qiú fànɡxīn 求放心
Search for the Lost Heart
To search for and retrieve one’s lost heart is a way to cultivate one’s morality propounded by Mencius. In his view everyone was born with a benevolent heart, which meant the “four beginnings” of benevolence, righteousness, rites and social norms, and wisdom. These are virtues conferred by Heaven and the sources of human kindness. However, people may be influenced by external factors or the environment when growing up. In that case, their innate goodness may be weakened or obscured and hence they may act or speak in contrary to moral principles. Therefore, when cultivating one’s moral character, one must find and recover one’s innate good heart.
One surely knows to look for the chicken or dog and bring them back when he loses them. However, one may not know to look for his heart when he loses it. The way of learning is no other than searching for one’s lost heart. (Mencius)