VOLUME 7 ISSUE 2 FALL 2021

44 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 According to Yulgok, humans are essentially completely ho- mogeneous with Heaven and Earth. Therefore, restoring the essential state of being is the task that humans are obligated to. For this, Yulgok asserts that human beings must continue to practice moral acts that support the will of Heaven and Earth to take care of lives of all things and expand their scope to infinity. At this time, the individual self can reach the transcendental state of being united with Heaven and Earth through being transformed into a cosmic Self from the egoistic self. From a Confucian perspective, transcendence as the unity of Heaven and human can only be realized through moral practice. Moral practice in the secular world can be said as the only way to the transcendent world. This is the religious character of Confucianism, which is specialized as imma- nent transcendence. Tu Weiming asserts that transcendence must include its immanent characteristics, and the ethics of transcendence will not be completed until it reaches a metaphysical dimension. The supreme completion of ethics in Confucianism is the oneness of Heaven and man but the supreme Heaven must be embodied in the moral world (Tu 1989b, 188). This cosmic unity of humans can be thought of in connection with the decent acceptance of death. Yulgok explains that when we participate in the nourishing of Heaven and Earth through moral practice, we can transcend individual extinc- tion and become one with the eternal life of Heaven and Earth. However, his account on eternality does not mean that we become immortal. The intrinsic meaning of his accounts is to become indifferent to individual death in virtue of un- derstanding death as a part of the vast cosmic life activity through a change of perspective. From the viewpoint of the cosmic dimension, the death of an individual is no longer an event to be feared or distressed. Since the cosmic Self is in harmony with the holistic life of the universe, the physical death does not lead to the loss of its existential significance from the ontological perspective. To reach this epistemic lev- el of death, it is necessary to meet the moral responsibilities for all things in the world with a sincere attitude rather than pursuing mystical experience. In other words, the relentless endeavor to the practice of moral obligations is the most reliable and proper way of dealing with death. This is like Zhang Zai’s view that death is just to rest in peace in the arms of the cosmic family after fulfilling such love and obli - gation them. Then, what was the actual death of a Confucian man really like? Perhaps the most representative example is Zeng - zi’s behavior of changing the mat . On his deathbed, he discov- ered that his mat was too much for him, and told his disci- ples to change it: “ I want for nothing but to die in the correct way. ” They then raised him up and changed the mat. When he was replaced on the new one, before he could compose him- self, he expired ( Liji 3:18). Zengzi’s death is later praised by Confucians as a noble example of a decent death. Instead of showing any fear, pain, or sadness about his death, he sought only moral satisfaction. That is, what he feared was not death per se, but moral dishonesty. The Confucians thought that if an individual’s behaviors all attain due measure and degree to holistic order in the universe, then the community could be harmonized, and all things could flourish. That’s why Ze - ngzi regarded compliance with social moral norms, while not being careless under any circumstances, as ultimately the way to harmonize and integrate with the universe. This was the way he transcended death. A Korean Confucianist Toegye Yi Hwang (1501–1570) ex - plained the phrase, “ in death, I will be at peace ”, which appears at the end of Zhang Zai’s The Western Inscription , and espe- cially portrayed Zengzi’s death as an example. Toegye regards Zengzi’s way of dying as ideal, which means that Toegye de - fined moral satisfaction as the most essential basic condition for death in Confucianism (Yi 1975, vol. 29, 220). The peaceful acceptance of death is also found in the theory of gerotrans- cendence and Zhuangzi , but Confucianism takes a completely different approach from them. According to the Confucian view, moral satisfaction is necessary and sufficient conditions for fearless and comfortable acceptance of death. Another representative example is the death of Toegye, who is a most renowned Korean Confucian master. In Korean Confucianism, it was important to record the deathbed of Confucian masters, which is called Gojonggi (Ko. The Record of Decent Death ). Korean Confucianists believed that they could find a life-long process of self-cultivation in the dying mo - ments of a master, so they wanted to record the moments of

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