The Confucius Institute at the University of Mauritius (CI-UoM) was established on 14th December 2016 and it is the 518th Confucius Institute in the world. The Institute was set up under the leadership of Hanban (CI Headquarters) and in collaboration with Zhejiang Sci-Tech University (ZSTU), the partner institution in Zhejiang Province, China. Hanban, CI Headquarters, is located in Beijing and is a public institution affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education. It is committed to providing Chinese language and cultural teaching resources and services worldwide. It contributes to the development of multiculturalism through various exchange programmes.
The Confucius Institute at UoM aims at promoting exchanges between educational institutions in China and Mauritius, promoting the Chinese language and culture through various activities on and off the UoM campus. Its services and support are extended to various sectors of the country such as educational, tourism and social. The Confucius Institute at UoM wishes to act as a facilitator of exchanges by providing the appropriate platform for the consolidation of relations and promotion of collaborations between stakeholders from the two countries, China and Mauritius.
There was a great interest from students and staff of UoM for Chinese language learning and the CI-UoM introduced its first class of Chinese language teaching to UoM students and staff in April 2017. The teaching of Chinese language is dispensed on short course basis and the short courses are free of charge. At the moment, the students and staff are learning the basics of the Chinese language, Level 1. The idea of introducing short courses in Chinese language at UoM is to stimulate interest in the Chinese language among students and staff. We hope that this would help them in exchange programmes with Chinese students/academics for teaching/research work, through collaborative partnership with institutions in China.
Confucius, a great thinker, educator and founder of Confucianism, is an ancient sage to the Chinese people. His words and life story were recorded by his disciples and their students in The Analects (Lunyu).
Much of Confucian thought on Heaven and people represents universal human values. This is perhaps why Confucian thought in the 21st century still retains the interest of not only the Chinese but also people in other parts of the world.
Generally, Confucius regarded “Heaven” as nature. He said, “Heaven dos not speak in words. It speaks through the rotation of the four seasons and the growth of all living things.” Obviously, Heaven equaled nature, in the eye of Confucius. Moreover, nature was not a lifeless mechanism separate from humans; instead, it was the great world of life and the process of creation of life. Human life was part and parcel of nature as a whole.
As the natural process of creation of life, Heaven was the source of all living things and the source of all values. This was the “virtue of Heaven”. Thus, the Book of Changes said, “The great virtue of Heaven and Earth is creating life.”
Confucian “Heaven” also had a certain sacred element, which was related to its being the source of life. Thus Confucius required people to hold Heaven in awe. He said that a person of virtue must “respect his heavenly mission” listen to and live out the purpose of Heaven by caring for and improving life.
Under the influence of Confucius, the ancient Chinese developed a sense of awe and belief in Heaven. To them, Heaven was the highest sacred being, with is profound mystery never to be fully understood by mortals. It was not a supernatural, personified deity, but was the world of ever-generating life. As the most intelligent of all beings, humans should take to heart the purpose of Heaven by cherishing life. If one remained “ignorant and disrespectful of one’s heavenly mission” by killing or maiming life, one would be punished by Heaven. Confucius once said, “He who offends against Heaven has none to whom he can pray.” The Confucian respect for and belief in Heaven represented a form of religious spiritualism of the ancient Chinese.
In the 21st century, the Confucian caveat of “standing in awe of the ordinances of Heaven” still holds true, as human society begins to pay greater attention to ecological civilization. Humans should indeed listen to the voice of nature, respecting and loving it as the world of life. This is our sacred mission and gives value to all human life.
Ren and Li are the two core concepts of Confucius’ doctrine about people.
When asked about ren, Confucius replied, “Love people”. This is Confucius’ most important interpretation of ren. Love for the people is universal love. Confucius further emphasized that this kind of love should “begin with the love for one’s parents”. He believed no one could love people in general if they did not even love their own parents. Confucius regarded “filial piety and fraternal duty” as the essence of ren.
By ren, Confucius meant universal love based on love for one’s parents. How should people love one another then? Confucius said,“One should be aware that other people may have similar desires as oneself. While fulfilling one’s desires, allow others to fulfill their desires as well.”
He further said, “ Do not do toward others anything you would not want to be done to you.” Thus from oneself to one’s family, from family to society, one should extend love to all people. So we can summarize ren as “Loving one’s parents, loving the people, loving everything in the world.”
Li refers to rituals, traditions and norms in social life. Of these, Confucius regarded burial ritual and ancestral worship ritual as the most important, because they arose from human feelings. He said, “ A child should not leave his parents’ bosom until he is three years old.”
Confucius placed emphasis on Li with the aim of preserving social order, stability and harmony. The Analects (Lunyu) says, “ The role of li is to maintain harmony among people.”
Li also has philosophical implications. While individuals have a limited lifespan, life in nature is everlasting. Life is given by one’s parents and extended through one’s children. In this way, a limited, individual life becomes merged with the limitless life of nature; the individual dream of eternal life can be thus come true.
Before Confucius, only the nobility had the right to education. He was the first figure in Chinese history to initiate private education. According to historical records, Confucius taught for many years and trained 3,000 disciples. A total of 72 of them excelled in the “six arts”, i.e., ritual, music, archery, (carriage) driving, calligraphy, and mathematics. A great educator has been admired by later generations as the “sage of sages”.
Confucius believed the basic goal of education was to cultivate “person of virtue”, who should have sound character and uplifted minds. Such persons should be able to shoulder important social responsibilities and to make contributions to society. Confucius regarded lofty ideals, great virtue, love of people, and the “six arts” as the general principles of education. Of these, virtue was the most important. His students were involved in a variety of professions, including politics, trade, education, diplomacy, ritual ceremony, and classifying ancient books. Whatever they did, they all wanted to improve their learning of the humanities and to enhance their virtue.
Under the influence of Confucius, Chinese thinkers of later generations all believed that students and scholars should not only increase their knowledge, but also and more importantly, broaden their minds and enhance their spiritual ethos. In other words, they should continually seek the greater meaning and value of life. Many modern scholars think the theory on the perspective on life is the most valuable feature of Chinese philosophy. It all began with Confucius