Way of Heaven
The way of heaven refers to the basic rule governing the existence and changes of all things between heaven and earth, as opposed to “the way of humans.” Ancient Chinese interpreted “the way of heaven” in different ways. First, some believed that “the way of heaven,” especially the celestial phenomena relating to the movements of the sun, the moon, and the stars, foretell or dictate the success or failure of human affairs. In ancient times, designated officials predicted human affairs through observing celestial phenomena. Second, some believed that “the way of heaven” was the source or the basis of man’s moral conduct and of orderly human relations. One should comply with “the way of heaven,” in both words and deeds, so should human relations; and people should recognize and develop the moral nature bestowed upon by heaven so as to gain access to “the way of heaven.” Third, still others thought that there were no particular correlations between “the way of heaven” on the one hand, and moral conduct in the human world, human relations, as well as misfortune and fortune in human affairs on the other.
The laws governing the ways of heaven are yin and yang, those governing the ways of earth are gentleness and firmness, and those governing the ways of human society are benevolence and righteousness. (The Book of Changes)
Integrity is what the way of nature requires; acting with integrity is the way to achieve self-refinement. (The Book of Rites)
The way of heaven is far away; the way of man is near. (Zuo’s Commentary on The Spring and Autumn Annals)