Only that one in the world who is most perfectly authentic [or sincere -- cheng] is able to give full development to his nature. Being able to give full development to his nature, he is able to give full development to the nature of other human beings and, being able to give full development to the nature of other human beings he is able to give full development to the natures of other living things. Being able to give full development to the natures of other living things, he can assist in the transforming and nourishing powers of Heaven and Earth; being able to assist in the transforming and nourishing powers of Heaven and Earth, he can form a triad with Heaven and Earth.
One ritual method for learning how "to give full development to [one's] nature," according to Zhu Xi, was to consult the Yijing prayerfully and meditatively so as not merely to obtain a predicted outcome (as in the usual method of consulting the text), but so as to become sensitive to the most subtle and gradual patterns of change in the ever-shifting patterns of yin and yang. By learning to understand how the universe at large operated, one would come to understand oneself, and by coming to understand oneself, one would enter into deeper communion not only with Tiandao (the Way of Heaven), but with all things.
Although not all present-day Confucians practice Zhu Xi's method of consulting the Yijing, it remains the second-most widely-read book in the world (after the Bible), especially in East Asia, where it is used daily by millions of people. The text's assumption that apparent chaos can disclose underlying order continues to inspire Confucians and others to use it to find their place in the ever-changing universe.
1. What is the Yijing?
2. What is the role of the Yijing in Confucian spiritual life?
3. How do Confucian spiritual practices relate to Confucian scriptures?