Cheng Xuanying’s Commentary on the Laozi

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Cheng Xuanying's Commentary on the Laozi ( 老子成玄英疏 Laozi Cheng Xuanying Shu ), is compiled by Cheng Xuanying of the Tang dynasty. The original commentary is missing. It sporadically appears in Commentary on the Mysterious Virtue of the Perfect Book of Dao and Its Virtue ( 道德真經玄德纂疏 Daode Zhenjing Xuande Zuanshu ) by Qiang Siqi' and Commentary on the Perfect Book of Dao and its Virtue ( 道徳真經註疏 Daode Zhenjing Zhushu ) by Gu Huan that are collected in The Daoist Canon ( 道藏 Daozang ). The recent scholar Meng Wetong collected them and sorted them out. Then he collated them and compiled the six-volume Cheng Xuanying's Commentary on the Laozi, which was printed by Sichuan Provincial Library in 1946. In addition, there are two other collated versions. One is the five-volume Commentary on the Title and Preface of the Book of Dao and its Virtue by Yan Lingfeng, and another is Collection and Collation of the Commentaries on the Book of Dao and its Virtue by the Japanese scholar Tengyuan Gaonan. In the book, Cheng Xuanying elaborated on "the Dao of Twofold Mystery ( 重玄 Chongxuan )". He holds that "mystery" means profundity. It persists neither in Being nor in Nonbeing, i.e., "neither the Being nor the Nonbeing". But, meanwhile, in order to illustrate the Dao of twofold mystery, one should not persist in "mystery", but negate it, i.e., "not neither in Being nor in Nonbeing". This merely explains Laozi's word, "mysterious and mysterious". Such explanation introduces Zhuangzi's thought and the Buddhist philosophy of the Middle Way ( 中觀 Zhongguan ). It is a distinguishing feature of the book. The book reflects the theoretical, speculative level of Daoist philosophy in the Tang dynasty, and is one of the representative works of the Tang Daoist school of Twofold Mystery.