Chen Jingyuan

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Chen Jingyuan (1024-1094 AD), alias Taichu, was a famous Daoist scholar as well as a Daoist of the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127). He named himself Master of Azure Emptiness ( 碧虛子 Bixuzi ). Chen was from Nancheng of Jianchang (in today's Jiangxi province ). When he was very young, his father died and so did his two elder brothers before long. Therefore he made up his mind to cultivate Dao by living beyond the world. In the 2th year of Qingli (1042 AD), Chen revered Han Zhizhi, the Master of Adoring Dao ( 崇道大師 Chongdao Dashi ), as his teacher at the Temple of Heavenly Celebration ( 天慶觀 Tianqing Guan ) in Gaoyou. The next year Chen succeeded in the examination on Daoist scriptures and became a Daoist priest. Later he traveled around after saying farewell to his teacher. At Mount Tiantai, Chen met Zhang Wumeng, Master of the Primordial World ( 鴻蒙先生 Hongmeng Xiansheng ), and with Zhang's help Chen got to know the obscure meaning of the Book of Dao and its Virtue and Zhuangzi. Afterwards, Chen took journeys in the Jiang and Huai areas, entertaining himself with music and reading. When he arrived in the capital, Chen lived at the Sweet Spring Temple ( 醴泉觀 Liquan Guan ). He was invited to give lectures on the Book of Dao and its Virtue and on the Perfect Book of Nanhua so that he quickly became well known. The head of the Sweet Spring Temple reported him to the court, and Chen was appointed as the secretary of the temple. Emperor Shenzong of the Northern Song heard about Chen's reputation, and asked him to hold the of Great Ritual of Offering for the Universal Heaven ( 普天大醮 Putian Dajiao ), ordering him to write prayers in vermilion on special paper for the ritual. The emperor thought Chen had done a good job after he read Chen's prayer for the ritual, and entitled him as Heavenly Master of Perfect Tranquility ( 真靖天師 Zhenjing Tianshi ). In the 5th year of Xining (1072 AD), Chen presented his commentary on the Book of Dao and its Virtue and the emperor greatly appreciated his talent. So Chen was appointed as Right-Ranked General Supervisor and Secretary of Daoist Affairs, and later became the head of the Palace of Middle Supreme Oneness ( 中太一宮 Zhong Taiyi Gong ), and promoted as Right-Ranked Associate Administrator of Daoism as well. The ministers Wang Anshi and Wang Gui enjoyed being friends of his because of his erudition. After some time, Chen requested to go back to Mount. Lushan with 500 kilos of history books and classic books. He died in the 1st Shaosheng year (1094) of the Emperor Zhezong's reign.

His major works are as follows

  1. A Librarian's Exploration into the Obscure Meaning of the Perfect Book of Dao and its Virtue ( 《道德真經藏室纂微篇》 Daode Zhwenjing Zangshi )
  2. Pronunciations and Annotations of the Perfect Book of Nanhua ( 《南華真經章句音義》 Nanhua Zhenjing Zhangju Yinyi )
  3. Supplements to the Annotations of the Perfect Book of Emptiness and Highest Virtue ( 《沖虛至德真經釋文補遺》 Chongxu Zhide Zhenjing )
  4. Collected Commentaries on the Book of Western Ascension ( 《西升經集注》 Xisheng Jing Jizhu )