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Persons in Chinese History - Liu Ling 劉伶

Periods of Chinese History
Liu Ling 劉伶 (ca. 220-300), also called Liu Ling 劉靈, courtesy name Liu Bolun 劉伯倫, was a thinker of the Western Jin period 西晉 (265-316). He came from Pei 沛 (modern Suxian 宿縣, Anhui ) and was one of the Seven Worthies of the Bamboo Grove ((zhulin qixian 竹林七賢). It is known that he once occupied the post of aide to the general wielding authority (jianwei canjun 建威參軍) under the Cao-Wei dynasty 曹魏 (220-265). During the Taishi reign 泰始 (265-274) of the Jin he refused all offers to take over an official post, with the words that the Daoist principle of non-activity (wuwei 無為) was the best way of reigning. He dispised the rules of propriety hailed by the Confucian scholars and only adhered to his own wishes and worldview. "Trees and the soil", he said, "have the shape of bones, and the universe is too small". He often met with Ruan Ji 阮籍 and Ji Kang 嵇康 in the famous Bamoo Grove where the colleagues engaged in "pure discussions" (qingtan 清談). Liu Ling was inspired by Zhuangzi's 莊子 theory of the equality of all things, and was convinced that all the ten thousand things and his own heart possess the same spirit and value. Heaven and earth were not larger than a single piece of stone, and the own self was nothing in comparison to the universe. This kind of relativist worldview induced him to give up himself and to identify himself with the beaker of wine that he emptied day by day. It is said that if he was not drinking, he used to play darts. Drinking helped him to "wander around in a free and easy manner", as the Daoist philosophers recommended it. There is a story that he often used to ride out in a chariot drawn by deers, a vehicle that was usually followed by a large crowd becauce Liu Ling distributed wine among them. To these followers he said that they shall bury him when he will die.
Of his writings, only the ode to the virtue of wine, Jiude song 酒德頌, has survived.

Sources: Li Zhonghua 李中華 (1992), "Zhulin xiqian 竹林七賢", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 3, p. 1613. ● Gao Riguang 高日光 (1996), "Liu Ling 劉伶", in Feng Kezheng 馮克正, Fu Qingsheng 傅慶升 (ed.), Zhuzi baijia da cidian 諸子百家大辭典 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), p. 78.

February 13, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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