Golden Flower – origini
The Taiyi jinhua zongzhi and the Spirit-writing Cult to Patriarch Lü in Qing China
The Taiyi jinhua zongzhi (Great Unity’s Instructions on [Developing] Golden Florescence), ever since its translation by Richard Wilhelm and C. G. Jung under the title “The Secret of the Golden Flower”(1929), has been one of the best known Chinese religious classics in the West. However, as Daoist historical studies grew, it received less attention from scholars, because they tended to concentrate more on the formative period of the religion in the middle ages. Also, the text was thought rather spurious. As the late Dr. Anna Seidel already remarked, “the text of this movement [of inner alchemy] translated by Richard Wilhelm is unfortunately of a rather recent date and of doubtful transmission” (1995, 26-27).
However, this is not entirely true if one takes the trouble to look at the editions and transmission of the text within the activities of popular religious cults in Qing China. The fact that the text is of comparatively recent date makes it interesting for an entirely different area of Daoist studies, and its religious role can be better understood, especially in the light of Monica Esposito’s recent analysis of extant versions and their lines transmission (1998). She explored the following six texts:
(1) Xiantian xuwu taiyi jinhua zongzhi (Instructions on [Developing] Golden Florscence by the Great Unity of Former Heaven, Emptiness and Nonbeing). In Lüzu quanshu (Complete Collection of Patriarch Lü), edited by Shao Zhilin, dat. 1775.
(2) Fuyou shangdi tianxian jinhua zongzhi (Instructions on [Developing] Golden Florescence by the Celestial Immortal, the Highest Lord Fuyou). In Quanshu zhengzong (Complete Collection of the Orthodox Lineage), edited by Jiang Yupu, dat. 1803.
(3) Xiantian xuwu taiyi jinhua zongzhi. In Lüzu quanshu zongzheng (Complete Collection of the Orthodox Lineage of Patriarch Lü), edited by Chen Mou, dat. 1852.
(4) Jinhua zongzhi. In Daozang jiyao (Repository of the Daoist Canon), edited by Jiang Yupu, dat. ca. 1796-1819.
(5) Lüzu shi xiantian xuwu taiyi jinhua zongzhi. In Daozang xubian (Supplement to the Daoist Canon), edited by Min Yide (1758-1836), dat. 1834.
(6) Changsheng shu (Book of Long Life), originally entitled Taiyi jinhua zongzhi. In Changsheng shu xuming fang hekan (Integrated Edition of the Book of Long Life and Its Longevity Techniques), edited by Dan Ranhui, dat. 1921.
Through comparison of these texts, Esposito has shown that the Jinhua zongzhi was first formed as a spirit-writing scripture in the Jingming (Pure Brightness) tradition and was subsequently accepted by several different sects (see Esposito 1996; 1998a; 1998b). The lines of transmission of the text can be clearly asserted by tracing various factors that were eliminated–or added–at the various stages of acceptance. As a result it becomes evident that the text was appropriated in a rather disrespectful manner from one sect to another. They each tried to make use of the text as proof for their very own legitimacy, showing that it had come down in none other but their tradition or lineage. This appropriation of the text implies not only the presence of a common need for a unifying and legitimating document among these sects, but also the existence of common structure to their faith. Interestingly, the sects involved in the appropriation of the Jinhua zongzhi were also deeply engaged in spirit-writing, and especially spirit-writing linked with Lüzu, Patriarch Lü, the poet and immortal Lü Dongbin (see Baldrian-Hussein 1986).
The following discussion of the text will present the process of formation of several of its versions, concentrating on the way each sect represented the relationship between Lüzu and themselves through spirit-writing. This then, it is hoped, will shed a little light on the ways in which spirit-writing functioned, or at least was expected to function, in each sect that used it to asserted its legitimacy. I will begin by focusing on the formation of Shao Zhilin’s version, then examine the development of Jiang Yupu’s text, to finally look at Min Yide’s edition as contained in his Gushu yinlou cangshu (Collected Books from the Ancient Pavilion)and in the Daozang xubian listed above.(1)
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