The Teachings of Confucius versus the Tao Te Ching The teachings of Confucius and the Tao Te Ching are two important schools of thought in China. In Confucius’s Analects, he talks mostly of political and social issues and also speaks about how people must govern by following rules and displaying virtuous qualities such as honesty and integrity. Lao Zi on the other hand talks of how the world has a propensity towards balancing itself and that people should govern by “going with the flow” while the cosmos sort out the events of life.
He also mentions that people should have a detachment from many things in life such as material objects. Ultimately, the main difference between the Tao Te Ching and the teachings of Confucius is that the Tao Te Ching says that people should live their life in an ethereal manner by following the forces of nature, whereas Confucius’s teachings have a strict moral code that people must abide by. Confucius’s teachings tell people how to act by mentioning what character traits they should have and how to take action accordingly.
For example, in the analects Confucius says, “He who exercises government by means of his virtue may be compared to the north polar star, which keeps its place and all the stars turn towards it” (The Analects, Wei Zheng, 1). Lao Zi on the other hand describes the concept of governing in an entirely different manner. He says that, “Prizing no treasures keeps people from stealing … The sage governs them all” (Tao Te Ching, 2). There is a noticeable difference between the ideas that are presented in the quotes of Confucius and Lao Zi.
Confucius talks of ruling others by way of virtue and says that once people see the example being set by a government official, then they will follow it. On a different note, Lao Zi says that people should become detached from worldly things in order to encourage others to follow the rules and instill Te (virtue). The Tao Te Ching and the Confucian analects differ here because Confucius talks of ruling by setting an example based on morality, whereas Lao Zi talks of governing by doing nothing and detaching oneself from material objects.
Overall, the method of governing mentioned by Confucius involves worldly actions while Laozi’s method involves inaction and faith in an otherworldly force to sort issues out. The film Confucius was released in 2010 starring Chow Yun Fat. Given that Chow is a “superstar,” his casting tends to overshadow the verisimilitude of the film. For example, much of Confucius’ personal life in the film is fictionalized as we are introduced to his wife and daughter. Similarly, a scene in the movie is dedicated to the legendary meeting between Confucius and Lao Zi in which Confucius asks for and gets advice. [clip three at 17:30]. The scene is a bit romanticized though because it features Confucius and Lao Zi meeting on a mountain above clouds. Nevertheless, this scene reflects the ideas of Confucius as a scholar that believes in governing by morality and Lao Zi as one that believes in governing by inaction. On the mountain, Lao Zi mentions that Confucius believes in acting through “rituals and benevolence” while Lao Zi himself has the belief that one should act by doing nothing and should gain an otherworldly detachment from things such as desire.
He offers Confucius this insight but Confucius politely refuses, saying that he must “follow his own path” and describing Lao Zi’s ideas as too ethereal for him to follow (Clip 3). Their conversation illustrates the basis of these two men’s ideas. The film portrays Laozi as one who believes in the natural course of things. He believes that by doing nothing and going with the flow of things, situations will eventually get better. This idea is even more exemplified when Confucius tells Lao Zi that he thinks he has failed in his mission to knock down the city walls.
Laozi tells him to “stop trying when you have achieved nothing” and “maybe the best contribution is no contribution” and further reveals his Daoist principles (Clip 3). All in all, the film Confucius, Lao Zi is portrayed as a man who believes in otherworldly solutions to problems while Confucius believes in strict, absolute ones. A depiction of Confucius’s ideas of governing is also apparent in the beginning of the film. When talking to the emperor of Lu, Confucius mentions that people should respect the law because they’re civil and honest and have integrity to make their homeland a better place.
This approach involves making an effort to have those specific character traits and differs from the teachings of the Tao Te Ching because it involves what Lao Zi called “chasing the light” (Tao Te Ching, 3). He says that too much light blinds, which in this case is the seeking of morality, and that it is better to want less instead of more. The confliction of Confucian and Daoist ideas illustrates the profound differences they have in regards to how people should act and be governed. Confucianism involves adhering to a strict moral code whereas Daoism involves going with the natural order of hings and by acting through inaction. Though the ideologies of Confucius and Lao Zi differ a great deal, they do have one similarity. They both serve as major moral codes that many people in China still follow today. Biblography Legge, James. The Analects. N. p. : n. p. , n. d. Web. http://ctext. org/analects/wei-zheng. 6 Mar. 2013. Red Pine. “Tao Te Ching. ” N. p. , n. d. Web. https://elearning. uh. edu/bbcswebdav/pid-394869-dt-content-rid-1739781_1/courses/H_20131_CHNS_3354_11272/red_pine_dao. htm. 6 Mar. 2013