Scriptures new and old
Updated: 2012-03-30 07:40
A statue of Laozi, Daoism's central figure, in Lingbao city, Henan province. Zhang Hongwei / For China Daily
Perhaps the most direct, unfiltered Chinese response to the Buddhist religion occurs in Daoist texts that were written in imitation of Buddhist sutras. These unfiltered texts were written in the voice of gods, and they were not subject to corrections in retranslation or commentary by knowledgeable priests. They provide an invaluable witness to non-Buddhist Chinese views of all aspects of the imported religion.
An example is the 25 surviving Lingbao scriptures. These 5th-century Daoist scriptures were composed to replace all previous spiritual knowledge, including those found in earlier scriptural and Buddhist texts, with higher and more enduring truths. In these texts, the "enticing other" of Indic Buddhism stands in sharp contrast to the "repulsive other" found in earlier Daoist responses to the Indian religion.
Professor Bokenkamp, of Arizona State University, specializes in the study of Daoism, Dao-Buddhist interactions, and medieval Chinese literature. He will explore Lu Xiujing's Introduction to the Canon of Lingbao Scriptures to demonstrate how Lingbao Daoists forwarded control of language to ensure their scriptural enterprise.
Date: April 2
Venue: CGIS South, Doris and Ted Lee Gathering Room (S030), Harvard University
(China Daily 03/30/2012 page23)