Tao Hong Jing and his exegetic activities on Maoshan Revelations

Submitted by James Miller on Wed, 05/23/2012 - 12:29
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TitleTao Hong Jing and his exegetic activities on Maoshan Revelations
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsCheng, L.
PublisherThe Chinese University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
Place PublishedHong Kong
Thesis Typephd
Keywords0304, 0318, Biographies, Exegetic works, Hongjing, Maoshan Revelation, Medieval Taoism, Philosophy, Religion, religion and theology, Shangqing Taoism, SOCIAL sciences, Tao, Taoism, Taoist scripture

This thesis examines the Taoist thoughts of Tao Hongjing (456-536) through a detailed analysis of his exegetic work on Maoshan Revelations. I will attempt to figure out the structure and elements of Tao's Taoist thoughts in my reading of the exegesis, and then reconsider Tao's other writings and Taoist practices within the interpretative framework consists of the structure and theological elements found in the exegesis. Thus, this thesis will consider the following questions respectively: how Tao's individual life and mysterious experiences shaped his understanding of revealed manuscripts; Tao's role as compiler and author in the formation of Maoshan Revelations, setting Tao's exegesis within the tension between fragmentary revealed manuscripts and Taoist scriptures with coherent structures and systematical Taoist thoughts; how one can reconstruct and understand Tao's Taoist thoughts through the structure and contents of his exegesis on Maoshan Revelations, within which his Taoist thoughts unfolded. This work will bring forth an alternative account for Tao as an individual with Taoist belief that based his religious world on revealed Taoist teachings. With the help of biographical study on Tao's mysterious experiences and dreams and reading into the exegesis, the significances of revelations in Tao's Taoist thoughts will be illuminated in following ways: Tao's mysterious experiences made him believe in the authenticity of the revealed teachings; his sympathetic understanding of revealed manuscripts drew him into the exegetic work, within which he unfolded his Taoist thoughts; Tao turned to the revealed teachings of the immortals through meditation when he run into problems during his Taoist practice. The thesis starts with a biographical study of Tao's life and religious experiences by regarding him as an individual living in given social and cultural milieu, in contrast to the general explanatory model related to the development of Taoism in the medieval China. The purpose of the biographical study is to acquire a sympathetic understanding of Tao's point of view of the revealed texts, which will partly explain why Tao concentrated on the revealed manuscripts. Reading into the exegetic texts, I will reconsider Tao's status in the between of revealed manuscripts and Maoshan Revelations with their own meanings and coherent structures, bases on which new understanding of the relation between Tao and Maoshan Revelations will be elucidated with discovery of Tao's authorship in the formation of the Maoshan Revelations. After textual criticism of the exegetic texts, setting the structure and contexts of Tao's exegesis as the starting point, I will link up the exegetic texts with Tao's other writings to reconstruct his Taoist thoughts.