Wang Yang Ming on Spirit

Wang Yang Ming, Neo-Confucian sage, enlightenment

Wang Yang Ming (1472-1529)
Harvard Fogg Art Museum
Cambridge, Massachusetts

On Prime Force, Essence, & Spirit

The student asked: “Can you elucidate the concepts of
the prime force, the prime essence, and the prime spirit
of those Taoist who seek after immortality?”

The Sage replied: “They are all one. In its universal
operation it is force. In its condensation and concentration
it is essence, and in its wonderful functioning it is spirit.”

— Wang Yang Ming (1472-1529),
Instructions for Practical Living (1518), Part I.57

Translated by Wing-tsit Chan, Columbia University Press, NY, 1963, p. 44

Notes: The above exchange between student and sage
is an excellent example of a student's disperse mind who
sees differences in the world and the enlightened mind of
a sage who sees oneness despite the appearance of diversity.

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