During our first full day in Qufu, we went to visit the three UNESCO World Heritage sites – the Confucius Temple, Kong Family Mansion, and Cemetery of Confucius. I was not well informed about Confucius before this trip; I did some research before visiting the site to have more insight into the importance of where I had the opportunity to visit.
Confucius was a philosopher from the Lu State in Ancient China who taught ethics rooted in compassion – to treat one another with respect, and to practice this through altruism and self-restraint. What I found interesting were his political teachings, which were largely very unlike Machiavelli. Confucius advocated for true justice; a ruler must govern with compassion. Our tour guide gave us an interesting tidbit – one of the reasons why Ancient China didn’t end up conquering the world was because the ruling philosophical view of China at the time prevented it: conquering for the sake of dominance would not be aligned with compassion.
The three UNESCO World Heritage sites themselves are steeped in antiquity, giving us not just history but a glimpse into how life was in Ancient China. For example, for everyone to know the time there was a gong and a drum on the temple walls. They rang the gong at dawn and the drum at dusk. There were specific doors that only the emperor would use. Our tour guide also pointed out that one of the dragons carved into the stone pillars was very lucky – one recent man who touched it became the French President, Emmanuel Macron.
This was a memorable place to visit. It may be a historical site, but Confucius’ teachings are still being practiced today.
Author: Sindy Ng