Nature, Impersonality, and Absence in the Theology of Highest Clarity Daoism
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This essay describes salient features of the theological vision of the Way of Highest Clarity (Shangqing Dao), a Daoist religious movement that began in the late fourth century of the common era. The tradition emphasized the visualuazation of gods in the body, and the correspondence between bodies, mountains and stars. The essay focusses on the theological representation space, in particular, the inner spaces of the body, the inner spaces of the earth, and the outer space of the heavens. It argues, based on an original reading of primary sources, that Highest Clarity Daoists imagined these locative absences as the “ways-through” or pervasions of the ultimate metaphysical absence of the Dao.