On the Mysterious Matrix

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On the Mysterious Matrix ( 玄綱論 Xuangang Lun ) was written by Wu Yun of the Tang dynasty. The book consists of three sections and thirty-three chapters altogether. The first part illustrates morality, where we can find Wu Yun's theory of the generation of the universe, his ideas on the cultivation of morality, and his view of society and politics. It holds that the generation of the universe and of all beings is a natural process, and things are different because they are endowed with different kinds of Vital Breath ( 氣 Qi ). One can free oneself from life and death if one conforms to Dao, identifies being with nothingness, and keeps one's mind tranquil. The middle part argues about the teaching of Skills. It explains various concrete ways of cultivating Dao from a micro point of view, and advocates restraint of behaviour to obtain sublimity, studying Dao in the right order, tranquility of the mind, and Non-Interference. The last part analyzes obstacles. It responds to the worldly worries of the people in a question-and-answer style, and further illustrates the ideas presented in the first and middle parts. These ideas are similar to those of Sima Chengzhen, and reflect the theoretical level of the Mt. Mao Lineage( 茅山宗 Maoshan Zong ) of the Tang dynasty. The book is an important source for the study of the history of Daoism in the Tang dynasty. It is collected in the Supreme Mystery Section of the Daoist Canon of the Zhengtong Era ( 正統道藏 Zhengtong Daozang ).