VOLUME 7 ISSUE 2 FALL 2021

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 4 3 Seongmin Hong individual and universe from the axiological perspective. The Western Inscription (Zh. Ximing ) by a Chinese Confucianist Zhang Zai (1020–1077) states the following (Chan 1969, 497–498): Heaven is my father and Earth is my mother, and even such a small creature as I find an intimate place in their midst. Therefore, that which fills the universe I regard as my body and that which directs the universe I consider as my nature. All people are my brothers and sisters, and all things are my companions… Even those who are tired, in- firm, crippled, or sick; those who have no brothers or chil- dren, wives, or husbands, are all my brothers who are in distress and have no one to turn to. When the time comes, to keep himself from harm – this is the care of a son. To rejoice in Heaven and to have no anxiety – this is filial pi- ety at its purest… In life I follow and serve [Note: Heaven and Earth]. In death I will be at peace. Zhang Zai defines the meaning of an individual based on cosmic familism and delineates the significance of life and death. According to him, the huge monistic Qi is not a mean - ingless mass, but rather a precious family. And all beings in the universe are necessarily interconnected members of one family. He extends the concept of Confucian familism into the cosmic sphere while bringing the concept of transcen- dence of Zhuangzi into the ethical sphere of the family. Tran- scendence is not about escaping the world, but embracing the world with unlimited self-expansion, and caring for all beings as my family by achieving cosmic Self, not egoistic self. When he defined Heaven and Earth as his parents, and all beings as his beloved family, his moral tasks to care for the elderly, the weak and the disabled become his holy ob- ligations for the cosmic family, that is, practicing filial piety and fraternal love in cosmic level. Most Confucianists includ- ing Zhang Zai, regarded the universe as a place where have plenty of life and love. They thought that the essence of the universe was life and love, and that protecting and nurturing all living beings was a source of morality. For example, The Book of Change (Zh. Yijing ) says: “ The Great Virtues of Heaven and Earth is the Giving and Maintaining Life. ” (Chan 1969, 268). Furthermore, Neo-Confucianists established metaphysics of life and emphasized the ethics of love. Zhang Zai not only praised Heaven and Earth’s primal vitality as parents, but also stressed that it is a moral duty to take care of and nur - ture the lives of all things according to the will of heaven and earth. Cheng Hao (1032–1085) states: “ To Heaven, the Way is merely to give life. What follows from this principle of life-giving is good. Goodness involves the idea of origination, for origination is the chief quality of goodness .” (Chan 1969, 532). His brother, Cheng Yi (1033–1107), rebuked the young em - peror for breaking branches on spring days, saying: “ You can’t break branches without any reason. ” (Cheng and Cheng 2001, 342). This explanation was also due to his belief in the meta - physics of life. From the Confucian perspective, the unity of the universe with the Self that occurs in ever-changing reality involves the union with the primitive life of the universe. The human is deeply embedded in a network of life-giving and life-sus - taining relationships. Therefore, to harmonize with the cre- ativity and changes in the universe is the task of the human in forming one body with all things (Tucker 2004, 20). In this regard, human’s moral duty means the participation in the productive life activity of the universe. That is ‘To participate and assist in the transforming and nourishing process of Heaven and Earth’. In other words, humans ought to encour- age and support life activities of Heaven and Earth so that countless lives in the universe can all live their own optimal life. When fulfilling these moral obligations and responsi - bilities, humans can finally reach a state of unity with the universe. A Korean Confucianist Yulgok Yi (1536–1584) (Yi 1983, vol. 45, 550) explored the significance of life and death in rela - tion to the moral obligations in the universe: I heard that Heaven and Earth, and all things naturally constitute one-body with me. If one extends his virtue unlimitedly as if the Heaven covers all things, and as if the Earth accommodates all things, one can participate and assist in the transforming and nourishing process of Heaven and Earth and live forever with Heaven and Earth. How can we evaluate the meaning of life and death of an individual’s body only by means of dying early and living long? In our Way, eternal life and immortality are only like this.

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