4 0 S p i r i t ua l i t y S t u d i e s 7 - 2 Fa l l 2 0 2 1 3 Confucian Cultivation of Spirituality A Korean Confucianist Yeoheon Jang Hyeon-gwang (1554– 1637) assured us that not only should we be engaged in such cultivation in old age, but that we could also achieve these tasks only by becoming elderly. He called it “an old man’s assignment” (Ko. noin saup). Through analyzing his writings, we will investigate the methods and the achievement of Confucian cultivation in detail (Jang 1986, vol. 60, 131). [Note: 1] Externally carrying out the Way becomes weaker as the body ages, but internally preserving the Way is a task that I cannot renounce as I am getting old. The body’s decrepitude cannot be strengthened again, but the task that cannot be stopped remains the same. Just sit quietly in the room and stop all the work, stop the management, cut off coming in and out, cut off shuttling, and make less reception. Do not force pore, do not force look, and listen, do not force speak, and do not force act. [Note: 2] However, there is something that should never quit. I must peruse with great care the meaning of the sage’s classics I recited in the past and savor its intrinsic and authentic purport in-depth, thereby nourish nature and emotions comfortably and elevate my mind. [Note: 3] If this practice continues for a long time, and if this process of self-cultivation is expanded to the utmost limits and towed so far, the true consequences of self-cultivation will gradually accumulate, eventually reaching the ultimate stage of communicating with the creative productions of Heaven and Earth. And further, understand the mystery of the Ultimate of Non-Being [Note: Ko. Mugeuk] and the Great Ultimate [Note: Ko. Taegeuk] in the universe. Wouldn’t it be great to spend the rest of my life cultivating myself like this? The above quotation can be divided into three phases. Phase one indicates retirement and reverence in tranquility. Phase two denotes reading the classics. Phase three expresses the ultimate state as a result of cultivation. In the phase one, Yeoheon first longs for withdrawal to a secluded place, and ceases all worldly work and immerses himself in keeping reverence in tranquility. Yeoheon’s transition from externally carrying out the Way to internally preserving the Way in his old age represents the transition from participation in society to voluntary solitude. This is the transition from the phenomenal world and the material realm to the existential source and spiritual realm. To understand Yeoheon’s writings in detail, let’s look at the Confucian cultivation theory. The Confucian methods of self-cultivation are divided into two main ways: Keeping reverence in mind (Ko. geogyeong) and investigation of things (Ko. geokmul). Keeping reverence is an inner mind discipline, which is to preside over the mind not to be swayed by external objects and to be aware of the moral obligation (Ching 1986, 280–284). This is the foundation for all the cultivation. And investigation of things is an extroverted cognitive discipline, which is to focus on the search for comprehension of the essence of all things including subjective and objective world of the mind [4]. A Chinese Neo-Confucian master Zhu Xi explained it into three levels. That is, approaching concrete objects (Zh. jiwu), exploring the principles of the objects (Zh. qiongli) and exploring to the limits (Zh. zhiji) (Chen 2000, 284–293). Phase one is about keeping reverence, which is an introverted mental discipline to preserve the mind not to be swayed by external desires and to maintain self-awareness reverently all the time (Ching 1986, 282–284). Zhu Xi, however, more highlighted that the reverence in a tranquil state is more fundamental even though one should always keep reverence both in the state of tranquility and activity (Zhu 1997, 1403). Because keeping reverence in a tranquil state is the way to return to the essence of self-existence. The Doctrine of the Mean (Zh. Zhongyong) states in the first chapter that one can unite Heaven and Earth and achieve the cosmic completion of nurturing all things through the cultivation of the mind (Chan 1969, 98). Before the feelings of pleasure, anger, sorrow, and joy are aroused it is called equilibrium [Note: Zh. zhong]. When these feelings are aroused and each and all attain due measure and degree, it is called harmony [Note: Zh. he]. Equilibrium is the great foundation of the world, and harmony is universal path. When equilibrium and harmony are realized to the highest degree, Heaven and Earth will attain their proper order and all things will flourish. According to Zhongyong, equilibrium is a tranquil state of mind without any emotions arisen, but in the Neo-Confucian context, it is not just an emotionless state, but a state of human nature being revealed in the mind without any imbalances. That is, equilibrium is the essential state of human being (Zhu 1997, 3383; Chan 1969, 601). Keeping reverence