Monday, June 14, 2010

History Of The Daoist Canon

History Of The Daoist Canon Cover
Throughout history the "Daoist Canon," or Daozang "Vault of the Way," has suffered from:

1. lack of official status
2. lack of agreement about the contents across different Daoist sects
3. the tendency to include ever more works
4. much overlap among the works making it up, which copied constantly from each other
5. little coherence in content from one work to another
6. the inclusion of liturgical and meditational texts that make little sense without orally transmitted exegesis, rarely stable and often lost
7. lack of adequate indexing
8. a tradition that regarded the details of Daoist practice as secret, so that different families transmitted different collections of Daoist books, and none wanted to have their versions published

In the XXth century the last two issues were addressed, and Chinese and western scholars have rescued a fairly extensive canon, published it in multiple copies, and indexed it. Although there are several distinct themes, and some tend to be concentrated in certain sections, most themes are found in most sections, and the traditional organization of this vast library is both a blessing (because it represents a kind of standard) and a (somewhat greater) curse (because it inhibits understanding).

We can trace at least seven different attempts to make order from the chaos, of which the first is perhaps the most influential, even though it is lost:

Canon 1: Organization of the Canon by Lu Xiujing (Vth Century).
This general classification of materials is still used, although the original version (and many of the constituent texts) is lost, and additional texts have been added later.
Canon 2: Kaiyuan Daozang "Precious Canon of the Kaiyuan Reign (AD 713-741) [of the Tang dynasty]"
A complete edition of the Daoist Canon made and then lost in the Tang ? dynasty. The first imperially endorsed edition of the Daoist Canon.
Canon 3: Yunji Qiqian "Seven Bamboo Strips of the Cloudy Satchel"
An famous compendium of Daoist non-ritual texts assembled by ZHANG Junfang ?? (?? in the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127), who also sought to compile what he could of the remaining Tang canon, an effort lost during the Song. Modern reprints of this are about four volumes long. (Some bear the variant name Zhang Junfang.)
Canon 4: Zhengtong Daozang "Daoist Canon of the Zhengtong Reign [1436-1449 of the Ming dynasty]"
An imperially mandated compilation seeking to incorporate all extant Daoist books. This work survived in two copies into the XXth century, when one was found in Paris and one in China. Copies were made in Taiwan and are now found in libraries around the world (including UCSD). Organization generally follows Canon 1.
Canon 5: Wanli Daozang "Daoist Canon of the Wanli Reign [(1573-1619), of the Ming dynasty]"
A supplement to Canon 4.
Canon 6. Daozang Jinghua "The Essential Texts of Daoism"
A work edited in Taiwan and seeking to enlarge Canon 4 by adding post-Ming Daoist texts.

Also read this ebooks:

Borce Gjorgjievski - History Of Western Magic
Howard Phillips Lovecraft - History Of The Necronomicon

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