Be Totally Absorbed (in Reading and Learning)
This term originally refers to an attitude in reading classics, requiring one to become deeply absorbed in the work as if one were submerged in water, repeatedly ruminating on its meaning until one is able to fully digest its significance so that it informs one’s own feelings and insights. In time this becomes a way of learning, impelling one to mobilize one’s own experience and accumulated knowledge to think deeply about what he is reading so that knowledge is endlessly renewed and refreshed. As a method of understanding and interpreting literary works, it requires one to place one’s own thought in the particular world of the work so that one becomes deeply aware of why the work was so written and can master its subtle meanings and artistic conception. This method is premised on the understanding that literary works can be deeply inspiring and enlightening.
When a scholar reads a book, he must sit straight, read attentively, read out softly, focus all his thought on the book, be entirely absorbed in it, and meditate on its significance from his own experience. (Classified Conversations of Master Zhu Xi)
Such language has an inner coherence and logical line of thought. When a person has been deeply absorbed in it for long, he naturally understands how to articulate its complexities and unite its core ideas. There is no need to rely on theories and discussions extraneous to the work. To do so would only be to stifle what the poet intended to express. (Zhu Xi: Collected Works of Zhu Xi)
By carefully studying the literary context of a text, and by becoming so absorbed in the text as to master its essence, one will be able to discern the essential differences between different literary works. (Wang Fuzhi: Desultory Remarks on Poetry from Ginger Studio)