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Lu Jluyuan

Lu Jluyuan

1139-1193

Confucian scholar

Sources

Education. Born in Jiangxi in 1139, Lu Jiuyuan was taught privately by his father and other tutors. In 1172 he successfully earned the jinshi degree and entered the National Academy, situated in Hangzhou, the capital of the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279). Later he became a recognized instructor at Elephant Mountain in Jiangxi and hence took the name of Xiangshan.

Official. As a magistrate at Qingmen in Hubei province, he carried out reforms in the administration of his office. Lu was popular and often gave speeches on civic duty. Although he consecutively held several official positions, he was seemingly more interested in education than in government affairs.

On Learning. Lu maintained in the Total Collections of Lu Xiangshan that the goal of learning was to clear the mind of all things by which it is blinded, allowing the mind to go back to its initially uncontaminated state. All people, he advised, were responsible for their own beclouded state of mind and had to struggle to clean their vision in order to keep away material desires and self-assertive dogmatism. Reaffirming his dependence on the idea of “principle,” he asked people to avoid selfish, sly manipulation to reach the objective of developing a state of fairness.

On Buddhism. Claiming that it was impossible to realize the goal of impartiality, Buddhists tried to escape from the world; Confucians regarded life in the world as well worth the attempt to accomplish impartiality. Confessing that evil in man was unavoidable, Lu opposed any theory of original sin and disapproved of the Buddhists. He maintained that when accepting bodily needs, man actually permitted evil to move in quietly, and therefore the Buddhists undercut their own arguments. The entire goal of Confucian teaching was to help men develop their innate ability for thoughtful knowledge.

On Education. In his educational philosophy, influenced by Buddhism, Lu jumped the dualistic gap left by Zhu Xi and linked the mind of man with principle, while Zhu Xi asserted that the earthly human mind could be transformed only with prudent encouragement in the spirit. Recognizing that Zhu Xi’s structure was too complicated, Lu based his own philosophy on the foundation of universal law, refusing to regard as important any acquisition of truthful information by outside study.

Conferences. In 1175 Zhu Xi met with the younger scholar, Lu, but they could not reach any agreement during the conference. In 1181 they met again, and Lu was asked to teach Zhu’s students at White Deer Grotto Academy. In 1187 they began their long communication on the “Illustration of the Supreme Ultimate.” However, since Lu held on to a monistic, and Zhu to a dualistic, vision of the nature of reality, their discussions could never reach any conformity.

Differences. Among the four virtues—humanity, justice, propriety, and wisdom—Lu favored justice, while Zhu concentrated on humanity. Among later philosophers several accepted Lu’s model. His followers carried on monistic idealism, regarding Lu’s idea of principle as infusing all things at all times and all places. More particularly, Lu had a great impact on the philosopher Wang Yangming.

Sources

Clarence Burton Day, The Philosophers of China: Classical and Contemporary (London: Owen; New York: Philosophical Library, 1962).

E. R. Hughes and K. Hughes, Religion in China (London &. New York:Hutchinson’s University Library, 1950).

D. Howard Smith, Chinese Religions (New York: Holt, Rinehart 6c Winston, 1968).

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