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Persons in Chinese History - Zhang Zhan 張湛

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Zhang Zhan 張湛, courtesy name Zhang Chudu 張處度, was a philosopher of the Eastern Jin period 東晉 (317-420) . He came from Gaoping 高平(modern Juye 巨野, Shandong) and held the titles of Vice Director of the Imperial Secretariat (zhongshu shilang 中書侍郎) and Chamberlain for attendants (guangluxun 光祿勳). His philosophy was influenced by Wang Bi 王弼, representant of a school that interpreted the Confucian Classics in a Daoist way. According to this interpretation, there was a voidness (xu 虛 or wu 無) upon which all existing things are based. The ten thousand beings are born out of nothing and will accordingly also vanish in the end. Death is nothing else than the disaggregation of matter (qi san xing xiu 氣散形朽 "if the matter disintegrates, the shape decays"). Shapes and form that are perceivable today are only a temporary status, while voidness is an eternal principle. Knowledge is possible in an intuitive way, based on the fact that words are the product of silence, and that wisdom is the product of ignorance. Because the Heavenly principle, and therefore all comprehension is by nature endowed in every person (mi you yi wu bu bei 靡有一物不備 "there is not a single item not prepared"), it is not necessary to obtain instruction from outside. The best method to obtain wisdom is therefore self-cultivation and inner vision, and the aim to make oneself free of learning and useless thinking, in order to create a tranquil mind and a reduction of desires. In daily life, austerity and simplicity is to be preferred, and to be replaced with the attempt to prolong one's life.
Zhang Zhan has written a commentary to the book Liezi 列子, the Liezi zhu 列子注. His writings Yangsheng yaoji 養生要集 and Yannian milu 延年秘錄 are lost.


Source: Guo Riguang 高日光 (1996), "Zhang Zhan 張湛", in Feng Kezheng 馮克正, Fu Qingsheng 傅慶升 (ed.), Zhuzi baijia da cidian 諸子百家大辭典 (Shenyang: Liaoning renmin chubanshe), p. 82.

March 1, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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