The Life of Confucius – Part 5/5

May 5, 2010

In 484 BC, a former student convinced the rulers of Lu to call Confucius home.  He returned to Chufu still believing he would find a ruler who would listen to him.  The ruling warlords asked him how to find honest officials.

Confucius replied, “Be honest yourself.”

He was ignored and retired to edit the poetry and books he loved. From his study, he watched the powerful leaders fight horrible wars among themselves and witnessed the Chinese people suffering. His daughter was married. His son, who died young, was lazy and hated learning.

In his old age, his students were his family. Claims say that he had about three thousand followers but only seventy-two were devoted to him. One student was his favorite.  Yen Hui reminded Confucius of his own youth. He believed that Yen Hui would carry on his work but at forty-one, Yen Hui died. Confucius wept saying, “Heaven has turned against me.”

Confucious grave for tourists

Depressed, Confucius thought, “Now I know that heaven has a will of its own.” In 479 BC, Confucius died. His last words were bitter. “Will no ruler come forward and take me as his master.”  He saw himself as a failure. He had no idea that his thoughts would become the dominate philosophy of China for centuries.

Today, billions work hard, value an education and believe that every person has a chance at success.

Return to Part 4 of “The Life of Confucius” or go here to learn more about The influence of Confucius.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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