On The Active Will (Wang Yang Ming)

Previously, I commented on the idea that the original mind is neither good nor bad, as taught by the Chinese humanist Wang Yang Ming (1472-1529).  The 4 Axioms of the doctrine of Ming are translated into English as follows:

“In the original substance of the mind
there is no distinction of good and evil.

When the will becomes active, however,
such distinction exists.
The faculty of innate knowledge
is to know good and evil.
The investigation of things
is to do good and remove evil.”
The original substance of the mind being neither good nor bad, there comes a time in every person’s life when desires and feelings arise.  When such occurs, right and wrong actions ensue from right and wrong thinking.
Initially, the young person who asserts their will based upon  desires and feelings is limited in terms of understanding the concepts of  right and wrong.  Thus, the young child requires the direction and guidance of an adult in order to distinguish right from wrong.
Eventually, the individual develops innate abilities to intuitively sense right from wrong.  Just as people require time to develop such innate abilities as walking and talking, likewise people need to time to develop their inborn ability to distinguish right from wrong.
The role of the innate senses which aid the individual to distinguish right from wrong will be discussed in another post.

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