Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation homepage > Notebooks of Paul Brunton

Lu Hsiang-shan (1139-1193) originated a school of philosophy boldly developed from the Neo-Confucianist one of the Sung Dynasty (960-1280). His teaching, a Monistic Idealism, reached its culmination with Wang Yang-ming (1472-1529), who expounded and developed it.

Lu Hsiang-shan lectured for several years at Elephant Mountain in Kiangsi, so called himself "the old man of Elephant Mountain." He married at twenty-nine to a cultured woman. In the national examination for governmental posts, his paper stood out as distinctive among several thousand. He was given an official post in the Imperial Academy. His lectures were so eloquent as to attract large crowds. When the celebrated Chu Hsi asserted that width of knowledge should be considered the foundation of virtue, Lu replied that discovery of the Original Mind should precede it. When he became a magistrate, he proved himself to be as practical in worldly matters as he was penetrating in metaphysical ones. He rebuilt the crumbling city walls, eliminated official extravagance, reduced corruption, cut down crime, and quickened legal proceedings. Yet later he declined promotion, for, with all this activity, he continued to lecture whenever possible. He died peacefully after telling his family, "I am going to die," and sitting in meditation for several hours. Some of his sayings and his few writings were collected together and it was this book that Wang Yang-ming republished in 1521, so highly did he esteem it.

One should cultivate the feeling of Reverence, taught Lu. He writes: "It is incorrect to explain that the Mind of man is equivalent to desire and the Mind of Spirit to Heavenly Law. How can man have two Minds? Mind and Law do not admit of dualism. . . . This Mind has no beginning or end; it permeates everywhere. Evil is an inescapable fact and a practical experience. A scholarly man must first make firm his will.

"People of the present generation . . . even though they are engaged the whole day with the books of the sages, when we ask what is the lodging-place of their will [we find] they are rushing in a direction opposite to that of the sages."

Chan Fou-min, a pupil of Lu, wrote: "I sat quietly with closed eyes, exerting myself to hold fast and preserve (my Mind). Through the night into the following day, I did this for half a month. Suddenly I realized that my Mind had been restored to its purity and brightness, and was standing in the Mean (chung) (that is, without inclination or deflection). I went to the teacher, who met me with his eyes and said `This Law has already been manifested in you.'"

Lu: "Establish yourself, sit straight, fold hands, collect your forces, and become lord over yourself. . . . Be without thought, immovable, silent, without action, practise non-assertion (wu wei)."

"The whole day you rely on external opinions, and have already become entangled in superficial doctrines and empty theories."

"The true Law under Heaven does not admit of duality."

"The universe is my Mind."

-- Notebooks Category 15: The Orient > Chapter 3: China, Japan, Tibet > # 123

The Notebooks are copyright © 1984-1989, The Paul Brunton Philosophic Foundation.