What is “天人合一”, the so-called unity of the heaven, earth, and human”?
The “天” sky here stands for nature and the universe. “人” people stand for us, the whole human being. “一” one, means unity. The word “合” has many meanings.
In modern society, “合” has the meanings of “combination”, “cooperation”, “reasonable”, “conforming”, and so on. So, what is the most ancient meaning of the word “合”? In the original ancient Chinese culture, “合” means that in the solar system, when a planet moves in line with the sun and the earth, and when the earth is in the position between the sun and the planet, it is called “combination –合”.
Although these four characters are directly saying the unity between humans and heaven, ancestors regarded the earth as part of heaven. So, when we are talking about the unity of humans and heaven, it actually means the unity among heaven, earth, and people.
In today’s society, as well as in the old centuries, the most hegemonic view in the world is that: human beings are the most unique life on earth with self-awareness and innovative thinking capability. The talent is given to humans to use, develop, and even rule, conquer and expand their living space, and to empower their power to control earth lives, not only animals and plants but also other human races on the earth that are not of their own kind. It is not difficult to assume that when people express these arguments that they take for granted, they are full of exciting, upward, divergent, blatant, and fiery energy. Thus, it would be very reasonable that some people may ask: Heaven is heaven, and human is human. How can heaven and humans be brought together as one? How can heaven and humans be in a united relationship?
We admit that modern humans are very smart and talented, and their ability to understand and apply things is far beyond the reach of the ancients in the barbaric era. Therefore, for modern humans, it is just like spending a little leisure and relaxation time after a meal to give ourselves a little time and space to read and understand why the ancients proposed the theory of the unity of nature and humans…