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selves, not just our own body parts. Such a cosmic model of somatic
self-cultivation is expressed in the Confucian ideal of forming one body
“with Heaven and Earth and all things.” As the great neo-Confucians
Cheng Hao and Wang Yangming af¬rm: “The man of humanity [ren]
regards Heaven and Earth and all things as one body. If a single thing is
deprived of its place, it means that my humanity is not yet demonstrated


40 Emerson, “Art,” in Society and Solitude (New York: Houghton Mif¬‚in, 1904), 42. See also
his “Civilization,” in ibid., 27: “You have seen a carpenter on a ladder with a broad-axe
chopping upward chips from a beam. How awkward! at what disadvantage he works!
But see him on the ground, dressing his timber under him. Now, not his feeble muscles
but the force of gravity brings down the axe; that is to say, the planet itself splits his
stick.” Emerson typically emphasizes the natural cosmic forces, like gravity, that bring
to genius a power beyond “our own” personal force. But we should also include the
powers of society and cultural tradition as part of the more-than-personal “in¬nite force”
that comes together to galvanize and trans¬gure a mere individual into a genius. For
more on this topic, see my “Genius and the Paradox of Self-Styling,” in Performing Live,
ch. 10.
Body Consciousness
216

to the fullest extent.”41 From its very outset, the Confucian direction of
self-perfection toward virtue and ¬nally to sagehood aimed at “the unity
of man and Heaven or Nature” as its highest ideal, pursuing this quest
to “form a trinity with Heaven and Earth” through the indispensable
medium of the body “ a natural, heavenly gift whose full realization
requires the virtuous wisdom of the sage. As Mencius says, “The func-
tions of the body are the endowment of Heaven. But it is only a Sage who
can properly manipulate them.”42
By enabling us to feel more of our universe with greater acuity, aware-
ness, and appreciation, such a vision of somaesthetic cultivation promises
the richest and deepest palate of experiential ful¬llments because it can
draw on the profusion of cosmic resources, including an uplifting sense of
cosmic unity. Enchanting intensities of experience can thus be achieved
in everyday living without requiring violent measures of sensory intensi-
¬cation that threaten ourselves and others. And if we still prefer more
dangerous psychosomatic experiments of extreme intensity, our somaes-
thetically cultivated sensory awareness should render us more alert to
the imminent risks and also more skilled in avoiding or diminishing the
damage.


41 See Wang Yangming, “Instructions for Practical Living,” in A Source Book in Chinese Phi-
losophy ed. and trans. Wing-tsit Chan (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1963),
675 (where he also explicitly cites Cheng Hao on this point), 685, 690; and Cheng Hao
himself in Chan, 530.
42 See The Doctrine of the Mean, in Chan, A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, 108; and W. A. C. H.

Dobson, Mencius (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1963), 144.
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