Adaptive pursuit of harmony in times of crisis: Wang Yangming's (1472-1529) contribution to the syncretization of Chinese thought in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
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The pursuit of harmony has always been a great concern of Chinese thinkers. In this process, especially prior to the Ming dynasty, a significant “borrowing” of their basic philosophical elements and their mutually syncretic metamorphosis was a common practice among three religious communities, particularly disseminated during times of crisis. The work of Wang Yangming proved to be an epitome of this philosophical “collaboration”, capable of producing new synthetic teachings that directly or indirectly linked two or more polarized teachings. He succeeded in modifying the existing Buddhist idea of inherited Buddha Nature to be now understood as an innate insight, while also promoting the practice of meditation, as a clear example of Chan and Daoist influence. Wang Yangming is probably best known for his emphasis on the simultaneity of the two functions – knowledge and action, viewed as a reinterpretation of non-Confucian ideas in a new Neo-Confucian framework.