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Wang Shouren, Master in Civil and Military Arts
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In Ming Dynasty, a man of many talents named Wang Shouren was born in Yuyao, Ningbo. He was a great philosopher, educationalist, well-known general. Now, in the 'Four Stele Pavilions' in Yuyao, a stele pavilion in memory of him reads 'the hometown of Sage Wang Yangming of Ming Dynasty', with the couplet reading 'a great scholar taught classics here, and people were inspired by his philosophic thought' and the plague reading "Living forever'.

Wang Shouren (1472 - 1529), also named Anbo or Yangming, but usually called 'Mr. Yangming' , was born in Yuyao. In 1481, Wang Hua, Shouren's father, became Number One Scholar in the imperial examination, so Shouren moved with his father to live in Shaoxing. Shouren also visited Beijing.

It was said Shouren's father was extremely strict about Shouren's education. When young, Wang Shouren would work very hard at civil and military arts, but as he liked to play chess very much, his normal learning was usually held up. Wang Hua scolded his son many times for it, but Shouren's indulging in chess was not changed a bit. In anger, Wang Hua threw the chess set into a river. Greatly shocked, Wang Shouren realized what was wrong with him, and wrote a poem to express his aspirations. The poem reads: "Blissful were the days when indulged in chess, but al at once everything is no more; the pawns fall into the river helpless, and the generals get drowned themselves; the knights are stampeded in the wave, and elephants hardly survive; with roaring cannon shaking the earth and the heaven, aspiration of the 'crouching dragon' was awaken."

Comparing himself to Zhuge Liang (a most famous strategist in the Period of Three-Kingdoms, who served as Prime Minister of the Kingdom Shu), Wang Shouren made up his mind to achieve something. Later on, he studied hard, and made great progress in his learning, and acquired the skill of horse riding, archery and military art. In 1499, he passed official examination of the imperial court and was nominated to be Administrative Officer in the Military Ministry. At that time all the officials in the imperial court knew Shouren was a learned scholar, but Zhang Zhong, the eunuch monitoring the military affairs, despised Shouren, thinking of him as mere scholar unfit for his post. Once Zhang Zhong deliberately asked Shouren to shoot before the army, meaning to shame him, but out of Zhang's expectation, Shouren picked up and pulled the bow, and in a blink of eyes, all three arrows hit the target. Shouren was hailed by the whole army, which dismayed Zhang Zhong very much.

After three years' tenure of office of Administrative Officer in the Military Ministry, Wang Shouren unexpectedly contracted lung disease, and returned to live in the house by Yangming Cave neighboring Longrui Palace. That was why he also acquired the name 'Mr. Yangming'.

After his recovery, Wang Shouren resumed his post. In 1506, because of his opposition to Liu Jin, the eunuch, Wang Shouren was caned 40 and banished to be the officer of a post house in Longchang, Guizhou. After Liu Jin was put to death, Wang Shouren was appointed Magistrate of Luling County, and gradually promoted to be the deputy minister of Nantaipusi (an imperial internal ministry). At that time, Wang Qiong, the Minister of the Military Ministry, thought highly of Shouren, and recommended him to the Emperor. In 1516, Wang Souren was promoted to be the Deputy Prefect of the Ministry of Inspection, and later the Imperial Inspector for Southern Jiangxi. Mounting on the horse, he was the military officer; dismounting from the horse, he was the governor. Wang Shouren was gifted in both civil and military arts, and was quick at action in civil affairs and in military manoeuvers. Because of his role in suppressing peasant rebellions and cracking down on the Riot of Chenhao, Wang Shouren was nominated to be Minister of the Nanjing Military Ministry, and granted by the imperial the title 'Lord of Xinjian'. Later, because of jealousy from mean people, Wang Shouren resigned from office and returned to his hometown to teach. He set up schools in areas such as Yuyao and Shaoxing, taught and spread his own beliefs and ideals known as 'School of Wang'. In 1527, again he was dispatched to charge the military affairs in the two provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi. Later, because his lung disease worsened, Wang Shouren asked for retirement. He died of illness on the boat in Nan'an, Jiangxi, and was posthumously entitled 'Wencheng (Achiever in Literature)' by the Emperor.

Wang Shouren was the one that critically inherited and developed the philosophy of idealism in Song and Ming dynasties. He developed the School of Lu Jiuzhou to resist the School of Cheng Yi and Zhu Xi. He said, 'In the origin of one's mind, there is no good or evil; good or evil exists only because of the activity of the mind; being aware of good and evil shows one's good conscience, and doing good deeds and rejecting bad ones result from pursuit of the mind.' Based on these central ideas of his School, he taught. He asserted, 'all the world's rightness and wrongs are out of one's mind', and 'A heavenly rule is what is right to the mind', denying the existence of laws, matters and objects outside of the mind. On learning, he thinks that 'learning searches the mind'. 'The mind to a learner is like the root to a plant. Learning is like earthing, irrigating and pruning to a plant, all serving the good of the root.' He asked people to reach the realm of 'all matters in one body' by way of cultivating the mind. His argues for 'combination of knowing and doing' and 'knowing and doing progress side by side' as opposed to the thoughts of 'doing after knowing' by the School of Cheng Yi and Zhu Xi and other sayings separating the relationship between knowing and doing. On children's education, Wang Shouren is against the way of 'using force, like treating prisoners', and advocates 'encouragement and inspiration, promoting the heartfelt interest, making progress daily in a natural way'. His school of thought appeared as anti-traditional, and evolved into the influential 'School of Yangming' as of the middle of Ming Dynasty. His disciples were many, spreading across various areas. After his death, out of the same sect, several branches of the School of Yangming appeared, each having its distinctions. Wang Shouren's philosophy had spread overseas, and exerted great influence among the academic circle worldwide, especially in Japan.

Not only Wamg Shouren was a great philosopher and educationalist, he was also a well-known poet. He loved the mountains and waters in his hometown. Each time he returned to his hometown, he visited famous scenic spots and historical relics, and left many popular poems. The following was one entitled 'Recalling Mount Longquan', which reads: 'I love Mount Longquan, where live the monks without restrain; by the well they sit day long, or sometimes under the pine tree they sleep. Bidding farewell to the mountain and the cloud, I have run my worldly errands for three years; I feel shame in seeing the stream under the rock, trickling day and night by itself.'

Wang Shouren visited Mount Xuedou in Fenghua as well. His poem on Mount Xuedou is light and elegant, and has been recited by people for hundreds of years. It reads, 'Hard it is to come alone into the depth of the mountain that has no path, and the stone altar comes into sight only after crossing thousand streams. When the bell in the high pavilion rings, it is time for the monks to wake up from their sleep. Though it is prime summer hot, one feels hemp cloths in the deep forest cold. Thunders are accompanied by the sound of waterfall, and bamboos shine in the mountain rain. Don't be surprised at the peaks that look so familiar, as you may have seen them in paintings.In his life, Wang Shouren wrote a lot of works. After his death, his disciples compiled his works into 'Complete Collection of Lord Wang Wencheng' totaling 38 volumes, of which 'Record of Lecturing' and 'Grand Learning' were the most important from philosophical perspective.
 

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