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Chinese Literature
Kangcangzi 亢倉子 "Master Kangcang"


The Kangcangzi 亢倉子 "Master Kangcang", or Gengcangzi 庚桑子 or Kangsangzi 亢桑子, official canonic title Dongling zhenjing 洞靈真經 "Perfect classic of the grotto of the numinous", is a Daoist treatise compiled by the Tang period scholar Wang Shiyuan 王士源. The book was originally attributed to a Master Gengsang Chu (Kangsang Chu) 庚桑楚 from the Zhou period 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE). Gengsang Chu was allegedly disciple of Laozi 老子. He is first mentioned in the book Zhuangzi 莊子. The Jin period 晉 (265-420) commentators Sima Biao 司馬彪 and Guo Xiang 郭象 explained that Gengsang was his family name, and Chu his first name. He is said to have dwelled in the Gengsang Grotto 庚桑洞 (in the vicinity of Yixing 宜興, Jiangsu). The Zhuangzi says nothing about the teachings of Master Kangsang, nor if he had written a book. The biographic collection Lieshi zhenxian tidao tongjian 歷世真仙體道通鑒 says that Kangcangzi came from the state of Chen 陳 and was, after become a Daoist perfect, able to hear with his eyes and to see with his ears. He lived on Mt. Weilei 畏垒, abandoned by his disciples and his wife. After three years, there was an abundant harvest in Weilei. He later on traveled to the state of Wu 吳 and lived on the Yufeng summit 盂峰 near Piling 毗陵.
The ancient imperial bibliographies Yiwenzhi 藝文志 in the official dynastic history Hanshu 漢書 and Jingjizhi 經籍志 in the Suishu 隋書 do not list the book Kangcangzi. It is first mentioned in the Xintangshu 新唐書, where a commentary says that it was not possibly to obtain any scripture written by Kangcangzi when he was canonically elevated. A certain Wang Shiyuan 王士元 from Xiangyang 襄陽 explained that Zhuangzi had written about Kangcangzi, as well as the Grand Scribe (taishi gong 太史公) Sima Qian 司馬遷 and Liezi 列子. Their statements were congruent. It was therefore possible to make use of the chapter Kangcangzi in the Zhuangzi and statements in other books like the Laozi 老子 (Daodejing 道德經), Wenzi 文子, Shangjunshu 商君書, Lüshi chunqiu 呂氏春秋 and Shuoyuan 說苑 and Xinxu 新序 to compile a book dedicated to the philosophy of Kangcangzi. The short result is divided into 9 chapters. It deals with the politics seen from different aspects, the ruler, his ministers, worthy advisers, the peasants, and the military. Each professional group has a varied way of using the inherent universal dao "way" for their duties. The way of the peasant, for example, is to work from the time of the cock's first cry on until the night. Thus he becomes the fundament of the whole state. Concerning the army, it is necessary that all three corps (sanjun 三軍) act as only one, for then no enemy will be able to defeat them. The ruler had to purify his heart and to simplify his thoughts (desires), to bring experienced and competent persons close to him, in order to bring peace to the people. A chaotic politics and an extravagant lifestyle of the court would lead to corruption and disorder, while a politics of austerity would make the people pure and simple. The ruling class was not to be arrogant, and the people were to be without sorrows, in order to become "persons completing the Dao" (quan dao zhi ren 全道之人). The Saint's (shengren 聖人) way to regulate the ten thousand things on earth would lead to the completion of Heaven's will that is embedded into them (quan qi tian ye 全其天也). This fulfilled, man's spirit was in completion (shen quan 神全矣), and enable him to penetrate all issues without thinking about them (bu lü er tong> 不慮而通), and always to make the correct decision without planning beforehand (bu mou er dang 不謀而當).
The book Kangcangzi is an attempt at transferring the ideas of Daoism to the society of a state.
There are different versions of 2 juan "scrolls" and 5 juan, as well as the most widespread version that is not divided into juan. The book attracted the attention of many scholars and has been lauded for its influence on political thinking. The Tang period scholar Liu Zongyuan 柳宗元 already doubted its alleged origin from the Zhou period. The authorship of Wang Shiyuan was only acknowledged by the investigations of the Song period 宋 (960-1279) scholars Chao Gongwu 晁公武 and Gao Sisun 高似孙. Wang's preface, as well as the preface by Wei Tao 韋滔, nevertheless say that Wang only added some parts, but the main text is said to have been original. It is not possible to prove if Wang's statement is correct or not.
In 742 Kangcangzi was bestowed the official canonical title of Dongling zhenren 洞靈真人 ""Perfect man of the grotto of the numinous" and became one of the four great Daoist masters (with Zhuangzi, Liezi and Wenzi).
The Kangcangzi is included in the collectanea Siku quanshu 四庫全書, Zhuzi huihan 諸子彙函, Ershi jia zi shu 二十家子書, and the Daoist Canon 道藏 (section main texts of the Dongshen tradition 洞神). The Daoist Canon also includes He Can's 何璨 commentary to the Kangcangzi.


Sources:
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰 (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典, vol. 2, p. 2309. Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe.
Qing Xitai (1994) 卿希泰. Zhongguo daojiao 中國道教, vol. 2, p. nnn. Shanghai: Zhishi chubanshe.


Contents
全道篇 Quandao The complete way
道用篇 Daoyong The application of the way
政道篇 Zhengdao The way of goverment
君道篇 Jundao The way of the ruler
臣道篇 Chendao The way of the minister
賢道篇 Xiandao The way of the worthy
訓道篇 Xundao The way of instruction
農道篇 Nongdao The way of the peasant
兵道篇 Bingdao The way of the military
Chinese literature according to the four-category system

March 22, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail