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A Fourth-Century Daoist Family

The Zhen'gao, or Declarations of the Perfected, Volume 1

Stephen R. Bokenkamp

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This volume is the first in a series of full-length English translations from one of the foremost classics in Daoist religious literature, the  Zhen gao or  Declarations of the Perfected. The  Declarations is a collection of poems, accounts of the dead, instructions, and meditation methods received by the Daoist Yang Xi (330–ca. 386 BCE) from celestial beings and shared by him with his patrons and students. These fragments of revealed material were collected and annotated by the eminent scholar and Daoist Tao Hongjing (456–536), allowing us access to these distant worlds and unfamiliar strategies of self-perfection. Bokenkamp's full translation highlights the literary nature of Daoist revelation and the place of the Declarations in the development of Chinese letters. It further details interactions with the Chinese throne and the aristocracy and demonstrates ways that Buddhist borrowings helped shape Daoism much earlier than has been assumed. This first volume also contains heretofore unrecognized reconfigurations of Buddhist myth and practice that Yang Xi introduced to his Daoist audience.

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Stephen R. Bokenkamp