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In this rare firsthand account of an individual's pursuit of sagehood, the early Ming dynasty scholar and teacher Wu Yubi chronicles his progress and his setbacks, as he strives to integrate the Neo-Confucian practices of self-examination and self-cultivation into everyday life. In more than three hundred entries, spanning much of his adult life, Wu paints a vivid picture, not only of the life of the mind, but also of the life of a teacher of modest means, struggling to make ends meet in a rural community. This volume features M. Theresa Kelleher's superb translation of Wu's journal, along with translations of more than a dozen letters from his personal correspondence. A general Introduction discusses Neo-Confucianism and the Ming dynasty, and includes biographical information that puts the main work in context. A substantial commentary on the journal discusses the obstacles and supports Wu encounters in pursuit of his goal, the conflict between discipline and restraint of the self and the nurturing and expanding of the self, Wu's successes and failures, and Wu's role as a teacher. Also included are a map of the Ming dynasty, a pronunciation guide, a chronology of Chinese dynasties, a glossary of names, a glossary of book titles, and suggestions for further reading.
Born in China of missionary parents, Huston Smith learned about Chinese language, culture, and religion while growing up near Shanghai. Smith explains how the intertwining of opposites is key to understanding the great religions of China—Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. Smith shows that Eastern religions provide “an emphasis on direct experience and a method for attaining that.” He introduces yoga, which he has been practicing for 50 years, as one such method.
Is Confucianism a religion? If so, why do most Chinese think it isn't? From ancient Confucian temples, to nineteenth-century archives, to the testimony of people interviewed by the author throughout China over a period of more than a decade, this book traces the birth and growth of the idea of Confucianism as a world religion. The book begins at Oxford, in the late nineteenth century, when Friedrich Max Müller and James Legge classified Confucianism as a world religion in the new discourse of "world religions" and the emerging discipline of comparative religion. Anna Sun shows how that decisive moment continues to influence the understanding of Confucianism in the contemporary world, not only in the West but also in China, where the politics of Confucianism has become important to the present regime in a time of transition. Contested histories of Confucianism are vital signs of social and political change. Sun also examines the revival of Confucianism in contemporary China and the social significance of the ritual practice of Confucian temples. While the Chinese government turns to Confucianism to justify its political agenda, Confucian activists have started a movement to turn Confucianism into a religion. Confucianism as a world religion might have begun as a scholarly construction, but are we witnessing its transformation into a social and political reality? With historical analysis, extensive research, and thoughtful reflection, Confucianism as a World Religion will engage all those interested in religion and global politics at the beginning of the Chinese century.