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Time, and Again, and Forever: The Somatic Experience of Time in Daoist Philosophy and Religion

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Rather than considering time from a comparative philosophical perspective, the essay discusses the lived experience of time in the Esoteric Biography of Perfected Purple Yang, a Daoist hagiography associated with the fourth century ce Daoist movement that came to be known as the Way of Highest Clarity. This interpretation reveals three modes of time as experienced by the Daoist practitioner: singular time; repeated time; and forever time. Unlike the Biblical concept of time, ordained by God and calculated by the rotation of the stars, the hagiography points towards a Daoist experience of time that is experienced somatically through the individual’s metabolism.

Affiliations: 1: School of Religion, Queen’s


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1. Cheng Chung-ying "“On the Environmental Ethics of the Tao and the Ch’i.”" Environmental Ethics 1986 Vol 8 351 370
2. Lai Karyn "“Ziran and Wuwei in the Daodejing: An Ethical Assessment.”" Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 2007 Vol 6 325 337
3. Luhmann Niklas Social Systems. 1995 Stanford, CA Stanford University Press
4. Maturana Humberto R. Maturana H. R. , Varela F. J. "“Introduction.”" Autopoiesis and Cognition: The Realization of the Living 1980 Dordrecht D. Reed Publishing Company xi xxx
5. Miller James The Way of Highest Clarity: Nature, Vision and Revelation in Medieval Chinese Religion 2008 Magdalena, NM Three Pines Press

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