Exploring the Nature of All Things
This term means to thoroughly explore the fundamental nature and pervasive laws of humanity and all things, which includes the exploration of natural phenomena, cosmic laws, and local events. We must fully understand how all things are connected, so that we can contribute to all things flourishing in their roles. Neo-Confucian scholars of the Song Dynasty took this conception as a fundamental means to understand the world, to cultivate one’s morality, and to know in depth the principles of heaven. Wang Yangming (1472-1529) held that laws and nature are not two different things. To explore the laws of things means to find out their nature. Ancient Chinese believed that to understand the world and oneself, and to reform the world and improve oneself are a process of interaction and unity. Only when such process advances can the harmony between humanity and all things be accomplished.
Thoroughly explore the nature of humanity and all things and maximize their natural roles, then the ideal realm of people acting in line with laws and living in peace with nature can be reached. (The Book of Changes)
Wang Ting once exhorted his young disciples, “It’s essential to thoroughly explore the nature of humanity and all things and bring them to fulfilment in their roles.” (The History of the Song Dynasty)