A Comparison of Buddhism and Confucianism

What are they?

Buddhism took birth in India. It is a religion started by Siddhartha, who came to be known as Gautam Buddha, who is worshiped by all Buddhists. Buddhists also worship Vasettha Sutta. They are the two main deities of Buddhism. Its ideas are built around the removal of sorrow and misery from life.

Confucianism traces its origins to China. It is the oldest philosophy of Chinese origin. It was founded by K’ung Fu Tzu (Confucius). Because it is a philosophy, there are no deities in Confucianism. It talks of ideas related to good governance, harmony in social order and emphasis on relationships.


Buddhism is based on the

Four Noble Truths

  • Dukha: There is suffering in life.
  • Dukha Samudaya: Suffering is because there is desire for material possessions.
  • Dukha Nirodha: Suffering can be done away with by letting go of desires.
  • Magga: Desires can be done away with through the Eight-Fold Path.

Confucianism is based on

Si Shu

(Four Books)

  • Lun Yu Analects of Confucius.
  • Chung Yung or the Doctrine of the Mean.
  • Ta Hsueh or the Great Learning.
  • Writings of Meng Tzu, the philosopher.

What do they teach?

The teachings of Buddhism are based on the Eight-Fold Path.

  • Right Knowledge
  • Right Understanding
  • Right Thoughts
  • Right Mindfulness
  • Right Speech
  • Right Effort
  • Right Action
  • Right Meditation

Confucianism has

Wu Jing

(Five Classics).

  • Shih Ching (Classic of Odes)
  • Shu Ching (Classics of History)
  • Li Ching (Classic of Rights)
  • I Ching (Classics of Changes)
  • Ch’un Ch’iu or Sping and Autumn Annals

What do they believe in?

Buddhism believes in the

Five Fold Path.

  • Ahimsa: No harm done in words, thoughts or deeds.
  • Satya: No lies in thoughts, words or deeds.
  • Asteya: Use only as much as is necessary.
  • Brahmacharya: Stay away from worldly and material pleasures.
  • Aparigraha: No unnecessary hoarding of goods or money.

This also includes giving up luxury for a simple life, abstinence from sexual pleasures, eating simple food and abstinence from alcohol and drugs. These are especially applicable to monks and nuns.

Confucianism has

six basic beliefs


  • Yi (Righteousness)
  • Xin (Honesty and Truthfulness)
  • Li (Rituals and Etiquette)
  • Jen (Benevolence and Empathy)
  • Hsiao (Love for the family)
  • Chung (Loyalty towards the State)

These are just some of the very basic differences between Buddhism and Confucianism. We have tried to make a comparison between the two although they cannot be compared after a certain point due to the basic difference that one is a religion and the other a philosophy.

1 response to A Comparison of Buddhism and Confucianism

  1. I would not say that Buddhists (or not most Buddhists, anyway) worship the Buddha or anyone else. They really say, if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him; meaning one shouldn’t have reverence for the man, don’t get too attached to him, but rather learn, consider and maybe embrace what he taught. Buddhism can be practiced together with a ‘theistic’ religions. There is no contradiction in being a Buddhist and a Christian, for example. Thich Naht Hanh writes about it.

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