Du Guangting

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Life of Du Guangting

Du Guangting (AD 850-933) was a celebrated Daoist figure of the Five Dynasties following the last years of the Tang dynasty. He was styled Binsheng (or Binzhi) and had the sobriquet Dongying Zi, and was a native of Jinyun, Waizhou (or Chang'an). Du Guangting was diligent and eager to learn, studied Confucianism in his early youth, and possessed a wide knowledge about Confucian classics and philosophical works. In the period of Xiantong of the Tang dynasty, he failed in the imperial examinations and was deeply touched by the vicissitudes of life. Therefore, he went to Mt. Tiantai to Cultivate Dao, and became a student of Ying Yijie, a Daoist priest on Mt. Tiantai and fifth generation successor of Sima Chengzhen. Emperor Xizong of the Tang dynasty heard about his reputation, and therefore called him to the capital time and again and granted to him the title "Imperial Writer of the Kylin Virtue Hall' ( 麟德殿文章應制 Linde Dian Wenzhang Yingzhi ). Later, he went to Shu (present-day Sichuan) and stayed in Chengdu in order to seek refuge. There he was appreciated by Wang Jian, founder of the Later Kingdom of Shu, who appointed him as Senior Official of the Golden Seal and Violet Ribbon in Charge of the Emperors' Diet ( 金紫光祿大夫 Jinzi Guanglu Dafu ), as well as Chief Councillor ( 左諫議大夫 Zuo Jianyi Dafu ) of the emperor. He also conferred on him the title 'Duke of the Kingdom of Cai' ( 蔡國公 Caiguo Gong ) and the sobriquet 'Gentleman of Great Accomplishment' ( 廣成先生 Guangcheng Xiansheng ). The posterior king Wang Qian received a Daoist register in the gardens, and conferred on Du Guangting the titles 'Celestial Master Who Transmits Perfection' ( 傳真天師 Chuanzhen Tianshi ) and 'Grand Scholar of the Academy for the Worship of Perfection' ( 崇真館大學士 Chongzhen Guan Daxueshi ). Du Guangting resigned from office afterwards. He led a secluded life at White Clouds Torrent ( 白雲溪 Baiyun Zi ) on Mt. Qingcheng, and spent his remaining years in Cultivating Dao with great concentration.


Contribution to Daoism

Du Guangting was versed in Confucian and Daoist classics. He made a good study of Daoist teachings, scriptures, history, and magic arts; summed up Daoist rites; and contributed much to establishing the Ritual Offerings ( 醮法 Jiaofa ) of the Golden Registers ( 金籙 Jinlu ), Yellow Registers ( 黃籙 Huanglu ), and Jade Registers ( 玉籙 Yulu ), as well as rules for setting up altars and conducting rituals. Also, he spent his whole life sorting out and annotating the Daoist canon, and did much field work on Daoism. Du Guangting wrote a good many books during his lifetime. He synthesized Daoist theories, and contributed in many ways to the spread and development of Daoism. It is recorded in the chapter Descriptive Accounts of Books ( 藝文志 Yiwenshi ) of the History of the Song ( 宋史 Songshi ) that Du Guangting wrote the Life of the Man with Curly Sideburns ( 虬髯客傳 Qiuranke Zhuan ).