Many readers are curious about how did the ancient Chinese sage Wang Yangming read, think and write about how to cultivate his body, his family, his country, and his world? Let me share this with every ordinary young Chinese person on account of my own understanding and experiences.
Wang Yangming (1472-1529) was a prominent philosopher, politician, and military general in the Ming Dynasty of China. His theories on self-cultivation stretched across various aspects of life, including personal health, family relationships, national interests, and global matters.
At the foundation of his philosophy was the concept of "unity of knowledge and action." Essentially, Wang believed that understanding moral principles must be combined with concrete actions to effectively cultivate one's body, family, country, and world. To achieve this, he proposed four key steps: investigating things, extending knowledge, making the mind sincere, and regulating the family.
1. Investigating Things
To develop a deep understanding of any subject, Wang emphasized the importance of thorough investigation. By examining the essence of things, individuals could gain insight into their own nature and become more self-aware. This process of introspection was essential for cultivating one's body and mind.
2. Extending Knowledge
Wang urged people to expand their knowledge beyond surface-level observations. By actively seeking wisdom and engaging in intellectual discussions, individuals could better understand morality and ethics. This increased comprehension allowed them to apply these principles within their families, fostering stronger relationships and a harmonious environment.
3. Making the Mind Sincere
A sincere mind was central to Wang's philosophy because it facilitated self-improvement and promoted authenticity. By being honest with oneself and others, individuals could genuinely reflect on their actions and make the necessary changes to grow. This sincerity helped maintain a clear conscience, which could then be applied to broader matters such as national interests.
4. Regulating the Family
Wang believed that a stable family was crucial for both personal growth and societal development. By maintaining healthy relationships and ensuring the well-being of each family member, individuals could become effective leaders within their households. This leadership would ultimately extend to the community and nation, contributing to a prosperous society.
By following these four steps, young Chinese individuals today can learn from Wang Yangming's ancient wisdom and apply it in their daily lives. Through continuous self-cultivation, they can contribute positively to their families, communities, and nation – creating a better world for all.
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