Friday, July 15, 2011

The Next Taoist Classic

We have just about run the course with the Book of Chuang Tzu. Beginning on Tuesday, we will tackle another classic Taoist text: The Book of Lieh Tzu. The only copy I have found available on the internet and in the public domain is the translation by Lionel Giles written in 1912. It should be noted that, for some unknown reason, Giles only translated 7 of the 8 chapters (chapter 7 is omitted).

Here's some information from Wikipedia about Lieh Tzu or Liezi.
The Liezi is a Daoist text attributed to Lie Yukou, a circa 5th century BCE Hundred Schools of Thought philosopher, but Chinese and Western scholars believe it was compiled around the 4th century CE.

The first two references to the Liezi book are from the Former Han Dynasty. The editor Liu Xiang notes he eliminated repetitions in Liezi and rearranged it into eight chapters (pian). The Book of Han bibliography section says it has eight chapters and concludes that since the Zhuangzi quotes Liezi, he must have lived before Zhuangzi. There is a three-century historical gap until the next evidence of the Liezi: the Jin Dynasty commentary by Zhang Zhan (fl. ca. 370 CE). Zhang's preface claims his Liezi copy was transmitted down from his grandfather. All received Liezi texts derive from Zhang's version, which is divided into eight chapters (juan).

During the reign of Emperor Xuanzong of Tang, the Liezi was designated a Daoist classic, completing the trilogy with the more famous Daodejing and Zhuangzi, and it was honorifically entitled the Chongxu zhenjing ("True Classic of Simplicity and Vacuity", a.k.a. Classic of the Perfect Emptiness). This "Simplicity and Vacuity" is Wing-tsit Chan's translation; chongxu (literally "soar/young/simple empty/skies/modest") usually means "soar aloft, rise high; carefree, unburdened with ambition". During the reign of Emperor Zhenzong of Song, the Liezi was further honored as the Chongxu zhide zhenjing (“True Classic of Simplicity and Vacuity and Perfect Virtue”).
Unlike the Book of Chuang Tzu, I will only feature two posts per day: 7:30 am and 8:30 pm. After we finish this serialized set of posts, I plan to move on to other lesser known Taoist texts.

1 comment:

  1. Uh, do you know of the Chinese text project? Its online library of Chinese and Taoist texts including the Liezi. Thought you may find it useful.


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