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


K’ou Ch’ien-chih’s Seances and the Political intention

Vol. 28 No. 4   6/1998  


K’ou Ch’ien-chih’s Seances and the Political intention


Tat-fai Tsang









Key words

K’ou Ch’ien-chih’s, Seances,Shih-Lao Chih, Way of the Celestial Master, court Taoism


      In this paper I try to show that the séances of K’ou Ch’ien-chih’s in 415-523 on Mount Sung, rather than the automatic writings (fu-chi) or mere lying, were the fast-induced visionary experiences in nature. To support this hypothesis, parallel cases in the medieval china and modern anthropological studies are brought forward. The contents of K’ou’s new code, talismans and the Perfect Book produced under divine inspiration and their respective relationships with the Buddhism are clarified. My another attempt is made to show what K’ou’s ultimate concern and his mission were acting as Lao-Chün’s representative in the secular world and reestablishing the organization of the Way of the Celestial Master. These missions were basically religious rather than aiming at attaining political status or eliciting favour from the T’o-Pa rulers. The main reason for K’ou’s receiving held in the greatest respect in the imperial court was due to his prestige and ability to communicate with the supreme spirits, being utilized by the Emperor T’ai-Wu and Ts’ui Hao to manipulate the Heaven’s messages and to legitimate the reign of the Northern Wei Dynasty. This paper also digs into the details of the intercourse between young K’ou and his teacher Ch’eng-kung Hsing. A particular section is devoted to expound the relationship of the Shih-Lao Chih, Treatise on Buddhism and Taoism, in Wei Shu and the several K’ou’s biographies in the Taoist Canon. From this paper, we can see how the long-lasting format of the court Taoism since the Northern Dynasty was founded by K’ou unintentionally.



Author: Tat-fai Tsang
Genre: Article
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