The Zhen’gao, or Declarations of the Perfected is one of the most important Daoist texts, and a literary classic in its own right. The Declarations of the Perfected collects fragmentary texts—poems, information on the realm of the dead, instructions for practice—revealed to Yang Xi (330—ca. 386) by celestial beings. These texts were assembled and annotated by Tao Hongjing (456–536), whose notes provide a window into textual and literary practices of medieval China. The fragments themselves are richly informative not only about divine beings and celestial realms but also about the social world in which these revelations were made, and the interactions between Daoism and Buddhism. In A Fourth-Century Daoist Family: The Zhen’gao, or Declarations of the Perfected, Volume 1 (University of California Press, 2020), these texts are translated and introduced by Stephen R. Bokenkamp, one of the world’s foremost scholars on early Daoist texts.
Bokenkamp is Regents Professor of Chinese Religion at Arizona State
Heller is associate professor of Chinese Religion in the Department
of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia.