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Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


Chanting and Salvation: A Study of the Numinous Stanzas of the Cavern Heavens

Vol. 39 No. 1   3/2009    


Chanting and Salvation: A Study of the Numinous Stanzas of the Cavern Heavens


Shu-wei Hsieh









Key words

Numinous Stanzas of the Cavern Heavens, Thirty-Two Heavens, Lingbao, Daoism   


    This article focuses on the Lingbao Scripture on the Numinous Stanzas of the Cavern Heavens, one of the fundamental texts of the Lingbao corpus. The title of the scripture was listed in the Wondrous Scriptures in the Perfect Script of Lingbao in Ten Sections, and the present text corresponds to number 3 of the Lingbao corpus. This scripture of the canonical Lingbao corpus is not included in the Ming Daoist Canon, and the present work appears to be incomplete. Two versions have been found among the Dunhuang manuscripts. Most of the scripture is in Pelliot 2399, but the opening passages are missing. Stein 2915 also includes part of this scripture, and Wushang piyao contains the Numinous Stanzas of the thirty-two heavens, which forms the core of this scripture. The scripture includes the Numinous Stanzas of the thirty-two heavens and a legend of deities chanting these stanzas. The legend describes a gathering at the court of Celestial Worthy and the sovereigns of the Thirty-Two Heavens sings hymns extolling the blissful joy. These stanzas occupy the major part of the present scripture and are reproduced here in sacred words, corresponding to the esoteric sounds of the heavens. This paper analyses the content of the Numinous Stanzas of the Cavern Heavens from various perspectives: cosmology, philology, the concept of salvation, the structure of the scripture, the reciting tradition, etc. I investigate these issues in order to reveal the main ideas of the Lingbao scriptural tradition in the Six Dynasties Period.



Author: Shu-wei Hsieh
Genre: Article
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