a family planning specialist with the Women’s Federation and her grandmother Dong Yangyang. Her family was originally from the countryside in a village called Nan zhang not too far away and were farmers who grew mainly corn and wheat every year..

Vivian’s father Zhai Fukui has studied Lao Tzu and is a very good calligrapher. His graphic style seemed to capture a simple easy stroke signifying a sense of purpose and unique style to his painting. His knowledge of Taoism was very good and I felt compelled to discuss his approach more in the future. Chinese calligraphy is truly an art form all unto itself. What you draw as ink on canvass can be very illustrative of the inner peace that best signifies your appreciation of your own inner self. As with all forms of art, its beauty comes from an appreciation from inside yourself, as when you go to a gallery or see drama or a performance on stage, you ask yourself “what is or was he thinking when he or she created this”. For me this is how to gauge and have an appreciation for art and its longevity that continues after we are gone. . Later in this book we will spend time with another old friend who lives here in Jining who has mastered the art of the ancient calligraphy from the Shang Dynasty that pre-dates even Confucius.

Cloris, another student, lived just a few blocks away in a sixth floor apartment and met with her and her mother Yin Yunzhen, who works as an archivist. Both of Cloris’ parents are policemen. Cloris is also a student at Qufu Normal School and is an artist. The picture at left is of Cloris, my daughter Katie, me and Cloris mother. Cloris hopes to continue school and maybe become an art teacher.

While we were in Jining that day we met a dear friend who is a teacher at Cambridge Learning Center for pizza at the Grand Canal Mall. Here is a great picture from than day of our travels in Jining of my students Vivian, Cloris, my daughter Katie and two other students from Jining. Liu Libao (Cheryl) is one of my students and Alice is a student at Jinan University. Jining itself has a great history. For me and my travels throughout China, it is the food… no not the pizza, which attracts me most to Jining. It was on the “highway” between Hang Zhou, Suzhou and Beijing on a canal much of which that was dug by hand that is one thousand miles long and is considered to be the longest man made canal ever constructed over seven hundred years ago.

As it happens, a very dear friend, Mr. Li Yizhong of Qufu, is responsible for designing and the re-construction of the Museum of Jining Culture that illustrated the importance of the history of the canal in Jining. We visited the museum together in March 2012 and were greeted by the curator Ms Wang Li and received a personal tour by Ms. Xue Yu shown here with one of my students Gloria. The carved stone steles here are originally from a location a few miles outside of Jining, It was here back in 1999 that during my first visit to Jining I found the iron horse from the Han dynasty I had been looking for.  I had a deep sense that i was retracing my footsteps I had taken centuries before that confirmed my affinity to Qufu, Jining and western Shandong Province.

My theory is the food is so good in Jining because it was the midway point on the canal and restaurants along the way there captured the best cuisine found all along the canal. Mr. Li has done as much as anyone to preserve the ancient construction architecture in China. I will have much more on Mr. Li in the next chapter.

Almost all of my students have plans to come back to their hometown to teach themselves someday. Some want to be tour guides or want to stay in school to explore other opportunities and becoming a teacher is becoming much more difficult due to the exam system and so many students want to pursue that profession. For me to be there is like a beacon or acknowledgement to each family that their greatest hope for their children has someone else also as a champion pulling for them… their foreign teacher who they think has seen, knows and understands the world their prodigy will encounter. But even more important is a teacher who appreciates the eternal wisdom of Confucius and Taoist philosophy. A position I don’t take lightly as their teacher.

I grew up on a small farm in Lamar, Missouri, in the middle of America until I was about twelve on 160 acres of land my father farmed himself. Our two story wooden frame house was built around the turn of the century (about 1900) and was one of the original homesteads in southwest Missouri. When I was born in 1952 the house still had no water except a pump on the porch as you entered the kitchen and we had no inside toilet until 1956 when I was four years old. When I was older in high school I spent summers on a 300 acre farm in Cedar Hill, southwest of Saint Louis. There was a piece of land rented by our family friend I spent summers with that was immediately adjacent to the Mississippi River on which we grew corn. It was considered some on the richest land in the area and was called Mississippi gumbo. When you reached down and picked some up dirt, or soil, with your hand it would cling together like it was not too wet or not too dry. It was just perfect for growing corn. Of course you always ran the risk of not getting the corn out of the field in time before the next flood. Timing and luck was everything. You had to plow, disk and plant the corn then hope the river bottom land didn’t flood until after a few months later when you could harvest. But that’s another story. I mention this personal anecdote because for many of my students here in Shandong Province they are sometimes afraid their home in the countryside won’t measure up in the eyes of their teacher. Or they want to escape this place of hardship they have known all their lives. When my students say that, I take them out to the field usually adjacent to their parent’s home and pick up a clod of dirt and sprinkle on the ground. I tell them there is no greater endeavor and destiny than in tilling this land as their families have for generations. Seemingly inconceivable sometimes as hard as it is to imagine for over a thousand years their family can trace their roots to this place. That they honor the land and those who have come before them by cherishing the land and knowing their place in and responsibility to and for it… that does not mean they are obligated to be farmers like their parents and grandparents. But for them to understand their own role in protecting and preserving it in the role they will assume as teachers in their own village or city nearby is just as essential. When I show them a picture of me on a tractor at the age of four they are somewhat relieved and laugh in seeing that their teacher was really a farmer and person too.

As I have said, many of my students families have lived here on their land for hundreds of years either in what was their own home away from others or in a village of a few hundred homes adjacent to where each farmer had his own plot that after hundreds of years of farming next to your neighbor you instinctive knew where your plot would begin and end as did everyone else. You looked after your neighbors plot and he looked after yours if you were away. Even today when corn is harvested and laid out in the road to dry everyone in the village helps out everyone else. Tradition and good manners made good neighbors. Your family had been on that plot as long as anyone knew and would continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

It is important to note and remember that Confucius told of how to live a life of virtue and harmony with others just as he had followed the teachings of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu. He thought that it was not just important to convey what we know, but to live a life in that light as an example of the virtue each of us comes to possess. That the seeds of our happiness must be sewn into our everyday endeavors and that it is more important who we are as a person, than what we do to earn money to make a living  What connects Confucius today to people really everywhere is his ability to draw on his practical experiences of life and principles, acceptance of virtue as the key to man’s longevity, and certain basic truths that we should live by. In many ways that’s why his teachings are as relevant today as ever. They just need to gain their voice again and be told and expressed by people today. How better than to do this as those who will become teachers.
I think though for most people and students especially that I have met, the biggest challenge today is not change. Life’s challenges have always been the precursor of events telling us that change is inevitable. The difference today is the choices we have that can effect us in our daily life and more importantly our future.. Today the drive for getting an education is tremendous in China and with education choices become more plentiful and options become more possible. For my students today if they can excel in school and pass exams they can go to universities and/or graduate school anywhere in the world. Not just the best schools in Beijing or Shanghai, but to the best universities all over the world often on a full scholarship with expenses. This means they can go to London, Paris, Melbourne, Australia, or universities in the United States basically for free. Universities worldwide now have recruiters throughout China on the lookout for the best and brightest students. If they qualify there is nothing holding them back and they are on their way. Today choice is the biggest challenge to the status quo.

Part of my job at my university is to be on the same lookout for the best and brightest and help point them in the right direction. Just this month, I spent several hours tutoring a student from here in Qufu who has been accepted at York University in England for post graduate studies. With the internet, which I have hardly touched on here, students can connect with anyplace, anywhere at almost anytime. It is the freedom of choice with a market economy and money that is rapidly changing the face of China.

Chapter 4 – Teaching at Qufu Normal School and Jining University

In coming to Qufu for over twelve years and now living here, we have become accustomed to a way of thinking – this idea of welcoming friends from afar – first espoused by Confucius is paramount in what you observe and feel in Qufu. But exploring how Confucius made such an impact does not end as one leaves the outskirts of this renowned city. It expands outward to cities, villages and the countryside to the places where his followers lived as well…

Qufu and my adopted hometown in America, Boynton Beach, Florida, have been sister cities for a dozen years now (2001-2012). Qufu by Chinese standards is a very small town of about 60,000 with what would be considered its metro or metrpolitan area size to about ten times that amount, or about 600,000 residents including those people residing in small villages and the countryside. The city is surrounded by corn and winter wheat fields. The areas agriculture dominates the landscape and you get the sense that people have worked hard in the countryside here with little change for a very long time. It is easy to see this in their weathered faces. Qufu ranks not even in the top fifty in size in Shandong Province.  It is so small you could easily walk from one side to another in just a few hours. But that changing pretty quickly, Qufu could be said to consist of three parts. That part within the reconstructed ancient wall of the city where the Confucius Mansion and Temple can be found whose history can be easily traced dating back more than 2,500 years. The second would be the balance of what would consist of the traditional City of Qufu and the third part would be considered that west of the … river that is quickly filling up with apartment complexes, commercial areas and is where Jining University is where I teach.

What catches your attention most is the warmth and simplicity of the people here in Qufu where about half the residents claim the Kong family name. Of course Kong is the family name of Confucius. The city’s primary claim to fame, so to speak is naturally as the hometown of Confucius and tourism drives most of the local economy. Qufu is truly the tale of two cities. Tourist season from May to mid October when tourists descend on Qufu in order to see the Confucius Temple, Mansion and Cemetery where he and more than one hundred thousand of his descendents are buried and the rest of the year during winter from the second half of October through April of each year. This is interrupted during a few weeks in January and February when Qufu is also a destination during the month long Chinese New Year’s celebration. Living here you can get a sense of the influx of cars, and traffic and people during this time. Qufu is certainly a tourist destination with hundreds of thousands of visitors every year who come to honor Confucius, his philosophy, and his legacy.

Qufu though is changing like the rest of China and of course it is much easier to see the influence of Confucius here verses elsewhere. When I first started coming in 1999, there were few cars and bicycles were everywhere. But now traffic seems to have caught up with us even here. As a former city planner, the biggest impact I see is the lack of parking. In a sentence in most cases there is none. But it is this sense of simplicity, keeping it simple, that permeates life here in Qufu and inside the wall there remains a concerted effort to keep things as they always were. I think it is that wu wei thing again….

Ultimately what made Confucius enduring as a teacher and great philosopher was his promoting a way a thinking that embodied the best attributes of the ancient texts back to the shaman and I Ching. His ability to capture the essence of Chinese thought by and through his own study of this and the five classics of Chinese literature that gave people a sense of purpose and history that up to that point was unknown.  He set the stage and standard for scholarship and placed down a roadmap that others could follow.  But it is important to emphasize he did not do this alone.

To know Confucius, you must first know him as a teacher and how he influenced his students. Also, there is a saying whose author is unknown that goes “people may not remember exactly what you did or what you said, but they will always remember how you make them feel”. But one wonders… what and how did Confucius feel and what moved him?  Remember Confucius was not an originator of ideas. He did not see himself as a “creator”, but as the “relater”.  Confucius knew instinctively that this was the key to his teaching. It’s what Lao Tzu and the Taoists taught him. You must first internalize the meaning of what you feel before you can say or express it or what you say has no real meaning. I know for myself as a writer and teacher that having adopted internally the writings of my mentors, that when you can fully enmesh yourself in and as your innermost thoughts with your eternal path you are here to find and follow, then what you do becomes not only second nature, but who you really are. Or simply the natural extension of whom you are meant to be. When your writing or speaking is nothing more than an illustration demonstrably of who you are yet to become, then what you write and what you say has true meaning. I first learned this from personal experience when I wrote in my book, My travels with Lieh Tzu, almost eighteen years ago that “what you write is who you are to become”. What Confucius captured was this basic tenet he first got through internalizing and capturing the meaning of the I Ching and updating the ancient texts referred to above. He then later learned how to do the same with the writings of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu. He knew as the conveyor of the ancient texts, anyone else could do the same. Just as when you can focus on becoming the sage yourself and what that truly means, then your role in the here and now forever changes.

This is what Confucius did at the time he was here in Qufu, a few streets over from where I sit here today. It is said that he had three thousand students. Seventy two of them were men of considerable talent, wisdom and virtue of their own. Most all of them came from areas in what would be known as modern day Shandong Province. Their hometowns were the same hometowns as many of my students today. One of them, Zeng Zi, is from Jia xiang which is about two hours by bus north of Qufu. A place I have visited with my own students who consider Jia xiang their hometown as well. For the purpose of my own study and this book I have made several subsequent visits to Jia xiang following the life of Zeng Zi. He was essential because he not only added to the heritage of Confucian thought and philosophy; but as a writer, teacher and philosopher in his own right his contributions were immeasurable.

Three others who also helped to define Confucius teaching were Mencius, from Zhou Cheng, who was considered the “second sage” second only to Confucius. Mencius primary contribution was his development of Confucius’ ideological structure that would later be known as the Doctrines of Confucius and Mencius. His Policy of Benevolence and development of a system for ideological education would be followed for ways to rule the nation and has had a profound effect of Chinese society up until today. His own book Meng zi was regarded as required reading and essential for scholars who might by chosen by the government for a job. In addition to Zeng Zi and Mencius would be Si Zi who lived from 492-431BC and Yan Hui from Qufu, who was Confucius favorite disciple. All four have temples built in their hometowns to honor their contributions to the development of Confucianism. We will visit and explore their input as a student would towards his or her revered teacher and as a teacher myself telling their story that will help to define the way Confucius is seen in Shandong today. We will also explore many other cities, town, and villages in Shandong that have vestiges of Confucius that remain today. Another place will be the Temple of Confucius at Nishon Mountain and Academy adjacent to the cave where Confucius was born.

These four men, Zeng Zi, Mencius, Si Zi, and Yan Hui, all helped to promote the following four traits that would be attributed, or known as Confucianism. Again remember Confucius was not an originator, but a conveyer of what made sense for all starting with the central idea of ren, or benevolence that signifies the excellence of character in keeping with accepted norms of behavior. I have always felt this idea of ren was attributable as much to Chuang Tzu’s premise of the “perfected man” as much as to Confucius. Zhong, or one’s adherence or loyalty to one’s true nature, this too can find it’s origins in Taoism, especially the writings of Lao Tzu. Shu, reciprocity or more specifically our relationship with others or treating others as one would desire to be treated, which is a central teaching of all philosophies and religions. and finally Xiao, or filial piety, which began as the respect a child shows his parents and then later carried over to one’s relationships known as ruler to ruled, father to son, husband to wife, elder brother to younger brother and finally friend to friend.  There are many other traits that would be added to a person, or one later described as a junzi, but this gives the reader a general idea of what occurred and especially that it was not Confucius alone that made it happen. The analects represented only the middle for what had come before Confucius and what would follow…and that there were many who would later follow in Confucius footsteps who would refine and build on his teachings. What would begin as a central theme would emerge as an individual went through a transformation from student, to teacher, to a way shower, to even ultimately become a sage himself would lead someone to first examine his own motives and from what place internally you would be doing it from after embracing the four traits outlined above.

For thousands of years, this ladder of progression could be seen as only achievable through self cultivation and study – with the analects of Confucius the beginning realm of study or entry into a world few ultimately would know or obtain. At the center of this discussion has always been identifying just who we are and what possesses us to be who we are, who we might become and where from an eternal sense we fit into the scheme of our place in the universe. Or as the Taoist would say where we fit in the ten thousand things. Are we just here for a moment in time before moving on, or do we have a soul that began long before the here and now and continues long after we are gone. And if we are here only briefly how do we build on the perfection that defines us.

If we believe in the innate wisdom of the ages and how that continues, or is transfixed from one generation to the next, then it must be the continuation of our own soul that comes to the forefront. For the Taoists this was called cause and effect, to others one’s karma.. What you do or do not do has a direct correlation to what outcome you can expect to occur. You would know what would come out of a door by knowing what went in. There would be a predictable outcome to events you either created or caused to be created. It would simply be how you related with others that determined the outcome. Thereby you could predict future events.  It was this basic idea and argument of the Taoist philosophy that Confucius learned about as I described earlier that allowed him to put into practical terms of everyday living in context what everyone needed to know. In doing so, in effect he become what later generations would refer to as what it took to become a sage, or metaphorically, become a dragon. This connection is essential because it allows man to become universal, or one with the angels as such. And more importantly, provides a roadmap… or way… as defined by Taoist teachings, to be able to identify with our immortal self and ultimately become a sage as well. This eternal wisdom ties it all together.

If one can follow this line of thinking then an allegory needed to be created or made as a metaphor to convey, or tell the narrative of the meaning of what you want to relay, or express. Hens, the role of the dragon appeared and was modified accordingly to fit the times and situation.  It was Confucius peers, the Taoists who were his contemporaries, who perfected and modified the already ancient depiction of the dragon that had up to this time represented the unknowns of the universe. Passed down from the beginning by the shaman and later with the I Ching and others there needed to be an entity that would represent a go between heaven and earth and man himself. This entity would become known as the dragon.  As if some supernatural being who had learned how to draw on some power of the universe to converse with the most learned ones who have come before you. This adaptation gave those who questioned what was real and perhaps what was not through what we call myths and legends and the stories passed down through what would be considered as an oral tradition as the way of expressing themselves. Storytelling from generation to generation has always by definition blended what is real and imagined and most importantly what was important to telling the story from the storyteller’s perspective. It would be only a few who received an education, or had an innate natural ability who could write down what was remembered that would make the story come true.

It is from the beginning of time when man first looked up in the sky and back down to his surroundings and began defining from where he came, is now, and possibly will return that induced him to begin writing things down to begin to make sense of it all and look for patterns and events that foretold the future. In doing so he or she learned you must learn to see beyond yourself. That some sort of common sense says that you cannot tell directly where you are going without knowing where of have been. This desire to see beyond oneself has always been one of man’s central quests.   It was this need to know that created the role of the soothsayer or shaman, someone who could begin to foretell the future and add a sense of security, certainty, and continuity to the meaning of life and death that people wanted to know. It is because of the uniqueness of five thousand years of uninterrupted history that China has played such an important role in the evolution of mankind. While every civilization has had its own version of the creation myth and man’s attempt to find his place in it, it has been the combination of figures drawn upon like the dragon with the role played by those like Confucius in China, that has brought forward the orderly progression of history as we define and know it today.

It took Confucius teaching and the legacy of his peers and those who followed like the four men above, Zeng Zi, Mencius, Si Zi, and Yan Hui to lift Chinese cultural traditions out of the realm of myths and legend to a practical application that both could and would be followed. Amazingly, and what has always baffled scholars and those interested in knowing what Confucius really said is that he himself wrote nothing down. What was written would have been from the likes of Yan Hua, one of his students who has been come to be known as his favorite student while he was alive. It is what Yan Hua would have written in a most favorable circumstances and in admiration we rely on and others who my have transcribed his teachings that became both the analects and his legacy was not only about Qufu, but in many cases how his works carried on after he had passed on. Of course it was Yan Hua who lived a very short life dying at the age of thirty two. His passing was of special meaning to Confucius and is illustrated by his own temple built in his honor very close.. but just a block or so from the Confucius Temple in Qufu . But for China, Qufu was historical center and the story begins and ends for me today in Qufu and surrounding cities and countryside of Shandong Province.

During my travels to Qufu over the past dozen years or so, my friends, teachers and students and I have always discussed and talked about writing down stories told by their grandparents. Many times my friends here in Jining and Qufu will have a son or daughter about the same age as my daughter Katie, who is fifteen and is from Maoming in Guangdong Province who my wife Marie and I adopted many years ago. Oftentimes, I have given their son or daughter her English name and in many ways they have become my students as well in their efforts to learn English. I ask them to tell me the stories from their family’s history here in Qufu. In this way I can better understand what Confucius has meant to their family and more importantly what he means to them today.  It is for this reason in my travels now across Shandong I always ask my students who I visit to have their grandmother or grandfather to tell the stories they were told before the oral history of their family is lost. Not lost among this quest is writing down the oral history telling their story as well. Many of the stories are relayed later in this book to make reference to what was important to remember in the lives of their ancestors.

Chapter 5 – Making the Past present Again

 This book and effort seem to always revert back to the teacher who knows the way forward that can be found and ultimately followed by his or her student. Throughout history it has always been the teacher who transmits what is known and lays before the student and others what may not or cannot be known otherwise. Over the centuries in China when someone would try to emulate or model this student/teacher relationship, it has always been Confucius they have looked to follow.

It was this showing how one should live that enabled the thoughts and philosophy of Confucius to spring to life after his death. No one did this better than another philosopher whose name was Mencius. His input was critical in aiding future generations to come to know what Confucius said and taught. Mencius primary contributions were as follows:

  • in carrying forward Confucian ideological structure,
  • He added a sense of benevolence to the cause, and
  • He was able to combine the two above in such a way to endear Confucius to the masses. Most importantly, he showed how following Confucianism would work.

Just as with Zi Zhang, and his hometown Jia xiang, I also have many students from Zhou cheng, the hometown of Mencius and have traveled to visit Zhoucheng to visit the Mencius Mansion, Temple, and Cemetery – just as with Confucius and Qufu.

One such visit was to the village and home of one of my students whose name is Yang Jin Huan, from Qufu Normal School. I visited Lily (her English name) and her family over the 2012 winter Spring Holiday. Her home was in the village of Li Hang which was about two hours by bus from Zhou cheng. We spent lunch discussing her family who were farmers in the village. As was typical of many families, Lily’s father and elder brother worked in Tinjian, about an eight hour commute each week. I was able to speak to and meet her two sisters Yang Jin Rong and Yang Ji You. It was my visit with her mother, Zhang Jiaxin and grand mother Zhang Chengying that I found most interesting. They told me of their life in the village and her grandmother relayed the following story from the Cultural Revolution from over forty year ago. After lunch and my visit with her family, her uncle Yang Ji You gave me a ride in his van back to Zhou cheng and the bus for my return to Qufu.

Another visit was with my students Gao Zhong Sheng (Tom) and Zhang Yi Ping (Paula) in Jia xiang, who helped to lay the groundwork for many later trips to do research on the second of the four main characters, Zeng Zi, who is considered to be Confucius direct successor and propagator of Confucianism. He was the official collector of the Confucian analects. He wrote his own commentary on the analects that was called the Great Wisdom and On Filial Piety. He promoted the idea of filial piety in ancient China, as well as, self examination. He is considered a famous thinker and educator in his own right.

In my initial visit I visit Tom at his home with his family north of Jia xiang I had the chance meet several members of Tom’s family. Most of my visit this time was to check out logistics and determine that fortunately almost all my upcoming trips around western Shandong can be day trips. Meaning we can go in the morning and return later the same day to Qufu. Tom is a second year college student who plans to become a teacher after graduation. He often is my “go to” guy here in Qufu off campus at Jining University and accompanies my when I run errands around Qufu.

Paula is a student from last year’s class. Paula now works for the Long fen   bookstore located next to the Jia xiang #1 Middle School. Below is Tom, Dan, Paula and her boss at the bookstore Du Chiang Yin. Above are three generations of Tom’s family who reside here in Shandong. Left to right…. Tom’s parents built their home last year next to one they had lived in for many years in Jia Xiang,

Every generation for historical purposes is thought to last for about thirty years. So in trying to evaluate China over the modern era and how Confucius has fared over this time seems challenging at best. For most of my students, living in either urban or rural China there have been many changes over the past twenty five or so years, certainly in the lifetime of their parents and grandparents. The story above regarding life during the cultural revolution is especially telling. Asking what Confucius has meant to them and their families, has led to many personal accounts I hope to relay in the chapters that follow. Most all express a therapeutic desire for happiness through their sense of virtue. As a guest, and seen as a foreigner and teacher, I experience this all the time. As if finding and knowing wu wei has meant it has claimed them and they not only know it but seamlessly live this way as well.

Most significant in a practical sense, however recently, has been the impact of the single child policy and that most students I teach today who are the byproduct of that policy meaning they are the only child in their immediate family and almost all are the first in their family to go to college. This phenomenon has changed life drastically in Shandong Province. I always sense a feeling of urgency amongst the older generation that fear their way of life may be ending and look to tradition to ensure what was once important does not fade away.

As a teacher I have always tried to read the faces of those I encounter to tell me about a person before or without words being spoken. People often betray their feelings sub-consciously, especially when then subject hits so close to home.. It is a never-ending paradox. Parents want what is best for their children, but they want their children to know and appreciate from where they come and to find a way to embrace their past while seeking their own greater achievement to honor one’s family.

One such family is from Shanghe about an hour east of Jinan. I paid a visit to my student Alisa who lives in the countryside with her family. Zhang Xueyan (Alisa) is a student from Jining College and hopes to become a teacher in Shanghe. The highlight was meeting her two grandfathers, Zhang Zongliang, a retired farmer and Zhang Zongkui, a retired teacher, who both grew up and have lived in the countryside their entire lives. They were seeped in traditions found with Confucius. Who better to relay their love of the simple life found as a farmer and teacher? For myself just sitting back in observation of what truly was old China with their attachment to past present and the future. As someone myself, who has studied Chinese philosophy really since being a college student myself almost forty years ago, I have always been a student of who the Taoists and Confucius were and how their philosophy has endured. To now be a teacher of English and helping to counsel students here in Shandong Province to become teachers themselves is both challenging and rewarding. Above is Alisa with Dan and her father Zhang Henglu and her mother, Nie Fuzhen in their home. During my visit we traveled a few miles away to Shanghe to tour the nearby agricultural innovation and greenhouse center with Alisa’s uncle Zhang Zangguang, who is a leader in the countryside, to see how change was occurring for better farming operations.

An example of experiencing modern day China is to leave Shanghe and travel back to Jinan, the provincial capital. This is a modern day city with neon and bustling traffic. Just hailing a taxi on a busy street is quite a challenge in itself. Finding Confucius influence here is a bit more daunting, but looking closely he definitely is here. Having been a city planner for all those years I can see a consistent effort to combine old with new. One of the built-in advantages of being a teacher here is having students as interpreters and tour guides. Two of my students have been especially helpful in Jinan. First Qi Qi, one of my students from Spring 2011 who is now a tour guide here in Jinan, and Yu Lanlan (Olivia), who we spent the day touring the city before having a very late lunch with her, her mother   Zhang Juxiang, and sister Yu Lianjian in their sixth floor apartment before Katie and I returned to the Jinan bus station for our three hour ride home to Qufu. Bus traffic was extremely busy as we had come during the height of the spring festival. But for both my daughter Katie and I, our two nights in Jinan were both very informative and enjoyable.

In China, as I encountered and is demonstrated above, there is a dedication to family and to elders that have been embraced over the centuries known as what we would call ancestor worship… which is basically respecting the wishes of your elders and continuing to honor them after their death.. As well as filial piety, a Confucian idea that has been handed down from generation to generation that promotes and encourages positive relationships with all you meet. My disappointment in something I have not discussed much, but plan to, is the role of women in the Confucian culture. This was not a pretty picture and women traditionally had few, if any, rights of their own. Not to belittle this unfair treatment, but when we observe the role of women historically around the world we can see a consistent pattern. Fortunately, times are changing in China and the role of women is drastically making a transition to equality easier.

First and foremost is getting an education.  A spin-off of the computer and internet revolution has shown my female students there is not limit to there opportunities with the choices their families could never have imagined or dreamed of… Women know instinctively from where they came and want something better for their daughters.    As a college professor and their teacher, I teach oral English, how to learn, speak, and use new words in English and most importantly how to become and be a better teacher themselves once they have finished college.  I become their champion and sometimes mentor. For those not in the countryside in the cities of Linyi, Weifang, Qingdao, Jinan and elsewhere it is more knowing how to make and build relationships with their peers and community so that they can become an  important part of where they ultimately will teach.

The four personal stories relayed above are examples of how China’s coming of age. Oh, it is readily apparent in major cities like Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Wuhan, Chengdu and even in Shandong Province in Jinan and Qingdao. The major metropolitan areas are definitely leading the way and with such a large percentage of the demographics of the population shifting to people now under thirty, change is inevitable.

Chapter 6 – Making Friends from Afar… Getting to know Qufu and it’s people and History

 This book and effort seem to always revert back to the teacher, best illustrated by those I mentioned in the previous chapter, who knows the way forward that can be found and ultimately is followed by his or her student. Throughout history it has always been the teacher who transmits what is known and lays before the student and others what may not or cannot be known otherwise. Over the centuries in China when someone would try to emulate or model this student/teacher relationship, it has always been Confucius they have looked to follow. For me, this has always been represented best by Yan Hui, who would come to be seen by his peers and afterwards as the model for individual instruction between the teacher and his or her student.

Teaching at Qufu Normal School, who now has an enrollment of about three thousand students allows me as a teacher to focus on the past, present day, and future of what will become of the new Qufu in the 21st century. It is as if my vision of history is only limited by my own limitations and perspective. Taking people where they would want to go if they knew how to get there has always been the central sustaining role of a teacher. It’s like a doctor seeing his patient as described earlier, taking his pulse and temperature, and then subscribing the proper medicine that allows his to grow and be self sustaining. Hat might even be considered as therapy.

We have all known people who have come into our lives sometimes just for a moment to help steer us to find the proper course we are to follows. Usually our success as the student is determined solely by if we are paying attention and can see how what is being taught applies to us. But first the teacher must begin by observation. Finding the “entry point” where you can capture the student’s attention and steer him towards his highest innate talents and abilities, in other words to what he does best.

Qufu Normal School has an amazing history and follows a great tradition of learning. First, for the four families as described here in the text of this book, and second was to be the place where students were to become teachers.  I am fortunate to have many colleagues here at Qufu Normal School who understands their role. I am very lucky to have one as a good friend who has been here for thirty three years. Mr. Yan Wei teaches both Chinese and world history here at Qufu Normal School. In speaking with him about the school I learned that the school began in 1905 when the older education system throughout China was abandoned. The school became very famous very fast as both teachers and students who were limited to one hundred in number, were chosen by the Kong family, i.e., descendants of Confucius. After the 1912 revolution in China the enrollment was opened to students across China. It has been considered a very prestigious school since then. For me to live here in Qufu, and be the foreign teacher, helping students to find their place in the world is quite an honor. For them to have a teacher who appreciates their history is a plus as well.

Just as with Zi Zhang, and his hometown Jia xiang, I also have many students from Zhou cheng, the hometown of Mencius and have traveled to visit Zhoucheng to visit the Mencius Mansion, Temple, and Cemetery – just as with Confucius and Qufu.

One such visit was to the village and home of one of my students whose name is Yang Jin Huan, from Qufu Normal School. I visited Lily (her English name) and her family over the 2012 winter Spring Holiday. Her home was in the village of Li Hang which was about two hours by bus from Zhou cheng. We spent lunch discussing her family who were farmers in the village. As was typical of many families, Lily’s father and elder brother worked in Tinjian, about an eight hour commute each week. I was able to speak to and meet her two sisters Yang Jin Rong and Yang Ji You. It was my visit with her mother, Zhang Jiaxin and grand mother Zhang Chengying that I found most interesting. They told me of their life in the village and her grandmother relayed the following story from the Cultural Revolution from over forty year ago. After lunch and my visit with her family, her uncle Yang Ji You gave me a ride in his van back to Zhou cheng and the bus for my return to Qufu.

Another visit was with my students Gao Zhong Sheng (Tom) and Zhang Yi Ping (Paula) in Jia xiang, who helped to lay the groundwork for many later trips to do research on the second of the three main characters, Zeng Zi, who is considered to be Confucius direct successor and propagator of Confucianism. He was the official collector of the Confucian analects. He wrote his own commentary on the analects that was called the Great Wisdom and On Filial Piety. He promoted the idea of filial piety in ancient China, as well as, self examination. He is considered a famous thinker and educator in his own right.

In my initial visit I visited Tom at his home with his family north of Jia xiang I had the chance meet several members of Tom’s family. Most of my visit this time was to check out logistics and determine that fortunately almost all my upcoming trips around western Shandong could be day trips. Meaning we can go in the morning and return later the same day to Qufu. Tom is a second year college student who plans to become a teacher after graduation. He often is my “go to” guy here in Qufu off campus at Jining University and accompanies my when I run errands around Qufu.  Above are three generations of Tom’s family who reside here in Shandong. Tom’s parents built their home last year next to one they had lived in for many years in Jiaxiang.

Paula is a student from last year’s class. Paula now works for the Long fen   bookstore located next to the Jia xiang #1 Middle School. Below is Tom, Dan, Paula and her boss at the bookstore Du Chiang Yin.

Every generation for historical purposes is thought to last for about thirty years. So in trying to evaluate China over the modern era and how Confucius has fared over this time seems challenging at best. For most of my students, living in either urban or rural China there have been many changes over the past twenty five or so years, certainly in the lifetime of their parents and grandparents. The story above regarding life during the Cultural Revolution is especially telling. Asking what Confucius has meant to them and their families, has led to many personal accounts I hope to relay in the chapters that follow. Most all express a therapeutic desire for happiness through their sense of virtue. As a guest, and seen as a foreigner and teacher, I experience this all the time. As if finding and knowing wu wei has meant it has claimed them and they not only know it but seamlessly live this way as well.

Most significant in a practical sense, however recently, has been the impact of the single child policy and that most students I teach today who are the byproduct of that policy meaning they are the only child in their immediate family and almost all are the first in their family to go to college. This phenomenon has changed life in many ways in Shandong Province. I always sense a feeling of urgency amongst the older generation that fear their way of life may be ending and look to tradition to ensure what was once important does not fade away.

As a teacher I have always tried to read the faces of those I encounter to tell me about a person before or without words being spoken. People often betray their feelings subconsciously, especially when then subject hits so close to home.. It is a never-ending paradox. Parents want what is best for their children, but they want their children to know and appreciate from where they come and to find a way to embrace their past while seeking their own greater achievement to honor one’s family.

One such family is from Shanghe about an hour east of Jinan. I paid a visit to my student Alisa who lives in the countryside with her family. Zhang Xueyan (Alisa) is a student from Jining College and hopes to become a teacher in Shanghe. The highlight was meeting her two grandfathers, Zhang Zongliang, a retired farmer and Zhang Zongkui, retired teachers, who both grew up and have lived in the countryside their entire lives. They were seeped in traditions found with Confucius. Who better to relay their love of the simple life found as a farmer and teacher? For myself just sitting back in observation of what truly was old China with their attachment to past present and the future.

As someone myself, who has studied Chinese philosophy really since being a college student myself almost forty years ago, I have always been a student of who the Taoists and Confucius were and how their philosophy has endured. To now be a teacher of English and helping to counsel students here in Shandong Province to become teachers themselves is both challenging and rewarding. Above is Alisa with Dan and her father Zhang Henglu and her mother, Nie Fuzhen in their home. During my visit we traveled a few miles away to Shanghe to tour the nearby agricultural innovation and greenhouse center with Alisa’s uncle Zhang Zangguang, who is a leader in the countryside, to see how change was occurring for better farming operations.

An example of experiencing modern day China is to leave Shanghe and travel back to Jinan, the provincial capital. This is a modern day city with neon and bustling traffic. Just hailing a taxi on a busy street is quite a challenge in itself. Finding Confucius influence here is a bit more daunting, but looking closely he definitely is here. Having been a city planner for all those years I can see a consistent effort to combine old with new. One of the built-in advantages of being a teacher here is having students as interpreters and tour guides. Two of my students have been especially helpful in Jinan. First Qi Qi, one of my students from Spring 2011 who is now a tour guide here in Jinan, and Yu Lanlan (Olivia), who we spent the day touring the city before having a very late lunch with her, her mother  Zhang Juxiang, and sister Yu Lianjian in their sixth floor apartment before Katie and I returned to the Jinan bus station for our three hour ride home to Qufu. Bus traffic was extremely busy as we had come during the height of the spring festival. But for both my daughter Katie and I, our two nights in Jinan were both very informative and enjoyable.

Another student I want to highlight and a special school we visited was in Wei Shan that lies a little over two hours to the northeast of Qufu. On one of our day trips we visited the Wei Shan Special School for the deaf and blind that cannot speak and /or hear. This visit had a very special meaning for me because when I was growing up in Joplin, Missouri my mother worked at the Sheltered Workshop for more than twenty five years. It was then through my involvement growing up with special needs children and adults that I learned of their situation and gained appreciation for their special circumstances. The Wei Shan School has about one hundred students and as a teacher I have great admiration to see other teachers with such dedication. I am reminded of the stories of Confucius admonishing others saying every person has certain rights as well as talents to be utilized and to be allowed to flourish.  Visiting this excellent school, I am reminded of the kindness and value placed on each individual, especially with teaching special needs children.

Pictured to the left are teachers Tang si qi and Wang bao zhen, myself, the Director of the Wei shan Special School Wang shi dong, and another teacher, Liu ya dong. The school has been in operation for sixteen years.

After visiting the Wei Shan Special School Katie and I went with one of my students from Qufu Normal School, Tian Zhi Wei (Jane), to visit her family who lives in  Wei Shan. We had a very nice lunch and shared many ideas about teaching in China today. Her father Tian Yu hui and mother Zhang Qing xiang were great hosts. We talked about their home in the countryside in Nan Ying that is about two hours away where Jane’s grandparent’s still live. We also discussed my returning this summer to visit the very famous Wei Shan Lake. I am excited about the prospects of my returning to Wei Shan.

In China, as I encountered and is demonstrated above, there is a dedication to family and to elders that have been embraced over the centuries known as what we would call ancestor worship… which is basically respecting the wishes of your elders and continuing to honor them after their death.. As well as filial piety, a Confucian idea that has been handed down from generation to generation that promotes and encourages positive relationships with all you meet. My disappointment in something I have not discussed much, but plan to, is the role of women in the Confucian culture. This was not a pretty picture and women traditionally had few, if any, rights of their own. Not to belittle this unfair treatment, but when we observe the role of women historically around the world we can see a consistent pattern. Fortunately, times are changing in China and the role of women is drastically making a transition to equality easier.

First and foremost is getting an education.  A spin-off of the computer and internet revolution has shown my female students there is not limit to there opportunities with the choices their families could never have imagined or dreamed of… Women know instinctively from where they came and want something better for their daughters.    As a college professor and their teacher, I teach oral English, how to learn, speak, and use new words in English and most importantly how to become and be a better teacher themselves once they have finished college.  I become their champion and sometimes mentor. For those not in the countryside in the cities of Linyi, Weifang, Qingdao, Jinan and elsewhere it is more knowing how to make and build relationships with their peers and community so that they can become an  important part of where they ultimately will teach.

The personal stories relayed here are examples of how China is coming of age. Oh, it is readily apparent in major cities like Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Wuhan, and Chengdu and even in Shandong Province in Jinan and Qingdao. The major metropolitan areas are definitely leading the way and with such a large percentage of the demographics of the population shifting to people now under thirty, change is inevitable. But then isn’t that what the I Ching said and did that provided the structure for how to live all those years ago. Simply following nature, both our own innate wisdom and how that relates to others, our environment and the universe as a whole.

People have always joined, or banded together, for the sake of the common welfare for time immemorial. For a time back beyond memory, record, or knowledge of what may come next.  Men and women together discovered how to create a community. Visiting and spending time in the temples, and other historic and cultural landmarks here in Shandong and throughout China, is what today we would call theme parks dedicated to preserving human nature at its best… nothing more and nothing less. But definitely worth the trip to see and spend some quiet time in refection just the same. That they are dedicated to Confucius and those who burnished, or polished his name and others in history gives meaning for us to reflect how we ourselves might fit in the scheme of things. And the important thing to know is that each of us does have an important role to play. For myself as a teacher, there is no greater thing of importance I can express to my own students at Qufu Normal School and Jining University. It is the richness of what philosophers and way showers throughout history who provided a vision for how we as a people should live in benevolence and virtue and relate with others, i.e., interact that is important. That is why Confucius and those who have acted in his name has endured. He taught us how to live. It’s us to us to do so.

Chapter 7 – The Confucius Institute Program and a perfect example at Miami Dade College in Florida

Note: Three years after I wrote this in early 2012 I was teaching at Miami Dade College in Miami having returned to South Florida in July 2013.  I taught a class in English as well as having a listing for class to be taught in Chinese History through the auspices of the Confucius Institute at Miami Dade college….

The Confucius Institute program has served as an excellent extension of teaching both mandarin and Chinese culture around the world and any discussion about Confucius as a teacher would need to see how he has taken on a global persona in the 21st century. Looking at China’s past and his influence one always is concerned about virtue becoming less important than expediency, or what is expected or the easiest to do or accomplish.

This has always been the problem with understanding the influence of Confucius over the centuries and of living in the paradox of what we define as human nature. Do we use the structure we find ourselves embracing for our own personal benefit and adapt it to our own perceived whims and desires, or do we use the teachings of those who came before us to achieve and attain not only our own highest endeavor and destiny, but all those who we encounter as well? And of which of the two do we ourselves. Each of us is a living history befitting the scope of our reach. Do we embrace our unique talents granted us by the universe for the common good, or do we become engrossed in our attachments that ultimately cloud our judgment as to why we are here.

For centuries leading up to the fall of the last dynasty in China in 1912, Confucius was used and seen as a means to a predictable outcome that always ended with what would benefit the Forbidden City and those in Beijing, or Nanjing, or wherever the emperor of the day wanted to call home. A great movie depicting the last days of the Qing Dynasty called 1911, starring Jackie Chan, excellently portrays the limitations of the emperor, albeit then a child with China then ruled by the Empress dowager, who had no clue as to how to respond to foreign aggressors who only saw China as ripe for the picking.  Confucius was seen as protecting the vagaries of a feudalistic culture and society because those in power had used Confucius for their own purpose, not China’s, whose welfare they could never separate from their own for centuries too long to remember. If the emperor was the Son of Heaven, as they had always proposed, how could they now deviate from their role as it had been defined for them for an eternity. And if they did, or could, what would justify their retaining their place in power and just as important their place in the cultural heritage that defined them.

It was the perfect paradox and argument made by Zhuang Tzu and the Taoist had always countered with more than two thousand years earlier and what Confucius and Mencius had always warned would ultimately occur when self interest was the defining symbol of what China was to become.  It was to be the self fulfilling prophesy those in power could never escape

Not as the virtue and benevolence taught by Confucius and Mencius, or as the analects portrayed, but how they could bend the precepts of his teachings to fit their own whims of the moment or day. Because of this history, many people today in China consider Confucius teachings as feudalistic or outdated. But this is simply because they do not understand the value of the central tenets of his teachings and still see him through stilted eyes as if their hair was still tied in a que.

It is as the Taoists always said in that ultimately it is our strengths that are our weaknesses and our weaknesses that are our strengths. That being what can be found and defined as our virtue will be what defines us. It is who we are innately yet to become or have become that defines us and what remains. And for the Qing Court there was literally nothing left. When the paradigm shifted globally as they met the western invaders there was nothing in their version of the Confucian analects that told them what to do. So that they did as I described in earlier chapters the wu wei thing, or nothing… or what seemed expedient hoping that if they gave them what they wanted the foreign invaders would eventually just go away. The problem was they always wanted more as they had appetites that could never be satiated or satisfied. First tea and porcelain, now they wanted everything else of any value they could find.

The plate shown now resides in the British Museum in London and is symbolic of the English love for the porcelain from China for more than three centuries during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. I took this picture in London while attending the London Book fair in April 2012 with the delegation of Chinese publishers who were in attendance. I was one of the featured speakers on a panel that highlighted Confucian influence on Chinese literature over the centuries.

It was this paradox that trapped China for centuries as the western powers came knocking at the doorstep through Canton (now Guangzhou), and Shanghai and the Bund, the financial center where deals were made that cut China into pieces while China refused to see the world outside itself for what it was. China lacked a world view and saw itself as the “Middle Kingdom” and as such had become a world unto its own. Confucius had defined them just as they had defined Confucius in a never ending circle as they remained content to see only that which they defined for themselves and their own self interest that had remained unchanged for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. In something that had become a self fulfilling prophesy. They had failed to heed the advice that had become and served as the justification for their own existence.

Now in 2012, one hundred years later after the founding of the Republic of China, we see a reversal of fortune as if Confucius never left. As if he was simply waiting, biding his time for when to re-appear. China’s global position in the financial markets today is unparalleled by any other measure of success. Those global powers who saw to the dismantling of “old China” a hundred years earlier were simply paving the way for what China was yet to become. Little did they know or care as all decisions were made purely as to their own financial self interest. A folly those in the west have never learned from. Short term financial gain has no place in the long term span of human history. However, it can dictate terms. Just as the “conquering” Europeans each had their century in power, and now the United States has had theirs, China will return to their former place in the world as rising above them all. Mostly because of the enduring qualities of Confucius and Taoist teachings that have endured for almost twenty-five hundred years that will still be here for another twenty five hundred years from now long after the whims of current endeavors are gone.

It is, however, our own place in the rising and fall tides of history that defines our fate. Civilizations and countries come and go. But what endures is not economic power and money that buys our attachments we come to treasure. It is our philosophy of whom and what defines us that remains constant as only our virtue. Money is fleeting and comes and goes just as the ships carrying off all the plunder found. Once there was no money to be made they stopped coming to China at the end of the last dynasty. Oh, they have returned eighty to ninety years later as multi-national corporations in the name of Motorola, IBM, Microsoft, Carrefour, Wal-Mart, and many others.  But now China has learned to stand on its own again. It took almost a hundred years to recapture their vital essence of what defines them but the Chinese are doing so. It is as if the Chinese have spent their time retooling their core knowing that in the span of history one hundred years is but an instant in time. It’s as the eternal dragons would say, we live in the moment with our place in history forever in the back of our minds. Our only struggle is until we remember who we are and who we are yet to become.

What happened with the fall of the last emperor and dynasty? First as China became a republic, then after a turbulent next thirty seven years until 1949 and the founding of the current Communist government up through today in 2012. China and Confucius have continued to modernize and prepare to find their place in the new world. But certainly not without some lessons learned and mistakes along the way. But then history is truly a never ending story. Just as the I Ching taught and tried to tell us all those thousands of years ago. We still look to the sky to gaze in wonder at how we fit in the scheme of things just as they did all those years ago. The problem being we get to repeat our mistakes as often as we like and we often do. We also often get to return to repeat what felt good or that which we want to experience again and again as well. It’s as if the balance of the universe must always be in equilibrium and our role is simply to help to keep trying to help get it that way. It is the yin and yang thing that is eternal.

One wonders if the emperor, from one generation to the next, would have kept to or known or remembered his ultimate role in the scheme of things as the “son of heaven” was not simply an entitlement things might have turned out differently. But then again it was all those attachments that kept getting in the way. In his own way Confucius was as responsible for helping to finally end feudalism in China as those who used his name to create a sense of feudalism were to begin with. But then when your basic teaching and philosophy are centered on virtue and benevolence what else could we expect.

Leading the way in the 21st century is the ever present Confucius being recast and remolded again and again to fit the times. Only today, as China’s economy and cultural exchanges with the world has seen rapid growth there has also been a sharp increase in the world’s demands for Chinese learning, especially the need to teach mandarin. Because of China’s new found global position, learning the language of over 1.3 billion people has become essential for the rest of the world. Benefiting from the United States, UK, France, Germany and Spain’s experience in promoting their own national languages, China began its own exploration through establishing non-profit public institutions which aim to promote Chinese language and culture in foreign countries in 2004: these were given the name the Confucius Institute. Since that time, the Confucius Institutes’ development has been sharp and they have provided scope and a way for people all over the world to learn about Chinese language and culture. In addition they have become a platform for cultural exchanges between China and the world, as well as, a bridge reinforcing friendship and cooperation between China and the rest of the world.

Through the efforts of China, the Confucius Institute Program and active support of people all over the world there are now almost four hundred Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms established in over one hundred countries with plans to double that number over the next six years according to HANBAN, the organization in Beijing responsible for the program. With over two hundred and fifty institutions from over fifty countries meeting requirements for establishing Confucius Institutes/Classrooms, amongst them some of the worlds top universities, the influence of Confucius will undoubtedly continue for another thousand years and beyond. This says a lot about the ongoing influence of the teachings of Confucius and how they have become universal. The key to the success of the Confucius Institutes and Classroom programs is that they adopt flexible teaching patterns and adapt to suit local conditions when teaching Chinese language and promoting culture in foreign primary schools, secondary schools, communities and enterprises. In 2009, Confucius Institutes/Classrooms around the world offered 9,000 Chinese courses of a multitude of styles, with a total enrollment of 260,000, a 130,000 strong enrollment increase from the previous year. More than 7,500 cultural exchange activities have taken place, involving the participation of over 3 million people reaching double the participation figures of the corresponding period of the previous year. That is a lot of people learning about Confucius.

I have personally been aware of the Confucius Institute Program almost since its inception in 2004 and have followed their progress and especially observed the number of Confucius Institutes in the United States from when there was initially only a half dozen or so, until today in mid 2012 when their number exceeds eighty in total. I have observed their progress both from here in Qufu over the last eight years and in the USA as I have crisscrossed the Pacific Ocean on my many trips to Qufu and home again to Florida. I personally have corresponded frequently and know several of the directors of the various Confucius Institutes and have visited several. The ones in Boston at the University of Massachusetts and at San Francisco State University where I attended an excellent program in February 2007 stands out as especially worthwhile with their emphasis both on learning Chinese and teaching and focusing on Chinese cultural activities, of course having awesome “Chinatown’s” in both cities helps a lot too. But the one I am most familiar with is closest to my home in Boynton Beach, Florida, that being the Confucius Institute at Miami Dade College in Miami, Florida.

As Confucius himself once said, when you can watch something from its beginning as it grows intent on excellence, the outcome can be assured. Or maybe that was just my own take on following the activities at Miami Dade College Confucius Institute. It is one thing to be bent on relating to others through benevolence and virtue, it is another to demonstrate through your actions how you intend to do so.

Going back to how Mencius, Yan Hu, and Zi Zong saw Confucius going forward they knew over two thousand years ago that it was not enough to have good intentions. It is that you must demonstrate through your actions and teaching others how one should live by living within the realm of a certain lifestyle ourselves. This is what they remembered most about what those who knew Confucius would say. That his teachings were focused on not learning for learning sake, but learning to relay how one should live in virtue with what one has learned. What is troubling of course is how people confuse their own desires with the real meaning of what Confucius actually said or meant.

It is against this background that the Confucius Institute program continues to develop worldwide. Its primary purpose has been to teach mandarin to teachers in other countries outside China and promote cultural activities and exchanges. An example of that outreach today could be seen at Miami Dade College this is first illustrated by an able staff led by its Director, Dr. Xuejun (Jim) Yu.  The brief introduction below is an example of the kind of activities Confucius Institutes engage in. It is not intended to be inclusive of all activities offered globally, but shows the depth of how community based programs are geared to learning and teaching mandarin and Chinese culture. The introduction below was provided by Dr. Yu himself.

Introduction

The Confucius Institute at Miami Dade College 迈阿密达德学院孔子学院

-Connecting Florida and China through language and cultural education

  • Mission:  Located at the largest and most diverse college in the USA, and the financial, civic, and cultural center of Greater Miami area, the Confucius Institute at Miami Dade College promotes the study of Chinese language and culture, and enhances international education, cross-cultural understanding, and global citizenship in our community.
  • Inspired by the ancient Chinese sage Confucius, we firmly believe that education is a life-long journey. All of our programs are open to people inside and outside of Miami Dade College with a passion to learn Chinese language and culture. We offer tailor-made courses, workshops, and programs on Chinese language, history, arts, education, and culture to people of all ages and background.
  • The Confucius Institute’s mission is in support of Miami Dade College’s mission: “To change lives through the opportunities of education”
  • Miami Dade College and the Confucius Institute’s missions are in agreement with Confucius’ philosophy on education: 有教无类。(《论语·卫灵公》)“Everyone is entitled to be educated without discrimination.” – Confucius, The Analects
  • History: Miami Dade College’s Confucius Institute was founded in April 29, 2010, in partnership with the Office of Chinese Language Council International (Hanban) and Jiangsu Normal University (China), and is the only such institute in Miami / south Florida area.

Chinese Language and Culture Courses

Offered by native Chinese language specialists, our Chinese Mandarin courses can help you to learn the most spoken language on earth, whether you are looking to get ahead in the global marketplace, or for personal enrichment. We offer college credit courses and specially tailored courses such as Conversational Chinese, Chinese for Business & Tourism, and Chinese Calligraphy to meet the needs of each individual and organizations. Our classes are open to all, from K-12 and college students, to professionals and senior citizens.

[Credit Courses: CHI1120 Elementary Chinese 1 (4 credits), CHI1121 Elementary Chinese 2 (4 credits); Non-credit Courses: Traveling to China, Chinese Calligraphy, Chinese Language for Business, Intensive Chinese 1-4]

Supporting K-12 Chinese Language Education

We provide continuing support for K-12 school Chinese language learning by providing expanded support in the form of curriculum planning assistance, frequent training opportunities for Chinese language teachers, development of supplemental curricular materials, etc. We also develop programs to assist under served school children, especially those in low-income inner city areas and in rural schools, in gaining access to Chinese language programs.

Community Outreach

As a window of Chinese culture, the Confucius Institute presents a variety of programming in our community to educate people about the language, history, diversity and wealth of Chinese culture. Our special events such as annual Chinese New Year and Harvest Moon festivals give Floridians the chance to share in this rich heritage through programs of Chinese performing arts, martial arts, Tai Chi, tea ceremony, and Chinese calligraphy. I was there for the above Chinese New Year celebration on February 1, 2011 at the Miami Dade College campus… it was an awesome performance.

Facilitating Business and Commerce Education involving China 

The Confucius Institute also provides a range of services to businesses and organizations, including on-site programs in Chinese language and culture, custom-designed workshops and briefings, and intensive orientations for groups traveling to China.

As Miami is the U.S. gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean, the Confucius Institute serves as a bridge for cultural, education for all, and business and commerce exchange among Florida, China, and Latin America.

Main Programs

Credit Chinese Mandarin courses

Non-credit Mandarin and Chinese culture courses

K-12 Chinese language teacher training workshops

Chinese New Year celebration and other cultural festivals

Confucius Institute Lecture Series

Confucius Institute Scholarships for studying in China

Chinese Culture and Business Resource Center

Chinese Culture Clubs at the Miami Dade College Wolfson, Kendall, North, Inter-American campuses

Other Services

Chinese Mandarin Proficiency Test (HSK, YCT)

Support faculty-led Study Abroad Programs in China

English – Chinese translation assistance

Future Work                                                                            

Explore multi-disciplinary approaches to integrate Chinese culture into language classes, as well as bringing China into the classrooms of other disciplines by working with local teachers; seek wider collaboration with local public school district and private schools, to make Chinese language and culture an integral and permanent component in the K-12 history, literature, and humanities curriculum.

  • Our expanded classes, taught by trained native speakers, cater to beginning and intermediate learners, with special sections designed for working professionals and families. In addition to language classes, we will offer specially designed cultural courses for adults and specific companies. Develop curriculum and promotional materials for Spanish speakers, in part through cooperation with Confucius Institutes in Latin America.
  • Through teacher training and other methods, continue to improve quality of Chinese language instruction offered by Miami Dade College and that offered by other schools in the region.
  • Collaborate with School of Education to provide opportunities for pre-service teachers to learn about China and Chinese language.
  • Develop materials for parents of K-12 Chinese language students, in English and Spanish, to help parents support their children’s learning process.
  • Expand customized language and culture programs for regional business and other organizations. Strengthen relationships with the local business community; develop localized curriculum materials, both for community adult classes and for K-12 classes.
  • Continue to increase awareness of Chinese culture and the visibility of the Confucius Institute through expanded, high quality cultural programming.
  • Meet the needs of families in our region, including those with children adopted from China, through high quality summer camps, after school programs, school visits, and weekend workshops.
  • Improve integrated, comprehensive self-evaluation process. Improve methods for collecting data on effectiveness of K-12, business, and community programs.
  • Offer HSK test-prep class. Offer HSK and YCT on a regular basis.
  • Increase visibility of the Confucius Institute by expanding media relations, launching radio programs, expanding cooperation with public libraries and other local public service organizations.
  • Strengthen cooperation with other units of the College, including the Honors College, Virtual College.
  • Participate in annual Cultural Diversity activities at Miami Dade College. Provide the Confucius Institute display for people who stop by to learn about our classes, to enter our drawing for free Chinese calendars, and to learn in what Chinese year they were born (we will have animal stickers and a handout with information about the Chinese calendar system). Offer Traditional Chinese Medicine lectures, and presentations on traditional Chinese cuisine. To provide certified Chinese language teachers with opportunities to study in China. Plan to organize Wushu Tournament, Chi & Qigong Day, and Kite Festival in the                    

Confucius Institute at MDC Contact Info:                                                                                  Confucius Institute at Miami Dade College, Dr. Xuejun (Jim) Yu, Director                                     300 N.E. 2nd Ave, Room 1205, Miami, FL 33132 USA                                                                    Phone: 305-237-7581, Fax: 305-237-7819                                                                                       Email: xyu@mdc.edu                                Website: www.mdc.edu/mdcglobal/ci/

Remaining true to History

One of the important tasks as a storyteller is remaining true to history and to acknowledge beginnings, the middle of the story, and finding a credible ending if there is one to be told. Every storyteller from the ancient times and shaman until today has added his own take to convey the real mean as he or she sees it for today’s audience. Ultimately it was Confucius himself who was one of the greatest storytellers of all time as he was able to take the true essence to the I Ching, the five classics of Chinese literature and the thoughts of the Taoists Lao Tzu, Zhuang Tzu, Lieh Tzu and others and demonstrate the value of benevolence and virtue through the practical application of all of them through his teachings.

As an author telling the story as living history with known reference points to the past and present, it is necessary to call attention to an earlier character in the Confucius story by paying closer attention to what they did to show how far we have come. The person that comes to mind is Mencius. While we have visited the Mencius Temple and Mansion earlier in the book, it is important to call attention to him again now.  Why here when we have moved from the past to the present day and are looking now at how Confucius may be seen in the future. It is because someone had to show the connection then that made Confucius relevant in his time. How did the people of ancient China view the importance of Mencius? Mencius lived from 372 to 289B.C. In the times of Confucius and Mencius both Qufu and Zhoucheng as they are referred to today, were called “Zhou Lou”. The Temple and Mansion dedicated to Mencius memory were not built until the beginning of the Song Dynasty in 1037A.D. a period of time spanning more than twelve hundred years after his death.

Without Mencius there may have been no story to tell and Confucius may have never received the attention or accolades that followed him in his death. He was responsible for establishing in my mind the first Confucius Institute in his own hometown of Zhoucheng about an hour south of Qufu and established the reason and a beginning point for what would come to be known as Confucianism in China. His school based its teachings in Confucius through devoting its attention to the humanistic understanding of Heaven, humanity and the harmony between them. He established his own distinctive doctrines through concentrating on human self-cultivation and self-transformation. At the heart of Mencius’ teaching is the belief that human beings are born with the knowledge of what is good and the ability to do good. Everyone is born with what Mencius described as the ‘four beginnings’: benevolence, righteousness, respect and the capacity to distinguish right from wrong. Anyone who fully realizes his heart/mind understands Heaven and serves the mandate of Heaven, through which he is are able to become a sage, and participates in the creation and recreation of Heaven and Earth. Mencius was able to synthesize the Taoist understanding of the universe and attribute to his own understanding to the teaching of Confucius. This is why Confucius became the one chosen in history to emulate and follow.

 

The doctrine of the School of Mencius is represented most clearly in two books. One is the Doctrine of the Mean, which is believed to have been written, edited or transmitted by Tzu Ssu, the grandson of Confucius and the disciple of Tseng Tzu, the youngest disciple of Confucius. The other is the Book of Mencius, which fully develops the ideas propounded in the Doctrine of the Mean.
The School grounds its teachings in Confucius through devoting its attention to the humanistic understanding of Heaven, humanity and the harmony between them, while also forming its own distinctive doctrines through concentrating on human self-cultivation and self-transformation. At the heart of Mencius’ teaching is the belief that human beings are born with the knowledge of the good and the ability to do good. Everyone is born with what Mencius described as the ‘four beginnings’: benevolence, righteousness, respect and the capacity to distinguish right from wrong. Anyone who fully realises his heart/mind understands Heaven and serves the mandate of Heaven, through which he is are able to become a sage, and participates in the creation and recreation of Heaven and Earth.
These beliefs influenced Mencius’ perception of politics. The doctrine of benevolence must be brought into politics so that government is humane and moral. It is the responsibility of the ruler to ensure the economic well-being of his subjects, to provide them with education and, in doing so, to rule through winning their loyalty and confidence rather than through force. If rulers oppress the people then they lost the mandate of Heaven, and the people have the right to remote them.
The exact years of Mencius’ life are uncertain, although it is traditionally held that he lived between 371 and 289 BCE. He is believed have received his education from the disciples of Tzu Ssu (?-402? BCE). The school gained its prestige among Confucian schools partly through attacking other traditions, especially the doctrine of Yang Zhu (a. the fourth century BCE) and Mohism, and established itself as a force in Confucian intellectual life through refining and developing Confucian doctrines on human nature and destiny.
Although the school was not specifically influential during the period from the Han to the Sui dynasty, from the Tang dynasty it came to be regarded as the orthodox school in the line of Confucius and one of the key links in the chain transmitting the Way of the Sages. With the emergence of Neo-Confucianism during the Sung dynasty both the Doctrine of the Mean and the Book of Mencius came to be ranked, along with the Analects and the Great Learning, as the Four Book’s. Subsequently, Mencius himself came to be revered as the orthodox transmitter of the Confucian tradition after Confucius and the Second Sage next to Confucius, receiving for eight hundred years, till the beginning of this century, sacrifices both in the Temple of Confucius and in the temples devoted to him.

 

Chapter 8 – Confucius as Living History

One of the important tasks of a story teller is remaining true to history and to acknowledge beginnings, the middle of the story, and find a credible ending when there is one to be told. Every storyteller from the most ancient of times and shaman until today has added his own take to convey the real meaning as he or she sees fit for today’s audience. Ultimately it was Confucius himself who was one of the greatest storytellers of all time as he was able to take the true essence of the I Ching, the five classics of Chinese literature and the thoughts of the Taoists Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu and Lieh Tzu and others and demonstrate the value of benevolence and virtue through the practical application of all of them through his teachings. He better than anyone knew the value of conveying and telling the story of humanity and how to live.

After spending so much time assembling this book,  the person that comes most to mind is Mencius. while we have visited the Mencius Temple and Mansion earlier in this book, it is important to call attention to him right now. Why here when we have moved from the past to the present day and are looking now how Confucius may be seen in the future. it is because someone had to show the connection then that would make Confucius relevant beyond his time. How did the people of ancient times view the importance of Mencius?  mencius lived from 372 to 289 BC. In the times of Confucius and Mencius both qufu and Zhoucheng as they are referred to today, were called “Zhou Lu”.  The Temple and museum dedicated to Mencius memory were not built until the beginning of the Song dynasty in 1037 AD, a period of time spanning more than twelve hundred years after his death.

Without Mencius there would have been no story to tell and Confucius may have never received the attention or accolades that followed him in his death. He was responsible for establishing the first Confucius Institute in his own hometown of Zhoucheng about an hour south of Qufu and established the reason and beginning point for what would become known as Confucianism in China.  His school based its teaching in Confucius through devoting its attention to the humanistic understanding of Heaven, humanity and the harmony between them.  Mencius established his own distinctive doctrines through concentrating on human self-cultivation and self transformation. at the heart of Mencius teaching is the belief that human beings are born with the knowledge of what is good and the ability to do good. That everyone is born with what Mencius described as the Four Beginnings: benevolence, righteousness, respect and the capacity right from wrong. Anyone who realizes his heart/mind understand heaven and serves the mandate of heaven through which he is to become a sage and participates in the creation and recreation of heaven and earth. Just as Zhang Tzu had said Mencius was able to synthesize the Taoist understanding of the universe and attribute to his own understanding to the teachings of Confucius.  this is why Confucius became the one chosen in history to emulate and follow.  This is what it meant to become a sage and be a dragon.

As an author telling the story as living history with known reference points to the past and present, it is necessary to first call attention to earlier characters in the Confucius story by paying closer attention to what they did to show how far we have come. This is as if we are paying homage or tribute to the shaman who was our first teacher. I have often referred to Mencius, Zeng Zi and Yan Hua as the three men and their families who over thousands of years have kept to the spirit of his teachings and expanded them to convey to the world as the way to follow.  Over and over again I have tried to relay the eternal spirit as “the cure for what ails us”. Not so much in a physical sense, as in an internal sense as therapy for how we live. It was their school guided my the descendants of Confucius that their school was converted to a public school after the 1911 revolution that I taught and lived in the heart of Qufu while teaching from March 2011 to June 2013.

As a teacher I am humbled by those I have encountered as what is in effect a journey of my own heart and soul. as if the dragons I have always eluded to in the preface are always present prodding us on.  First to get our attention, then to direct us to our highest self as only our virtue can dictate. always telling us us the next step should be or just as important the person or thing we need next is always close by just waiting to be asked for and not taken for granted. Pictured is the white dragon on a porcelain stem bowl from the Ming dynasty from the yongle period (1403-1424). For my purposes the sacred white dragon will be called tian ming. Tian refers to the sky above or heaven and ming is how someone should behave.

Every generation has people born within it people whose history belies them or causes them to act unworthy according to the standards  of a tradition, one’s ancestry, one’s faith, etc., of their true beginnings. But it is as if we are given a fresh start to get things right. This idea is the primary thing that Lao Tzu understood and was the underpinning of what Confucius came to understand  about human nature.  Maybe we forget the past as to who we once were because to know might give us a burden that we cannot overcome in the here and now until we learn how to seek our highest endeavor. This is what the shaman  gained by communing with the stars. And what Chuang Tzu knew and understood so well about death and its aftermath. That we are simply returning to a place where we can get respite and rest to get a full accounting of our progress. It may be that others who have gained some sense of enlightenment through self-cultivation and meditation, or perhaps an event that has occurred that has jarred them to awaken as if midstream in life. As if the two sides of one’s personality must come together to re-discover the inner balance that has always been present but unaccounted for. It is this that the shaman, sage and taoist came to understand so well. It was confucius who put these ancient thoughts on paper that allowed him to come forward. Those that followed him could celebrate this inner meaning of creation and our place and role to celebrate and express this to the world. But what is it that occurs within someone when the sage, or dragon, springs to life within them? And how does the ultimate teacher express that as living history to portray his own highest endeavor and destiny.

Beyond those people outlined briefly in earlier chapters who lived to Qufu and Jining who have had a great influence as individuals on how Confucius is viewed there are those as teachers and scholars whose mission and passion is to take their commitment to Confucius to a higher level as teachers and scholars. But as always in real life as practical terms, it is always those who commit ideas to paper with structure that rules the day. Moving from the classical schools that taught “Confucianism” to a system of control was essential. The emperors and those in the higher ranks of society knew that control was essential. The emperors also knew that an educated scholar class was the best way to control society. THe strength of the system that followed was that anyone regardless of economic background could take the examination to become a member of the educated class, or jinshi. The weakness was that very few could pass the rigid examination.

A Brief History of the Civil Service of Imperial Examination System in China and the author Pu Songling

To discuss Confucian influence in Chinese history you must include an introduction of the imperial examination system and its impact on China’s growth and development over the centuries. As I have relayed, the historical importance of education in Chinese culture is derived from the teachings of Confucius and philosophers who were primarily Taoists of the middle and late Chou eras. These philosophies taught that social harmony could be achieved only if humans were free from deprivation and given proper education. Confucius taught that all people possessed the same potential, and that education was the corrective means to curb any tendencies to stray from ethical behavior. From the very first, Confucius made education available to students from all classes. Education in China has thus been a equalizing force from ancient times. It became the means by which individuals from even the humblest backgrounds could rise to great heights. Through the ethics of Confucius which informed the traditional curriculum, it was also a powerful mechanism for implementing the ethical and social norms of Chinese society. Passing the examination was extremely difficult.

We know with some certainty that a state system of education was founded during the Han Period the emperor Wu-ti in 124 BC. Students who were admitted to the T’ai hsueh or Great Academy were destined for careers in the civil service after they passed the internal exams and were competitively selected for various positions. Initially only fifty-five students were admitted to the Great Academy. By 8 BC, the Academy had an enrollment of three thousand students. During the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 BC) provincial schools were established and the Confucian tradition of education was spread across China. As the Academy developed the connection between scholarship and the personality cult of Confucius also became established. The connection between Confucius and the official Chinese educational system thus became permanently linked right into the present time with western Shandong Province, especially in Qufu, the home of Confucius and Zhoucheng the home of Mencius always in the forefront. As we have seen with Confucius and his descendents at Nishon Hill east of Qufu and the Mencius Academy in Zhoucheng.

. The curriculum at the Great Academy was based on the Confucian Five Classics and classes were taught by professors of the Five Classics who were known as po-shih. The basis of Chinese education did not change throughout the imperial history till the reign of the last Ch’ing emperors. During the Ch’ing Dynasty (1644-1912) both state and private schools were developed and students were able to buy places into these schools. The school in Qufu for the four families mentioned frequently here was an offshoot of this effort.

In contrast to western education, particularly in regard to the model of higher education in Medieval and Renaissance universities where students were encouraged to engage in disputation, traditional Chinese education consisted primarily of rote learning and memorization of the Classics. This formula became standardized by the seventh century. Candidates for the Civil Service Imperial Exams were required to memorize a vast amount of classical material and were never required to demonstrate the ability to either theorize or challenge a particular premise. The purpose of the scholar class after all was for the creation of bureaucratic generalists familiar with an accepted ethical outlook and body of knowledge, not with the growth of knowledge or with academic specialization. The very democratic nature of Chinese education–i.e., that it offered a path of upward mobility to anyone who could survive the rigors of study and examinations–was established from the first by Confucius himself. A traditional saying attributed to him states that “those who work with their heads will rule, while those who work with their hands will serve.” To that end, education thus became a strategy for survival in a country where poverty and hardship had challenged the lives of millions for countless millennia.

The fundamental justification for the Chinese Imperial Exams was that appointees to civil service positions were not to be chosen through special or inherited privilege, but through an individual’s own abilities. For centuries, the might of China was established militarily, often by emperors from humble origins who had toppled existing dynasties. However, once in control, these emperors soon realized that the actual governance of China would require the administrative services of thousands of bureaucrats. The civil service examination was thus a means for creating such a body of men, and it became a strategy that was emulated by France and Britain in the nineteenth century when these countries began needing public servants for their far-flung imperial outposts.

The Chinese civil service exams began around the sixth century with a set curriculum that had already become established for the so-called First Generation of exam takers. They were tested for their proficiency in the so-called Six Arts which included music, archery and horsemanship, arithmetic, writing and knowledge of the rituals and ceremonies of both public and private life. Between 200BC-200AD, the curriculum had expanded to the Five Studies. The examinations included military strategies, civil law, revenue and taxation, agriculture and geography in addition to the Confucian Classics.

By 1370 the scope and rigor of these exams were evident: there were examinations lasting twenty-four and even seventy-two hours conducted in spare, isolated examination rooms. There were generally three levels of exams given at the local, provincial and national levels. District exams included testing the candidate on his knowledge of the classics, the ability compose poetry on given subjects using set poetic forms and calligraphy. At the provincial level examinations candidates were tested on the breadth of their studies in the Classics, and these examinations often last up to seventy-two hours. A candidate who passed the provincial level exam was termed juren meaning recommended man. Those who had attained the juren status were eligible for the national level exams. Passing that level of exams then raised an individual to the highest level possible–that of jinshi or the so-called scholar.

At the national level exams, candidates were examined on the ability to analyze contemporary political problems in addition to the usual examinations based on the Classics. There were also additional highly prestigious special exams that were held occasionally by imperial decree. The less prestigious exams were those that were held to exam candidates in law, calligraphy, state ritual and military skills. The success rates of these exams were extremely small: During the Tang Dynasty the passing rate was about two percent. The personal suffering those individuals underwent both in the preparation and in the taking of these exams has become part of Chinese lore. Candidates were known to repeatedly fail exams. Some committed suicide because of the disgrace that these failures brought to their families. Others continued taking exams even as very old, grey-haired men. For those who rose through the ranks by passing these exams and being selected for administrative positions, it meant that their clans or families also rose in social prestige and wealth. The meritocratic nature of these exams has been noted in Chinese history: During the Ming Dynasty nearly half, about 47 percent, of those who passed the highest level examinations were from families with no official connections.

— Excerpts from the above was from John Merson,  The Genius That Was China: East and West in the Making of the Modern World, (Overlook Press, 1990)

A visit to Zibo and Pu Songling

In May 2012, my daughter Katie and I traveled with one of my students Gong Tong Shuang (Lark) whose hometown is Zibo Huantai to visit a city about four hours north of Qufu a very famous author’s home named Pu Songling who lived from 1640 to 1715. He lived during the Qing Dynasty. Pu was from a poor landlord-merchant family from a city then known as Zichon, now Zibo. At the age of nineteen, he received the initial xiucai degree in the civil service examination, but it was not until he was seventy one that he received the gongsheng degree. Over the intervening years he became very frustrated at failing the imperial examination over many years. He became a famous authors writing what would be known as the Strange Tales of Liaozhai that included 431 short stories written in classical Chinese. His works have now been translated into more than twenty foreign languages. He often wrote about the hypocritical ruling class and feudal bureaucracy and severely criticized the rigid and unjust official examination system,. He especially disliked how the system led to the corrosion of the intellectuals mind and malpractices of the examination room.

He also liked to write about the love between men and women and those who strive for love.  He told many stories about fox-fairies and flower goddesses. One of his most favorite topics was portraying beautiful female characters of noble mind who disregarded the feudal code of ethics, expressing their feelings frankly and bravely pursued the improvement of the status of women.   Pu Songling often expounded on ethics and morals and his writing reflected the adoption of romantic expressive methods of writing that served as a model for writers that came along much later. Pu Songling, alia Liu Guan Ju Shi, was one of the most celebrated writers of the Qing dynasty. In order to support his family he often worked as a private tutor. He often expounded on ethics and morals and his writing reflected the adoption of romantic expressive methods of writing that served as a model for writers that came along much later. His greatest book known as Liao Zhai Zhi Yi (Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio), is renowned as a breakthrough of artistic writing.

The above is a brief description of the Chinese Imperial Civil service Examination and its “unintended consequences” with author Pu Songling shows both the strength and weakness of the system. I was extremely difficult to pass the examination, nut that did not or has not stopped people from studying the Confucian Classics even into modern times.

The Confucius Federation of Qufu

This book has attempted to chronicle back and forth over the centuries how people have influenced the way we see Confucius today. Just as there have been many start and stops from one dynasty to the next, the prevailing theme has been the evolving role of Confucius. It is easy to see how people have been tied to the teachings of Confucius because he continues for better, or worse, to live through people of every generation. I saw that especially as I visited the countryside with my students. Many of their families had lived in the same hutong (house) in the same village for hundreds of years. Most of my over 400 students were the first in their family to go to college. When speaking with the grandparents who have seen so much change over the past  seventy to eighty years in rural China in Shandong Province it was obvious that this Confucian identity personified their sense of self, especially wu wei through their innate connection to the land itself, with nature and farming. It was not uncommon the see a gravesite out in the middle of a field where this person had spent his entire life tilling the soil. Now he had returned to the soil itself… Almost all of the hundreds of high school students I taught at Qufu Normal School (a five year high school) were from small villages from throughout western Shandong Province.

Locally here in Qufu there are many on-going efforts to keep the teachings of Confucius in the forefront. These efforts are managed very well by several organizations. One of them is referred to as the Confucius Federation of Qufu. I passed by the school almost everyday on my way to class or simply walking outside the western gate of the old city where I lived. The educational arm of these efforts is the Qufu Guoxue College that was founded in 2006. The school has an enrollment of about forty full-time and many part-time students who come from all over China. This follows a centuries old tradition of students coming to Qufu the birthplace of Confucius to study the classics and for the examination program discussed earlier. Qufu was the center of the universe for over two thousand years because of the desire to pay homage to Confucius. This sense is still prevalent today in China, especially in rural areas. Not so much so in big cities where the rest of the world has entered. Barbarians at the gates have always plagued China even to this day.

The focus and curriculum of the school above is teaching the Confucian classics and the traditional culture in China. It would mirror many of the ancient academies described earlier. Especially the one’s at Nihal Hill where Confucius was born by of Qufu and in Zhouzhuang by Mencius. They also teach math and English, how to play the er hu (a Chinese violin) and calligraphy. The age of the students is fourteen and fifteen years old .Shown here are Gao Shi li above and three teachers at the school. Zhao li who teaches english and math, Dan Lu Panpan a teacher and manager of the school, and Li Wei who teaches Chinese history and culture. The Confucius Federation and school’s primary focus is in keeping to the sense of Chinese traditional culture and teaching others about how to live within the teachings of ancient China. I was always a welcome guest and stopped by the school often for a cup of tea to discuss the school’s activities and current events.

The  Confucius Cultural Festival  

My first visit to Qufu during the Confucius Cultural Festival was in 2002 ago with a sister city delegation from Boynton Beach. The festival has been ongoing since 1989, or almost 25 years. What started out as a small festival operated by the people of Qufu has now become a fixture in the national tourist organization with the Jining Government in control of the activities? Qufu is a part of the Jining governing structure in Shandong Province. The Confucius Cultural Festival is always held for a two week celebration over the final week of September and first week of October every year.

骆教授所做的及孔子文化节的意义:

First some background on the Confucius Cultural Festival with an interview with Professor Luo Chenglie who was one of the primary instigators behind the starting of the cultural activities promoting Confucius. What did professor Luo do for Confucius?

1984年 改革开放,在曲阜开始“孔子故里游” 时间为农历8月27日(孔子生辰),但由于外国人都不熟悉农历,于1989年将时间改为每年9月28日。26日开会, 28日祭孔。并且在会议中由罗教授提出“孔子文化节”这一概念。至今24年。

With the reform and opening-up policy in China, the visit Confucius Cultural Festival to Confucius’ hometown ( Qufu) has taken on greater importance and has opened on August 28th day of the 9th lunar month since 1989. Because most of the foreigners were not familiar with the Chinese lunar month the celebration was changed to September 28th. Professor Luo put forward a proposal of the Confucius Cultural Festival including the Confucius conference should be held on 26th followed by the ceremony of sacrificing, or paying tribute, to Confucius on September 28th.  every year. The program is now celebrating its 24th year in 2012.

孔子文化节是一个全国性的活动,其在中国的文化史上是占有一席之地的。孔子是中国乃至世界的文化名人。孔子文化节的目的就是为了推广孔子文化。所以每次孔子文化节都会很隆重。

The Confucius Cultural Festival is an international event which is rather important in the history of Chinese culture. Confucius is known as a cultural icon all over the world, so it is rather important to promote his ideas and thoughts in the modern society, this is why we celebrate The Confucius Cultural Festival which is a grand ceremony indeed.

2004年又进行了改革,改由政府组办,从由市长再到由省长读祭文,有很多的政府人员以及来自世界各地的人都来参加孔子文化节。这些人可以大致分为三类:中外学者名流,海外游客,国内游客。

Some significant reforms happened in 2004 when the Confucius Cultural Festival would be held by the government in Jining and Qufu every year. Firstly, it was the mayor of Qufu who read the funeral oration then is was governor of Shandong Province. There are a large number of people to take part in the festival including some famous scholars all over the world. Thousands of tourists from China and the outside world now visit Qufu for the Confucius cultural Festival..

祭孔以前,每年都会有大型开幕式。节目都是与孔子结合的。祭孔时,除了一般的活动之外最近还增加了向孔子鲜花的活动,近年来还有著名的歌星来过。

Every year a solemnly opening ceremony is held for the ceremony of sacrificing, or paying tribute to Confucius. Presenting a bouquet of flowers is very popular and modern pop stars have been here as well. A highly choreographed theater production is presented in the Confucius Theater as well.

The Annual Confucian World Conference

80年代,骆教授再一次国际会议上首次提出孔子的思想为“和”——“和而不同” ,在世界范围内有很大的影响力。香港的回归以及2008年奥运会开幕式都是典型的例子。这说明孔子的思想被大众广泛接受。

In the 80s, Professor Luo put forward the central idea of Confucianism harmonization and difference which is now widely accepted. Confucius is known as a great teacher whose wise sayings have influenced many people in different countries The return of Hong Kong and the opening ceremony of the Olympic in 2008 are just cases in point.

2011年,尼山论坛更好的贯彻孔子的思想,促进中西方对话,文化节也促进了经济的更好发展。

The opening of Nishan Forum in 2011, better know as the Confucian World Conference has promoted the ideas of Confucius and accelerated the communication between the eastern and western countries as well as the development of the economic growth in Qufu. (it is this conference that is outlined below).

世界上孔子学院7百余所—更好的让世界了解中国,让中国走向世界。

2006年在曲阜成立了“孔子教育奖”继诺贝尔奖之后非常有权威性的奖项。

特点:

1、给第三世界的教育者提供了机会。

2、必须有国家申请

3、中国人不要。

Finally, the Confucius Institutes all over the world give the others countries an excellent opportunity to learn something about China. The Confucius Award was founded in 2006, which was very important after the Alfred Bernhard Nobel Prize. Here are some aspects of the Confucius Award.

 First it gives the educators in the third world to win this prize. Secondly, you can only apply for this prize through your I was a participant in the Fourth Session of the World Confucian Conference held in Qufu on September 26 through 29th 2011. My foreign expert status had been approved and I was participating as an observer as a member of the I hing/Confucius Society here in Qufu.  Most of the people present are scholars who have studied Confucian philosophy, some for many decades. The focus besides opening and closing ceremonies was the four concurrent panel discussions and academic exchanges on Confucianism. Each session had about twenty to twenty-five participants with about twelve to fifteen onlookers observing their discussion.   As an observer, I could not understand much of what was being said… but they did not know that and I never spoke so they had to assume I understood what was being said. It was at the end of the conference when they gave a summary of each session and the closing ceremony when I could use the headphones with translation of the summary of each session into English that I was able to write down what had transpired at the conference. Below is a synopsis of the submissions of scholars through papers submitted to the conference.

Session #1 speaker summarized their topic on how to preserve Confucian values as follows:

  • We must be able to read the true meaning of the text and at the same same expand the true meaning of the text.
  • Acknowledge that the text originated several thousand years ago and face or recognize the limitations of Confucianism…
  • While lacking the instrumental tools of today’s understanding of language the focus is on values. Not to only stick to the language of the text, but develop into modern applications.
  • Develop Confucianism expressing the gist of meaning in plain words. In the future there is need to use reasoning to explain the relevance of Confucianism in modern society.
  • Greater emphasis on globalization and how to explain events using Confucian ideas. How do we make Confucian voices heard and apply to gain greater influence.

Session #2 speaker focused on innovation of Confucian ideas as follows:

  • Focus on innovation into modern daily life… the connotations of how Confucian teachings are reflected in today’s world.
  • How to convey true meaning of Confucius and the Tao and their importance in world philosophy.
  • To re-examine Confucianism as it relates to the revitalization of Chinese Buddhism with innovation as common theme.
  • To evaluate the influence of Confucius by region and study how Confucians blend in with local culture.
  • The study of Confucianism and time and spacial aspects of evolution of Feng Shui and other historical thoughts. The relationship between man and nature, the “self” verse the “environment”.

With the focus still on innovation session two discussed going through the story of Confucius and his outlook and the pursuit of freedom in Confucianism. Promoting globalization with universal understanding while not looking down on western culture. This was followed lastly by how to take the sayings of Confucius to global places around the world.

Session #3 focus was on universal values expressed expressed through Confucianism and Taoism.

  • Benevolence as the precept to one who rules. Discussion focused on the Tao, chi concepts, social justice and universal topics.
  • The modern values of benevolence and how it relates to ancient or classic literature.
  • The methodology of Confucianism and how do we explain the topic.
  • Meaning of diversified originality. How to teach objectively
  • Yin verses yang. To focus, understand and reflect on modern thoughts of

Session #4 focused on education and Confucian rites.

  • Using an holistic approach to the rites. The dream of rites education. One should develop good habits through utilizing the rites.
  • The rites illustrate the backbone, values, and function of Confucians. They build quality of people and harmony with others.
  • The modern remedy of adhering to traditional values through the application of the rites. The I Ching and Confucius are the core of ethic values.
  • The application of the rites should be done to guarantee the stability of the modern world.
  • The motive and theory of Confucianism should be to instill and harbor the best values in people.
  • How do we get more Confucianism into modern education using school textbooks and other modern media to insure in unifying ideas of Confucius are continues insuring the succession of Confucian ideas and teachings
  • Target global issues with Confucianism.
  • There should be more study of connection between Confucianism and modern society.                                                                                                                                     The closing speech was measured thanking participants from sixteen countries with two hundred scholars and the one hundred two papers that were submitted to the conference. Everyone valued the orientation and discussion of views at the conference and saw outcome as fruitful research on Confucianism exchange and dialog.

The closing speech was measured thanking participants from sixteen countries, two hundred scholars and the one hundred two papers that were submitted to the conference. Everyone valued the orientation and discussion of views expressed at the conference and saw the outcome as fruitful research on Confucianism exchange and dialog.  For myself, how do I see my role and how do I broaden the reach on this group? Question of how thoughts can change the world through academic debate. How to disseminate thinking… how to compile the works of the conference? How to disseminate thinking in the future and expand efforts of those participating…

There is a sense of historical responsibility to share our ideas with aim of tackling problems of the world through exploring positive aspects of ancient Chinese thought. Closing speaker said Sun Tzu said we should defeat enemy through non-fighting or non aggression. Finally China as a nation is important and universal dialog is critical for world peace. We should follow principles set forth with academic excellence and dialog, exchange and universal values of Confucianism.

Following the World Confucius Conference I went to the Confucius Temple gate in Qufu that was very crowded for the annual procession that would go through the front gate and lead to ceremony praising the life of Confucius and his impact on China. (I have participated in this annual event for many years).The conference mainly focused on the idea of how we take complex thought that guides human behavior and make it relevant for future generations. How do we convey the excellent work of scholarship that circles the globe that enhances Confucian ideas and make it attractive to popular culture?  Not only Confucius, but all ancient Chinese philosophy? It is as Confucius said himself….

“Every great journey begins with a small step.”  – The Analects.

Chapter 9 – Chapter… Conclusion and how Confucius is seen Tomorrow

History is made one chapter at a time with one person at a time… Every person’s history and story is important in telling our whole story as every person we meet becomes a part of us. And just as importantly we become a part of them. A part of us leaves an indelible imprint on all we encounter. Each of us is every man and every woman. We share a common thread and as it was once said… no man is an island unto himself. We are about relationships, those we come to know in passing and other who seem to have been with us forever and will continue to do so. What we leave behind is but a mirror of what we projected of ourselves on those we have met and influenced along the way. History, like each of our lives, evolves around events that we each encounter and how we respond to them as if there is a certain symmetry, or basic simplicity that guides us to do our best and to clean up things afterwards if we have not. It is how we respond to those events and to people who happen along in those moments that determines what is to come next… knowing we truly do live forever and there really is no final chapter to who we are yet to become.

What is often considered a chance encounter, or serendipity or chance, is never that simple. Confucius, Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Mencius, Zeng Zi, and others knew that the ultimate telling of events is left to those who fill in the details and live to tell the story and write about what has occurred that conveys the true mean of why we can only gain immortality through our virtue. Our highest essence of who we really are. This role is magnified much greater when we assume the role of a teacher.

It is said that history is written by the victor while the vanquished, often left in the dust of defeat, is left to try to find or discover what it all meant. What Lao Tzu and Confucius knew was what the ancients have always known. That when mankind has followed his own innate wisdom endowed by the universe and lives a life of simple virtue, then there is no sense of need to vanquish or control anyone outside ourselves and no one is left behind. It is as Jesus said… “we are our brothers keeper”. That if such a benevolent society could be found nothing else would matter. The Buddhists called this utopia and a place called Shangri la… But then Buddhism got the idea from Chuang Tzu and his “perfected man”…

I have often wondered if when the Christian missionaries first came to China in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and tried to convert the Chinese people to Christianity if they would have agreed to allow them to keep their traditional religious beliefs (Taoism and Buddhism) and simply added elements of Christianity that worked for them, how much better our lives would have been universally today combining the best of eastern and western religions and philosophies. To ask them to turn their backs on religious and cultural traditions ingrained over thousands of years was never going to work or happen. Today thankfully however, there our hundreds of thousands of people who follow the Christian faith in Qufu and Shandong Province and happily can do so without interference. In my thinking, prayer and meditation is about creating a relationship with the divine regardless of the path or way you use to get there.

While this book is mainly about what should be and is the role of Confucius, I seem to always revert back to my mentors, the Taoists, especially Chuang Tzu. In my almost twenty years I have spent with him, Lieh Tzu and Lao Tzu and many others combing the universe observing the comings and goings of the world, it was me coming to Qufu to tell the story of Confucius once more and for them to retell their part of the story as well that is important. It was always Chuang Tzu though, who I seem to relate to so well through my thoughts and writing, who challenges the proclivities of the day and laughs or makes humor of what we see as important or if we become to full of ourselves. It comes to me that I have probably spent more quality time with them than what would be considered the here and now. My wife of almost thirty five years, Marie, would certainly agree and there would be no argument from her in the matter. I have often found myself off to a corner, in meditation or contemplation with the sayings of Confucius or stories of Lieh Tzu whose book I have redone as my own that is entitled, My travels with Lieh Tzu .or with Lao Tzu when I wrote Thoughts on Becoming a Sage based on the teachings found in his Te Tao Ching. After all this time and with their never-ending urging, I come now to find how Confucius is viewed today for all assembled. I think what really is driving Chuang Tzu is he wants me to do a book about him as well that he too can call his own. In due time my dear friend… in due time…

Jf Confucius returned today, if he was here and a product of our times in the 21st Century, he would see that very little has really changed in man’s approach to how he lives. Although there are those like me, who endeavor to make the world aware of his teachings and work to ensure an environment exists where the world can turn to benevolence and virtue, in many ways today we are doing so.  Although almost instinctively he would know and be able to observe that much of what would be considered as lasting value in China in terms of ethics and virtue have been done mostly in his name over the centuries. Not in the material world of what has been created in his absence, but how we relate with each other today.  Wow what a thought, if Confucius had access to a computer and the internet today what would he say. In many ways his voice does ring louder today than ever before.

If he came back and walked the terraces of his homestead in Qufu, the Confucius Mansion which by the way, he could hardly recognize or imagine, or Temple built in his honor, the Queli Hotel next door, or reminisce and walk along the waterfront as he did so often with his disciples and friends now… what would he find. Or the two schools build adjacent to his home that now stands as the Confucius Temple and Mansion. To the north a school for his descendents in the Kong family and those who loved him, Mencius, Yan Hui and Zeng Zi that soon will become a museum further enhancing his legacy and to the south of the Mansion the Qufu Normal School where I teach today, where others children learned about the Chinese Classics, art, history, and most importantly his own analects for over a hundred years now.

And how much would he see has changed over twenty five hundred years. Yes there is a wall around the old city of Lu as it was known then, not quite the same but pretty close. He would soon discover that half the residents here today bear his family name Kong. He would tour the Confucius Institute bearing his name and likeness and get to see how we today honor and remember him now in his hometown. He would see the Confucius Mansion, Temple and Cemetery where he and tens of thousands of his descendents are buried and learn of the millions of people who have visited Qufu over the years to honor him. He would be seen re-affirming and see the relevance of the teachings he taught all those years ago and how he made a difference in the human condition and continues to do so. Finally, he would see his analects etched in stone in numerous places around the city.

However, I think it is his name and teachings globally that he would see that his impact is continually expanding with over four hundred Confucius Institutes now found in nearly one hundred countries whose aim is to promote Chinese language and culture, support local Chinese teaching internationally and facilitate cultural exchanges in a world he never even knew existed in his time twenty-five hundred years ago. Today, in March 2012, as I write this, his teachings and philosophy are found all over the world with plans by HANBAN, the Confucius Institutes government body, to establish one thousand Confucius Institutes by the year 2020, only eight years away. He would be speechless I think, but very pleased and immensely honored just the same. He would be reminded of all those who worked with him and those who came before and afterwards and that the basic tenets of his teaching are still alive and thrive today.  In his day he may have lived in feudal times, but his words and philosophy live on now more than twenty five hundred years later… no longer remotely tied to the feudalism of his day.

For myself, I have followed the expansion of the Confucius Institute program since its inception in 2004, eight years ago and have visited the HANBAN offices in Beijing on more than one occasion. Of the almost eighty Confucius Institutes in the United States, I have visited several of them and have a special connection with the Confucius Institute in Miami, Florida at Miami Dade College where I taught in 2015. It’s a little over an hour away from Boynton Beach. For myself, again speaking as a teacher, I find their resources excellent and generally their staffing is diligent, professional, and very helpful. Most all the Confucius Institutes are located on a university or college campus.

Yes there are modern conveniences now that could never have been imagined twenty-five hundred years ago, but has human nature changed all that much and if Confucius were alive today I think it safe to say that he would say yes… but we as a human community are more tied than ever to the outer world than our inner selves.  And who am I, the author of this book, but a teacher and storyteller of the past who knows instinctively that in reality we have all seen and done it all before. And that yes… history does repeat itself and that if we so choose we get to do the same things while we are here over and over again expecting different results (something we call insanity) from our sometimes seemingly futile efforts, and thirdly, there comes a time when we are given a chance to awaken midstream in our lives and begin to see our place in the universe and attempt to find the way to attach ourselves to this and follow..Philosophers, wise men and women, and even some storytellers, throughout history have relayed what the shaman learned all those millennia ago, that when you open yourself to the universe it comes forth to greet you. The problem through the ages is people always want to include their own baggage when they want to come along for the ride. Then they want to put on display their personal baggage for all to see what should have been left behind. Commonly this is referred to as physical attachments or possessions, but more often than not it is beliefs we cling to that  keep us from reaching our true destiny of who we really here to become… Reaching out through this clutter we must first remember who we are as our virtue and know this is all we will ever need. That by becoming as one with this internal knowing and inner virtue we have always possessed we can finally find our way. It is for this that Confucius, Chuang, Lao and Lieh, Mencius, and so many others that came to know as the way of virtue and how to express that virtue solely through who we are internally and through out relationship with others.

Knowing and embracing the past, so that we can look forward to who we are really meant to be, like an inner knowing always ready and waiting to emerge when we are ready to claim our true endeavor and destiny. Ah what a great concept. Kind of like a security blanket eternally wrapped around our heart and soul just waiting for us to claim it. . As if each of us has a rendezvous with who we really are and it is just standing by waiting for us to claim it. And what is therapy, but the process of discovering our true identity so that we may focus our energies on curing what ails us so that we can find it. It is said that Confucius never spoke words written by himself. I have said continually on these pages that he saw himself as the transmitter, not the creator, meaning he always put the needs of others before his own so that his own destiny was assured.  While Confucius may not have spoken words he wrote down, he was certainly able to convey through the spoken word his inner thoughts the reflected his own heart and soul and others fortunately did so.

A Conversation with Dragons

Please show me the way. The Way is within yourself.  Please teach me the Way. You know all that there is to know.  Have no fear of the reality yet to be made clear that you must follow.

The path you must follow wil be difficult to travel until you lose the attachments not needed for the journey at hand. Refrain from clinging to that which is external to yourself and the way you must travel will be made clear for you to follow. Come forward with peace in your heart, an openness of your mind, spirit and body to find the knowledge in all things that have been, are now and are yet to be discovered.

Remember that what you write is who you are to become. Seek only truth, balance and justice and all will be made perfect. Just as it should be.   3/4/95      (From My Travels with Lieh Tzu)

Following this personal journey it was as if Chuang and Lieh Tzu took me under their wing so to speak and next led to my writing a still yet unpublished book “My travels with Lieh Tzu” the next year in 1995 following the book, “The Book of Lieh Tzu” by A.C. Graham as my guide. This book about the Taoists – Lao, Chuang and Lieh Tzu, Confucius, Yang Chu and so many others passed through me as if I was immersed in a refresher course session to remember things that I had always known but simply had forgotten. The story “A Conversation with Dragons” on the previous page is from that book.

The dye was cast and we moved from Massachusetts to Boynton Beach, Florida, where I became a city planner and later neighborhood specialist. From this point I knew my day job as a planner was not who or what I was meant to be doing.  But this segue continuing over the next ten years until my retirement in 2005 allowed my wife and I to adopt two beautiful little girls from China, first Katie from Maoming and then Emily from Urumqi. Along the way it was as if the dragons had been monitoring my progress gaining attachments I would need later and losing the one’s I didn’t need, I wrote my third book in May 2000 seven months after my first visit to Qufu in October 1999. This was to be my final book I would write for over ten years until I came to China and Qufu to stay. Entitled Thoughts on Becoming a Sage, the Guidebook to leading a Virtuous Life, was as if Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching was not only passing through me, but conveying the final installment I needed to find my way.

It was as if the dragons were guiding their own student through school. First by getting my attention, second by telling me I am a dragon too, third going through the ritual of the I Ching, studying Taoism through following Chuang and Lieh Tzu, and finally the ultimate rite of passage and my capturing the eternal spirit found in the Tao Te Ching. Now it was up to me to lose the attachments I had been clinging to, do the work, and find my way home to Qufu where the next installment would continue, first as a teacher and second to tell their story as only I could and to remind and to convey the importance of Confucius to the world.

It is as if the dragons were reminding me of the very first line in my very first entry I wrote on Christmas Day in December 1993 that was entitled In everything there is Tao that read… “It is through you Dan we speak” that appears in my first book about the I Ching.  It was as if each of us has things we have always innately known but forgotten or simply refused to acknowledge or act upon. It’s as if we either can not handle the truth, or more often than not, are afraid or fear we are not up to the task once we come to know what it is. What of course complicates things further is when you discover your best friends, your mentors and peers, lived over two thousand years ago.

This large bowl, or gang as it was called, shows one of two flying dragons was excavated from Xuande near Jingdezhen during the Ming Dynasty (1426-35). The emperor liked to use the large bowls for keeping fish. It now resides in the British Museum in London where I took this picture in the Spring of 2012. The dragons have always loved having a great story to tell, especially my friends Lieh and Chuang Tzu. While it was Lao Tzu who inspired Confucius to be the ultimate conveyor of Taoist thought at the time, it was Chuang Tzu who taught him to be a storyteller conveying benevolence and virtue and not to take himself to seriously. As for me, it was as if they were calling on me to fulfill my ultimate endeavor in the here and now by returning to China and Qufu before rejoining them once again. As if you’re ultimate destiny is tied to helping to finally setting the record straight and to remind me of the role I am to play.

Not as some brilliant scholar who might have passed the Junxi examination at a young age then rest on my laurels as many of my contemporaries have done over the centuries. But to come to know the real living history of the people and places the dragons have always known and enjoyed the most. As if I am doing it for all of them simply as an author, writer and teacher and to fulfill my destiny as an educator. To come and go hardly noticed by those I encounter except for my students who I am here to impart the wisdom and knowledge of the ages and to others who may be listening along the way.

It is as if the dragons, the ancient Taoists, have never gotten over the paradox that Confucius would get all the credit, or so it would seem.  As if we would draw straws in eternity to see who would give it a try and I drew the short straw again.  The other thing I was to remember would be that it is through my writing that I would define who I ultimately am here to become which brings us now to Qufu and Confucius. As if there was an agreement for eternity’s sake. The Taoists could define the environment or set the stage in which the Confucian doctrine or philosophy would endure as one with nature and the universe. Confucius knew he would be forever indebted to Lao, Chuang and Lieh Tzu who laid down the framework onto which he would provide the structure for how to live a virtuous life. The ensuing Confucians never forgot this caveat and its evidence is found everywhere you find Confucius depicted today and over the thousands of years since they all lived. As any visit to a historic or cultural site now depicts here in China, Confucius teachings were to become paramount, but the wrapping you would find them in is attributable to the Taoists, thereby illustrating a respect for nature and man’s eternal place in the universe. Although over time the Taoists would become so overshadowed by Confucius in Chinese culture that they always found it difficult to gain the foothold they felt they rightfully deserved. It was to be a price worth paying.

Since those two initial trips to China, first to adopt Katie in Maoming in 1997 and that trip in October 1999 to get Emily in Urumqi and its fateful side trip to Qufu, I have made more than forty trips to Qufu and now live within the confines of the reconstructed ancient wall on Gulou Street, a stone’s throw from the Confucius Mansion and Temple. . Each trip a step in letting go of who I thought I was until I acknowledged and accepted what my true identity and role was to become.

This picture is of me, three and a half year old daughter Katie, my mother Faye Kleeman, and wife Marie inside the cave where Confucius is said to be born in our first visit to Qufu in October 1999. A truer beginning could never be.

Over the years until I came to begin teaching at Qufu Normal School and Jining University in March 2011, many people came to know me as a writer with a passion for China and Qufu. Almost all I encountered would say… “But Dan, (later as Kong Dan) you must also write about Confucius.”  I always knew that when I was ready I would.

In my writing and study, I have read and reread the Confucian Analects many times over the last twenty years or so. I also seem to recall a much earlier introduction writing and studying the Analects back in college in a world philosophy class many years earlier in the early 1970’s. But I always knew my approach to Confucius and Taoist teachings was much bigger than what the typical scholar had written for literally thousands of years. It was his story about his influence today along with his Taoist influences that needed an updating. Not another version of his Analects, but how they have been reconciled over the centuries as words to live by and are to be seen and accounted for in the future. I did not need approval because my previous writing dispelled any doubt as to my authenticity or passion for my subject. But simply writing another tomb, or book, about the Confucian Analects was not my purpose in coming to Qufu and Shandong Province. That task had been done many times over and honestly is still being done as a rite of passage by others who see that as their own personal endeavor. Seeing as to how the ancient philosophers would be seen in their proper context collectively was more the role I was here to convey.

It is the people in the here and now in Qufu and in cities, towns and the countryside here in Shandong Province who represent the lifeblood of who Confucius was that tells the story of how he is seen now and in the future. Those I would consider as the junxi of today. Confucius above all else taught the importance of strong relationships… from the family onward. To get to know and tell the real Confucius I had to get to know the people here in Qufu and feel his continuing influence here and in Shandong Province first. Now after more than a dozen years of coming to Qufu, I feel I am ready to tell their story.

It is as if I am still a Taoist first sent here to temper the wisdom and words of Confucius so that they continue to fit into the natural order found in the universe. But that’s a tall order for one book. Besides, while now seen here as a teacher in Qufu, my personality still fits the mold much more as my peers Lao, Chuang, and Lieh Tzu than the structure and discipline found in the teachings of Confucius.  Although adhering and teaching his basic truths about benevolence and virtue in the natural setting found here in Qufu and Shandong Province as a teacher means I have come full circle with the ever present Tao. Back to where it all started all those years ago. Or as Chuang Tzu would question “Am I coming home once again, or perhaps just living a dream”?

Now that I am here in Qufu it is as if it’s time to fulfill my role first and foremost as a teacher, and secondly to add my two cents about Confucius as the dragons would have it. We shall see. Teaching my students here at Qufu Normal School that was first established by the Kong Family, the descendants of Confucius, and at Jining University is pretty heady stuff.  Although in the background, I can always hear my good friend Chuang Tzu reminding me to be ever humble and not to take myself too seriously.

As I follow the footsteps of Confucius and my Taoists friends around Shandong I am reminded once again that I have seen and done this all before and probably will again. That is unless of course I get it right this time and when there will be the need for another update sometime in the future when the dragons will again send one of there own.  I also acknowledge I am here to honor all those who have traveled here to Qufu in pursuit of their own chosen path, or personal journey and their own finding Confucius or better said their own “China Dream. Over a period of time spanning over twenty five hundred years and in reality much longer that’s a long time and a lot of people to get to know. It is as Confucius and my Taoists friends would say today that everything must be done in context of where you have been, are now, and will go in the future and most importantly who you have kept close along the way. With all this said, it should go without saying that this book needs no further introduction except for a special thanks to all who are included herein who have agreed to be part of my story and my coming to Qufu and the times in which we live.

As a final thought, it is said a man should consider himself lucky if in the course of his life he has made five good friends. This being said, I have been eternally blessed with “forever” friend through the ages both with the dragons and with those mentioned herein. For me to be so truly blessed is certainly true bliss and remembering to the end that Confucius was about benevolence, virtue, and relationships. With my own destiny assured, for now I am happy to simply live as a teacher and Confucian in Qufu… with all my old friends and new ones in tow. And as for the contents of this book itself it need no further introduction and speaks for itself… and is dedicated not to the dragons or Confucius whose accolades belie history. But to my own students who I hope in some small way I have taught how to live for the ages as well.

Dan C DeCarlo a/k/a Kong Dan a/k/a Dantzu                                                                                     May 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One comment on “Qufu and Confucius

  1. The picture of your family in Confucius birthplace cave is charming, and the only image on the web that shows the size of the cave. May I have permission to use the image in an educational planetarium show? Confucius mentions an eclipse in his writings. I’ve always thought shelter in a cave sensible and cozy, and I notice not uncommon in China even today.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s