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Chinese Literature
Guanyinzi 闕尹子 "Master Yin of the Pass"

The Guanyinzi 闕尹子 "Master Yin of the Pass", canonic title Wushang miaodao wenshi zhenjing 無上妙道文始真經 "Perfect classic of the beginning of the scripture of the supreme wonderful Way" (short Wenshi zhenjing), is a Daoist treatise attributed to a Zhou period 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE) writer called Yin Xi 尹喜, courtesy name Yin Gongdu 尹公度 or Yin Gongwen 尹公文. He is also known under the name Guanlingzi 闕令子 "Commander of the Pass", but the term yin also designates a local overseer of important spots. According to legend, Yin Xi lived on Mt. Zhongnan 終南山 in a straw hut. He became a disciple of Laozi 老子 and specialized on the art to reflect the starry sky within the own body. Yin Xi compiled a book with 9 chapters. This story is reported in many books, like Liu Xiang's 劉向 Liexianzhuan 列仙傳, Lu Deming's 陸德明 Jingdian shiwen 經典釋文, Li Daoqian's 李道謙 Zhongnan zuting xianzheng neizhuan 終南祖庭仙真内傳 or Zhu Xiangxian's 朱象先 Zhongnanshan shuojingtai lidai zhenxian beiji 終南山說經臺歷代真仙碑記. The book is mentioned in the imperial bibliography Yiwenzhi 藝文志 in the official dynastic history Hanshu 漢書 under the title of Guanlingzi, but not in later bibliographies. This shows that the book was lost soon after the Han period 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE). It reappeared during the Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) , but it is not known in how far this version is identical to the original book. The Ming period 明 (1368-1644) scholar Song Lian 宋濂 rated it as a forgery by Sun Ding 孫定 from the Song period. The compilers of the imperial series Siku quanshu 四庫全書 were more cautious and estimated that it was written by magicians, i. e. Daoists, during the late Tang 唐 (618-907) or the Five Dynasties 五代 (907-960) periods.
The content of the Guanyinzi is rather eclectic and used Confucian terms as well as such from the Daoist practice of Inner Alchemy. The Guanyinzi is estimated higher than other Daoist treatises like Tianyinzi or Wunengzi. The late date of the compilation of the received Guanyinzi necessarily led to an influence of Buddhist thought as, for instance, seen in the Langkavatara Sutra 楞枷經. Influences of the ideas deriving from the Confucian Classic Yijing 易經 are also to be found.

Source: Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 2, p. 2293. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.

1. 宇 Yu The cosm
2. 柱 Zhu The pillar
3. 極 Ji The beam
4. 符 Fu The tally
5. 鋻 Jian The mirror
6. 匕 Bi The ladle
7. 釜 Fu The kettle
8. 籌 Chou Calculation
9. 藥 Yao Medicine
Chinese literature according to the four-category system

August 17, 2010 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail