|Jennifer Lundin Ritchie
|The Guodian Laozi and Taiyi shengshui: A Cognitive Science Reading
|Rectifying the Deep Structures of the Earth: Sima Chengzhen and the Standardization of Daoist Sacred Geography in the Tang
|Nature, Motion, and Stillness: Li Daochun’s Vision of the Three
|Two Sides of a Mountain: The Modern Transformation of Maoshan
|Bede Benjamin Bidlack
|Alchemy and Martial Arts: Wang Yannian’s Gold Mountain Daoism
|The Biochemistry of Internal Alchemy: Decapitating the Red Dragon
|Dylan Bolles & Lynette Hunter
|Scoring Daoist Energy: A Rhetoric of Collaboration
|Feldenkrais’s Spontaneous Action and Laozi’s Wuwei
|Daoist Themes by Women Artists
|The Gourd of Small Penglai: The Ecological Symbols of Qiu Changchun
Jennifer Lundin Ritchie – The Guodian Laozi and Taiyi shengshui: A Cognitive Science Reading
Scholarly debate continues as to the nature and purpose of the Guodian edition of the Laozi (also known as the Daode jing). Its age, its mainly “Confucian” tomb-mates, and its written contents make it an extremely unusual version of the text. Many themes “characteristic” of the text are not present: urgings to be weak and passive like water and the female, references to Confucian terms and values, plus most chapters referring to Dao. Its three bundles contain previously unseen material, including a new cosmology, called the Taiyi shengshui, which does not correspond to any other allegedly Daoist cosmology. Putting the Guodian Laozi in its historical, philosophical, and political context has provided insight into the reason this text (and the whole collection) was assembled the way it was. Several scholars support the idea that the Guodian Laozi was meant to be a tool for rulership, and specifically used for instructing the Crown Prince Qingxiang of Chu. Recognizing rulership as the dominant theme of the text, I was able to use cognitive science to develop a new lens through which to read the Guodian Laozi,based on the embodied experience of Verticality, which includes the entailments of status, power, and leadership. The received Laozi has traditionally been read through the lens of dichotomy, driven by the prominence of yin and yang metaphorical entailments. However, since the contents of the Guodian Laozi do not seem to correspond well to the received text, I believe it should be read through a different lens—one more suited to its particular contents and themes. This new lens not only retains the relevant entailments of the yin-yangmetaphor, but it goes much farther in explaining the terms and images present in the Guodian edition of the text, and reframes them such a way that clearly shows how almost every verse in the text relates to rulership.
Lucas Weiss – Rectifying the Deep Structures of the Earth: Sima Chengzhen and the Standardization of Daoist Sacred Geography in the Tang
The 8th century saw Shangqing Daoism reach unprecedented heights in terms of imperially sanctioned ritual authority in Tang China. This paper discusses the role of space, particularly sacred mountains and caves, in the attainment of that authority. I look closely at the relationship between the Shangqing patriarch Sima Chengzhen and Emperor Xuanzong. Sima’s work to transform the imperial rituals of the Five Marchmounts served to align imperial cult cosmology with that of Shangqing. I further examine Sima’s emplacement by the emperor at the mountain monastery of Wangwu. I argue that the centrality of Wangwu shan within the Shangqing sacred geography made it an ideal setting not only for Sima to express his authority over the sacred spaces of the imperium, but also to establish a systematic sacred geography for Shangqing Daoism.
Paul Crowe – Nature, Motion, and Stillness: Li Daochun’s Vision of the Three Teachings
This article examines the way in which inner alchemist Li Daochun (fl. 1280-1290) understood the relationship between his own practice of cultivation and that of Buddhists and Ru Literati. Though Li viewed himself as a practitioner of Golden Elixir methods he also understood his practice from the perspective of what he called the “Dao of Peerless Orthodox Reality.” According to him this Dao existed at a level that both transcended and united the “Three Teachings.” Two aspects of this unifying Dao will be examined here: First is the concept of inner nature, which Li believed Daoists, Buddhists, and Literati shared. Second is the metaphor of motion and stillness in relation to the cultivation of that inner nature. By examining these facets of Li’s perspective on practice one gains insight into his sense of religious identity and an appreciation for the self-consciously ambiguous or perhaps fluid nature of that identity.
Ian Johnson – Two Sides of a Mountain: The Modern Transformation of Maoshan
This paper examines the reconstruction of the Maoshan temple complex in Jiangsu province. Since being almost completely obliterated between the 1930s and 1970s, it has been rebuilt in spectacular fashion, with more than a dozen temples dotting the region. Most are part of an ambitious tourism project but one, the nunnery Qianyuan guan, has taken a different approach, shunning entrance fees and mass tourism. These differing strategies reflect wider pressures facing Daoism and other organized religions in China to support the local economy by promoting tourism. They also raise questions about potential gender-based differences in Chinese religion and the ability of China’s traditional religions to compete in a new, dynamic religious landscape.
Bede Benjamin Bidlack – Alchemy and Martial Arts: Wang Yannian’s Gold Mountain Daoism
Historians of modern internal alchemy understand Sun Xuanqing’s Gold Mountain Daoism to have been absorbed by Zhao Bichen’s Thousand Peaks subsect. However, Wang Yannian, a Taipei taiji quan master, taught a method of internal alchemy that shared Zhao’s lineage and preserved the Gold Mountain name. This article explores the differing accounts of how Gold Mountain left the confines of its Complete Perfection roots. They reveal different sentiments of the laity towards the clergy in Republican China. In addition, the article explores the details and aims of the method itself. Even though Wang was clear that the goal of the method was to produce an immortal pill, he emphasized meditation’s utility as an internal foundation for taiji quan. Nonetheless, the system reveals the sophistication of Daoist alchemy and is clearly not simply a basic qigong meditation.