THE BIOGRAPHY OF WANG YANG-MING
Ancestry and Birth
The Teacher was named Shou-jen ( 守仁 ) and Po-an ( 伯安).1 His –ancestor, at the time of the Western Chin dynasty was Wang Hsi-chih (王羲之), a general of the right division of the army; and the ancestral home was at Shanyin in the province of Chekiang. Twenty-three generations later, Wang Shou, an official of rank, moved the home to Yüyao, also in Chekiang. At the time when the Ming dynasty first came into power, Wang Kang, who lived six generations before Wang Yang-ming, lost his life in the service of his emperor, at the hands of the aborigines in Canton Province. His son, Wang Yen-ta, wrapped his father's remains in sheep's skin and took them back to Yüyao. A censor named Kuo Shun reported this to the emperor, who had a temple erected in honor of the father at Tseng in the province of Canton. In the fourth generation Wang Yu-chun was requested by Emperor Yung Lo to become an official, but refused, styling himself "the old man in obscurity among the rocks.” In the third generation, Wang Shih-chieh was honored with the degree of Chin-shih, because of superior knowledge of the classics. In the second generation Wang T'ien-hsü was the first of the Hanlin. He and his son Wang Hua were vice-presidents of the Board of Rites. The latter, who was styled Long-shan, was the father of Wang Yang-ming. He was the first of the Chinshih, held the office of President of the Board of Civil Office at Nanking, and was given the title of Earl of Hsinchien. Seeing that at the old home at Shanyin there was excellent mountain water, and that it was really the original family home, he moved his effects from Yüyao to Yuehch'eng at Kuanghsiangfang.
Wang Yang-ming built a home in Yang-ming Grotto about twenty li southeast of Yuehch'eng, and because of this was called Yang-ming by his students.
Wang Yang-ming was born in the eighth year of the reign of Emperor Ch'eng Hua, in the ninth month and the thirtieth day, having been carried by his mother for fourteen months. His father's mother, named Ts'en, in a dream saw a spirit-man clothed in dark red silk decorated with precious stones, playing and drumming in the clouds as he brought the child. When she awoke the child was already crying. His grandfather accordingly called him Yun (cloud) and the neighbors called the place Auspicious Cloud Loft.
In the twelfth year of. Ch'eng Hua, at the age of five, he was still unable to speak. A passing Buddhist priest beholding him said, "A good child, but unfortunately his name has been made known." Influenced thereby, his grandfather changed his name to Shou-jen, and forthwith he was able to speak. The boy often secretly repeated the contents of his grandfather's books. When his surprised grandfather asked him how this was possible, he said, "I remembered what I heard you read." In the seventeenth year of Ch'eng Hua, when he was ten, his father became a Chinshih.
When the hoy was eleven his father went to the capital, Peking, to be an official, and the grandfather, who accompanied him, took Yang-ming along. When they passed Chinshan, near Chinkiang, the grandfather and a friend were writing a poem. As they did not finish it, Yang-ming helped with four sentences. The friend, greatly astonished, gave the boy the subject, "The Mountain Hides the Moon," and forthwith the child gave a verse, which is published in his writings.
The next year he was studying in the capital city. One day when walking on the Ch'angan Street with some companions, he met a fortune teller, who said, ''I will tell your fortune. When your beard reaches your collar, you will enter the realm of the sage ; when it reaches your diaphragm, your knowledge will have begun; and when it reaches your abdomen, your knowledge will be complete.” Wang was profoundly influenced by these words, and when he returned to school asked his teacher, "What is the most important thing in life?" The teacher said, "Study to become a Chinshih." Yang-ming replied, "Perhaps not. Study to become a sage: that is the first and the greatest occupation.”
When he was thirteen, his mother died. In the twenty-second year of Ch'eng Hua, when he was fifteen, a rebellion occurred in the capital, led by Shih Ying and Wang Lung, and another in the province of Shansi, led by Shih Ho-shang and Liu Ch'ien-chin. At that time Yang-ming lived at Chuyungtuan and learned to ride horseback and to use the bow and arrow. He also asked the barbarous tribes there how they protected themselves against their enemies. At this occupation he spent a month before returning. In a dream he visited the temple of General Ma Yuan and while there wrote a poem, which is published in his works. Deploring the condition of the times, he wished to present a memorial to the throne, but his father refused to allow it.
In the first year of Hung Chin, the Teacher (Wang Yang-ming) was seventeen years of age. In the seventh month of that year he went to Hungtu, where he married a woman named Chu, the daughter of a state counselor. The day the betrothal presents were sent he happened to enter a temple called T'iehchukung, and seeing a Taoist priest sitting with crossed legs, greeted him and sat down opposite him. As he forgot to return, his wife's father sent men in search of him, but failed to find him. He did not return until the next day.
In the yamen there were a number of boxes of paper which he soon used up, for he wrote daily and his knowledge of writing characters rapidly increased. He frequently said, "When I first wrote characters, I followed the ancient models carefully and got merely the form of the letters. Afterwards I added thought to my effort and kept the shape of the characters in mind. In that way after a long time I succeeded in understanding the method. This continued until I had read the elder philosopher Ch'eng who said, 'When I write characters I am very reverent. It is not that I wish to write well, but because reverence itself is knowledge. ' Then I said, ' Since he did not wish the writing to be excellent, why did he learn to write?' However, I see this, that the ancients at all times and in all things learned from the mind itself. If the mind is discriminating and clear, skill in the writing of characters will be included.” Later, when he spoke of philosophy to his students, he often referred to this.
Early Efforts as a ScholarIn the second year of Hung Chih the Teacher was eighteen years of age. In the twelfth month he took his wife and returned to Yüyao by boat by way of Kuanghsin (Chekiang), where he visited his friend Lou Liang and talked with him about the “investigation of things.” Much pleased, the Teacher said, "One can learn to become a sage." Later when he read the works of K'ao T'ing, he realized that scholars of the past had said that things have an external and an internal, a minute (small) and a coarse (large). Every blade of grass and every tree has its principles. Seeing a bamboo, he sought to investigate it. He thought diligently, but being unable to discover the principle thereof he became ill.
Receives the Degrees of Chüjen, Chinshih, and Han-lin
In the autumn of the fifth year of Emperor Hung Chih, at twenty-one years of age, he received the degree of Chüjen in his native province. At midnight while taking the examination he saw two giants, one of whom was clothed in dark red silk and the other in green. One stood toward the east and the other toward the west. Both said, “Three men together can accomplish much.” The Teacher, Suen Shui, later a governor and Hu Shih-ling, later the President of a Board, received the degree of Chü-jen together. When Ch'en Hao attempted to usurp the throne, Hu divulged his evil intention, Suen lost his life in the ensuing battle, and the Teacher crushed the usurper.
At twenty-two years he took the examination for Chin- shih at the Nanking, but failed. A prime minister, Hsi Yai, who had profound respect for him, in jest said, "When you take another examination and become the first of the Hanlin, take the subject, 'A poem to the future first of the Hanlin.'" The Teacher forthwith took his pen and wrote a poem. Thereupon one envious of his attainment said. "If he should really become the first of the Hanlin, he would despise us." The next year he again took the examination for Chinshih, but was hindered by those envious of him. A number of those who lived with him were ashamed because they had not received the degree, but the Teacher laughed, saying, "You are ashamed because you failed; I am ashamed because my mind is perturbed at my failure."
During the tenth year of Hung Chih, Wang lived in Peking. The country at that time was harassed by enemies at the borders, and Emperor Hung Chih asked that the officials recommend a man able to lead an army, but no one was recommended. Wang accordingly carefully studied military tactics. Whenever he was at a feast with guests, he took the kernels from the fruit that had been eaten and arranged them in the position of troops.
At twenty-seven the Teacher read a memorial presented to Kuang Tsong (an emperor of the Sung dynasty) by K'ao T'ing, which said, "To be respectful and maintain one's purpose is the source of study. Following the regular order with utmost discrimination is the method of study." In consequence the Teacher regretted that, notwithstanding great effort, he had not attained because of being too anxious to acquire. He began to study in a methodical way, but continued to consider the principles of things and his own mind as two separate things. His mind was troubled for a long time, and he again, as at a previous time, fell ill. But when he heard a Taoist priest explain the principle of nourishing life, his heart rejoiced.
In the twelfth year of Hung Chih, when twenty-eight, he again took the examination for Chinshih and attained the second place, and later the seventh place in the second class of Hanlin. He then was appointed a member of the Board of Works. While he was still a Hsiuts'ai (A.B.), at one time in a dream Wang Yueh, an Earl of Wei Ling in Kiangsi, gave him a bow and sword. In the fall of the year in which he received the Chinshih, he was ordered by the emperor to build the tomb of Wang Yueh. In superintending the workmen he had half of them work and half rest, with definite times both for rest and for meals. When he and the workmen ceased from work, he practiced the octagonal method of drilling soldiers with them. The tomb was finished, and Wang Yueh's people offered him gold and silk, but he refused to take them. They then brought forth the sword which Wang Yueh had carried, and since this was in harmony with his dream he received it. At that time the stars changed, and the emperor asked that his officials explain the reason. Yang-ming sent in a memorial stating eight things regarding the borders of the empire.
He Investigates Immortality
At twenty-nine he was given control of the Yuinnan section of the Board of Punishments, and at thirty he was Provincial Judge in Chiangpei, reversing many of the law cases that came under his jurisdiction.
When not engaged in official duties he went to Chiuhua- shan. There he met a Taoist priest named Ts'ai P'eng- t'ou and asked him regarding the magic of eternal youth and immortality. The priest answered, "You are not in a position to ask about it." A second time after sending away his servants he asked, and the priest again replied, "You are not in a position to make inquiry." A third time Wang asked. Ts'ai said, "Though you have an abundance of propriety, you still do not forget the manner of an official," and laughing aloud left him.
In the Titsang Grotto there was a strange and extraordinary man who sat and slept on pine needles, and who never cooked his food. The Teacher climbed cliffs and passed dangerous places in order to see him. When he reached the cave, the man was sleeping. The Teacher sat a long time waiting for him to awaken, and when he finally awoke asked him, "What is the first virtue to be investigated?" There was no answer given until after a long time, when the strange man said, "Chou Lien-hsi and Ch'eng Ming-tao are two great Hsiuts'ai among scholars." When he had spoken he again fell asleep. The Teacher left, Returning the next day, he did not see the strange man again.
In the fifteenth year of Hung Chih, in the eighth month, the Teacher was thirty-one. He resigned his official position to return to his home in Chekiang in order to care for his aged parent. He built a home at Yang-ming Grotto and there engaged in Taoist practices. His friends of the company of Wang Ssu-yu came to visit him, but he sent his servants to receive them. He revealed to them their entire past life just as a prophet would have done, while they marvelled at his power, believing that he had become perfect. After some time the Teacher coming to a state of realization said, "This humbugging, these worthless dregs, are not in accordance with the true way.” He discontinued the Yoga practices.
He Influences a Buddhist Priest to Abandon His CallingThough he wished to leave his home and go to a far distant place, he remembered that his grandmother and his father still lived and consequently was unable to come to a decision. One day, however, he came to himself and said, "Though these are the thoughts of a child, yet should they perish, the original disposition (nature) would therewith be destroyed." Accordingly he moved to Hsihu, spending much of his time between Nanp'ing and Hupao. A Buddhist priest had been sitting for three years in contemplation without speaking or looking at anything. The Teacher in a loud voice said, "This priest sits here the entire day moving his lips. But what does he say? He sits here with his eyes open all day, and what does he see?" The priest was startled, and the Teacher made inquiry about his home. The priest said, "My mother lives." "Are you ever homesick for her?" asked the Teacher. "It is impossible not to have such thoughts," said the priest. The Teacher then talked to him about the natural love of one's own. The priest wept and thanked him; then took his alms-bowl and returned home.
At thirty-three the Teacher was delegated to conduct the Chujen examinations in the province of Shantung, and himself examined all the essays. In the ninth month of this year he was placed in control of the officers of the army.
At thirty-four he became the friend of Chan Kan-ch'uan (Jo-shui). Together they proclaimed the importance of devotion to the doctrines of Confucius. As a result many now first came to him to study these doctrines.
Having Offended the Eunuch Liu Tsing, He is Exiled to Lungch'ang
In the first year of Cheng Te, Wang was thirty-five years of age. At that time a eunuch, Liu Tsing, usurped much power. Two Taotais at Nanking, Tai Hsien and Po Yen- hui, sent a memorial to the emperor asking that he dismiss Liu Tsing and thereby offended the emperor, who accordingly had them cast into prison. In the second month the teacher sent in a memorial and rescued them, and thereby offended Liu Tsing. Liu Tsing then falsely in the emperor's name had him struck forty blows with the bamboo and disgraced him by sending him to Lungch'ang, Kweichow, in the governmental dispatch service.
In the summer of the second year of Cheng Te, at the age of thirty-six, the Teacher, disgraced, started his journey and reached Ch'ient'ang. Liu Tsing deputized a man to follow him secretly. When the Teacher saw that he could not evade him, he pretended to drown himself in the river and secretly escaped to Choushan on a merchant vessel. A typhoon arose and in one night drove the ship to the border of Fukien. When the Teacher had landed he wandered in the mountains some tens of li. As night came on he knocked at the door of a Buddhist temple, but the priest refused him hospitality. Hastening, he reached a deserted temple and supporting himself against the incense-table slept. The place was the resort of a tiger, who at midnight prowled around roaring, but was afraid to enter. At the break of day the Buddhist priest, thinking that the Teacher had surely been killed by the tiger, went to get his bag, for he used the tiger to help him pillage strangers. When he saw that the Teacher was just waking up, he was alarmed and said, “This is an extraordinary man!” Upon his invitation Wang went with him to the temple, where he met the Taoist priest who had formerly sat with him in the T'iehchukung. This one laughed and taking a poem from his sleeve gave it to the Teacher to see. The ode read: “Twenty years ago I saw the gentleman. Today he comes, but the news of his deeds precedes him.”' He asked Wang where he wished to go. "If the anger of Liu Tsing," he said, “should fall upon your father, he would falsely report that you have either gone north to the Tartars or south to Kwangtung. What can be done?” The Teacher, alarmed, took refuge in divination and as a result returned home, leaving a verse written on the temple wall. He chose the nearest route, passing by Wu-i and crossing Poyang Lake. At Nanking he visited his father, and in the twelfth month started his journey for Lungch'ang anew. At that time his brother-in-law (younger sister's husband) Ts'ü Ai, with his face toward the north, gave him a gift, thereby fully determining to be his disciple.
His Residence in Lungch'ang
At thirty-seven, in the third month of the third year of Cheng Te, he reached Lungch'ang and took up his official position there. Lungch'ang was situated in the northwestern part of Kweichow, among the mountains. It was the resort of venomous snakes and poisonous worms, the habitat of babbling barbarians with whom it was impossible for him to converse. The only ones with whom he could speak were criminals who had made their escape to these distant parts. Liu Tsing at this time still hated Wang, but the latter counted as nothing gain or loss, glory or disgrace. Life and death alone he meditated upon. He had a sarcophagus made and awaited the decree of Liu Tsing. It happened that his followers all fell ill. The Teacher himself chopped wood, carried water, and made soft-boiled rice for them. Moreover, he sang songs, especially their home tunes for them, and recited humorous stories in order to drive away their sorrow and comfort them.
The great object of his meditations at this time was: What additional method would a sage adopt who lived under these circumstances ? One night it suddenly dawned upon him in the midnight watches what the sage meant by "investigating things for the purpose of extending knowledge to the utmost." Unconsciously he called out, got up and danced about the room. All his followers were alarmed; but the Teacher, now for the first time understanding the doctrine of the sage, said, "My nature is, of course, sufficient. I was wrong in looking for principles in things and affairs. " He meditated upon the words of the Five Classics and found them entirely in harmony with this. Subsequently he wrote a commentary on the Five Classics, "Thoughts on the Five Classics."
The natives of the place daily became more intimate with him. Seeing that the house where he lived was damp, they built him a schoolhouse and called it Lungkang, also a guestroom, a study, a pavilion, and a den. The prefect of Ssuchou sent men to deceive him, but the natives were enraged and beat them. The prefect was incensed and reported it to a higher official, who ordered Wang to go to the prefect and apologize. But Wang, unwilling to do this, sent a letter to the higher official. When the prefect heard of this he was humiliated. A higher official named An sent the Teacher rice and pork from Shuihsi. He also sent servants, gold, silver, and a saddled horse, but the Teacher did not receive the gifts. At one time the emperor had determined to establish a military post at Shuihsi and build a wall (city) around it, but later abandoned the plan. The station for transmitting dispatches, however, was still there. The official named An did not like it because it was in his way, and wished to dispose of it. He consulted with the Teacher, who wrote him a letter in which he showed that the power and influence of the imperial court should be extended. An was satisfied. A tribal chief named Ochia-ochia stirred up the natives to rebellion. Wang wrote a letter to An, exhorting him; whereupon An, much alarmed, crushed the rebellion.
At thirty-eight, the deputy commissioner of education of Kweichow, Hsi Shu by name, asked the Teacher to take charge of Kueiyang College. At that time the Teacher first taught that knowledge and action must go together. What he said is found in his writings.
He is Restored to Honor and Receives Official Promotion
At the age of thirty-nine, Wang was promoted to the magistracy of Lulinghsien in Shansi, and during the seven months he was there he used no violent punishments. By selecting three classes of old men to be elders and to admonish the people in virtue, he influenced many. In the eleventh month of that year (Cheng Te, the fifth year) he went to Peking to have an audience with the emperor, and while there stayed in a temple called Hsinglungssu. At this time Huang Tsung-hsien first heard the Teacher discourse on learning. Wang was pleased and had him study with Chan Kan-ch’üan. In the twelfth month he was promoted to President of the Board of Punishment for Szchuan at Nanking.
In the first month of the sixth year of Cheng Te, Wang was made head of the inspection department of the Board of Civil Offices. He then first discoursed upon the learning of Chu Hui-an and Lu Hsiang-shan. He also sent a letter to Ts'ü Ch'eng-chih. At that time Fang Hsien-fu on the same board, but of higher rank, gave Wang the gift of a student to a teacher. In the second month of that year Wang was appointed associate examiner of the Chinshih essays. In the tenth month he was delegated to be the official who reports to the Vice-President of the Board of Civil Offices regarding letters received.
In the seventh year of Cheng Te, in the second month, he was promoted to clerk of the merit department of the Board of Civil Offices. In the twelfth month he was promoted to Nanking as Vice-President of the Court of the Emperor's Studs. Inasmuch as the road was convenient, he returned to his native home. In that year Ts'ü Ai, who at the time was prefect at Ch'ichou, was promoted to membership on the Board of Works at Nanking. Together with the Teacher in the same boat he went to Yüyao. On the way they discoursed upon the purport of the Great Learning. The conversation is recorded in his works.
In the eighth year of Cheng Te, when he was forty-two years of age, the Teacher went to Ch'uchou. By day he sauntered near the Langya Spring with his disciples. In the evening when the moon was bright several hundred men gathered around the Dragon Pool and sang that the valleys resounded with the echo. Students of the old learning daily increased.
In the ninth year of Emperor Cheng Te, at forty-three, Wang was promoted to President of the Court of Ceremonies. In that year he first turned specifically to intuitive knowledge for instructing his disciples.
At forty-four he selected his cousin 's son, Cheng Hsien, as heir, for neither he nor his three brothers had any sons. His father had chosen Cheng Hsien, who was eight at that time, as the heir. In the eighth month of this year ( Cheng Te tenth), "Wang determined to send in a memorial in order to remonstrate with the emperor against his receiving Buddhism. The servants of the emperor said that in the western country (India) there lived a Buddhist priest who could prognosticate three generations, and who in consequence was called by the Tartars a living Buddha. Cheng Te sent an ambassador named Liu Yuin to welcome him with all dispatch. He used a string of five-hundred pearls on a pendant scroll, and carried silver amounting to more than ten thousand taels, besides gold. Cheng Te ordered that Liu Yuin should return within ten years, and gave him power to act. Liu Yuin asked for seventy thousand ying of salt to cover his travelling expenses. A prime minister named Yang Ting-ho sent in a memorial advising Cheng Te against this, but he paid no attention. Wang had written a memorial with the intention of sending it in, but desisted. Instead he sent in a memorial, and later a second one, asking leave to return home and care for his grandmother, who at the time was ninety-six years of age.
In the ninth month of the eleventh year of Cheng Te, the Teacher was promoted to Military Governor of Kiangsi, having been recommended by Wang Ch'iung, President of the Board of War. Wang Ssu-yü said to Chi Pen, "Wang will surely acquire merit this time. I am unable to attack him single handed." In the tenth month he returned to his home at Yyao.
The Robbers at Wanan Are Subdued by Wang
In the first month of the twelfth year of Cheng Te, he reached Kanchou. He passed Wanan, where several hundred robbers along the road plundered the passers-by. Merchant vessels did not dare to advance, but the Teacher united them into a fleet. Hoisting flags and beating drums, they went forward as if to battle. The robbers became frightened and surrendered. "We are famine-stricken people,” they said. “Kindly relieve us in our extremity.” Wang ordered men to tell them that when he reached Kanchou he would send an official to help them. "You should continue your regular occupations," he said, "and not bring punishment upon yourselves by committing misdemeanors. " The robbers all returned home. When he entered Kanchou, he forthwith selected and raised soldiers from the people to introduce the ten-family register system.
Since the Kanchou official helpers and yamen runners all knew the ways and devices of the robbers, the robbers were forewarned whenever the officials tried to do anything. At the camp gate there was an old underling who was especially villainous. The Teacher, knowing his ways, had him called into a secret chamber and given his choice whether he would live or die. As the old underling divulged the truth, Wang permitted him to live. Moreover, what he said was tested and proven true, and thereby the Teacher learned the actual condition of the thieves.
In the second month of this year he subdued the rebellion at Changchou, and in the fourth he returned the soldiers. At that time it had not rained for three months. The Teacher and his soldiers were at Shanghang. He prayed at the Hsing T'ai yamen and it rained for three days. The magistrate of the place asked the Teacher to change the name from Hsing T'ai to Favorable Rain Hall (Shih- yut'ang.
He is Made Provincial Commander-in-Chief
In the fifth month he established a military tally. He sent up a memorial asking that the P'ingho magistracy be established at Hotou, and that the sub-district deputy magistrate be moved from Hsiaohsi to Fangtou. In the sixth month he sent a memorial asking for a reorganization of the salt gabelle. In the ninth month he was made Provincial Commander-in-chief of the army at Kanchou, Ting- chou, and Changchou in Kiangsi. The emperor gave him a banner and authority to act on his own initiative. He sent up a memorial explaining rewards and punishments and asked that he be given power to act in such matters. Some of the people laughed and called him foolish, but Wang Ch'iung said, "If the government does not give this kind of power to that type of men, to whom shall it be given?" The Teacher sent in a second memorial and received the authority for which he had asked.
Pi Chen, a Kiangsi eunuch delegated to keep watch, plotted with his favorites that the emperor should appoint him to examine the Teacher's army. Wang Ch'iung sent up a memorial saying, “That which in military matters is most to be dreaded is command from the distance. In case Wang must use soldiers at Kanchou, he must first wait until plans are made at the capital. Thus will he be defeated. But if there is a disturbance at the capital, then it may be heard that the Kanchou government came to the rescue." Thereupon Pi Chen's plotting ceased. Because the Teacher settled the rebellion at Changchou he gained merit. His salary was increased and a present of two thousand taels of silver and four rolls of silk was given to him.
In the tenth month he quieted the rebellion at Huenshui and T'ungkang. The chief of the robber band, Hsie Chih- shan, was captured, and questioned by the Teacher, who asked, "How did you accumulate such a gang?" Chih- shan said, "It was not easy. When I saw a man of excellent ability, I was unwilling to let him go and used many devices to get him. I assisted him in trouble, or gave him help in his extremity, or appealed to his love of wine and women, until he was grateful for kindness. (12) Then, when I plotted with him, he invariably was willing." The Teacher, turning to his disciples, said, "When we really wish to find a friend, we too should use the same method." In the twelfth month he returned with his soldiers and sent in a memorial asking that a magistrate be sent to Huenshui, a guard be placed at the Ch'aliao Pass, and a sub-district magistracy be established at Shangpao, Ch'iench'ang, and Ch 'anglung.
In the thirteenth year of Emperor Cheng Te, the Teacher was forty-seven. In the first month he attacked Sanli; in the third month he reduced to submission the thieves at Tamao and Lit'ou; and in the fourth month he returned with the troops and established primary schools in the country. Holding up the wine, he thanked his followers, saying, ' ' Thank you, Sirs, for your help ! I use this feast to requite you in a measure." The disciples, surprised, asked him the reason. The Teacher said, "When I first went up into the hall to reward and punish the soldiers, I experienced a fear of making mistakes and disgracing you. I did not dare to be careless. When I left the hall to meet you face to face, I still remembered the rewards and punishments and was unhappy, until finally when I went up into the hall and when I met you face to face my mind was at rest. Then I was at peace. This is the matter in which you have helped me." In the fifth month Wang sent up a memorial asking that a magistracy be established at Hopingt'ung and that the sub-district magistrate at Hoping be sent to Lit'ou. In the sixth month, because of the merit accruing to him for having reduced the rebellion at Huenshui and T'ungkang, he was promoted to first assistant to the President of the Censorate, and one son was honored with the office of Ching I Wei for all time and with the income of one hundred families.
Hsieh K'an Cuts the Blocks of the "Instructions for Practical Life"
In the seventh month he cut the original text of the Great Learning in wood, and also the philosopher Chu's "Wan Nien Ting Luen" (Discussions of Later Life). In the eighth month his disciple Hsieh K'an cut the blocks of the “Instructions for Practical Life " at Ch'ien in Kiangsi -- ”a book which Ts'ü Ai has transmitted. When Ts'ü Ai died, Wang mourned deeply and sacrificed two funeral orations at his grave. In the ninth month he repaired the Lienhsi College for the students from all quarters. In the tenth month he reestablished village headmen, and in the eleventh month he sent a second memorial asking for a reorganization of the salt gabelle.
In the fourteenth year of Cheng Te the Teacher was forty-eight. In the first month because of merit as a result of having reduced the rebellion at Sanli, his son was made a Ching I Wei with the income from one-thousand families. Wang sent a memorial refusing, but the emperor would not listen. He then sent up a memorial resigning his position because his grandmother was ill, but the emperor would not accept the resignation.
He Subdues the Rebellious Prince Ch'en Hao
In the sixth month he received command from the emperor to go to Fukien to investigate a rebellion among the soldiers. Starting from Kanchou on the ninth, he reached Fengch'eng on the fifteenth and heard that Prince Ch'en Hao had rebelled. Quickly returning to Chian, he raised troops by public solicitation. Ch'en Hao ordered troops to pursue him, but by scheming he escaped them. On the nineteenth Wang reached Chian and sent in a memorial regarding the rebellion. Fearing that the rebels might utilize the down-river current to reach Nanking and unexpectedly invade the two capital cities (Peking and Nan-king), he devised a scheme to deceive the messenger of Ch'en Hao, thinking that if the latter could be detained from ten days to a month all would be well. He secretly counterfeited the urgent dispatch board of the Provincial Commander-in-chief of Kwangtung and Kwangsi, the official dispatch asking the soldiers from the capital and the borders of the Empire to come to the rescue, a letter from Li Shih-shih and Liu Yang-cheng (two of Ch'en Hao's generals) revealing treachery in the camp, and also a petition of submission from Min Nien-ssu and Ling Shih-i. He ordered Lei Chi and Lung Kuang to devise a plan whereby Ch'en Hao might learn this. When Ch'en Hao heard it, he was frightened and did not know what preparation to make. The details of this matter are recorded in the Fan Chien I Shih. On the twenty-first he sent in another memorial regarding the rebellion, fearing that, because of the violence of the uprising, the former memorial had perhaps not reached the emperor. On the same day he sent in a memorial asking permission to return to Chekiang that he might bury his grandmother.
On the fifth day of the seventh month he sent in a memorial stating that Ch'en Hao was slandering the emperor in an official dispatch, and on the thirteenth he led troops out of Chian. On the fifteenth a consultation was held at Changshu, ordering the magistrate of Fenghsin, called Liu Shou-hsü, secretly to destroy Ch'en Hao's ambush soldiers at Hsinchiuf ench 'ang. On the nineteenth, Wang left Shihch'a and on the twentieth he and his soldiers captured Nanchang. On the twenty-fourth the Teacher fought against Ch'en Hao near the Poyang Lake at Huangchiatu, and on the twenty-fifth at Patzunao. On the twenty-sixth Wang captured Ch'en Hao at Ch'iaoshi. Kiangsi was at rest, and the government did not yet know of the affair.
The Emperor and the Rebellion
At that time Li K'o-ssu, President of the Censorate, sent in a special memorial regarding this matter. The emperor called together the court officials for deliberation, but they did not dare to find fault with Ch'en Hao. The President of the Board of War. Wang Ch'iung, alone said, "His character has always been bad. That he should thus suddenly rebel should not be enough to alarm you. Wang Shou-jen (Yang-ming) will take the matter in hand from upstream, pursue him, and capture him. Yet according to ancient custom it is necessary to send a general. " "Wang Ch'iung sent in a memorial asking Cheng Te to issue an edict disowning Ch'en Hao as relative (prince) and calling him a rebel. He also asked that a general with troops be sent to Nanking, and that the Earl of Nanho, named Fang Shou-hsiang, and the official in charge of the guard at Yangchow, a censor, Yü Chien by name, lead Anhui troops to guard Nanking; and further that Wang Shou-jen lead Kiangsi troops from Lingchi and that a President of the Censorate, named Ch'in Chin, lead Hupeh troops from Chingjui to Nanchang. He further asked that Li K'o-ssu, who guarded Chinkiang, Hsu T'ing-kuang, who guarded Chekiang, and Ts'ung Lan, who guarded Ichen, check the rebels, and that dispatches be sent to all parts of Kiangsi announcing that whoever should raise public troops and capture the rebels would be made a marquis. At that time there were many ignoble people who persuaded the emperor to go in person so that he prohibited any general f rom being sent. He said, "I myself ought to lead six regiments and in the name of Heaven demand justice." He used the standard, ' ' Stern Commander-in-Chief, Duke Who Guards the Country," and ordered two eunuchs, Chang Yung and Chang Chung, and an earl named Hsu T 'ai and a lieutenant-general Liu Hui, to lead the capital troops and the border troops amounting to more than ten thousand, and to follow him. A deputy named Chu Hsu and a censor named Chang Lun followed the army to record merit.
On the sixteenth of the eighth month Wang sent in a memorial advising the emperor not to come himself, and on the same day he for a second time asked for leave of absence to bury his grandmother. On the eleventh of the ninth month Wang left Nanchang for Peking, to hand over his prisoner of war. At this time Chang Chung, Hsü T'ai, and their followers planned to send someone to use the "Stern Commander-in-Chief" dispatch board, receive (from Wang) the rebellious Ch'en Hao, and liberate him on the Poyang Lake, that the emperor himself might battle against him, and that when a victory had been reported merit might be meted out. The Teacher had reached Kuanghsin, when Chang Chung and Hsü T'ai sent a messenger ordering him to return to Kiangsi. Wang did not obey, but instead by night passed the Yushants 'aop 'ing dispatch station. At Hangchow he met Chang Yung and said, “The people of Kiangsi have long endured the injuries of Ch'en Hao. They have passed through the rebellion, and in addition they suffer from the dry weather. If now is added the furnishing of supplies for the troops from the capital and the borders of the Empire, the poverty will be unendurable. The outcome will be that they will flee into the mountain valleys and rebel. Those who in the past helped Ch'en Hao did so because they were forced. Under the present weight of poverty there will be great confusion if rebellion ensues. You have in the past surrendered your life to your country : can you not now think of your countrymen?" Chang Yung answered, "Certainly! I have come because a great band of ignoble fellows surrounds the emperor. My purpose is to protect and safeguard him. I have not come because I wish to rob others of just merit; but the disposition of the emperor is such that the situation may be saved if I follow his ideas. Should I disobey him, I would needlessly anger his ignoble followers and there would then be no way of solving the difficulty." The Teacher believed him and delivered Ch'en Hao up to him, but himself feigned illness and dwelt at Hsihu in a temple.
Wang Returns to Nanchang as Governor
In the eleventh month, at the command of the emperor, he returned to Nanchang as governor of Kiangsi. At that time Chang Chung and Hsü T'ai in Kiangsi devised many- schemes to detect him in some wrong. Chu Hsu and Chang Lun, hoping for benefit from them, adopted their views and circulated rumors on all sides. When "Wang returned, the troops from the north reviled him and tried to stir up a feud. He was not aroused to anger, but was the more courteous to them. Secretly he ordered the inhabitants to move to the country and used weakened old men at the yamen gate. He intended to reward the northern troops, but Chang Chung and Hsü T 'ai had previously forbidden them to receive anything. He issued the following proclamation: "The northern soldiers have left their homes and suffered privations. The people of this city should extend toward them the courtesy of a host to his guest. ' ' "When he met northern soldiers who had lost one of their number through death, he would have his conveyance stopped, speak comforting words to them, and after contributing ample money for the coffin pass on sighing. After a time the northern soldiers were moved by his kindness. At the feast of the winter solstice he ordered the people to prepare wine and pork to sacrifice to those who had lost their lives in the rebellion. The sound of the weeping did not cease day or night, and when the northern troops heard this, they could not but think of home and weep. Chang Chung and Hsü T'ai arranged for a test shooting-match with bow and arrow, thinking that Wang was unable to use the bow and that in this way they could vanquish him. Thrice he shot and thrice he hit the target. The northern troops standing alongside shouted and held up their hands in admiration. Chang Chung and Hsü T'ai greatly alarmed said, "May not all our soldiers follow Wang?" -- and withdrew their troops. In that year, on the sixteenth of the twelfth month, the emperor reached Nanking.
He is Persecuted by Chang Chung and Hsü T'ai
In the fifteenth year of Cheng Te, Wang was forty-nine years old. At that time the emperor was at Nanking. Chang Chung and Hsü T'ai, since they hated Yang-ming, sent false imperial decrees calling him, but he did not leave. They also secretly slandered him in the presence of the emperor, saying, "Wang Shou-jen will certainly start a rebellion.” The emperor said, “What evidence have you?” They said, "Try to summon him: he will not come." In the first month Cheng Te summoned Wang. Chang Yung ordered a private secretary, Ch'ien Ping-chung, to notify the Teacher. When he heard it he immediately started the journey, but was hindered at Wuhu by Chang Chung and Hsü T'ai. He then went to Chiuhuashan, where he dwelt in a temple made of grass. Cheng Te secretly sent a messenger to see him, who upon returning reported, "Wang Shou-jen is learning to be a Taoist priest: how would he stir up a rebellion?” The emperor ordered Wang to return to Kiangsi. Passing a temple called K'aihsien, he engraved the following on a stone in the study loft: "In the fourteenth year of the reign of Cheng Te, in the sixth month and the fourteenth day, Prince Ning (Ch'en Hao) rebelled at Nanchang. He led troops toward Nanking, and both Nanking and Kiukiang were captured. He then attacked Nganking (Anking). The whole country was in a state of excitement. In the seventh month on the thirteenth day I, Shou-jen, led troops from another city, retook Nan-chang, captured Ch'en Hao and crushed the rebellion. At that time Cheng Te, having heard of the rebellion, was angered and led six regiments to avenge himself. I turned over the prisoner of war to him and he returned. Great is the majesty of the emperor. Holy in warfare, he yet does not kill. It may be compared to the thunders which shake and without striking cease. The throne belongs to him. Who would attempt to usurp it? Heaven beheld Ch'en Hao. vindicated the intelligence of the emperor, and restored peace within the empire.” It was a vision of Shih Tsung (who was known as Chia Ching) mounting the throne. Was the Teacher able to forecast this?
He Inspects the Troops at Kiukiang and Kanchou
In the second month the teacher went to Kiukiang to inspect drill. In the third month he sent in a memorial asking that the taxes be rescinded for that half-year. For the third time he sent in a memorial asking for leave of absence in order to bury his grandmother, but the emperor refused. In the fifth month there was a great flood in Kiangsi, and he sent in a memorial impeaching his own character. When in the sixth month he went to Kanchou to review the troops and teach them military tactics, Chiang sent a man to watch him secretly. The people were all afraid of Wang, who wrote the following ode :
"In the East an old man protected himself from the ravages of a tiger. The tiger entered his house at night and bit his head. The small child in the western home did not know the tiger; He took a bamboo pole in his hand and drove the tiger as he drove the cattle.”
His disciples were solicitous about his welfare, but the Teacher said: "Formerly I lived at the capital in the midst of mighty ones, at the point of the bayonet and sword; but my mind was at rest. Why should you be so anxious today?"
As it was said that there were many warriors at Wanan, he ordered an official to go there and choose a company from among them. "Choose only those of great strength," he said, "and do not inquire about military skill." He chose three hundred men. Lung Kuang made inquiry, saying, "Ch'en Hao has been subdued, why do you select these?" The Teacher laughed and said, "Chiao Chi (Cochin China) is in a state of rebellion. To advance against the rebels while they are not suspecting, affords an excellent opportunity.”
How They Disposed of Ch'en Hao
Ch'en Hao had not been beheaded at that time, because Emperor Cheng Te was still at Nanking. Moreover, it was exceedingly difficult to surmise the plans of Chiang Pin, for at Niushou Mountain there were startling things happening at night. Chiang Pin feared Wang and did not dare to move. Why Wang conducted drills at Kiukiang and Kanchou and selected the Wanan warriors, could not well be told to the public. In the seventh month Wang a second time sent up a memorial reporting good news from Kiangsi. At that time the Chiang Pin clique planned to claim the merit of delivering over the prisoner of war, but Chang Yung said, “That will not do ; for we had not left the capital when Ch'en Hao was captured. Wang sent the prisoner forward to Peking, passing Yüshan and crossing at Ch'ient'an. The people have already seen and heard this : it cannot be disavowed.” They therefore used the banner of the Stern Commander-in-Chief ordering the Teacher to send in a second memorial regarding the victory in Kiangsi. He sent in a memorial containing the gist of the first, adding the names of the parties concerned. In the eighth month he sent in a memorial to the Board of Punishment, clearing up the wrong done to Chi Yüan-heng. In the intercalary eighth month, on the eighth day, the emperor received the prisoner at Nanking, and on the twelfth the emperor left Nanking.
Hou T'ao said, “This affair was due to his officials. As the criminal had been taken, why create a disturbance by taking out the soldiers at all? Since the country was at peace, why kill the people for the sake of the report of a victory and thereby involve the dynasty in a wrong ? Why endanger the dynasty by disturbing the country ? Because Chang Chung and Hsü T'ai sought the merit of another and violated the principles of righteousness. This wrong overflowed the heavens. Moreover, Chu Hsu and Chang Lun cunningly followed the evil group. The wickedness of the gang lacked ingenuity and intelligence.”
For the fourth time Wang sent up a memorial asking for permission to bury his grandmother, but the emperor refused. At Kanchou he heard that his grandmother had died and his father had taken ill, and in consequence he wished to lay aside his official position and return home. One of his disciples, Chou Yung, said, "The Teacher's thought of returning home seems to be justified." After a long pause the Teacher replied, “How can it be otherwise than justified?" In the ninth month he returned from Kanchou to Nanchang.
Wang Ken, the Strange Man from T'aichou, Visits Wang
At that time there was a man at T'aichou named Wang Ken, who wore the cap and costume of the ancients. He held a wooden tablet in his hand, and using two odes came to visit the Teacher. Wang was astonished when he saw him, and coming down asked him to sit in the place of honor. “What cap are you wearing ?” Wang asked. He answered, "The cap of the time of Emperor Shun." "What costume are you wearing?" He answered, "The clothes of Lao Lai-tzu." The Teacher said, "Are you learning to be like Lao Lai-tzu?" The man said, "Yes." The Teacher said, "Do you merely imitate the wearing of his costume or do you imitate his coming into the room and artfully falling?" Wang Ken's conscience troubled him and he gradually sat farther away. They conversed about the purport of “investigating things for the sake of extending knowledge." When the conversation was ended, Wang Ken understood. On the following day he changed his costume and brought to Wang the gift of a disciple.
On the third of the twelfth month the emperor was at T'ung-chou and had Ch'en Hao beheaded. On the eighth he returned to Peking.
In the first month of the sixteenth year of Cheng Te, the teacher, at fifty years of age, dwelt at Nanchang and selected the descendants of Lu Hsiang-shan for employment. On the fourteenth of the third month Cheng Te died in a house made of leopard skins, and in the fourth month Shih Tsung ascended the throne. In the fifth month the teacher gathered together his disciples at Pailu-tung. In the sixth month the emperor called him to come to the capital by the dispatch route. On the twentieth he left Nanchang, though the prime minister attempted to prevent his going to the capital. He was promoted to President of the Board of War, and was ordered to advise and aid in military matters. When he reached Ch'ient'an he sent in a memorial asking that he might use the convenient road home to bury his grandmother.
He Visits His Old Home and Receives Further Honors
In the eighth month he reached Yuehch'eng and in the ninth month Yüyao, where he visited the grave of his grandmother. He made inquiry about the Shuyünlou (Auspicious Cloud Loft.) He wept a long time because his beloved mother had not lived long enough to have his care, and because he had not been able to be present at the death of his grandmother to dress her for burial. In the twelfth month he was made Earl of Hsinchien and entrusted to Heaven's protecting care that he might display sincerity and strength in guarding aright the civil offices. In addition the emperor added the title, “Master of the Banquetting Office and Pillar of the Government." He also filled the office of President of the Board of War at Nan- king, and thus advised and aided in military affairs as before. His salary was one thousand picul of rice per year. Three generations, including wives, obtained posthumous honors, and his descendants for all time obtained the official rank of baron.
On the day when the proclamation arrived Yang-ming's father celebrated his birthday. The Teacher took the wine goblet to drink to the age of his father, who wrinkling his brow said, "Formerly at the time of Prince Ning's rebellion everybody said you had died, and yet you were not dead. Everybody said that the rebellion would be difficult to settle, yet you subdued it. Many arose who slandered you. Calamity threatened at every hand. During the last two years danger has been avoided with difficulty. Now the clouds have scattered and sun and moon appear to make your faithfulness and your virtue manifest. We are both unworthy to receive official merit, high official position, and a high degree of nobility. Is it not fortunate that we again meet in one room as today? And yet the time of greatest prosperity is the beginning of decline, and happiness is at the base of misfortune. Though we may rejoice, we may also fear." The Teacher washed the goblet and kneeling before his father said, "This has been the instruction of my father. I, your son, will constantly heed it. ' '
The Death of Wang's Father
In the first year of Emperor Chia Ching, the Teacher was fifty-one years old. In the first month of that year he sent in a memorial declining the titles of nobility, but the emperor refused to consider it. In the following month his father died. The Teacher wept himself nearly to death, and vowed that his entire family should eat no meat for one hundred days. Not many days after taking this vow, he ordered his brothers and nephews to eat a little dry pork. He said, "They have eaten pork for a long time, I cannot force them. It will give the reins to them to do it secretly, and thus it is better that I be liberal with them and allow them to do as they think best. “He mourned a long time and then stopped. A guest came to make inquiry after the death of his father, and one of his servants said to Wang, “You ought to weep.” The Teacher said, “Weeping comes from the heart. If I utilize the coming of a guest to weep and the going of the guest to stop, that is to gloss over the feelings and act falsely, like the ordinary man, who does this at the death of his parents.”
Wang is Charged with Heterodoxy
In the seventh month he again sent in a memorial declining the titles of nobility, but there was no reply. At that time there were a censor, Ch'eng Ch'i, and an undersecretary in the censorate named Mao Yu who, in compliance with the ideas of a prime minister, first impeached the Teacher as heterodox. One of Wang's disciples, the secretary of the Board of Punishments, a man named Lu Ch'eng, sent in a memorial discussing and refuting this in six ways. When the Teacher heard of it, he stopped him. In the ninth month he buried his father at Shich'uanshan.
In the second year of Chia Ching, Wang was fifty-two years old. In the second month the examination for Chinshih took place. Ethical themes were propounded in order to controvert the Teacher. One of his disciples, Ch'ü Shan, left the examination hall without answering; another, Ch'ien Te-hung, wrote but returned unsuccessful. When the Teacher saw him he was glad to welcome him and said, "From this time the learning of the sage will be well understood.” Te-hung said, “Since affairs are as they are, how will it be well understood?" The Teacher responded, “My exposition of learning will be published all over the country through the present examination. Even in the most impoverished village or the deepest valley all will hear of it. In case my doctrines are wrong, someone will surely arise to investigate the truth." In the ninth month he removed the body of his father to T'ienchufeng and his grandmother to Hsüshan. He did this because of a flood at Shihch'uan.
He Gives Advice to a Prefect
In the eleventh month he discussed the doctrines of Buddhism and Taoism with Chang Yuan-ch'ung, who held that the application of the two religions also brought merit to the Confucian scholar. “Should we not also unite with them ? " he asked. The teacher replied, “You say unite ? No! If the sage exhausts his nature in arriving at fate, there is nothing that has not been made ready for him. Why should we unite with them ? Their culture and learning are also ours. If I exhaust my whole nature in arriving at the decree of Heaven and nourish my person completely, I am styled an 'immortal.' If I am not affected by worldly ties, I am styled a Buddha. Later generations of Confucian scholars have not recognized the perfection of the sage's knowledge, and thus emphasize the difference between it and Taoism and Buddhism. Compare it with a house which has three rooms. When a Confucian scholar sees a Buddhist coming, he gives him the room to the left, and when he sees a Taoist, he gives him the room to the right, while he himself lives in the middle room. All choose one and cast aside other things.”
He Gives Advice to a Prefect
In the first month of the third year of Chia Ching, a prefect from Chekiang named Nan Ta-chi came to see the Teacher. He said he was fully occupied with his administration of the government, and asked Wang why he did not have a word of instruction for him. Wang said, "I have long since spoken." Ta-chi did not understand. The Teacher said, "If I had not spoken, how would you have known?" He said, "I know this through my intuitive faculty." The Teacher said, "Have I not frequently spoken of intuitive knowledge of good.” Ta-chi laughed, thanked him and left. After some days he came again saying, "After making mistakes I am very repentant. Though I desire earnestly to change, still it is better that someone first tell me not to transgress.” Wang replied, “That someone tell you is not really equal to repenting yourself. " After several days he came saying, “The transgressions of the body I have overcome. How about the transgressions of the mind?" The Teacher said, "If the mirror has not been wiped clear, it will hide filth. Your mirror is now clean, so that if a little dust settles on it, it cannot stay. This is your opportunity to become a sage, if you exert yourself. ' '
A Feast with His Disciples
On the fifteenth of the eighth month the Teacher feasted with his disciples at T'iench'üanch'iao. That night the moon was as bright as day and there were over one hundred disciples present, who, having drunk until they were merry, began to sing. They pitched arrows into a vase, 18 beat the drum, and went boating. "When the Teacher saw that they all enjoyed the sport, he returned and wrote the following ode :
"Though placed aside, the lute sounded in the spring breeze. Though T'ien was enthusiastic, he was according to my liking."
The next day the disciples came to thank him. He said : "Formerly Confucius at Ch'en thought of the pedants of Lu, because his disciples had not buried the desire for wealth and honor. They (his followers) were as though bound and imprisoned, and did not comprehend him. A few of the wisest ones dropped this desire and understood that all worldly affinity is unnatural, and that unless it is really suppressed for the sake of entering into the very essence of things, it will gradually ruin mankind. There is also the defect of neglecting natural relationships and things. Although one who does this is different from the ordinary mean man, yet he too has not brought his life into conformity with the doctrine. For this reason Confucius determined to return to moderate their views. Today, Sirs, you are thoroughly acquainted with this, and it is well that you should use your greatest energy and your strength to reach the right path. Do not think that knowledge of one kind is sufficient, and finally end by being merely eccentric.”
Wang's Disciples at Work
Ch'ien Te-hung, Ch'ien Te-chou, Wei Liang-cheng, and Wei Liang-ch'i studied at the south of the city. They visited many renowned places at Yuhsueh, but forgot to return. The father of the two Ch'iens made inquiry of the Wei brothers, saying, "Will you not all neglect your studies?" The two brothers said, "There is work everywhere for the student." He said, "Do you also pay attention to the sayings of the philosopher Chu?" The two brothers said, "We investigate the sayings of the philosopher Chu by means of the intuitive faculty. If one strikes the snake in the vital spot, why should he be solicitous about getting it?" The father of the two Ch'iens doubted and was not convinced. He went in and made inquiry of the Teacher, who said, "Learning to be a sage is like a man governing his family. His possessions â€” houses, clothes, provisions, furniture â€” all are of his own providing. If he wishes to invite guests, he brings out all his belongings for their use. When the guests leave, his things are all left for him to use without limitation to the end of life. He who is studying to be a scholar is like one who takes it upon himself to borrow the things necessary for his use. If he wishes to invite guests, everything is borrowed from the guest-room furniture on down. When the guests come, he appears to be prosperous and wealthy ; but as soon as the guests leave, everything must be returned, for not a single thing belongs to him. If he invites guests and they do not come, his luck has failed him and things are borrowed in vain. To the end of his life he bustles and toils as a poverty-stricken man. He asks and receives that which is useless, for he seeks it in external things." The next year Wei Liang-cheng was the first on the list of the successful graduates of the second degree. The father of the Ch'iens heard it and laughingly said, "He struck the snake in the vital spot."
At that time the great ceremony was discussed. Huo Wu-yai, Hsi Yuan-shan, Huang Tsung-hsien, and Huang Tsung-ming asked the Teacher but he made no reply. In the tenth month one of his disciples, Nan Ta-chi, cut the blocks of a part of the Ch'uan Hsi Lu (Instructions for Practical Life).
In the fourth year of Chia Ching, Wang was fifty-four years of age. In the first month his wife died. In the fourth month she was buried at Hsüshan. In the sixth month he put aside mourning for his father. A president of the Board of Rites, named Hsi Shu, sent in a special memorial recommending that the Teacher be made an official. The memorial read: "Among those born before me, I saw a man whose name was Yang I-tsing; among those born after me, I know a man named Wang Shou-jen. " In the ninth month Wang returned to Yüyao to visit the graves. He gathered all his disciples at Lungchuenshi in a council chamber. In the tenth month the Yang-ming College in Chekiang was founded.
The Censor Nieh Pao Becomes One of Wang's Disciples
In the fifth year of Chia Ching, Wang was fifty-five. In that year Nieh Pao investigated Fukien as censor, crossing at Ch'ient'an and visiting the Teacher, who was pleased and said, "Tzu-ssu, Mencius, and the philosophers Chou and Ch'eng did not purpose mutually to meet a thousand years later." However, at that time Nieh Pao was received as a guest. Six years later when the Teacher had been dead for four years, Pao was an official at Soochow. He told Ch'ien Te-hung and Wang Chi that he had been greatly helped by the Teacher, and said, "I had hoped to see him again and bring an offering, but failed to reach him in time. You now are my witnesses that I have arranged this incense altar to honor him in worship. I may thus be called his disciple." In the twelfth month his son Cheng-i was born by his second wife named Chang.
Wang as Viceroy and Teacher
In the sixth year of Chia Ching, Wang was fifty-six. In the fourth month Tsou Shou-i cut the blocks for Wang's essays and memorials at Kuangtechou. In the fifth month Wang was made Viceroy of Kwangtung, Kwangsi, Kiangsi, Hunan and Hupeh. He reduced Ssut'ien to submission. Leaving Yuehch'eng in the ninth month, he passed Nan-chang in the tenth. Before this, when the Teacher's ship stopped at Kuanghsin, the disciple Ch'ü Yüeh, who at that time had just arrived from Pailutung, where he was learning to sit cross-legged with the purpose of becoming a Buddhist priest, boarded the ship. When the Master saw him and realized his idea, he had him mention any similarity he might detect between Buddhism and Confucianism. The Teacher said, "No." After a moment he changed his reply somewhat, saying, "No. Are our principles confined to a particular place? They may be compared to the light of this candle. Light is everywhere. One cannot say that the candle alone is light." Referring to the inside of the ship he said, "Here is light. Here is light." And alluding to the surface of the water outside the ship he said, “There too is light. " Ch'ü Yueh acceded. The next day when they reached Nanp'uh, they were heartily welcomed by the people. Loudly rejoicing, the populace blocked the road, so that they could not advance. Old men quarreled about carrying the Teacher's chair into the captain's yamen. He ordered that those who came to visit him should enter at the east and leave at the west. Those who could not let him go, after leaving came in again. Starting at eight in the morning, they did not leave until three in the afternoon, and then first did he allude to the carrying out of the usual etiquette. The next day he went to the Confucian temple and discussed the Great Learning in the Minglunt'ang. All his disciples surrounded him as a screen, so that many could not hear him. A man named T'ang Yao-ch'en, who usually did not believe what he said, under guise of bringing tea reached the room and listened at the side. Astonished he said, "Since the Three Dynasties has there been such bearing?" In the eleventh month the Teacher reached Wuchou and thanked the emperor through a memorial in which he spoke of his own superficial judgment.
In the second month of the seventh year of Chia Ching, at the age of fifty-seven, the Teacher had reduced Ssut'ien to submission, and in the fourth month he established a college there. (24) In the seventh month he reduced to submission eight military outposts and broke through the mountain pass. He then sent in a memorial regarding his administration of Ssut'ien and his success in opening the mountain pass. In the ninth month, because of the merit accruing from reducing Ssut'ien. he was given fifty taels and four suits made of hemp-cloth.
Wang's Illness and Death
In the tenth month he was so ill that he sent in a memorial asking permission to leave office, but there was no reply. He visited the temple of Ma Fu-po of the Han dynasty at Wumant 'an, which he had seen in a dream in his youth, and inscribed two odes on its walls. He also visited the ancestral temple at Canton -- the temple of "Wang Kang of six generations before Yang-ming. Kang was State Counselor when he lost his life in a rebellion of the wild tribes, called Miao. Though exceedingly ill, he removed the troops to Tayüling in the eleventh month. He said to "Wang Ta-yung, a provincial treasurer, "Do you not know how K'ung Ming trusted Chiang Wei?" Ta-yung thereupon had troops protect him. He also had a carpenter make a coffin for him. On the twenty-fifth when he reached Nanan, a disciple called Chou Chi came to see him. The teacher sat up and slowly said, "How have you progressed in your study of late?" Chou Chi spoke of his government affairs and inquired regarding Wang's state of health. The Teacher said, "The disease is very severe. That I am not dead is due to my strong constitution.” On the twenty-eighth the boat reached Chinglungp'u. The next day the Teacher called Chou Chi to him. He opened his eyes, and seeing him said, “I am leaving.” Chou wept and asked whether he had a last word to leave behind. The Teacher in a low voice said, "My mind is very bright and clear. What more is there to say?" After a little while he closed his eyes and died. A disciple named Chang Ssu-ts'ung, a military official at Kanchou, received the body in the postal dispatch yamen at Nanyeh, where it was washed and clothed.
In the twelfth month Ssu-ts'ung, his under-officials, and the disciples offered a sacrifice and placed the body in the coffin, which was placed on the ship the next day. The scholars and people from far and near blocked the way, and the noise of the weeping shook the earth. When they reached Kanchou, the people along the way crowded about and wept. From Nanan they proceeded to Nanchang, where two disciples â€” an inspector censor, Ch'u Liang- ts'ai, and a provincial literary chancellor, Chao Yen -- asked them to delay going until the next year. The people wept both morning and evening.
Wang's Remains are Taken to Yuehch'eng
In the first month of the eighth year of Chia Ching, the remains left Nanchang. At that time the wind was so unfavorable for several days that the ship could not proceed. Chao Yen prayed at the coffin saying, “Sir, can it be that you are left at Nanchang for the sake of the scholars and the people? From Chekiang your relatives and disciples came here and have waited a long time for you." Suddenly a west wind arose so that they reached I-yang in six days. In the second month the remains reached Yueh- ch 'eng.
Huang Kuan Sends in a Memorial in Defense of Wang
In the court there was a diversity of opinion about Wang, so that no hereditary ranks, posthumous honors, and other customary honors were granted ; but instead an order from the emperor came prohibiting the disseminating of the false doctrine. Huang Kuan of the Imperial Supervisorate of Instruction sent in a memorial saying: "A loyal minister serving his prince with righteousness does not enter into illicit relations. When a superior man establishes himself his doctrine is not servile. At one time I was an assistant secretary; now I am a Shaopao. Kuei was at that time a second-degree man. I chose him in an emergency and was his friend, until I became Secretary of Records of the Court Censors at Nanking. Then I saw that he did not understand the great ceremony and we discussed it together. From that time on for more than twenty years we were constantly together. At another time I recommended Wang Shou-jen, the Earl of Hsin- chien, that he might help increase the virtue of the emperor. Was not friendly toward Shou-jen, and for that reason did not agree to it. The mean man improved his opportunity, yet I did not because of this put him aside. But in accordance with the principle of a serving prince and the doctrine of a teacher and friend, I am compelled to divulge this fact. I myself knew Shou-jen thoroughly because of his merit and his learning. It was owing to his great merit that others envied him. His learning was that of the ancients but was not recognized as such, and for this reason Shou-jen was not endured on the earth.
Wang's Fourfold Merit
"His merit was fourfold. First, Ch'en Hao (Prince Ning) was disorderly, and his machinations were not of a day. Within the court the Wei Pin clique, favorites like Ch'ien Ning, Chiang Pin and their associates, as well as the Lu Wan group, were perfidious. Outside such guards as Pi Chen and Liu Lan were treacherous, and the court officials and the officials throughout the country nearly all looked on. Had it not been that Shou-jen was loyal and did not permit himself to dwell on the misfortune of exterminating his own family, but took upon himself the responsibility of punishing the rebel, it would be hard to tell whether the country would now be at peace or in danger. Today everybody supposes that this accrues to the merit of Wu Wen-ting. This is an instance of esteeming the shooting too lightly and overestimating the dog. The second is as follows: The camps of Tamao, Ch'aliao, Lit'ou, and T'ung- kang represented the combined force of four provinces. Soldiers had collected there for a number of years. When Shou-jen reached the place as guard, he subjugated them all. His third merit is as follows: At T'ienchou and Ssuen confusion had reigned for years, so that quiet could not be restored, nor could the people be pacified. In consequence, Shou-jen was sent there and caused Prince Lu's followers to bow their heads in submission. Moved to tears, they received their punishment and thus brought the trouble of this place to an end. His fourth merit is as follows: Originally the eight military outposts were the disgrace of the interior of the two Kwangs. The government soldiers cooperated with the rebels, and there was no way of getting at them. Shou-jen made use of the troops that were returning to Yungshun, and Lu Wang's soldiers yielded to them. By a surprise attack he exterminated them as quickly and easily as though they had been dead wood. It accrues to the merit of Shou-jen, that he averted great calamity and was ready to work unto death. Can this merit be taken from him?
Huang Lauds Wang's Learning
“Moreover, his learning was great in three respects. In the first place, he emphasized the development of intuitive knowledge. The extension of knowledge through an investigation of things, he took from Confucius, and intuitive knowledge from Mencius. How then can he be charged with heterodoxy? In the second place, his love for the people is to be identified with loving such of the people as are not one 's relatives. Whosoever loves, deems worthy, delights, and benefits the people, also shares with the people their likes and dislikes and stands for a system of proper restraint. Loving the people is to be interpreted in this way, and thus is not the creation of Shou-jen. In the third place, he insisted on the unity of learning and practice. This idea is found in the Canon of Changes, in the words: 'If one knows the best and highest essence, one should attain to it. When one knows the end, one should reach it.' Shou-jen expressed the same thought in these words: 'T would that the talk and the practice of men agreed! Men should not merely talk.' In this he was in perfect harmony with, and supplemented the learning of Confucius and Mencius. Why should he be maligned? Has used these things to injure Shou-jen, and has thereby caused the emperor to lose an able minister. He did not allow Shou-jen to make the emperor as perfect as Yao and Shun. Who, in last analysis, is to blame? Therefore I dare not say that is right in this; for the facts of Shou-jen 's learning and the extent of his merit are as I have stated. Instead of being rewarded as he should be, punishment is meted out to him. The old beneficence given to a faithful servant has been cast aside and learning has anew been put under the ban. What do you think of O's trying in this way to help our illustrious Emperor?
"Shou-jen died last year in the twelfth month; his wife and children are enfeebled; his servants have carried out his remains, and after wrapping them in straw have buried them on a hill. It is enough to arouse pity among the spirits, when they learn of it! How much more among men and sages! Had Shou-jen been born in a different generation, you as Emperor would have the more given him posthumous honors. Why, having yourself seen him, should you lose this opportunity? For twenty years I was the friend of Shou-jen. I had been unable for a single day to arouse myself to real effort in decreasing my wrongdoing, but when I followed Shou-jen I realized that I had suddenly come to a knowledge of my need. Therefore I look upon him as my teacher. It was not that I without circumspection believed him as ordinary teachers and friends believe one another. In the presence of the Emperor I now recognize Shou-jen as teacher and friend. Inasmuch as I have it on my mind, I must finish. Formerly was slandered by mean men, and I rose up to defend him. He was exonerated and I was glad for him, though it was not my private concern. The injustice harbored against Shou-jen at this time may be compared to the former wrong endured by O. I would that you might make manifest similar kindness, send a special command to the department, and magnanimously using the regulations for bestowing posthumous honors, confer upon Wang posthumous honors as well as hereditary titles; also, that you might remove the prohibition against his learning, and thereby display your virtue. If this affair is not cleared up, I shall ever be mindful of O. I take it upon myself to speak thus straightforwardly, that I may exhaust my faithfulness in service to the Emperor and cover the wrongdoing of O." There was no answer to the memorial.
Wang is Buried at Hungch'i
In the eleventh month the Teacher was interred at Hung-ch'i. Hungch'i lies thirty li beyond Hangchow, and in reaching it one must enter Lant'ing for five li. The Teacher had himself selected this spot. The waters of the stream surrounded it from right to left and wore it away at the right. The magician did not like it. In a dream he saw a sage in a purple garment and a gem-inlaid sash, standing on the water of the stream, saying, "I desire to change the old bed of the stream.” The next day during a heavy storm, as the stream became turbulent, it suddenly widened several hundred feet to the south in front of the grave. Therefore they determined that the grave should remain there. At that time more than a thousand of Wang's followers, who had come from all directions, mourned for him.
In the fifth month of the first year of Lung Ch'ing, the Teacher was by imperial order made Marquis of Hsinchien, and was given the posthumous title of Wen- ch'eng ( 文成 ) In the second year of the Emperor Lung Ch'ing, in the sixth month, his son, Cheng-i, was given the rank of Earl of Hsinchien. In the twelfth year of Emperor Wan Li, an imperial order was issued to sacrifice to the Teacher in the Confucian temple after sacrificing to Confucius.