The title Xiuzhen tu combines three Chinese words:
- xiu 修 "embellish, decorate; repair, overhaul; study, cultivate; build, construct; trim, prune; write, compile"
- zhen 真 "true; real; genuine" or (Daoist) "original, unspoiled character of a person; ultimate reality; a xian transcendent".
- tu 圖 "picture; drawing; chart; map; plan"
Common examples of this special Daoist zhen "ultimate truth" meaning include Zhenren 真人 "true person; Spiritual Master" and Quanzhen 全真 "complete truth; Quanzhen School".
Xiuzhen tu is translated into English as:
- "Illustration of Developing Trueness" (Alphen and Aris 1995:170)
- "Chart of the Cultivation of Perfection" (Kohn 2000:487)
- "Diagram of Cultivating Perfection" (Komjathy 2004:53)
- "Chart for the Cultivation of Perfection" (Despeux 2008:767)
Xiuzhen (Chinese: 修真; pinyin: xiūzhēn; Wade–Giles: hsiu-chen; literally "cultivate truth") is an uncommon word associated with Daoism. It first appears in Ge Hong's (4th century CE) Baopuzi 抱朴子 (行品 chapter), which says xiuzhen practices characterize a daoren 道人 "Daoist". Xiushen 修身 and xiudao 修道 are more common synonyms of xiuzhen that occurred centuries earlier in pre-Han Chinese classic texts.
Xiushen (Chinese: 修身; pinyin: xiūshēn; Wade–Giles: hsiu-shen; literally "cultivate oneself") is a basic moral principle of Chinese philosophy. In Confucianism, xiushen is the ethical basis for social order. The Great Learning (tr. Legge 1893:266) says ancient rulers utilized "self cultivation": "Their persons being cultivated, their families were regulated. Their families being regulated, their states were rightly governed. Their states being rightly governed, the whole kingdom was made tranquil and happy." In Daoism, xiushen refers to a supernatural "self cultivation". The Zhuangzi (tr. Mair 1994:96) claims it can result in long life: "Carefully guard your body, and leave other things to prosper themselves. I guard the one so as to dwell in harmony. Thus have I cultivated my person for one thousand two hundred years and my physical form has still not decayed."
Xiudao (Chinese: 修道; pinyin: xiūdào; Wade–Giles: hsiu-tao; literally "cultivate the Way") means "practice a religious regimen; follow religious rules; enter a monastery". The first sentence in the Confucian Doctrine of the Mean (tr. Legge 1893:124) associates xiudao with jiao 教 "teach; instruct": "What Heaven has conferred is called The Nature; an accordance with this nature is called The Path of duty; the regulation of this path is called Instruction."
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