IN Description


Purposes, Means and Convictions in Daoism

A Berlin Symposium

Edited by Florian C. Reiter


Har r assowit z Y erlag . \fliesbaden

Bibliografi sche Information der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek

Die DJutsche Nationalbibliothek verzeichnet diese Publikation in der Deutschen

Nationalbibliografie; detaillierte bibliografische Daten sind im Internet

iiber http : // abruf bar.

Bibliographic information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek

The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche

Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data are available in the internet

at http ://

For further information about our publishing program consult our

website http z / / www. harrassowitz-verlag'de

@ Otto Harrassowitz GmbH & Co. KG, -Wiesbaden2007

il,i, -"rt , including all of its parts, is protected by copyright- n"u

"r. beyond the"limits of copyrighi law withoutjhe Permission

.f ,i" publisher is forbidden rnd iubiect to penalty. This applies parric;larly to reproductions, translations, microfilms and storage and processing in electronic- systems. Printed on peimanent/durable pape,r. Printing

"ttd bittdittg: Memminger MedienCentrum AG

Printed in Germany

ISSN 0948-9789 ISBN 97 8-3 -447- 05513 -0

C ontents

Foreword VII

I. Historical and Ritual Traditions I

ANoRpes FnLorrelr-pR General Reflections on Religious Purposes, Means, and Convictions. ................ 3

Tpnny Kr-eenaRN Daoism in the Third Centurv. 1l

JoHN Lecpnwpy The Old Lord's Scripture for the Chanting of the Commandments. 29

Lru Yr Myth and History. The Contribution of Six Dynasties Daoism to the Formation of the Image of the Heavenly Master Zhang Daoling. 57

Grr Rez Imperial Efficacy: Debates on Imperial Ritual in Early Medieval China and the Emergence of Daoist Ritual Schemata 83

II. Varieties of Relisious Activities and Functions......... 111

Tnvroruy BenRprr Daoism in Action? The Princess-Nuns of the High Tang Period. 113

SrepHsN R. BoTpNKAMP What Daoist Body?...... 131

Lr GeNc The Subtlety of Body Divinities and their Fortification. A Discussion of the Basis for Going beyond Life and Death in the Daoist Philosophy of Life. 151

Fr-oRrex C. Rsnpn The Management of Nature: Convictions and Means in Daoist Thunder Magic (Daojiao leifa). 183


VI CoNrnNrs

Lr Yuaxcuo The Development of Daoist Thunder Magic and its Background in the Southern Song Period. 201

Vor-r<ER Or-lps Chinese Literati and Daoist Sacred Space. A Nineteenth Century Inscription in Pujiang County (Sichuan Province) .. 221

WaNc ZoNcvu The Relationship between Quanzhen Daoism and Local Cults. 231

Abbreviations......... 251

Index 253

List of Contributors........... 257

What Daoist Bodv?


"Little girls eat eggs quite as much as serpents do, you lcnow," said Alice. "I don't believe it," said the Pigeon, "bLtt f they do, why then they're a kind of serpent that's all I can say!" Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

When one opens a text on the history of Greek philosophy, one learns of Homeric notions of the self and the make-up of the human body, then of those of the pre- Socratics, of the sources of Aristotle's "three souls," and the like. The mystery religions of early Greece are studied alongside its philosophy. Things are very different when one comes to read about early Chinese philosophy. Benjamin Schwartz' The World of Thought in Ancient China, to take but one notable example from the survey genre, does not contain the words "self' or "soul" or "body" (nor the Chinese words for these concepts) in its glossary at all.r

Meanwhile, in modern studies of Daoism, bbdies are everywhere. Like so many forensic pathologists, scholars of Daoism lay open to our view organs, tissue, humors, and fluids; souls, spirits, and essences; not to mention enticing descriptions of bodies that can fly, divide, transform, or disappear. In this regard, a novice reader in the history of Chinese thought could not be blamed for coming away from the experience convinced that there was a radical disjuncture between early Chinese thought and later religious expression. At least insofar as treatments of the body are concerned, they seem to arise from entirely different cultures.

It would be disingenuous of me to suggest that modern scholars are entirely to blame for this state of affairs. Daoist texts, along with the nearly cognate genre of medical texts, provide somatic detail; other sorts of texts do not reveal so much. But it is not unfair to say that this state of affairs suits us. When speaking of unfamiliar religions, we want to track down foreign souls; when we try to comprehend unfamiliar philosophies or literatures, it is convenient to presuppose familiar mind/body constructions.

I The same is true of A. C. Graham's Disputers of the Tao: Philosophical Argument in Ancient China, (La Salle: Open Court, 1989). But similar examples are legion. As late as 1993, Roger Ames sets out to pen a "preliminary investigation of the classical Chinese conception of body" in an "attempt to reinstate the notion of body in our understanding of the early Chinese philosophical literature as a corrective to what I perceive to be an inappropriate 'psychologization' of the materials." (See Roger Ames, "The Meaning of Body in Classical Chinese Philosophy," in Self as body in Asian theory and practice Thomas P. Kasulis, ed. (Albany: State University of New York Press,1993).

t32 SrrpupN R. BorpNr,qlvrp

Thus, from non-Daoist texts, we have become familiar with the Chinese xin ,b, "heart" or "mind," seat of thought and emotion. We know that it is located in the chest, rather than the head. From scattered references, largely mortuary in subject matter, we also know of two sorts of entities we often translate "soul," the hun ffi (cloudsoul, ethereal soul) and the po frft (whitesoul, spermatic soul) which separate at death, the former tending to fly up and wander and the latter to sink back into the earth.' But these later two terms occur rarely and are discussed even more infrequently in pre-Daoist literature.' It is not unfair to say, then, that what we know about the body in early Chinese philosophical literature is that it "has heart/mind."

The terms used to describe somatic architecture in Daoist texts, by contrast, are too numerous to conveniently catalogue here. Clearly, description of the body is important to the Daoist religion and fully deserving of the many studies that have been devoted to it.

We thus arrive at an impasse. In that the usual analytic procedure when comparing two systems of thought is to contrast their vocabularies, terminological richness and lavish attention at the outset seems incommensurable with terminological poverty and inattention. More dangerously, because what early Chinese wrote about the body, as about other topics, is taken unproblematically as indicative of what they "believed" about the body, Daoist somatology comes to seem almost an alien intrusion on the Chinese scene." Since pre-Han thinkers reportedly believed in a suspiciously Cartesian (but unexamined) body and Daoists believed their bodies to be not only worth the ink, but site of numerous souls, spirits, and powers, there can be no logical continuity.s

In this essay, I want to attempt to see beyond the perplexities apparent at the terminological and evidential levels to examine the metaphorical structures both Chinese Daoists and non-Daoists employ when they talk about the body. In order to

For a useful survey of non-Daoist literature on the two sorts of soul, see Mu-chou Poo, ln Search of Personal Welfare: A View of Ancient Chinese Religion, (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998), pp.62-66. For a survey of occurrences, see K. E. Brashier, "Han Thanatology and the Division of 'Souls'." Early China 2l(1996): 125-158. Brashier derives from the contradictions in literary references to the hun and po the conclusion that early Chinese in fact did not believe in two sorts of soul. As he puts it "The texts previously used to justifii this position. . . seem to indicate that (hunpo) dualism belongs to the realm of scholasticism rather then general beliefs on death" (p. ls8). See Donald S. Lopez, Jr. "Belief," in Mark C. Taylor, ed., Critical Terms for Religious Studies, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1998), pp.2l-35, for a critique of the "ideology of belief. . . that religion is above all an interior state of assent to certain truths." Assumptions are drawn on the basis of such observations. The usual ones are 1) that Daoism represents popular beliefs finally emerging into view; 2) that Daoism is a native reaction to imported Indian religious views; or 3) that Daoism is a perversion of philosophical ideas mixed with popular and/or foreign beliefs.

Wuar Deorsr Booy? r33

begin this project, I will employ some of the insights of George Lakoff and Mark Johnson concerning the way metaphors fundamentally structure thought processes.u

Among possible lines of enquiry, I will here pursue the following three: First, I would like to argue that the "multi-spirit body," as I shall call it, is but one of the metaphors that Daoists employ in talking about the self.7 I will provide evidence that Daoist writers also had recourse to a more universal metaphor for speaking of the self, one that Lakoff and Johnson describe as the "subject-self' metaphor, in which "a person is divided into a Subject and one or more Selves." This way of speaking about the self occurs in early Chinese texts and explicitly coexists with the multispirit body metaphor.

Second, I will investigate what early Chinese were trying to accomplish when they spoke of the body as housing multiple spirits. Under what circumstances was this particular metaphor employed in place of other, equally available ways of describing the selflo The multi-spirit body, I will argue, proves a fragmented or potentially fragmented body, a threatened body or one that has, in glorious fashion, overcome this threat. In short, I will claim that this way of speaking of the self occurs, in both Daoist and non-Daoist texts, when psycho-physical wholeness is endangered, or, conversely, when texts celebrate the restoration or maintenance of that wholeness. Finally, I want to emphasize that the fragmented, multi-spirit body is not confined to Daoism, that it pre-dates the development of Daoism as a religion. I will present evidence that the assumed "religiosity" of such a way of talking about the body has led modern scholars to adopt interpretive strategies to hide it from view.

My goals in this essay are modest ones. I am not aiming for a paradigm shift, but simply for a reconsideration of certain operating assumptions. In place of the assumption that Chinese views of the body are transparent "belief systemsrl I want to foreground several of the various linguistic repertoires available to early Chinese

See particularly George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1980) and Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought, Q{ew York: Basic Books, 1999). While I will employ some of their insights and terminology, I will not here engage the far-ranging conclusions they draw, especially in the latter book. This is primarily because I am skeptical that conclusions on human thought processes can be drawn from texts, especially classical Chinese texts that do not seem to represent the spoken language of the authors of those texts. Nonetheless, I find their approach to the functions of metaphor in spoken and written language insightful and useful. It is, to use Lakoff 's terminology, an idealized cognitive model, and perhaps the central one for Daoism, but only one of several that were productive of Daoist practice. On Lakoff s "ICM" see his LTomen, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categorie,s Reveal About the Mind, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1987), pp.67-74. Several recent studies have emphasized the ways in which cultures are never simple or unitary. Every culture offers a range of possibilities and actors tend to draw promiscuously on this "toolkit" of sometimes conflicting repertoires in justifying and describing their actions. See Ann Swidler, Talk of Love: How Culture Matters (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), especially pp. 24-40 and Robert Ford Campany, "The Meanings of Cuisines of Transcendence in Late Classical and Early Medieval China" T'oung PaoXCI (2005), 1-57.

134 SrppspN R. BotcnNraup

in speaking of the self. Where Daoism is assumed "other," I want to assume continuity with the world of thought within which the religion developed. In sum, I want to show that, through representing their control over the fragmented body as an anodyne to physical, cultural, and spiritual dissolution, Daoist texts provide us with a clear elaboration of one archaic metaphor for speaking about the body.

I want to begin with two illustrations, drawn from Daoist scriptures, of what has been described as the distinctive Daoist view of the bodv. The first is drawn from the Shangqing scriptures of Yang Xi (330-386?).

The body of a person contains the spirits of the Palaces of the Three Primes. Within the Gate of Destiny are the Grand Sovereign of the Mystic Pass and the spirits of the three cloudsouls.' Altogether, then, there are seven spirits within the body who desire that the person live a long life. These are the greatly propitious sovereigns of kindness and benevolence. The seven whitesouls also are born within the same body, but they are thieves who attack the body. This is why they must be controlled. If Daoists know only the methods of seeking transcendence and do not know the way to control their whitesouls, they can but labor in vain.

As for the placement of the Palaces of the Three Primes: The Palace of the Upper Prime is in the brain. Its spirit is the Ruddy Infant, with the byname "Primal Priority" and the alternate name "Thearch's Chamberlain." The Palace of the Central Prime resides in the Scarlet Chamber, that is, the heart. Its spirit is "Perfected One," with the byname "Thane Cinnabar" and the alternate name "shining Durability." The Lower Prime is the Palace of the Cinnabar Field, three inches below the navel. Its spirit is "Newborn," with the byname "Primal Yang" and the alternate name "Valley Mystery."l0

These are the spirits of the triple unity. Whenever you wish to secure your cloudsouls and control your whitesouls, you should always first secretly call the names of these spirits.' '

My second example demonstrates the centrality of these Daoist ideas about the body in another way. Drawn from the early fifth century Lingbao scriptures, it represents a Daoist rewriting of some Buddhist concepts. As we shall see, the multi- spirit body provides the structural foundation over which Buddhist ideas are draped. The section translated below comes from descriptions of the first of the "six penetrating wisdoms" n €ff.H that are associated with vision:

On the Gate of Destiny and the Mystic Pass, as well as the gods that inhabit them, see Robinet, Medi t at ion t a oi's t e, (Paris : Dervy-livre s, | 97 9), pp. 120-29 . The names and bynames of the spirits of the Three Primes derive from distinct textual traditions. See Robinet, La rdvdlation du Shangqing, (Paris: Publications de I'Ecole Frangaise d'Extr€me-Orient, # 137) 2: 30-32 and 80-82. Translation from Stephen R. Bokenkamp, Early Daoist Scriptures, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), pp. 326-27.



WHar Daorsr Bopv?

The Celestial Worthy said: Heaven is associated with penetrating vision, which is to say, celestial eyes enable great and penetrating wisdom, limitless above and below, in the four directions and to the eight reaches of space. There is nothing they cannot illumine. Though we name it a single penetrating wisdom, it encompasses the five colors equally. Since this heavenly penetration is so of itself, there is no diminution. If a person models heaven, the scarlet lads f:pupils] within his eyes will also have beams of the five colors. But if a person does not keep the precepts, the qi of his six senses will not communicate and his openings will not open in wisdom. When such a person widely surveys the five colors, the lads in his eyes will fly out wildly and the light will be occluded. This will cause blindness.r2

Buddhists, perhaps in order to meet expectations they encountered in the crowded Indian religious landscape, found it necessary to forward a concept that seems at odds with the goals of the religion, contending that their practices too resulted in quite this-worldly "spiritual powers" (skt. abhijfio).A standard list categorrzes feats such as the ability to be everywhere at once into six powers, five of which masters outside the religion might also boast and one obtainable only by Buddhists well along the path to enlightenment. In adopting these ideas, Daoists, of course, claimed all six.l3

Given the remarkable abilities with which Daoists credited their sages, one might expect a lively exposition of the ways in which the spiritual powers of Daoists exceed those of the bodhisattvas.ra Instantaneous flight from one spot to another, for instance, is an art much developed in Daoist scripture, so we might expect them to fly rings around circumambulatory Buddhist monks. This is not, in fact, what we find. Instead, this Lingbao acount of the "six spiritual powers" proceeds by categortzation, organizing its list of powers by the traditional "six sense organs," and the "six directions" i€ (expressed here as "heaven, earth, and the four cardinal directions"), both of which are further aligned with a set of six precepts. Beyond this systematization of what must have appeared as a somewhat chaotic Buddhist list, our attention is drawn to the fact that the Daoist account is actually less fantastic than the Buddhist sources on which it drew. While the Bodhisattva possessed of "heaven's eyes"r5 for instance, might observe the past and future lives

HY 177, Taishang dongzhen zhihui shangpin dajie XLiEFtrH-tffiifil, 10b1-6. The Buddhist list, drawn from the Avatamsaka-siltra, includes, simply expressed: 1) supematural vision, 2) supernatural hearing, 3) the ability to know the hearts of others, 4) the ability to know the past lives of others, 5) the ability to travel anywhere at will, and 6) knowledge of the exhaustion of kle6a or "defilement." The Daoist list, by contrast, coincides only with the first two, the remainder being, again simply expressed: 3) supernatural sense of smell, 4) supernatural taste, 5) supernatural heart/mind, and 6) supematural sense of touch and ability. For a lively catalogue of such Daoist feats, see Isabelle Robinet, "Metamorphosis and Deliverance from the Corpse in Daoism," History of Religions 19.l(1979),pp. 57-70. I have purposefully translated not the Sanskrit term divyacaksus "spirit vision," but the Chinese






t36 SrBpuPN R. BorBurauP

of any person with whom he comes into contact, the Daoist is promised only a vague

..penetrating vision into the ten directions of space."16 More surprisingly, instead of

repeating the attractive promises found in any number of Daoist scriptures or indeed

those of its Buddhist model, the Lingbao text expends ink discussing nurturance of

the specific spirit in charge of the elyes (the Scarlet Lad)' since the failure of this

spirit results in poor vision or blindness. There are, in fact, bodily spirits invoked in

each of the examples given. To take another example, for the heart/mind' which is

not in the Buddhist abhijfia list at all, our Lingbao text states:

When wisdom does not penetrate, the spirit of the heart shakes about wildly,

giving rise to emotional attachments and desires' These fattachments and

desires] cause a person to lose their way, destroying fthe heart] spirit and

shortening life."

This reformulation of Buddhist abhiifi o descriptions reveals something fundamental about Daoist claims to knowledge of the body.

Daoists assert that they

can identifz, name, and thus control, not only trre hidden triggers that set bodily

forces in motion but, more importantly, the forces that destroy physical equilibrium'

This control arises out of their intimate knowledge of, and control over, the hidden

"spirits" that inhabit the bodY.

Descriptions of the body such as those recounted above are well-explored terrain

in Daoist studies, so well explored, in fact, that we confidently label them examples

of ,,theDaoist UoO""ts;ut is the body thus described the only one to which Daoists

laid claim? And is it exclusively Daoist?

ffiouldhavesignifiedtothoseunschooledinSanskrittechnica1vocabulary' In early medieval ctti".t.."ti"'vlthis latter group,includtd 11l

*11*^,Y^i*?j",:t1""'.:T population, but a g""OfV nu*t", of learned Chinese monks as well' That

is to say'

commentaries written in ihina more often deal with the nuances of a Chinese translation term

than those of the Sanskrit term underlying it. Modern scholars, on the other hand' still too often

tend to regard chinese as a transparency revealing unproblematically the "underlying Sanskrit."

on some of the implications of ihis practice, r"" go,,.htr (19912) and' for an interesting case'

Bokenkamp ,,chinese Metaphor, Again: Reading - and Understanding - Imagery in the

Chinese poetic Tradition,', Journal of the Americin oriental Society, 109'2 (1989), pp' 211-


16 HY t77,l0bl-4 17 HY 177,12b7-9. 18 And it has been so labeled. See Kristofer Schipper, The

Taoist Body' Karen c' Duval' tr'

(Berkeley: University of california Press, 1993iand the even more detailed Taoist Ritual in

chinese society and History, (New York: Macmillan Publishing company, 1987) by John


Wser Daorsr Boov?

The Subject/Self Body

Since reason is shaped by the body, it is not radically free, because the possible human conceptual systems and the possible .forms of reason are limited.le Lakoff and Johnson

In their recent book, Philosophy in the Flesh, George Lakoff and Mark Johnson describe in detail the fundamental metaphors we use to describe our inner lives. According to Lakoff and Johnson, we conceptualize ourselves as bifurcated into a Subject "locus of consciousness, subjective experience, reason, will, and our 'essence,' everything that makes us who we uniquely are" and the Self or Selves, "everything else about us, our bodies, our social roles, our histories, and so on."26 They describe five instances of this metaphor. The four based on experience - manipulating objects, location in space, social relationship, and empathic projection - seem to me common to all languages with first-person pronouns and reflexive grammatical structures.'' The fifth, which they call ihe "Foik Theory of Essences,, (capitalization theirs) seems more linguistically problematical, though the examples they use to illustrate it are mundane. According to this ..folk theory,',

Eeach person is seen as having an Essence that is part of the Subject. The person may have more than one Self, but only one of those Selves is compatible with that Essence. This is called the "real" or "true" Self.22

Thus expressions like "I (self 2) feel fully myself (self 1) today" indicate that we hold a notion of a real self, our essential self, that should be compatible with our essence (Subject), evidenced in the metaphorical equivalence of self one with self two. Denial of this assertion ("I'm not myself today" - the example they actually provide) also entails identification of a Subject with which self 1 is associated and from which self 2 deviates. Apparently, Lakoff and Johnson derive this category to cover ontological statements that atrfirst do not specifically seem to be embodied in everyday experience. But, as is shown by some of the examples they forward in this category - "She went to India to look for her true self," or "He retreats into himself' - the folk theory of essence is compatible with the other four instances they adduce.

19 Philosophy in the Flesh, p.5. 20 Philosophy in the Flesh, p.268. 21 Philosophy in the Flesh, pp. 269-28L For those unacquainted with the work of Lakoff and

Johnson' typical examples of these four types of metaphor will help to clarify their claims: l) Subject motivation of self as manipulating an object: "You are pmhing yourself too hard.,' 2j Relation of subject to self in space as a container: "I'm just beside myselfioday." 3) Relation of subject to self as a social relationship: "I need to be kinder to myself.', 4; Th" subject,s empathic projection of self onto another: "Given what I've done, if i *.." you, I'd hate me too."

22 Philosophy in the Flesh, p.269.


138 SrBpupN R. BorpNr,A.N{P

"She went to India to look for her true self is a type of spatial emplacement metaphor and "He retreats into himself is an example of the "body as container" metaphor. What is important here is the reahzatron that we regularly locate our true,

essential self in the "subject" and posit further "selves," depending on how we feel,

whether we want to dissemble, etc. In normal, healthy conditions, we locate our essential self unambiguously in the controlling Subject. In times of stress or illness, we might posit one or more Selves - "One side of me tells me to go, another to stay." - but the Subject, the essential self, the "me" of this example, remains that aspect of our imagined self with which we most closely identifi'' That is to say' the "Folk Theory of Essences" applies in most cases when we talk about self.

Later in the work, Lakoff and Johnson discuss briefly the implications of their

findings for the truth claims of religious views of the soul, arguing that the metaphorical ways we have of speaking about the Subject lead naturally to such conceptions. Interestingly, they note that

One might imagine a spiritual tradition in which. . . a Soul is fundamentally

embodied - shaped in important ways by the body, located forever as part of the body, and dependent for its ongoing existence on the body. The results about the mind discussed throughout this book in no way rule out the existence of that kind of Soul, an embodied Soul.23

Given the relentless corporality of Chinese views of soul and the afterlife, Daoism might seem the perfect candidate for such a religion. I will argue, however, that it is not. I want to claim instead that the early Chinese "multi-spirit" metaphors function precisely in the ways Lakoff and Johnson describe.

Early Chinese writers regularly employ the subject/self metaphor in the four everyday senses Lakoff and Johnson delineate. The Chinese language further leads

Daoist writers to speak of the self in terms that look very much like the Folk Theory

of Essences, despite their reference to the multiplicity of spirits that make up the body. Three examples are presented below.

The following is from the Lingbao scriptures and comes from a passage describing Daoist notions of rebirth:

When one is resolute in one's practice and joins with the Dao, the body and the spirit are unified. When these are unified, this is the true fperfected] body.

This return to the father and mother [:the Dao] who originally gave birth to one is to complete the Dao. Within the Dao there will be no further trouble then and one will not die. lf one is obliterated and crosses over, the spirit will depart and the body will not be destroyed. Then the entire body will ftogether with the spirit] return to its root, never departing from it. But, when one commits the myriad transgressions and dies, this is called 'death.' Death is

obliteration and destruction. The self then returns to a father and mother and

23 Philosophy in the Flesh, P. 563.

Wunr Daorsr Booy? 139

entrusts itself to the womb. So long as the karma of these transgressions is not exhausted, one will never return to the true father and mother. flnstead] the spirit will join the ranks of those who labor in the earth, the body will become dust and ashes. . .24

In translating, I have rendered "spirit or spirits" lF in the singular, as if I had not been informed that Lingbao Daoists most frequently describe the body as composed of multiple spirits. But translating the term in the plural would make little difference. We see at death a body returning to dust and "spirit" or "spirits," locus of the "true self' (described above in the text as the single "self' (fd) proceeding either into the underworld or rejoining the body, like the Christian soul its original body at the final trump. The picture is thus to us a familiar one. Death might be dissolution, but the essential …