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From the middle of the seventeenth down to the end of the nineteenth century, the school of Ibn 'Arabi had a significant presence in the Chinese language. These four books are well known Persian texts by three famous Sufi masters, all of whom lived after Ibn 'Arabi. Probably the single most important Muslim scholar to write in Chinese was Liu Chih, who lived about fifty years after Wang Tai-yü. The very title of Liu Chih's book suggests that it is a statement of the principles of Islamic thinking about God and the world in Neoconfucian terms.
The second chapter of Liu Chih's Root Classic explains how the attributes and characteristics of the microcosm correspond with those of the microcosm.
The Root Classic is written in a standard, four-character pattern that I represent in English by stanzas. Diagram 1 illustrates the nondesignation of the Very Beginning (the numbers of the diagrams correspond to their order in Liu Chih's text, not the order in which I will discuss them). By referring to the Former Heaven, Liu Chih is telling us that this diagram depicts the descending arc of the manifestion of wujûd.
After these three preliminary levels of the unfolding of substance, we reach the World of Principle, which seems to correspond with the spiritual world in Islamic cosmology.
Although Diagrams 2 and 3 pertain respectively to the Arc of Descent and the Arc of Ascent, the relationship between the two diagrams is not obvious, because both need to be read from top down. In Diagrams 4 and 5, Liu Chih outlines the unfolding of the human being on the Arc of Ascent.
Diagram 5 gives us six stages of human development outside the womb, from birth to spiritual perfection. Diagram 6 sums up the circle of macrocosmic existence that results from the combination of the Former Heaven and the Latter Heaven as illustrated in Diagrams 2 through 5.
Diagram 7 illustrates the circle of existence in terms of the micro---cosm rather than the macrocosm.
A great deal more might be said about the cosmological relationships that manifest the One Being. At the very bottom of the diagram, the two sides meet in the Vast Sediment, which represents universal matter or vital energy which gives rise to the Ascending Arc, as we saw in Diagram 3. On the left-hand side of the diagram, Liu Chih depicts the macrocosm in terms of twelve descending stages. Finally, the four lowest levels, corresponding to the four elements, represent the various types of individual creatures that prepare the way for the human make-up. Notice that in this diagram, the higher embraces the lower, but the lower does not embrace the higher. To conclude this discussion, let me quote a few words from the final chapter of Liu Chih's Root Classic.
One disciple in particular came from a Confucian upbringing, and eventually became deeply involved in philosophy, in order to understand the human condition. Personally, Unification Thought did exactly those things for me, because – as a child in America in the 60s – I had stepped away from Christianity in my high school and college years, instead looking seriously into existential philosophy and also into Eastern religions. During my years since, as I studied the Principle and Unification Thought, I consistently found that Dr. I have to admit that the idea that God has a personality didn’t initially strike me as particularly ground-breaking. But the other dual characteristic – the one that God is a harmonized being of Yang and Yin – is challenging in that it exposes the nature of God as not only masculine and paternal, but also feminine and maternal.
As a Christian who grew up with the Jewish image of God depicted in the Old Testament, and with the Christian image of a triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), I was – and am – deeply rooted in an understanding of God as a masculine “Father” and “King”. It is at least as different as my relationship with my father was different from my relationship with my mother – the way they each moved me was vividly different.
For example, during his speeches, I would often see him entertaining us and making us laugh. I realized that he probably had something urgent and weighty to tell us, but saw that we were not ready to receive it. And so I see a side of God that 2000 years of Christianity has not depicted so clearly to me, and that Judaism before it, and Islam after it, have also not revealed this clearly. My conclusion from examining the other set of dual characteristics – Internal Nature and External Form – that God has a character, also builds on my Christian understanding. Unification Thought then goes on to explain the “Divine Character” of God: the most fundamental divine attributes are Heart, Logos and Creativity.
This understanding paints a picture of God to me that is much closer, much more accessible. In the second section of the Principle of Creation, the Divine Principle mentions Universal Prime Energy. These are just a few of the ideas that Unification Thought offered which deepened my understanding of the first two sections of the Principle of Creation, and ultimately, my understanding of God. Zhu Xi (1130-1200), also known as Zhuzi, was a major Song dynasty philosopher and commentator. Zhu Xi was born in what is today Youxi County in Fujian province, where his father was serving as an official, but his home town is considered to be Wu Yuan, now in the northeast corner of Jiangxi province, but then part of Huizhou, a district just south of Huangshan.
Zhu Xi considered the earlier philosopher Xun Zi to be a heretic for departing from Confucius's beliefs about innate human goodness.
Zhu Xi and his fellow scholars codified what is now considered the Confucian canon of classics: the Four Books, consisting of the Analects of Confucius, the Mencius, the Great Learning, and the Doctrine of the Mean. Across the UK the hunt is on for James Foleya€™s killer, who authorities believe is a British national. The first Muslim scholar to explain Islamic teachings in Chinese was Wang Tai-yü, who published his major book in 1642. It is a long study of the principles of Islam, focusing on metaphysics, cosmology, and ethics. By taking a quick glance at the three authors, we can readily see that Ibn 'Arabi's school of thought must have been seeping into the Chinese language. Hammûya is an important author of Sufi theoretical works in both Arabic and Persian, but he has hardly been studied in modern times, partly because of the notorious obscurity of his works. As for the book's importance, the evidence suggests that it was considered the definitive statement of Islamic beliefs.
The third chapter explicates the stages of human development from one seed to full spiritual perfection. I will also cite a few passages from the book in order to give a sample of the text that he is illustrating.
He uses different names because the word Being designates the First Principle inasmuch as it is nondelimited and cannot be differentiated from anything else. Thus, the diagram tells us that Substance, which is Being, has a dual Function, and that is knowledge and power. This represents the undifferentiated matter that will eventually give rise to the differentiated things that we know as the visible world. As I said earlier, the Latter Heaven is the arc of ascent, which eventually leads back to the Real Being.
These two then give rise to the four elements, and the four elements produce heaven and earth. In Neoconfucian thinking, all things in the realm of manifestation are images of principles. The fact that Diagram 3 in fact depicts the Arc of Ascent will only become clear when we reach Diagram 6, which integrates the major elements of the two diagrams into a circle. Notice that the discussion now has to do with the various attributes and qualities that become manifest in successive levels of the ascent toward God.
We see how the macrocosm appears from substance and descends down to the Vast Sediment, which is identical with the Original Vital-Energy.
Thus the original substance of human beings is the nature of continuity, that is, union with God.


But I would be remiss if I did not refer to another central discussion in Liu Chih's book, and that is the role of the prophets and the saints. Remember that the World of Principle was shown in Diagram 2 as the fifth level of the Former Heaven. In other words, in their deepest reality, the macrocosm and the microcosm go back to a single source. The first is ku-erh-hsi, that is, Arabic kursi, the Footstool, where God places his two feet. In it, he describes how the perfect sages reach the stage of continuity and reintegrate the whole universe into the One.
Moon’s earliest disciples realized that what was contained in the Divine Principle went far beyond the teachings of one faith.
Lee’s paper “The Necessity, Character, and Method of Unification Thought”, he gave several reasons for defining Rev.
Lee’s first reason for Unification Thought – to understand the Principle deeply – was wonderfully true. It’s “The Principle of Creation”, and one of the first statements is that accurate understanding must begin with knowledge of God. That is until I stepped back from my own ethnocentricity and acknowledged that many other faiths or worldviews don’t actually consider that understanding obvious at all. And in those beliefs, there is no personal God, a main Deity who is emotionally involved in humans as His children, a God who cares, loves, excitedly anticipates, and worries like a parent.
But the teaching of God as having both the Original Yang and the Original Yin changes my relationship with God profoundly. And when I look at the founders of Unificationism, I realize that I have gained insight into God’s heart and character from both Rev. So he had to lift our spirits up to a point where he could finally say what was on his mind. Yet to think of God as not only a Divine Father to me but also as my Divine Mother affects my understanding and my relationship with God profoundly. The image of God that the Catholicism of my childhood has left me with is partly that of God the Father, the omnipotent ruler, but probably more accessible is the image of Jesus Christ, revealing a God who loved us beyond reasonable measure. It paints the image of a God who yearns, who thinks intensely to design utterly fascinating and breathtakingly beautiful things, and whose love is finally expressed through the infinite creativity that is behind the vastness of this universe. Unification Thought helps me understand that this Universal Prime Energy is not only a force that allows existence, action, and multiplication, but it is also an expression of Divine Love. Zhu Xi contributed to Confucian philosophy by articulating what was to become the orthodox Confucian interpretation of a number of beliefs in Daoism and Buddhism. As Richard Bestic reports from London, Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his summer break to lead his governmenta€™s response. In the Islamic languages, these topics are discussed mainly in the fields of philosophy and Sufism.
He was acquainted with both Ibn 'Arabi and Sadr al-Din Qûnawi and seems to have run in the same intellectual circles, though he cannot be said to represent the same perspective.
The fact that Jâmi is the author of two of the four Islamic works translated into Chinese certainly suggests that it was difficult to study Islam in Chinese without being exposed to Ibn 'Arabi. The first section is subdivided into five short chapters, which are followed by ten diagrams that illustrate the major topics in a schematic way.
Throughout the Root Classic he provides references to his sources, and by far the most commonly cited are the four Persian books just mentioned. However, Liu Chih mentions only a handful of Arabic and Persian words in the whole book, and he certainly does not mention wahdat al-wujûd or any other term associated specifically with the school of Ibn 'Arabi.
The fourth chapter describes basic human virtues and the manner in which the various human types become differentiated. Remember that throughout this discussion, much of what Liu Chih says has parallels in Neoconfucian texts. The Diagram describes Act in terms of four basic tendencies or attributes: transforming, producing, granting, and depriving. In other words, it brings together all the attributes and qualities that will subsequently be differentiated as the macrocosm and the microcosm.
In Diagram 3, Liu Chih traces the ascent from the lowest, most undifferentiated level up to the level of animals. As is made clear by Diagrams 2 and 3, the first four stages of the Latter Heaven correspond with the first four stages of the Former Heaven.
Notice that the six levels of development in the womb coincide exactly with the six stages of development in the macrocosm as depicted in Diagram 3. Again, this discussion was common among the Muslim philosophers and was taken for granted in much of Sufi writing. Then the movement turns upward, through yin and yang, eventually leading to human beings, who alone have the capacity to re-establish a direct, unmediated link with Substance itself, that is, with the One Being.
Their root nature is their spiritual substance, and this gives rise to the seeds that are deposited in the wombs. In the writings of Ibn 'Arabi and his followers, it is obvious that spiritual perfection cannot be achieved if human beings do not submit themselves to guidance. It was preceded by Substance, Function, Act, and Mandate and it embraces the principles of things and the principle of human nature. Thus, for example, stone on the right-hand bottom is the lowest level of individual existence in the world, and it is presupposed in all the other levels. Those teachings were first published in English as the “Divine Principle”, but that book is very theological in nature. To help us do that, the first thing the Principle looks for are characteristics in nature that can tell us something about its Origin.
So, although the conclusion that God is one of character and feeling might be not unfamiliar to me, to a great many other people in the world, it is a critically essential and remarkable understanding. Heart comes first, and it is defined as the “inner, irrepressible impulse to experience joy through giving and receiving love”.
I end up with a picture of a deeply sensitive God, a vulnerable God, who dreams and so who knows hope and disappointment as a father and mother do, except at a Divine level of intensity and depth. I connect this with words that Hyung Jin Moon (the Moon’s youngest son) wrote in his book A Bald Head and a Strawberry.
He himself was educated in the traditional Islamic manner, and only when he was old did he begin to learn classical Chinese. As for Hammûya's disciple Nasafi, his Persian works are largely responsible for popularizing theoretical discussions of the sort carried out by Ibn 'Arabi and his followers.
This is the standard designation for Neoconfucianism, which was the dominant school of Chinese thought for a thousand years down to the beginning of the twentieth century.
In each of the five remaining sections, Liu Chih analyzes one chapter of the first section with the help of twelve more diagrams. Moreover, we should keep in mind that there was nothing new in Neoconfucian thought about the oneness of being. The fifth and final chapter represents a summary of everything in the first four chapters in terms of the original and final unity of all things. I will refer briefly to some of the well-known teachings of Ibn 'Arabi's school that may have inspired Liu Chih from the Islamic side. The Former Heaven designates the invisible principles that give rise to the visible universe, and the Latter Heaven represents the situation in the cosmos once the universe becomes manifest. That Liu Chih focuses on two primary divine attributes rather than four has much to do with his Chinese background. These terms, which derive from Neoconfucian cosmology, play an important role later on in the text in the explanation of the manner in which the cosmos unfolds. From this point on, the primal undifferentiation of matter is gradually organized with a view toward the return to the One Being.
Hence, the World of Principle in the Former Heaven corresponds with the World of Images in the Latter Heaven.


The various stages of descent from God lead to the appearance of the heart, or the spiritual side of the individual, and the body, the corporeal side; these two, you remember, correspond with heaven and earth. Metal has the qualities of stone, but it also has something more subtle that differentiates it from stone.
It contains numerous remarkable insights on the Bible which, when strung together, provide a profound understanding of God, humans, and the universe.
After looking through different Eastern faiths, I finally stumbled upon Unificationism and was impressed by the Divine Principle, and finally captivated by Unification Thought. It finds two sets of dual characteristics – Internal Nature and External Form, and Yang and Yin – within the mineral, plant, animal, and human worlds. Moon first began teaching in Korea in the 1950s – a large part of his audience had a Buddhist or Taoist or Confucian background. That was but one of many instances years ago, which revealed to me the mother’s heart of God.
Heart then requires an object to share love with, and so God was impelled to imagine what this object could be – what it would look like, think like, speak like, and act like.
In one part of the book, he describes the importance of meditation and a special perspective he has on it. He argued that all things are brought into being by two universal elements: vital force (qi), and law or rational principle (li).
His intention was to explain Islamic teachings to fellow Muslims educated in the Chinese manner and ignorant of the literatures of their own languages. Although it is quite theoretical in its own way, Râzi's book shows no signs of being influenced by Ibn 'Arabi's teaching. Thus he provides a total of seventy diagrams, ten belonging to the first section, and sixty to the five explanatory sections. The language of being had been formulated centuries before by the early Taoists, and it had become commonplace to refer to the first principle as Being (yu).
More specifically, the fifth chapter explains how human perfection alone is able to re-establish all things in the original oneness of being. Thus, the verse can be read as referring to the two arcs that make up the circle of existence.
As he explains in some detail in the text, it is this polarity in God that is the root of yin and yang – two terms that are essential to Chinese cosmological thinking.
The word for vital energy is ch'i (Japanese ki), a well-known term in Far Eastern medicine and the martial arts. The World of Principle gives rise to the Vast Sediment, which is the Vital Energy that turns back toward the Origin. The basic stages, in Islamic terms, are inanimate, vegetal, animal, human, angelic, and divine. Twelve, of course, is a cosmic number – the months of the year, the signs of the zodiac, the Chinese cycle of years. He devotes a good deal of his book to explaining their cosmic function and the essential role of guidance in the achievement of human perfection.
In other words, it details the various archetypes in the Arc of Descent that subsequently give rise to the differentiation of both things and human beings in the Arc of Ascent. In the West, the planets are named for the Greek gods, each of which is an archetype for numerous cosmic phenomena. So also, at each level, the higher possesses the qualities of the lower, but it also has something else that gives it its superiority. Moon to research it more deeply and reorganize the ideas into the categories of philosophy rather than those of theology. He recommends that, upon the inhale, I should think “I am alive” and upon the exhale, “Thank You.” And although I had meditated for almost three decades, those simple words made me realize and feel that the air and energy I breathe in and breathe out is a gift of love that allows me to exist, act, and grow. As far as we can tell, up until this time most Islamic learning in China had been transmitted in Persian, though of course the Arabic Qur'an played the same basic role in China as it did elsewhere. Nasafi was not a follower of Ibn 'Arabi, but he does discuss many of his teachings in his books.
The first arc is the descending flow of increasing differentiation that brings the universe into existence, and the second is the ascending return toward nondesignation.
Function manifests the nature of substance, but substance in itself always remains nonmanifest. Qadar is the manifestation within the creatures of the differentiated details that follow on the undifferentiated decree. In the same way, the World of Images embraces inanimate things and plants, which lead to the appearance of animal and human life. And once this being is designed and imagined, it is brought into real existence through God’s Creativity. From that time, my meditations took on a new depth of feeling that I’d never previously attained. According to Zhu Xi, the Tai Ji causes qi to move and change in the physical world, resulting in the division of the world into the two energy modes (yin and yang) and the five elements (fire, water, wood, metal, and earth).He did not hold to traditional ideas of God or Heaven (Tian). Human beings achieve perfection by ascending on the second arc and reattaching themselves to the origin. Ahadiyya designates the exclusive and incomparable unity of the Essence, and wâhidiyya refers to the inclusive unity of God as First Principle, which gives rise to the universe. Before that, human beings replicate the various lower levels of creation in their bodies and souls.
Instead we can look at a diagram that illustrates in global fashion the correspondences between the microcosm and the macrocosm and, at the same time, shows how the sages and worthies play roles in the very structure of the cosmos. According to the Qur'an, the All-Merciful is sitting upon the Throne, and Ibn Arabi makes a great deal of the Throne's association with the creative divine mercy. The four remaining levels in Liu Chih's diagram depict the four elements as familiar to Islamic and Western thought – wind, fire, water, and earth. It is the heavenly connection that differentiates human beings from other earthly creatures. These three – Heart, Logos, and Creativity – are the most fundamental attributes of the Divine Character of God. In other words, they achieve perfection by actualizing the totality of the circle of existence. If we are looking for Islamic parallels for these terms, we might think of Ibn 'Arabi's discussion of nature, which, in its broadest sense, designates the Breath of the All-Merciful, the underlying stuff of the universe. The perfect human being achieves great substance and complete function – that is, the total realization of human potential. He disagreed that the souls of ancestors existed, believing instead that ancestor worship is a form of remembrance and gratitude. The All-Merciful Breath becomes articulated by the divine words, which of course manifest God's wisdom. Finally, the living kinds in the macrocosm correspond with spiritual vitality, the last stage of development before birth.
All three ones are essentially the same One Being.[3] Thus we have Diagram 10, showing that the final realization is the same as the Origin. Discussion of this sort of development in the womb was common in Islamic philosophy, and among the Sufi authors known in the Chinese language, Nasafi has a good deal to say about it. This, of course, fits in perfectly with the Quranic verses that tell us that Muhammad was sent as a mercy for all the worlds.



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