Xiang'er's Commentary on Laozi
Xiang'er's Commentary on Laozi ( 老子想爾注 Laozi Xiang’er Zhu ), which is also entitled Xiang'er's Interpretation of Laozi's Book of Dao and its Virtue ( 老君道德經爾訓 Laojun Daodejing Xiang’er Xun ), is a major work of early Daoism. During the last years of the Eastern Han dynasty, the Five Pecks of Rice Tradition ( 五斗米道 Wudou Miadao ) took the Five-Thousand-Character Classic ( 五千文 Wuqian Wen ) as its major scripture, and Xiang'er's Commentary, which had long been lost, was the commentary on Laozi used in the preaching of the Libationers ( 祭酒 Ji Jiu ) of the Rice Tradition ( 米道 Midao ). During the last years of the Qing dynasty, an incomplete manuscript of Xiang'er's Commentary on Laozi's Book of Dao and its Virtue ( 老子道德經想爾注 Laozi Daodejing Xiang’er Zhu ) of the Six dynasties was found in Mogao Grotto, Dunhuang. The book is now stored in the British Museum. As for its author, some say it is Zhang Daoling, some say it is Zhang Lu, and some say that "Xiang'er" is the name of an Immortal. Most of the content of the book conforms to that of the Book of Supreme Peace ( 太平經 Taiping Jing ). It both absorbs the religious ideas and social and political views of the Book of Supreme Peace and contains Heshang Gong's interpretations to the Laozi. The book is the most original and valuable source for the study of the Five Pecks of Rice Tradition. The Collation and Critical Studies of Xiang'er's Commentary on Laozi's Book of Dao and its Virtue ( 老子想爾注校證 Laozi Xiang’er Zhu Jiaozheng ) (Shanghai Ancient Books Press, 1991) compiled by Rao Zongyi in modern times is an indispensable aid for the study of this book.