The Huahujing (formerly written Hua Hu Ching) (Chinese: 化胡經/化胡经; pinyin: Huàhújīng; Wade–Giles: Hua Hu Ching; literally "Classic on Converting the Barbarians") is a Taoist book. Although traditionally attributed to Laozi, some scholars believe it is a forgery because there are no historical references to the text until the early 4th century CE. According to Louis Komjathy (2004:48), the Taoist Wang Fu (王浮) originally compiled the Huahujing circa 300 CE, and the extant version probably dates from the 6th century Northern Celestial Masters. The text is honorifically known as the Taishang lingbao Laozi huahu miaojing (太上靈寶老子化胡妙經, "The Supreme Numinous Treasure's Sublime Classic on Laozi's Conversion of the Barbarians").
Emperors of China occasionally organized debates between Buddhists and Taoists, and granted political favor to the winners. The Taoists developed the Huahujing to support one of their favorite arguments against the Buddhists, writes Holmes Welch (1957:152), their claim that "Lao Tzu had gone to India after his westward departure from China, and had converted—or become—the Buddha. Buddhism then was only a somewhat distorted offshoot of Taoism." In 705, Emperor Zhongzong of Tang prohibited distribution of the text. (Weinstein 1987:47–48) An emperor ordered all copies to be destroyed in the 13th century after Taoists lost a debate with Buddhists .
Parts of chapters 1, 2, 8 and 10 have been discovered in the Mogao Caves near Dunhuang, and Liu Yi (1997) believes the original text of these dates from around the late 4th or early 5th century. These are preserved in the Taisho Tripitaka, manuscript 2139 and their contents have no relation to the oral texts available in English.
There also exists a longer, oral tradition. A translation into English by Hua-Ching Ni was published in 1979.
The Taoist priest Hua-Ching Ni has written a full translation, claimed to have derived from the preservation of the Huahujing through oral tradition, having been handed down through generations of Taoist priests. It contains exactly the same number of chapters, 81, as his translation of the Tao Te Ching although it is slightly longer.
Hua-Ching Ni's translation takes the form of a narrative question-and-answer dialogue between a disciple Prince and his learned Master. It was suggested in ancient times that the master is Laozi and the Prince is Siddharta Gautama who would later become the Buddha. This suggestion has been the cause of much contention between Buddhists and Taoists, and was the cause of the original banning of the work.
Thematically the text covers much of the same ground as the Tao Te Ching elucidating on the concept of the Tao - the ineffable universality, often described as a force, principle or path, that pervades everything and everyone. However it goes much further in elaborating the relationship of Taoism to other aspects of traditional Chinese culture such as holistic medicine, feng shui, tai chi and the I Ching. It also gives more detailed advice on Taoist philosophy, meditation and other practices. His Chapter 79 concludes with a summary of Taoist practice: "...do not embrace the Tao. Be the Tao."
Hua-Ching Ni's translation includes some interpretation for the modern world, for example he refers to the four fundamental forces of modern physics giving their individual modern names and relates them to the four fundamental forces identified in Taoist philosophy.
Based on the teachings of Hua-Ching Ni, the Huahujing has also been translated into English by Brian Walker. His translation is in a spare, poetic form reminiscent of many translations of the Tao Te Ching. (Hua-Ching Ni's translation of the Tao Te Ching is also longer than most).
- Ni Hua-Ching, The Complete Works of Lao Tzu: Tao Teh Ching & Hua Hu Ching, The Shrine of the Eternal Breath of Tao and the College of Tao and Traditional healing, 1979, Page 207.
- Ni Hua-Ching, The Complete Works of Lao Tzu: Tao Teh Ching & Hua Hu Ching, The Shrine of the Eternal Breath of Tao and the College of Tao and Traditional healing, 1979, Page 170.
- Komjathy, Louis. . 2004.
- Liu Yi. "Towards a New Understanding of Huahujing (The scripture of transforming the barbarians) from Dunhuang" International Dunhuang Project Newsletter 7. 1997.
- Ni Hua-Ching. The Complete Works of Lao Tzu: Tao Teh Ching & Hua Hu Ching, The Shrine of the Eternal Breath of Tao and the College of Tao and Traditional healing, 1979
- Ni Hua-Ching. The Complete Works of Lao Tzu: Tao Teh Ching & Hua Hu Ching. SevenStar Communications. 1997. ISBN 0-937064-00-9
- Walker, Brian. Hua Hu Ching: Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu. San Francisco: Harper. 1995. ISBN 0-06-069245-6
- Weinstein, Stanley. 1987. Buddhism under the T’ang. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Welch, Holmes. Taoism: The Parting of the Way. Boston: Beacon Press. 1957. ISBN 0-8070-5973-0