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Persons in Chinese History - Guo Pu 郭璞

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Guo Pu 郭璞 (276-324), courtesy name Guo Jingchun 郭景純, was a scholar and writer of the Eastern Jin period 東晉 (317-420). He came from Wenxi 聞喜, Shanxi, and was famous for his wide expertise, especially in the Confucian Classics and the compilation of rhapsodies. His interest was focused on writings on the Five Agents (wuxing 五行) and divination. The geomancy classics Zangshu 葬書 and Yuzhao dingzhen jing 玉照定真經 is attributed to him. He is therefore known as Shuifu xianbo 水府仙伯 "Immortal Master of the Water Realm" in Daoist temples. In the early Eastern Jin period he was appointed library adjunct (zuolang 佐郎), then secretarial aide (jishi canjun 記室參軍). He was killed by Wang Dun 王敦 because he was not willing to participate in his rebellion. For his loyalty he was posthumously appointed governor (taishou 太守) of the commandery of Hongnong 弘農.
As a philosopher Guo Pu was inclined to Daoism and stressed that differences like large and small, humble and dear, are not an objective matter, but the result of personal view (yi guo zai wo 異果在我 "difference results in me"). The crucial point is that no one can give reasons for differences (wei zhi qi suoyi yi 未知其所以異 "it is not known why it is different"). The fundament of all existence is "nothing" (wu 無), namely the dimensionless and indescribable Way (Dao 道), out of which everything comes into being. In order to go back to this fundament of the universe, all knowledge has to be buried, and all activity to be given up, and the difference between oneself and other objects to be dissolved (bu wu wu, wo wo 不物物我我). Only then the Daoist will become part of the great unity that was in the beginning of the universe. Free and easy wandering will be the result, and also immortality. Man is also subject to the will of Heaven and has to comply to it.
Guo Pu has written commentaries to two important gloss books, Erya zhu 爾雅注 and Fangyan zhu 方言注 (see Erya 爾雅 and Fangyan 方言), a commentaries to the phantastic geography "Classic of the Mountains and River", Shanhaijing zhu 山海經注 (see Shanhaijing 山海經), the journey book Mu Tianzi zhuan 穆天子傳, and the story collection Xuanzhongji 玄中記. Fragments of his collected writings were compiled during the Ming period 明 (1368-1644), as Guo Hongnong ji 郭弘農集.

Source: Gao Riguang 高日光 (1996), "Guo Pu 郭璞", 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. 86.

February 28, 2013 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail
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