Religion and Beliefs
One of the consistent issues that face religions when they travel beyond their linguistic homeland is the status of their sacred texts. For some, the actual words of the text in the language in which it was originally written are inviolable. For others, the meaning of the text is paramount. In this paper I examine the primary text of the Taiwanese new religion of Weixin shengjiao, the Heavenly Virtue Scripture of Immortal Teacher Guigu (Guigu xianshi tiande jing 鬼谷仙師天德經). Revealed to the religion’s Grand Master in 2003, this has become the main scripture for recitation within the religion. Multiple recitations of the Heavenly Virtue Scripture are credited with averting major disasters across the world since then. The process of translating this scripture with senior members of Weixin shengjiao has raised particular and practical issues with how the English translation will be read and how it will be used. In the course of this discussion I will suggest parallels with earlier cases of the translation of religious texts into Chinese or from Chinese to English.