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There is an intense love of freedom evident in the "Xing zi mingchu," a text last seen when it was buried in a Chinese tomb in 300 B.C.E. It tells us that both joy and sadness are the ecstatic zenith of what the text terms "qing." Combining emotions intoqingallows them to serve as a stepping stone to the Dao, the transcendent source of morality for the world. There is a process one must follow to prepareqing: it must be beautified by learning from the classics written by ancient sages. What is absent from the process is any indication that the emotions themselves need to be suppressed or regulated, as is found in most other texts from this time. The Confucian principles of humanity and righteousness are not rejected, but they are seen as needing ourqingand the Dao. Holloway argues that the Dao here is the same Dao of Laozi'sDaode jing. As a missing link between what came to be called Confucianism and Daoism, the "Xing zi mingchu" is changing the way we look at the history of religion in early China.
Kenneth Holloway is Associate Professor of History and Levenson Professor of Asian Studies at Florida Atlantic University.