The Korean Neo-Confucianism of Yi Toegye and Yi Yulgok (Part 155)

One should not deviate from nourishing the mind-and-heart with reverential seriousness even for a single moment. Accordingly, self-cultivation mean to grasp what Toegye calls “true knowledge” (chinch). this expounds his compelling belief that the “learning for entering sagehood” (songmun chi hak) is complete only when kyong is internally cultivated in the mind-and-heart and then externally put into actual practice. Toegye argues: “One should personally experience and get a taste of the meaning of reverential seriousness. One should caution oneself while using reverential seriousness for self-introspection in the course of daily life and whatever comes to the mind-and-heart. If one assimilates it in this way, one will never doubt that it is the beginning and end of the learning for sagehood.”

The self-realisation of Heaven’s principle means to grasp one’s own nature through cultivation kyong. Because kyong is “the master of the self,” it followers for Toegye that if the mind is in the state of “refined oneness,” one can hold fast to kyong, and one’s mind remains as the master of all feelings, thoughts, desires, and so on. Toegye theory and practice of kyonghak correspond to the underlying theme of his Four-Seven thesis in terms of holding fast to the Four Beginnings (issued by i) and controlling the Seven Emotions (issued by ki). They also hold to his simhak in the sense that one has to transform the selfish desires into the ultimate a clear distinction of Heaven’s principle (represented by i) and selfish desires (represented by ki). This, then, brings us to examine the ethic-spiritual dimension of such a topic, the focus of the following section.

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