CHINAKNOWLEDGE - a universal guide for China studies | HOME | About
Encoding: Unicode (UTF-8) [Location: HOME > Literature > Masters and philosophers > Confucian treatises > Xinjing]

Chinese Literature
Xinjing 心經 "The Classic of the Mind"


The Xinjing 心經 "Classic of the mind" is a philosophical treatise written by the late Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) scholar Zhen Dexiu 真德秀. The book was originally called Fayu 法語 "Model stories". The short treatise discusses the mind of the holy and wise scholar with the help of a lot of quotations from traditional literature. At the end, the author adds a poem of praise (zan 贊) as a kind of summary. On an idealist background, the author develops the idea that the correct mind (zhengxin 正心) will be able to transform consciousness and behaviour towards a Confucian saint. To detect the correct mind, the scholar has to concentrate on "the one", leading to respect and politeness. With a respectful mind, the self will become straight and upright. The virtue of the mind are the Confucian values kindheartedness (ren 仁), righteousness (yi 義), orderly behaviour (li 理), and wisdom (zhi 智). These four virtues are given to man by nature, or Heaven. The correct mind is thus provided with the formation of the physical nature, and each man has the potential to become a saint. The Xinjing is a kind of précis of the Neo-Confucian discussion on the goodness in human nature.
The Xinjing was first printed in 1234 by Yan Ruoyu 顏若愚. Emperor Li 宋理宗 (r. 1224-1264) ordered Hong Zikui 洪咨夔 to compile a preface to it. The Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Cheng Minzheng 程敏政 wrote a commentary and eliminated some parts added by later scholars.
The Xinjing is included in the collectanea Siku quanshu 四庫全書 and Xijing qinglu congshu xubian 西京清麓叢書續編, and the collected works of the author, Zhen Xishan quanji 真西山全集.


Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 2, p. 1558. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.
Chinese literature according to the four-category system

December 31, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail