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Chuan Xi Lu 传习录 – Top 100 Books in China

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It mainly reflects Wang Yangming’s theory of mind and nature


Chinese Name: 传习录

English Name: Chuan Xi Lu, Chuanxilu

Author: Wang Yangming’s Disciples王阳明的学生们

Originally Published: 1518 A.D

Genre: Philosophy

Chuan Xi Lu传习录
Chuan Xi Lu传习录

Brief Introduction of Chuan Xi Lu

Chuan Xi Lu传习录 is a philosophical work, which was compiled by Wang Yangming’s王阳明 disciples through sorting out his quotations and letters. Wang Yangming was a philosopher in the Ming Dynasty and a representative of the Neo Confucianism Central School in the Song and Ming Dynasties. This book records his quotations and academic letters.

Chuan Xi Lu contains Wang Yangming’s main philosophical thoughts and is an important material for studying Wang Yangming’s thoughts and the development of psychology. The first volume was reviewed by Wang Yangming himself. The letters in the second volume were written by Wang Yangming in his later years. Although the second volume was not reviewed by him, it explained his thoughts in his later years more specifically and recorded the “four sentence teaching四句教” proposed by Wang Yangming.


There are a lot of discussions on the “empty spirit and clear consciousness” of the people in Chuan Xi Lu. If we want to fully and correctly grasp Wang Yangming’s “unreasonable outside the heart” and other theories, it is very necessary to deeply study his discussions. It is precisely because the essence of the human heart is reason, and people can consciously realize this moral consciousness, so people do not need to know the reason of the original heart through foreign things, and the reason of foreign things is only the expression of the human heart. Ge Zhi’s time is not to know foreign things, but to get rid of the cover of his own selfish desires. Cheng Hao and Zhu Xi discussed the consciousness of people’s hearts.


The version of Chuan Xi Lu is generally as follows:

Xu AI徐爱, Wang Yangming’s student, has recorded Wang Yangming’s talk on learning since 1512, named Chuan Xi Lu.

In 1518, another student Xue Kan薛侃 published the remnant manuscript recorded by Xu AI and Lu Cheng陆澄 together with his newly recorded part, which is still called Chuan Xi Lu.

In 1524, Nan Daji南大吉 added several articles of Wang Yangming’s academic letters, which were published by Chuan Xi Lu.

In 1554, Qian Dehong钱德洪, a student of Wang Yangming, added the “Last Words Record遗言录” recorded by Chen Jiuchuan陈九川 and others, and compiled it with what Wang Ji 王畿 recorded into Chuan Xi Xu Lu传习续录 for publication.

In 1556, Qian Dehong added the content included by Huang Zhi黄直.

In 1572, Xie Tingjie谢廷杰 published the “Complete Book of Wang Wencheng王文成公全书” in Zhejiang, with the Chuan Xi Lu compiled by Xue Kan as the first volume, the addition and deletion of 8 letters compiled by Nan Daji by Qian Dehong as the middle volume, and the Chuan Xi Xu Lu as the second volume, attached to the Conclusion of Zhu Zi’s Later Years朱子晚年定论 compiled by Wang Yangming. This is the Chuan Xi Lu of Wang Wencheng’s complete book.

The Shanghai Commercial Press published Ye Shaojun’s叶绍钧 proofed edition in 1927.


Author of Chuan Xi Lu

Wang Yangming王阳明 (October 31, 1472 – January 9, 1529), his real name is Wang Yun王云, also known as Wang Shouren王守仁, from Yuyao, Zhejiang Province, Han nationality. He was an outstanding thinker, writer, militarist and educator in the Ming Dynasty, and the son of Wang Hua王华, the Minister of civil affairs of Nanjing.

Wang Yangming王阳明
Wang Yangming王阳明

Young Wang Yangming has a good family background and therefore has a very superior learning environment.
At the age of twelve, Wang Shouren officially went to school. At the age of thirteen, his mother died, which was a great setback for him. But he has high aspirations and different thoughts. Once he discussed with his teacher what is the most important thing in the world. He was different from ordinary people. He thought that “the imperial examination is not the first important thing”. The most important thing in the world is to study and be a sage.

Wang Shouren opposes the Confucian thoughts of Confucius and Mencius as invariable commandments, opposes blindly obeying feudal ethics, and emphasizes personal initiative. His philosophical proposition of “bringing conscience致良知” and methodology of “unity of knowledge and practice知行合一” have the significance of breaking through feudalism and calling for the liberation of thought and personality. Wang Yangming received a wide range of disciples to publicize his ideas, which is known as “Yangming School阳明学派” in history.


Excerpts of Chuan Xi Lu


The noumenon of the heart is crystal clear and pure, without good and evil; But once ideas are generated, good and evil follow; The ability to distinguish what is good and what is evil is what Mencius called “conscience”; Keeping good and getting rid of evil is the “Ge wu” of Confucianism


Seeking knowledge is the beginning of action; Action is the result of knowledge.


Those who plant trees will cultivate their roots, and those who plant virtue will cultivate their hearts.


The smoothness and danger of the road can only be known after personal experience.

Evaluation of Chuan Xi Lu

He is very great in modern academic circles, and has made great achievements in military and politics.

Liang Qichao梁启超

Japan’s old civilization was introduced from China. Fifty years ago, the heroes of the reform were intoxicated by the “unity of knowledge and practice” of Wang Yangming, a master of Chinese philosophy.

Sun Yat-Sen孙中山

Prof Van Norden introduces the philosophy of Wang Yangming

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