Chinese Schools of Thought

By: Madison Espiritu


The main goal of Confucianism was to show how to reform society by having the right government.  Confucius (the founder) was trying to teach that the government should lead by example.  He also believed that human nature is good, not evil.  His philosophys were accepted by some dynasties, for example, the Han Dynasty. They made his teachings the basics, unlike the Qin Dynasty who rejected them.


Unlike Confucius, Hanfeizi (founder of Legalism), believed that the nature of man was evil.  He had very strict teachings and harsh punishments. The Qin Dynasty followed these teachings and with it, the construction of the Great Wall of China began.  Since Hanfeizi forced people to work on public projects, if anyone died while constructing the wall,  their body was built into the wall.

Taoism (Daoism)

Laozi, the the founder of Taoism, believed in a different type of governing. He believed in a more carefree and joyful type of governing. "Tao" is translated in English, The Way or The Path which is one of the major ideas of Taoism. Laozi also believes that life is happy but we just have to find a balance. In the Tang Dynasty, Taoism became the official religion which shows that Taoism was a major religion in China.


Buddha, the creator, was a prince turned "Enlightened One". The Four Noble Truths, one of his teachings, are based on suffering. Life has suffering, the reason for suffering, suffering can be resolved, and path to end suffering are the basics of the Four Noble Truths. The Four Noble Truths leads to the Eight Fold Path, which is how to resolve suffering.
The Three Vinegar Tasters


The bare basics of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism set to the tune of "How to Save a Life" by the Fray. The constant references to vinegar regard an ancient Chinese painting showing Buddha, Confucius and Lao Tzu each tasting vinegar. Buddha believes it is bitter because all life is suffering. It is not what he wanted. Confucius believes it is sour because it used to be fruit juice but it went bad. It is not what it once was. Lao Tzu believes it to be just right because that's what happens when you leave juice out.

Siddhartha saw each suffering breath
Desire, despair, disease and death
Follow Buddha's blessed math
The Four Great Truths, the Eightfold path
To reach Nirvana, no more pain
Jammin' out with Kurt Cobain
The vinegar is bitter
The vinegar is bitter

How do I find out what this life is
The vinegar of bitterness?
Has it gone sour? Is it just right?
And tell me how to live my life.

Confucius say (or Master Kong)
What was is right, what is is wrong
Like vinegar, the world's gone sour
With disrespect, abuse of power
We are not now as we once were
The ancient ways we must prefer
Study hard, do as your told
Love your kids, respect the old (Chorus)

Lao Tzu thought that he knew how
To follow heaven and the Tao
But what that is he cannot say
Just walk the Way by wei wu wei
Do not try, go with the flow
Do not learn and you will know
And though the others disagree
The vinegar is just how it should be (Chorus)