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Most people would have heard of Confucius, or the school of thought that the great man founded – Confucianism. Also called Ruism, Confucianism is a set of ideology and philosophies that govern the way of life. Although it stemmed from China some 2000 years ago, Confucianism is also a widely subscribed school of thought in other Asian nations like Korea, Japan, and Vietnam, and is a huge part of the Chinese people’s psyche in Singapore.

Confucianism encompasses numerous principles across morality, ethics, and the workings of the world. To understand a little bit about the Confucian way of thinking, here are 3 important principles that still permeate Chinese cultures around the world.

1. Filial piety

Filial piety is most often used to refer to the respect and gratitude of the young to their parents. However, it can also be applied universally as a sign of respect from the young to their seniors. The ideology of filial piety is not simply a reciprocal act for all the care that one receives from their parents. It is also a means for maintaining social order and harmony.

Filial piety is deeply entrenched in many Asian cultures – not just those who subscribe to Confucian values. That is why you’ll find that many people of Asian heritage and culture have habits like visiting their parents often, sending their parents part of their salary every month, and being obedient to their parents.

2. Altruism

‘Ren’ is a core concept of Confucianism that can be roughly taken to mean ‘altruism’. It encompasses acts of kindness, mercy, and sacrifices that are for the good of others. In other words, the phrase ‘Do unto others what you want others to do unto you’ rings true in Confucianism as well. Although Confucius himself did not state the stance that humans are born good or evil, his teachings suggest that every being has the potential to be good, through choice and education.

Ren can also be thought of as the highest level of attainment in terms of virtue and morality. It is a goal to be achieved, and one can do that by striving to be benevolent and compassionate in their life.

3. Ritual

‘Li’ in Confucianism can refer to rituals, or more generally, structure and etiquette. Confucius placed great importance not just on formal rituals like weddings and funerals, but also day-to-day scripts like how to speak to elders politely, and how to prepare and drink tea. The value of ‘li’ lies in the harmony and structure it brings to society.

The notion of ‘li’ does not rule out the possibility for changes over time, and is not meant to be legalistic in nature. Rather, Confucius believed that having the stability and unity of these honoured rituals are what makes a civilised society.


There are many more principles in Confucianism, like topics of knowledge, righteousness, forgiveness, and integrity. All of these contribute in one way or another to the practices and customs that we see in a lot of Asian cultures today. Funerals are not immune to the influence of Confucian values as well. In fact, Chinese funerals in Singapore are heavily dictated by Confucian notions and customs.

With the help of a funeral company in Singapore, you won’t have to feel clueless about navigating the traditions of holding a funeral, whether it is for a Buddhist funeral service or even just a non-religious Chinese funeral. They can guide you along in your funeral planning for a dignified send-off that adheres to the values and respective religious traditions.