Tai Chen / Dai Zhen

Tai Chen (1723-1777) was a Confucian philosopher who emphasized personal reflection and study of the Confucian Classics, and deemphasized Buddhist-influenced practices such as quiet sitting.

Tai felt that various heterodox philosophies had misled people into taking mere opinion as truth, and caused them to miss the true orthodox Confucian Way.

As human beings, we begin with natural desires and feelings—some right, and some wrong and excessive.

In order for us to go from mere opinion to an unchanging standard, we must use our power of thought, and pan our natural desires and feelings in order to eliminate those that are mere opinion and selfish, and retain only the right ones. By doing so, we will transform our natural desires and any mere opinion into necessary true desires and feelings that wholly accord with what is right and will be able to manifest in actions.

Rather than enduring and being indifferent to feelings and desires, we must aim to have flawless ones.

The intellect is important in this process, and must be used in order for us to recognize what is right and direct ourselves into following it—two things that must occur simultaneously.

Moral self-cultivation and actions that accord with what is right has a special satisfaction, joy, and contentment for your heart and spirit. This makes the process possible, and reinforces rightness. By reflecting on this satisfying feeling, all right actions produce joy.