The Book of Western Ascension

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The Book of Western Ascension ( 西升經 Xisheng Jing ), whose author is unknown, is also known by its full name, the Book of Laozi's Western Ascension ( 老子西升經 Laozi Xisheng Jing ). Ge Hong of the Jin dynasty mentioned this book in his Biographies of the Immortals ( 神仙傳 Shenxian Zhuan ), so it was probably written around the Wei and Jin dynasties. This book tells about Laozi's western ascension, his enlightening the Indians, his being named the Ancient Gentleman ( 古先生 Gu Xiansheng ), his genius for entering the state of Non-Interference, having neither beginning nor end but in a state of permanence. It embodies an obvious goal of converting barbarians so as to deprecate Buddhism. The book discusses the noumenon of the universe and the problem of body and spirit as well, and it inherits Laozi's thought of governing by Non-Interference. Daoist priests of the Lookout Tower Tradition ( 樓觀道 Louguan Dao ) attached much importance to this book. The Jade Formulae subsection ( 玉訣 Yujue ) of the Pervasive Divinity Section ( 洞神部 Dongshen Bu ) of the Daoist Canon of the Zhengtong Era ( 正統道藏 Zhengtong Daozang ) collects six volumes of the Collected Annotations on the Book of Western Ascension ( 西升經集注 Xisheng Jing Jizhu ) by Chen Jingyuan of the Song dynasty, and the Original Texts subsection ( 本文 Benwen ) contains three volumes of the imperial commentary on the Book of Western Ascension by emperor Huizong of the Song dynasty. Both of them consist of thirty-nine chapters, but the texts are not entirely the same.