Confucius said: “The Zhou dynasty modeled itself upon the two previous dynasties. What a great civilization! I am a follower of Zhou!”
Look to the past as well as the future. Respect its great traditions and draw on its well of great wisdom. Learn from the mistakes that were made to avoid repeating them.
This article features a translation of Chapter 14 of Book 3 of the Analects of Confucius. You can read my full translation of Book 3 here.
(1) With civilization collapsing around him as multiple states and factions within them fought for control of China, Confucius looked to the beginnings of the Zhou dynasty in the 11th century BCE as the model for restoring stability and culture to the country. His hero was the legendary Duke of Zhou, who helped his elder brother King Wu overthrow the preceding Shang Dynasty and established a new feudal system for governing the country that, according to the legend at least, ushered in a golden age of economic and cultural riches. When his brother died soon after assuming power, the duke took over as regent and successfully defended the new dynasty against attacks from the supporters of the Shang before handing back power to his nephew when the boy came of age.
(2) The Yin Dynasty, also known as the Shang Dynasty, ran from 1600 – 1046 BCE. It was preceded by the Xia Dynasty, the first recorded dynasty in China’s history, which lasted from 2070 to 1600 BCE. Confucius’s family claimed to be descendants of the Xia Dynasty kings.
I took this image at the Temple of Confucius in Taipei.