The Perfect Book of the Great Grotto of the Highest Clarity

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The Perfect Book of the Great Grotto of the Highest Clarity ( 上清大洞真經 Shangqing Dadong Zhenjing ) is also entitled the Thirty-Nine-Chapter Scripture ( 三十九章 Sanshijiu Zhangjing ). Its author is unknown, and some say that it was written by Yang Xi of the Easter Jin dynasty in the name of a spirit. It is a representative scripture of the Highest Clarity Sect ( 上清派 Shanqing Pai ), which regards it as the first of the Three Daoist wonders. It is said that if one gets the Perfect Book of the Great Grotto ( 大洞真經 Dadong Zhenjing ) and reads it ten thousand times, one can attain immortality without the help of the Dao of Golden Elixirs ( 金丹 Jindan ). Therefore, the book has continued to be transmitted through the ages. There have been different versions from the beginning. We generally regard the true versions to be the Perfect Book of the Great Grotto of the Highest Clarity in six volumes and the Meanings of the Jade Formulae of the Perfect Book of the Highest Clarity's Great Grotto ( 上清大洞真經玉訣義 Shangqing dadong Zhenjing Yujue Yi ) written by Chen Jingyuan. The first volume entitled "Recitation of Scriptures and Jade Formulae" recounts people who cultivate, recite and chant the Visualization ( 存思 Cunsi ) rituals in front of the thirty-nine chapters of the Perfect Book of the Great Grotto, and visualize emphatically the Vital Breath ( 氣 Qi ) of the Five Directions, of the sun, of the moon and of the Twenty-Four Constellations. Volumes two to six are the "Thirty-Nine-Chapter Scripture". Each chapter concerns visualizing a spirit's descent to some position in the body of the practitioner, silently reading incantations, visualizing and calling the name of the spirit, and praying for its protection. This is the typical way of refinement of the Highest Clarity Sect and an extension of the practises described in the Book of the Yellow Court ( 黃庭經 Huangting Jing ). It is significant to some degree in our study of the scriptures and history of the Highest Clarity Sect and of Daoist theories of Refinement and Nourishment. The book is collected in the Original Texts ( 本文類 Ben Wen Lei ) of the Pervasive Perfection Sect ( 洞真部 Dongzhen Bu ) subsection of the ''Daoist Canon of the Zhengtong Era ( 正統道藏 Zhengting Daozang ).