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Duren jing also known as “Wonderous Scripture of the Upper Chapters of the Numinous Treasure on Limitless Salvation”, “度人經”, “Scripture on Salvation”, “Lingbao wuliang duren shangpin miaojing”, “靈寶無量度人上品妙經” Hsieh, Shuwei; Bian, Bingxia


Duren jing 度人經, the Scripture on Salvation, is an abbreviation for the longest text in Daoist scriptures: Lingbao wuliang duren shangpin miaojing 靈寶無量度人上品妙經, the Wonderous Scripture of the Upper Chapters of the Numinous Treasure on Limitless Salvation. The text consists of sixty-one chapters divided by its function from saving the country to individual affairs. What we see nowadays is an expansion of the original one-chapter version text, Taishang Dongxuan Lingbao Yuanshi wuliang duren shangpin miaojing 太上洞玄靈寶元始無量度人上品妙經 (P. 2606), collected in Dunhuang Library Cave. This Dunhuang version of Duren king is now considered as the earliest form of Duren jing in 4th-5th century. The title points out that first, the function of this text focus on salvation; second, the text was instructed by the Heavenly Worthy of Primordial Commencement (Yuanshi tianzun 元始天尊); and third, this text is miraculous and empowered by supernatural forces, thus become a wonderous scripture. The structure throughout the text is identical. Each chapter starts with an introduction of the secret revelation and marvelous efficacy by reciting the text; then, there is the original scripture repeatedly shows up in the middle of every chapter; finally, the third part is the Innumerable Sound of the Secret Language of the Great Brahman [Energies] of the Heavens (Zhutian zhong dafan yinyu wuliang yin 諸天中大梵隱語無量音), a heavenly hidden language incomprehensible unless translated to the profane sound of human beings. The original text appeared first around 400 CE, after that, many Daoist priests commented, explained the secret knowledge revealed in the text. During the reign of Emperor Huizong of the Song (r. 1100-1125), the Daoist master Lin Lingsu 林靈 素of Divine Empyrean school (Shenxiao 神霄) led the program of enlarging the original one-chapter Duren jing to sixty-one chapters. Research on the Scripture on Salvation was an active project in Daoist Studies because, in the first place, it is the longest text among all the other Daoist scriptures, what contents in it is rich, as the description on Daoist cosmology, pantheon, rituals, etc. Besides, the text reflects strong influence by Buddhist salvation thought, the style of Buddhist sūtra, and the Sanskrit language. It provides a large number of resources for the study of Buddho-Daoist interaction. In the end, the usage of Duren jing in various Lingbao ritual performances would be great materials for examining the social-religious activities of medieval to modern Daoism.

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