Presentation Address

The Minister Without Portfolio,1 Your subject Yi. Hwang, reverently bows twice and addresses Your Majesty.

The Tao is without form and Heaven does not employ speech;2 when the River Diagram and the Lo Writing appeared the Sage [Fu Hsi], basing himself upon them, made the trigrams [of the Book of Changes] and then for the first time the Tao was made manifest to the world.3 But the Tao is broad and vast; where can one lay hold of it? The ancient teachings are beyond count; where shall one begin?

But there are major premises involved in sage learning and absolute essentials in the method of cultivating one's mind­and-heart. The wise men of later times could not but take up the task of setting these forth in diagrams and pointing them out in treatises in order to show others the gate for entering the true Tao and the foundation for accumulating virtue.

This is even more important in the case of one who rules others. His single mind is the place where the beginnings of a myriad affairs originate, the place where a hundred responsibil­ities come together. Manifold desires attack it in unison and all sorts of deceits try to bore their way in. If one is but once slack and heedless it will run wild, and if this continues it becomes

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like the collapse of a mountain or the boiling of the sea: who can control it then!

The Sage Emperors and wise Rulers of old4 were much concerned by this, and hence were wary and fearful, cautious and reverent. [But although they kept this attitude] day after day, they yet regarded it as insufficient; therefore they instituted the offices of tutors to instruct them and officials with the duty to remonstrate with them. Before them there was questioning, behind them assistance; to their left there were those who could remedy [their shortcomings], to their right those who could help. "When they rode in a carriage, there were the rules concerning the bodyguard, and at court there were the regulations of the officials and tutors; when at their desks there was the remon­strance of the Master of Recitation, and in their chambers there were the admonitions of their Chamber Councilors; when at­tending to affairs they had the guidance of the Music Master and Court Astrologer, and when at leisure there were the rec­itations of the Minister of Works."5 Even on their wash basins, rice bowls, writing desks, staffs, swords, and window lattices­wherever the eye might rest, wherever they might be, everyplace there was an inscription or admonition.6

Such were the lengths to which they went in their mea­sures to maintain proper dispositions and defend their persons [from errant tendencies]. Thus day by day their virtue was re­newed and their accomplishments increased; they made not the slightest mistake and enjoyed great renown.

As for the rulers of later times, when they receive the Mandate of Heaven and occupy the throne, the extreme gravity and greatness of their responsibilities is no less than that [of the rulers of ancient times], but of the measures they take to properly regulate and control themselves, not one is as stem as were these. So they complacently consider themselves sages and ar­rogantly assume a haughty air as they preside over the nobles and occupy the position at the head of the multitudes; and when

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they thus come in the end to ruin and rebellion and are com­pletely wiped out, what is there to cause surprise!

At such times therefore, one who as a true subject would draw his ruler back to the true Tao certainly cannot but apply himself to the task. Chang Chiu-ling's proffering his Record of the Golden Mirror,7 Sung Ching's offering his Diagram on Being without Idleness,8 Li Te-yii's presenting his Six Maxims of the Crimson Screen,9 Chen Te-hsiu's offering his Diagram of the Sev­enth Month Ode,10 all such deeds have stemmed from the diligent and profound loyalty of those who love their ruler and are con­cerned for the nation; they come from the sincere and perfect intention to present the good and offer guidance. How then could the rulers but deeply ponder and reverently submit them­selves [to the teachings presented in such works]

My extreme ignorance and lowliness were a dishonor to the royal favor shown me through successive reigns. Sick and disabled, I was in the countryside planning to rot away there along with the plants and trees. Then unexpectedly my empty reputation mistakenly spread and Your Majesty summoned me to assume the weighty responsibility of the Royal Lectures.11 Shaking with fear and terrified, I wished to decline and avoid it, but there was no way. Since I was unable to avoid unworthily assuming this position, then as for [the duty of] urging and guiding Your Majesty in sage learning and assisting in the nurture of Your Majesty's virtue in the hope of again bringing about the perfection of the reigns of Yao and Shun, though I might wish to decline the undertaking as beyond my powers, how could I do so? But in addition to the fact that my learning is coarse and sparse and my speech clumsy and awkward, due to continued ill health I have been able to attend upon Your Majesty but rarely, and since the onset of winter even this has ceased entirely. My crime deserves ten thousand deaths, and I have no way to settle the anxiety and confusion I feel.

Humbly reflecting, I am aware that the writings discussing

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learning that I presented initially were not such as might move Your Majesty's will, and that later the explanations I gave on repeated occasions in Your Majesty's presence were not able to benefit Your Majesty's wisdom. Your humble subject in all hon­esty and sincerity does not know what to say.

There are, however, the wise men and superior persons of former times who have clarified sage learning and apprehended the method of cultivating the mind-and-heart. There are the diagrams and treatises by which they showed others the gate through which to enter the Tao and the foundation for accu­mulating virtue; these circulate in our times, shining forth like the sun and stars. Now then, I venture to bring these forward and present them to Your Majesty that they might substitute in the role played by the recitations of the Minister of Works and the inscriptions on the utensils of the Emperors and Rulers of old, hoping that by borrowing from the past there might be profit for the future.

Therefore I have selected from these materials the most outstanding; this furnished seven [diagrams]. [In treating the saying], "The mind combines and governs the nature and the feelings," I have used the diagram of Ch'eng [Fu-hsin] and added to it two small diagrams of my own.12 As for the other three diagrams,13 although I myself made them, their words, their meaning, their categories and their arrangement are derived entirely from the wise men of earlier times and are not my creation. Combined, these make up ten diagrams on sage learn­ing; to each diagram I have also presumed to add my own in­adequate explanation. I reverently submit this draft I have made.

I wrote this personally while I was shivering with cold and hampered by illness; my sight is not good and my hand is unsteady. Thus the writing is not neat and precise, the lines not even, and the characters are not uniform. If nonetheless Your Majesty does not reject it, I hope he will send this copy to the Bureau of the Royal Lectures to be minutely examined and have

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the mistakes corrected, then have a calligrapher make a good final copy and have it sent to the proper office to be made into a screen to be placed where Your Majesty spends his quiet leisure. And perhaps another copy might be made in a smaller format as a handbook which Your Majesty might always keep on his desk.14 Thus whether looking up or down, to the side or back, there will always be matter for Your Majesty to reflect upon and be cautioned by; for one whose earnest intent is your loyal service there could be no greater joy than this.

There are however, points which have not been com­pletely explained. I beg leave to expound them further.

Mencius said, "The office of the mind is thinking; if one thinks, one will apprehend [what is proper]; if one does not think, he will not apprehend it. "15 And Chi Tzu (Kija) in setting forth the Grand Plan for King Wu said in a similar vein, "Thought means wisdom; wisdom makes one a sage."16 Indeed, the mind is embodied in the heart and is perfectly empty, per­fectly spiritual;17 principle (li)18 is manifest in diagrams and writ­ings; it is perfectly evident, perfectly true and real. If with a mind that is perfectly empty and perfectly spiritual one seeks principle that is perfectly evident and perfectly true and real, there rightly should be no failure in apprehending it. Thus as for thinking and so apprehending [what is proper], or being wise and so becoming a sage, how can there be any lack that would prevent one's actually experiencing this in our own times? Nevertheless, although the mind is empty and spiritual, if it is lacking the proper self-mastery, matters will present themselves and not be thought out. And even though principle is evident, true, and real, if one does not perceptively attend to it, though it is constantly right before one's eyes he will not see it. This applies likewise to these diagrams; Your Majesty cannot be neg­ligent in thinking them out thoroughly.

There is also the saying of Confucius, "He who learns but does not think is lost; he who thinks but does not learn is

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endangered."19 To learn means to make oneself thoroughly versed in a matter and actually put it into practice. For in the kind of learning pursued in the school of the Sages, if one does not seek it out in his own mind-and-heart he will be blind and not accomplish his objective; therefore it is absolutely necessary to think it out in order to fully comprehend even the most subtle aspects of the matter. If one does not make himself thoroughly versed in a matter, he will be endangered and not at ease; therefore it is absolutely necessary to learn in order to carry it out in actual practice. Thus thinking and learning mutually advance and mutually complement one another. My humble hope is that Your Majesty will deeply understand this principle. First of all, one must establish a firm intention [to pursue learn­ing] with the thought, "What sort of man was [the sage] Shun? What sort of man am I? If I try, I too can be as he was [for he too was an ordinary human being],"20 and with a surge of strength vigorously apply oneself to both [thinking and learning].

And it is by the constant practice of mindfulness (kyŏng, ching) that one combines thought and learning; it is the single, consistent thread which runs through the states of both activity and quiet, that whereby one may harmonize and unify his inner [dispositions] and outward [activity], making that which is manifest one with that which is subtly latent.21 As for how one is to do this, he must preserve [the proper dispositions of] the mind by exercising strict composure and quiet recollection, and exhaustively investigate principle through study, inquiry, and the exercise of thought and discernment. "Before one is seen or heard [by others] is the time for one's heedfulness and caution to be all the more strict, all the more mindful; when one is in a hidden, secluded, solitary place is the time for one's self-examination to be all the more minute, all the more exact.22 If one takes up one diagram for consideration, he should entirely focus his attention on that diagram, as if he did not know there were any others; if one takes up one matter for practice, he

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should entirely focus his attention on that one matter as if ignorant that any other existed. Whether morning or night, there should be constancy; from one day to the next there should be a single continuity. At times one should go over [what one has learned] and become steeped in its savor in the restorative atmosphere of the early predawn hours when the mind is clear; 23 at others he should deepen his personal experience of it, nur­turing and cultivating it in his intercourse with others in daily life.

At first [in trying to practice continual mindfulness] one may not be able to avoid an uncomfortable feeling of constraint and contradiction, and at times one may be afflicted with feelings of extreme discomfort and dreariness. The ancients spoke of such difficulties as "the subtle beginnings of a great advance" and the "beginning of a good condition. "24 One should abso­lutely not give up on this account, but rather with all the more confidence devote even more effort to the practice.

Finally, after one has accumulated much truth and exerted oneself for a long time, the mind and heart will naturally and spontaneously become steeped in principle, and without being aware of it everything will coalesce and be thoroughly pene­trated. Study and practice will mutually ripen one another and gradually become smooth and easy. While at the beginning one had to take each matter and focus his attention on it alone, now he will be able to combine [all matters] into a simple unity. This is truly the condition Mencius had in mind when he said that one who "advances with deep earnestness . . . gets hold of it within himself,"25 the experience of what he meant when he said, "When [virtue] grows, then how can it be repressed!"26

If one follows this practice and is earnest in it, if he is diligent in perfecting that with which he is endowed, he will be like Yen Hui, in whose mind there was nothing contrary to humanity [for three months]27 and who therefore was fit to gov­ern,28 or like Tseng Tzu, who understood how loyalty and an

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empathetic understanding of others were the single thread which ran throughout the Tao [of Confucius] and who thereby bore the responsibility of transmitting the Tao.29

The practice of this kind of reverent fear and mindfulness is nothing extraordinary; it is simply part of everyday life, but it can bring about the "perfect equilibrium [of the mind before it is aroused] and perfect harmony [after it is aroused]," "establish [heaven and earth] in their proper positions and accomplish the nurture [of all things]."30 Virtuous conduct is simply a matter of proper human relationships, but through it the wondrous unity of Heaven and man is attained.

This is the purport of these diagrams and the explanations [which accompany them]. I have arranged them and set them forth on ten sheets of paper. If Your Majesty will ponder them and become thoroughly versed in them, simply applying himself to their study in moments of leisure during the course of his daily routine, he will find that the essential foundation for ac­complishing the Tao and becoming a sage, and the source for exercising proper governance are contained therein. If Your Maj­esty will set his mind and intent on them and go over them repeatedly from beginning to end, neither taking them lightly and neglecting them, nor becoming bored and annoyed with them and setting them aside, then great will be the joy of the nation, great the joy of the people!

In presenting this I can but emulate the sincerity of the ignorant peasants [who offered the king] parsley and the warmth of the sun [believing these to be the finest and most precious things in the world].31 I presume to offer this to Your Majesty, although I am aware that [it is so unworthy that to present it] is an offense to the Royal Dignity; fearful and anxious, with bated breath I await Your Majesty's disposition.


Address Presenting the Ten Diagrams on Sage Learning to King Sŏnjo

1. P'anjungch'ubusa, a Junior First Rank position. The Office of Ministers Without Portfolio was the highest ranking military agency. It was an honorary sinecure position frequently assigned to high-ranking civil officials no longer serving actively in government.

2. Analects, 17:17: "Heaven does riot speak, but [in accord with it] the four seasons proceed in their course and the hundred living things are produced. Yet Heaven does not speak!" This saying has been an important reference point in the Confucian tradition, for Confucians have generally taken a non-anthropomorphic, naturalistic view of the Ultimate and the mode in which its governance operated. "Heaven" is the most common term for referring to an ultimate seat or source of governing in the universe, while "Tao" is used when this governing is thought of as happening according to an under-lying, directive pattern inherent in all things. Heaven governs not by legislative fiat, but by the inherent pattern (Tao) of the universe.

3. The River Diagram was believed to have been carried out of the Yellow River on the back of a "dragon horse," during the reign of the legendary Emperor Fu hsi, while the Lo Writing came from the Lo River on the back of a tortoise in the time of the legendary Emperor Yü. They were supposed to have been transmitted to King Wen, the founder of the Chou dynasty, who elaborated Fu Hsi's eight trigrams into the 64 hexagrams and accompanying texts which are the core of the Book of Changes. Subsequently lost, they were "rediscovered" during the Former Han dynasty (206 B.c-25 A.D.), a time when apocrypha and prognostication texts enjoyed a wide currency.

4. These are idealized legendary and semi-legendary figures from the earliest period of Chinese history and prehistory; their reigns represented the ideal of wisdom and proper government. For Confucians the most important of these are the Sage Emperors Yao (2357?-2256? s.c.)and Shun (2255?-2206? B.C.), and King Wen (1184?-1135?s.C.) and the Duke of Chou (c. 1110?). The latter two belong to the historical Chou dynasty (1122?-256 B.C.), the early period of which was idealized and taken as a model by Confucians. The account of the reigns of these Sage Emperors and Wise Rulers is to be found in the Book of Documents, one of the earliest Confucian Classics (English tr. by James Legge, The Chinese Classics, vol. 3).

5. Kuo Yü (Narratives of the States), Ch'u, A:6. Commentators do not agree regarding the precise meaning of the various ancient offices referred to here, so the translation is uncertain.

6. This practice, with a similar list of objects, is described in the "Wu-wang chien tsu" chapter of the Ta Tai li-chi (Book of Rites of the Elder Tai).

7. The T'ien-ch'iu chin-chien lu (Golden Mirror Record of a Thousand Au­tumns) was presented to the emperor on his birthday in 736 by Chang Chiu-ling (673-740). It was customary on such occasions for officials to present precious gifts such as golden mirrors; Chang instead presented this compilation of historical ex­amples of good and bad government.

8. The Wu-i t'u. Sung Ching (662-737) was noted for combining inflexible sternness with remarkable benignity. Wu-i, "without idleness," is the title of Book of Documents, 5:15, a chapter in which the Duke of Chou lectures the young ruler on this evil. Sung made a diagram of the chapter and presented it to the emperor.

9. Li Te-yü ( 787-849) served under six emperors of the Tang dynasty, leading a checkered career which took him from the heights of power to banishment to distant parts of the empire and back again. The Tan-i liu-hen (Six Maxims of the Crimson Screen) was addressed to the Emperor Ching-tsung, whose extravagances Li staunchly opposed. The "crimson screen" of the title refers to the screen which stood behind the emperor in his audience chamber.

10. On Chen Te-hsiu, see Introduction, note 22. The Pin-fung ch'i-yüeh t'u (Diagram of the Seventh-Month Ode of the Odes of Pin) is based upon Book of Odes, #154. The Seventh-Month Ode, so-named for its first line, narrates the various sorts of agricultural labors of the common people throughout the course of the year.

11. The responsibility was not T'oegye's alone; a broad spectrum of some 22 officials held concurrent appointments to the Office of Royal Lectures (kyŏngyŏn, lit. "Classic-mat"). They met, ideally, three times daily with the king. The nominal task of these meetings was, as the title suggests, the exegesis and interpretation of classical texts, but these were also applied, sermon stYLe, to the affairs and questions of the day, and the ensuing discussions could range broadly. Thus this was a major forum not only for formal instruction, but the presentation of views on current issues and for remonstrance as well. Cf. Edward Wagner, The Literati Purges, p. 16. For a discussion of the origin of this institution and its function in relation to the instruction of rulers, see deBary, Neo-Confucian Orthodoxy, pp. 29-30; 35-37.

12. This saying of Chang Tsai is the heart of the Ch'eng-Chu School's psychological theory and is discussed in chapter 6. T'oegye's "two small diagrams" summarize his most original contribution to Neo-Confucian thought and mark the point where Korean Neo-Confucianism begins on the course of its own distinctive and characteristic intellectual development. On Ch'eng Fu-hsin, see below, ch. 2, n. 32.

13. These diagrams are: ch. 3, Elementary Learning; ch. 5, Rules of the White Deer Hollow Academy; ch. 10, Admonition on Rising Early and Retiring Late.

14. This suggestion was promptly acted upon and both the screen and hand­book were made. There are a number of references to the Ten Diagrams in T'oegye's correspondence with other scholars during the next two years, indicating that the work was almost immediately in circulation in the scholarly community.

15. Mencius, 6A:15.

16. Book of Documents, 5:4.5. The "Grand Plan" is said to have been given by Chi Tzu (Kor. "Kija") to King Wu at the beginning of the Chou dynasty. As one of the earliest comprehensive schematizations of the rudiments of an ideal, civilized government, it was an important reference point for later Confucians. But for Koreans this reference had special meaning because Chi Tzu was said to have fled to Korea rather than serve under a new dynasty after having served under its predecessor, the Shang. The legend of his founding a Chinese civilization on the Korean Peninsula attracted the special attention of Yi dynasty Neo-Confucians, who could thus claim to be restoring their country's most ancient and legitimate heritage.

17. The "emptiness" (hŏ, hsü) of the mind indicates that it is intrinsically free of ego-centeredness; it is, in its ideal condition, "empty" of any selfish desires or impulses. It is "spiritual" (yong, ling) in its wondrous ability to encompass and penetrate all things; no dichotomy of spirit/matter in the western sense is implied. For further discussion, see Appendix on Terminology under ki (ch'i).

18. See Appendix on Terminology.

19. Analects, 2:15.

20. Mencius, 3A:1.

21. On mindfulness (kyŏng, ching), see Appendix on Terminology. T'oegye makes this the central theme of the Ten Diagrams. The psychological theory regarding "inner" and "outer" is explained in chapter 6. Chapters 8-10 take up the subject of mindfulness at length.

22. A paraphrase of Doctrine of the Mean, ch. 1.

23. A reference to Mencius 6A:8, which describes how the calm atmosphere of the early predawn hours works to restore human nature to its originally good condition just as the vital force of nature works in the night to restore damaged


24. I am unable to locate these references.

25. Mencius, 4B:14.

26. Mencius, 4A:27.

27. Analects, 6:7. Yen Hui was Confucius' favorite and foremost disciple. He died while still very young, a loss Confucius greatly mourned.

28. This is taken from Chu Hsi's annotation of Analects, 15:11.

29. Analects, 4:15: when Confucius said that there is a single thread running through all his teachings Tseng Tzu understood what he meant and interpreted this key remark for the other disciples.

30. References to Doctrine of the Mean, ch. 1.

31. This is a conventional expression of humility frequently used when presenting something. The reference is to a well-known tale: although the peasants mistake something very common as a gift fit for a king, their utter sincerity in offering the gift excuses the ignorance and, indeed, is the true value of the gift.