Difference Between Buddha & Confucius

Category: Culture & Society

Difference Between Buddha & Confucius

Buddha and Confucius were Asian philosophers from the 6th century B.C. They both sought ways to end the suffering of the world's people. However, they taught different solutions to the problem. Confucius believed the answer was found in orderly society, while Buddha believed it could be found through personal effort.


  • When Siddhartha Gautama, a prince from northern India, was born, wise men prophesied that he would be either a great king or a great holy man. Siddhartha's father isolated him in a luxurious palace. When he was about 29, Siddhartha witnessed suffering for the very first time. He left the palace and went in search of ways to end suffering.

Main Beliefs

  • Siddhartha took up many ascetic practices such as long hours of meditation and fasting. He realized that extreme asceticism was just as empty as extreme pleasure, so he meditated all night on a middle way. As the sun rose the next morning, the solution came to him and he became the Buddha, the enlightened one. The middle path, he discovered, teaches that life is suffering. Suffering is caused by attachment to temporary things such as material goods, pleasure and even relationships. The end of suffering is found through following the Noble Eight-Fold Path. The steps on the path such as right view, right intention and right action help practitioners reach an enlightened state where they no longer feel attached to temporary things.


  • Confucius was a Chinese teacher in the late 6th and early 5th centuries B.C. At the time, China was a patchwork of feudal kingdoms fighting each other for control over the entire country. Confucius believed China's leaders were selfish and governed their kingdoms poorly. He hoped one day one of these kings would appoint him to a government position so he could create a government based on high moral standards. He never achieved his government position, so he took up teaching instead.

Educational Philosophy

  • Confucius emphasized the importance of a proper education. In his opinion, education meant imitating the words and actions of an older teacher who understood the traditional beliefs and practices of the ancients. By contrast Buddha taught his followers that they shouldn't simply accept traditions without first testing them against their own experience. Confucius taught his students ethics, morality, government, speech and art. Confucius's goal was creating well-spoken, graceful men who lived with perfect integrity.

Social and Political Philosophy

  • Like the Buddha, Confucius wanted to end people's suffering. He believed this could be achieved by creating an orderly society. He believed that people should avoid an ingratiating manner, speak plainly and practice a form of the Golden Rule, "What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others." People should also follow "li," or the traditional rules for acting respectfully towards one's elders. Confucius believed that good rulers practiced self discipline, governed by example and treated their subjects with compassion. They also cultivated "de," or virtue, a kind of moral power that allowed them to win followers without resorting to force and govern by relying on well-trained subordinates.

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