Chu Hsi and Neo-Confucianism

By Wing-Tsit Chan | Go to book overview

Appendix A

Biography of Chu Hsi

WING-TSIT CHAN

Chu Hsi's family came originally from Wu-yüan,a which was part of Hui-choub Prefecture, earlier called Hsin-an.c His father, Chu Sungd (1097-1143), moved to Fukien to serve as a district sheriff, and Chu Hsi was born in 1130 when the family was living temporarily in Yu-ch'i (or Yu-hsie), Fukien. He began his schooling at five, and even at that age he was inquisitive enough to ask what lay beyond the sky. At eight, when he was given the Classic of Filial Piety, he declared that one is not a man unless one fulfills its ideals.

In 1140 his father, then assistant director in the ministry of personnel (li-pu yüan-wai-langf), resigned because he opposed making peace with the Chin invaders and went to live in Chien-yangg County, Fukien. Chu Hsi was tutored at home. Three years later his father on his death‐ bed expressed the wish that he should study with Liu Tzu-huih (1101-1147), Liu Mien-chihi (1091-1149) and Hu Hsienj (1086-1162). Liu Mien-chih liked him so much that he gave him his daughter in marriage. He obtained the chin-shihk degree in 1148, at nineteen.

In 1151 he was appointed district keeper of records (magistrate) (chupul) of T'ung-anm County in Fukien and served there from 1153 to II56. He increased school enrollment to capacity, built a library, regulated sacrificial rites, enforced marriage ceremonies, strengthened city defense, and built a memorial temple for a local worthy. Before he went to T'ung-an, he went to see Li T'ungn (1093-1163) and on his way back in 1158 he walked several hundred lio (a li is one-third of a mile) to see him again. In 1160 he attended him as a pupil, and in 1162 he visited him again. Through his influence Chu Hsi discarded his interest in Meditation Buddhism (Ch'anp) and concentrated on Confucianism. The Confucian doctrine as developed by Ch'eng Haoq (1032-1085) and Ch'eng Ir (1033-1107) was transmitted to Li T'ung by Lo Ts'ung-yens

____________________
Reproduced, with modifications, from Herbert Franke, ed., Sung Biographies (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1976), pp. 282-290.

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