By Wei Wu Wei

These thirty-four strong essays, in response to Taoist and Buddhist notion, represent a consultant to what the writer calls “non-volitional living”—the old realizing that our efforts to understand our precise nature are futile. Wei Wu Wei explains those venerable non secular traditions within the context of recent event, utilizing wit and significant precision to show their profound perception into the very nature of lifestyles. This crucial Zen Buddhist vintage, reissued after a long time of unavailability, completes the gathering of 8 volumes by means of the masterful, elusive Wei Wu Wei

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115 THE TAIPING MISSIONARY PROJECT When the Celestial Master who figures as the main speaker in the TPJ sent disciples into the world to preach the arrival of great peace he resembled the leaders of the Daoist movements of the Later Han dynasty. He taught believers they should change their lifestyle and adhere to new values, and he proclaimed the need for social and political reorganization. Some of his ideas resemble those of Yellow Turban and Celestial Master Daoism, but this does not mean that the authors of the TPJ derived their insights from those movements or that Zhang Jue and Zhang Lu learned from the TPJ.

Strickmann aptly points to the contradiction between Buddhist and certain literati reports of the emperor’s reign that make him something of China’s Buddhist ruler comme il faut, and the Sui shu account, which stresses Tao Hongjing’s impact on the emperor. 141 The emperor’s promotion of Buddhism and the consequent repression of Daoism from the year 504 onward went hand in hand with an increased support for Tao Hongjing and in particular for his alchemical experiments. However, the imperial interest in Tao Hongjing’s activities did not stretch to everything the Daoist deemed important.

Whether a promise of salvation and spiritual transformation was at stake, we cannot tell, but we know that the rebels’ program was of some general interest. They had numerous contacts with all strata of the population. What they promulgated was said to have been noticed and read in the capital, and there is also Fan Ye ’s spurious note that the Yellow Turban leader made use of a text on great peace, as will be discussed later. What did Zhang Jue and his followers believe in? They believed in a world of spirits who had the power to cause, prevent, and heal illness, and also in the arts and techniques associated with the name of the Yellow Emperor through which they hoped to increase health, energy, and power and thus to prolong their lives.

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