Mencius' Mother

Mencius was a great Confucian thinker in the Warring-States Period. He was famous for his people-based (民本) thoughts. His excellent thoughts were quite likely from the enlightening of his mother.

Mencius was born in Zou (邹) State which was a very little country in modern-day Shandong Province. When Mencius was a very little child, he lost his father. His mother devoted herself to educate her son. The home of Mencius was near a graveyard. Little Mencius and his friends watched many funerals and sacrificial rituals. Young children like to imitate others. Mencius and his friends often performed these actions. Mencius’ mother thought this environment was not helpful for the growth of his son. So she took Mencius to the city, and lived near a market. Of course, energetic Mencius started to imitate traders with his new friends. Mencius’ mother was worried about the future of his son, and she had to move her home to a new place. She took her son and came near a school. Mencius was attracted by students and their books, and he asked his dear mother for buying a book. Mencius’ mother was very satisfied with her son. She decided not to move to other places, and then Mencius and his mother lived near the school. Every day Mencius went to the school and studied what the students did. He learned abundant knowledge and proprieties. Because he lived among the people, he understood deeply the mind of the people.

Many years later, Mencius became an enthusiastic Confucian scholar, and went to Wei (魏) State and Qi (齐) State for propagandizing his thoughts and ideals. He thought that, in a country, the people were more important than a monarch, and if a monarch was despotic, the people should overthrow and punish him. He even designed a beautiful blueprint for an ideally perfect society.

Mencius could be a great man, because he had a great mother. Mencius inherited the Confucianism, and developed it with prominent humanistic thoughts. Confucius was regarded as the first sage of the Confucian school, and Mencius was regarded as the second sage of the Confucian school. However, many rulers hated Mencius because of his people-based thoughts. Zhu Yuanzhang (朱元璋), the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty, actually professed that, if Mencius lived in his times, he would kill the old man.

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.