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March 29 , 2008

T'ai-Shang Kan-Ying P'ien


IF the popularity of books must be measured by either the number of copies in which they appear or the devotion of their readers, the T'ai-Shang Kan-Ying P'ien, i. e., "The Treatise of the Exalted One on Response and Retribution," will probably have to be assigned the first place of all publications on the globe. Its editions exceed even those of the Bible and Shakespeare, which of all the books published in the Western world are most numerous, and many millions of devout Chinese believe that great merit is gained by the dissemination of the book. The T'ai-Shang Kan-Ying P'ien is a work of Taoist piety and ethics. It is not so deep as Lao Tze's Tao-Teh-King, but its moral maxims which are noble and pure, are presented with a more popular directness. The main idea of the title is expressed in the words Kan, "response," and Ying, "retribution," which mean that in the spiritual realm of heaven there is "a response" to our sentiments, finding expression in "a retribution" of our deeds. T'ai-Shang, literally, "the Grandly High" or "the Exalted One," is a current name of Lao Tze, the old philosopher, author of the Tao-Teh-King, who is revered by Taoists as the great teacher of mankind, the superior man, and the highest authority of religious truth.
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