25 Jun Those who wished to regulate their households would first cultivate their personhood. (LEO BUSCAGLIA)
Confucius was born in China around the time of the Buddha in India and Pythagoras in Greece, 552 B.C.
Like most of the truly great ethical and moral leaders, he wrote nothing. His teachings were recorded (by his disciples) into four major works a century after his death, and referred to as the Shu (the Four Classics). Of these, the major ethical work is felt to be the Luen Yu.
Confucius was a man, not a God. He expounded neither theoric nor universal dictum. He offered no formulas for humanity or divine commandments. He avoided dealing with •mysticism and spiritual matters and concerned himself rather with the tangible, day-to-day activities, complexities and dilemmas of life.
He is often referred to as the greatest teacher in Chinese history and devoted his entire life to his humanistic teachings and to the training of moral character. In essence he may be said to have been more of a social reformer than a religious leader. His major concerns were with stimulating individuals toward having the courage to be themselves and gain the wisdom to be an active part of the society in which they lived. In fact, the purpose of all self-actualization, according to Confucius, was to help us discover our part in the process of ordering and harmonizing the world.
In Chapter V of The Great Learning. Confucius states.
The ancients who wish to show their fine characters to the world would first bring order to their states. Those who wished to bring order to their states would first regulate their households. Those who wished to regulate their households would first cultivate their personhood.
He continues —
Those who wished to cultivate their personhood would first achieve the rectification of their minds. Those who wished to achieve the rectification of their minds would first achieve the sincerity of their wills. Those who wished to achieve the sincerity of their wills would first extend their knowledge. The extension of knowledge depends on the investigation of things. When things are investigated, knowledge is extended; when knowledge is extended, the security of the will is achieved; when security of the will is achieved, the mind is rectified; when the mind is rectified, the personhood is cultivated.
Personhood, for Confucius, was not a state of perfection but rather an ever-changing, very human state, often accompanied by anxiety. He said of himself “Not applying myself to the achievement of virtue, not explaining clearly to myself what I study, not accomplishing what I conceive to be my duty, not concerning myself with my own faults: These are my anxieties.” (Luen Yu, VII, 3).
Personhood : the art of being fully human