An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Huashu 化書

Aug 23, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Huashu 化書 "Book of transformation", also known was Qiqiuzi 齊丘子 "Master leveling the hills", is a Daoist writing by the Southern Tang period 南唐 (937-975) scholar Tan Xiao 譚峭, courtesy name Tan Jingsheng 譚景升, of which not much is known. He came from Quanzhou 泉州 (modern Quanzhou, Fujian) and lived as a private person, studing various philosophical writings. He was especially fond of Daoism and settled down in the region of Mt. Zhongnan 終南山 to dedicate himself to the cultivation of the Dao. As a Daoist immortal he is known for his extraordinary magic skills that allowed him riding on a cloud, drinking endless volumes of wine, wearing a leather coat in summer and a simple shirt in winter. The 6 juan "scrolls" long book is influenced by the author's perception of the hardships of life of the ordinary people. It stresses that every practicioner had to change (hua 化) his former attitudes and to adapt a thoroughly new lifestyle. The final incentive is to find the original natural Way, the Dao, which is actually inherent in all objects and creatures, but has to be liberated to fully expand its power. The Huashu is a combination of Daoist practices like similicity and austerity and of Confucian concepts of a peaceful society that can be reached if everybody displays kindheartedness and virtue.
The Huashu is included in the Daoist Canon Daozang 道藏 and the reprint series Baoyantang miji 寶顏堂秘笈, Mohai jinhu 墨海金壺, Tang-Song congshu 唐宋叢書, Zhucong bielu 珠叢別錄, Bai mingjia shu 百名家書, Shuofu 說郛, Guang miji congkan 廣秘笈叢刊, Gezhi congshu 格致叢書, the Xu Daozang 續道藏 and the Siku quanshu 四庫全書.

Table 1. Contents of the Huashu 化書
道化 Daohua Transforming towards the Dao
術化 Shuhua Transforming towards the skills
德化 Dehua Transforming towards virtue
仁化 Renhua Transforming towards kindheartedness
食化 Shihua Transforming by eating
儉化 Jianhua Transforming by simplicity
Li Xueqin 李學勤, Lü Wenyu 呂文鬰, eds. (1996). Siku da cidian 四庫大辭典 (Changchun: Jilin daxue chubanshe), Vol. 2, 1887.