James Miller. The Way of Highest Clarity: Nature, Vision and Revelation in Medieval China, Magdalena, NM: Three PInes Press, 2008. US$34.95. ISBN 978-1-931483-09-4
The Way of Highest Clarity was a Daoist religious movement that flourished for a thousand years in medieval China. This book explains its chief religious ideas and practices through three key texts, translated into English for the first time.
“This is the first Western book to present the theology of the Highest Clarity (Shanqing) tradition, a Daoist lineage that originated in southern China in the fourth century c.e. and became the leading Daoist tradition in Tang times. To illustrate the fundamental tenets of Highest Clarity thought and practice, the author translates two of its earliest texts as well as Zhu Ziying’s (976-1029) preface to its fundamental Perfect Scripture of the Great Grotto. Both the translations and the eminently concise presentation of Shangqing worldview are not only essential for the Daoist specialist but also a ‘must read’ for scholars and students of comparative religion.”
—Stephan-Peter Bumbacher, Universität Tübingen
The Esoteric Biography of Perfected Purple Yang documents the life of a Daoist saint who travels through China encountering a wealth of immortals and gods who aid him in his quest for transcendence. They transmit esoteric scriptures to him, including the Central Scripture of the Nine Perfected, also translated here. This text explains a meditation technique that involves visualizing gods descending into the organs of the body at certain times of the year. The book also translates the preface to the Perfect Scripture of the Great Grotto, a theological reflection on the practices of Highest Clarity, which connects the tradition back to the fundamental principles of the Dao.
Together with the introductory essays on the concepts of nature, vision and revelation, the book provides an overview of a unique and fascinating religious imagination, which will be of interest to anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of China’s cultural heritage.:
Table of Contents
|1. The Way of Highest Clarity||
|5.The Esoteric Biography of Perfected Purple Yang||
|6. The Central Scripture of the Nine Perfected||
|7. Preface to the Perfect Scripture of the Great Grotto||