The Great Learning


大學之道는  在明明德하며  在新民하며  在至於至善이니라.

대학지도  재명명덕하며  재신민하며  재지어지선이니라.

Dae-hak-ji-do-neun Jae-myeong-myeong-deok-ha-myeo Jae-sin-min-ha-myeo Jae-ji-eo-ji-seon-i-ni-ra.


The Dao of the great learning consists in making people’s bright virtue shine, so they can undergo renewal, and thereby achieve the utmost goodness.




知止而後에  有定이니  定而後에 能靜하며

지지이후에  유정이니  정이후 능정하며

Ji-ji-i-hu-e Yu-jeong-i-ni Jeong-i-hu-e Neung-jeong-ha-myeo


靜而後에  能安하고  安而後에  能慮하고  慮而後에  能得이니라.

정이후  능안하고  안이후에  능려하고  려이후  능득이니라.

Jeong-i-hu-e Neung-an-ha-go An-i-hu-e Neung-ryeo-ha-go Ryeo-i-hu-e Neung-deuk-i-ni-ra.


When you know where to stay, you can settle there. When you settled, you can be calm. When you are calm, you can be at ease. When you are at ease, you can think clearly from your mind. After thinking clearly, you can take it.



  • “thinking clearly from your mind” means, that the thoughts naturally come up from your true inner mind, which is the root, the connection to the mind of the universe. It does not refer to the rational thinking of the brain.
  • “you can take it” refers to accepting the universe’s mind and become one with it. By that, you make the wisdom become yours and act according to it.




物有本末하고  事有終始하니  知所先後면  則近道矣리라.

물유본말하고  사유종시하니  지소선후  즉근도의리라.

Mul-yu-bon-mal-ha-go Sa-yu-jong-si-ha-ni Ji-so-seon-hu-myeon Jeuk-geun-do-eui-ri-ra.


All things have a root and an edge. The work has an ending and a beginning. When you know, which one comes first and which one comes afterwards, you are close to the Dao.



  • “all things” include all living beings as well as all material things;




古之欲明明德於天下者는  先治其國하고

고지욕명명덕어천하자는  선치기국하고

Go-ji-yok-myeong-myeong-deok-eo-cheon-ha-ja-neun Seong-chi-gi-guk-ha-go


欲治其國者는  先齊其家하고  欲齊其家者는  先修其身하고

욕치기국자  선제기가하고  욕제기가자  선수기신하고

Yok-chi-gi-guk-ja-neun Seon-je-gi-ga-ha-go Yok-je-gi-ga-ja-neun Seon-su-gi-sin-ha-go


欲修其身者는  先正其心하고  欲正其心者는  先誠其意하고

욕수기신자  선정기심하고  욕정기심자  선성기의하고

Yok-su-gi-sin-ja-neun Seon-jeong-gi-sim-ha-go Yok-jeong-gi-sim-ja-neun Seon-seong-gi-eui-ha-go


欲誠其意者는  先致其知하니  致知는  在格物이니라.

욕성기의자는  선치기지하니  치지는  재격물이니라.

Yok-seong-gi-eui-ja-neun Seon-chi-gi-ji-ha-ni Chi-ji-neun Jae-gyeok-mul-i-ni-ra.


Since ancient times a person, who wants to make the bright virtue shine again in this world, first needs to rule the country. Wanting to rule the country, one first needs to arrange the household. Wanting to arrange the household, one first needs to clean oneself. Wanting to clean oneself, one first needs to correct one’s mind. Wanting to correct one’s mind, one first needs to make one’s mind goal clear. Wanting to make one’s mind goal clear, one first needs to reach enlightenment. For reaching enlightenment, one needs to seek the law of nature from all things.



  • “clean oneself” means, that you make yourself pure in an energetic way of meaning; you need to become your ego's master and overcome your desires;
  • “correct one’s mind” means, that you let go of your wrong believes and thinking, until your mind resembles the mind of the universe, which is the root of all things;
  • “make one’s mind goal clear” refers to your life purpose, which is in alignment with what the universe’s mind intends;
  • “enlightenment” means attaining the universe’s wisdom;
  • “seek the law of nature” means that you dig really deep until you understand what is beyond all things and beings;




物格而後知至하고  知至而後意誠하고

물격이후지지하고  지지이후의성하고

Mul-gyeok-i-hu-ji-ji-ha-go Ji-ji-i-hu-eui-seong-ha-go


意誠而後心正하고  心正而後身修하고

의성이후심정하고  심정이후수신하고

Eui-seong-i-hu-sim-jeong-ha-go Sim-jeong-i-hu-su-sin-ha-go


身修而後家齊하고  家齊而後國治하고

수신이후가제하고  가제이후국치하고

Su-sin-i-hu-ga-je-ha-go Ga-je-i-hu-guk-chi-ha-go






After seeking the law of nature from all things, one reaches enlightenment. After reaching enlightenment, one’s mind goal becomes clear. After the mind goal becomes clear, one’s mind becomes correct. After one’s mind becomes correct, one becomes clean. After becoming clean, one’s household becomes arranged. After one’s household becomes arranged, the country becomes ruled. After the country becomes ruled, the whole world under the heaven becomes peaceful.



  • The key point here is that things happen naturally by themselves once you found the law of nature. It is like a chain reaction that doesn’t need actual interference or controlling. That’s why it says the country “becomes ruled” instead of the country “is ruled” by somebody.




自天子로  以之於庶人이  壹是皆以修身爲本이니라.

자천자로  이지어서인  일시개이수신위본이니라.

Ja-cheon-ja-ro I-ji-eo-seo-in-i Il-si-gae-i-su-sin-wi-bon-i-ni-ra.


By the Cheon-ja conducting these steps first by himself, everybody down to the common people get influenced. This can only happen, because the Cheon-ja takes cleaning him/herself as the basic.



  • “Cheon-ja” literally means ‘heavenly child’; it refers to the person, who was chosen by the heaven to rule the people of this world, because his/her mind is one with the universe’s mind and he/she therefore can guide the people to make their mind close to the nature’s mind as well. It is said, that in ancient times, the great kings were such “Heavenly Children”: enlightened rulers, who governed the country justly and wisely based on their mind being connected with the root of the universe.
  • The “basic” refers to the step, which Confucius considered to be the one that everybody should strive to reach, because “cleaning oneself” means, that your true self is in charge (instead of your ego) and you can connect your mind with the root of all things.




其本이  亂而末治者否矣니라.

기본  난이말치자부의니라.

Gi-bon-i Nan-i-mal-chi-ja-bu-eui-ni-ra.


其所厚者薄하고  而其所薄者厚하야  末之有也니라.

기소후자박하고  이기소박자후하야  말지유야니라.

Gi-so-hu-ja-bak-ha-go I-gi-so-bak-ja-hu-ha-ya Mal-ji-yu-ya-ni-ra.


There is nobody, who can rule the edge, when the root is chaotic. Thus you need to be strict to the person, who neglects taking care of his/her basic root. And you need to be generous with the person, who thoroughly takes care of his/her basic root. Thereby you can rule the edge.



  • “basic root” = mind





Source: The Great Learning, written by Zhuxi based on the teachings of Confucius

Translation, transcription, and commentary: Jinju2Saram





Gang Jeung-san's successor Go Su-bu said about The Great Learning:

"This is a great book, which contains the main method to rule the country, arrange your household, and work on your body, your mind and your life goal."

[Source: 'Seonjeongweongyeong', written by Go Min-hwan, a follower of Go Su-bu]


When Gang Jeung-san saw the verses of The Great Learning, he said that they contain the norm of human Dao. That means this text contains the nature law which you have to keep and follow as a human.