Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Confucius Say...

Today we enjoyed a time filled with events relating to the impact of Confucian philosophy.  Professor Peterson led a lecture/discussion on the bus about some basics of Confucianism.  Confucian philosophy focused on making sure there was a moral rightness in five different relationships: king to subjects, parents to child(ren), husband to wife, elders to youngers, and friend to friend.  If these relationships are perfected then harmony can exist within this life.

Our first stop was to Ok San Seo Won, a regional school for learning about the philosophies of Confucius.  After touring the grounds, we all sat inside the learning center of the school for continued discussion on Confucian ideology and education as well as Korean literature styles.  It was noted that the primary career of choice was to be a public official or government bureaucrat/adviser.  Because Korean leaders of the Josen period had so heavily embraced Confucian ideology, having a firm grounding in the teachings of the great philosopher was imperative prior to obtaining such a government related job.  In order to show your worthiness you had to pass a serious of tests.  There were three levels of potential service and each level had three distinct tests which must be passed.  Professor Peterson mentioned that this could be a significant reason for why there is such a strong focus on education and test scores to this day in Korea.

We then ventured to Yangdong Village, a traditional 15th-16th century community.  This village is of the style built and used during the primary era of Confucian political importance.  Following a traditional lunch, served on tables at which you must sit on the floor, we met with the spiritual leader of this community.  The leader's title is Jongson and the current leader is the 17th generation of his family serving in this is passed to the first born son of each successive generation.  The Jongson is responsible for leading his community in the various religious ceremonies related to the traditional practices of Confucianism in this part of Korea.  We sat down in the ceremonial room adjacent to his house for a question and answer period.

17th generation Jongson with his 2nd eldest son

Following our visit with the Jongson we then walked around and visited many places within the village.  Yangdong has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and thus all buildings, including new construction, must be accomplished in the traditional manner.  This was one of those days in which the full sun, strong humidity, and overall heat combined for a day that made many of us so miserable that we probably did not appreciate the visit and experiences and much as we otherwise would have done.

It was a great day learning more about Confucian philosophies and visiting sits associated with such.  Even with the weather, it was still enjoyable to roam the roads of lands remote.

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