JDS 16 (2023)


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Katerina GajdosovaBeing One with Dao: The Emergent Notion of Freedom in Early Chinese Cosmological Texts
Christina PaneraEmbodying Heaven: The Ancient Philosophy of Dance in China
Qianqian WeiVirtue and Its Traces: Guo Xiang’s Commentary on the Legendary Sage-Kings in the Zhuangzi
Xin Shirley YangTranscendence in Xi Kang’s Poetry
Massimo IzzoThe Origin of The Secret of the Golden Flower: Sources and Translations
Taliesin ThomasExplosion into Emptiness: Daoist Reverberations in the Art of Cai Guo-Qiang
Jin Young LimTaijiquan: A Daoist Contemplative Practice as a Model of Holistic Education

Roger JahnkeEmbodied Sciences of the Ancients: The Self as Laboratory
Solala TowlerTea Mind: Living the Way of Tea
Shuen-fu LinCultivating the Flood-like Qi
Jeffrey W. DippmannDaoist Women’s Experience: Through the Lens of Victor Turner
Mark SaltveitHappy Fish, Blind Men, and an Elephand

Katerina Gajdosova – Being One with Dao: The Emergent Notion of Freedom in Early Chinese Cosmological Texts

Several excavated cosmological texts from the Warring States period encourage their readers to stop practicing divination and relying on ancestral authority and instead start distinguishing what is right and wrong from within themselves. The texts describe this turn towards one’s self as “embracing the one,” “holding on to the one,” or “being one with Dao.” In the philosophical discourse shaped by the ancient Greek worldview, there is a contradiction between “looking for answers within oneself” and obeying a higher cosmic power or principle. However, using the proposed cosmological image to reformulate the question of human agency and freedom, one may obtain an alternative view of the self that may, under certain conditions, coincide with the undifferentiated source of all things and therefore be free in a radical sense. Through examples from the texts, both excavated and received, the article illustrates how the problem of freedom can be reinterpreted within a different cosmological framework.

Christina Panera – Embodying Heaven: The Ancient Philosophy of Dance in China

Dance serves an important role in many religious movements, as it facilitates a particularly engaging bodily awareness through one’s mind, senses and emotions, allowing them to consciously achieve a higher state of consciousness, interpreted as religious experience. Adopting a diachronic perspective, this study aims to foster a better understanding of the experiential, sensual and performative dimensions of dance in Confucian and Daoist philosophies. The ritualistic choreography of Confucianism and the flowing improvisation of Daoism indicate the ability of dance to literally and metaphorically express an individual’s ideal “meeting point,” endeavouring to fulfil the Chinese ideal of the heavenly “being.”

Qianqian Wei – Virtue and Its Traces: Guo Xiang’s Commentary on the Legendary Sage-Kings in the Zhuangzi

This paper examines how Guo Xiang’s view on the virtues of legendary sage-kings such as the Yellow Emperor, Yao, Shun, and Yu differs from their depiction in the Zhuangzi, based on his commentary on the text and with cross-references to his fragmentary commentary to the Analects. Despite the varying virtues of the sage-kings and their criticisms in the Zhuangzi, Guo Xiang reconciled them and argued that not only were they equally praiseworthy, they were indeed no different at all. To him, the criticisms of the sage-kings in the Zhuangzi only targeted at the traces of their sagely virtue rather than the sagely virtue itself. The virtues of the sage-kings, according to the Zhuangzi, caused more harm than good, whereas Guo Xiang argued that a sageless epoch was undesirable. The paper will conclude with Guo Xiang’s political insights on the cause of the harmful impact of virtue’s degeneration and chaos in the world.

Xin Shirley Yang – Transcendence in Xi Kang’s Poetry

This paper examines Xi Kang’s poetry, notably his works on “roaming intro transcendence” (Youxian shi 遊仙詩), revealing their religious dimensions as also entangled worldly aspect. I argue that any content referring to transcendence or immortality should be understood in an actively religious context, and that Xi Kang’s religious activities and creations also serve temporal functions. This mixed feature opens a path toward an empathetic understanding of early medieval literati like Xi Kang and may even establish an enduring pattern among pre-modern intellectuals.

Massimo Izzo – The Origin of The Secret of the Golden Flower: Sources and Translations

This paper presents an investigation into sources, versions, and translations of the alchemical texts Taiyi jinghua zongzhi 太一金華宗旨 (The Secret of the Golden Flower) and Huiming jing 慧明經(Wisdom Scripture), translated by Richard Wilhelm and commented by Carl Gustav Jung. The study aims to help psychologists in the analysis of Daoist concepts and techniques in psychological terms, providing further historical research and some corrections to previously published materials. The study ascertains the chronology and provenance of the Taiyi jinghua zongzhi, highlighting some improper attribution. It also reports on the studies that identified the origin of Thomas Cleary’s version, together with scholarly criticisms. The author then proposes alternative translations, notably a rarely cited 1967 Taiyi jinghua zongzhi rendition with a psychological commentary derived from a Ph.D. thesis presented at the C. G. Jung Institute. The study also reports the criticism of Wilhelm’s and Jung’s translation and interpretation of the Huiming jing, a primary source for Jung’s psychological analysis, and recommends updated references to academic translations.

Taliesin Thomas – Explosion into Emptiness: Daoist Reverberations in the Art of Cai Guo-Qiang

What can contemporary art teach us about ancient Daoist concepts of emptiness? This article explores the notion of Daoist inspired voidness as witnessed in the photograph The Century with Mushroom Clouds: Project for the 20th Century (1996) by artist Cai Guo-Qiang 蔡國強 (b. 1957). Cai’s The Century portrays a lone figure with a cloud of white gunpowder smoke moments before its impending disappearance—his performative gesturereflects a potent cultural symbol of emptiness that simultaneously embodies the ephemeral nature of all forms of manifestation. I suggest this artwork echoes Daoist undertones concerning worldly expression, transformation, and the dreamlike appearance of reality in connection with primordial emptiness. The work builds upon a lineage of Chinese art practices and a rich realm of Daoist ideas concerning the living void as “eternally present” (Mitchell 1988, 25). According to this account of emptiness, on the one hand we experience what seems to be the real corporeality of existence (Cai’s explosive creation as captured in a photo), and on the other, we understand this moment is elusive and dreamlike in origin (like a fleeting summer cloud). This interpretation of emptiness illustrates the transient, floating illusion of our material world by way of an imaginative aesthetic embodiment that is ultimately void. Thus, our engagement with Cai’s artistic expression of emptiness provides a unique encounter with Daoist consciousness through a contemporary artwork.

Jin Young Lim – Taijiquan: A Daoist Contemplative Practice as a Model of Holistic Education

This paper examines the intersections between Taijiquan 太極拳, ancient Chinese philosophy, and holistic education. It introduces the history, philosophy and practice of Taijiquan through the lens of traditional Yang Family Taijiquan, and suggests that a Taiji-Daoist pedagogy can help fulfill the goal of holistic education in fostering six different kinds of connections. With proper restructuring, quality training, and pedagogical innovations, Taijiquan has a great potential to evolve into a more structured contemplative practice that can help redefine “education” and “learning” as a means to “refine-cultivate wisdom” as well as to improve the physical and mental well-being of students.