Wang Yangming - Founder of School of Mind in Chinese Culture and An Exceptional General
Wang Shouren, also honored as Wang Yangming (1472 — 1529), was the founder of the School of Mind of Neo-Confucianism in Chinese culture.
He was a great philosopher, politician, militarist, litterateur, educator and calligrapher in the history of China.
Deviant Genius Wang Yangming and His Rebel Early Life
Wang Yangming's father was a champion of the Imperial Examination of the Ming Dynasty, so he was taught by the most excellent teacher.
Wang was extremely talented indeed, however, he was also very deviant and was more interested in Kung Fu and military skills.
When he was 12, he was already able to express complex thoughts through a type of dialectical opinion.
As a good looking and intelligent young man born into such a great family, Wang Yangming didn’t want to take the Imperial Examination and then became a civil official, as most people had expected from him.
Wang Yangming's Various Great Goals
Instead, he wanted to lead an army to defeat nomadic regimes when he was 15, but his father didn’t allow him to write to the emperor and ask for a troop.
Then he changed his goal into being a sage when he was 17, but there was still no one supported him for that dream.
Wang Yangming then tried to be a sage on his own, by reading former Chinese philosophy books and visiting many Taoists and monks.
Then he started staring at bamboo or other things for days, trying to find out some speical patterns of those things. He believed that everything in the universe had its own principle.
Excellent Score in Imperial Exam and the Big Demotion
His father became tired of his weird behaviors; so he found a wife for Wang and forced him to participate in the Imperial Examination, which Wang not only passed but won the second place.
Afterwards, Wang was assigned a political position, but later was punished and demoted because he displeased a powerful but treacherous eunuch.
Faking of His Own Death and Living In A Remote Place
After being informed that eunuch already sent some assassins to ambush him, Wang Yangming left a will, faked his own death by throwing his clothes and shoes into a lake, which completely fooled the assassins, then he escaped.
He secretly told his father that he was still alive, then he went to the place he was demoted to, a small hotel in the middle of nowhere, with bad climate and horrible natural environment.
Wang Yangming built his own house and had to do many physical labours there; then he also established a school to teach nearby people to read and write.
Wang Yangming's Philosophy - The School of Mind
During this period, the School of Mind, a famous philosophical school of Confucianism in Chinese culture, was comprehended and established in that desolate place.
Basically, Wang Yangming figured out the relationship between natural justice and human desires; human’s appetency was the principal of nature, and those two could be harmonized and united.
An Excellent Politician and His Wonderful Governance
Three years later, the powerful but treacherous eunuch was eliminated; then, Wang was promoted several times by ministers who highly appreciated him before.
After becoming a great philosopher, Wang Yangming then became a great politician and general at this time.
He administrated his jurisdictions well and defeated strong armies of some powerful brigands within only a few months.
After that, his reputation as a sly but aggressive general widespread quickly.
Rebellion of A Powerful King
Soon, Wang Yangming found out that a king living in the province that he was working had stocked many weapons and soldiers, and had bribed many officials in Ming’s government, which was obviously getting ready for a rebel.
However, Wang didn’t have enough evidence to inform an honorable king yet, and his playful emperor Zhu Houzhao barely showed up, or cared about those political “trifles”.
As Wang expected, soon, the king led his 80,000 soldiers initiated a rebel war and occupied the whole province quickly, and kept expanding.
But now, there was still no command from the central government to defeat the king yet.
Recruitment of An Army on His Own
So, Wang Yangming used the token that gave him the right to command armies, the one he got when he used to defeat brigands before, and summoned those officers who wanted to fight against the rebel army with him.
Ironically, the token gave him the right to command the army, but he had no soldiers yet.
At that time, Wang only had few officials and hundreds of soldiers under his control.
Under that circumstance, Wang leaked many fake news and tried to alienate the rebel king and his officials, which successfully bought Wang enough time to recruit an army.
Soon, Wang established a troop that made of loyal officers, volunteer civilians and complied brigands.
Wang Yangming's Psychological Warfare
When the rebel king led his army invading another important city, Wang Yangming commanded his soldiers to attack the king’s supreme headquarters.
Though Wang only had about 80, 000 volunteer civilians and complied brigands, he sent many spies into the king’s base camp city telling people that he had 300,000 first class and well trained soldiers of Ming Empire, and everyone should close the door and try to keep safe, etc.
After enough brags and psychological warfare, he carefully made an excellent attacking plan to take over the city at night.
Surprisingly, when Wang led his army trying to attack the city, no one was there to defend.
Soldiers inside the city was scared by Wang’s reputation and his psychological warfare, so they all fled, and left the gates of the city wall wide open.
The Legendary, Final Success
After Wang Yangming took this city under control, he led his army defeated the king’s main force after an intense war, captured the rebel king, and achieved the final success.
This king had prepared the rebellion for a decade and stocked large amount of money, well trained soldiers and weapons, but failed within a month after he initiated the war.
Wang Yangming, however, used only a token, organized an army and defeated the king decisively and efficiently, all by himself.
A Wonderful Teacher, Writer and An Exceptional Militarist
Years later, Wang’s father passed away, so he resigned his political positions and established some schools to teach his philosophy at his hometown. He also wrote many intelligent books during this period.
In his 50s, he was summoned back again to defeat some rebel troops, which had bothered the government for a long time.
However, leaders of those rebellion armies immediately surrendered, after they heard that Wang had arrived and was the commander.
On his way back home, Wang passed away, sick and old.
Wang Yangming was a noble-born deviant, a knowledgeable bookman with outstanding military achievements, a sage with weird behavior during his early years, and a saint with legendary experiences.
In the end, he realized all of his dreams; he served his country with absolute loyalty, and performed well in everything he did.
Main Ideology of Wang Yangming
The main concept of Wang Yangming, the founder of the School of Mind, is the Unity of Knowing and Acting.
1 Human could know the world naturally. When the summer comes, we know it’s hot. When the wind blows, we know it’s getting cold. When we saw a beautiful person, we know he or she is good looking. Humans are born knowing these.
2 People know both good and evil, right and wrong. This is in regard to human desires, which is always consisted of two sides.
3 It is human's intuitive knowledge to tell good from evil, and the right from wrong.
4 To do right and good things, while avoiding and refusing to do wrong and evil ones, is the Unity of Knowing and Acting.
For instance, a one-year old boy sees a pretty girl, so he moves forward and holds her hands or kisses her, that is Unity of Knowing and Acting. An adult sees a beautiful person and finds her or him attractive, knowing it is wrong to kiss him or her immediately, and he or she didn’t do anything inappropriate, that is also the Unity of Knowing and Acting. But is a married person falling for someone else, knowing it is wrong to cheat on his or her spouse and still went for it, that is not Unity of Knowing and Acting.
5 Knowing what is right and good is relatively easy; however, acting that way is not that simple.
Desire, idleness, lust, prejudice and avarice are very common weaknesses that may lead to people acting against their intuitive knowledge. These are inner enemies, the type that is quite difficult to completely conquer.
Therefore, defeating those inner enemies, is the basic requirement of being a sage.
6 Everything we do, we need to know if it is right, and if it’s what we truly want.
7 Achievable things are worth fighting. Things that are not obtainable and obviously don’t belong to us, should let go.
8 Humans’ feelings, happy or sad, content or disappoint, are decided by ourselves. Cultivation of a peaceful and stable mind is a good way to stay happy and satisfied.
9 Things need to be practiced and done; knowing something without putting into action means nothing. A dream doesn’t exist unless it is actually put into practice.
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