Heaven is my father and the Earth is my mother, and even such a small creature as I, find an intimate place in their midst. Therefore, that which extends throughout the universe Iregard as my body, and that which directs the universe I consider my nature. All people are my brothers and sisters, and all things are my companions.
Zhang Zai, Chinese cosmologist and philosopher (1020-1077). Western Inscription.
Neo-Confucians primarily valued Zhang Zai’s doctrine of the sage “forming one body with the universe.” This doctrine represents both the Confucian contiguity with its classical Confucian heritage and an enlargement of the Neo-Confucian system. At the center of Zhang Zai’s teaching is the idea of ren, humaneness or human-heartedness, in many ways the salient teaching of the classical Confucian tradition.