Kaohsiung Zouying Confucius temple is the biggest Confucius temple in Taiwan, the oldest one is in Tainan. This new temple was constructed in 1976. Its design was based on the Confucius temple in Sandong province of China.
Confucius was born in 551 B.C. and is remembered by Chinese as the greatest and most inspiring teacher of all time. His approach to education is considered as innovative in his time. He stimulated his students to think by posing questions. His teaching style was more in the way of informal conversations than formal classes. He also tailored his teaching methods based on each student’s needs.
Confucius’s discourse covered classics, philosophy, poetry, music and the forms as well as ceremonies of those past times. Living at a time of great distress and chaos, he also talked a lot on how to reform the government of ducal states and bring them back to what he considered the ideal of ancient times.
Confucius was a music lover. He once said music could help mold kindness and uprightness to a person’s character. In his travels throughout the states, he collected songs of the people. He would then use them in his teachings. Near the end of his life, he edited the ancient collection “The Book of Songs”.
Throughout his lifetime, there were 3000 young men who studied under him. The seventy-two who were the brightest and spent the most time with him came to be known as his disciples. Some of them went with him on his travels to other states.
Among them, the most devoted is Zi Lu. Zi Lu is a courageous man but lacks in tactics. He always acted impulsively. Confucius warned him many times to use his caution. One story goes like this. One day, Zi Lu asked Confucius, “If you were to lead an army, who would you take with you to the battlefield?” Confucius’ reply was: “I would certainly not take anyone who dreamed of killing a tiger with bare hands. Neither would I take anyone who behaved rashly and wanted to cross a river without any preparation. I would take someone who’s cool-headed and discreet.”
Despite of his rashness, Zi Lu is an honest and upright man. When he traveled to the State of Wei with Confucius, he decided to stay on to serve the Duke of Wei in important position. Later the state of Wei was invaded by its enemy. Although he had a chance to escape, Zi Lu chose to stay and fight for the Duke of Wei. He was later killed in battle and his body was chopped into meat sauce. After hearing the news, Confucius wept bitterly for his student and never ate meat sauce again.
Another story is about his relation with Yan Hui. Yan Hui is the most faithful student of all and carries out Confucius’s idea without an ounce of doubt. Yan Hui lived in poverty but never let it deter him from his studies. Confucius once said of him, “I doubt that I can find another person who is so diligent and consistent in his studies as Han Hui.” However, Confucius did not appreciate Yan Hui for being too obedient and failing to have his own views. He said “Yan Hui accepts everything I say, that’s neither good for him nor for me.”
There’s one popular story on how Confucius tailored his teachings to each student’s needs. One day, Zi Lu asked him a question, “When we hear a good proposal, should we put it into practice at once?” Confucius answered him: “You should always first consult someone with more experience,” Later, another student named Ran You asked the same question, Confucius replied, “Of course you should put it into practice at once.” A third student who had heard both answers, puzzled by the apparent contradictions, asked Confucius about it.
Confucius enlightened him: “Ran You always hesitates when making a decision. Therefore he should be encouraged to be bolder. On the other hand, Zi Lu tends to make hasty decisions. Therefore he should be reminded to be cautious. It’s only natural that different people should get different answers.”
When Confucius died at the age of 73, some of his disciples put up huts beside his grave and stayed for three years in mourning. One student named Zi Gong did not feel this was enough, so he stayed on for another three years.
There are a number of great philosophers during Confucius’s time. Later under the succeeding Han Dynasty, Confucian ideas become more widespread. During the ruling of the Emperor – Wudi, the works of Confucius were made the official imperial philosophy and required reading it for civil service examinations in 140 BC. That remained unbroken until the end of the 19th century.