The Book of Supreme Peace

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The Book of Supreme Peace ( 太平經 Taiping Jing ), also called the Black Scarf Book of Supreme Peace ( 太平清領書 Taiping Qingling Shu ), is a major scripture of early Daoism. According to historic records, three different versions circulated in the Han dynasty, namely the twelve volumes of the Heavenly Official Calendar and Book of Supreme Peace of All-embracing Origin ( 天官曆包元太平經 Tianguanli Baoyuan Taiping Jing ) written by a Qi native, Gan Zhongke, during the reign of emperor Chengdi of the Western Han dynasty, the 170 volumes of the Black Scarf Book of Supreme Peace ( 太平清領書 Taiping Qingling Shu ) obtained by teacher Yu Ji at the Quyang spring and then presented by Gong Chong during the reign of emperor Shundi of the Eastern Han dynasty, and the 144 volumes of the Book of the Pervasive Extremity of the Supreme Peace ( 太平洞極經 Taiping Dongji Jing ) written by Zhang Ling. All of them are lost. The Book of Supreme Peace collected in the Daoist Canon of the Zhengtong Era ( 正統道藏 Zhengtong Daozang ) has only 57 volumes. Also collected are ten volumes of Extracts from the Book of Supreme Peace ( 太平經阿鈔 Tiaping JingChao ) by L¡L1qiu Fangyuan of the last years of the Tang dynasty, and the Secret Guidelines of the Book of Supreme Peace Initiated by the Sagely Sovereign ( 太平經聖君密旨 Taiping Jing Shengjun Mizhi ). Varied and jumbled in content, the book is not the work of a single author. It regards following Heaven and Earth and obedience to the Five Agents ( 五行 Wuxing ) as essential, and holds that rulers can achieve longevity by using it. The book contains many "Shamanist words", but it is also rich in ideas reporting the sufferings and demands of the poor people, and criticizes the social and political problems of its time. It played a theoretically instructive function in Zhang Jiao's spreading of the Supreme Peace Tradition ( 太平道 Taiping Dao ) and the organization of the Yellow Turban Army's Uprising. In addition, Zhang Ling made use of it when he founded the Five Pecks of Rice Tradition ( 五斗米道 Wudou Midao ). Moreover, it had significant influence on the development of Daoism and Daoist ideas in later ages. The book is collected in the Supreme Peace section of the Daoist Canon of the Zhengtong Era. Today, Wang Ming's Collected Collation of the Book of Supreme Peace ( 太平經合校 Taiping Jing Hejiao ) (China Press, 1960) is a convenient reference for scholars.