The Daoist (Taoist) master, alchemist, and pharmacologist Tao Hongjing was born in 456 near modern Nanjing. He served in various positions at the courts of the Liu Song and Qi dynasties until 492. In that year he retired to Mount Mao, the seat of Shangqing or Supreme Purity, a Daoist tradition based on meditation and visualization techniques. The retreat he built on the mountain was to remain the center of his activities until his death in 536.
After his initiation into Daoism around 485, Tao set out to recover the original manuscripts, dating from about one century before, that contained the revelations at the source of the Shangqing tradition. Tao authenticated and edited the manuscripts, and wrote extended commentaries on them. This undertaking resulted in two texts completed in ca. 500, the Zhengao (Declarations of the Perfected) and the Dengzhen yinjue(Concealed Instructions on the Ascent to Perfection, only partially preserved). These and other works make Tao Hongjing the first...
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