Wayist

Was Lao Zi A Real Historic Human Being?

Recommended Posts

1 hour ago, Wayist said:

 

Taomeow, It seems like you have been around Daoism for a long while. Had you heard the story before about "the purple cloud" that was surrounding Lao Zi as he traveled to leave China?  Some of what you wrote I understand, some of it I do not. Do you believe this purple cloud story?  Might you be able to explain it to me, as beginner, and what it might mean to the Lao Zi/Dao de Jing story. I hope that I'm not trying to simplify this too much!.  Thank you to all who wrote about this!  Peace, Wayist

 

Thanks for asking -- yes, I do believe the story, since one way to interpret "purple cloud" is "purple qi."  Here's more regarding that legend: https://immortalmountain.wordpress.com/2017/02/11/purple-qi-from-the-east/

 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, that's an amazing website Taomeow! Thanks for sharing that with me!  It does help me to understand this Purple Qi story a lot better! Peace,  Wayist

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Following Kirkland, Komjathy, and others I think "Laozi" was originally intended to mean Old Masters. As with many ancient texts, especially Chinese ones, it seems to be the product of several hands, compiled over several generations. I find this theory convincing: There was a certain genre of pithy verses of wisdom circulating widely by word of mouth in Chu by the 4th century BCE but dating back at least to the 5th, perhaps associated with wu shamans. These verses were gradually written down in different collections which later were reordered and combined by the mid-2nd century BCE to reach a form close to the received text. By this time a lot of legends had sprung up around the author of the Laozi based on a mistaken analogy with the many other "-zi"-titled texts which had a readily identifiable single (attributed) author. Given a paucity of reliable information, Sima Qian was forced to rely on these legends to synthesize his account of the author of the Laozi. This theory is based largely on the evidence from Guodian which preserves three of the source texts for what we now call the Laozi/Daodejing. Now, this theory doesn't account for Li Er/Dan. My gut says there was an historical Li Er who was head archivist in Zhou, but that he was mistakenly conflated with the legendary Laozi by the Simas or earlier tradition.

 

None of this detracts from the value of the Laozi/Daodejing. The content of the book stands on its own, regardless of whose words they are.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites