The Way of Complete Perfection

A Quanzhen Daoist Anthology

Selected by Louis Komjathy
Translated by Louis Komjathy
Introduction by Louis Komjathy

Subjects: Religion, Taoism, Asian Religion And Philosophy, Asian Studies, Chinese Religion And Philosophy
Paperback : 9781438446523, 468 pages, January 2014
Hardcover : 9781438446516, 468 pages, June 2013

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
1. Poetic Insights
2. Direct Instruction
3. Daily Practice
4. Alchemical Transformation
5. Scripture Study
6. Hagiographical Ideals
7. Monastic Life
Appendix 1. Quanzhen Technical Glossary
Appendix 2. Quanzhen Texts Translated in The Way of Complete Perfection
Chinese Character Glossary

An anthology of English translations of primary texts of the Quanzhen (Complete Perfection) school of Daoism.


Originating about 1163 CE, Quanzhen (Complete Perfection) Daoism is one of the most important Daoist movements in Chinese history. It remains the dominant form of monastic Daoism in the modern world, especially in its Longmen (Dragon Gate) lineage. This landmark anthology provides complete or partial translations of twenty-one Quanzhen texts. Most have never been translated or even discussed in scholarly literature. Louis Komjathy gives particular attention to work completed by the Quanzhen movement's founder, Wang Chongyang (1113–1170 CE), and his first generation disciples. Translations include representative works from every major genre of Quanzhen literature, from poetry and discourse records to didactic texts, commentaries, and hagiographies. Three monastic manuals from the late medieval and late imperial periods of Quanzhen history are also included. An introduction to Quanzhen Daoism begins the work, and each chapter provides discussions of the history and topics relevant to each translation.

Louis Komjathy is Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Diego. His previous books include Cultivating Perfection: Mysticism and Self-transformation in Early Quanzhen Daoism; Handbooks for Daoist Practice; and Title Index to Daoist Collections.


"…Komjathy's personal investment in Quanzhen Daoism seems to enhance his insights. His knowledge is based not only on extensive study of texts but on personal interaction and participation in the living Quanzhen tradition. This knowledge shines through particularly in his introductions to the anthology as a whole and to the individual chapters." — Monumenta Serica

"…much-needed … a welcome addition to the growing list of well-translated texts constituting literary expressions of Chinese religiosity from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries." — Journal of Chinese Religions

"This is the first and only comprehensive analysis and translation of key scriptures related to the Complete Realization school of the Daoist tradition. Only a few of these texts have ever previously been translated into English, and these were not readily accessible. Complete Realization is one of only two Daoist schools to survive intact into the twenty-first century, and this work is highly significant in making available resources to non-Chinese readers for the study of a living tradition. Komjathy is one of only a handful of scholars in the field with the expertise to produce such a work." — Jeffrey Dippmann, coeditor of Riding the Wind with Liezi: New Perspectives on the Daoist Classic