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Idealistic School

Doctrines Within Neo-Confucianism, the doctrines of the Idealistic School are developed in opposition to those of the Rationalistic school. While the latter takes li (principle) as the supreme reality, underlying all things and beings, the former holds t hat hsin (the heart/mind) is the only reality, containing the whole universe and all principles as well as all virtues. This view is expressed in the school's motto "the universe is my mind, and my mind is the universe". In opposition to the Rationalist proposition that (human) nature is principle, the Idealistic School proposes that the heart/mind is principle, and that the heart/mind is universally the same either in sages or in common people, either thousands of generation ago or thousands of generation hence. It criticises the Rationalistic School for its failure to recognise the wholeness of the principle and its failure to locate the principle in the heart/mind itself. From the oneness of the heart/mind comes the unity between knowledge and action. The heart/mind has within it not only all sources and resources of principle and virtue, but also the innate ability to know what is good and to learn how to be good. Thus, cultivation is not the task of investigating things, but of looking into one's own heart/mind, and reflecting on one's innate sources of sagehood, and correcting selfish desires. This form of self-cultivation is said to be the easy and simple way to attaining the Confucian ideal of achieving the state of enlightenment through being at one with the universe, in contrast to the difficult and complicated ways of the doctrines propagated by the Rationalistic School which require the painstaking and detailed investigation into the principles of things.

History The Idealistic School is known as the Hsin Hsueh, the School of the Learning of the Heart/Mind. Its theoretical sources can be traced to the Book of Mencius and the Doctrine of the Mean. Within Neo-Confucianism one of the Cheng brothers, Cheng Ha o (1032-1085) was its forerunner. However, the real architect of the school in the Sung dynasty was the chief rival of Chu Hsi, Lu Chiu-yuan (1139-1193), whose doctrines of the heart/mind were further developed and consummated by the greatest exponent of this school Wang Shou-jen (1472-1528), who lived during the Ming dynasty. The importance of these two figures has led to the school also being called the School of Lu-Wang.
Mainly due to the simplicity and directness of its understanding of spiritual cultivation, the school, especially after Wang Shou-jen, enjoyed a large following, among whose famous followers were Wang Ken (1483-1541), Li Chih (1527-1602) and Huang Tsung-hsi (1610-1695). As the rival to the prevailing orthodoxy of the Rationalistic School, and opponent to its rigid way of learning, the Idealistic School frequently became a weapon and an inspiration for scholars rebelling against authority or authorised ideology. However, it later fell into disfavour among Confucian scholars partly because its understanding of transcendence bore the hallmark of Ch'an Buddhism and because of its emphasis on the intuitiveness of the heart/mind. The School's doctrines were also introduced to Japan and Korea, where they enjoyed a certain degree of popularity among intellectuals.

Symbols The Idealistic School does not have a distinctive symbol system.

Adherents It is not possible to determine the numerical size of the school.

Headquarters/
Main Centre
 The school does not have a headquarters or main centre.