The Zheng Tong DaoZang Translation


Introduction To the Translated Texts of the DaoZang

Zhengtong was the Chinese Emperor who ordered the final great amalgamation of thousands of scattered Daoist scriptures and texts into a coherent whole, and had it published in 1445 in a very limited edition. To a great extent, it is unbiased toward the main religious sects of his time. But Daoism has never been a dominant political force throughout the last 2,000 years, latterly languishing in obscurity in the White Cloud Monastery of Beijing.

The initial posting on this website is the translation of Book 131 of the Yi Wen edition of 1961, containing the reproduced characters of the 1923-26 Commercial Press photolithographic reproduction (itself taken from the single existing original set).

This first of the many volumes of the DaoZang intended to be presented here has never been translated into English (as far as we can determine). Its scope includes much that is original, not only in its writing but also in thought and idea. For example, one volume seems to provide part of the basis for Sun Lu-tang’s BaGua Internal Martial Art. There are several references to the ‘divine fungus’ (lingzi; Ganoderma lucidum) and why it is used as the symbol of enlightenment and mastery, much in the way that the Lotus denotes these same things in Buddhism. There are many other overlooked parts of the DaoZang, including detailed meditation techniques.

The whole of these volumes are concertina-fold read from right to left. (Also known as "accordion-fold"; this is essentially a scroll folded and bound at one edge, so readers do not have to unroll an entire scroll.) All of the extracted translations are in order from right to left, as Chinese is read.

The web pages themselves each contain an image of part of a woodblock print; to its right, the corresponding pronunciations in Mandarin written in Pinyin. Many of these are new, seeing as they are not contained in the current Official Set, and should therefore prove of value to those who prefer English. The English portion is plain and to the point. It gives many precise phrases, obscure or unknown, that occur in the original text.

The top of each page gives the Yi Wen Book Number followed by its ‘page’ number. For example, ‘daozang-0131-009a1’ means that proceeding from right to left, it is side right extract 1 of concertina-fold page 9, from volume 131 of the 1274 volumes in the Yi Wen edition. If this were ‘daozang-0131-009b1’ it would be the first extracted text on the left side of the page. The vast majority of the ‘pages’ comfortably divide into four web pages, e.g., a1/a2/b1/b2; occasionally we are impelled to divide a page into only three or as many as five web pages. (See actual right page detail at left.)

Note that the Chinese numbering is applied to what looks like two of our Western printed pages, with the numbering only on the right (a) side; there is no number for the left side. To put this another way, what readers used to the Western book structure would call 100 pages is in the Chinese notation only 50 pages – "right" and "left" pages are simply one page, since the Chinese view an open two pages of a book as a single page. This is reflected in the second line from the top; this gives the top page headers as they actually appear in the original.

So, ‘Book 10 A Faithful Rendition in Regular Text ...... Plate 9 Scroll 56’ means Volume 10, and its Title, Plate 9 means that it is the 9th page of that work, and it is contained in Scroll 10.

Red-Bold Pinyin means that this is a ‘Statement’, and the Black-Bold English annotations following directly are translations of that Statement. These are followed by Black-Bold text, which means that it is the ‘Amplified Explanation’ of the former.

These Statements are usually those of a past master or from their work and are more often than not cryptic to the uninitiated. Be aware that sometimes the Explanations are more cryptic than the Statements they are supposed to clear up.

Every effort has been made to be faithful to the original content, but being only human, there are bound to be mistakes and misunderstandings. This is only the first stage of translation; corrections will be made where appropriate.