Character Endowed by Heaven
This term refers to the moral character endowed to a person by Heaven, also known as the “properties of heaven and earth,” as opposed to the “properties of qi, or vital force.” Some early pre-Qin Confucian scholars maintained that human moral characters originated from Heaven. Confucian scholars of the Song Dynasty, inheriting this concept, further propounded the notion of “characters endowed by Heaven,” meaning that all people were endowed by Heaven with moral characters. “Characters endowed by Heaven” are purely good, providing the inner basis for a person’s moral principle and conduct. However, as human characters are subject to other influences, “characters endowed by Heaven” can be obscured.
Physical matters take up their shape which acquires the properties of qi, or vital force; if we are thus good at returning to it, then the nature endowed by Heaven and Earth will be preserved. (Zhang Zai: Enlightenment Through Confucian Teachings)
Characters endowed by Heaven refer to heavenly laws; the way of following those characters refers to human conduct. (Classified Conversations of Master Zhu Xi)