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Zhuzi dushu fa 朱子讀書法 "Master Zhu Xi's Prescriptions for Learning"

The Zhuzi dushu fa 朱子讀書法 "Master Zhu Xi's Prescriptions for Learning" or Zhu Xi dushu fa 朱熹讀書法, is a book on methods of learning compiled by the late Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) masters Zhang Hong 張洪 and Qi Xi 齊熙 (also written 齊{臣/灬}). The 4 juan "scrolls" long book describes the tactics of learning of the great Southern Song period master Zhu Xi 朱熹, who is seen as the most important figure of Neo-Confucianism, even if he was not the most creative thinker.
Zhang Hong, courtesy name Zhang Boda 張伯大, and Qi Xi, courtesy name Qi Chongfu 齊充甫, both came from Poyang 鄱陽, Jiangxi, but there is not much known about their lives. In the preface it is said that the idea to compile the book came when both traveled to Zhedong 浙東 during the Xianchun reign 咸淳 (1265-1274). The texts to the book were already existing as blueprints, written down as notes by Zhu Xi's disciple Fu Guang 輔廣. Zhang and Qi revised these notes and arranged them to the first part of their book. They were written in the shape of collected prose writings (wenji 文集) and discourses (yulu 語類), with six thematic chapters. The first chapter, Gangling 綱領 "Guiding principles", explains that nothing is more important in the exploration of the Way (dao 道) than to "exhaust the patterns" (qiong li 窮理) of things, which can only be done by studying (dushu 讀書). The art of learning is founded in proper sequence (xunxu 循序) and exquisite refinement (zhijing 致精), but the latter is only achieved by "sitting in respect" (jujing 居敬) and controlling one's will (chizhi 持志). Proper sequence of learning will gradually result in advancements, as the second part explains. Students have to begin with the texts Daxue 大學 "Great Learning", Lunyu 論語 "Confucian Analects", Zhongyong 中庸 "Doctrine of the Mean" and Mengzi 孟子 (together called Sishu 四書 "Four Books"), then proceed to the Six Classics (liujing 六經).
The refinement of reading and of thoughts (shudu jingsi 熟讀精思), explained in the third part, makes necessary that the students first learn how to read texts aloud, so that not only their mouth is pronouncing the sounds, but their heart and mind also filled with the meaning of the text. In order to grasp the meaning of the text, the heart must be empty, in order to gain an "objective" view, and to "swim easy as fishes do" (xuxin hanyong 虛心涵泳), as the fourth part explains. While reading, the student must give up himself and personally experience the "words of the saints and worthies" (qie ji ti cha 切己體察), according to the fifth part of the book. The whole spirit has to be concentrated on the text (zhujin yongli 著緊用力), and constantly be in move, like a boat moving river-up; the heart must be settled, and all disturbing thoughts are to be expelled, so that the mind becomes a clear mirror, not only while reading books, but also in daily life, in order to be in accordance with the Heavenly principle.
The text of the Zhuzi dushu fa is compiled of a collection of different statements and has therefore a very heterogeneous character, but each paragraph gives a detailed explanation of Zhu Xi's methods of learning, and resembles the "meshes" in the famous gangmu 綱目 "outlines and details" method by which the philosopher analysed history. The Zhuzi dushu fa was therefore imitated and expanded by the Yuan period 元 (1279-1368) teacher Cheng Duanli 程端禮 in his book Chengshi jiashu dushu fennian richeng 程氏家塾讀書分年日程. This book has a higher literary value than the compilation of Zhang Hong and Qi Xi.
The earliest print from the Yuan period has not survived. During the Zhishun reign 至順 (1330-1333) the book was reprinted by Zhao Zhiwei 趙之維. The text of this edition has survived in the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) encyclopedia Yongle dadian 永樂大典, but not in the original shape. The compilers of the imperial collectaneum Siku quanshu 四庫全書 arranged the text in 4 juan. It is also to be found in the Fuxing shuyuan congkan 復性書院叢刊.

Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe, vol. 2, p. 1561.
Li Zhitian 李稚田 (1993). "Zhu Xi dushu fa 朱熹讀書法", in: Li Defang 李德芳 (ed.), Zhongguo xiaoxue jiaoxue jiaoyu baike quanshu 中國小學教學百科全書, Yuwen 語文卷, Shenyang: Shenyang chubanshe, p. 92.
Liu Jie 劉傑, Wang Kun 王琨 (1996). "Zhuzi dushu fa 朱子讀書法", in: Feng Kezheng 馮克正, Fu Qingsheng 傅慶升 (ed.), Zhuzi baijia da cicidan 諸子百家大辭典, Chengdu: Sichuan renmin chubanshe, p. 470.
Liu Zhanhua 劉占華 (1993). "Zhuzi dushu fa 朱子讀書法", in: Shi Quanchang 石泉長 (ed.), Zhonghua baike yaolan 中華百科要覽, Liaoyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe, p. 516.
Zhongguo xuesheng jiaoyu guanli da cidian bianweihui 中國學生教育管理大辭典編委會 (ed. 1991). Zhongguo xuesheng jiaoyu guanli da cidian 中國學生教育管理大辭典, Beijing: Beijing shifan xueyuan chubanshe, p. 212.
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November 15, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail