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Simplified Chinese 太平经
Traditional Chinese 太平經
Hanyu Pinyin Tàipíng Jīng

Taipingjing ("Scriptures of the Great Peace") is the name of several different Daoist texts. At least two works were known by this title:

Taiping Jing usually refers to the work which has been preserved in the Daozang. It is considered to be a valuable resource for researching early Daoist beliefs and the society at the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty. Zhang Jue (d. 184), the leader of the Yellow Turban Rebellion, based his form of Daoism (太平道) on this work.

The contents of Taiping Jing are diverse, but primarily deals with subjects such as heaven and earth, five elements, Yin and yang and the sexagenary cycle.

Fundamental concepts in the Taiping Jing[edit]

The Taiping jing is a guide that reveals the proper methods to bring forward an era of Great Peace or Equality (an idea that probably dates back to the Warring States period).[1]:21 The idea of the Great peace became especially more prominent during the Han period.[1] The main idea brought forward by the scriptures is that the world is in a terrible state of chaos. There is a loss of cosmic balance, and this is made obvious by omens such as droughts, floods, famines, epidemics and other natural disasters.[2] There is also chaos in the courts of the imperial house (during the Han dynasty) proven by recorded events such as freakish births (perhaps a hint at the meddling of eunuchs), all of which demonstrate Heaven's displeasure towards the mortal realm.[3] Humans have been polluted by their sins and their ancestors' sins (evil accumulated through many generations).[4]:153 The Universe reciprocates the mortal realm's condition; for there to be balance again, the people must heal themselves and cultivate their inner Dao. Salvation lies in the hand of great princes known as Celestial Masters. Chinese antiquity was divided into three eras: shang-ku (High Antiquity), chung-ku and hsia-ku, but it was only the shang-ku (High Antiquity) that contained a time of Great Peace,[1]:22 maintained with the collaborative efforts of the rulers of that era and the Celestial Masters. There was no infant mortality, no bad harvests and the climate was convenient.[1]:22 This balance was so delicate that the suffering of one entity was enough to make things out of synch.[1]:23 A better era than the one experienced by the Han dynasty can only begin with the emergence of a new healthy emperor, a new Heavenly Mandate and an end to evil omens.[4]:157

The modern Taiping Jing (Wang Ming's Edition)[edit]

There has not been a definitive, modern version of the Taiping Jing until 1960, when Wang Ming published the Taiping jing hejiao.[4]:151 The Taiping Jing once contained 170 chapters divided into 10 parts (each containing 17 chapters).[4]:151 Each "part" is labelled by the ten Celestial Stems. However. the first two parts (37 chapters) and the last three parts (the last 51 chapters) are missing in Ming's modern edition.[4]:152 So, in actuality, only five parts remain, and of these parts, certain chapters have not been accounted for.[4]:152 Ming's edition also includes "Magic Texts" (divided into four chapters and 2133 magic characters) and some images.[4]:152 Some chapters follow the form of a dialogue between the Heavenly Teacher and the six True Men (chen-jen), while others stick to the essay format, containing methods, instructions or notes.[4]:152 Perhaps the Taiping Jing had many authors, hence the various writing styles in the chapters.[4]:152

The Taiping Jing and the Han dynasty[edit]

There are two known versions of the Taiping Jing that emerged during the Han dynasty. The first one was presented to Emperor Ch'eng (32-7 BC) under the title T'ien-kuan li pao-yuan t'ai-p'ing ching[4]:19 It was written in this book that the House of Han was nearing the end of its cosmological cycle and that a new mandate was about to be presented to restore the dynasty.[4]:20 The book decrees that a man by the name of Ch'ih-ching tzu would bring and teach the ways of the Dao to the emperor.[4]:20 Emperor Shun (A.D. 126-145) also received similar scriptures called T'ai-p'ing ch'ing-ling shu, which would later be used by the leader of the Yellow Turban Rebellion.[4]:20 Hsiang Cheng's memorial states that it was based on respect between Heaven and Earth and conformity with the Five Elements.[4]:20 Another version of the scriptures of the Great peace was called the T'ai-p'ing tung-chi ching, and was supposedly introduced to the Celestial Master by T'ai-shang Lao-chun.[4]:20


  1. ^ a b c d e Kaltenmark, Max. The Ideology of the Taiping Jing. 
  2. ^ Espesset, Gregoire (2009). "Later Han Religious Movements and the early Daoist Church". Early Chinese Religion: Part 2: Qin and Han. p. 1604. 
  3. ^ Levy, Howard (1956). "Yellow Turban Religion and Rebellion at the End of Han". Journal of American Oriental Society 76: 214. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Beck, B.J. Mansvelt (1980). "The date of the 'Taiping Jing'". Toung Pao, second series 66. 

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