Recognized as one of the greatest philosophers in classical China, Chu Hsi (1130-1200) is known in the West primarily through translations of one of his many works, the Chin-ssu Lu. In this book, Julia Ching offers the first book-length examination of Chu Hsi's religious thought, based on extensive reading of both primary and secondary sources. Ching begins by providing an introduction to Chu's twelfth-century intellectual context. She then examines Chu's natural philosophy, looking in particular at the ideas of the Great Ultimate and at spirits and deities and the rituals that honor them. Next, Ching considers Chu's interpretation of human nature and the emotions, highlighting the mystical thrust of the theoretical and practical teachings of spiritual cultivation and meditation. She discusses Chu's philosophical disputes with his contemporariesin particular Lu Chiu-yuanand examines his relationship to Buddhism and Taoism. In the final chapters, Ching looks at critiques of Chu during his lifetime and after and evaluates the relevance of his thinking in terms of contemporary needs and problems. This clearly written and highly accessible study also offers translations of some of Chu's most important philosophical poems, filling a major gap in the fields of both Chinese philosophy and religion.
Julia Ching is University Professor and R. C. and E. Y. Lee Chair Professor at the University of Toronto.
"Ching's impressive book does us two important favors. First, we now have an invaluable one-volume English language guide to the major lineaments of Zhu Xi's philosophy. Second, although the question Zhu raises may no longer be those that most of us wake up to every morning, and toss in bed to solve most nights, they are not irrelevant questions that concerned only the fusty and priggish few. Ching reminds us that it never hurts to contemplate and pursue the transcendent through gritty human experiences and vulnerabilities, as Zhu Xi did." --Book Reviews China