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In this rare firsthand account of an individual's pursuit of sagehood, the early Ming dynasty scholar and teacher Wu Yubi chronicles his progress and his setbacks, as he strives to integrate the Neo-Confucian practices of self-examination and self-cultivation into everyday life. In more than three hundred entries, spanning much of his adult life, Wu paints a vivid picture, not only of the life of the mind, but also of the life of a teacher of modest means, struggling to make ends meet in a rural community.
This volume features M. Theresa Kelleher's superb translation of Wu's journal, along with translations of more than a dozen letters from his personal correspondence. A general Introduction discusses Neo-Confucianism and the Ming dynasty, and includes biographical information that puts the main work in context. A substantial commentary on the journal discusses the obstacles and supports Wu encounters in pursuit of his goal, the conflict between discipline and restraint of the self and the nurturing and expanding of the self, Wu's successes and failures, and Wu’s role as a teacher.
Also included are a map of the Ming dynasty, a pronunciation guide, a chronology of Chinese dynasties, a glossary of names, a glossary of book titles, and suggestions for further reading.
"Wu Yubi undertook his intense inward turn toward self-perfection and sagehood in a political atmosphere of severe intellectual repression when it had become impossible for any thinker to venture outside the state-sanctioned Neo-Confucian orthodoxy. Wu found that the orthodoxy itself could be taken to furnish effective guidelines to making oneself a better person. His diary shows how demanding, frustrating, and unending such a quest might turn out to be. . . . Kelleher has beautifully accomplished the demanding job of addressing the needs of specialists, students and general readers. She has placed Wu Yubi in historical and cultural context and has made him humanly accessible."
—John Dardess, University of Kansas
About the Author:
M. Theresa Kelleher is Associate Professor of Asian Studies and World Religions at Manhattanville College.