An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Jinsilu 近思錄 and Guang jinsilu 廣近思錄

Dec 31, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald

Jinsilu 近思錄

Jinsilu 近思錄 "Close thoughts" is a Neo-Confucian treatise written by the Southern Song-period 南宋 (1127-1279) scholars Zhu Xi 朱熹 (1130-1200) and Lü Zuqian 呂祖謙 (1137-1181). The idea to the book gained shape during a visit of Lü by Zhu Xi. Both read the writings of the Neo-Confucians Zhou Dunyi 周敦頤 (1017-1073), Zhang Zai 張載 (1020-1077) and the brothers Cheng Hao 程顥 (1032-1085) and Cheng Yi 程頤 (1033-1107) and found, that a beginner would not be able to perceive the real meaning. For this reason, they started compiling a book which in simple words would serve as a daily-to-use guideline to Neo-Confucian thought.

The Jinsilu is 14 juan-long and includes 14 chapters. The title is derived from a sentence in the Lunyu 論語, where Xizia 子夏, a disciple of Confucius, is approaching knowledge by asking further and further questions. The Jinsilu is an important work presenting a resumé of the Song-period Confucians' view of the human reason and nature (xinglixue 性理學).

Thorough investigation of things (gewu 格物) would lead to the perception of the Heavenly principle (tianli 天理) inherent in all things. In this concept, man had not to follow the actual circumstances of one matter, but he had to become aware that he was part of a wide-ranging natural concept, which embraces all objects of the universe. By the investigation of the reason of all things, the scholar would become aware of Heaven's will, which was always good. Once aware of this, this knowledge had to be transformed into practical behaviour in society and politics, concretely spoken, in the adequate social context, and in case of a ruler, benevolent government. The investigation of things and matters was not meant as a scientific research, but as an inner view of the meaning of all things with regard to the universe. A man wanting to achieve this knowledge had thus to search inside his heart, in a very close place (jin 近). This was possible, because the Heavenly principle was also immanent in the self of each individual.

The oldest continuation of Zhu Xi's Jinsilu was written by Cai Mo 蔡模(1188-1246), with the title Xu jinsilu 續近思錄.

Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1552.

Guang jinsilu 廣近思錄

The Guang jinsilu 廣近思錄 "Enlarged 'Close Thoughts'" or Xu jinsilu 續近思錄 "Continued 'Close Thoughts'" is a philosophical treatise written by the Qing-period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Zhang Boxing 張伯行 (1651年-1725), compiler of the educational compendium Yangzheng leibian 養正類編. The 14 juan-long book is intended as a continuation of the book Jinsilu 近思錄 that was written by the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) philosopher Zhu Xi 朱熹 (1130-1200). The author therefore imitates the structure of the Jinsilu.

The text consists of philosophical ideas as explained by the seven Confucian scholars Zhang Shi 張栻 (1133-1180), Lü Zuqian 呂祖謙 (1137-1181), Huang Gan 黃幹 (1152-1221), Xu Heng 許衡 (1209-1281), Xue Xuan 薛瑄 (1389-1464), Hu Juren 胡居仁 (1434-1484) and Luo Qinshun 羅欽順 (1465-1547) who lived between the Song and the Ming 明 (1368-1644) periods. It includes quotations from their writings, historical discourses, essays and theories, making out 15 chapters. The Guang jinsilu is a collection of the Neo-Confucian theorems of Zhu Xi's disciples and their schools.

Is is included in the series Zhengyitang quanshu 正誼堂全書 and Congshu jicheng chubian 叢書集成初編.

Another book with the title Xu jinsilu was written by the Qing-period scholar Zheng Guangxi 鄭光羲, courtesy name Mingke 夕可, from Wuxi 無錫, Jiangsu. His 28 juan-long book is a kind of summary of Ming and early Qing Confucianism, the first part focusing on the thinkers Xue Xuan, Hu Juren, Chen Xianzhang 陳獻章 (1428-1500) and Gao Panglong 高攀龍 (1562-1626), and the second part on Wang Shouren 王守仁 (Wang Yangming 王陽明, 1472-1529), Gu Xiancheng 顧憲成 (1550-1612), Qian Yiben 錢一本 (1539-1610), Wu Guisen 吳桂森, Hua Zhenyuan 華貞元 and Hua Yiceng 華儀曾. Zheng Guangxi praises the Song-period master Zhu Xi 朱熹 for renovating the Way of Confucius, and Gao Panglong for rejuvenating the Way of Zhu Xi.

A further continuation, Jinsi xulu 近思續錄, with 4 fascicles, was written by Liu Yuanlu 劉源淥 (1619-1700), courtesy name Kunshi 昆石, style Zhizhai 直齋, from Anqiu 安邱, Shandong. It quotes from Zhu Xi's Huowen 或問, Zhuzi yulei 語類 and his collected writings Zhuzi wenji 朱子文集.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1590, 1591, 1595.