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Gweon Geun, “Preface to the Diagrammatic Explanation for the Initiation of Learning” (Iphak doseol seo 入學圖說序)

Student 1

In the autumn of Kyeong year of Hongwu reign I was in exile in Keummagun [Iksan].There were a couple of beginners who came to read Doctrine of the Mean and Great Learning with me. I explained it to them repeatedly yet they still could not understand it completely. Therefore I composed the diagram based on the work of master Juja and presented it to them. I also adopted teachings of the previous scholars. Then learners had more questions and I answered them all separately. These questions and answers are recorded at the end of this book as the explanation for the initiation of learning. On the side, I made diagrams for all I could do and often made my theories on groundless guessings. For the time being I am bond in exile and just wait for the days to come in the future. I want to be corrected by teachers and respectful scholars. I live in undeveloped town so there is no teacher and as I am in excile I can not leave. Hopefully the readers will be generous for me, forgive my groundless theories and just use this book for teaching. Late coming student Kweonkeun of Yeonga [Andong] respectfully presents this carefully prepared book.

Student 2

In the autumn of Kyeong year of Hongwu reign I was in exile in Keummagun (Iksan). There were a couple of beginners who came to me to read Doctrine of the Mean and Great Learning. I explained it to them repeatedly but they still couldn't understand it. Therefore I composed and showed them the diagram of master Juja. Then learners had more questions, and I answered them all separately and put those questions and answers at the end of this book, naming it a gramatical explanation to learning. On the side, I took from other classics I can make diagrams for, and often made my theories on groundless guessings. For now I just wait for later days and that's it. I want to be corrected by teachers and respectful scholars. I live in undeveloped town so there is no teacher and as I am in excile I can not leave. Hopefully the readers will forgive my groundless theories and just use this book for teaching. Late coming student Kweonkeun of Andong (영가) respectfully introduces this carefully prepared book.

Student 3

In the autumn of kyongoh year during Hongwu’s reign (1390), I was in exile in Kumma-gun, there were a couple of beginners who came to me to read the two books of Yong and Hak (Doctrine of the Mean and Great Learning), I told/explained to them repeatedly, still they were not able to completely understand. Thus based on the diagram of Master Zhou [Dunyi] and referring to the Theory of Chapters and Lines, I composed a diagram and showed it to them, and also I took teachings by worthy sages of the past, and explained with it. Learners coming from this with question, I followed them with answers, and separately recorded the words of those questions and answers, with it I added them at the end of the book and named it "Diagram Explanation for Entrance of Learning". On the side I took from other classics and overall that which can be drawn into a diagram, I made diagrams for all of them, and often I appended everywhere my ideas of groundless guesses. I wish to go to teachers and advanced scholars to get corrections as there are no advanced teachers in rural towns, yet I am bound in the registry of exiles, thus for now I only wait for later days. Hopefully one who sees/reeds this forgives unworthy words and teach this, this is my hope. Same year first day of the tenth month, Yongga’s late learner Kwon Kun writes this with respect.

Student 4

洪武庚午秋 謫在金馬郡 有一二初學輩來讀庸學二書者 語之諄復 尙不能通曉 乃本周子之圖參 During the reign of Emperor Hongwu (1328-1398; r. 1368-1398), during the fall of year kyeongo (1390), I was in exile to the district of Keumma (actual Iksan). There is a couple of beginners who came to read the Doctrine of the Mean 中庸 and the Great Learning 大學 [with me]. I repeated my words but they still was not able to understand. Then, I joined a diagram of the basis of Master Zhou.

章句之說 作圖以示又取先賢格言以釋其意 學者因有所問 又隨而答之 仍記其問答之言 以附 Explanations of the Chapters and Lines (1), I make a diagram to show it, moreover, I took the teachings of the previous sage and I explain the meaning by this. Students consequently had interrogations. Again following this, I answered. Separately I noted by supplement the words of these questions and answers.

其後 名之曰入學圖說 旁取他經 凡可作圖者 皆圖之 往往各附臆見之說 After this, I named it “Diagrammatic Explanation for the Initiation of Learning”. By side, I take the heretic classics. All which are possible to make a diagram, I schematize all of them and sometimes I added for each an explication of what would be hardly to be seen.

欲就正於先生長者 鄕無先進 身拘謫籍 姑待後日而已 觀者幸恕其妄言而敎之 是所望也 是歲良月初吉 永嘉後學權近謹題 I wish be corrected by teachers and old persons. There is no capable in the country and my body is bound in the registry of exile. I only wait few days later, then, one’s who fortunately agrees these thoughtless words and taught them. That’s my hope. The first day of the ten month of this year, in Yŏngga (actual Andong), the humbly students Kweon Keun wrote this with precaution.

(1) It may refer to the Zhong Yong zhang gou中庸章句 [Commentary on the Doctrine of the Mean] Da Xue zhang gou大學章句 [Commentary on the Great Learning].

Student 5

In the autumn of the kyeongo cyclic year of Hongwu’s reign [1390], I was in exile in Geumma-gun [modern Iksan area, Jeollabuk-do]. There were a couple of first-time learning students who came to read the two books [Doctrine of the Mean and the Great Learning] with me. I explained to them repeatedly; still, they could not understand it completely. Therefore, I composed a diagram based on Master Zhou [Dunyi]’s diagram and The Chapters and Verses [by Zhu Xi] and showed it to them. I also took the teachings of scholars of the past and explained the meaning with those. The learners consequently had questions, which I answered. Separately, I recorded those questions and answers and attached them at the end of the book, naming it ≪ Diagrammatic explanation for the Initiation of Learning ≫. On the side, I took the classics from which, for all those for which I could make a diagram, I did, and often times, I appended my groundless guesses. I wish for teachers and senior scholars to correct me. For there is no advanced teacher in the country and as I am restrained in the registry of exiles, for the time being I only wait for later days. It is my hope that those who shall read this forgive my ludicrous statements and use this book to teach. This year, on the first day of the tenth month, Yeonga’s(1) late learner Gweon Geun respectfully introduces this book.


(1) Old name for Andong.

Student 6

2. Kweon Kun 懽近, “Preface to the Diagrammatic Explanation for the Initiation of Learning”


In the autumn of kyeongho cyclic year during Hongwo [1st Ming Emperor] reign [1390], I was in exile in Geumma-gun [modern Iksan area]. There were one or two beginning learners who came to read the two books [Doctrine of the Mean and Great learning - Zhong Yong 中庸]. I explained [the writings] to them repeatedly, still they were not able to fully understand. Therefore I composed a diagram based on the diagram of Master Zhou [1] and showed it to them.

章句之說 = > 중용장구 (中庸章句) + 대학장구 (大學章句) (i dont know how this part fits into the translation)

Also I took the teachings of previous worthies [worthy scholars of the past] and explained my thoughts. From this the learners had more questions, accordingly I answered them. I separately recorded those questions and answers, and attached them at the end [of this book]. I named it to say “diagrammatic explanation for the initiation of learning”. On the side, I took from other classics, and I made diagrams for all those that I could. Everytime I attached my theories of groundless guesses. I wish to go to teachers and advanced scholars and be corrected. This country town has no progress. I am bound in the registry of exiles. That is why for the time being I just have to wait for later days. Hopefully the one who sees this will gracefully forgive my groundless words and teach [people with] this [book]. This is my hope.

A junior scholar [2] from Yeong Ga [old name for Andong], Kweon Keun, respectfully writes this introduction.


[1] reference to Taiji tushuo 《太極圖說》 diagram by Zhou Dunyi [2] 後學 late coming scholar

Student 7

In the autumn of kyeongho cyclic year during First Emperor Hongmoo, I was exiled in Geumma-gun. There were one or two novice learners coming to read the two books. I explained them repeatedly, yet they were not able to understand completely. Hence, I composed a diagram of Master Chu Hsi and show it to them. I also took the the maxim of previous wisw men, by doing so, I tried to distangle the meaning. The learners came to have the questions and I answered them. I separately recorded the questions and answers and attached them in the back of it. I named it to say the diagram of entrance to learning. On the side, I took from the other classics that which I can make diagram for the ones that I do that. Often times, I attached of my theories with groundless guess. I want to proceed to be corrected by the teachers and scholars. There is no advancement in countryside. My body is restrained in the registry of exile. For the time being, I just wait for days. Hope that one who sees this to forgive my groundless words and teach this book. This is what I hope for.

Student 8

2. Kwŏn Kŭn[1] 權近, “Preface to the Diagrammatic Explanation for the Initiation of Learning”

In fall, the year of kyŏngu, in the era of Hongwu Emperor, I was in exile in Kŭmmagun[2]. There were one or two beginners that came to read the Doctrine of the Mean and the Great Learning, the two books, [with me]. I explained them repeatedly [the two books] [but] they were still not able to understand completely. Therefore, based on the Diagram of Master Zhou[3] and referring to the explanation of changgu[4], I composed a diagram and showing it and also taking the teachings of the previous sages with it I explained my intention. The students had questions from it and I answered them accordingly. I repeatedly recorded the words of their questions and answers. Adding t to the end of this book, I named it the Diagrammatic Explanation for the Initiation of Learning. On this side I took other classics, which can be more or less drawn a diagram for everything. Often I attached my theories of groundless guessing to all [of them]. I wanted to gain knowledge and be corrected by teachers and more respected people [but] there are no advanced people in this village. I have been restrained in the registry of exile. For this reason I just wait for later days. One who sees this, will hopefully forgive the groundless words of mine and will teach it, that is what my hope is. The first day of the tenth month in this year, the late coming student from Andong Kwŏn Kŭn, with respect.


[1] Kwŏn Kŭn [2] Kŭmmagun 金馬郡 [3] Diagram of Master Zhou [4] changgu

Student 9

Gwon Geun Diagrams and Explanations upon Entering Learning

Gwon Geun (1352–1409) was a Korean scholar at the time of the change from the Goryeo dynasty, during which Buddhism was a prominent religion, to Joseon, during which Confucianism became official ideology. He has the greatest contribution for the distribution of the teachings of Zhu Xi in Korea and for laying the foundations of Korean Neo-Confucian ideology. Gwon Geun was exiled in 1389 for his defense of the loyalist minister Yi Sung-in. He created “Diagrams and Explanations upon Entering Learning”(入學圖說) for some students who came with questions in 1390 while he was in exile. The aim of the book is in easier and visual way to explain the complex system of religious and philosophical doctrines coming through China in Korea. “Diagrams and Explanations upon Entering Learning” is the oldest diagram in Korea and later Gwon Geun’s book became the basis of the works of prominent Korean litterati and served as a model in the creation of other diagrammatic explanations. Famous Toegye Yi Hwan’s “Ten Diagrams on Sage Learning”(聖學十圖), presented to the young King Seonjo to guide him in the Confucian way of kingship, quoted and adopted as a model the book of Gwon Geun. At the beginning of the book is placed Diagram of the Great Ultimate (太極圖), showing the place of the man, the human heart and nature (心性) within the Universe. The diagram clearly presents the principles of Zhu Xi on Heaven (天), Vital energy (氣), the Five elements (五行), yin and yang (陰陽), the Five beginnings (humanity 仁, righteousness 義 propriety 禮, wisdom 智, trust 信) and the Seven emotions (joy 喜, anger 怒, grief 哀, fear 懼, love 愛, hate 惡, desire 欲). Main part of the book take explanations of Chinese cosmological and calendar system. The location of the Sun, Moon and stars determine the years, seasons, months and days on Earth. The ruler was believed to be the main figure to implement the cosmic order on Earth. Gwon Geun’s “Diagrams and Explanations upon Entering Learning” systematize and accessible illustrates the philosophy and religious concepts of Joseon period, which today largely determine the Korean spirituality.

Student 10

In the autumn of the gyeongo year of the Hongwu Emperor’s rein (1390). During the exile in the Geumma-gun (modern Iksan area, North Jeolla Province). There were a couple of beginners who came to read two books (太學 and 中庸). I repeatedly persuade them and still they could not thoroughly understand. Therefore based on the diagram made by Master Ju I made the diagram and let them to see it. And by this I explained the meaning [of these books]. Students asked me the questions following this [explanation] and accordantly I answered them. I separately recorded the words of this questions and answers, I attached [the record] at the end of this book, and named it as ‘Iphaktoseol’ (‘Diagramed explanation of entrance into learning’). On the side of this book, where the diagram can be drawn, I made diagram for all. Often I appended each my explanations of groundless guessing. I want to be corrected by the teachers and more respectable people. I am in the village and I bound by the registry of exile, for now I just wait for later days. If someone who sees this book gracefully moves over this groundless words of mine, and use it to teach, this is my will. First day of the 10 [lunar] month of this year. Yeonga (Andong). To all this scholars after me.

Student 11

In the autumn of kyongoh year during Hongwu’s reign (1390), I was in exile in Kumma-gun, there were a couple of beginners who came to me to read the two books of Yong and Hak (Doctrine of the Mean and Great Learning), I told/explained to them repeatedly, still they were not able to completely understand. Thus based on the diagram of Master Zhou [Dunyi] and referring to the Theory of Chapters and Lines, I composed a diagram and showed it to them, and also I took teachings by worthy sages of the past, and explained with it. Learners coming from this with question, I followed them with answers, and separately recorded the words of those questions and answers, with it I added them at the end of the book and named it "Diagram Explanation for Entrance of Learning". On the side I took from other classics and overall that which can be drawn into a diagram, I made diagrams for all of them, and often I appended everywhere my ideas of groundless guesses. I wish to go to teachers and advanced scholars to get corrections as there are no advanced teachers in rural towns, yet I am bound in the registry of exiles, thus for now I only wait for later days. Hopefully one who sees/reeds this forgives unworthy words and teach this, this is my hope. Same year first day of the tenth month, Yongga’s late learner Kwon Kun writes this with respect.

Student 12

洪武庚午秋 謫在金馬郡

In the autumn of the Gyongo year in the Hongwu reign period I was in exile in Geumma prefecture.

有一二初學輩來. 讀庸學二書者 語之諄復 尙不能通曉

There were one or two beginning students who came to study the two books of the great learning and the doctrine of the mean. I talked to them over and over persuasively but they still did not understand.

乃本周子之圖參.章句之說 作圖以示. 又取先賢格言以釋其意

Followingly I made diagrams to instruct them, based on the diagrams of master Zhou and referring to the commentaries on the chapters and verses. I also took the sayings of previous worthies in order to explain their meaning.

學者因有所問 又隨而答之 仍記其問答之言 以附其後

Following this the students had questions and I in turn answered them. I recorded these questions and answers and attached it at the back.

名之曰入學圖說 旁取他經 凡可作圖者 皆圖之 往往各附臆見之說

I named it ‘Diagrammatic explanation for the initiation of learning’. At the same I time I took other classics and I made diagrams for all that could be turned into diagrams. Often times I attached my explanations of subjective views. .

欲就正於先生長者 鄕無先進 身拘謫籍 姑待後日而已 觀者幸恕其妄言而敎之 是所望也

I wish to seek corrections from teachers and seniors, but in the countryside there are no people who went before me and I am bound in the registry of exile. For now i wait for later days and that is it. If the readers could gracefully forgive my groundless words and teach it. This is what I hope for.

是歲良月初吉 永嘉後學權近謹題

The first day of the tenth month of this year. The late learner from Yeongga, Gweon Geun respectfully wrote this.