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Fig 2.16 – Confucian Compassion

Text: Pages 56 and 57

Ren has been translated to mean humanness or humanity, kindness, benevolence, and goodness. Ren is empathy, love of others, compassion, and “treating others as you want to be treated,” the inward and outward expression of Confucian ideals. Confucius believed that it was the moral duty to protect the integrity of others, to share in the feelings of others, and to support their success, even though it was difficult because humanity was conditioned against caring for others.

Confucius encouraged attention to the most minute rituals in daily life, which included clothes, food, and even posture. Daily rituals included simple acts of bowing out of mutual respect and for social harmony, sending thank-you notes, or taking off shoes before entering a home. Three main Chinese characters and the yin and yang symbolize the philosophy of Confucianism: over his head is acknowledgment of “Confucius” as the sage; on the left, water is symbolic in Confucianism for sustaining social harmony in a chaotic and violent world; on the right, scholar symbolizes the importance of knowledge, self-awareness, and education. The yin and yang symbolize the need to seek balance and harmony in a world of constant oppositional tensions.

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