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SPREADING THE DAO, MANAGING MASTERSHIP,

AND PERFORMING SALVATION:


THE LIFE AND ALCHEMICAL TEACHINGS OF CHEN ZHIXU

Wm. Clarke Hudson

Submitted to the faculty of the University Graduate School


in partial fulllment of the requirements
for the degree
Doctor of Philosophy
in the Department of Religious Studies,
Indiana University
December 2007

UMI Number: 3297123

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Accepted by the Graduate Faculty, Indiana University, in partial


fulllment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.


Robert F. Campany, Ph.D.

Doctoral
committee


Stephen R. Bokenkamp


John R. McRae

October 18, 2007


Lynn Struve

ii

2008
William Clarke Hudson II
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

iii

This work is dedicated to .

iv

Acknowledgements
This dissertation, and my views on the study of religion in general, are inspired rst
and foremost by my doctoral mentorsProfessors Robert Ford Campany, Stephen
R. Bokenkamp, and John R. McRae. I thank them for the personal support and
encouragement they have given me over the years, and for the example they have set
for me with their scholarship. During my time at Indiana University, Bloomington, I
had the blessing to workin seminars, lecture halls, reading groups, and tutorials
with six superb scholars of Chinese religion and thought Professors Campany,
Bokenkamp, McRae, Jan Nattier, Robert Eno, and Lynn Struve, each of whom I try
to emulate in my research and teaching. Would that I could transmit something of
their xuefeng  to later generations.
I also am grateful to many others for teaching me, and, more importantly, for
inspiring me: faculty of the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University
whose courses I took David Brakke, Jim Hart, Richard Miller, Robert Orsi, and
Steve Weitzman, scholars of Daoism Wang Ka , Prof. Ma Xisha , and Lu
Guolong  at the Daoism research section of the Institute of World Religions
of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing  
 
 who introduced me to the history of Daoism, Prof. Wang Zongyu 
 of Peking University, teachers at Stanford University Lee Yearley, Carl
Bielefeldt, and Arnold Eisen, and teachers at the University of Chicago Michael
Murrin and Chihchao Chao .
My thanks go to four colleagues Mark Graham, Steve Kory, Cuong Mai, and
David Mozina whose comments I have incorporated into this dissertation. And also
to Hsieh Shuwei, Michael StanleyBaker, Gil Raz, Erik Hammerstrom, Brian
Flaherty, Hong Yue Guo, David Cockerham, Doug Padgett, Jonathan Pettit, Paul
Amato, Graham Bauerle, Tad Cook, and David Allred for their fellowship in the
study of things Daoist and Chinese at Indiana. And to my friend Prof. Liu Yi  for
his conversations in Beijing. And nally to Guo Lei  for many years of training in
Taiji Quan, which taught me so much about masterdisciple relations in Chinese
traditions of selfcultivation.
I dedicate this work to my wife Yikui, who a decade ago convinced me of the
value of a scholarly career, and has given me moral support every day.
Finally, thank you, dear reader, for reading this work.

Wm. Clarke Hudson


Spreading the Dao, Managing Mastership, and Performing Salvation:
The Life and Alchemical Teachings of Chen Zhixu
This dissertation describes and interprets the biography and teachings of Chen
Zhixu 12901343+, styled Shangyangzi, a Daoist master and sexual alchemist from
south China, and also the reception of his biography and teachings by later Daoists
and other readers in the Ming and Qing dynasties. The dissertation describes his
place within networks of patronage his supporters included both Daoist monks and
interested laymen, and the pains he took to develop these networks. The
dissertation pieces together an account of his sexualalchemical practices from
cryptic references scattered throughout his writings, and situates this account within
the elds of Chinese inner alchemy neidan and sexual cultivation. Secondarily,
through the study of the life and work of one Daoist, this dissertation o ers new
approaches to the reading of any Daoist gure or text. One new approach is to locate
Daoists and their texts within marketplaces of teachings or economies of salvation
drawing on Pierre Bourdieus sociology of culture; another is to study Daoists use
of secrecy as a strategy within such competitive environment drawing on Hugh
Urbans work on esotericism. Finally, this study is meant to be a contribution to the
social history of religions. It is hoped that this general theoretical perspective
emphasizing social conict will be useful for the study of religious gures or texts
from other places and times beyond Chens world of premodern China.









vi

Contents
Chapter 1. Orientations 4
1. Seven Perspectives in the Study of Inner Alchemy 4
1.1. Understanding 4
1.2. Explanation 5
2. Literature Review 8
2.1. Studies of Inner Alchemy 8
2.1.1. Studies in Chinese 8
2.1.2. Studies in Japanese 11
2.1.3. Studies in Western Languages 12

2.2. Studies of Sexual Alchemy 15


2.3. Studies of Chen Zhixu 17
3. Denitions 18
3.1. Inner alchemy 18
3.2. Daoism and Daoists 19
3.3. Religion 21
4. Themes and Theories 22
4.1. An Outline of Chens Religious Market 23
4.1.1. Theories of religious markets 24

4.2. Esotericism 25
4.3. MasterDisciple Relations 26
4.4. The Master Function 27
4.5. Speech Act Theory and Performativity 29
4.6. Syncretism: Imperialist Inclusivism 31
4.7. Primary Salvation and Secondary Salvic Eects 32
5. An Overview of the Dissertation Chapters 37
6. Conventions 39

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Chapter 2. Chen Zhixus Biography,


Environment, Lineage, and Network 41
1.1. Chens Biographies 42
1.2. Chens Name 43
2. Chens Life until Forty, and the Environment at Luling 44
2.1. Chens Life until Forty 44
2.2. Lulings Geographical and Religious Environment 48
3. Meeting Master Zhao, and Enlightenment 53
3.1. Meeting Zhao Youqin 53
3.2. Chens Enlightenment 54
3.2.1. Chens major enlightenment 55
3.2.2. Two other enlightenments 59

4. Chens Two Masters: Zhao Youqin and the Qingcheng Master 60


4.1. Zhao Youqins Life 60
4.2. The Qingcheng Master 62
4.2.1. Doubts about the Qingcheng master 63

5. A Period of Preparation, 132931 65


5.1. Tian Zhizhai 67
6. Chens Teaching Career 70
6.1. The End of Chens Life 76
6.2. An Odd LateImperial Hagiography 76
7. Was Chen Zhixu a Quanzhen Daoist? 78
7.1. Quanzhen Daoism and the Southern Lineage 78
7.1.1. Comparison of Quanzhen Daoism with the Southern Lineage of the Golden Elixir 79
7.1.2. Did Chen have a real connection to a Quanzhen lineage? 80
7.1.3. In his genealogy, Chen venerates the Quanzen patriarchs above the SouthernLineage
patriarchs 81
7.1.4. Is there any Quanzhen content to Chens teachings? 82
7.1.5. If Chen had no Quanzhen lineage or Quanzhen teachings, then what was he up to? 84
7.1.6. Chen represents a historical trend toward the fusion of the Southern and Northern Lineages of
inner alchemy 84
7.1.7. Chen drew on Chan Buddhism in the same way that he drew on Quanzhen Daoism 85

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7.2. Quanzhen Daoism in Chens Time and Place 85


7.2.1. Quanzhen books 85
7.2.2. Quanzhen initiates 86

7.3. Chens Immediate Lineage 89


7.3.1. Song Defang 90
7.3.2. Li Taixu 91
7.3.3. Zhang Ziqiong 93
7.3.4. Zhao Youqin provides no evidence about this lineage 93

7.4. Chens Eective and Extended Lineages in DZ 1070 94


7.4.1. Comparing genealogies 94
7.4.2. Other points om DZ 1070 98
7.4.3. Reading the ritual 99

7.5. Conclusion on the Issue of Chens Quanzhen Aliation 102


8. Chens Students, Disciples, and Acquaintances 103
8.1. MasterDisciple Relationships 105
8.1.1. Ming Suchan, at Mt. Jiugong 105
8.1.2. Deng Yanghao, in Hongzhou 109

8.2. MasterPatron Relationships 115


8.2.1. Tian Zhizhai 115
8.2.2. Chens Three Networks 115
8.2.3. Luo Xizhu and the Jiaotai Hermitage 120

8.3. Literati association 126


9. Conclusion 129
Appendix 1 to Chapter 2. Places Chen Zhixu Is Known to Have Visited 133
Appendix 2 to Chapter 2. Chens Disciples and Acquaintances 135
Appendix 3 to Chapter 2. Translation of DZ 1070 137

Chapter 3. A Conict View of Daoist Mastership 161


1. A Conict View of Chen Zhixus Life and Work 163
1.1. Chens Teachings within a Field of Competition 163
1.1.1. Skeptics 163
1.1.2. The marginal traditions 164

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1.1.3. Sexual cultivators 166


1.1.4. The Three Teachings 169
1.1.5. Chen as marginal 173

1.2. The Field of Competition within Chens Teachings 174


2. Toward a General Conict Theory of Society 178
2.1. Conict 179
2.2. Why choose conict theory? 179
2.3. Why choose Bourdieu as a conict theorist? 184
3. Bourdieus Sociology of Culture 186
3.1. Bourdieu and Weber 187
3.2. Habitus 189
3.3. Field 193
3.4. Capital 199
4. Conclusion 202
Appendix to Chapter 3. Song on Judging Delusions 204

Chapter 4. What Is Inner Alchemy? 210


Prototypes, paradigms, and the standard account 212

Part 1. Toward a Denition of Inner Alchemy 214


Short Denitions 215
A Full Description: Inner Alchemy in Two Thousand Words 216
1. Roots 216
2. Social Contexts 217
3. Ontological Registers, and Language 217
4. Psychophysiological Elements 219
5. Symbolic Elements 221
6. Aegorical or Visionary Elements 222
7. A Historical Outline of InnerAlchemical Literature 223

Part 2. An Extended Discussion: Inner Alchemy in Forty Thousand Words 228


1. The Roots of Inner Alchemy 228
1.1. Roots in Daoism 228
1.2. Roots in Chinese society 229

1.3. Roots in alchemy 230


1.4. Roots in qi cultivation 232
1.5. Roots in sexual cultivation 235
1.6. Roots in mind cultivation 236
1.7. Roots in literary mysticism 237

2. The Social Contexts of Inner Alchemy 238


2.1. Social institutions 238
2.1.1.1. Sma groups: the masterdisciple relationship 238
2.1.1.2. Sma groups: the patronclient relationship 239
2.1.1.3. Sma groups: the advisorruler relationship 240
2.1.1.4. Sma groups: relations of iendship and literati association 241
2.1.1.5. Sma groups: the family or clan and its related institutions 242
2.1.2.1. Midsized groups: monastery, temple, or cult association 243
2.1.2.2. Midsized groups: local practice and printing networks 243
2.1.3.1. Large groups: macroeconomies, social class, and the imperial state 244
2.1.3.2. Large groups: daos, traditions, teachings, schools, and sectarian movements 245

2.2. Selftransformation into masters within this world and transcendent beings beyond it 245

3. Ontological Registers, and Language 246


3.0. Ontological registers or levels of reality 246
3.1.1. The register of the microcosm: the human body 247
3.1.2. The register of the microcosm: the mind 252
3.1.3. The register of the microcosm: spirit or spirits 252

3.2. The register of the mesocosm of signs 254


3.2.1.1. The register of the mesocosm, abstract signs: yin and yang 257
3.2.1.2. The register of the mesocosm, abstract signs: the ve agents 260
3.2.1.3. The register of the mesocosm, abstract signs: the trigrams and hexagrams 262
3.2.1.4. The register of the mesocosm, abstract signs: the numbers of the River Chart 265

3.2.2. The register of the mesocosm, gurative signs: lead and mercury, and dragon and tiger 267

3.3. The register of the macrocosm of Heaven, Earth, and humanity 268
3.3.1. The register of the macrocosm: temporal aspects 269
3.3.2. The register of the macrocosm: spatial aspects 271
3.4.1. The register of other metaphysical realities: purposive action and nonaction 272
3.4.2. The register of other metaphysical realities: inherent nature and life endowment 273
3.4.3. The register of other metaphysical realities: the Dao or the One 276
3.5.1. Other dualistic, crossregister categories: xiantian and houtian 277

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3.5.2. Other dualistic, crossregister categories: prosaic and mysticizing interpretation 277
3.5.3. Other dualistic, crossregister categories: exoteric and esoteric interpretation 279
3.6.1. Exploiting crossregister ambiguities to convert the reader or listener 281
3.6.2. Exploiting crossregister ambiguities to create an air of authority for text, teacher, or lineage 281
3.6.3. Exploiting crossregister ambiguities: writing in a code that is only partia
y transparent 281
3.6.4. Exploiting crossregister ambiguities to synthesize elements om many sources 282
3.6.5. Exploiting crossregister ambiguities to represent the protean nature of alchemical discourse 282
3.6.6. Exploiting crossregister ambiguities to directly cause salvic eects in the reader 282

4. Psychophysiological Elements 283


4.1.1. Psychophysiological terms 283
4.1.2. Soteriological terms 283

4.2. The dao of the golden elixir 283


4.3. The human body as the alchemical chamber 285
4.4. Dantian as the furnace and caldron 285
4.5. Inner tracts as the pathways of circulation 288
4.6. The three treasures essence, qi, and spirit as the pharmaca 291
4.7. Respiration, guiding intention, intense concentration, or formless samdhi as the re 292
4.8. Firing periods of low or high heat, or nonring, represented with trihexagram cycles 293
4.9. Firing over stages lasting days, months, and years 299
4.9.1. The standard account 300
4.9.2. Two general divergences 303
4.9.3. Other divergences, by era 305

4.10. Monitoring progress by cycles, responses, or inner vision 311


4.11. Creating, gathering, rening, crysta
izing, incubating, purifying, and sublimating elixirs 312
4.11.1. Creating elixirs through gathering the pure yang qi om the time of cosmogenesis 315
4.11.2. Creating elixirs through inverting and uniting contrary principles 317
4.11.3. Creating elixirs through rening essence into qi, qi into spirit, and spirit into void 317
4.11.4. Creating elixirs through rening the postnatal three treasures into the prenatal three treasures 317

4.12. Stimulating and enlightening the inte


ect 320
4.13. Grasping the handle of cosmic creation and transformation 321
4.14. Reversing cosmogonic devolution, and returning om a postcosmic to a precosmic state 322
4.15. Flowing backwards against the lifecurrent that leads toward death 323
4.16. Returning to a state of youth and health 323
4.17. Escaping om the round of birth and death sasra 324

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4.18. Perfecting inherent nature and life endowment 324


4.19. Giving birth to a new inner self, or spirit of pure yang 324
4.20. Seeking immortality or transcendence in the heavens and/or union with the Dao 326

5. Symbolic Elements 328


5.0. Symbolic terms om the Yijing, yinyang and veagent cosmology, RiverChart numerology,
and other systems 328
5.1. Uniting contrary principles to recover perfection, ca ed pure yang, One, Taiji, or Wuji 329
5.2.1. Reversing the course of cosmogonic devolution leading om qian to kun 331
5.2.2. Extracting the yaoline om kan and applying it to li 332
5.2.3. Relying on agent earth in the form of wuearth and jiearth 333
5.2.4. Remaking the trigram qian 334
5.3.1. Reversing the devolution om Taiji to the ve agents to the myriad existents 335
5.3.2. Condensing the ve agents together into three, and then into one 336
5.3.2.1.1.1. Uniting the ve agents as abstract mesocosmic signs: turning the ve agents upsidedown 336
5.3.2.1.1.2. Uniting the ve agents in the microcosm: uniting the ve qi of the ve viscera 338
5.3.2.1.2.1. Condensing three into one as abstract mesocosmic signs: uniting the three cardinal agents 339
5.3.2.1.2.2. Condensing three into one in the microcosm: uniting the three owers 341
5.3.2.2. Uniting the ve agents numerologica y: condensing the three ves into one Taiji 342

6. Allegorical or Visionary Elements 343


6.1.1. Figurative mesocosmic signs: uniting mercury with lead 344
6.1.2. Figurative mesocosmic signs: uniting the dragon with the tiger 344
6.1.3. Figurative mesocosmic signs: uniting the gold suncrow with the jade moontoad or rabbit 346
6.1.4. Figurative mesocosmic signs: wedding the lovely girl to squire metal 346

6.2. The mediation of the ye ow dame in the center 348


6.3. Bringing about the birth of the naked infant, the alchemists new self 348
6.4. Other a egories or visions: the goat, deer, and oxcarts 349
6.5. Other a egories or visions: the inner landscape of the body 350

Conclusion 350
Appendix 1 to Chapter 4. Questions for the Comparative Analysis of Any Inner
alchemical Text 352
Appendix 2 to Chapter 4. Alternate Terms for Corporeal Sites, as Found in Inner
alchemical Texts 359
Appendix 3 to Chapter 4. Li Daochuns Classication of Teachings 361

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Chapter 5. Chen Zhixus Path to Alchemical Salvation 367


1. But Was Chen Really a Sexual Alchemist? 368
1.1. Chinese Readers 368
1.2. Robinet 370
1.3. Alchemical Language 371
1.4. Orthodox vs. Heterodox Sexual Practices 374
1.5. SoloAlchemical Teachings? 380
1.6. Two Pieces of Evidence 383
1.6.1. Inconclusive evidence 383
1.6.2. Conclusive evidence 385

1.7. Prostitutes 386


1.8. The Sex Act 387
1.9. The Sex Organs 389
1.9.1. An alchemical litmus test 394
1.9.2. Xuan and Pin 395
1.9.3. Other texts 396

1.10. Apologetic statements 397


1.10.1. Lu Shu 398

1.11. Conclusion 400


2. The Field of Sexual Cultivation 400
2.1. Basic distinctions 400
2.1.1. Wile 400
2.1.2. Hao Qin 403
2.1.3. Cai Jun and Li Wenkun 404
2.1.4. Hu Fuchen 405
2.1.5. Ideal types and continua 406

2.2. The History of Sexual Cultivation 407


2.2.1. Wiles Four Tracers 407
2.2.2. Hao Qins historical narrative 409
2.2.3. Lists of texts 411

2.3. Ideal Types and Procedures of Cultivation 413


2.3.1. Type 1: Classical huanjing bunao, and sanfeng caizhan 413

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2.3.2. Type 2: Quasialchemical huanjing bunao 416


2.3.3. What is jing? 418
2.3.4. Type 3: Alchemical huanjing bunao 420
2.3.4.1. Jindan jieyao 420
2.3.4.2. Caizhen jiyao 422

2.3.5. Type 4: Lateimperial goldenelixir sexual alchemy 424


2.3.5.1. Lu Xixing and Li Xiyue 427

2.4. Comparison 428


3. Chen Zhixus SexualAlchemical Path 431
3.0. Stage Zero: Starting Out on the Path 431
3.0.1. Introduction: The Unity of the Three Teachings 432
3.0.2. Homily: The Saga of Devolution and Redemption 435
3.0.3. Pep Talk 439
3.0.4. Conclusion 440

3.1. Stage One: Rening the Self lianji  and Equipping the Chamber 440
3.1.1. Inner preparation: rening the self 441
3.1.2. Outer preparation: nding mates and funds 446
3.1.2.1. The threeway exchange 448
3.1.2.2. Who is the partner? 452
3.1.2.3. Shoujing zhibao 455
3.1.2.4. How many partners are employed? 457
3.1.2.5. Longhu danfa 458
3.1.2.6. How does the adept get the partners agreement? By paying for it . . . 463
3.1.2.7. How does the adept get the partners agreement? By doing no harm . . . 465
3.1.2.8. How does the adept get the partners agreement? By being nice . . . 466
3.1.2.9. How does the adept get the partners agreement? She benets too . . . 467
3.1.2.10. Female sexual alchemy 468
3.1.2.11. Signs of conict 469

3.2. Stage Two: Gathering caiqu  and Initial Fusion hedan  470
3.2.1.1. Timing the gathering: examining the water 470
3.2.1.2. Foreplay 474
3.2.2.1. What is the pharmacon? 476
3.2.2.2. Sex positions 477
3.2.2.3. Gathering and fusing 479

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3.2.2.4. Gathering the outer pharmacon: physiological aspects 480


3.2.2.5. Gathering the outer pharmacon: mental aspects 485
3.2.2.6. Gathering the outer pharmacon: abstract mesocosmic signs 488
3.2.2.7. Gathering the outer pharmacon: mixed symbology 492

3.2.3. Fusing the pharmaca 493

3.3. Stage Three: Forming the Elixir jiedan  through Internal Firing 495
3.3.1. General descriptions 496
3.3.1.1. Caldrons, furnaces, and orbits 497
3.3.1.2. Reclusion and baoyi 502

3.3.2. Firing periods huohou 504


3.3.2.1. Chens huohou 507
3.3.2.2. Chens Matching Stems 509
3.3.2.3. The standard ring cycle 514
3.3.2.4. Firing as a secret teaching 516

3.4. Stage Four: Transformation into a Yang Spirit shenhua  518
3.4.1. General description 518
3.4.2. Meritorious labor, moral and psychophysiological 519
3.4.3. Further training, meditative or sexual 522
3.4.4. The yang spirit 523
3.4.5. Leaving the body 526
3.4.6. Celestial rank 529
3.4.7. Union with the Dao 532

4. Chens Adaptations of His Alchemical Dao 532


4.1. Apocryphal Buddhist Sexual Alchemy 533
4.1.1. Chen as an apocryphal Buddhist 544

4.2. NeoConfucian Sexual Alchemy 545


4.3. Solo Inner Alchemy 548
5. Conclusion 551

Chapter 6. Chens Legacy in the Ming and Qing Dynasties 557


First reason for studying MingQing traditions 557
Second reason 557

1. Quantitative Overview 560


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1.1. The Printings of Chens Texts 560


1.2. Analysis of Bibliographies 563
2. Texts Mentioning Chen Zhixu, by Century 565
2.1. Fourteenth and Fieenth Centuries 566
2.1.1. Dai Qizong 566
2.1.2. Zhao Yizhen 567
2.1.3. Zhang Yuchu 568
2.1.4. Other Daoist texts of the era 568

2.2. Sixteenth Century 571


2.2.1. Wang Yangming 572
2.2.2. Luo Qinshun 572
2.2.3. Taishang bashiyi hua tushuo  574
2.2.4. Lu Xixing 575
2.2.5. Two Cantong qi commentaries 576
2.2.6. Wang Shizhen 576
2.2.7. Wang Qi 577
2.2.8. Peng Haogu 578
2.2.9. Summary: sixteenth century 578

2.3. Seventeenth Century 579


2.3.1. A gazetteer 579
2.3.2. A medical text 579
2.3.3. A Daoist hagiography 580
2.3.4. A sexual alchemist 580
2.3.5. Cantong qi studies 580
2.3.6. A Quanzhen Daoist author 581
2.3.7. Summary: seventeenth century 582

2.4. Eighteenth Century 583


2.4.1. Two literati sexualalchemist readers 583
2.4.2. Two Quanzhen Daoist readers 584
2.4.3. Imperial publications 585
2.4.4. Other reference works 589
2.4.5. Summary: eighteenth century 589

2.5. Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries 591


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2.5.1. The Western Lineage of inner alchemy 591


2.5.2. Other sexual alchemists 592
2.5.3. Quanzhen critics 594
2.5.4. Other Daoist readers 594
2.5.5. Other nonDaoist citations 596
2.5.6. Summary: nineteenth and twentieth centuries 596

3. Tracing Themes in Chen Zhixus Legacy 597


3.1. Early Reactions 601
3.1.1. Dai Qizong 601
3.1.2. Zhang Yuchu 602
3.1.3. Zhao Yizhen 606
3.1.4. Conclusions 608

3.2. Polemics by Two LayDaoist Literati 609


3.2.1. Wang Yangming 610
3.2.2. Wang Shizhen 614

3.3. Lu Xixing: Adopting and Extending Chens Dao 624


3.3.1. Conclusions 627

3.4. Literati Alchemists of the KangxiYongzhen Period 628


3.4.1. Tao Susi and Qiu Zhaoao 629
3.4.2. Chens teachings in imperial editions 633
3.4.3. Conclusions 636

3.5. Dissenting Views 637


3.5.1. Laboratory alchemy: Peng Haogu 637
3.5.2. Ignoring Chen Zhixu: Zhu Yuanyu and Dong Dening 638
3.5.3. Counterreadings, 1: Wu Shouyang 642
3.5.4. Counterreadings, 2: Liu Yiming 644
3.5.5. Counterreadings, 3: Li Xiyue 648
3.5.6. Dissenters: Conclusions 649

4. Conclusion 650
4.1. Historical narrative 650
4.2. Themes 653

Appendix to Chapter 6, Cantong qi and Wuzhen pian Commentary 657


Commentators on Cantong qi 657
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Commentators on Wuzhen pian 659

Chapter 7. Conclusion 661


Seven perspectives in the study of inner alchemy 661
An outline of Chens religious market 664
Issues for future study 668
Where do we place Chen Zhixu on the map? 670

Appendix 1. A Comprehensive Bibliography of Editions of


Works by Chen Zhixu and Zhao Youqin 675
A. Primary Texts by Chen Zhixu 675
B. Primary Texts by Zhao Youqin 687
C. Collectanea Containing the Primary Texts 689

Appendix 2. Text Criticism of Jindan dayao 702


1. The Various Editions of Jindan dayao 702
1.1. Extant Editions of Jindan dayao 703
1.1.1. Daozang edition 703
1.1.2. Zhengli edition 703
1.1.3. Jiyao edition 704
1.1.4. Shandong edition 705
1.1.5. Wuzhong edition 705
1.1.6. Shanzhuang edition 705
1.1.7. Daofan edition 706
1.1.8. Doga edition 706
1.1.9. Four modern editions 706

1.2. The Dating of the UrText 707


1.3. The Filiations of the Jindan dayao Editions 712
1.4. Choosing the Daozang Edition as the Base Text 714
1.5. Establishing Filiations 1 and 2 715
1.6. Which Extant Edition Is Earliest? 716
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1.7. The Wording of the Daozang Edition and Zhengli/Jiyao Filiation 717
1.8. Comparing the Shandong Edition with the Daozang Edition 724
1.8.1. Dating the Shandong edition 724
1.8.2. The Shandong edition is later than the Daozang edition 725
1.8.3. Sections missing om the Daozang edition ought to be replaced 726

1.9. Of the Zhengli and Jiyao Editions, Which Is Earlier? 728


1.10. Filiation 3: Daofan and Doga Editions
1.11. Filiation 4: Wuzhong and Shanzhuang Editions 729
2. The Contents of the Various Editions of Jindan dayao 730
2.1. The General Organization of Jindan dayao: Chapter Titles 730
2.2. The General Organization of Jindan dayao: Contents of the Chapters 731
2.3. The Organization of Jindan dayao in the Dierent Editions 733
2.4. The Segments Missing om the Daozang Edition 734
2.4.1. Missing segment 1 734
2.4.2. Missing segments 24 735
2.4.3. Missing segments 56 736
2.4.4. Missing segment 7 736
2.4.5. Missing segment 8 736
2.4.6. Missing segment 9 737
2.4.7. Missing segment 10 737
2.4.8. Missing segment 11 737
2.4.9. Conclusions regarding missing segments 737

2.5. Discrepancies in the Other Editions 738

Bibliography of Works Cited 740


A1.1. Works in the Ming Daoist Canon 740
A1.2. Daoist Primary Works Not in the Ming Daoist Canon, and Works on Sexual
Cultivation 747
A2. Buddhist Works 757
B. Other PreModern Works in Chinese 758
C. Modern Works in Chinese and Japanese 761
D. Works in Western Languages 769
xx

Chapter 1, Orientations
If you have not met a master, transmitting or discussing the dao is di
cult; yet if
you have already heard the mysterious wonders, it is but a leisurely task.
If you send your spirit and qi back to your golden caldron as soon as possible,
you can avoid dying and letting your body and bones be buried in the
mountainous wilds!
!


  1

So spoke Chen Zhixu , a Daoist master and teacher of sexual alchemy a form
of inner alchemy who was active in southcentral China in the rst half of the
fourteenth century. This dissertation is a study of Chens career, and his teachings on
salvation, as situated within his social world. As we see in the passage above, Chen
taught salvation through alchemical practice, and this teaching was situated squarely
within an institution of esoteric masterdisciple transmission. Studying the contents
of Chens teachings should not be separated from studying the institutions within
which his teachings were formed and transmitted.
My main goal in this dissertation is to describe and interpret Chen Zhixus
biography, his teachings, and his reception in later inneralchemical tradition. I piece
together an account of Chens sexualalchemical practices from references scattered
throughout his writings, and situate this account within the elds of Chinese inner
alchemy and sexual cultivation. Secondarily, through this study of the life and work of
one Daoist, I o er new approaches to the reading of any Daoist gure or text,
approaches such as locating Daoists and their texts within economies of salvation, or
noting how texts produce salvation by serving as vehicles for performative speech.
Finally, this study is meant as a contribution to the social history of religions. My
insights will be useful for the study of religious gures or texts from other places and
times beyond Chens world of premodern China.
*
1

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi jindan dayao 9.7b12.

Like the adamantine sword, it has a great vigor


Skt. vrya ; like the hundredfoot
pole, it is straight and unbending; of all the armored warriors in the world, none
could break it. This vigorous heartmind has great courage and erceness. When
all of the gods in heaven and people
on earth see this vigor, their joy will be
measureless. Utilizing this vigor, one becomes a buddha and a patriarch.
!0/* .)#-/*
%1
/*5')+$/*"2
What does this passage mean? The goal of my research is to nd meaning in inner
alchemical passages such as the one aboveto nd the meaning of a passage within
its own tradition, and to nd its meaning for us as scholars of religion. The bulk of
this dissertation addresses the meaning of Chens language within his sexual
alchemical tradition. I discuss the meaning of Chens teachings and person for
religious studies mainly in this introduction, in chapter 3, and in the conclusion, but
also in passing throughout the dissertation.
Inner alchemy or interior alchemy; neidan  is a form of selfcultivation,
leading to transcendence, in which discourse drawn from laboratory alchemy and the
Book of Changes Yijing , is applied to the practice of rening corporeal energies.
It has been the main form of Daoist selfcultivation practice for more than a
millennium, and yet relatively few scholars outside China have researched it. Scholars
may feel it to be too forbidding a subject: alchemical texts are written using an
obscure vocabulary, and in an abstract cosmological code based in part on Yijing
trigrams. The texts also claim that they leave their deepest secrets unrevealed, that
the inner secrets are not committed to writing at all, but may be learned only from
the lips of a master. This may be discouraging to scholars, yet as I will show, claiming
secrecy is itself a strategy, worthy of study in its own right. Scholars may also feel
inner alchemy to be too boring or technical a subject. A reader may gain some
familiarity with the language of these texts only to nd that they all sound alike.
They can be tasteless: as Chen himself notes using a Chan Buddhist idiom , the
reader of an alchemical classic will nd it like chewing wax throughout, without any
place to make an entry
into understanding  (34)2&3 unless guided by
a teacher, of course! . This problem of insipid or repetitive language can strike us
2

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi jindan dayao 16.11b47.

Zhouyi Cantong qi fenzhang zhu, Jiyao ed., 1.35a8.

when we read other genres of Daoist literature, but perhaps especially when reading
inneralchemical literature.
So my goal of nding meaning in these texts has two aspects. First, it must
involve simply understanding the referents for alchemical terms. The passage above
may strike the uninformed reader as a pastiche of Chan Buddhist references, but
through research we can discover that it refers to the male alchemists sex organ, its
use, and the state of mind he ought to have during sexual cultivation. Second,
nding meaning involves nding new value and signicance of these texts for the
study of Daoism, or for the study of religion in general. Some understanding of
alchemical terminology can be gained through consulting modern Chinese secondary
sources; but to discover the value of alchemical texts for the study of religion will
require new approaches. In this dissertation I o
er a number of such approaches;
one new approach is to look for religious strategies and uses of language within
alchemical texts. My interpretation of the passage above reveals the following:
1 Chen is cosmizing the body and the sex act, partaking in a sacred reality;4
2 he is reinterpreting the Buddha himself and all Chan masters of the past as
having been sexual alchemists, a political strategy for justifying his own teachings;
3 he is assimilating the sexual alchemist Chen himself, and the male reader to
the Buddha and the patriarchs;
4 he is describing the participation of deities in the alchemists sexual practice;
and nally 5 he is enacting or performing of all these truths through an
illocutionary speech act.
Through written statements like this one, Chen is managing his authority as an
alchemical master, and he is enacting salvation. It will take several chapters to esh
out these ideas, but this is enough to illustrate my goal: to take seemingly formulaic
inneralchemical writing and nd new meaning and value in it for scholars of religion.
There have been so many writers and readers of inneralchemical literature during
the past millennium of Chinese history5 that Western scholars ought to search for
4

Regarding the term cosmizing, see p. 35n98 below. The term comes from Berger, The Sacred Canopy, 2737.

I have made a rough study of Daoist commentarial literature in eight Daoist canons and collections. Of all the
extant Daoist commentaries in my survey 623 , 16 percent of them 99 are on inner alchemical texts. If we
consider inner alchemy texts as a percentage of all extant Daoist texts not just Daoist commentaries , the
percentage may be comparable.

value and meaning in these texts too. This dissertation reects my e


ort to translate
inner alchemy according to our canons of meaning.
In this introduction I will rst present my ideal picture of how we ought to
study inner alchemy. Then I will o
er a brief review of the literature, comparing the
work of previous scholars to this ideal. Next, I will introduce my own theoretical
approach, o
er some necessary denitions, introduce my dissertation chapters, and
list some conventions used in this dissertation.

1, Seven Perspectives in the Study of Inner Alchemy


A complete, critical study of any inneralchemical text6 ought to consider it from at
least seven di
erent perspectives. The scholar of alchemy must rst establish his or
her texts or other materials; this is 1 the philological perspective. Next, the scholar
must understand the specialized language of the material in its own terms, and
translate it into an accessible modern idiom; this is 2 the exegetical perspective.
Then, the scholar must approach the material from 3 historical, 4 structural/
institutional, 5 discursive, and 6 textuality perspectives. Finally, the scholar must
remain 7 selfreective, conscious of his or her own stance and agendas.
1.1, Understanding.

Before translating the alchemical text into a modern

language, the rst step must be to understand it in its own terms. While our reading
may involve some amount of misreading, readings are in fact constrained by social
and institutional factors, and texts are not mere palimpsests, wantonly overwritten
by later readers. As a modern Western academic reader, when reading an alchemical
text, I can approach the text as a public document, and I can indeed approximate
6

In the following, I speak of texts, but I would argue that this account could apply equally to the study of
persons, practices, or ideas. Cf. Ricoeurs discussion of meaningful action considered as a text in Hermeneutics
and the Human Sciences, 197221.
A critic of Ricoeur could argue that studying living people through ethnography cannot be reduced to the
study of their actions as mere texts, but this critique does not apply to our study of people from past ages. We
must study premodern alchemists through texts or other artifacts. To attempt to study premodern alchemists
solely based on our own alchemical meditation experiences, for example, would be methodologically unsound.

how a pre
modern educated Chinese layperson, from the author s own place and
time, may have read the text. With more practice and experience in reading such
material, I may even be able to approach the text as an initiate would have, though
this is less certain. My reading of an alchemical text will never be fully objective or
subjective, but neither would I want it to be so. According to Hans
Georg Gadamer,
understanding takes place through a fusion of horizons,7 an encounter between the
reader s e ective history one s own prejudice and tradition as a forestructure of
knowledge and the other tradition which confronts the reader in the text. When I
read an alchemical text, I change the text to some extent in reading it, but the text
also interrogates me, and I am changed in turn. Through this dialectic we may grow
individually, and as a scholarly community.
1.2, Explanation.

Yet we must also be aware of the institutional and

structural background and makeup of the text. Despite Gadamer s distaste for that
cold rationality which treats the text as an object and severs the I
thou communion
between reader and text, our reading of the text must involve this aspectmust
involve explanation as well as understanding, must involve the social sciences as well
as the human sciences.8 Here, the scholar of alchemy must attend to the historical,
structural/ institutional, discursive, and textuality
related contexts of the material.
This aspect of reading must be more than a disinterested analysis of the text s
background and makeup: it must also involve critique of the text s ideology. As
Gadamer s critics would point out,9 texts are not merely our amiable conversation
partners: texts are shaped by the desires, interests, and ideologies of the authors and
their social worlds. Texts are produced by such interests, and serve to perpetuate or
create such interests. We must be critical of the interests in the text, and our own
interests, as we analyze the historical, structural/institutional, discursive, and
textuality
related contexts of the text.10
7

Gadamer, Truth and Method, 306.

Ricoeur, Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences, 145 64. Ricoeur speaks especially of including Lvi
Strauss s
structural approach as a stage within interpretation.
9

For example, Jrgen Habermas. See Ricoeur, Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences, 78 83.

10

For a systematic approach to the political interpretation of myth and cosmology, see Lincoln, Theorizing Myth,
149 51; and idem, How to Read a Religious Text.

Placing the alchemical text in diachronic historical context, the scholar may
illuminate its links to other texts, ideas, persons, groups, and events from before or
after its time. Placing the text in synchronic sociological context,11 the scholar may
study institutions and discourses, illuminating how the text deploys discourses in
relation to social structures, institutions, or other constellations of power. By
discourse, I refer to Michel Foucaults conception of discourses as highly regulated
groupings of utterances or statements with internal rules which are specic to
discourse itself, and not bound to any single institution.12 Sociologists of culture tell
us that people develop and use discourses and other cultural elements in order to
deal with the institutions and structures that make up human social lifeand
perhaps this is even our main use of culture.13 Thus, we cannot understand cultural
elements without understanding how they relate to institutions.
When I analyze Chens social world from a historical perspective, I nd it
populated by real persons, while when analyzing it from a sociological perspective, I
see Weberian ideal types of master, disciple, patron, monastic, and spiritual seeker.
From a historical perspective, I may study Chens relations with particular disciples
such as Deng Yanghao , or his visits to monasteries at specic times, while
from a sociological perspective, I may study the masterdisciple institution or other
structures. From a historical perspective I may study Chens citations of previous
masters, while from a sociological perspective I may study the patterns of his
appropriation and manipulation of discourses.
Placing the text in the context of material textuality, the scholar may study
how the production and reception of alchemical knowledge is allowed or constrained
by the media of printed, handwritten, or oral texts, each with their own e ects. The
scholar may also study the text as writing, which escapes from or transcends its site
of production in ways di erent from speech.
Finally, the scholar must always interrogate his or her own prejudices.
11

By sociological context I mean context as studied not merely by sociology, but also by social sciences such as
anthropology, linguistics, or psychology. These social sciences may be diachronic too, of course, but their special
contribution is synchronic structural or functional perspective.
12

Mills, Discourse, 48.

13

Swidler, Talk of Love, 17779.

Jonathan Z. Smith says that the historian of religion must be relentlessly self
conscious. Indeed, this selfconsciousness constitutes his primary expertise, his
foremost object of study.14 While Smith may be hoping primarily to avoid bad
writing or thinking, Paul Ricoeur holds out the hope that this selfconsciousness will
be part of our process of selfunderstanding and personal growth:
the text is the medium through which we understand ourselves. . . . Henceforth,
to understand is to understand oneself in ont of the text. It is not a question of
imposing upon the text our nite capacity of understanding, but of exposing
ourselves to the text and receiving from it an enlarged self . . .15
Translation of foreign thoughtworlds and critique of their ideologies enriches us as it
reects and contributes to our own constructive selfcritique.
These seven perspectives that I hold as essential for the study of inner
alchemyphilological, exegetical, historical, structural/institutional, discursive,
textuality, and selfreectivedo not exhaust the eld, of course. Other perspectives
that I do not address in the dissertation include philosophy, ethics, the lived body,16
the sacred,17 psychology, metaphor theory,18 cognitive science, neuroscience, and
biomedicine. The study of laboratory alchemy would also include the perspective of
chemistry. Religion is also a necessary perspective for the study of inner alchemy, but
I do not list it as an eighth perspective since it is related to all of the perspectives,
especially the exegetical, institutional, and discursive perspectives.
I want to make inneralchemical texts meaningful for scholars of religion. Other
audiences, such as meditators, may nd practiceoriented, experiential, or spiritual
approaches more meaningful. These approaches are worthy of both respect and
critique. I know of no satisfactory way to apply them to the historical study of
alchemy.

14

Smith, Imagining Religion, xi.

15

Ricoeur, Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences, 14243.

16

As in the work of Maurice MerleauPonty, Thomas Csordas, et al.

17

As in the work of Mircea Eliade.

18

As in the work of George Lako , Mark Johnson, et al.

2, Literature Review
2.1, Studies of Inner Alchemy
2.1.1, Studies in Chinese.

Inner alchemy has never died out in Mainland China and

Taiwan, and new primary texts on inner alchemy and similar forms of selfcultivation
continue to be published, even by staterun publishing houses. The academic study of
inner alchemy in Mainland China began in the 1970s and 80s, when qigong  qi
training grew in popularity and received pseudoscientic legitimacy.19 Traditional
selfcultivation practices such as inner alchemy have always been religious practices,
existing within a religious matrix including monastic life, the masterdisciple
institution, worship of deities, a sense of the sacred, cosmology, ritual, and ethics. Yet
by treating qigong as a form of scientic medicine rather than religion, it became
possible for Chinese scholars to research the history of inner alchemy even under a
regime of state atheism. Nevertheless, most Mainland scholars of inner alchemy
blend critical academic discourse with traditional discourses on selfcultivation,
health, and ethics. I term this contemporarytraditional scholarship. Mainland
scholars do not explicitly base their historiography on personal practice and
experience, but their professional interest in inner alchemy is certainly informed by
personal interests in health practices and spirituality.20 In Taiwan, the study of inner
alchemy is almost completely practiceoriented.
The rst generation of modern Chinese scholars of inner alchemy includes Li
Yuanguo, Ma Jiren, Hao Qin, and Wang Mu.21 The books of Li, Ma, and Hao
combine historical narratives with general discussions of inneralchemical practice
and sections on the teachings of specic gures. Wangs commentary uses the text of
the alchemical classic Wuzhen pian Chapters on Awakening to the Perfect to develop
his own understanding of orthodox inner alchemy, based on Quanzhen Daoist
19

Palmer, Qigong Fever.

20

I do not mean this as a criticism. All scholars have subjective reasons for their choice of study, although some
may protest that they practice science as a vocation, according to Max Webers ideal.

21

Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue; Ma, Daojiao yu liandan; Hao, Longhu dandao; Wang Mu, Wuzhen pian
qianjie. I do not mention here the books of Chen Yingning  and Hu Haiya . Their work is valuable
for understanding inner alchemy, but I consider their books to be primary sources rather than secondary sources.

teachings. While Li combines lifenurturing yangsheng  and inneralchemical


traditions into a single narrative, Ma and Hao separate lifenurturing from inner
alchemy, each devoting one book to inner alchemy and a second book to life
nurturing or qigong.22 The books by these four scholars are invaluable references for
any student of the subject.
Li and Ma betray a naturalistic attitude, a reluctance to accept inner alchemy
as an ineluctably religious tradition. Li writes of one Daoists teachings, This type of
interpretation is relatively scientic. It cuts down on the penumbra of mystic
dazzlement which had surmounted inner alchemy for ages.23 Ma writes, Therefore,
the elixir is an e
ect reecting the repletion and cyclical transformation of essence,
qi, and spirit. Its just that some men of old dressed this in mystical garb, making it
hard for people to grasp, and thats all.24 However, in Chen Zhixus teachings, inner
alchemy is absolutely inseparable from religious factors such as the worship of
deities, participation in cosmic process, and ritual. In other words, the mystical or
in my terms, esoteric aspect of inner alchemical teachings is not a mere robe which
may be do
ed, but the very skin of the traditionand if we call it a skin, then it is
not just the epidermis, but the internal membranes as well. Before the modern
period and the arrival of Western science and scientism, I doubt it would be possible
to separate alchemy from religion in the teachings of any alchemist.
Books by the second generation of modern Chinese scholars of inner alchemy
include general works by Zhang Qin, Ge Guolong, Yang Lihua, and Shen Jie,25 and
monographs by Zhang Guangbao, Yang Ming, Liu Zhong, Zeng Chuanhui, and Xie
Zhengqiang.26 Inner alchemy is also discussed in every Chinese overview history of
22

Ma Jiren has written Daojiao yu qigong in addition to Daojiao yu liandan; Hao Qin has written Dao zai yangsheng in
addition to Longhu dandao.
23

Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 301.

24

Ma Jiren, Daojiao yu liandan, 130.

25

Zhang Qin, Daojiao lianyang xinlixue; Ge Guolong, Daojiao neidan xue tanwei; Ge Guolong, Daojiao neidan xue
suyuan; Yang Lihua, Niming de pinjie; Shen Jie, Neidan written by a Mainland author, though published in Hong
Kong . I do not include primary sources and practitioneroriented works such as the books of Tian Chengyang 
 and Zhang Xingfa .
26

Zhang Guangbao, JinYuan Quanzhen Dao neidan xinxing xue; Zhang Guangbao, TangSong neidan daojiao; Yang
Ming, Daojiao yangshengjia Lu Xixing yu ta de Fanghu waishi; Liu Ning, Liu Yiming xiudao sixiang yanjiu; Zeng
Chuanhui, Yuandai Cantong xue; and Xie Zhengqiang, Fu Jinquan neidan sixiang yanjiu.

Daoism.27 The general works add little to the similar works by Li, Ma, and Hao of the
previous generation, and repeat some of the same scientistic fallacies. Zhang Qins
book aims to interpret inner alchemy in terms of modern psychology, and Ge
Guolongs rst book aims to do so in terms of analytic philosophy, but neither
attempt even gets o the ground. The historical monographs are of greater value
than the general works. Until they are ready to rethink their historiographical
assumptions, one hopes that Chinese scholars will concentrate their research on
specic gures, movements, or texts, which would at least o er new historical data,
rather than continuing to plow the same exhausted soil.
When we review the study of inner alchemy in modern China in terms of the
seven perspectives I call for above, we nd only three of the seven represented:
philology, the perspective of translating alchemical terminology into a modern idiom,
and the historical perspective primarily intellectual history. We might not expect to
nd Chinese scholars employing theories of discourse or textuality which are recent
Western trends, and it is not surprising to nd a lack of methodological selfcritique
in such a cheerfully scientistic, positivistic, and forwardlooking academic culture,
yet we might be surprised to see that Mainland Chinese scholars have never studied
premodern Daoism or inner alchemy in terms of social structures or institutions. It
is ironic that nominally Marxist Chinese intellectuals lack a sociological perspective,
but state MarxLeninMaoism has little in common with Western academic
Marxism, and critique is not encouraged in the Chinese academy unless directed
away from modern Chinese society.28 Other defects of Chinese scholarship include
scientism, a fondness for pseudosciences and parapsychology,29 a reluctance to view
inner alchemy as thoroughly religious, and a linear riseandfall historiographic script
27

Worthy of mention are two major histories of Daoism edited in Beijing and Sichuan Ren Jiyu, Zhonuo daojiao
shi; Qing Xitai, Zhonuo daojiao shi, and two histories of Daoist thought Qing Xitai, Zhonuo daojiao sixiang
shigang; Kong Linghong, SongMing daojiao sixiang yanjiu.

28

There are sociological reasons why the postrevolutionary Marxism of China should di er from the pre
revolutionary Marxism of the Western academy. Stanislaw Ossowski has noted how revolutionary ideologies
change after the revolution is accomplished: before the revolution they portray the society as dichotomously
divided, which justies the need for the revolution itself, but after the revolution, they are transformed into
functionalisttype justications of the status quo Ossowski is paraphrased in Bernard, The ConsensusConict
Debate, 200.
29

Cf. Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 114, 14546, 191.

10

according to which the MingQing period must necessarily be viewed as a time of


stasis or decline.
Although we nd only the philological, exegetical, and historical perspectives
in Chinese scholarship on inner alchemy, these are in fact the most basic and
important perspectives, and Chinese scholars have a great amount to contribute
here. Western scholars will rarely be able to read as broadly in Daoist primary
sources as Chinese scholars do, so Western scholars must rely on their superior
breadth of reading. Also, as I argue in chapter 6 below, Chinese contemporary
traditional scholarship on inner alchemy participates in the tradition of inner
alchemy itself, and has much to o er to Western scholars. Inner alchemy is part of
these scholars e ective history, and if Western scholars were to ignore their views,
their own understanding would su er. In my chapter 4 on inner alchemy, I have
absorbed the contemporarytraditional scholarship of Hao, Ma, and Li, and
reconstituted it according to my own lights.
2.1.2, Studies in Japanese.

Japanese scholars have contributed specialized

studies related to specic inner alchemical gures, texts, and forms of thought.
Unlike Chinese and Western scholars, Japanese scholars have produced articles but
almost no books though some articles are of monograph length
. Azuma and Fukui
have studied the structure of the classic Wuzhen pian;30 Hachiya, Imai, Matsushita,
Miyakawa, Sakauchi, and Yokote have studied earlier traditions of inner alchemy or
traditions linked to inner alchemy
;31 Miura, Mori, and Yokote have studied later
traditions;32 Mori has also contributed many textual studies on Daoist works from
the MingQing period, often dealing with inner alchemy;33 Akioka and Ikai have

30

Azuma, Ch Hakutan Goshin hen no kenky to k sh ; Azuma, Goshin hen no naitan shis ; Fukui, Goshin hen
no k sei ni tsuite.

31

Hachiya, Kindai dky no kenky; Hachiya, Ch y shinjin kinkan gyokusa ketsu ni tsuite; Imai, Kintan d ky
kenky ; Matsushita, Zenshin Ky Nansh ni okeru seimei setsu no tenkai; Miyakawa, NanS no d shi Haku
Gyokusen no jiseki; Sakauchi, ShRy dend sh to naitan shis ; Yokote, Haku Gyokusen to NanS k nan
d ky .
32

Miura, Gendai shis kenky josetsu; Mori, Kinsei naitand no sanky itchi ron; Yokote, Zenshin D no
heny .

33

Cf. Mori, Identity and Lineage; Mori, Ds shy to Sh Yofu no Ryos fukei shiny ; among others.

11

studied sexual alchemical teachings in the Ming Qing period;34 nally, Fukui,
Kamata, Kubo, Yokote, and Yoshikawa have studied inner alchemists borrowings
from Chan Buddhism.35 As is usual in Japanese Sinology, these studies are rigorous
and limited in scope. Japanese scholars interest in the interactions between inner
alchemical and Buddhist traditions is especially valuable, although they betray a
preference for Buddhism. Reviewing Japanese scholarship in terms of the seven
perspectives, we nd mainly the philological, historical, and textuality perspectives
represented. Japanese scholars often prefer to produce positivistic philology rather
than delve into the content of inner alchemical teachings, and are less interested in
translating alchemical terminology and thought into a modern idiom.
2.1.3, Studies in Western Languages.

Western scholars of inner alchemy have

concentrated on philology and translation, and rightly so, since philology and
translation into an accessible modern language are the most fundamental and
important steps in the study of inner alchemy. But this also means that the eld has
not advanced far beyond this stage. Dozens of books have been published which are
nothing but translation, sometimes with the apology that these translations are
meant to speak for themselves to the reader. This category includes the alchemical
translations of Thomas Cleary, Eva Wong, and Lu Kuan Y  a.k.a. Charles
Luk .36 Other books, such as those by Baldrian Hussein, Darga, Despeux, and
Wilhelm, include an extended introduction with the translation.37 These
introductions continue the task of translating alchemical language into accessible
modern language, with some historiography as well. Only six books have been
published which I would call critical or synthetic studies; these are by Despeux,

34

Akioka, Roku Seish no naitan shis; Ikai, J Samp no bchjutsu.

35

Fukui, Zenshind no Hannya shin ky juy ni tsuite; Kamata, Shin dky no keisei ni oyoboshita zen no
eiky; Kubo, Rshi hachi j ichi ka to setsu ni tsuite 1968, 1972 ; Kubo, Zenshin ky to Rinzai zen; Yokote,
Kanwa to naitan; Yoshikawa, Waki ha taku ni itarazu.

36

Cf. Pregadio, Review of Harmonizing Yin and Yang: The Dragon Tiger Classic, translated by Eva Wong.

37

Baldrian Hussein, Procds secrets du joyau magique, a translation of DZ 1191, Michuan Zhengyang Zhenren lingbao
bifa; Darga, Das alchemistische Buch von innerem Wesen und Lebensenergie, a translation of Xingming guizhi; Despeux, La
Moee du Phnix Rouge, a translation of Chifeng sui ; Despeux, Trait dalchimie et de physiologie taoste, a
translation of Weisheng shenglixue mingzhi; and Wilhelm, The Secret of the Golden Flower, a translation of Taiyi jinhua
zongzhi and Huiming jing.

12

Esposito, Needham, Robinet, and Wile.38 These six studies all include translation,
save Needhams. Below I will compare the books by Needham, Robinet, and Wile.
Four books from Joseph Needhams project Science and Civilisation in China
mention Chinese alchemy, and one book is devoted to inner alchemy. Needham and
his collaborator Lu Gweidjen  approach their study mainly from the
philological and historical perspectives. Their alchemical typology and views on the
evolution of alchemy from the laboratory to the oratory are at least as valuable as the
theories of Mainland scholars. Needhams theory of the global spread of specically
inner alchemy from China to the Arab and European alchemists, Indian yogis, and
American Transcendentalists, while unproven, is fascinating. Another of Needhams
controversial claims is that Chinese inner alchemy was in essence not psychological
or spiritual, but physiological.39 He believes that inner alchemists were aiming solely
at bodily longevity through biochemical means, and does not admit that inner
alchemy was a religious practice aimed at spiritual salvation, transcendence of the
human condition, and ascent to the heavens.40 I will show that, in fact, inner
alchemy is inseparable from these religious concepts and hopes.
Isabelle Robinets book is the best study of inneralchemical thought and
discourse in a Western language. Robinet understands alchemical language on its own
structural terms, and interprets it clearly. She is even able to notice contradictions
within the use of inneralchemical symbols in any given text, and identify this
transgression of the laws of logic as an important principle of alchemical thought.41
No other nonChinese scholar has been able to enter into the alchemical language to
this extent. One of Robinets insights has been crucial for my thinking about inner
alchemy:
It is, in e ect, as a k an that neidan acts upon the spirit of the adept. A brain
teaser whose e
cacy resides precisely in the sort of seduction and fascination
38
Despeux, Taosme et corps humain; Despeux, Immortees de la Chine ancinne; Esposito, L
alchimia del soo;
Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, vol. 5, Chemistry and Chemical Technology, part 5, Spagyrical Discovery and
Invention: Physiological Alchemy; Robinet, Introduction  l
alchimie intrieure taoste; and Wile, Art of the Bedchamber.
39

Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, 5.5:23.

40

Note Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, 5.5:23, where he translates, but tellingly leaves undiscussed, the
line the embryonic qi released from its husk . . . , a man can ascend to the heavens as an immortal.

41

Robinet, Introduction  l
alchimie intrieure taoste, 95102.

13

that it obviously provokes in its usersmasters or adepts.42


It is Robinets insight, that inneralchemical language works like Chan Buddhist
language, that I take as my starting point for applying the approaches and
achievements of Chan Studies to the study of inner alchemy.
Robinets book has a aw, however: it is ahistorical. Douglas Wile identies
this aw in a book review:
To answer fundamental questions about inner alchemy we must know something
about the inner alchemists, about the men and their subculture as
anthropologists and sociologists would describe them, or at least historians. . . .
The book left me satised that we have cracked the linguistic and conceptual
code of inner alchemy; we know what a strike, walk, and foul are, but we do
not know why grown men play baseball.43
Robinet treats inner alchemy as a homogeneous thoughtworld rather than a
discourse that was deployed by living people over time and in connection with social
institutions. She studies the alchemical langue, but not its parole. She does o er a
General Historical Survey at the beginning of the book, but does not tie this to her
study of inner alchemical thought. In fact, many of her insights are based on a close
reading of a single alchemical author, Li Daochun  d. 1306
, and thus do not
take account of di erent teachings within the tradition. She also misreads alchemists
views about sexual cultivation, and even asserts that Chen Zhixu was not a sexual
alchemist. Robinets strength is her keen perception of inneralchemical thought; her
weakness is her conscious prescinding from inneralchemical practice.
Douglas Wiles book on sexual cultivation in China,44 while not exclusively
devoted to the subject of inner alchemy, nevertheless contains a reliable description
of inner alchemy as part of Wiles study of sexual alchemy. Wile translates texts on
sexual cultivation from throughout Chinese history; about half of his material is
42

Robinet, Introduction  l alchimie intrieure taoste, 78.

43

Wile, Review of Introduction  l alchimie intrieure taoste, 89, 91. In a rejoinder to Wiles review, Robinet says that
she avoided consideration of physiological teachings because each alchemist o ers a somewhat di erent system
making a general summary di cult
, and because she thinks
that many of the alchemists themselves downplay
the physiological side she is probably thinking of Li Daochun in particular
. She also says that the alchemists
intimate and ultimate mover . . . clearly . . . is not a sociological or political mover, which in their eld of action
would be a supercial one; Robinet, Response to Douglas Wiles Review of Introduction  l alchimie intrieure
taoste, 14647.
I show in this dissertation. among other things, that 1
it is worthwhile to study the physiological teachings of
intellectual alchemists, and 2
their abstract teachings can be thoroughly political, i.e., micropolitical.
44

Wile, The Art of the Bedchamber.

14

sexual alchemy from the MingQing period. Wile is able to combine philological,
exegetical, and historical perspectives in his book. He o ers a history of the
discourse of sexual cultivation, but does not attempt to locate it within the social
worlds of the cultivators. He does not analyze the institutional background of sexual
alchemy hinted at in the alchemical texts themselves.
Mention must also be made of Judith Berlings book on the Mingdynasty
sectarian founder Lin Zhaoen  151798
, which includes a section on Lins
own odd form of inner alchemy, called stilling in the back genbei 
.45 During
the past few years, at least seven dissertations in English related to the history and
practice of Chinese inner alchemy have appeared, so the future for this eld of study
looks promising.46

2.2, Studies of Sexual Alchemy


Relatively few secondary studies on sexual alchemy in Chinese religion and society
have been published in any language, and Wiles section on the subject has yet to be
equalled. General discussions of sexual alchemy can be found in Chinese by Li
Yuanguo, Hao Qin, Cai Jun and Li Wenkun, and Zhong Laiyin;47 and in English by
Furth, Needham, Ruan, and Van Gulik.48 The sexual alchemy of the Ming gure Lu
Xixing  has received special attention, and has been studied in some depth by
Yang Ming, Liu Tsunyan, Wile, and Akioka,49 and in less detail by Qing Xitai et al.,

45

Berling, The Syncretic Religion of Lin Chaoen, 11637.

46

Bellamide, SelfCultivation and Quanzhen Daoism, with Special Reference to the Legacy of Qiu Chuji; Crowe, The
Nature and Function of the Buddhist and Ru Teachings in Li Daochuns . ca. 1288 Wondrous Way of Peerless Orthodox Truth;
Komjathy, Cultivating Perfection: Mysticism and SelfTransformation in Early Quanzhen Daoism; Liu Xun, In Search of
Immortality: Daoist Inner Alchemy in Early Twentieth Century China; Skar, Golden Elixir Alchemy: The Formation of the
Southern Lineage and the Transformation of Medieval China; Valussi, Beheading the Red Dragon: A History of Female
Inner Alchemy in China; Wang Li, The Daoist Way of Transcendence: Bai Yuchans Inner Alchemical Thought and
Practice.
47

Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 397417; Hao Qin, Longhu dan dao, 285350; Cai Jun and Li Wenkun,
Xing kexue yu Zhonuo chuantong xing xiulian; Zhong Laiyin, Longhu ji, 2:589666.
48
Furth, A Flourishing Yin, 187223. Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, 5.5:186 , 284, and passim; Ruan Fang
Fu, Sex in China, 4968; and Van Gulik, Sexual Life in Ancient China, passim.
49

Yang Ming, Daojiao yangshengjia Lu Xixing yu tade Fanghu waishi; Liu Tsunyan, Lu Hsihsing: A Confucian
Scholar, Taoist Priest and Buddhist Devotee of the Sixteenth Century; Liu Tsunyan, Lu Hsihsing and His
Commentaries on the Tsantungchi; Wile, The Art of the Bedchamber; Akioka, Roku Seish no naitan shis ;

15

Li Yuanguo, Hao Qin, and Xu Zhaoren.50 The Qing sexual alchemist Fu Jinquan 
 has been studied by Xie Zhengqiang.51
Contemporarytraditional scholars are ambivalent about sexual alchemy,
accepting it as a legitimate form of selfcultivation while warning against over
indulgence. Li Yuanguo cites Needhams opinion that Chinese sexual cultivation is
healthyminded,52 a case of feedback between East and West. Liu Tsunyan accepts
Lu Xixings sexual alchemy as orthodox, but rejects some of his texts also translated
by Wile as vulgar, and is ultimately ambivalent about sexual alchemy: the
di erence between the Taoist dualcultivation and the comparatively degenerate arts
of love was very tenuous at that time, in fact it was so vague that even Taoist priests
themselves would have some confusion in interpreting it.53 Liu here comes close to
the realization that the line between orthodox and heterodox practices was
constructed as a site of contestation. Isabelle Robinet is mistaken on this point as
well. She criticizes Li Yuanguo for interpreting certain inneralchemical terms such
as other, bi ; and self, wo  as referring to paired cultivation. She argues that
any seemingly sexual terms in the literature are merely metaphorical, and that the
classic inner alchemists rejected sexual alchemy, citing Chen Zhixu himself as an
example.54 Robinet fails to recognize that, when Chen excoriates practitioners of
sanfeng caizhan  gathering and battling at the three peaks, he is not
rejecting sexual alchemy per se, but only rejecting a more vulgar form involving
tangible bodily secretions I address this issue in chapter 5, 1. As I show in chapter
6, readers in the Chinese alchemical tradition have never forgotten that Chen taught
sexual alchemy. Li Yuanguo represents this tradition of interpretation, and Western
scholars such as Robinet or ourselves should think twice before rejecting this
traditional perspective.
50

Qing Xitai, Zhon uo daojiao shi, 4:2358; Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 52026; Hao Qin, Longhu dan
dao, 33538; Xu Zhaoren, Daojiao yu chaoyue, 33055.
51

Xie Zhengqiang, Fu Jinquan neidan sixiang yanjiu.

52

Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 73.

53

Liu Tsunyan, Lu Hsihsing and his Commentaries on the Ts an t ung ch i, 227.

54

Robinet, Introduction  l alchimie intrieure taoste, 4850.

16

2.3, Studies of Chen Zhixu


Most surveys of the history of Daoism mention Chen Zhixu as a pivotal gure in the
history of inner alchemy. The standard history of inner alchemy begins with the
Southern and Northern Lineages of the Golden Elixir Jindan Nan
Bei Zong 
 arising separately within the northern and southern regions of a China divided
by foreign conquest dynasties. The Southern Lineage was said to have begun with
Zhang Boduan  984? 1082 , author of the Wuzhen pian
Stanzas on
Awakening to the Perfect , and been later codied by Bai Yuchan  1194
1229+ ; and the Northern Lineage refers to early Quanzhen Daoism. When the
Mongols conquered the whole of China, and the populations of North and South
China began to mingle once again, Quanzhen Daoism moved into the South, and
absorbed the Southern Lineage.55 The standard view is that Chen Zhixu absorbed
elements of both traditions and blended them in his own thought and practice.56 But
this description of Chen is wrong. While Chen claims descent from a Quanzhen sub

lineage, and cites Quanzhen gures now and again, his writings actually contain not a
hint of distinctively Quanzhen teachings or Quanzhen spirit, and instead represent a
native Jiangxi tradition. Chens false claim to this lineage re ects the name

recognition value that Quanzhen Daoism possessed in South China at this time, but
Chens teachings do not represent a blend of Northern and Southern elements.
Chen Zhixu is discussed in some depth by Zeng, and Zhou, and in less depth
by Davis and Chen, Eskildsen, He and Zhan, Kong, Li Yuanguo, and Reiter.57 Zeng is
studying the history of Zhouyi Cantong qi studies, and is exclusively interested in
Chens Cantong qi commentary. I have seen Zhou Yes work mentioned online, but
have not read it. Davis and Chen merely published some biographical information.
Eskildsen has translated a ritual text by Chen as an example of early Quanzhen ritual
55

This history is studied in Skar, Golden Elixir Alchemy.

56

Cf. Robinet, Introduction  l alchimie intrieure taoste, 43, as one example of this common natrrative.

57

Zeng Chuanhui, Yuandai Cantong xue; Zhou Ye, Shangyangzi Chen Zhixu shengping ji dandao sixiang yanjiu;
Zhou Ye, Shangyangzi Chen Zhixu shengping ji Jindan dayao de dandao sixiang; Davis and Chen, Shang
Yang

Tzu, Taoist Writer and Commentator on Alchemy; Eskildsen, The Beliefs and Practices of Early Chan
Chen
Taoism, 395 408; He Naichuan and Zhan Shichuang, Lun Chen Zhixu de Jigong leixing shi; Kong Linghong,
Song Ming daojiao sixiang yanjiu, 275 81; Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 416 31; and Reiter, Die
Synkreitistischen tendenzen der zeit.

17

this is misleading, since Chen does not represent an authentic Quanzhen tradition.
Reiter rightly takes Chen Zhixu as an example of the syncretic trend of his times. He
and Zhen have studied several of Chens poems, and Kong studies Chens thought.
My approach to Chen Zhixus life and teachings departs signicantly from these
previous studies.

3, Denitions
3.1, Inner alchemy
Chapter 4 of this dissertation is an extended answer to the question What is inner
alchemy? For the moment, I o er three brief denitions. The rst is my own, the
second is by Hao Qin, and the third is by Robinet.
Denition 1:

Inner alchemists aim to join yin and yang, and recover primal perfection, through
contemplative practice.
Denition 2:

Inner alchemists borrow the experience, theory, and technical terms of laboratory
alchemists to rene their life endowment ming 
. They take the human body as
the chamber, heart and kidneys as furnace and caldron, essence, qi, and spirit as
the pharmaca, intention and breath as the ring, to create an elixir within the
body, and seek immortality and transcendence.58
Denition 3:

Interior alchemy texts are always characterized by these features:


1. a concern for training, both mental and physiological, with the mental aspect
often tending to predominate;
2. a synthesizing tendency bringing together various Taoist elements breathing
exercises, visualization, alchemy
, certain Buddhist speculations and methods
speculations on the wu and the you, Chan gonganthe k ans of Japanese zen
,
and references to Confucian texts;
3. a systematized use of the trigrams and hexagrams of the Book of Change, already
used metaphorically in laboratory alchemy and ritual; and
4. references to chemical practices, of a purely metaphorical nature, following an
interiorized interpretation we have already seen in less developed form in the

58

From Ge Guolong, Daojiao neidan xue tanwei, 5, citing Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 23 p. 7 in Beijing ed.
. My two
thousandword description in chapter 4 is partially based on this denition. Hao literally says that intention and
breath are the huohou , which I translate here as ring, but usually translate as ring periods.

18

Shangqing school.59
A denition of inner alchemy must mention continuities between inner alchemy and
laboratory alchemy, as well as other older Daoist traditions, yet ought to reserve the
name inner alchemy for a tradition which applies alchemical, cosmological, and
Yijing discourse to the rening of corporeal energies. Inner alchemy must be dened,
rst and foremost, in terms of discourse, as Robinet would do. Practicebased
denitions of inner alchemy, like Needhams, turn inner alchemy into a tradition
which had been practiced throughout the history of Daoism, an impossibly broad
denition.60
Actually, Chen Zhixu does not use the term neidan  inner elixir; thus,
inner alchemy to describe his teachings. He does use the term neidan to refer to an
aspect of his practice,61 but even so, the term hardly occurs in his writings. Chen
instead says that he teaches the golden elixir jindan , translated metallous
enchymoma by Joseph Needham and others. But because we need to remember
that this is an alchemy62 carried out within the human body, and not in a laboratory,
we will term Chens teaching inner alchemy.
3.2, Daoism and Daoists
In his 1978 article, Nathan Sivin argues that the term Daoism has been used
sloppily in the past. For example, the term can be used to refer to a religion, a
philosophy, or a mystic and natureloving sensibility. He believes that a more
satisfactory state of a airs will depend not on imposing a standard denition but on
being explicit about which of the many senses of Taoism we are invoking in each
instance.63 Another oftcited attempt to dene Daoism is Michel Strickmanns.
59

Robinet, Taoism: Growth of a Religion, 127.

60

Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, 5.5:34: The neidan palace was in fact a house of many mansions, and
over the two millenia of its existence there grew up a multiplicity of teachers, schools, and sects, embodying the
traditions of a number of Taoist centres. By a narrower and more common denition, inner alchemy has existed
for one millennium only.

61

Usually, for Chen, the neidan is equivalent to the neiyao  inner pharmacon, but sometimes the neidan is
equivalent to the elixir within the Yellow Court, a.k.a. the holy fetus shengtai .

62

Alchemy waidan was the art of making elixirs of immortality, perfected substances which brought about
personal transcendence and eternal life . . .; Sivin, Chinese Alchemy and the Manipulation of Time, 513.

63

Sivin, On the Word Taoist as a Source of Perplexity, 304.

19

Strickmann
denes as Daoist those who 1 recognize the historical position of Zhang
Daoling; 2 worship the pure emanations of the Dao rather than the vulgar
gods of the people at large; and 3 safeguard and perpetuate their own lore and
practices through esoteric rites of transmission.64
Throughout this dissertation, I will be referring only to Daoism as an institutional
religion, though an institution may be merely a codied practice rather than a
chartered organization. My analytical denition of Daoism is polythetic, based on an
openended set of elements, and does take our naturallanguage, uncritical, English
language use of the term Daoism into consideration. The set of elements by which
we dene Daoism includes the gure of the saint and qicosmology these two are
the basis for Robinets general view of Daoism,65 a discourse on  sometimes 
means the Dao, sometimes a dao, a discourse privileging life, physical
transcendence or immortality, selfcultivation, salvation of ancestors,
correspondences between micro and macrocosm or corporeal and celestial spirits,
rituals for communicating with a celestial bureaucracy, and more. None of these
elements need be unique to Daoism, and some forms of Daoism may lack some of
the elements. By this denition, Daoism would have no sine qua non, no singular
essence, but rather, di erent cases would be farther from or closer to an ideal type.66
More relevant to this dissertation is the question of who is a Daoist, and I
will not o er my nal answer until the conclusion. Chen Zhixu considered himself a
Daoist, and was probably ordained, but spent much of his career outside the
monastic network. Chens main Daoist institution is the uno
cial institution of
master and disciple, not the monastic system. Some of his disciples may have had few
direct links to the system of ordained Daoist monastics, yet we would not call them
any less Daoist for that.
When speaking of religious Daoism, our prototype for a Daoist is an ordained
Daoist priest or monastic, though nonprototypical lay Daoists ought still to be
64

Bokenkamp, Early Daoist Scriptures, 14, citing Strickmann, On the Alchemy of Tao Hungching, 16467.

65

Pregadio, In Memoriam Isabelle Robinet, 19322000, xi.

66

For another polythetic denition of Daoism, see Raz, Creation of Tradition: The Five Talismans of the Numinous
Treasure and the Formation of Early Daoism, 2223.

20

considered Daoist. Yet ironically, Chen Zhixu, a prototypical Daoist, sometimes


does not think of himself rst and foremost as a Daoist! His views of his relations
with other traditions such as Chan Buddhism or NeoConfucianism are elastic,
stretching or contracting according to strategy and circumstance. Chen is not always
contrasting one religion with another. In our terms, he is not always contrasting
Buddhism with Daoism, or, in his own terms, he is not always contrasting the
tradition of the Buddha with the tradition of Laozi. Chen focuses almost
exclusively on selfcultivation; sometimes he treats selfcultivation as the primary
category, which includes various forms of practice that we would distinguish as
Daoist or Buddhist. Within the category of selfcultivation, he may ally himself
more closely to a true form of Buddhism than to a false form of Daoism, or he
may not speak of these forms of selfcultivation as Buddhist or Daoist at all. In
studying Chinese religions, the emphasis should not always be put on religions, but
instead it may often be better put upon traditions, practices, discourses, or
repertoires, which may cut across the boundaries of various religions.67

3.3, Religion
Finally, we must dene religion. According to J. Z. Smith, Religion is not a native
term; it is a term created by scholars for their intellectual purposes and is therefore
theirs to dene.68 And yet Western scholars always come to their study with a pre
existing folk understanding of religion, a prototype, based on their familiarity
with Christianity or Judaism. Benson Saler argues that Christianity and Judaism have
always served as prototypes for Western anthropologists studying foreign religions.
Many anthropologists who study religion implicitly and sometimes explicitly
compare what strikes them as religious in nonWestern societies with what they
suppose to be the religious traditions of the West. Indeed, they rst recognize
religion among nonWestern peoples by nding professed convictions and other
behaviors that they interpret as analogues of those that they assign to the domain
of religion in Western societies, past and present. In short, ideas about the
natures and histories of religions in the West serve as . . . prototypesas the rst
or original modelsguiding anthropologists in their development of models of
67

For the concept of repertoires, see Campany, The Meanings of Cuisines of Transcendence in Late Classical
and Early Medieval China 1n1, 3. Also cf. Swidler, Talk of Love, 24; idem, Culture in Action.
68

Smith, Religion, Religions, Religious, 281.

21

religion among nonWestern peoples.69


Saler argues that Western scholars of religion should acknowledge that the academic
study of religion owes its form and, I would add, its raison dtre to the prototypical
Western religions, Christianity and Judaism. This is not acknowledging a failing, but
acknowledging the way the human mind constructs categories.
The human mind constructs categories such as fruit, bird, or furniture,
based on prototypes. Naturallyconstructed categories do not have strictlydened
boundaries, but rather are made up of collections of more or less prototypical
individuals. For example, we seem to see apple as a more prototypical fruit than
olive, robin as a more prototypical bird than penguin, and chairs as more
prototypical furniture than radios.
Applying this theory about human cognition to the study of religion, Saler
proposes that we consciously treat Christianity, Judaism, and Islam as exemplars of
religion; on the opposite pole, as a distant and doubtful case, would be something
like communism. Saler proposes that we not set up sharp boundaries around the
category of religion, so the question of whether or not communism is a religion
would be answered di erently in di erent situations. Saler proposes a polythetic,
multifactorial denition of religion based on the prototypes of Western
monotheism. He recommends that we conceptualize religion for analytical purposes
in terms of a pool of elements that often cluster together but that may do so in
greater or lesser degrees.70 Saler does not give an absolutely xed pool of elements,
but would include elements like belief in gods, a moral code with supernatural
warrant, eschatology, and rituals with extrahuman referents.71 I recommend Salers
approach for dening religion, Daoism, and inner alchemy.

4, Themes and Theories


69

Saler, Conceptualizing Religion, 199200.

70

Saler, Conceptualizing Religion, 213.

71

Saler, Conceptualizing Religion, 213. He mentions lists of elements pro ered by other authors such as William
Alston nine elements and Martin Southwold twelve 17071.

22

4.1, An Outline of Chens Religious Market


In my research on Chen Zhixu, I view his teachings and career in terms of an
economy of salvation. I organize my religiousmarket perspective around the
following six questions, and their many answers:
1 What is Chen selling?
He is selling salvation, and harmony with the sacred;
he is selling a unique religious worldview including such elements as
cosmology, anthropology, theory of transcendenthood, myth, theology of
various types of spirits or deities, metaphysics, ethics, theory and uses of
scripture, ritual, social institutions such as the masterdisciple
relationship, and way of life;
and nally, he is selling specic alchemical teachings.
2 To whom is he selling?
He is selling to laymen Confucians, literati, and o cials,
religious seekers,
Daoist monastics,
and even to Buddhist monastics.
3 What needs is he meeting?
These include the needs for
avoiding death and dissolution,
for rebirth and renewal,
participation in sacred anthropocosmic creation and transformation zaohua
,
feeling special or elect,
prestige,
agency or controlling ones destiny,
transference between disciple and master,
cognitive solutions to philosophical issues,
and probably also the need to manage ones sexuality and emotions.
4 How does he market and sell it?
He does this
by establishing and managing his mastership and authority,
by establishing correspondences to other known truths a strategy I term
extension,
through the esoteric assumption that truth is secret,
through an esoteric strategy of managing secrecy and display,
by making violent misreadings,
and by ex cathedra pronouncements and speech acts which I call secondary
salvic e ects.
5 How does salvation work for Chen?
23

There are two forms of salvation in Chens teachings: primary salvation, and
secondary salvic e ects.
Primary salvation is achieved through
alchemical selfcultivation,
amassing karmic merit,
and intercession by spirits and deities.
Secondary salvic e ects are produced through
achieving gnosis itself,
recreating the cosmogonic state in text or discourse,
reenacting the actions or lives of heroes or sages,
repeating the actions of the gods,
emphasizing correspondence of microcosm to macrocosm,
participating in cosmic creation, cosmizing the body,
and through a whole array of speechact e ects enactments or
performance e ects, such as
performing salvation, enlightenment, wisdom,
performing status as one of the elect,
performing the receiving of blessings from deities,
or performing cosmogony itself.
6 Why does he sell it, and what does he receive in payment or exchange?
He o ers his teachings
for nancial gain,
from a sense of duty,
to save others,
because like all people he craves prestige,
in order to manage his mastership,
and ultimately for his own salvation.
While this religiousmarket perspective stands in the background of my research on
Chen Zhixu, I have not used it explicitly to structure the dissertation. Because no
one else has studied Chen in depth, the bulk of the dissertation is taken up with
groundwork on Chens alchemical teachings, situating them within the elds of inner
alchemy and sexual cultivation. Throughout the dissertation, I refer to many of the
points in the religiousmarket perspective outlined above, but not to all of them. In
the conclusion, I revisit this outline, eshing it out with cases drawn from my
chapters.
4.1.1, Theories of religious markets.

The religiousmarket perspective I have

outlined above is informed by a number of theorists, but is not taken directly from
any one of them. Currently there are quite a few scholars in the eld of sociology of
religion who use a market model to study religious life; Rodney Stark is the most
24

wellknown exponent of this approach.72 While I may make some use of this body of
work in future research, I have not used it at all for this dissertation, instead using
Pierre Bourdieus sociology of culture, especially his concepts of eld and capital.
Bourdieus work is more directly applicable to smallscale social interactions, and his
focus on intellectuals makes him more appropriate for my material. By applying
Bourdieus approach, I am able to emphasize the competitive and conictual nature
of Chens life and teachings. I discuss Bourdieus conict sociology at length in
chapter 3. My religiousmarket perspective is also informed by the work of Gernet
and Cole on economies of religious merit in Chinese Buddhism,73 though I do not
employ their work directly.
4.2, Esotericism
Within Chens competitive market economy of religious teachings, many of his
strategies for success involve claims, or assumptions, that the true path to salvation is
secret, known only to a few initiates. My thinking on this aspect of Chens career and
teachings is informed by the work of Hugh Urban. When we are faced with the
problem of discovering the secret teachings of an esoteric tradition, Urban advises us
to study the sociology of secrecy rather than esoteric content.74 In one article, Urban
discovers three strategies employed equally by two esoteric groups in unrelated
societies. These three strategies are
1 the creation of a new social space or private sphere, which promises equality
and liberation for all classes, while at the same time constructing new and more
rigid hierarchies; 2 a hermeneutical strategy
called stealing the lightning ,
which appropriates the authority of traditional scriptures, while at the same time
asserting the superiority of esoteric exegesis; 3 a ritual strategy, which creates a
homology between the body of the initiate, the hierarchy of the cosmos and the
72

Stark and his coauthors have honed their perspective in many publications; Stark and Finke, Acts of Faith, is a
primer. Jelen, Sacred Markets, Sacred Canopies, is a volume of critique and justication. For alternative religious
market approaches, see Ekelund, et al., Sacred Trust: The Medieval Church as an Economic Firm; Eno, Selling
Sagehood: The Philosophical Marketplace in Early China; Goossaert, Taoist Masters and Spiritual Teachings,
in The Taoists of Peking, 18001949, 274320.

73
Gernet, Buddhism in Chinese Society: An Economic History; Cole, Mothers and Sons in Chinese Buddhism. Also see
Benavides, Economy; Walsh, The Economics of Salvation.
74

Urban takes his cues from Bellman and Lindstrom here, with Bourdieu supplying an overall framework; Urban,
Elitism and Esotericism, 34. Cf. Bellman, The Language of Secrecy, 3 .; Lindstrom, Knowledge and Power in a South
Pacic Society, 119 .; Bourdieu, Language and Symbolic Power.

25

hierarchy of the esoteric sect, inscribing the individual into the body of the order,
and inscribing the order onto the human body.75
In another article, he discovers four strategies used within an esoteric Hindu Tantric
tradition I will number them 47 :

4 The rst and most basic strategy is the advertisement of the secretthe
claim to possess very precious, rare, and valuable knowledge, while
simultaneously partially revealing and largely concealing it. . . .
5 The second of
these strategies is to construct a graded hierarchy of levels of truth and then to
restrict access to these truths by means of initiation. . . .
6 The third of these
strategies we might call the intentional and systematic use of ambiguous
language. . . .
7 The fourth of these strategies we might call . . . the power of
semantic shocknamely, the e ect that deliberately jarring, unusual, weird, or
even o ensive juxtapositions of words have on their audience.76
Robert Campany shows how seekers of transcendence in early medieval China
employ strategies 4 and 5. Campany notes that strategy 1 is irrelevant for his
material,77 and the same is true for Chen Zhixus case. I would also discard strategies
3 and 7 as not essentially esoteric though they are certainly found in Chens case . I
have found Chens most important esoteric strategy to be the strategy 2 claiming
that the classic texts are teaching a secret, in code , followed by strategy 5 restricting
secrets to graded initiates . Chen also employs strategy 6, dissimulating for the sake
of avoiding social censure or persecution. All of my answers to question 4, How does
he market and sell it?, in the religiousmarket outline above, are related to Urbans
strategies 2 and 46.
4.3, MasterDisciple Relations
Texts are elements of culture. If sociologists of culture are correct when they tell us
that peoples main use of culture is to deal with institutions and social structures,78
then practices of textual interpretation in any society must be studied in relation to
these social structures. The unrestrained interpretation of texts or oral traditions is
most likely to be found in social settings where social institutions do not depend
75

Urban, Elitism and Esotericism, 1.

76

Urban, The Torment of Secrecy, 23539.

77

Campany, Secrecy and Display, 29394.

78

Swidler, Talk of Love, 17779.

26

directly upon the xed interpretation of texts. The esotericism of Chen Zhixu, or
the cases studied by Urban and Campany, are specic examples of this more general
rule. This is not to say that these are social settings where there is no stable
authority; rather, they are settings in which authority lies somewhere besides the
xed meaning of the canon. Social stability may lie in ritual, or the personal charisma
of leaders or scholars, rather than in the narrowly determinate meaning of a canon.
For example, traditional Jewish scriptural exegetes enjoyed much more interpretive
leeway than Christian scriptural exegetes did, presumably because Christian
authority relied relatively more on a determinate meaning of scripture, and Jewish
authority rested relatively more on other sources. Within Judaism or Islam, the most
unrestrained forms of scriptural exegesis would be found in social settings where
exegetical authority rested mainly on the charismatic authority of the master, such as
in the traditions of Kabbalah or Susm. In such settings, the masterdisciple relation,
or the network centered on a master, carries the weight of social structure. Esoteric
interpretation of texts is often found in such social settingsthe strong master
disciple bonds and lineages make esoteric strategies more successful, and esoteric
strategies help to keep these bonds strong. The sociology of inner alchemy is based
squarely on the masterdisciple bond. My attention was rst drawn to the importance
of masterdisciple relations and lineage by scholarship on Chan Buddhism, such as
McRaes work on encounter dialogue.79

4.4, The Master Function


In Chens social world, inneralchemical authority rests on mastership. The case of
inneralchemical mastership bears comparison with Faures account of mastership in
Chan Buddhism:
The denition of masters and disciples, and of what is supposed to be
transmitted through them, is primarily social. . . . Chan masters . . . are not
masters because they have realized the truth and can now teach it although, of
course, this may be the case; rather, they can teach the truth because, having
been socially dened as Chan masters, what they teach has the performative
power of being the truth. Like the author function analyzed by Foucault, the
79

McRae, Seeing through Zen. Steiner, Lessons of the Masters, discusses masterdisciple relations in Western
intellectual history. Also see Wach, Master and Disciple.

27

master function is a position determined by discourse . . . In this sense, its


performative power requires a broad social consensus.80
Foulk makes a similar point regarding the practice of commenting on koans, as in
Biyan lu or Wumen guan:
The mark of the master, or rather the formal position of master, is to have the
last word and pronounce ultimate judgment.
The voice of awakening is a matter of positioning in a formal ritual or literary
structure: whatever the voice of the judge in a dialogue says, regardless of its
semantic content, represents the truth, or the standpoint of awakening. In a
social context, whoever can work himself by whatever means into the position
of speaking as a judge of old cases will thereafter be deemed a worthy spokesman
of the awakened point of view, regardless of what he says.81
Within these specic facetoface or textual contexts in Chan Buddhism, truth is
dened as whatever the enlightened master says, and the enlightened master is
anyone able to occupy that position in a social institution. In Chens social arena, the
master function, or the authority of the masterinstitution, is never as strong as in
Faure and Foulks accounts. Chen would like to achieve such unquestioned
mastership, but lacking the support of a monastic institution as in the Chan
Buddhist case, he can only try his best, using esoteric or other strategies. In Chens
situation, the charisma of mastership has not been routinized and institutionalized as
in Chan Buddhism, so he must put more e ort into managing his mastership.82
In addition to Bourdieus sociology of intellectuals, and the study of Chan
Buddhism by Faure and Foulk, my thinking about mastership has also been informed
by the work of Peter Brown on the authority of the saint in early Christianity. Just as
religious truth resides in the position of the Chan master in Faure or Foulks
accounts, religious power resides in the position of the saint in Browns account:
The holy man was expected to establish himself almost as a blessed object in
the midst of his fellows. . . . Right down to his rigid stance, his gure was a
precipitate of the unfullled needs of an illoriented and highly competitive
society. What needs, therefore, did his person fulll? . . .
80

Faure, The Rhetoric of Immediacy, 22.

81

Foulk, The Form and Function of Koan Literature, 34, 35. T 2003, Biyan lu, is by Yuanwu Keqin 
10631135, and T 2005, Wumen guan, is by Wumen Huikai  11831260.
82

Palmer, Hsu, and Goossaert also make valuable contributions to the study of mastership, masterdisciple
relations, and authority in Daoism and Chinese society; Palmer, The Grandmasters, in Qigong Fever, 86101;
Hsu, The Transmission of Chinese Medicine; Goossaert, The Taoists of Peking, 18001949.

28

Power gained in this way had to be seen to exist. . . .

Such power was built up by hard, unobtrusive and so, for us, partly obscure
work among those who needed constant and unspectacular ministrations.83
Browns formulation of the master function allows more agency for the masters
audience than Faures or Foulks do, and rightly so. For Brown, and for Bourdieu,
master and audience constitute one another. As Bourdieu says, the representative
creates the group which creates him.84 The master is dened by his audience, and
serves as the linchpin of a group.
4.5, Speech Act Theory and Performativity
Speechact theory was begun by J. L. Austin, then developed by John Searle, Jacques
Derrida, Bourdieu, and many others; currently, Judith Butlers work represents the
state of the art in this eld.85 According to Austin, any utterance has locutionary,
illocutionary, and perlocutionary aspects. The locutionary act is the act of saying,
with its propositional content. The illocutionary act is what we do or enact in
saying, the performative aspect of an utterance. The classic example of an
illocutionary act is the promise. To say I promise is not a statement about
promising: the utterance is itself the promise. Finally, the perlocutionary act is
what we do by the fact that we speak, such as arousing reactions of fear or
embarrassment in an interlocutor. These aspects are also found in written texts,
though texts escape from the control of the writer in ways that an oral utterance
usually does not. When we think about texts, we usually are only thinking about
them in their locutionary aspectthe information they presentyet they also have
an illocutionary aspect. Chen Zhixus texts are full of illocutionary acts: when he tells
his disciples that the gods have blessed them, or that they have achieved
enlightenment, he performs this as truth through illocutionary speech acts.
I rely mainly on the work on performative speech by Bourdieu in Language
83

Brown, The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity, 143, 137, 1056.

84

Bourdieu, Language and Symbolic Power, 105.

85

A short list should include: Austin, How to Do Things with Words; Searle, Speech Acts; Searle, Expression and
Meaning; Derrida, Limited Inc.; Felman, The Scandal of the Speaking Body; Miller, Speech Acts in Literature; Butler,
Excitable Speech; and Butler, Performativitys Social Magic. There was also a spate of performative studies of
ritual in past decades; these are discussed in Bell, Ritual: Perspectives and Dimensions, 68 .

29

and Symbolic Power and Faure. Bourdieu tells us that performative language is
pervasive in everyday social behavior, such as in the act of naming:
By structuring the perception which social agents have of the social world, the
act of naming helps to establish the structure of this world . . . There is no social
agent who does not aspire, . . . to have the power to name and to create the world
through naming: gossip, slander, lies, insults, commendations, criticisms,
arguments and praises are all daily and petty manifestations of the solemn and
collective acts of naming . . . which are performed by generally recognized
authorities.86
Bourdieu is talking about the process by which social reality is produced, reproduced,
managed, contested, or transformed by its participants through their acts of naming,
with their speech acts having more or less e
ect depending on the symbolic capital
they mobilize behind their speech. Bernard Faure speaks of Chan texts as possessing
a performative thus illocutionary aspect. In Japanese Zen,
apparently the custom of leaving death poems often became an emptybut not
less e cientritual by the thirteenth century. . . . Yet it had important
ideological and political consequences. A departing verse was not simply intended
to testify to the masters enlightenment as a locutionary act ; it was producing it
as an illocutionary act and contained . . . its essence. As such, it was also a relic
embodying ultimate truth . . .87
The Zen masters death verse proved to his disciples and anyone else in the Zen
world that he was an enlightened master. If we assume that enlightenment is a
human, intersubjective quality, rather than a hardwired quality of the masters mind
or otherwise part of the furniture of the natural world, then we can say that the
death verse even produced or enacted the masters enlightened status. Whenever
Chen says something like only the virtuous, wise, or those destined for
transcendence will receive these teachings, and then bestows the teachings on a
disciple, he is pronouncing the disciple to be in fact virtuous, wise, and destined for
transcendence. Chens pronouncement will have force in dening reality if his
audience views him as an authoritythat is, it will have force if he is able to exercise
his master e
ect upon them.

86

Bourdieu, Language and Symbolic Power, 105.

87

Faure, The Rhetoric of Immediacy, 189.

30

4.6, Syncretism: Imperialist Inclusivism


Chen Zhixu often cites Buddhist gures and concepts. It should not be surprising to
nd a Daoist citing Buddhism, or Buddhist elements within Daoist teachings.
Daoists throughout history have adapted elements from Buddhism, and if we accept
the views of some Japanese scholars, Buddhism served as an example for Daoists as
they thematized Daoism as a religion as such. The late scholar of Daoism and Tantric
Buddhism, Michel Strickmann, complained that, although Western scholars have
seen BuddhoDaoist syncretism as a particularly Mingdynasty phenomenon, in fact
the same sort of syncretism was already in evidence in Daoist texts as early as the
fth century. Shall we then speak of primary and secondary syncretism?
Strickmann asks. This is a problem that students of the later dynasties should at
least come to perceive.88
Actually, syncretism in the narrow sense, as a full, systematic, and reective
combination of religions, which does not merely subsume one into another, was a
rare phenomenon in Chinese history. Timothy Brook has proposed a schema of six
di erent terms for interreligious mixtures in China:
syncretism full and systematic integration
;
ecumenism which says that truth is universal, but its expressions vary
;
inclusivism explaining elements of one religion in terms of another
;
compartmentalism restricting di erent religions to di erent purposes or areas of
reality
;
eclecticism the pick and choose approach
; and
condominium religions living together in political or social harmony
.89
Chens use of Buddhism should be called, not syncretism, but inclusivism, or better
yet, imperialist inclusivism, a violent incorporation of Buddhist elements within a
Daoist framework. But actually, Chens misreading of elements within Daoism which
is nominally his own tradition
is no less violent. This violent misreading is made
possible by Chens claim to secret understanding of the true meaning of the Buddhist
teachings Urbans strategy 2
, backed up by his authority as a master the master
function
.
By the Ming Dynasty, the doctrine of the Unity of the Three Teachings had
88

Strickmann, The Consecration Stra: A Buddhist Book of Spells, 7677.

89

Brook, Rethinking Syncretism, 1415.

31

become a mainstream idea within Chinese culture. According to this doctrine, truth
is unitary: the Confucian, Buddhist, and Daoist sages teach the same fundamental
truths regarding ethics, inherent nature, selfcultivation, or the Dao. The roots of
this idea are ageold, but it perhaps rst became a central point of doctrine for
Daoists with the Northern Quanzhen Daoist movement during the twelfth and
thirteenth centuries. Slightly before this, in South China during the Song Dynasty,
there was also a separate wave of interest in Chan Buddhism by Daoist inner
alchemists.
Chen Zhixu is the heir of both of these trends: the Quanzhen Daoist
advocacy of the Unity of the Three Teachings, and the Southern alchemists interest
in Chan Buddhism. Chen shows far more interest in Buddhism than in
Confucianism, and for the most part this is an interest in Chan Buddhism. Chen
seems mostly to have been dealing with Chan in the form of texts, but he also had
cordial relations with Chan Buddhists. Chen was a participant in a greater cultural
dialogue about spiritual practice, and had his own opinion of what proper Chan
practice ought to be.
4.7, Primary Salvation and Secondary Salvic Eects
In this dissertation, I study Chens specic alchemical procedures leading to
apotheosis. This is what I would call primary salvation, salvation as we often
understand the term, that is, rescue from the mortal realm and assumption into
heaven. In addition to salvation through alchemical selfcultivation, Chen also
alludes to other forms of primary salvation, such as salvation through amassing
karmic merit, or through intercession by spirits and deities. Actually, he includes
these latter two forms as moments within the alchemical process, at its end.
Yet I also identify secondary salvic e ects throughout Chens writing and
practice, both within primary salvic process and outside it. The germ of the idea of
two forms of salvation came to me from Sivins description of Chinese laboratory
alchemy:
Alchemy waidan was the art of making elixirs of immortality, perfected
substances which brought about personal transcendence and eternal life,
32

and yet,
the dominant goal of Chinese alchemy was contemplative, even ecstatic. . . .
The alchemists constructed their intricate art, made the cycles of the cosmic
process accessible, and undertook to contemplate them because they believed
that to encompass the Dao with their minds . . . would make them one with it.90
This gnosis itself is salvic: as Sivin says, to grasp the unchanging reality that
underlies the chaos of experience is to rise above that chaos, to be freed at least for
the moment from the limits of personal mortality. I call this a secondary salvic
e ect. I call it secondary because it is subtle, only semiconscious to the adept,
and usually found together with a more selfconscious and commonsense form of
salvation, through ingesting the elixir and rising to the heavens.
I think of secondary salvic e ects primarily in terms of Mircea Eliades
hermeneutic of the sacred, the power of performative language, and, to a lesser
extent, Peter Bergers concept of cosmization as I will explain presently. In my
outline on Chens religious market above, I list six salvic e ects, and four
performance e ects; this is meant to be an openended list, not an exhaustive one.
Salvic e ect number 1 is the e ect of gnosis itself: for example, sometimes
Chen says that one may escape from samsra merely by realizing ones own buddha
nature. In Chan, this would be primary salvation, but for Chen it is a side e ect,
which actually contradicts the inherent gradualism of most inner alchemy.
Number 2 is the salvic e ect of repeating a saga of degeneration and
redemption, a narrative by which the cosmos originates in a state of primal
wholeness, degenerates from that state, and then the alchemist is able to return to
the primal state. As I will argue, merely by repeating the cosmogonic story itself,
Chen is in e ect recreating this fall and return within the text or discourse. This idea
comes from Eliades discussion of cosmogony in The Sacred and the Profane. Eliade says
that The cosmogony is the supreme divine manifestation, the paradigmatic act of
strength, abundance, and creativity. Religious man thirsts for the real. By every
means at his disposal, he seeks to reside at the very source of primordial reality, when

90

Sivin, Chinese Alchemy and the Manipulation of Time, 513, 524.

33

the world was


in the state of being born .91 In a traditional society, when the
cosmogony was repeated in an annual ritual at the turn of the New Year, for example,
by participating ritually in the end of the world and in its recreation, any man
became contemporary with the iud tempus; hence he was born anew, he began life
over again with his reserve of vital forces intact, as it was at the moment of his
birth.92 By repeating the cosmogonic narrative of fall and return, Chen forges a
temporary link between himself or his listeners or readers and the sacred
cosmogonic state.
Number 3 is the salvic e ect of reenacting the actions of sages. Whenever
Chen quotes an ancient master, deity, or the Buddha, he is subtly assimilating himself
to the holy person he is quoting. Whenever he recounts a legendary masterdisciple
encounter for the edication of an audience of students, he is subtly assimilating his
relation with that audience to the relation between the legendary master and
disciple. When Chen cites the story of Mazu Daoyis 70988 lesson from Nanyue
Huairang 677744 ,93 Chen is Nanyue, and his disciples are Mazu, both parties
receiving a subtle salvic benet from this association. I have taken this idea from
Gri th Foulks argument that, when the Songdynasty abbots of Chan monasteries
took the stage before the assembly and instructed the monks with stickblows and
shouts, the abbots were in fact reenacting the deeds of the mythical Tangdynasty
masters, or playing the role of the living Buddha. Foulk calls this ritualized
antinomianism.94 Similarly, the ceremony of entering the chamber rushi  for
a personal audience with the abbot was a ritual reenactment of mythical master
disciple encounters as described in the genealogical histories.95 Foulk views this
91

Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, 80.

92

Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, 80.

93

When Mazu was living in a cloister on the Southern Marchmount, he would only do zazen all day long, seeking
to become a buddha. Chan Master
Huai rang then took a brick over to the front of the hut, and
began to
polish it.
Ma zu said, Why are you doing that?
Huairang answered, Im polishing it to make a mirror.
Ma zu
said, How could you make a mirror by polishing a brick?
Huai rang said, Thats right! How could you become a
buddha through zazen? Mazu was suddenly enlightened, receiving the import of these words. # (
$, .,%+(*
 *- *+"!-.
',"!# ) &DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 16.7b69.
94

Foulk, Myth, Ritual, and Monastic Practice in Sung Chan Buddhism, 17779.

95

Foulk, Myth, Ritual, and Monastic Practice in Sung Chan Buddhism, 181. McRae makes a similar point,

34

behavior as a way of achieving social cohesion and prestige for Chan institutions.
Foulk also makes the same point in regards to Chan textual practices.96 We nd
similar textual practices in Chens writing. In my own reading of similar behavior by
Chen Zhixu, I draw on Eliades idea that human beings seek to participate in the
sacred, and I argue that this behavior is not just for the sake of social prestige and
authority, but is also a way to participate in the sanctity of the Buddha, Laozi, or the
holy masters of the past.
Number 4 is the salvic eect of repeating the actions of celestial deities at
the beginning of time. In his commentary to the Duren jing, for example, Chen often
compares the actions of the alchemist with the actions of the Celestial Worthy of
Primordial Commencement.97 This idea also comes from Eliade.
Number 5 is the salvic eect of emphasizing cosmological or numerological
correspondences between the microcosm of the body and the outer macrocosm of
the cosmos. By cosmizing the body or mind, Chen is able to, in a limited sense, tap
into the sacred reality of the cosmos. This is simultaneously a salvic act
as Eliade
would emphasize , and a political act
as Berger would emphasize .98 One variation of
this is envisioning the body as a cavern heaven, a closed space containing multitudes
of gods, landscape features, mountains.
Number 6 is the salvic eect of participating in cosmic creation and
transformation
zaohua  . When he combines the two pharmaca to create the
arguing that the Zutang ji
of 952 must have been used to provide models for training, with the goal not of an
exalted state of spiritual attainment but reenactment of the archetypal drama that takes place between each
patriarch and his successor; McRae, Encounter Dialogue and the Transformation of the Spiritual Path in
Chinese Chan, 353.
96
A commenting master such as Xuedou stands in an interesting position visvis the old patriarchs, one that
remains fundamentally subordinate and yet manages to evince ultimate authority. On the one hand, it is clear that
the patriarchs, being ancestral gures, have seniority in the Chan lineage. . . . To be a living heir in the lineage . . .
is to benet from association with the eminent patriarchs of old. To comment on the words of the patriarchs,
similarly, is to be on the receiving end of the prestige with which those words are invested. On the other hand,
the master as commentator, is always able to nd fault with the masters on whom he is commenting; Foulk, The
Form and Function of Koan Literature, 34. Xuedou Chongxian  

980 1052 wrote the commentary
Baize sonu , which became the basis for T 2003, Biyan lu, by Yuanwu Keqin.
97

Chen did not invent this idea: Chens Duren jing commentary draws on earlier inneralchemical Duren jing
commentaries, such as DZ 90, Yuanshi wuliang duren shangpin miao jing neiyi, which he cites more than a dozen
times.
98

For Berger, cosmization, or identication of the human world with the worldassuch, is a strategy for
legitimating social institutions, hiding their arbitrary and constructed character by grounding them in ultimate
reality; Berger, The Sacred Canopy, 27 37.

35

elixir, the inner alchemist is handling the same cosmic forces that generate all the
transformations of heaven and earth. By handling them, the adept can participate in
a sacred reality.
In my outline of Chens religious market, I also include four speechact
e ects as salvic e ects: performing salvation, enlightenment, or wisdom;
performing the disciples status as one of the elect; performing the receiving of
blessings from deities; and performing cosmogony itself. These are enactments of
reality through the masters pronouncements, depending on the master e ect for
their power.
Lets revisit a passage from the beginning of the dissertation, translating it
into this new theoretical vocabulary. Here is the passage:
Like the adamantine sword, it has a great vigor; like the hundredfoot pole, it is
straight and unbending; of all the armored warriors in the world, none could
break it. This vigorous heartmind has great courage and erceness. When all of
the gods in heaven and people on earth
see this vigor, their joy will be
measureless. Utilizing this vigor, one becomes a buddha and a patriarch.99
On page 3 above, I claim that the passage contains the following religious strategies
and uses of language:
1 the cosmization of the body and the sex act, and participation in a sacred
reality;
2 the reinterpretion of the Buddha himself and all Chan masters of the past as
having been sexual alchemists, a political strategy for justifying Chens own
teachings;
3 the assimilating of the sexual alchemist to the Buddha and the patriarchs;
4 the description of the participation of deities in the alchemists sexual
practice;
5 and the enacting or performance of all these truths through a speech act.
Here is an extended reading of this passage, using the themes and theories just
introduced above. While the primary salvic goal of alchemical apotheosis lies in the
background ostensibly, the passage is describing a state of sexual power and control
the male adept must attain so he may stimulate and gather the female partners
sexual qi without losing his own seminal essence, the main function of the passage is
to enact secondary salvic e ects through speech acts. Chen compares the male
adepts sex organ to a mighty sword wielded by a vajrapi a Buddhist dharma
99

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi jindan dayao 16.11b47.

36

protecting deity
, or an impossibly long pole cited in a Chan k an. He is giving the
male adepts many of whom were older men
a psychological handhold for
empowering their sexual practice leading to primary salvation
, but he is also setting
up a correlation between the adepts and holy Buddhist gures. In Eliades terms, this
slakes homo religiosuss craving for the sacred; in Bergers terms, it legitimates the
social order, the cosmic order, the religion, the masterdisciple relation, the relation
between the sexes, or between gods and human beings, and so on. When Chen
describes how the gods rejoice in the adepts prowess, he is attempting to enact this
state of a airs; the power to enact reality through speech acts depends on the power
of his master e ect. At the end of the passage, Chen is describing the future
attainment of primary salvation, but also, in a more subtle and unconscious way,
enacting this reality in the present, bringing the sacred quality of these holy Buddhist
gures to the recipient of the poem, and making this quality available to any later
reader willing to accept Chens pronouncements. The success of these speech acts
depends on Chens authority, but may also contribute to his authority. Through this
imperialistinclusivist misreading of Buddhist elements, Chen aims to convince the
skeptic or steel the believers faith
that sexual alchemy is also the underlying truth
of Chan Buddhism, stealing the lightning of this other prestigious tradition to
advance his own claims. If successful in convincing the interlocutor or reader, Chen
can extend his regime of truth to this other tradition. This is an example of how I
read Chens texts.
The bulk of this dissertation is on Chen Zhixus biography, his teachings, and
the history of their reception. So, for most of the theoretical points introduced
above, I can only allude to them in the dissertation, and not develop them at length.
The one exception is Bourdieus conict sociology, which I develop fully in chapter 3.

5, An Overview of the Dissertation Chapters


In this introductory chapter 1, I introduce themes that will appear throughout the
37

dissertation. Chapter 2 treats Chen Zhixus biography and social environment. I


discuss Chens name and titles; the dating of his life and activities; his two masters,
Zhao Youqin , and the Old Man from Mt. Qingcheng Qingcheng Weng 
; Chens several enlightenment experiences; and Chens teaching career and his
many lay and monastic disciples. I draw a concrete picture of the social backdrop of
the sexualalchemical teachings and practices of Chen and his circle among the cities
and mountains of southcentral China during the Mongol reign.
In chapter 3, I argue that Pierre Bourdieus sociology of culture o ers the best
conceptual framework for studying a case like Chens. Bourdieus sociological work
on culture, knowledge, and art provides a welldeveloped vocabulary, and will help me
frame my picture of Chen Zhixu and his world, and organize its parts. After
introducing Bourdieu, I present Chen competing for economic, social, cultural,
symbolic, and religious forms of capital, within the concentric elds of social
power, religion, and selfcultivation. Chens teachings are the tools he uses in his
struggle to achieve three interrelated goals: 1 achieving recognition and authority
as a master, or managing his mastership; 2 spreading his teachings in the religious
eld; and 3 attaining personal salvation.
In chapter 4, in answer to the question What is inner alchemy?, I o er an
analytical overview of inneralchemical tradition, building on and criticizing previous
overviews of inner alchemy by Chinese and Western scholars. In my discussion, I
take the lateimperial or modern standard account as a paradigm of what inner
alchemy ought to look like, and then test this paradigm against other forms of
alchemy that diverge from the standard account. Throughout the chapter, I compare
di erent forms of inner alchemy in terms of dozens of di erent criteria, on
microcosmic, mesocosmic, and macrocosmic and other registers, within a
denitional framework of my own design. This is an extended proposal for future
work in the comparative study of inner alchemy.
In chapter 5, I prove that Chen Zhixus alchemy is indeed sexual alchemy, I
describe his alchemical path in detail, from nding partner and patron, to gathering
the pharmaca, to rening them, generating the yang spirit, and ascending to the

38

heavens. Finally, I compare Chens alchemy with other forms of sexual cultivation,
sexual alchemy, and inner alchemy in Chinese history.
In chapter 6, I study the postmortem career of Chen and his writings.
From Chens time on, inner alchemists debated whether the elixir should be
harvested by the male adept through coition, or whether it should be sought entirely
within the mans own person, and Chens works were central to this debate. Chens
teachings were known to all major later gures in the history of inner alchemy, and
advocates of both positions had to address his teachings, whether to declaim them,
advance them, or merely acknowledge them. Later alchemists used Chens writings as
a landmark, and perpetuated or reinterpreted his teachings, as they shaped the eld
of inner alchemy into the tradition of today.

6, Conventions
I have silently converted WadeGiles romanization to Pinyin when quoting the words
of others, except in the cases of titles of works, or names of people, and the words
Taoism or Taoist.
In most cases, the Chinese characters for the titles of works cited in
footnotes are listed only in the bibliography of works cited at the end of the
dissertation. DZ refers to the numbering system used for texts in the Zhengtong
daozang by Schipper and Verellen, The Taoist Canon. H.Y. refers to HarvardYenching
numbering systems for various classics; for these HarvardYenching editions, look
under the name of the editor, William Hung, in the bibliography.
Because Chinese authors are di cult to recognize by surname alone, in
references to sources by authors with Chinese names, I list the authors full name. I
do not do this for sources by authors with nonChinese names.
When reading Jindan dayao, I use the Zhengtong daozang edition DZ 106770
as a base text, supplementing it with variants from the Jindan zhengli daquan and
Daozang jiyao editions as necessary. I justify this approach in dissertation appendix 2.
39

When quoting Jindan dayao, I do not list every character variant between these three
editions, only a few important variants. Often, a passage missing from DZ 106770
will be found in both of the other two editions. Because the Jindan zhengli daquan and
Daozang jiyao editions are usually quite similar in even their small details, yet the
former is slightly more complete and reliable that the latter, I usually cite only the
former as a supplement to DZ 106770. For Chens other three texts, and for Zhao
Youqins Xianfo tongyuan, I have consulted only one edition for each text.
When quoting and translating passages from Chens three commentaries on
Cantong qi, Wuzhen pian, and Duren jing, I often set isolated words or phrases in
boldface. By this I mean to highlight the correlations between his commentary and
the passage he is commenting upon. In his commentaries, Chen sometimes writes in
a relatively freeranging style, but usually he picks his words so as to include words
and phrases from the original passage within his own sentences. By setting these
echoes in boldface, I show the intertextual nature of his writing. Also, we may note
that, just as in Jindan dayao Chen reinterprets or misreads common cultural symbols
to advance his own countercultural teachings the strategy of extension, when
writing a commentary Chen uses the original words of the classic while turning them
to new meanings. Actually, nonDaoist traditional Chinese commentary is often like
this too.
I romanize  as qi, and  as Qi. Sometimes these two characters are
equivalent, and sometimes  refers to precosmic or prenatal .100 I romanize 
as either Dao or dao; my reason for this is spelled out on page 175 below.

100

Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 183.

40

Chapter 2, Chen Zhixus Biography,


Environment, Lineage, and Network
Chen Zhixus life is not well documented. He receives short biographical notices in a
handful of Ming and Qing encyclopedias and gazetteers, as well as hagiographical
notices or mentions in at least two Daoist works. Chens own writings especially
Jindan dayao are the best source of information on Chens life, though they still do
not oer enough information about Chen to write a continuous biography of the
man. From Jindan dayao we can learn something about Chens peregrinations during
the decade from 1334 to 1343, and something about the searchers and selfcultivators
who took Chen as their teacher, and the discourses Chen imparted to them. As for
the practices he taught, I will save this topic for chapter 5. Although the sort of
information we can learn about Chen Zhixu from Jindan dayao and other sources is
insucient to write a proper biography, it is extremely valuable for studying the
concrete social contexts of inner alchemy. Many other Daoist lives are better
documented with biographical and hagiographical material than Chen Zhixus; there
are even other Daoist inner alchemists whose lives are better documented such as
the Quanzhen patriarchs, or Bai Yuchan; yet I know of no other Daoist whose
writings document the links between social activities and the details of alchemical
teachings so well as do the writings of Chen Zhixu. Chen Zhixus transmission
epistles and the other biographical material do not tell us nearly enough about the
lives of Chen or his disciples and acquaintances, but they tell us more than perhaps
any other source about the social context of a single masters inneralchemical
teachings.
In this chapter I present basic biographical and sociohistorical data about
the life and activities of Chen and his disciples, lling this out with information
about the religious and social environment of the late Yuan dynasty. I will portray
Chen as an itinerant and selfmade man, competing in a marketplace of daos, and
41

achieving some success within monastic and literati circles of Jiangxi and Hubei, as
well as the hinterland of Guizhou.
In this chapter I also analyze Chens genealogy with a critical eye, and test the
usual view within the historiography of Daoism that Chen was a new breed of
Southern Quanzhen Daoist. I will take the controversial position that Chen was
Quanzhen in only the barest sense, without any Quanzhen lineage, experience, or
learning to speak of. I will also argue that Chens immediate lineage was a ction, and
even that one of his two masters was a ction. Chen invented these patriarchs and
master to boost his authority within the marketplace of daos, and he could only get
away with this because Quanzhen Daoism was not well known within his core area of
operation. Chens invented patriarchs and master are mythical echoes of other gures
from his tradition.
In this chapter I will also discuss some hagiographical material on Chen,
though there is not enough of this material and there probably was never very much
to undertake a full study of Chens hagiographical legacy. Although Chens life was
not widely remembered in later hagiography, his alchemical texts and teachings were
widely remembered by later commentators, so I will present a full study of the legacy
of Chens texts and teachings in chapter 6.
1.1, Chens Biographies.

I know of seven di erent biographies or

hagiographies of Chen Zhixu, some of them in multiple versions. They contain some
errors such as using the wrong characters to write Chens name, or claiming he lived
in the Tang dynasty, and add little to the information we can nd in Jindan dayao. I
list them here and draw from them as necessary in this chapter.
1. Wang Qi, ed., Xu wenxian tongkao 1586, 243.30a in Xuxiu siku quanshu,
767:50.
Based on Xu wenxian tongkao:
1a. Chen Jiaoyou, Changchun daojiao yuanliu 1879, 6.8b9a.
2. Guo Zizhang, ed., Qian ji 15731620; Guizhou, 54.1b.
Similar to Chens entry in Qian ji:
2a. Da Qing yitong zhi 16861842, j. 396 in Siku quanshu.
2b. Zheng Zhen, ed., Zunyi fuzhi 1937 ed., based on eds. of 1841 and 1892; 49 juan;
Guizhou, 38.1a in Su Jinren and Xiao Lianzi, Lidai shidao renwu zhi, 1018.
3. E Ertai, ed., Guizhou tongzhi 1741; 47 juan, 32.13b. Contains some material like
42

Qian ji, and some not found in Qian ji.


3a. Minguo Guizhou tongzhi 1948, 7.1a in Su and Xiao, Lidai shidao renwu zhi,
1001.
4. Wang Jianzhang, ed., Lidai shenxianshi 1693, j. 5.
5. Ji Yun, ed., Qinding Siku quanshu zongmu tiyao 178189, j. 146.
6. Fu Xieding, ed., Jiugong Shan zhi 1882, 4.6a8b1 7:9596.
7. Dacheng jieyao   author unknown, pre1929; Wudao zhenji ed., 15758;
Yongcheng yinshu guan ed., 1.34b36a; Xiuxian baodian ed., 11314.
1.2, Chens Name.

Chen Zhixus full title as listed at the head of each chapter

of the Zhengtong daozang edition of Jindan daoyao, for instance is Zixiao Jianggong 
$, Shangyangzi , Guanwu ', Chen  Zhixu . It is not
immediately apparent what sort of name Zixiao Jianggong Crimson Palace of the
Purple Empyrean is, but it is probably a choronym, a placename taken as a personal
moniker. Shangyangzi Master of Highest Yang is a Daoist stylename daohao #
". Guanwu Viewing Myself  is a byname zi , Chen is a surname, and Zhixu
Arriving at Void is a personal name ming
. Each of these names can tell us
something about the man. I will discuss the possible meaning of Zixiao Jianggong
on page 52 below. The name Shangyangzi indicates an emphasis on the cultivation
of yang energy, distinctive to alchemy.
Chens personal name Zhixu and byname Guanwu are both drawn from
Daode jing, chapter 16: I do my utmost to attain void zhi xu; I hold rmly to
stillness. The myriad things all rise together, and by this I watch wu guan their
return   &%! '.1 Chen was not born with the
name Zhixu, but chose it or received it based on a mature interest in Daoism. He
writes: Long ago, an elder gave me the byname Guanwu  '2
This elder from long ago would not have been a Daoist elder, but rather an elder
within Chens birthfamily about which nothing is known, who recognized or
encouraged Chens interest in Daoist learning or moral cultivation. I expect that
Chen chose the name Zhixu for himself after receiving the name Guanwu from the
elder, since Zhixu is even more Daoistsounding than Guanwu. Both names could
1

Translation based on D. C. Lau, Tao Te Ching, 20, with changes.

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 12.11a10.

43

be interpreted in terms of selfcultivation: Guanwu could refer to concentrating on


cultivation, with the goal of a return fu  to perfection, and Zhixu refers to the
ultimate state to be attained through cultivation. Zhixu must have been a relatively
common Daoist name: the contemporaneous master Peng Nanqi, also active in
Jiangxi, had a disciple named Gong Zhixu  , for example.3

2, Chens Life until Forty, and the Environment at Luling


2.1, Chens Life until Forty
Chen Zhixu was born in the summer of 1290, a native of Luling  County, in Jian
Circuit , Jiangxi Province.4 The year of Chens birth may be calculated from
his age at the time he received the transmission of alchemical teachings from his
master Zhao Youqin. As he writes in his hagiography of Zhao Youqin, Chen received
Zhaos teachings in the fall of a jisi  year.5 As I show in appendix 2 to the
dissertation, Chens writings were published in the 1330s and 1340s. For example,
Ouyang Tianshu dates his preface to early 1336.6 The closest previous jisi year was
1329, so 1329 must be the year Chen received Zhaos teachings. Chen writes that he
was forty years nian  old at the time of Zhaos transmission.7 If Chen were forty
nian or sui in age in the fall of 1329, he would actually have been thirtynine years
old by our reckoning, which would put his birth year in 1289 or 1290. That he was in
fact born in 1290 can be conrmed by a statement he makes in a transmission epistle
to one of his disciples, Yu Shunshen . In the essay, Chen remarks that both he

Chen Yuan, Daojia jinshi le, 1201.

The Luling county seat was a little to the south of the presentday city of Jian. Luling City was also the seat of
Jian Circuit, the larger territorial division. In the Yuan Dynasty, Jiangxi was a provincial branchsecretariat xing
zhongshu sheng 
, with a territory including most of presentday Jiangxi Province, together with half of
Guangdong and a small part of Hunan.
5

DZ 1069, Shangyangzi jindan dayao liexian zhi 9a2.

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao, preface, 5a57. Ouyang dates his preface to the last month of the rst year of
the Zhiyuan reign period, an yihai year. This month corresponds to between Jan. 15 and Feb. 12, 1336.

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 1.2b78.

44

and Yu were born on the same hour of the same summer day, in a geng ) year.8 The
year 1290 was a gengyin ); year, so this corroborates the calculation of Chens birth
year as 1290.
Chen Zhixu did not become a Daoist until adulthood. Before becoming a
Daoist, he led the life of a school student for years. The following passage comes
from a dialogue in which Chen teaches a student about the ultimate form of study
xue zhi zhi J

. This is probably an essay composed on paper rather than a

record of a reallife encounter.


Shangyangzi said: Come! I have more to say to you.
Now, at one time I was engaged in study. Back then, what I called study
involved working hard at my parallel prose, training in prosody, exhaustively
researching the present and the past,9 happily writing commentaries and
expositions, conversing on inherent nature and principle, and distinguishing
the correct from the incorrect. When I studied big issues, it was the Book of
Changes; when I studied small things, it was
occult? techniques; I did not tire of
this study. I selshly called this the ultimate in study, and never knew how far
away I was from the ultimate.
Whats more, I did not know there were perfected beings in the worldI
did not trust that there was a dao in this world by which one could achieve
transcendenthood or buddhahood.
D '#BG
#FJ<(,5J
0L
N>M3HAC6I*=41 -?9
7 J
&K5J %/(+ 0
/:
0$2"!E0
10
Chen Zhixu began his education by learning how to write prose, read history with a
Confucian eye, write commentaries probably to Confucian classics , and study the
Book of Changes. He may have had a side interest in mantic of metaphysical learning
or techniques Yi - and shu ? , but was not actively seeking salvation from this
world.
Because there were no civilservice examinations in the Yuan dynasty until
1315, and the career path in government for a Han man from southern China was
restricted throughout the dynasty, it is likely that Chen Zhixu was studying in school
8

Chen says they were born in a shangzhang @ year. In calculating years, shangzhang is a way to say geng; DZ
1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 12.11a6.

This could easily be a reference to the practice of gewu 8. investigation of things as advocated by Zhu Xi.
Zhu Xis learning was orthodox for all men in the exam system during Chen Zhixus era.

10

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 14.12b510.

45

more for personal cultivation than for a public career. He may have been studying at
a NeoConfucian academy in his native Luling, such as the famous academy on
White Egret Island
Bailu Zhou 2 in the Gan River 1. This particular
academy was founded in 1241 to venerate the NeoConfucian philosophers Cheng
Hao !3
1032 85 Cheng Yi !.
1033 1107 and their father.11 The ChengZhu
teachings
of the Cheng brothers plus Zhu Xi -, 1130 1200 were adopted as state
orthodoxy during Chens generation
the new exam system of 1315 was based on
ChengZhu learning ,12 and remained so until the twentieth century. Some of Chen
Zhixus disciples were followers of ChengZhu learning, and Chen himself praises the
Cheng brothers teachings on the Book of Changes.13 Chens relatively advanced study
sounds like training at an academy, but he also could have received an education in
ChengZhu NeoConfucianism
Daoxue #+ at a governmentsponsored school.
Kublai Khan
r. 1260 94 made a commitment to universal schooling from the
beginning of his reign, and in a proclamation of 1261 he ordered the establishment
of schools on the local level and appointed regional superintendents of education to
oversee the eort.14 These governmentsponsored schools also spread Daoxue,
teaching the Four Books with Zhu Xis commentaries.
At some point in his youth, Chen developed an interest in alchemy:
From my youth I had this aim, but had not encountered a true teacher, and did
not understand the essentials. I read the various elixir scriptures, but found
them distant and dicult to grasp. By cogitation I could not achieve the
teachings , and I had no method for exhaustive research. I lost sleep and forgot
to eat, ever and again feeling this regret.

 $*)"0&
( '%/,15
When he was a student getting a Confucian education, Chen was not interested in
alchemy. But then, perhaps after leaving his school yet while still a young man, he
developed a sincere desire to study alchemy, but could nd no one to help him, and
11

Walton, Southern Sung Academies as Sacred Places, 343.

12

De Bary, The Rise of NeoConfucian Orthodoxy in Yan China, part 1 in his NeoConfucian Orthodoxy and the
Learning of the MindandHeart, 1 66.

13

Zhouyi Cantong qi fenzhang zhu, Daozang jiyao ed., 1.32b9 10.

14

De Bary, NeoConfucian Orthodoxy and the Learning of the MindandHeart, 48.

15

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 1.10b10 11a2.

46

found it impossible teach himself alchemy by reading books perhaps books such as
Zhouyi Cantong qi % or Wuzhen pian !#3
.
Chen says that he wandered through the world of men until he nally
encountered his master Zhao Youqin at the age of forty:
I wandered through the human realm, enjoying the karmic benet of the merit
amassed by my ancestors, and the pity and blessing of Heaven and Earth. At the
age of forty, I undeservedly received the correct dao from my teacher Zhao
Youqin .
-($4,7+".
 2

' 116

As for meeting his master and perhaps other good fortune he enjoyed during this
period
, Chen explains this as the result of spiritual merit passed down to him from
his ancestors. This merit would not be karma in a strictly Buddhist sense, which is
transmitted along a single chain of individual rebirths irrespective of family
relationship, but rather a native Chinese conception of clan karma. The earliest
instance of this concept is found in the Taiping jing  /, which speaks of
inherited burden chengfu 
, a sort of negative clan karma. Clan karma was
an important concept in the fourthcentury Shangqing scriptures, in which
Succeeding generations were tied to their ancestors . . . through hidden or dark
virtue yinde , the good deeds of an ancestor which inuenced the fortune of his
descendants. . . . Misdeeds likewise a ected the fate of descendants.17
Unfortunately, Chen never records the names of any of the worthy ancestors who
might have left him this karmic inheritance.
This is all that is recorded of Chens life until he received Zhao Youqins
transmission in 1329 at the age of forty. Yet we can still round out the picture with
some background information. Chen Zhixu was a man of Luling Lulingren 6)
,
and probably grew up there. Anne Gerritsen has studied the religiosity of the
common people of Jian including Luling
in the Southern Song, Yuan, and Ming
16

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 1.2b68.

17

Bokenkamp, Death and Ascent in Lingpao Taoism, 6.


In one Yuandynasty Daoist hagiography, for example, positive clan karma is called owing
fragrance liufang 
. Zhang Liangs & unseen spiritual merit and eremitic practices transmitted good
karma to later generations * 50, down to Zhang Daoling &1) DZ 296, Lishi zhenxian tidao
tongjian 18.1a
. When the term owing fragrance occurs in common Chinese writing, it refers merely to a
persons glorious reputation after his or her passing, not necessarily to spiritual merit passed down to
descendants.

47

Dynasties,18 and I will draw on her research to describe Lulings environment.


2.2, Lulings Geographical and Religious Environment
In preQin times, Jiangxi was part of Chu , a nonHan kingdom originally distinct
from the homeland of the Han people in the central plains of China. Luling is
mentioned as a town as early as the Qin dynasty, yet it was not a HanChinese town
at that time. Jiangxi as a whole did not become a HanChinese region until many
centuries after that: it was not until the period from the third to the sixth century
that Han Chinese started to emigrate southwards to Jiangxi, and it took until the
eighth century for Jiangxi to become predominantly Han Chinese.19 By the Song
dynasty, Jiangxi had become a very important region within China, and by the Yuan,
about a quarter of the population of China lived in Jiangxi. This was due to the
arrival of refugees and migrants from the north, and to Jiangxis rich harvests.20
Though situated far from the imperial capitals, Luling was not a backwoods town. It
was located on the Gan River, one of the most important northsouth shipping
routes in the province. While Nanchang  was the most important city in Jiangxi,
Luling was also a major cultural center: During the Yuan, according to one
contemporary observer, Jian was the most culturally prominent prefecture in Jiangxi,
and Luling was the most outstanding county in Jian.21
Gerritsen lists a number of religious and cultural sites in the region of Luling.
There were many shrines to deceased worthies, warriors, or literati built there during
the Southern Song. As mentioned above, NeoConfucian academies also functioned
as shrines to early Confucian sages and NeoConfucian worthies. Although Chen
Zhixu never mentions shrines in his writings, he certainly would have visited them
while growing up.
Chens writings are full of Chan Buddhist elements. While Chen may have
18

Gerritsens 2001 Harvard dissertation is entitled Gods and Governors: Interpreting the Religious Realm in Jian
Jiangxi during the Southern Song, Yuan, and Ming Dynasties.

19

Gerritsen, Gods and Governors, 22.

20

Xu Huailin, Jiangxi shi gao, 397.

21

Gerritsen, Gods and Governors, 28.

48

adopted this inclusivist attitude mainly from his master Zhao Youqin whose
imperialistinclusivist use of Buddhist ideas in Xianfo tongyuan is even more
pronounced than Chens in Jindan dayao, it is also likely that Chen learned about
Buddhism in his native Luling before he met Zhao. The most famous Buddhist
temple in Luling County was Jingju  Monastery, situated in the Qingyuan

Mountains about nine miles southeast of the county seat. During the Song dynasty,
this monastery was occupied by Chan monks of the Huanglong  branch of the
Linji  lineage. The monastery burned down at the end of the Yuan dynasty, and
was not rebuilt until the seventeenth century. The Huanglong lineage seems not to
have been transmitted into the Yuan dynasty, and no names of Jingju Monastery
monks from the Yuan dynasty are recorded, so we cannot know exactly which Chan
teaching tradition Chen Zhixu would have encountered if he visited there, though it
would have been within the broader Linji tradition.22 Chens writings show that he
was especially interested in the teachings of the Yuanwu Keqin !  10631135,
of the Yangqi  branch of the Linji lineage, also centered in Jiangxi, and he may
have developed this interest during later travels. There would have been hundreds of
other Buddhist temples or monasteries within the county: thirtyseven are listed in
the Jiangxi provincial gazetteer of 1881, and 147 are listed in the Luling gazetteer of
1781.23
The 1781 Luling gazetteer mentions twentytwo Daoist temples,24 while the
1881 Jiangxi gazetteer mentions none in Luling. I have also found records of several
Daoist temples from the Luling region in other sources. There is an inscription
describing the founding of a Jiahui Abbey 

in Luling County in 1312; this

temple was founded as a place to worship the Three Transcendents of Mt. Huagai 
, an important cult centered in Fuzhou , northeastern Jiangxi.25 Another local
22

Cf. Xiaofeng Daran, Qingyuan zhi le, j. 2 1:95112; Foguang da cidian, s.v. Qingyuan Shan
, 37023.

23

Liu Kunyi, Jiangxi tongzhi 183.18 6:255760; Ping Guanlan and Huang Youheng, Luling xian zhi 10.1a29b
3:785842.

24

Ping Guanlan and Huang Youheng, Luling xian zhi 10.30a34b 3:84252. The ratio of Buddhist to Daoist
temples in this gazetteer is about 6.5 Buddhist temples for every 1 Daoist temple.

25

This Jiahui Abbey inscription by Feng Yiweng  is partially translated in Hymes, Way and Byway, 92.
Hymess book is an extensive study of the Huagai cult. The three tutelary deities of Mt. Huagai are Earl Fuqiu
, and his disciples Wang Daoxiang  and Guo Daoyi .

49

temple, Chaoxian Abbey ( on Mt. Xiangcheng  was said to have been
founded by the Three Transcendents.26 The Huagai cult must have been an important
cult in Luling as the Jiahui Abbey inscription says, the gentlemen and commoners
of the whole prefecture rushed eagerly to pay reverence and make obeisances below
the altar
, and Chen mentions the main cult deity a few times in his writings. It
appears that the most prominent regional cults in Chens eyes were cults to Zhang
Daoling $,27 Ge Xuan #,28 and Xu Xun &,29 with the Perfected Lord of
the Floating Hill Fuqiu Zhenjun 
, from Mt. Huagai
as fourth in
prominence.30 Zhang, Ge, and Xu were all saints associated with the region of
presentday Jiangxi Province.
Another temple in Luling, Zhenchang  Abbey, is mentioned as the home
of a priest named Li Jundi  who printed a certain number of juan of the

26

Ping Guanlan and Huang Youheng, Luling xian zhi 10.34a 3:851
.

27

Zhang Daoling . 141 


is remembered as the founding patriarch of the Celestial Master lineage
headquartered at Mt. Longhu in presentday Jiangsu. Pregadio makes the important point that Zhang Daoling
was remembered as an alchemist: If one reads the account of Zhangs life in the fourteenthcentury DZ 1473
Lineage of the Han Celestial Masters Han tianshi jia
with no knowledge of the crucial role that he played in the
history of Daoism, one might indeed take that account to refer to an alchemist; Pregadio, Great Clarity, 151. The
Shenxian zhuan emphasizes Zhangs knowledge of the Elixirs of the Nine Tripods of the Yellow Emperor Huangdi
jiuding dan !%
; Campany, To Live as Long as Heaven and Earth, 350. It is also primarily as an alchemist that
Chen Zhixu remembers Z*hang Daoling. Also see the longer footnote on Zhang Daoling below, pp. 14748n82.
28

Ge Xuan was Ge Hongs greatuncle, and was remembered as an alchemist at Mt. Gezao in presentday
Qingjiang  County, Jiangxi Province
. His cult must have been alive in Jiangxi during Chen Zhixus era.
According to Ge Xuans hagiography in DZ 296, Lishi zhenxian tidao tongjian, j. 23, Ge tried to rene his elixir for a
long time without success, leaving traces of his alchemical platforms in twentytwo di erent spots on di erent
mountains. He used to sing about how he was already sixty years old and had still to successfully complete his
elixir. Finally, he was able to ingest it and ascend to Heaven at the age of eightyone. Chen Zhixu seems to have
been a ected by Ge Xuans story. A halfdozen times Chen cites Ges lament at being sixty years old and still
unsuccessful at his elixir. For Chen, the moral of the story is that even a great transcendent like Ge had to face
old age and failure, before nally succeeding, so lesser mortals should be prepared for the same. Also see the
longer footnote on Ge Xuan in appendix 2 to this chapter.
29

Xu Xun 23992/374?
, byname Jingzhi ", a.k.a. Xu Jingyang  , lived in Yuzhang ' a.k.a. Hongzhou
, presentday Nanchang
. After his mortal career, he was worshiped locally as a healer and dragonqueller,
later becoming seen on a national scale as a paragon of lial piety and patron of the Jingming Zhongxiao 
Daoist tradition. Also see the longer footnote on Xu Xun in appendix 2 to this chapter.
30

Chen lists Zhang Daoling, Ge Xuan, and Xu Xun as alchemical exemplars regularly throughout his writings. He
lists these three gures together in the same sentence at least six times in his extant corpus; DZ 1067, Shangyangzi
Jindan dayao 8.2a6, 13.19a9; DZ 91, Taishang dongxuan lingbao wuliang duren shangpin miaojing zhujie 1.29b12; Zhouyi
Cantong qi fenzhang zhu, Daozang jiyao ed., 1.23a4, 1.34a4; DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian sanzhu 5.17b89. In
four passages, he adds Fuqiu as a fourth name; DZ 1067, 8.2a6; Zhouyi Cantong qi fenzhang zhu 1.23a4, 1.34a4; also,
DZ 91, 3.19a6.

50

Daozang in about 1337.31 This shows that Daoist texts were printed openly in Jiangxi
despite the 1281 imperial ban on Daoist scriptures, and also that there was a market
for Daoist scriptures in the region. Chens own writings were printed at almost
exactly this time, but this printing probably took occurred at other places: in
Hongzhou, the Lu Mountains !, and Mt. Jiugong .
Another Daoist temple in Yuandynasty Luling is mentioned in the biography
of Peng Nanqi  
1284 1335 . A commemorative inscription by the famous
literatus Yu Ji 32
1272 1341 describes Pengs life. Peng rst gained an interest in
Daoism when he visited West Mountain 
the center of the Xu Xun cult with his
father at the age of six. At the age of twelve he became a Daoist novice at Ziji Palace
 in the prefectural seat
i.e., Luling . During his life, Peng also dwelt in
temples in other parts of Jiangxi, but spent his later years at Ziji Palace. He practiced
a form of inner alchemy, but it was probably not like Chens sexual alchemy. Like
Chen, Peng studied Buddhist teachings with a critical eye, though unlike Chen, Peng
was more interested in comparing Buddhist and Daoist rituals than comparing self
cultivation practices.
Xu Yi 
1291 1350 was another Daoist from Luling who contributed to
the textual development of the Xu Xun cult. Xu Yi was a disciple of the Jingming 
Daoist master Huang Yuanji 
1271 1325 and an editor of DZ 1110, Jingming
zhongxiao quanshu, the largest collection of materials on the Xu Xun cult. Xu Yi was
born in Luling, but was ordained as a Daoist in Fuzhou 
Fengcheng

, about

ninety miles to the northeast. Xu Ziqi 


was another Luling Daoist who studied
the Jingming tradition after failing to receive a government post in the capital.33 The
Xu Xun cult was very prominent in Chen Zhixus place and time. Gaoming Palace 
, on Mt. Zhenjun   near the Luling prefectural seat, was another Daoist
temple with links to the Xu Xun cult. By one account Xu Xun founded Gaoming
Palace personally, and by another account it was founded by local people after they
31

Van der Loon, Taoist Books in the Libraries of the Sung Period, 56 57, quoting a preface written by Chen L 

1287 1342 .
32

Yu Ji , Jiuwan Peng Jun zhi bei  , reprinted in Chen Yuan, ed., Daojia jinshi le, 1201 2.

33

Ping Guanlan and Huang Youheng, Luling xian zhi 34.28b


7:2400 .

51

made a sacrice to Xu Xun, praying that he would exterminate a hornless dragon jiao

that was bothering them, and the dragonhaunting ceased.34 Chen himself
sometimes mentions Xu Xun and other cult deities such as Wu Meng  or
Chenmu % in his writings, though he interprets them in a way that would not be
recognized by most devotees of the cult. Chen intimates that Xu Xun and Chenmus
true teaching was none other than his own form of sexual alchemy.35 This is a violent
misreading of the Xu Xun tradition.
The last Yuandynasty Daoist temple in Luling that I will mention is of
special signicance, because Chen may have been ordained as a Daoist there.
Although Chen does consider himself a Daoist,36 it is nowhere recorded that Chen
Zhixu was formally ordained as a Daoist priest. Of course, for Chen, the most
important initiations he received in his life would not be public ordinations, but
rather the private transmissions of alchemical secrets from his two masters, Zhao
Youqin and the Old Qingcheng Master. But was Chen a professional Daoist in the
eyes of the law? If he were, he was probably ordained at a place called Zixiao #, or
called Jianggong , or called both together.37 There was a Zixiao Abbey #( in
Luling, another Zixiao Abbey about sixty miles east of Luling,38 and a Zixiao Peak 
# in the Lu Mountains '. Chens choronym may refer to one of these three
places, and if so, that would likely be where he got his start as a Daoist. Zixiao Abbey
in Luling is recorded in a commemorative inscription by the fortythird Celestial
34

Ping Guanlan and Huang Youheng, Luling xian zhi 10.30b 3:844
.

35

For example, Chen mentions the gripping of Jingyangs Xu Xuns sword, and the gulping of Chenmus elixir
 !% ; Jindan dayao, Jindan zhengli daquan ed., 6.35a missing from DZ 1067
.

36

In a passage criticizing ignorance and corruption among templedwelling Daoists, Chen writes Why dont they
reect on what it is that we study in our religion!  $  Soon after, he writes My our
Most High Lord Lao said . . . 
 . I translate this passage below. As Campany notes, in medieval China,
The names, partial names, or titles of founding or paradigmatic gures are sometimes used synecdochally to
refer nominally to what in Western discourse would be called an entire religion or tradition; Campany, On the
Very Idea of Religions, 299. This may be the only page on which Chen explicitly calls himself a Daoist.
37

Jiang Gong does not sound like the name of a Daoist temple or ordination hall within a temple complex
. A
proper name for a Daoist temple or hall would have three syllables XY Gong
. Jianong may be some sort of
reference to the middle dantian in the body cf. p. 250 below
, or to some feature of the heavens perhaps the pole
star, or the central region of the rmament
, rather than to a Daoist temple.
38

Cf. Wu Cheng ", Zixiao Guan ji #(, in Chen Yuan ed., Daojia jinshi le, 115859. Wu says that this
Zixiao Guan was located eighty li southwest of the Nanfeng & county seat, which would put it about sixty
miles east of the Luling county seat.

52

Master Zhang Yuchu * 13591410


.39 Zhang writes that the abbey was founded
in the Northern Song, and destroyed in 1324; although restorations were planned in
the 1340s, it was not rebuilt until 1370.40 If Chen was once a Daoist from Zixiao
Abbey, this would have been before the destruction of the place in 1324, when he was
thirtyfour years old. I have found Zixiao as the name of a peak in the Lu Mountains,
but no record of any Daoist temple on that peak. Of these three Zixiaos, a link to the
Zixiao Abbey in Luling is the most likely. Chen probably rst entered the Daoist life
there.

3, Meeting Master Zhao, and Enlightenment


3.1, Meeting Zhao Youqin
Chen Zhixu met Zhao Youqin at the age of forty sui, in 1329, and received his
transmission at or near Mt. Heng 7
, the Southern Marchmount

8.

In the autumn of the jisi year 1329 , while lodging in Hengyang, Zhao gave the
complete transmission of the wondrous dao of the golden elixir to Shangyangzi.
#.71 3+1 41
My master, the perfected Yuandu, received the true instructions of Zhong li
Quan , L Dongbin , Wang Chongyang , and Ma Danyang . On the side of the
Southern Marchmount I took him as my master and received his full
transmission; I was forty years old. Although he was living in a monastery,42 he
was addicted to poetry and books.
&42',9)
39

8%+!,$0

On pp. 568 and 6026 chap. 6, 2.1.3, 3.1.2


, I discuss Zhang Yuchu and his criticism of Chen Zhixu.

40

Gerritsen, Gods and Governors, 28586, citing Zhang Yuchu, Zixiao guan ji /5<(, in Luling xianzhi ;-6
 1873
, 45.40ab.

41

DZ 1069, Shangyangzi jindan dayao liexian zhi 9a23.

42

The subject who was living in a monastery is Zhao, not Chen this is clearer in the context of the whole
passage
.
Linxia is a term found in Chan Buddhist texts, meaning within the conglin : Buddhist monastery

Foguang da cidian, s.v. linxia , 3311
. In general, Daoists have used the word conglin exclusively to refer to
Buddhist monasteries, never to Daoist ones. Yet I have found the term lin used to refer to a Daoist monastery
at several points in Jindan dayao; DZ 1067, Shangyangzi jindan dayao, preface, 4b7; 11.11b10. So it must refer to a
Daoist monastery here.
The Jindan zhengli daquan and Daozang jiyao eds. have " instead of 
, an editorial error.

53

()!"43
My master Zhao the Perfected came from his selfcultivation at Mt. Dadi and
transmitted the dao of the golden elixir to me, together with the teachings on the
current and reverse current of the River of Heaven.44
&$  #
 %45
It is unclear whether Chen and Zhao were lodging at Mt. Heng, or in the city of
Hengyang '

about thirty miles southwest of the mountain. Certainly they did

visit Mt. Heng together, because Chen records an enlightenment experience he had
while attending Zhao at Mt. Heng discussed below. Perhaps they moved between
the two places. Mt. Heng was a major Buddhist center, but there were also many
Daoist monasteries on the mountain, and over the centuries there was much contact
between the Buddhist and Daoist monks there.46 Both Zhao and Chen taught that
the highest truths could be found equally in Buddhism and Daoism, so they would
have appreciated opportunities for religious exchange at Mt. Heng. However, few
Buddhists and Daoists would have agreed with them that the highest form of
practice involved sexual alchemy.
Before coming to Mt. Heng, Zhao had been doing cultivation work at Mt.
Dadi $, the thirtyfourth grotto heaven, near Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province.
While there is a gazetteer for this mountain, DZ 782, Dadi Dongtian tuji ca. 1299, it
does not tell us what sort of Daoist practices Zhao Youqin may have encountered
there. All we can discover is that some or all of the Daoists there belonged to the
Zhengyi  Daoist tradition.47 I argue below that sexual alchemy was practiced at
the Zhengyi Daoist center at Mt. Jiugong, so it is possible that the same was true at
Mt. Dadi.
3.2, Chens Enlightenment
43

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi jindan dayao 2.3a68.

44

The current and reverse current of the River of Heaven probably refers to the lesser microcosmic orbit see
chap. 4, 4.5, pp. 28891, but it could refer to some technique for transporting seminal essence, or the partners
qi, by means of urethral suction see pp. 41920, 4805 below or guiding intention see pp. 29293, 53839.

45

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi jindan dayao 14.12b10a2.

46

Robson, Imagining Nanyue.

47

There is an entry on a Zhengyi Daoist from Mt. Dadi named Jin Changqing  . 129497 in Zhou
Yongshen, Lidai zhenxian gaodao zhuan, 290.

54

The idea of personally receiving esoteric transmission of alchemical teachings from a


master plays a paramount role in Chens teaching. Chen mentions often that he
received esoteric transmissions both from Zhao Youqin and from an unnamed Old
Man from Qingcheng. At two points in Jindan dayao he describes an epiphany he had
under the guidance of Master Zhao; I will present these two passages, with my own
commentary interposed. I will also mention two later enlightenment experiences
which Chen discusses more brie y. It is unusual to nd this sort of Chan style
enlightenment so strongly emphasized in Daoism.
3.2.1, Chens major enlightenment.

At two points in Jindan dayao Chen tells us

that he had a profound epiphany at the time of formally receiving his transmission
from Master Zhao, and he describes this enlightenment experience, using a mixture
of Chan Buddhist and inner alchemical tropes.
My master, the perfected Yuandu, received the true instructions of Zhongli
Quan, L Dongbin, Wang Chongyang, and Ma Danyang. On the side of the
Southern Marchmount, I took him as my master and received his full
transmission; I was forty years old.
Although he was living in a monastery, he was addicted to poetry and books.
He once spoke of nirva48 and void nonexistence, and his talk was profound,
distant, indistinct. After I undeservedly received a single instruction from my
master, I felt prickles in my esh and a feeling of liberation. Not until I
looked down did I realize that my feet had always been standing on solid ground.
It was like the sudden dispersal of clouds oating in the empty sky, to reveal the
precious moon full and bright. I also got the Daode jing as interpreted by Zhao,
and burned incense to attract the gaze of the gods. . . .
/RF27V3 #'U,6)7+@
W" XCJ0MT4E@=P!.Z(O/*:>
9 & $HK SN?%
1B;YD 5IL
QG<-8A49
This encounter has a four step structure: 1 a pithy lesson, which 2 precipitates
enlightenment, followed by 3 formal transmission, and then 4 an exploration of
the signicance of the new knowledge in inner alchemical terms.
1 First, Chen receives a single instruction yizhi * from Master Zhao.
Chen does not record the content of this pithy lesson, which is a valuable esoteric
secret, but we can infer its content. Accounts of the similar enlightenment
48

Ch. jimie 4E translates Skt. vyupaama calmness and extinction, an epithet or description of nirva.

49

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 2.3a6 b2.

55

experiences of Chens students emphasize the shock they feel, so in both cases the
lesson probably involved something shocking, thus, sexual alchemy. As I will show
below, Zhao Youqin was also a sexual alchemist.
2 Then, Chen experiences enlightenment. This event is very Chanlike in its
phenomenology, doctrinal content, and reportage by Chen. Its phenomenology
involves a prickly feeling and a sense of liberation; this sort of phenomenon is not
found in other, earlier Daoist conceptions of masterstudent transmission. The
doctrinal content of the single instruction is presumably related to Zhaos talk of
nirv a and voidnonexistence, which Chen mentions immediately before it in the
same passage; nirv a signies Buddhist doctrine and voidnonexistence signies
Daoist doctrine. Finally, Chens reportage of the event uses Chan language. The
Chanlike elements in Chens writings are drawn from specic Chan texts, especially
the discourse records yulu  of Yuanwu Keqin. Chanimbued enlightenment
experiences in Jindan dayao show how mental and physical experience can be
conditioned by tradition
in this case, Chan tradition.50 Chen may have studied
Chan texts on his own, but he certainly received this sort of training from Master
Zhao. Zhao Youqins Xianfo tongyuan devotes equal time to Daoism and Buddhism,
giving both a sexual interpretation.51 Zhao also acted like an eccentric Chan master.52
3 Then, Chen receives Zhaos interpretation of the Daode jing, and the
initiation is announced to the deities. Throughout the history of Daoism, Daoist
ordinations have involved the transmission of texts, including the Daode jing.53 In the

50
Cf. Steven Katz, Language, Epistemology, and Mysticism. Of course, Chens reports of his encounters with
masters and students should not be taken as objective and merely factual. Objective reporting itself is an
impossibility, strictly speaking, and Chens reportage is relatively less objective
it is highly structured, didactic,
and selective. Yet I assume as a matter of course that when Chen reports an encounter between himself and
Master Zhao, this encounter did in fact take place, and I assume that some avor of the encounter is indeed
represented in the report. I have found no grounds in the texts themselves for treating Chens reportage as
essentially ctional.
51

On pp. 93 94 and 459 62 below, I discuss some evidence of sexual alchemy in Xianfo tongyuan.

52

Cf. DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 15.4b6 5a3.

53

Benn, The CavernMystery Transmission, 73 98; Schipper, Taoist Ordination Ranks in the Tunhuang
Manuscripts.

56

earliest period of Celestial Master Daoism, initiations and ordinations54 involved the
transmission of spirit registers lu
, lists of spirits the new ordinand could
command , but from early on the fourth century at the latest , the ordinand would
also receive specic scriptures at the time of ordination. The Daode jing was the
scripture transmitted at the lowest stage of Daoist ordination. I do not think that
Master Zhao was ordaining Chen Zhixu as a Daoist of a certain rank by transmitting
the Daode jing to him as part of this initiation. I think that Zhao transmitted the
Daode jing, both to echo traditional Daoist ordination, and to use this classic as a
handy and authoritative vehicle for expressing his own unique teachings the strategy
of extension or stealing the lightning . I think that Master Zhao presented Chen
with a written copy of his personal commentary on the Daode jing or perhaps he
allowed Chen to write out a new copy . Zhaos commentary on the Daode jing is lost,
but Chen has included his own commentarial material on the Daode jing in several
sections of Jindan dayao.55
4 Finally, Chen explored the signicance of his new realization in inner

alchemical and Chan terms, applying the new teaching he received from Master Zhao
to his previous knowledge of inner alchemy and Chan kan discourse:
As for this the two appear together but have dierent names,56 all along this
was the twin themes of xing and ming inherent nature and life
endowment . I felt
even more that my whole body was bathed in sweat. I felt that when I sat I was
facing Laozi, and when I walked I was walking together with Laozi. I felt that the
buddhas and patriarchs were beneath my heels, and it was as if among the three
realms of the Buddhist cosmos I was truly the most revered being i.e., like the
Buddha . Transcending, I asked what birth and death could there be?
Thus there are the sword of the Three Pure Ones, and the mitre of the Five
Marchmounts; existence and nonexistence, the thing and the aperture;
quicksilver within vermillion cinnabar, and silver within water; the sun
hare and
the moon
crow, male and female, black and white. Then we come to the vajra

protector? and oating stra pillar; the lantern and the buddha
hall; the treasure
of the true eye of the dharma; the wondrous mind of nirva; the pole a hundred
54

Benn distinguishes initiation from ordination: in his account of Daoist ranks, based on DZ 1125, Dongxuan
lingbao sandong fengdao kejie yingshi, he calls ranks one through three initiations, and ranks four through eleven
ordinations; Benn, The CavernMystery Transmission, 73 98.
55

See the sections Daode jing xu  DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 2.1a3 7b7; the current passage I
am discussing comes from this section , Dao ke dao zhang jie  DZ 1067, 2.7b8 12b6 , and Daode
jing zhuanyu   DZ 1067, 10.1a3 13a6 . Also see texts A1e and A6 in dissertation appendix 1.

56

Daode jing, chapter 1.

57

chi in height; the water of the western river; bamboo, hemp, and reeds;57 the
habitual use of stickblows and shouts; and the number of grains of sand in the
Ganges River.
The buddhadharma is ever thus: once the buddhanature is revealed and the
Buddhist is enlightened, one is always peeping at it day and night, and there is
great dynamism and great application. At times one reaches a place to stop and
rest, bringing great elation. Why is this? Just because of these terms double
meaning. The masters just want people of these times to understand
they take
this as their hope.
:1LX*8t+.`PNH`3@7@;)7
;=n,O%?
cCVz|/>"2\
s
[/U0DKx$:Yhl
=!TumA5e<46y~{
#]SE=Tvd`Fj  #/krM&
wbBa>_ b1XWf Rb}58
In this remarkable passage, Chen treats terms from Daoist and Chan Buddhist
discourse as completely interchangeable. He is also adding a sexual interpretation to
Buddhist and Daoist terminology in lines such as existence and nonexistence, the
thing and the aperture /U . I will analyze similar material below.59
On page 393 I show that for Chen the lantern and the buddhahall refer to the sex
organs of the male adept and female partner respectively. Note how Chen begins
with a sentence from the Daode jing: this may come from Zhaos Daode jing
interpretation.
There is one more passage in Jindan dayao describing the phenomenology of
Chens enlightenment experience with Master Zhao:
Studying buddhahood and cultivating transcendenthood: this is the single
greatest thing. After I received a single word from my master, it was like a
radiant, bright mirror hanging in a lofty hall. Of the objects coming and going,
none were not reected in it.
=g'I C9riG -(R^QoqUUJ
60
This sounds like a report of mystic experience. I believe that Chen is describing a
57

These refer to famous kans, such as Yunmen Wenyans Zp 864 949 three jin of hemp ma sanjin y

 . This has been taken as an example of a Zen non sequitur, but it originally just meant Buddhist monk wearing
a robe made of three jinpounds of hemp .
58

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 2.3b2 4a1. Jindan zhengli daquan and Daozang jiyao eds. have xK. DZ
1067 ed.s Kx would seem to be backwards, but this could be intentional.

59

See pp. 391 94, and 533 44 chap. 5, 4.1 .

60

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 4.9a5 6.

58

nondual state in which the usual division between self and things, or subject and
object, did not apply. But also note that, once again, this is Chaninected language.
Chen learned how to feel this way, or learned how to talk about it, or learned how to
feel this way by learning how to talk about it, by reading Chan texts, and receiving
Chan teachings.61
3.2.2, Two other enlightenments.

Finally, Chen also describes two other,

perhaps lesspowerful enlightenment experiences. One actually seems to be Master


Zhaos account of his own enlightenment experience.
While attending Master Zhao at the Southern Marchmount, Shangyangzi heard a
person chanting the Duren jing, and asked: What does The vajrabeing rides up
to heaven mean? The Master replied: Dont get muddledup! Try to say it again
from the beginning. First, I ask you, what kind of things are Red Writ and Turbid
Cavern? Shangyangzi then arose, bowed, and again asked his question. The
Master said: When I heard these four words Turbid Cavern Red Writ , I
began to sweat all over. I was enlightened by these words, and read this scripture
once through deeply.
;)E$B0? @* =3 '/.
0
 -6C<4DA%35,"+&
92:30
 ?7( #+! 1 = 8>
62
Note that this experience is based on and expressed in Daoist elements only, unlike
the mixed Chan/Daoist enlightenment above. In light of what I will show in chapter
5, it is very likely that the line Red Writ and Turbid Cavern hundong chiwen 5,"

is being given a sexual interpretation here: perhaps it refers to the female
partners sex organ and menses.63 I think that this episode occurred after Chens
Chan/Daoist enlightenment. I think that Chen rst comprehended the sexual
alchemical teachings from Zhao at the time of the Chan/Daoist enlightenment, and
in this episode, Zhao expects Chen to be able to gure out the sexual interpretation
of any religious scripture by himself.
61

Cf. Katz, Language, Epistemology, and Mysticism.

62

DZ 91, Taishang dongxuan lingbao wuliang duren shangpin miaojing zhujie 2.42a4.

63

DZ 91, Taishang dongxuan lingbao wuliang duren shangpin miaojing zhujie 2.3a7. Bokenkamp translates hundong
chiwen as the red script that penetrated the turbulent void idem, Early Daoist Scriptures, 415
. John Lagerweys
interpretation of this passage is very di erent: Apparently Chen understands the hundong chiwen, revealed at the
beginning of time, to be comparable to the cold sweat that covers the microcosm of the adepts body when he or
she is sublimating the elixir; in Schipper and Verellen, The Taoist Canon, 2:719. But Chens cold sweat is a trope
related to enlightenment, not to inneralchemical experience. Sweating may occur during the stage of internal
ring, when the adept bathes the elixir at the mao and you points, but this is not cold sweat; see pp. 296, 311, and
51316 chap. 5, 3.3.2.3
.

59

Chen also very briey alludes to another later enlightenment experience he


had under the guidance of his anonymous master from Mt. Qingcheng:
After I received my masters transmission, I had a shocked feeling, even when
eating and sleeping.
 #64
I argue in the next section that Chen made up this tale of a Qingcheng master; the
brief, highlystylized quality of this enlightenment report accords with my argument.

4, Chens Two Masters:


Zhao Youqin and the Qingcheng Master
4.1, Zhao Youqins Life
I draw on Volkovs work on Zhao Youqin for this section,65 as well as the three
primary sources for Zhaos life.66 Zhao came from Poyang

, Rao Commandery

", presentday Jiangxi Province, and was born on July 26, 1271.67 According to Song
Lians ! account, Zhao studied astronomy while preparing for an o
cial career,
and later received a secret alchemical book from Shi Dezhi .68 Song says that
Zhao passed on his astronomical learning to Zhu Hui
,69 but that Zhu had no
disciples. It is also said that Zhao taught divination to Wang Gang , Wang
Yangmings forefather, and predicted that Wang Gang would have an illustrious

64

DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian sanzhu, preface, 5b6.

65

Volkov, Scientic Knowledge in Taoist Context, 2:525; Volkov, Science and Daoism: An Introduction, 3438.

66

These are Zhaos entry in Jindan dayao DZ 1069, Shangyangzi jindan daoyao liexian zhi 8b9a ; Wang Weis $
preface to Chongxiu Gexiang xinshu text no. B2a in dissertation appendix 1 ; and Song Lians ! 131081 preface
to Gexiang xinshu text no. B2 dissertation appendix 1 . There are also entries on Zhao in later gazetteers; these
appear to be derivative, or reect standard tropes, so I do not consider them here.
67
Name Youqin, bynames Yuandu , Jingfu  or Jing  and Zigong  or  , stylename Yuanduzi
Master of Following the Middle .
68

Shi Dezhi is identied by others as Shi Tai , the second patriarch of the Southern Lineage of the Golden
Elixir. After he died in 1158, Shi Tai appeared again two years later to someone named Yijie  at Luofu Shan;
Skar, Golden Elixir Alchemy, 245. Thus, Shi Tai was known as a transcendent being active in this world.
69

Byname Deming .

60

descendant i.e., Wang Yangming himself .70 Zhao was buried at Mt. Jiming MF in
Longyou K7, Zhejiang Province. Volkov argues that Zhao must have died before
Jindan dayao was published thus before 1331 or 1336 . According to Chen Zhixus
account,

Zhao Youqin was a son of the Zhao lineage71 E". As a boy he encountered the
res of civil war,72 and from an early age had an interest in mountain and forest

eremitic retreat . He was extremely bright, and had a thorough and accurate
knowledge of astronomy, Confucian classics and wefttexts jingwei AH ,
geography, and arts and calculations. He was able to receive the great dao of the
golden elixir from Master Ziqiong, and then he combed through scores of books,
scriptures, and biographies, and wrote . . . Xianfo tongyuan. He also wrote Jindan
nanwen, and other books circulating in the world. . . .
'E" J!
% I?L2AH35G4
D609N)1& C=B*A< @
& O-8*$73
Zhaos works are listed in dissertation appendix 1. While both accounts agree that
Zhao was learned in astronomy, they di er on the issue of Zhaos alchemical lineage.
By Songs account, Zhao received his alchemical secrets from Shi Tai +, the
second patriarch of the Southern Lineage of the Golden Elixir, traditionally said to
have died in 1158 , while by Chens account, Zhao received his secrets from Zhang
Ziqiong /9N, a member of a Quanzhen lineage reaching back to Ma Danyang ,
;. This Quanzhen lineage claim was a fabrication, probably by Chen and not by
Zhao himself, as I argue below. In later times, Zhao was known equally as an
alchemist, and as an expert on astronomy, mathematics, calendrics, and the camera
obscura. His Gexiang xinshu (:>* New writing on the alteration of images
discusses practically all traditional topics related to astronomy and the calendar,
such as, for example, the structure of the universe, that is, the shape and relative
70
Liu Tsunyan, Wang Yangming and Taoism, 155; and Wang Xingchang Xiansheng zhuan #.<, in
Wang Yangming, Wang Yangming quanji, 38.1 2:1380 .
71

Rather than being a mans name, Zhao zong probably means the former SongDynasty imperial Zhao clan.
Song Lians preface states this more clearly. In this dissertation, I have not explored the possibility that Zhao,
Chen, or others around them could have been Song loyalists. At least one reader has spotted a Songdynasty
taboo character in the Zhengtong daozang edition of Jindan dayao, which suggests that it this edition or liation
was printed by Song loyalists; Zhonghua daozang, 27:521n1. Yet Chen Zhixus disciples and patrons included many
men who were associated with the Yuan government, such as Zhang Shihong and his friends cf. no. 9 in appendix
2, pp. 13536 below , or Zhenxi no. 21 . Also see my note on the Song loyalist Zhao Daoyi, p. 137n5 below.
72

Jiehuo !, literally, the apocalyptic ames at the end of a kalpa.

73

DZ 1069, Shangyangzi jindan dayao liexian zhi 8b79a2.

61

position of the earth and the heavens . . . The book also contains descriptions of
astronomical instruments devised by Zhao . . .
and a section devoted to the . . .
approximate values of .74
In his commentaries to the Duren jing and Zhouyi Cantong qi, Chen quotes or
paraphrases dozens of passages from Gexiang xinshu on topics such as the relative
positions of Heaven and Earth, so we know that Chen studied astronomy with Zhao
and received a copy of Gexiang from him. Volkov has studied these passages, and
concludes that the text of Gexiang xinshu that we have today is actually partially based
on Chens Duren jing commentary: it was reconstituted in part using Gexiang
quotations drawn from Chens commentary by later editors.75
Zhaos religious teachings can be found in his Xianfo tongyuan, which discusses
Buddhist and Daoist positions on various inneralchemical and selfcultivation topics,
and has the ultimate goal of showing that Buddhism and Daoism teach a single truth
and a single alchemical practice. Many of Chens teachings are clearly based on
Zhaos; sometimes Chen copies long passage verbatim from Xianfo tongyuan.
4.2, The Qingcheng Master
Chen claims that, after receiving Zhao Youqins transmission at Mt. Heng or
Hengyang in 1329, he received higher secrets from a Qingcheng master.76 He
esteems the Qingcheng master no less highly than he does Master Zhao. Master
Zhao clearly had a major e ect on Chens thinking, because Chen mentions and
quotes Master Zhao in his works so often. Yet Chen also raises the Qingcheng master
above Master Zhao when he says that his alchemical learning was incomplete and not
yet rm until he met the Qingcheng master:
When I rst received the words of Squire Zhao Yuandu, although my intent had
long been set on
alchemy , I could not avoid hesitancy. Later, while staying in an
unfamiliar land, I again paid my respects to an ultimate man, who transmitted the
most secret writs of Qingcheng to me without holding anything back. Since
reverently receiving them, I have been
in training day and night, without taking
a break.
74

Volkov, Scientic Knowledge in Taoist Context, 2:52627.

75

Volkov, Scientic Knowledge in Taoist Context, 2:53135.

76

Chen Zhixu calls this master Old Man from Mt. Qingcheng Qingcheng Weng  , Qingcheng
Master Qingcheng Laoshi  , Saintly Qingcheng Master Qingcheng Shengshi  , or Old
Transcendent from Qingcheng Qingcheng Laoxian  .

62

&<SLR QV8! TO.X6C/+-


;=>EUK%$N77
When I, Zhixu, rst heard the instructions of Master Zhao, I did not dare to be
satised with myself. Later after I encountered the secret techniques of the Old
Transcendent of Mt. Qingcheng, and knew the principle by which yinyang or
creation and transformation zaohua
follows the current to produce a human
baby or advances against the current to produce a transcendent, I did not
engage in further discussion. As for mysteries such as the image of the moon
appearing in the region of geng,78 or the generation of yang and the ring
periods, the Qingcheng masters advice is the most accurate and easy to follow.
Now I dare not keep it a secret.
2F3PR5D#.M+-7*AH@ I,:
,?EC"WG'H4J+-91B)(

D779
Chen is saying that Zhaos teachings were insu cient, and that the Qingcheng
masters teachings were betterperhaps they were a clearer version of the same
general theory and practice. Both masters taught sexual alchemy, but the Qingcheng
master may have emphasized the sexual aspect of alchemy to an even greater extent.
Actually, I have deep suspicions about Chens story of the Qingcheng master.
He may never have met a Qingcheng master, or he may have met some such
personage, yet still be inating the importance of this person for his own learning.
What does Qingcheng master mean? It must mean a master from Mt. Qingcheng,
the famous Daoist center in Sichuan, the fth grotto heaven dongtian 0
. Chen
never actually identies Qingcheng as a mountain in Sichuan, and the name
Qingcheng +- does occur as a toponym in other parts of China besides
Sichuan,80 yet I have no doubt that Chen means Sichuans Mt. Qingcheng.
4.2.1, Doubts about the Qingcheng master.

I have two reasons for doubting

that Chen actually had a Qingcheng master. The rst reason is that, unlike Chens
encounter with Zhao Youqin, we get no details about his encounter with the
Qingcheng masterChens report of this encounter sounds more like myth than
77

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 12.8a24.

78

Geng is the third day of the lunar cycle, when the outer pharmacon rst appears. See pp. 26970 chap. 4,
3.3.1
, 47980 chap. 5, 3.2.2.3
, and 50913 chap. 5, 3.3.2.2
.

79

DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian sanzhu, preface, 5a25.

80

In addition to Qingcheng mountain or county in Sichuan, Zang Lihe, Zhonuo guji diming da cidian, 570, lists
Qingcheng towns, cities, and counties in the regions of presentday Henan, Anhui, Shandong, and Jiangsu
Provinces.

63

autobiography.81 Compare, for example, the elaborate account of Chens


enlightenment under Master Zhao with the minimal and stylized report of Chens
reaction after receiving the Qingcheng masters teaching. I am only aware of one
passage in which Chen quotes the Qingcheng master,82 whereas he quotes Master
Zhao many dozens of times. Basically the only thing Chen ever says about the
Qingcheng master is that Chen got teachings from him the Qingcheng master is
not a fullydeveloped character, but a mere function.
The second reason for my doubts is that the idea of meeting a mysterious
master at Mt. Qingcheng in Sichuan probably came to Chen from reading the
hagiography of Zhang Boduan ?%S
984/871082/84 ,83 patriarch of the Southern
Lineage of the Golden Elixir. I think that Chen wished to model his own life on the
life of Zhang Boduan, and I think that the mysterious Qingcheng master of both
Zhang Boduan and Chen Zhixu was the same person: he was the transcendent Liu
Haichan U9[. Lets look for a moment at the development of the Zhang Boduan /
Liu Haichan myth.84 In his original preface to Wuzhen pian 8:W from before 1082,
Zhang Boduan ?%S writes that he met a perfected person in Chengdu:
Afterward, in the jiyou year of the Xining reignperiod 1069 , because I had
followed Squire Lu Longtu85 into Chengdu, and due to my longstanding and
unagging desire and my everdeepening sincerity, I attracted a perfected person
to bestow me with secret instructions on the ingredients and retiming for the
golden elixir.
4$RP*IYZOF !E'/KH5MG:B
81

I believe that Daoist myths do inform the everyday lives and everyday teachings of Chen and others like him.
Daoists may recount or understand the veriable events of own their lives in mythical terms. Yet the episode of
the Qingcheng master is more mythical than other parts of Chens story of himself.
82

Furthermore, the Old Man from Qingcheng bestowed upon me the true secret instructions, and then
exhorted me, saying: In the future there will certainly be a prince, marquis, or great man who seeks to take you as
his teacher. Now, the dao must not be kept secret, but neither must you leak it out inappropriately. Who can
judge when to keep it secret or transmit it ? I have a method for testing students , which does quite a good job
of capturing the true situation or, their true feelings , and now I will transmit it to you. You can use it to sift out
the gold from the sand. 13<BN:D6#^4"2(7 LJ;

->=V&"],T@+AQB)`C0 DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen
pian sanzhu, preface, 5b47.
83

The traditional dates for Zhang;s life are 9871082. Liu Tsunyan proposes 10761155 as alternative dates; Liu
Tsunyan, Zhang Boduan yu Wuzhen pian, 795.

84

I have taken this chronology from Ma Jiren, Daojiao yu liandan, 57.

85

Lu Shen F_
a.k.a. Scholar of Longtu \OX , 101270 was Zhang Boduans patron, and Administrator
zhi
. of Chengdu; Zhang Huizhi, Zhonuo lidai renming cidian, 1307.

64

 =

)86

By the time of Weng Baoguang %2 . 1173 , this anonymous perfected person
had received the more specic title of Qingcheng Zhangren , and by the
time of Bai Yuchan > 11941229 , Zhang Boduans teacher had been positively
identied as Liu Haichan 8#> Liu Cao 8< , the fourth transcendent patriarch
of the Southern Lineage of the Golden Elixir, and one of the Eight Immortals of
Chinese popular culture. Chen Zhixu was familiar with the works of Bai Yuchan and
his circle, so he knew that Zhang Boduans master was said to be Liu Haichan. Chen
even compares his own masterdisciple encounter with Zhangs:
Pingshu
Zhang Boduan encountered the sageteacher at Chengdu, and wrote
Wuzhen pian in order to instruct those to come. The meaning of his instructions is
detailed and accurate. . . . After meeting the sageteacher, I, Shangyangzi,
wandered throughout the back corners of the country, meeting
cultivators all
over the place and drawing widely on
their teachings , and all of it was
mendacious chatter.
51!*"$: &03 /51
!64,.9'+(-7;87
Because he mentions his own encounter with his Qingcheng master soon after
mentioning Zhang Boduans encounter with Zhangs master Liu Haichan , we may
infer that Chen links the two episodes in his thinking. I argue further that Chen
Zhixu modeled his encounter with the Qingcheng master on Zhang Boduans
encounter with Liu Haichan, and implied that his Chens master was in fact the
transcendent Liu Haichan too! Just as, in Gri th Foulks description,88 the Song
dynasty abbots of Chan monasteries reenacted the deeds of the mythical Tang
dynasty masters, or played the role of the living Buddha, Chen Zhixu reenacted
the patriarchal myth of Zhang Boduan.

5, A Period of Preparation, 132931

86

DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian sanzhu, preface, 11a610.

87

Zhouyi Cantong qi fenzhang zhu, Daozang jiyao ed., 1.5b96a2.

88

Foulk, Myth, Ritual, and Monastic Practice in Sung Chan Buddhism.

65

We may not believe that Chen Zhixu actually met the immortal Liu Haichan at Mt.
Qingcheng, but we may accept that he could have journeyed to the mountain during
the period between his initiation at Mt. Heng and the composition of Jindan dayao.
In his preface, Chen tells us that he wrote Jindan dayao two years after meeting his
masters:
At the age of forty, I undeservedly received the correct dao from my teacher

Zhao Youqin . After this, I furthermore encountered the Old Teacher from Mt.
Qingcheng, who personally transmitted the goldenelixir principles of the one
precosmic qi and the kan moon and li sun, and the secrets of timing the re by
subtracting or adding
fuel  he bestowed all
his teachings without reserve. . . .
But as for
lling my sack with elixir material, I knew not how to proceed
wangcuo *8 . For two years I visited companions and sought friends, with the
intention of jiang 6 bringing together my a air. Then I did not dare keep
the
teachings a secret . . .
and wrote this Jindan dayao.
E#29D<.=,-2FA3"H+
(:C1479?G/I $*8'B 5
;!%)6@ & >4+
089
The chronology for this period of Chens career is thus:
1 Fall of 1329: Received Zhao Youqins transmission at Mt. Heng;
2 Unknown date: Supposedly received the Qingcheng masters transmission in
Sichuan;
3 Twoyear period of cultivation;
4 Wrote Jindan dayao: one internal preface is signed Sept. 21, 1331.90
This chronology gives us another reason to doubt the Qingcheng master story.
Although Chen claims to have met this master two years before he began to write
Jindan dayao, the composition of Jindan dayao suggests that most of the work had
already been written before Chen began to speak of the Qingcheng master, and
therefore that this story is a late addition. Within the body of Jindan dayao, Chen
only mentions the Qingcheng master in his preface dated 1335 , and in his
transmission epistles to his various disciples some of which are dated as late as 1343 .
Zhao Youqin, on the other hand, is quoted or cited in many of the chapters of Jindan
dayao. I think that when Chen was writing the technical chapters of Jindan dayao, the
story of the Qingcheng master had not yet come to the fore in his thinking.
During this twoyear period, Chen was trying to cultivate his elixir, and ll his
89

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 1.2b63a5.

90

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 2.7b6.

66

sack with material by visiting companions. In addition to the usual kinds of


meditational training such as calming the mind, sharpening the internal vision, or
waiting for physiological signs of progress in training, he was probably seeking
suitable female partners for sexual cultivation. As I discuss in chapter 5,91 in sexual
alchemical discourse, companions might refer to fellow male cultivators who help
the alchemist to proceed on the correct path, or to female sex partners. These female
partners would probably have been bondmaids rather than female alchemist
colleagues. In order to have access to female partners, the time and space for
cultivation, and protection from interference, alchemists required the sheltering
patronage of wealthy men. In the preface to his Wuzhen pian commentary after 1331,
Chen says that his Qingcheng master predicted he would nd the wealthy and
powerful patrons he needed:
Furthermore, the Old Man from Qingcheng bestowed upon me the true secret
instructions, and then exhorted me, saying: In the future there will certainly be a
prince, marquis, or great man who seeks to take you as his teacher.
(+79B6;-P,* #1 92
Chens rst disciple, Tian Zhizhai J, was just such a man. Chen may have put
this prediction into the mouth of the Qingcheng master after the fact.
5.1, Tian Zhizhai.

Chen says that he set out on his peripatetic teaching career

after completing Jindan dayao:


After the book was completed, I furthermore worried that if people of the times
did not receive oral transmission, how could they enlighten themselves by simply
using the book
! Thereupon I stumbled about in a rush,93 carrying my book under
my arm. I stooped myself to seek others disciples
. Whenever there was a person
who could be beckoned or grabbed, I always bent my head and stooped over
bending down to their level
, with words of praise and warnings to repent,
hoping they would
enter upon this dao.
5,F)8
>C2AO5QK% #<
&4':!/0$GLN3H=@94
This passage describes the circumstances in which Chen Zhixu met most of his
91

See pp. 44648 chap. 5, 3.1.2.

92

DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian sanzhu, preface, 5b45.

93

Qiejue QK must be a variant of jiejue DK, for which Hanyu da cidian has M?. "IE with the
appearance of tumbling and falling while
walking with hurried steps; Hanyu da cidian, s.v. jiejue DK.
94

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 12.8a810.

67

disciples, yet I believe that he met Tian Zhizhai during the twoyear period before he
nished Jindan dayao. Tian was Chens rst disciple, and he transmitted his teachings
to Tian before starting out on a longer circuit:
I rst transmitted it to Marquis Tian, Zhiyangzi, then wandered throughout
Yelang, Qiongshui, Yuanzhi, Chenyang, Jingnan, the two Es, Changsha, the Lu
Mountains, and east and west of the Yangtze. Overall, I transmitted to a hundred
persons or more . . .
,3'; B@!+J$;1(:%I&
#
3F95
Zhiyangzi ; , Tian Zhizhai H, lived in Sizhou *, in the northern part of
presentday Guizhou Province.96 Here is what Chen says about him:
When I traveled west, while on the road I lodged with the pacication
commissioner97 of Siguo.98 While I was there,
Marquis Tian Zhizhai99
kowtowed before me again and again, desiring to hear the ultimate dao. After a
year, when he did not tire of this, I bestowed it on him, saying: . . .
With my words, Zhizhai had a violent enlightenment. I expected that he
would practice assiduously, and I changed his stylename to Master of Ultimate
Yang.
C/7*2)9H',5DA> -3
H 6.8<" ?; 100
I think that Chen Zhixu stayed with Tian Zhizhai for at least one year out of the
twoyear period between 1329 and 1331. It does not say here whether Tian provided
Chen with the necessities for sexual alchemy, but this would have been a reason for
Chen to stop over as the client of a wealthy and powerful man.
Chen and Tian are mentioned in several gazetteers from Guizhou. The oldest
record I have seen is in Qian ji of the Wanli =G reignperiod, 15731620, which says
that Chen
wandered all over Yelang,101 and reached Sitang, where he rened the elixir with
95

DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian sanzhu, preface, 5b89.

96

Sizhou is presentday Wuchuan K County, Guizhou Province.

97

One would expect )E instead of )9.

98

The toponym Siguo was not found. Siguo was probably Sizhou when it was Marquis Tians marquisate
houguo '2.
99

Marquis was a title of nobility, usually next in prestige after Prince wang and Duke gong, . . . usually
conferred for special merit Hucker, A Dictionary of Ocial Titles in Imperial China, p. 225.

100

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 11.1a10b2, 2a910.

101

This is presentday Tongzi 04 County, Guizhou Province.

68

Tian Qi Zhiyangzi , the younger brother of the pacication commissioner,


within a cli on Mt. Wansheng. Afterward, they both departed as transcendents.
. . . The stone spring on the summit is still there today.
>;*%+@#A537 89-B$(
1' /102
This passage is repeated in several other Guizhou gazetteers,103 but the Guizhou
tongzhi of 1741 also adds the following details:
Shangyangzis Elixir Terrace: It is to the east of the prefectural seat, on the back
side of Mt. Wansheng. It is said that there was a man of the Dao, Chen Zhixu,
styled Shangyangzi, who, on his own, entered a bamboo cage, and oated on the
river. He encountered the pacication commissioner, who hauled the cage over
and extricated him.
They rened the elixir here:
their furnace and mallet both
still exist today.
5 ?" 82$6<0)4:5E,
=#A&E
7 DC (104
Sizhou and Mt. Jiugong are the only places where Chen Zhixu made his mark on the
local landscape. As I show in chapter 6, Chen Zhixu made his mark on the history of
alchemy through his texts, but there are only these two places where he was
remembered as a local gure. The traces of the implements of halfforgotten
alchemists can be found all over south China. In Jiangxi, Zhang Daoling, Ge Xuan,
and Xu Xun left the most such traces.105 I will return to the detail of the bamboo
cage on page 77 below.
Chen Zhixu met Tian Zhizhai while staying with the pacication
commissioner of Siguo, and the later Guizhou local histories say that Tian was the
younger brother of the commissioner. Hucker tells us that pacication
commissioner rank 3b was one of the most prestigious titles granted aboriginal
tribes in southwestern China and their natural, mostly hereditary chiefs.106
According to the Yuanshi , the pacication commissioner of Sizhou was named
Tian Ren  , and he was invested with this o ce in 1327.107 Tian Zhizhai Tian Qi
102

Guo Zizhang, Qian ji 54.1b 43:929 .

103

See the chart on pp. 4243 above.

104

E Ertai, Guizhou tongzhi, j. 7.

105

We can see this from Zhang Yuchus .! 13591410 essay, translated on pp. 6035.

106

Hucker, A Dictionary of Ocial Titles in Imperial China, no. 2682, p. 251.

107

Luo Xianyou, Yuandai minzu shi, 470; Yuan shi 30:683a.

69

was probably Tian Rens younger brother or cousin. Most of the residents of Sizhou
were Hmong Miao  people, and the powerful ruling Tian clan, although originally
a Han clan which had migrated to the area in the seventh century, had become like
the Hmong too.108 So Chens rst disciple was a relative of a HanHmong warlord.

6, Chens Teaching Career


During his period of preparation 132931, Chen drafted Jindan dayao. He may have
done part of this work while staying in Sizhou, but wherever he did the work, he
would have needed access to a few dozen Daoist and Buddhist works. He composed
Jindan dayao because he felt his cultivation was incomplete, or perhaps composing
the work was itself part of his cultivation:
From the moment I was able to encounter an Ultimate Man or Men
, and
receive transmission of the great dao under oath, I immediately planned to
complete my a airs of selfcultivation
. But because my merit and karmic
conditions109 were not yet established, I therefore yongshi  searched
through the various transcendent scriptures, seeking out the unusual, plucking
the best passages
, and compiling these as Jindan dayao.
$*# "%
(  ) !
&'110
Composing Jindan dayao was a duty Chen felt before the gods, the transcendent
patriarchs of his lineage. Yet it was also potentially dangerous to write the book, as to
leak secrets improperly would be to invite karmic retribution, or personal retribution
from the gods:
Then I did not dare keep the teachings
a secret: I burned incense and made my
report to Heaven, informed the holy teachers, the Seven Perfected, and the Five
Patriarchs, and thereupon, drawing upon the various elixir scriptures of the ranks
of transcendents, wrote this Jindan dayao.
In this book I have hazarded the prohibitions to give a detailed account,
revealing and making things clear in lists and discussions, directly opening the
door for gentlemen of aftertimes who wish to study transcendence, and guiding
108

Luo Xianyou, Yuandai minzu shi, 47890.

109

Gong yuan
( could also be translated e orts and fortune.

110

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 11.6a36.

70

them along the road.


`PaH+V!lJMOq }#k)'<
D4?jmEdW{8yB2p=n111
The danger of revealing the teachings to the wrong person is a common trope in
Southern Lineage texts.112 The trope comes from the story of Zhang Boduans life.
Zhang Boduan was punished by the gods three times for transmitting his inner
alchemy to the wrong student:
This is the greatest a air between Heaven and Earth. If serious vows are not
made, who would dare to leak the
secret trigger? By the time you have bestowed
it to the wrong person, the punishment of the netherworld is already manifest.
Ziyang
Zhang Boduan transmitted it to the wrong person three times, and three
times he met with tribulations from this. The transcendent scriptures all record
it: how can one not take it as a warning? But on the other hand, if one only keeps
it as a taboo and secret, then this is to refuse and obstruct
the will of the
transcendents.
%e'1]>FizR`7U>
sIbf g
>
 4k3o-TjNg@C5/113
Revealing the teachings to other cultivators was not just a duty, but something Chen
desired to do:
Since I gained
the elixir , I have not dared to keep it a secret, and have desired
to discuss similarities and di erences with true friends. Recently, how many are
the people of this generation who take it upon themselves to discourse vacuously
upon
all things between Heaven and Earth! All these side doors and perverse
paths are briey but exhaustively listed in Cuixu yin Chant of
Mr. Kingsher
greenVoid .114 Besides
teachings on the one point of precosmic perfected
qi ,
all strands
of teaching beyond this are, overall, perversions of the truth.
.S2`PXr9G~$Z;2 ^w
:(| {%}K
=C0[xc,YuQA"M&v0 115
Chen wishes to spread his teachings for two reasons: to help others achieve
transcendence, and also to stamp out what he sees as heretical teachings. A more
111

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 1.3a36.

112

This is also an ancient trope within Daoism.

113

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 1.7b88a1.

114

Cuixu yin is the polemical poem Niwan Zhenren Luofu cuixu yin 6M
Lxc, The MudPill Perfecteds
Chant of Mr. KingshergreenVoid of Mt. Luofu , attibuted to Chen Nan \h d. 1213 , a patriarch in the
Southern Lineage of the Golden Elixir. The poem is collected in DZ 1307, Haiqiong Bai Zhenren yulu 4.16, and DZ
1090, Cuixu pian 712.
115

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 9.3a69. These are two couplets from the Song on Judging Delusions
Panhuo ge *_t , translated as the appendix to chapter 3.

71

important reason is to manage his mastership, to gain authority for himself as a


master, though Chen never openly admits this as a goal. In chapter 3, I discuss what I
call a threeway feedback loop of propagation, authority, and salvation in Chens
career. We see the rst two terms in this loop here: spreading his teachings would
help Chen gain authority, and, in a circular manner, authority would in turn help him
spread his teachings.
After his time with Tian Zhizhai in Sizhou, Chen made a circuit through parts
of presentday Guizhou, Hunan, Hubei, Henan, and Jiangxi:
I rst transmitted it to Marquis Tian, Zhiyangzi, then wandered throughout
Yelang, Qiongshui, Yuanzhi, Chenyang, Jingnan, the two Es, Changsha, the Lu
Mountains, and east and west of the Yangtze.116
!% *-,
117

8
*#)5

Most of these places or regions are located on tributaries of the Yangtze, but Chen
would have had to travel overland to visit them in succession. For a full list of every
place Chen traveled to, see appendix 1 of this chapter. For many of these places,
there are no records of Chens encounters and activities. The transmission epistles
included in Jindan dayao are mostly to disciples from Hongzhou, Jiujiang, and the Lu
Mountains in Jiangxi, or Mt. Jiugong in Hubei.
Chen describes his approach to nding students:
After the book was completed, no matter where I was staying, whenever I passed
by a wellknown mountain or any of
the various walled towns, wherever I was at
I made friends. I lowered my head and my heart stooped my dignity
to
enlighten and guide the people of the times, and entice them to enter this dao.
For the past three or four years, those seeking my teachings
have been many, yet
in the end I have not met anyone who used great force to put forth sincere
116
1 Yelang is presentday Tongzi "' County, Guizhou Province. 2 Qiongshui is Zhenyuan 4/ County,
Guizhou. 3 Yuanzhi is Zhijiang TongEthnicity Autonomous County 9&2, Hunan. 4 Chenyang is
Chenxi + County a.k.a. Chenyang *, Hunan. 5 Jingnan is in the region of presentday Nanping  and
Jiangling (2 County, Hubei. 6 The Two Es are regions in Hubei and Henan. 6a East E Dong E )
refers to Wuchang , part of Wuhan ., Hubei. 6b West E Xi E refers to the region of Nanyang City 
*7 and Dengzhou 1 7 City, Henan.
Zeng Chuanhui locates these Yuandynasty places somewhat di erently. He identies 1 Yelang as Cenfan 
 County, Guizhou; 2 Qiongshui as Sansui 3 County, Guizhou; 3 Yuanzhi as Huaihua 6 City, Hunan; 4
Chenyang as Fenghuang 0$ County, Hunan; and 6 the Two Es as the Wuhan region; Zeng Chuanhui,
Yuandai Cantong xue, 48. For nos. 2, 3, 4, and 6, Zengs identications and my own diverge by 50 miles or less, but
he places Yelang in eastern Guizhou, while I place it in the northwest. I stand by my identications, which come
from Zang Lihe, Zhonuo gujin diming da cidian.
117

DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian sanzhu, preface, 5b89.

72

e orts.
E!?@KP-] i>0o(g)B Xm
eU$\ 1.;HH2/# V&aU;118
Chen had a di cult time nding worthy disciples:
Having undeservedly received my masters secret transmission, and henceforth
knowing what the perfected transcendents and sagemasters intended, how could
I not wish but for all people to achieve realization, and become totally complete?

But what can one do about the fact that there is a large group of people in
this generation who do not reach the mark, and a great many who go too far, with
a hundred di erent kinds of obscurations and obstructions, and no way to
perceive
the truth ?
cCLM+&?:F[CZJNfD``Y!94
;O]; %Ih<T/b119
So he o ered lesser teachings for students of lesser capacities or ambitions:
Overall, I transmitted to a hundred persons or more, but only transmitted
instructions on making their bodies whole by means of the dao. As for those to
whom I could tell the secret of extending the lifeendowment by means of
techniques,120 there were not even as many as two or three in a hundred. It is not
that I dared begrudge
the secrets . Their capacities di eredsome were sharp
and others dull.

M%kA\,"'8Q53Gd;%T=^
7Sp 6l#*W_121
Chen taught techniques for nourishing life yangsheng j to many people he met
on his travels, but reserved his ultimate teachings for a select handful of worthy men.
Chen adapted alchemical discourse to express di erent messages and to suit di erent
audiences. In chapter 5, 4, I discuss this issue again: Chen could translate his sexual
alchemy into Buddhist or Confucian language, or even give solo rather than sexual
teachings, as necessary.
Not only did Chen face the di culty of nding worthy disciples, he was often
berated in public by those who regarded his teachings as heretical:
I came traveling through Yuzhang122 in order to nd people of correct heart and
118

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 11.6a69.

119

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 1.7a25.

120

Note that a technique shu Q is presented as being more valuable than a dao here. Usually daos are
considered superior to mere techniques.
121

DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian sanzhu, preface, 5b96a2.

122

Yuzhang nR was a SuiTang period commandery with its seat in modernday Nanchang city, Jiangxi Province.
Yuzhang here could refer to Nanchang city or county.

73

sincere intent, so I could tell them about the dao of cultivating the self and long
life. But
as soon as I would express a single idea, I would arouse
a riot of
slander and acrimony.
.+3#" )'/
&,956:
%123
Sometimes people
would berate me, and I would hide and forbear it for a time.
Gaining by chance the appreciation of one or two men, I would then bring upon
myself
the slander of a thousand or ten thousand. I only wished to practice the
dao, and did not care about disputes over who is right and who is wrong. When I
encountered various forms of mockery, I su ered it glady.
2*0 7!4(6",
8-1 $ 124
Reading Chens accounts, we get a picture of him as a teacher traveling from town to
town, o ering his teachings to strangers wherever he found a circle of self
cultivators. These seekers practiced quiet sitting, Chan meditation, Daoist inner
alchemy, and perhaps other forms of Buddhist or Daoist meditation. He does not say
how he found selfcultivators other than by word of mouth. Perhaps he sought them
in temples, or even in the marketplace. He would su er derision for his views, but
endure it stoically in hopes that, after the critics had said their piece and departed, a
curious seeker might linger behind to learn more about these strange teachings, and
Chen could test his worth and try to convert him.
Most of the time, when Chen encountered derision, it seems to have been in a
public arena, but he also seems to have gotten a similar reaction in some Daoist
monastic circles as well. He criticizes some Daoist priests for obstructing him when
he tried to teach selfcultivation to some of the priests among them:
O! Those people of this generation who wish to wear towering headpieces enter
the school of Mr. Lao Laozi
and study his dao.
Now, the dao of Mr. Lao is to treasure essence and qi, and cultivate by
returning and recyling. It is to esteem the clear void, reduce lust, reduce eating
and drinking, distance oneself from dusty worldly
entanglements, extend
compassion and pity, establish hidden virtuous deeds, reduce again and again,
until one reaches nonaction. Someone who does this
may be called a follower
of Mr. Lao.
Nowadays, how can it be that they live in vermillion palaces and bedrape
themselves in cranequill robes
, yet when you ask them about a dao, they
become bashful and discomted! Why dont they take a good hard look at what is
123

Jindan dayao, Jindan zhengli daquan ed., 6.42a12 missing from DZ 1067.

124

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 8a10b3.

74

studied in our religion!


And then when one or two amongst them wishes to learn selfcultivation
teachings, the others gather around in packs and laugh at them! Our Most High
One Lord Lao said: When an inferior gentleman hears of the Dao, he has a big
laugh.How could this be merely an old saying?
Now, one who has entered the school but does not practice its dao is a vermin.
A vermin is one who wears the clothing of an institution but envies its
teachings, chomps down its food like a ravenous silkworm but slanders its dao.
This is like wearing the vestments of the sageking Yao but criticizing Yaos
words. I dont know how that could be acceptable!
Even if there were a Daoist made of truly outstanding stu , and who was also
willing to cast his pure, lofty, and most precious self into a dirty and hateful place,
this would cause the vulgar men who talk a lot to call him a heretic. Alas! What a
pity!

8O5D? 'A'q'quQM
@7\ism{lLr|yndazo o);
eJIE'P]`RN9=WqJ_JU?,
G-Z8,k% /M}x?Ew(S0
 vqST fFH 5A(*5qEJ'
?+5<(.5Z5L(p5qIg<b<(Bb2
->5K:h1?"!\V)j3[;c$
4C%?6J^tP#XF125
Chen is exasperated with the Celestial Master priests in the temples of his region
who would interfere whenever he would try to pass on his selfcultivation teachings
to a few curious Daoists among them. Chen identies himself as a Daoist too, a
follower of Lord Lao, but not a Daoist like the priests he sees in his day. He makes it
sound as if most of these priests scorned Daoist selfcultivation as such, but it may
be that they had their own practices, and were merely scornful of Chens sexual
alchemy.
Yet despite all of these trials and travails, Chen was successful: look at how
many students he had. He has left record of at least twentythree students, some of
them ardent disciples, some of them sometimestudents, some of them near equals,
but all of them accepting what he had to tell them. Chens claim that he transmitted
to a hundred persons or more shou baiyu ren Y&~

may be inated, but is not


impossible. I list these students in chapter appendix 2, and will introduce several of
them below.

125

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 11.10b611a8.

75

6.1, The End of Chens Life


It is not known exactly when Chen died. The latest internal date in Jindan dayao is
1343, when Chen would have been ftythree years old.126 One hagiography says that
he died just before the end of the Yuan dynasty, thus before 1368:
Shangyangzi saw that the Yuan dynasty was at an end and the world would soon
be in chaos, and was unwilling to respond to the
imperial summons. Then one
morning he ducked away into the Numinous Wastes and into parinirva,127
relying on transformation to make his departure.
M0FNHWLRZSEUC)128
Another hagiography says that he lived from the Song into the Yuan, over a hundred
years in total:
He was in the world for a hundred and some dozens of years, from the Song
dynasty to the Yuantruly an old transcendent.
*.D$(T%9<
129
However, as we have seen, Chen was denitely born in 1290, and did not live during
the Song dynasty. Since these hagiographies are highly stylized, we need not take
them as literally true. For example, the trope of a recluse who refuses to serve a ruler
who has lost the mandate of Heaven is as old as Chinese historiography itself. The
hagiographer is portraying Chen as a famous and virtuous hermit, and Chens ability
to choose his own death is the sign of an accomplished Daoist or Buddhist master.
Perhaps Chen did die around 1368, though, when he would have been seventyeight
years old.
6.2, An Odd LateImperial Hagiography
126

Here are the two mentions of 1343. 1 On February 3, 1343, when I was about to go into deep reclusion on Mt.
Mei, a man styling himself Zhenxi made a special trip to visit me and inquire about the dao :FIX
G '*P@>6?2JQ; Jindan dayao, Jindan zhengli daquan ed., 6.53b34 missing from DZ 1067 .
2 Dongyangzi 5M , Tao Tangzuo =,K, in the month of pure yang
fourth month , 1343, because
he
was in Dongping
County following his lord Xiangfu, paid a most reverential visit to me on top of Mt. Heer

Mt. Crane Chick , and asked me about the mysteries of the old man from Mt. Qingcheng +:4A
M#5!-1;OV/ Y3  &/78B ; Jindan dayao, Jindan zhengli daquan ed.,
6.55a910 missing from DZ 1067 .

127

Jiwei EU was not found in Hanyu da cidian or a CBETA Taish search. It probably means shiji "E, a Buddhist
term for the passing of an enlightened master literally, parinirva .
128

Wang Jianzhang, Lidai shenxianshi, j. 5; quoted in Kubo, R shi hachij


ichi ka to setsu ni tsuite, 37; and Volkov,
Scientic Knowledge in Taoist Context, 544n12.
129

Fu Xieding, Jiugong Shan zhi, 4.6b1 7:96 .

76

Dacheng jieyao is an undated inneralchemy orilegium which some say was compiled
by the Quanzhen master Liu Huayang 5MN 1736? , but was probably compiled
sometime between 1911 and 1929, and contains a full hagiography of Chen Zhixu.130
This passage occurs within a section on alchemical lineages. After briey introducing
the patriarchs in Chens selfconstructed lineage from Ma Danyang to Zhao Youqin,
the passage recounts Chens life:

Chen had the byname Guanwu, and had the stylename Shangyangzi. After he
heard the dao, he wished to cultivate it, but had no resources, so he sought all
over for someone fated
to meet him . He roved to the southwest region of Yue.131
The Lao people there sought his dao by force; unable to gain it, they got him
drunk, placed him in a drum, and tossed it into the Pacic Ocean. The Consort
of Heaven
Mazu was startled into action, and ordered the sea spirits to guard
him, and deliver him to the southern shore. There he encountered Marquis Tian,
who was following orders to come and perform a sacrice to the Consort of
Heaven.
Marquis Tian saved him from the waters, questioned him to nd out
exactly how he had been put in such a predicament, and brought him back to the
capital.
Marquis Tian aided him with resources and funds, and
Chen thereafter
was able to complete his dao and achieve perfection. Chen thought to himself,
My not having perished in that drum in the water, and being able to be alive
today, is
because Heaven will rely on me to transmit the dao.
Thereupon he sought all over for anyone fated
to meet him , and opened
wide the gates of the dao. Of the disciples he transmitted to, there were more
than twenty who transcended the
realm of the profane and entered the
realm
of the holy. At the end of the Yuan dynasty, in the guiwei year of the Zhizheng
reign period of Emperor Shun,132 his fame was heard in high places. Emperor
Shun ordered that he be summoned and employed
at court ,
but Chen the
Perfected knew that the fate of this nation was coming to an end, and displayed
his transformation133 before the fact, ducking away into the Numinous Wastes.
The above is a record of the line of transmission
from Patriach Ma Danyang.
The patriarchate thereupon ceased and was not transmitted
further .
b#RN(YT3GOLSWIZK !1Pc
D%(T EBb#>_\Q X
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7 4B
130

Jiangnan Ke, Zhongguo gudai qigong yaoji daodu.

131

Yue P comprises presentday Guangdong and Guangxi Provinces.

132

The guiwei year of the Zhizheng reign period was 1343. This was during the reign of Emperor Hui Huidi J2 .
I do not know of any Yuan emperor named Shun. Note that the latest internal references in Jindan dayao are from
1343.
133

I.e., died. Note that the Lidai shenxian shi hagiography has jiwei A[, while the Dacheng jieyao hagiography has
shi . Perhaps the sentences in both texts are derived from a sentence in the original text which had the more
familiar term shiji A.

77

4@E
&-G;K =E*%@9 < B(L
?,.MI&&?, "$C0'!5D6:
HNJ831 >2%@7!1F@134
This hagiography combines elements from three sources we have seen already:
material from Jindan dayao, the tale in the Guizhou gazetteer of Chen oating in the
river in a bamboo cage and being found by Marquis Tian, and the tale in Lidai
shenxian shi of Chen dying to avoid the call to court because the Yuan dynasty had
lost the mandate of Heaven. There are some elements here not seen before, such as
Chens being thrown into the water by the Lao O people, or his rescue being
orchestrated by the maritime goddess Mazu A1. The author of this hagiography
seems to have scrambled or changed the date of Chens demise, locating it in 1343
which happens to be the latest internal date in Jindan dayao
, when the date probably
should be the end of the Yuan dynasty. This odd story may represent an attempt by
the author of Dacheng jieyao or his sources to link Chen Zhixu to the Mazu cult of
southeastern China. Chen is also quoted three times in Dacheng jieyao, but all three of
these quotes are sheer fabrications. The author is trying to lend Chens authority to
his own practices by placing them in the mouth of a hazilyknown Daoist master of
the past.

7, Was Chen Zhixu a Quanzhen Daoist?


7.1, Quanzhen Daoism and the Southern Lineage
The question of Chen Zhixus relation to Quanzhen Daoism is a very important one.
For most historians of Daoism, Chen Zhixus main signicance in the history of
Daoism is as a leading example of a trend during the Yuan dynasty toward the fusion
of the Southern and Northern Lineages of the Golden Elixir Jindan nanbei zong )
+#
i.e., the fusion of the lineages of Wang Chongyang /> and Zhang
Boduaninto a single tradition. Yet historians views on how Chen was a Quanzhen
Daoist diverge on a number of important issues. Before o ering my own analysis at
134

Dacheng jieyao, 15758 Wudao zhenji ed.


; 1.34b36a Yongcheng yinshu guan ed.
; 11314 Xiuxian baodian ed.
.

78

length below, I will summarize these various perspectives. The goal of section 7.1 is to
root out some misconceptions concerning Chen Zhixus lineage and teachings,
which, despite being refuted generations ago, continue to be perpetuated in new
works. I will discuss six main issues, with representative positions by various
scholars, and my own position. I prefer the position of Qing Xitai and/or his co
author Chen Bing  on all of these issues, though my own position is even more
skeptical than theirs.
7.1.1, Comparison of Quanzhen Daoism with the Southern Lineage of the Golden
Elixir.

In chapter 4, What Is Inner Alchemy?, I o er many specic comparisons

between the alchemical teachings of the Southern Lineage, early or later Quanzhen
Daoism, and other alchemical traditions. While I will defer alchemical comparisons
until chapter 4, it would be helpful to o er a brief sociological comparison at this
point. Li Yuanguo compares the two traditions on four points:135 1 Unlike the
Northern Lineage i.e., Quanzhen Daoism, the Southern Lineage had no temples or
systematic precepts.136 Teachings were transmitted in secret, unknown to the public.
2 Unlike in traditional Daoism, and in the Northern Lineage, Southern Lineage
patriarchs did not leave the life of the householder chujia  to become celibate
monastiscs, but rather roamed within the world, or even did craftwork, saying that
The greater hermit dwells in the marketplace dayin ju chanshi  137 rather
than in the mountains. The idea of selfcultivation in the marketplace had additional
signicance for those who were sexual alchemists, and needed to nd companions
in urban areas. 3 Southern Lineage masters were poor and unknown, but left a
wealth of invaluable books. 4 Although the Southern Lineage was swallowed up by
the Northern Lineage, its inneralchemical teachings actually became dominant.
Every later Quanzhen teacher quoted Southern Lineage works. Also, Southern
135

Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 36163.

136

Perhaps this is why Skar speaks about the Southern Lineage as if it were not actually Daoist: Regarding the
Southern Lineage patriarchs, none show any links to a Daoist movement or tradition, but some, including Zhang
Boduan, had clear connections to Buddhist traditions; another studied classical medicine Skar, Golden Elixir
Alchemy, 248. It was Chen Zhixu who propelled the Golden Elixir alchemy, for the rst time, to explicitly
become integral to Daoist tradition ibid., 189. Skar does not explicitly dene what Daoism would mean here.

137

This phrase also as chanshi  comes from Zhang Boduans Wuzhen pian, and is much repeated in Southern
Lineage texts; e.g., DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian sanzhu 1.15b3.

79

Lineage alchemy was popular beyond the boundaries of Daoism, among Confucians,
Buddhists, and literati.
7.1.2, Did Chen have a real connection to a Quanzhen lineage?

The two main

issues in this section are 1 whether Chen had a Quanzhen lineage, and 2 whether
he possessed Quanzhen teachings. In answer to the rst question, Chen Jiaoyou,
Wang Mu, Ma Jiren, and Qing Xitai, et al., say no:
As for Chen Zhixus system, it was yet another o shoot of Shi Tais disciples,
advocating the union of the two lineages the Southern Lineage, and the
Quanzhen lineage
. He at once advocated pure cultivation and spoke of yin and
yang sexual cultivation
, and was in truth a false pretender runtong  of the
Southern Lineage.138
For the sake of parading his true Quanzhen transmission, in Shangyangzi
Jindan
dayao liexian zhi and other books, he asserted that his own lineage had been
transmitted from Qiu Chujis disciple Song Defang , and a master by the
name of Li Jue
had taken Huangfang Gong   i.e., Song Defang as
teacher . . . This claim is historically baseless, and Chen Minggui  in his
Changchun daojiao yuanliu already suspected that Chen was using these names
falsely.139
As early as 1879, Chen Jiaoyou  182481 in his history of Quanzhen Daoism,
Changchun daojiao yuanliu, criticized Chen for claiming to belong to a Quanzhen
lineage.140 Nevertheless some contemporary scholars e.g., Hao Qin and Kong
Linghong sti havent gotten the message, and take Chens pretended lineage at face
value:
In 1329
Chen was able to encounter the Quanzhen Daoist Zhao Youqin, . . . and
subsequently taking Zhao as his teacher, obtained the technical instructions of
Northern Lineage inner alchemy. Zhao Youqins alchemical transmission had
come from Ma Yu, the head of the Seven Masters qizi  of Quanzhen. . . . So,
Chen ought originally to belong to the Northern Lineage of inner alchemy, which
has a strictly pure solo
alchemical system. Yet Chen later met a certain Daoist
from Mt. Qingcheng in Sichuan, and received transmission of technical
instructions of the Southern Lineage school of the dual sexual
cultivation of yin
and yang.141
In 1329, Chen Zhixu
carried on the teachingline of Zhao Youqin. Zhao had
138

Wang Mu, Wuzhen pian qianjie, preface, 9.

139

Qing Xitai, et al., Zhonuo daojiao shi, 3:375.

140

Chen Jiaoyou, Changchun daojiao yuanliu, 2:16668.

141

Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 126. Both editions of Hao Qins book have  1320.  is 1329 the
correct date, so 1320 must be a typographical error.

80

carried on the teachinglines of Song Defang of the Northern Lineage, and Shi
Tai of the Southern Lineage, possessing the learning of both lineages together, so
Chen Zhixu also received the learning of both Northern and Southern lineages.142
Hao Qin thinks that Chen Zhixus fusion of Quanzhen and SouthernLineage
alchemy is due to his having had two masters, a Southern master from Qingcheng,
and Zhao Youqin the Quanzhen Daoist. Kong Linghong thinks that this fusion goes
back one generation earlier, to Zhao Youqin himself, who received transmission from
the Southern Shi Tai, and the Quanzhen Zhang Ziqiong .143 Qing Xitai and
others deny that Zhao Youqin was a Quanzhen Daoist. Qing Xitai says that it was
Chen Zhixu who forged the connection between Song Defang and Li Jue. I agree
that it was Chen who forged the link between Song Defang and Li Jue, and that Zhao
Youqin was not a Quanzhen Daoist. But I will go farther than that. I will argue that,
not only did Chen not have a Quanzhen lineage, he may have had no lineage
extending beyond Zhao Youqin. I will argue that, like his Qingcheng master, Chens
patriarch Li Jue and perhaps also the other intervening patriarch, Zhang Ziqiong
was ctional.
7.1.3, In his genealogy, Chen venerates the Quanzen patriarchs above the
SouthernLineage patriarchs.

This has been noted by Kong Linghong, Li Yuanguo,

Pregadio and Skar, and Qing Xitai, et al.:


Chens written genealogy . . . grafts the line of Zhao Youqins two immediate
predecessors onto a leading line of Quanzhen patriarchs. Simultaneously he
places the patriarchy stemming from Zhang Boduan in an inferior position,
thereby eectively identifying the Golden Elixir heritage which had developed
and circulated in the south with the Quanzhen heritage. While Chen sometimes
refers to himself as a Complete Perfection master, the signicance he intended by
this term is hard to determine.144
Precisely because Chen Zhixu himself came from the Southern Lineage, and
furthermore was posing as heir to a direct Quanzhen transmission, he became an
active midtolateYuandynasty advocate of combining the two lineages.
Furthermore, while combining the two lineages, he strove to the utmost to raise
the positions of the Quanzhen patriarchs and suppress the positions of the
142

Kong Linghong, SongMing daojiao sixiang yanjiu, 274.

143

Kong Linghong suggests that Zhaos master was in Shi Tais lineage, but, as we have seen above, Zhao Youqins
hagiography says that he received a visit from Shi Tai, the second patriarch of the Southern Lineage, in person.
Zhao Youqin was born in 1271, and Shi Tai died in 1158, so Shi would have visited Zhao as a spirit or immortal.
144

Pregadio and Skar, Inner Alchemy Neidan, 480.

81

Southern Lineage patriarchs.145


Chen showed his reverence for Quanzhen patriarchs over the Southern
Lineage
patriarchs by calling the former perfected lords zhenjun  and the latter merely
perfected persons zhenren  , and by placing the former ahead of the latter in
the genealogy within his ritual for the birthdays of Zhongli Quan and L Dongbin
see below, and chapter appendix 3 .146
7.1.4, Is there any Quanzhen content to Chens teachings?

Setting aside the

question of whether Chen had an authentic Quanzhen lineage, does Chen teach
Quanzhen
avored self
cultivation practices at all? Ma Jiren, and Qing Xitai, et al.,
say no:
Although posing as a transmitter of the Northern Lineage, in regards to his
alchemy, he venerated and upheld the tradition of Zhang Boduan instead.147
Chen Zhixus alchemy belongs to the school of dual cultivation of yin and yang
of the Southern Lineage, in the same line as Weng Baoguang , and vastly
dierent from Quanzhen Daoisms philosophy of pure cultivation qingxiu 
 .148
Hao Qin, Kong Linghong, and Zhang Baoguang say yes:
In terms of thought and theory, his teachings take the Northern Lineage as their
bones, while in terms of practice and technique, his teachings take the
Southern Lineage as their esh. His proposal for combining the two lineages
received the approval of all of the schools within Daoist inner alchemy, and
thereby the various schools, seeking union while preserving dierences, gradually
followed the trend toward becoming mutually consistent. . . . This was very
signicant for the development of inner alchemy.149
In regards to the specic means of cultivation of his methods, he tended toward
the Southern Lineage, carrying on the teaching
line of Wuzhen pian, but in regards
to his doctrinal thought, he tended toward the Northern Lineage. This reects
the trend of the time for the Southern Lineage as an independent school to be
incorporated into the Northern Lineage.150
Chen Zhixu, originally holding a traditional Quanzhen attitude, and taking the
145

Qing Xitai, et al., Zhonuo daojiao shi, 3:375.

146

Kong Linghong, SongMing daojiao sixiang yanjiu, 28081; Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 418; Ma Jiren,
Daojiao yu liandan, 8990.

147

Ma Jiren, Daojiao yu liandan, 90.

148

Qing Xitai, et al., Zhonuo daojiao shi, 3:375.

149

Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 127.

150

Kong Linghong, SongMing daojiao sixiang yanjiu, 274.

82

theory of the Northern Lineage as his basis, at the same time adopted the
Southern schools training method for actualizing the lifeendowment zhengming
 , and brought the Quanzhen school a step closer to perfecting their
thoughtsystem for the dual cultivation of inherent nature and lifeendowment
xingming shuangxiu tixi   .151
None of these three scholars give explicit examples of Quanzhen elements in Chen
Zhixus thought, but we can guess why they are saying this. Immediately after
saying that 1 Chen had Quanzhen doctrinal content, they say that 2 he
contributed to the fusion of Northern and Southern Lineages. I think that their
assumption of 2 , which I agree with, led them to assume 1 , which is groundless.
Zhang Guangbaos chapter discusses Li Daochun and Chen Zhixu together, often
without distinctions, as if they were the same person. He may have the following
sorites in mind: Li Daochun is a Quanzhen thinker ; Chen Zhixu is like Li
Daochun; therefore, Chen Zhixu is a Quanzhen thinker. One problem with this
sorites is that we cannot say with condence whether or how Li Daochun was a
Quanzhen Daoist. As Robinet says, It is not completely clear whether Li Daochun
was associated with the Quanzhen school to which he seems to refer
DZ 249,
3.28b or with the southern school, to which his master belonged. 152 The other
problem with Zhangs argument is that, even if Li Daochun were a Quanzhen Daoist,
and there were similarities between him and Chen Zhixu there wereboth are
sophisticated and theoretical writers , this does not mean that Chens thought must
be Quanzhen. He Naichuan and Zhan Shichuang o er the best characterization of
Chens Quanzhen thought :

Because Li Jue came from Mt. Wuyi, where Bai Yuchan had been active , the
teachingline that Chen Zhixu carried on ought to come from the Southern
Lineage, yet, from various traces and signs, Chen Zhixu had also done plenty of
cursory reading
shelie  of Northern Lineage learning.153
Although I will not be able to make a full consideration of this issue, since I do not
have the space to o er a pointbypoint comparison of typical Quanzhen teachings
with Chen Zhixus, I will argue below that Chen Zhixu probably only learned about
Quanzhen Daoism from hearsay and reading rather than from taking a Quanzhen
151

Zhang Guangbao, JinYuan Quanzhen dao neidan xinxing xue, 156.

152

Robinet, Taoism: Growth of a Tradition, 225; idem, Introduction  lalchimie intrieure taoste, 43.

153

He Naichuan and Zhan Shichuang, Lun Chen Zhixu de Jigong leixing shi, 219.

83

master, and that his Quanzhen reading was very cursory, perhaps limited to only a
couple of books.
7.1.5, If Chen had no Quanzhen lineage or Quanzhen teachings, then what was he
up to?

Most of the authors surveyed merely explain Chen Zhixus behavior in terms

of general historical trends: it was the zeitgeist to combine the Northern and
Southern Lineages, so Chen went with the ow or, as they often seem to say,
actively promoted the ow . But historical trends are made up of individuals acting
on their own will, so what did Chen think he was doing? Qing Xitai, et al., and Skar
attempt to explain Chens behavior within the framework of his own career. Qing, et
al., say that, after Kublai Khan reunited North and South China, Quanzhen Daoism
began to penetrate the South, and many southern alchemists jumped into the
Quanzhen fold, either seeking a Quanzhen master, or parading their own version of
Quanzhen Daoism. The Southern Lineage had a loose structure, unable to compete
with the tight organization of Quanzhen Daoism, so ocking to Quanzhen was to
their competitive advantage. To combine with Quanzhen Daoism was a universal
desire of the SouthernLineage Daoists.154 Skar says that Chen shortcircuited rival
claims by Bai Yuchan and Zhang Boduans followers I am not sure what this means,
but still used their teachings. Chen could hope for support from the Mongol Khan
who ruled China by appealing to Quanzhen lineage there is no textual evidence
that Chen ever aimed at imperial patronage. At approximately the same time,
several groups challenged Chens claims about the priority of these two
legacies could Skar be speaking about the early Ming dynasty?.155 I will argue that
Chens appeal to a Quanzhen lineal connection was part of his attempt to manage his
mastership, and thus part of his threeway feedback soteriological loop, with
authority, patronage, and alchemical attainment reinforcing each other in a threeway
virtuous circle.
7.1.6, Chen represents a historical trend toward the fusion of the Southern and
Northern Lineages of inner alchemy.

Nearly every scholar surveyed says this, and I

concur. This is Chens main claim to fame in most historiography of Daoism.


154

Qing Xitai, et al., Zhonuo daojiao shi, 3:375.

155

Skar, Golden Elixir Alchemy, 203. See pp. 60124 chap. 6, 3.12 below.

84

7.1.7, Chen drew on Chan Buddhism in the same way that he drew on Quanzhen
Daoism.

It is remarkable how few scholars link Chens Quanzhen pretensions with

his Chan pretensions. While many scholars discuss Chens use of Chan elements, and
discuss Chens Quanzhen pretensions, they do not note the connection between
these two features.156 Chens claims to Chan Buddhist and Quanzhen Daoist
authority should be seen together, since both are examples of his general strategies of
extension establishing correspondences between his dao and other known truths 
and stealing the lightning appropriating the authority of traditional scriptures,
while asserting the superiority of esoteric exegesis.
7.2, Quanzhen Daoism in Chens Time and Place
If Chen did not learn Quanzhen Daoism from a Quanzhen lineageholder, where
would he have gotten his interest in it? I will argue that Chen was not really
interested in the teachings of Quanzhen Daoism at all, only in the cachet of this
tradition, and the authority he could thereby gain in the eyes of potential disciples
and patrons. Chens ctional link to Quanzhen Daoism was a strategy for managing
his mastership.
7.2.1, Quanzhen books.

Removed from the Quanzhen heartland in northern

China as he was, Chen would have encountered Quanzhen Daoism rst through
texts. Throughout his entire corpus, Chen cites hundreds of texts and persons, but
cites Quanzhen texts or gures only relatively infrequently. Two major sections of
Jindan dayao are devoted to the Quanzhen lineage.157 Yet aside from these sections,
Chen only refers to Quanzhen gures in two contexts: 1 citing them as exemplars,
as his lineal patriarchs,158 even as tutelary gods of alchemy to whose portraits a
frustrated reader of Jindan dayao may pray for help;159 and 2 brief quotations from
156
Boltz A Survey of Taoist Literature, 18486 and Eskildsen Emergency Death Meditations for Internal
Alchemists, 408n76 make this connection, but I am not aware of any Chinese scholar discussing these two
issues together.
157

These originally were two parts of juan 8, but in the Zhengtong daozang they have become independent texts,
DZ 1069 and 1070.
158

E.g., my Wang


Chongyang ; DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 1.1b5; DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen
pian sanzhu, xu preface, 5a10; 4.18b9.

159

And, if someone has obtained this Jindan dayao, yet


cannot understand the deep instructions within it, then

85

Ma Danyangs discourse record yulu JN . By my count, Chen Zhixu quotes the


words of Ma Danyang nine times, and eight of these quotations can be traced to DZ
1057, Danyang Zhenren yulu. It is as if Chen Zhixu only read this one book of
Quanzhen teachings.
I believe that Chen Zhixu was not very well
read in the Quanzhen literature.
If Chen Zhixu learned about his Quanzhen patriarchs from books, then he could
conceivably have read, not a small library of Quanzhen texts, but only two books: an
illustrated hagiography such as DZ 174, Jinlian zhengzong xianyuan xiangzhuan which
would be the source for his own DZ 1069 70 , and Ma Danyangs yulu, DZ 1057
which was the souce for his few meager quotations .
7.2.2, Quanzhen initiates.

Could Chen Zhixu have encountered Quanzhen

Daoists in the esh? Lets look for some Quanzhen activity that he could conceivably
have encountered in person. Where would Chen have met a Quanzhen Daoist? Chen
did the majority of his teaching activity in Jiangxi, Hubei, Guizhou, Hunan, and
Jiangsu Provinces, with some activity in Guangxi, Sichuan, Henan, Anhui, and
Zhejiang too see chapter appendix 1 . Here is what I judge to be his core area of
operation:
Luling, Hongzhou Yuzhang , Jiujiang, and the Lu Mountains in Jiangxi;
Mt. Jiugong and Jingnan in Hubei;
Sizhou and Qiongshui in Guizhou;
Mt. Heng or Hengyang in Hunan;
and Jinling in Jiangsu.
What kind of Quanzhen activity could he have encountered in these places?
The rst traces of Quanzhen Daoism in southern China date to around the
middle of the thirteenth century, in the third generation after the passing of the
founder, Wang Chongyang 1112 70 , and two generations before Chen Zhixus time.
We can nd evidence of northern Quanzhen Daoists transmitting their tradition in
he may paint images of the true shapes of the three transcendent patriarchs Chunyang L Dongbin, Wang
Chongyang, and Ma Danyang. Morning and evening oering incense and owers, with singleness of mind face
the portraits and chant aloud this Jindan dayao one time through, or even a hundred times, or a thousand, building
up many repetitions over the days and months. If his initial will does not decrease, and he becomes even more
concentrated and assiduous, then he will stimulate the perfected transcendents to personally descend to bestow
teachings. For a student of transcendent
hood, this is sudden enlightenment, when the path of principle
penetrates all the way through, and the ground of the heart
mind becomes void and numinous. 93&
)1#">'DP/,0<*<<
. 5 +$EDI!(&
)B BB BL6%2@H=?.MO4(KCG;
-7A8F:Q. DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 1.12b5 10.

86

southwest China before 1250. For example, Ji Zhiqiang  


. ca. 1170 1240
transmitted Quanzhen Daoism in Yunnan,160 and Quanzhen Daoism came to Mt.
Qingcheng in Sichuan not long after.161 We see evidence of southern Daoists
traveling north to meet Quanzhen masters as early as the 1270s. Lu Dayou " d.
1285 may have been the one who rst brought Quanzhen Daoism to Mt. Wudang
 in modern day Hubei. Lu was a Wudang Daoist who traveled north to Mt. Yin
Yinshan 162 to nd traces of Quanzhen Daoism. When he returned to Mt.
Wudang in 1275, he attracted hundreds of disciples.163 Mt. Wudang subsequently
became a Quanzhen center. Some Daoists from Jiangxi traveled to and from Mt.
Wudang, such as Li Mingliang 
b. 1286; from Anfu  in Jiangxi, Luo
Tingzhen %

! 
. Yuan dyn.; from Nanchang, and Wang Daoyi  
. ca.

1350 70. Wang Daoyi was a Zhengyi Daoist from Mt. Longhu who traveled to
Wudang Shan to study Quanzhen.
There was Quanzhen Daoism at Mt. Longhu, the ancestral mountain of the
Zhengyi lineage of Celestial Masters in Jiangxi. The eccentric Jin Zhiyang 
1276 1336, a.k.a. Jin the Dishevelled Jin Pengtou #,164 may have been the
one who rst brought Quanzhen Daoism to Mt. Longhu. Chen Zhixu never
mentions visiting Mt. Longhu himself, but it was only about ninety miles from his
home, so it would have been well known to Daoists throughout Jiangxi. Two disciples
of Jin Pengtou, in turn, were teachers of Zhao Yizhen   d. 1382, an important
gure whom I will discuss again in chapter 6.165 Zhao Yizhen was learned in Qingwei
 thunder rites, and both Quanzhen and Southern Lineage self cultivation.
160

Guo Wu, Daojiao yu Yunnan wenhua, 130, citing Xu wenxian tongkao, j. 243.

161

Quanzhen Daoism began to come to Mt. Qingcheng  during the time of the Quanzhen Daoist Li
Daoqian $ 1219 96; Wang Chunwu, Qingcheng Shan zhi, 197.
162

There is a Mt. Yin near Macheng  in present day Hubei, but this is southeast of Mt. Wudang, so it is
unlikely that this was Lu Dayous destination.

163

Hu Fuchen, Zhonghua daojiao da cidian, s.v. Lu Dayou ", 157; Goossaert, La cration du taosme
moderne, 107.

164
Hu Fuchen, Zhonghua daojiao da cidian, s.v. Jin Zhiyang , 162. Jin Pengtous masters were Li Yuexi 
 in the south, and Li Zhichang  in the north. Zhonghua daojiao da cidian says that Jin died in 1276, but I
follow Schipper for Jins dates; Schipper, Master Chao I chen   ? 1382 and the Ching wei  School of
Taoism, 730.
165

See pp. 567 68 and 606 8 chap. 6, 2.1.2, 3.1.3.

87

Robinet compares Zhao Yizhen with Chen Zhixu: By the time of Chen Zhixu, . . .
the northsouth division had ceased to be meaningful. This is shown, for example, by
the case of Zhao Yizhen in the fourteenth century: he was trained by two masters,
one coming from the northern school, the other from the southern. Like Chen,
Zhao Yizhen combined Northern and Southern lineages, but unlike Chen, Zhao
really had a Quanzhen master.166
In Chen Zhixus familiar territory within Jiangxi, I have found record of only
two Quanzhen Daoists who would have been his contemporaries, Liu Zhixuan 
 . 132427 and Gui Xinyuan
 .167 Both were active in the Lu Mountains, so
he could easily have crossed paths with them there. As I show in chapter appendix 2,
Chens known acquaintances there included Daoists from the grand temple Taiping
Xingguo Gong  , and literati dilettantes. There is no indication that
Chens supporters at Taiping Xingguo Gong were Quanzhen Daoists. I also have
record of a number of Quanzhen Daoists in Jiangxi from beyond Chens core region.
The most important of these is Li Jianyi , the author of DZ 245 preface of
1264, whom I discuss below.168 DZ 245 is the earliest Southern inneralchemical text
to make much mention of Quanzhen teachings. Li Jianyi was probably not a
Quanzhen Daoist himself, but rather, like Chen, a SouthernLineage alchemist who
read some Quanzhen literature.
Mt. Jiugong in Hubei was another of Chens core sites. I have found no record
of Quanzhen Daoism there during his era. There was a lot of Quanzhen activity at
Mt. Wudang in northwest Hubei of course, but Chen probably never went to that
Daoist center. I also have no record of Quanzhen Daoism in Chens core region in
Hunan Mt. Heng or Hengyang, and Changsha, only of local Daoists who traveled
from Hunan to Mt. Longhu to study Zhengyi Daoism, to Mt. Wudang to study
Qingwei Daoism, or whose a liation is not known.
In Chens core region within Jiangsu, I have record of several Daoists in Li
166

Robinet, Taoism: Growth of a Tradition, 225; idem, Introduction  lalchimie intrieure taoste, 4344.

167

Hu Fuchen, Zhonghua daojiao da cidian, s.v. Liu Zhixuan , 180, and Gui Xinyuan
 , 162. Zhonghua
daojiao da cidian says that Gui Xinyuan died in 1276, but I reject this, based on Schippers dates for Jin Pengtou.
168

See pp. 9697 below. Li Jianyi, author of DZ 245, Yuxizi danjing zhiyao, was from Yuanzhou  presentday
Yichun , Jiangxi; Hu Fuchen, Zhonghua daojiao da cidian, s.v. Li Jianyi , 139.

88

Daochuns lineage. Li Daochun may be listed together with Chen Zhixu, Li Jianyi,
Wang Jichang, Yu Yan, Mu Changchao, Niu Daochun, Chen Chongsu, and Wang
Daoyuan Wang Jie ,169 as an examplar of a trend during the Yuan and early Ming
period toward the integration of Northern and Southern inner
alchemical traditions.
Ke Daochong  was one of Li Daochuns students in Jiangsu;170 he was active in
Jinling around 132427, so he could have crossed paths with Chen Zhixu when Chen
was visiting his Jinling network after 1335.
The history of the rst few generations of Quanzhen Daoists, or Quanzhen
Daoist texts and ideas, or as in the case of Chen Zhixu Quanzhen Daoist cachet,
has yet to be written. This history ought to involve a careful reading of texts by these
tradition
crossing gures, as well as research into dates, places, and social trends. We
may tentatively conclude that the number of Quanzhen initiates in Chen Zhixus
core area of operations was quite small. Chen could conceivably have met a few
Quanzhen initiates during his lifetime, but there probably were no Quanzhen
teaching centers south of Mt. Wudang.
7.3, Chens Immediate Lineage
I think of Chens lineages in terms of three concentric categories: extended,
eective, and immediate lineages. The genealogies in DZ 1070 see chapter
appendix 3 are devoted to Chens extended lineage, rather than his eective lineage.
The Xianpai and ritual list in DZ 1070 include some gures that never show up
again in his writings, such as the avatars of Laozi, or the Louguan patriarchs. The
hagiographical text DZ 1069, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao liexian zhi, represents Chens
eective lineage.171 This is:
the Five Patriarchs wuzu 
of Quanzhen the Sovereign Lord of Eastern
Florescence Wang Xuanfu, Zhongli Quan, L Dongbin, Liu Haichan, and
Wang Chongyang;
169
Li Daochun  . ca. 1288 ; Wang Jichang  . 122040 , Yu Yan  12531314 ; Mu Changchao
 . ca. 1294 , Niu Daochun  . ca. 1296 , Chen Chongsu  Chen Xubai , . Yuan

dyn. , and Wang Daoyuan  Wang Jie  , . ca. 1360 . I situate these gures within the history of inner
alchemy in chapter 4, part 1.
170

Hu Fuchen, Zhonghua daojiao da cidian, s.v. Ke Daochong , 180.

171

For the names and characters of all of these gures, see chapter appendix 3.

89

the Seven Masters qizi  of QuanzhenMa Danyang, Tan Chuduan, Liu


Chuxuan, Qiu Chuji, Wang Chuyi, Hao Datong, and Sun Buer;
and Chens immediate lineage, his nominally Quanzhen sublineageSong
Defang, Li Taixu, Zhang Ziqiong, and Zhao Youqin.
Chens accounts of the Quanzhen wuzu qizi are conventional. I have not attempted
to discover which text Chen took them from, but the illustrations in DZ 1069
suggest that he drew on an illustrated text like DZ 174, Jinlian zhengzong xianyuan
xiangzhuan. I call this Chens e
ective lineage because he relies on this lineage for
his authority as a master. I will have a lot more to say about Chens extended and
e
ective lineages in section 7.4 below.
More curious though, is Chens immediate lineage. I argue that Chen
invented this lineage himself, and may even have invented the gures Li Taixu Li
Jue and Zhang Ziqiong. Zhao Youqin discussed on pages 602 above and Song
Defang are wellattested in other sources, but Li Taixu and Zhang Ziqiong are mostly
unknown outside Chens writings.
7.3.1, Song Defang.

Song Defang 11831247 , personal name Youdao




Defang is his byname , was an eminent Quanzhen master of the second generation
after Wang Chongyang, a disciple of Wang Chuyi  11421217 and then Qiu
Chuji  11481227 . Song was one of the eighteen worthies who accompanied
Qiu Chuji to the court of Qinggis Khan in Afghanistan in 122223, and was coeditor
of the Yuan Daoist canon Xuandu baozang  in 123744.172 Chen mentions
Song in about eight di
erent passages, consistently using his stylename Sire Yellow
House Huangfang Gong   . Chens hagiography of Song Defang in DZ 1069173
mentions Songs journey to Afghanistan, but considers Song to be a disciple of Ma
Danyang 112384 rather than Wang Chuyi or Qiu Chuji. From the dates of Mas
death and Songs birth, we know they could never have met while alive Chen may
not have heeded these dates . Chen interprets Songs monicker Perfected Who
Parts the Clouds Piyun Zhenren  as a reference to Songs power to dispel
rainclouds with talismans. Apparently, there was some confusion in the
hagiographical literature regarding the three names Song Defang, Song Youdao, and
172

Hu Fuchen, Zhonghua daojiao da cidian, s.v. Song Defang , 153.

173

DZ 1069, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao liexian zhi 7a6b6.

90

Huangfang Gong.174 Chens hagiography of Song shows no insider knowledge of


Songs life, and even some misconceptions, which were echoed in later hagiographical
literature.
7.3.2, Li Taixu.

Li Taixu ! : personal name Jue ' is mentioned in eight

passages throughout Chens corpus, plus the hagiography in DZ 1069.175 In the


hagiography, Chen writes that Li Taixu came from Chongqing, and traveled to Mt.
Wuyi & in presentday Zhejiang Province to rene his elixir for seven months.
Chen describes an encounter between Li Taixu and some Zhengyi Daoists at Mt.
Longhu, after Li left Mt. Wuyi:
After seven months, when he was about to complete his dao, he returned, and on
the road passed by Mt. Longhu E*. The night before, someone had had a dream
at the Rain Altar that a perfected person would arrive. That season there had
been a long drought, and they had prayed for rain
without any response. The
next day, Taixu
the Perfected actually did arrive, but
no one among the
assembly knew it. Only the person who had had the dream saw that a poor
Daoist had arrived, and said: This is the man. The assembly begged him to pray
for rain, and when the response came, the rain was heavy. Then he departed.
B=36=<E* 7D>1 )0
.
HF1 %4-(2>)"5= #,
4A.+F0CI
After completing his elixir in reclusion in the Jade Void Hermitage :9 at
Zhenzhou,176 he transmitted his dao to Zhang Ziqiong and then vanished into Mt.
Qingcheng in Sichuan. I believe that Chen Zhixu forged the hagiography of Li Taixu,
at least partially. He probably took the story of Li Taixus rainmaking exploit at Mt.
Longhu from a hagiography of Bai Yuchan:
According to Peng Si s
account, . . . Bai went across the
river to the east and
resided in Mount Longhu . . . It was that year that the region was a icted with a
drought. Many Daoist priests had attempted to chant the Mulang zhou /$,
an incantation for supplicating rain; however, they gained no response and Bai
174

The later recension of DZ 1070 changed by other hands considers Song Defang and Huangfang Gong to be
two di erent gures see p. 152n95 below. This distinction is repeated in Zhonghua daojiao da cidian, and
compounded by a separate entry on a Huang Youdao ;=, who sounds the same as Song Defang in most
respects. Like Chen Zhixus view of Song Defang, in this entry, Huang Youdao is a disciple of Ma Danyang. For
the entry on Huang Youdao, see Hu Fuchen, Zhonghua daojiao da cidian, s.v. Huang Youdao ;=, 142. For the
idea of Song Defang and Huangfang Gong as two gures, see ibid., s.v. Li Jue !', 131, citing Xu wenxian tongkao.

175

Li Jue !', originally named Jue, changed his personal name to Qizhen 81. His byname was Taixu :, and
his stylename Shuangyu G; DZ 1069, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao liexian zhi 7b89.

176

Zhenzhou 1 is presentday Yizheng City ?@, Jiangsu Province, northeast of Nanjing.

91

Yuchan then provided the correct way to chant the incantation, which resulted in
rain.177
Just as Chen invented his Qingcheng master based on the hagiography of Zhang
Boduan, he invented Li Taixu based on Bai Yuchan. Both are mythical echoes. Of the
other eight passages mentioning Li Taixu, ve simply mention that he transmitted
the teachings to Zhang Ziqiong, or that he rened the elixir at Mt. Wuyi.178 The
emphasis on Mt. Wuyi is another clue that Li Taixu is an echo of Bai Yuchan, since
Bai was the most famous inner alchemist ever to dwell at Mt. Wuyi. Of the eight
passages mentioning Li Taixu, the remaining three are:
1 a brief exchange between Li Taixu and Zhang Ziqiong on the Zhouyi
learning
in the Cantong qi;179
2 Li Taixus comment that Buddhists can teach but not do, while we
Daoists can do but not preach;180
3 An exchange between Li Taixu and a debater, in which the opponent reveals
his ignorance of sexual alchemy, and Li calls him a worthless monk probably
a Chan monk .181
The two common themes in these passages are encounter dialogue either enigmatic,
as in no. 1, or harshly competitive, as in no. 2 ; and a sense of competetion with Chan
Buddhism in nos. 2 and 3 .
I argue that Chen Zhixu invented the character of Li Taixu, partially based on
Bai Yuchan, and partially as an expression of Chens own sense of conict within a
competitive market of daos. Is there evidence that Li Jue or Li Taixu was a real
person before Chen adopted him as a patriarch? A database search reveals that Li
Jue was a rather common name, and Li Taixu was also used by dierent men in
various eras. I have not sifted through these references, though I note the record of a
177

Wang Li, The Daoist Way of Transcendence, 64, citing Peng Si, Haiqiong Yuchan Xiansheng shishi & '
 , in Song Bai Zhenren Yuchan quanji, 71617. A more widely
available edition, also containing Peng Sis text, is
Bai Yuchan Zhenren quanji, in Daozang jinghua, coll. 2, no. 2.

178

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 1.2b10, 14.8b5; DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian sanzhu 4.18b10, 4.29b7;
Zhouyi Cantong qi fenzhang zhu, Daozang jiyao ed., 1.18a24. In the last passage, Li battles mara
obstacles mozhang
(#, mental demons during meditation by repeating a mantra from the Duren jing.
179

Zhouyi Cantong qi fenzhang zhu, Daozang jiyao ed., 1.30a57.

180

After my patriarch Taixu, Li the Perfected, had attained the elixir, he heard the sound of a stra lecture at a
Buddhist monastery, and slipped into the assemply to listen to it. When he came out, he sighed, saying, They can
talk it up, but not put it into practice; we can put it into practice, but we cant talk it up.  
!%$) 
 "" DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren
Wuzhen pian sanzhu 3.12a35

181

DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian sanzhu 4.22a57. I translate and discuss some of this passage on p. 475.

92

transcendent named Li Jue in the Tang dynasty.182 I found several references to Zhang
Ziqiong that also mention Li Taixu; these were obviously based on Chens Jindan
dayao itself.183 I have found no evidence that the Li Taixu described by Chen Zhixu
was known to anyone before him, either as a historical person or as a legend.
7.3.3, Zhang Ziqiong.

Chen never mentions Zhang Ziqiong in his corpus

except together with Li Taixu see the passages mentioned above. According to his
hagiography in DZ 1069, Zhang Mu  byname Ziqiong 184 rst met Li Taixu
at Xichun Hall   at Anren.185 Later, when they met again in a marketplace, Li
nally agreed to transmit his dao to Zhang after seeing him donate cash to a beggar.
Zhang completed his ring periods this could be internal ring, or external
ring, i.e., gathering the next year, at Zhenzhou. Later, Zhang transmitted his dao
to Zhao Youqin, and went into eremitic retreat. That is all Chen ever tells us about
Zhang Ziqiong. I have argued that Li Taixu was a ction created by Chen Zhixu; as
for Zhang Ziqiong, Chen never says enough about him to judge whether Chen
invented him or not. There is no record of Zhang Ziqiong in other texts outside
Chens corpus except the two accounts in which he appears together with Li Taixu.
7.3.4, Zhao Youqin provides no evidence about this lineage.

Chen probably did

not get the idea of claiming a Quanzhen connection from his own master, Zhao
Youqin. In his Xianfo tongyuan, Zhao Youqin whom Chen calls a Quanzhen master
not only does not include any distinctively Quanzhen language, concepts, virtues, or
attitudes, but he only cites a Quanzhen gure twice, by my count.186 These two
citations are both references to Ma Danyang. The second reference is in the context
of a discussion about the wonder of dual cultivation by husband and wife fuqi
shuangxiu zhi miao    here Zhao is not talking about the alchemical
husband and wife the two pharmaca, but rather about a human husband and wife.
182

Yu Yin, Tong xingming lu 10.38a. This gure was from Jiangyang , in presentday Hubei Province.

183

Yu Yin, Tong xingming lu 10.38a; Huang Tinggui and Zhang Jinsheng, Sichuan tongzhi 38.3 
.

184

Zhangs personal name was Mu, his byname was Junfan . After becoming a Daoist, he changed his personal
name to Daoxin .

185

Anren was about twentyve miles northwest of presentday Guixi , Jiangxi Province. This is near Mt.
Longhu, the home of the Celestial Master lineage.
186

Xianfo tongyuan 16b3, 40a3, in Daoshu quanji, Zhongguo Shudian ed., 470, 482.

93

Zhao Youqin is saying that Ma Danyang and his wife Sun Buer practiced sexual
alchemy together, bringing advantage to both self and other zili lita 
. I
have never heard of a Quanzhen Daoist teaching sexual alchemy. Not only does Zhao
pay little attention to Quanzhen Daoism, but when he does mention it, he violently
misreads it. Let no one henceforth mistake Zhao Youqin for a Quanzhen Daoist. In
contrast to his two citations of Ma Danyang, Zhao cites another man named Ma, the
Chan patriarch Mazu Daoyi 70988
, at least eight times. Zhao Youqin would call
himself a Chan Buddhist before he ever called himself a Quanzhen Daoist. Although
Chen Zhixu traces his Quanzhen lineage back through Zhao Youqin, Zhao does not
consider himself a Quanzhen lineageholder, so Chen got the idea of a Quanzhen link
from somewhere besides Zhao.
Chen Zhixu invented his connection to Quanzhen Daoism, and probably even
invented two of the masters supposedly linking him to Quanzhen Daoism. Song
Defang and Zhao Youqin were real enough, but between Song and Zhao there was no
connection. Zhao Youqin did not consider himself to have any connection to
Quanzhen Daoism, and neither did Zhao consider Zhang Ziqiong and Li Taixu to be
his lineal masters. Zhao Youqin never mentions any of his teachers in his extent
works. If Zhao did have a teacher named Zhang Ziqiong, he was not important
within Zhaos religious worldview.
7.4, Chens Eective and Extended Lineages in DZ 1070
Appendix 3 to this chapter is a complete translation of DZ 1070, The Master of Highest
Yangs Great Essentials of the Golden Elixir: Stream of Transcendents Shangyangzi jindan
daoyao xianpai    

. DZ 1070 is valuable for two reasons: it o ers


the best record of Chen Zhixus selfcreated lineage, and it contains a manual for a
communal ritual, in which the participants petition Zhongli Quan and L Dongbin
to aid them in their sexual alchemy. I will analyze the genealogies in DZ 1070 here, as
part of my argument against Chens claim to be a Quanzhen Daoist.
7.4.1, Comparing genealogies.

Chen Zhixus complex lineage is listed twice in

this text, once as a Stream of Transcendents Xianpai 

and once as a sub

94

section of the section entitled Ritual for Celebrating the Birthdays of the Two
Transcendents, Zhong and L ZhongL erxian qingdan yi   . The
Stream of Transcendents appears to be based on another genealogy, the Correct
Lineage of the Great Dao Dadao zhengtong  , dated 1260, and composed
by Xiao Tingzhi 
, a secondgeneration heir of Bai Yuchan.187 I know of no
closely comparable rituals in the Daoist canon, though the ritual in the Ming text
DZ 793 could be a distant relative.188
Xiao Tingzhis genealogy begins with the nameless Dao, then includes seven
distinct groupings, descending in time and sacrality from celestial deities down to
Xiao Tingzhis own master Peng Si  1185 after 1251 :
A1 a cosmogonic grouping of four celestial worthies tianzun  ;
A2 a Laozi lineage, from Laozis mother, to Laozi, to Yin Xi, to the patriarchs of
the Louguan tradition;189
A3 a waidan lineage from Heshang Gong to Wei Boyang, the supposed author of
the Zhouyi Cantong qi;
A4 Zhang Daoling, the founder of the Celestial Master movement, and his two
famous disciples;
A5 a neidan lineage of four patriarchs, including Zhongli Quan and L Dongbin;
A6 the Southern Lineage of the Golden Elixir, with six patriarchs from Zhang
Boduan to Peng Si;
A7 the Quanzhen lineage, with Wang Chongyang and his six disciples.
Chen Zhixus rst genealogy, the xianpai, has four groupings:
B1 the precosmic Laozi, and his avatars in ancient times;
B2 A5, with di erences
the historical Laozi, and the ve neidan patriarchs
wuzu  ;
B3 A7
the seven masters qizi  , disciples of Wang Chongyang;
B4 the ve masters of Chen Zhixus own sublineage: Song Defang, Li Taixu,
Zhang Ziqiong, Zhao Youqin, and Chen Zhixu himself.
This is a standard Quanzhen lineage of 2 wuzu and 3 qizi, sandwiched between 1
Laozis precosmic avatars, and 4 Chen Zhixus own immediate lineage. The
genealogy of patriarchs invited to the ritual space includes eight groupings:
C1 A2
Laozi and the Louguan patriarchs;
187

Dadao zhengtong, in DZ 687, Daode zhenjing sanjie, preface, 5a10 7a1.

188

DZ 793, Taiqing daode xianhua yi is a ritual for the birthday of the deied Laozi. Unlike DZ 1070, the deities
invited to the ritual area in DZ 793 are cosmic deities rather than patriarchs.
189

Louguan Daoism was a SixDynasties Daoist movement, active at the Platform of the TowerAbbey Louguan
Tai  in Shaanxi, where Laozi bestowed the Daode jing to Yin Xi before leaving for the western regions.

95

C2 A3the waidan lineage from Heshang Gong to the authors of the Cantong qi
although Wei Boyang is missing from the list in DZ 1070 ;
C3 A4Zhang Daoling and his disciples;
C4 the cult deities Ge Xuan, Xu Xun, and Xu Xuns associates;190
C5 A5, with di erencesthe ve neidan patriarchs wuzu ;
C6 A7the seven Quanzhen masters qizi ;
C7 A6, with di erencesthe ve Southern Lineage patriarchs, from Zhang
Boduan to Bai Yuchan;
C8 the masters of Chen Zhixus immediate lineage.
Comparing this list of gods to be invited to the ritual area with Chens genealogy
proper Xianpai , we note that there is a common core shared by both lists: Laozi,
the Quanzhen wuzu qizi, and Chens immediate lineage.
Is Chen Zhixu claiming to be a Quanzhen Daoist then? He claims a direct
lineage back to Wang Chongyang, so the short answer is, yes, he is claiming to be a
Quanzhen lineageholder, if not an ordained Quanzhen monastic. But in the ritual
list, he is also claiming links to ve other groups: the transmissionlineages of his
three most important scriptures, C1 Daode jing, C2 Cantong qi, and C7 Wuzhen
pian, and the cults to C34 local patron saints of alchemy. The ritual list is not a
Quanzhen genealogy at all: it is a list in which only one group C6 out of eight is
distinctively Quanzhen.
Lets compare Chens two genealogies with Xiao Tingzhis Dadao zhengtong.
Is Chen drawing directly on Xiao Tingzhi? I would argue that he is. I have compared
the Dadao zhengtong and Chens two genealogies against four other examples of
the genealogical genre:
1 Bai Yuchans brief genealogy in DZ 1309 after 1218 ,
2 Li Jianyis   long genealogy in DZ 245 preface of 1264 ,
3 the genealogy of the Qingwei 
tradition, DZ 171 preface of 1293 , or
4 a Quanzhen genealogy/hagiography such as DZ 174 preface of 1241 ,
The Dadao zhengtong and Chens two genealogies stand much closer to one
another than they do to any of these other examples.191 Li Jianyis 2 Hunyuan
xianpai zhi tu Chart of the stream of transcendents
from the turbid prime
i.e.,
190
Zhang Daoling was a third major cult deity in Chen Zhixus native region, and he is in the immediately
preceding group 3. The fourth major cult, to the Huagai deities, is not represented in Chens lineage lists.
191

See Bai Yuchan, Xianpai, in his DZ 1309, Haiqiong chuandao ji 9a59; Li Jianyi, Hunyuan xianpai zhi tu 
 , in his DZ 245, Yuxizi danjing zhiyao 1a4b; DZ 171, Qingwei xianpu; DZ 174, Jinlian zhengzong xianyuan
xiangzhuan. Chens DZ 1069 is inspired by the Quanzhen DZ 174 or something like it , however.

96

Taishang Laojun
in DZ 245 is the most likely candidatesince Li was active in
Jiangxi like Chen Zhixu, or like Xiao Tingzhis patriarch Bai Yuchan
, and since Lis
genealogy includes both Southern Lineage and Quanzhen guresyet the content of
Li Jianyis genealogy has very little in common with Xiao Tingzhis and Chen Zhixus.
It appears that Chen is drawing on Xiao Tingzhis Dadao zhengtong in DZ 687.
Although DZ 687 is a SouthernLineage text, Dadao zhengtong includes
Wang Chongyang and the seven masters qizi
of the Quanzhen order. Zhang Boduan
and Wang Chongyangs lineages are listed together at the end of the chart, and
weighted equally in the layout on the page, with neither one given pride of place to
the other. Quanzhen Daoists have also been listing the Southern Lineage patriarchs
within their own documents for a long time.192 This reects the incorporation of the
Southern Lineage teachings into Quanzhen Daoism. Yet the incorporation of lineage
does not always reect the incorporation of teachings. In the case of Dadao
zhengtong, although this genealogy venerates the Quanzhen patriarchs, I know of
no evidence that Xiao Tingzhi or his circle adopted any Quanzhen teachings. While
Chen Zhixu and Xiao Tingzhi di er in that Chen claims a personal connection to the
Quanzhen lineage and Xiao does not, I think that we should consider Chens lineage
in the light of Xiao Tingzhi. Not only does Chen Zhixu objectively have no lineal
connection to Quanzhen Daoism, but sometimes, like Xiao Tingzhi, he lists the
Quanzhen lineage without even giving it pride of place. The Quanzhen qizi do
receive emphasis in the Xianpai, or in DZ 1069, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao liexian zhi,
but in the ritual genealogy they do not. The place of the Quanzhen qizi in Chens
ritual genealogy is exactly the same as their place in the nonQuanzhen Dadao
zhengtong.
Chen Zhixu bases his ritual genealogy, and perhaps also his Xianpai, on Xiao
Tingzhis Dadao zhengtong. It is even conceivable that the Dadao zhengtong was
where Chen got the idea of claiming a connection to the Quanzhen lineage in the
192

Li Yuanguo notes that Quanzhen Daoist now generally list the Southern Lineage patriarchs within their
genealogy, in a subsidiary position to Wang Chongyangs qizi. To ll out the Southern Lineage to the number
seven to match the qizi
, Peng Si and Liu Yongnian  . 113856
are added. Li cites the Qingdynasty text
Daomen gongke by Liu Shouyuan  as an example of this; Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 418. I have not been
able to examine this text.

97

rst place. I have argued that Chen probably did not get the idea of claiming a
Quanzhen connection from his own master, Zhao Youqin, since Zhao does not
consider himself a Quanzhen lineage holder. I have also argued that Chen was not
well read in Quanzhen literature, and may have met few live Quanzhen Daoists. We
cannot know for sure whence Chen got the idea, but Xiao Tingzhis Dadao
zhengtong is as likely a source as any other. Would it not be ironic if it were from a
Southern Lineage text that Chen Zhixu got the idea of calling himself a Quanzhen
Daoist?
7.4.2, Other points from DZ 1070.

There are several other points of interest in

the genealogies of DZ 1070. In my translation, I include some material in angle


brackets and a smaller fontthis is material included in two later editions of Jindan
dayao, but not included in DZ 1070. There are enough errors or anachronisms in this
material to indicate that it was interpolated by later hands. One minor but telling
dierence is the way Chen Zhixus name is used in the dierent editions. In DZ
1070, Chens name is listed in the Xianpai, but not in the list of spirits to be
summoned to the ritual area. In the other two editions, his name is included in the
list of defunct patriarchs. In DZ 1070, Chens given name Zhixu is used, while in
the other two editions, his respectful byname Guanwu is used instead this should
be a third rather than a rst person form of address. In the two later editions, two
long genealogies of Daoist and Buddhist gures are interpolated in the Xianpai.
The additional Daoist list adds the Louguan and waidan lineages C12, a lineage
related to Ge Hong , Lan Yangsu alone, and the Southern Lineage C7,
including Peng Si and Xiao Tingzhi. The additional Buddhist list is a single lineage,
beginning with kyamuni Buddha. Apparently this list ends with Huanglong Huiji,
an eighth generation descendant of Qingyuan Xingsi d. 740, but actually, it leads to
L Dongbin. According to a tale in T 2035, Fozu tongji, L Dongbin attacked
Huanglong, but ended up conceding defeat, attaining enlightenment, and becoming
Huanglongs disciple, implicitly giving up his alchemy.193 This is not a story favorable
to inner alchemy, yet a later hand has inserted it into Chen Zhixus Xianpai in order
193

T 2035, Fozu tongji, 49:390b414. Also see p. 141n40 below.

98

to assert a true transmission from the Chan patriarchs, through L Dongbin, to


Chen. Chen Zhixu himself never asserted such a historical connection between the
Chan lineage and his own lineage; rather, both the true masters of both lineages
shared an esoteric communion, both knowing that the true dao is sexual alchemy.
Another reason that the later hand inserted this Buddhist list might be that it
re ects a local Jiangxi legend. As I note on page 49 above, the Huanglong lineage was
active at Qingyuan, in Chen
s native Luling. Here we see a later redactor stirfrying
Chen
s lineage, much as Chen did to his own sources. Turnabout is fair play.
Finally, Chen lists, after Zhao Youqin, a Preceptor Liu, the Perfected of
ValleyCloud Dushi Guyun Liu Zhenren 
.194 Could this be the
name of his fabled Qingcheng master? Or was it Chen
s rst preceptor, from when he
began his Daoist career? I have argued that Chen may never have had a Qingcheng
master, so I nd the latter possibility more likely. I have never been able to nd any
additional material on Mr. Liu Guyun.
7.4.3, Reading the ritual.

There are also several points worth mentioning

within the text of the Ritual for Celebrating the Birthdays of the Two
Transcendents, Zhongli and L. The ritual celebration of Zhongli and L
s
birthdays was a Quanzhen practice.195 I suspect that it was also practiced outside
Quanzhen circles. Almost no liturgical material from Yuandynasty Quanzhen
Daoism has survived,196 so we cannot know the links between Chen
s ritual and
Quanzhen rituals. If Chen had no real connections to Quanzhen Daoism, as I have
argued above, then he would have gotten the idea of celebrating the birthdays of
Zhongli Quan and L Dongbin from nonQuanzhen southern monasteries, such as
those at Mt. Jiugong or the Lu Mountains. Perhaps these were Zhengyi monasteries
that were also, in some sense, Southern Lineage monasteries.
In high style and wellchosen phrases, Chen and whoever participated in the
194

DZ 1070, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao xianpai 5a5.

195

Goossaert notes that the practice of celebrating L Dongbin


s birthday at the Quanzhen center Yongle Gong
  in Shaanxi was inaugurated by the monastery
s director, Pan Dechong  11911256; Goossaert, La
cration du taosme moderne, 34954.

196

Goossaert, La cration du taosme moderne, 353, says that DZ 1069 is one of only two surviving pieces of
Quanzhen liturgy from the Yuan dynasty. I would not call DZ 1069 Quanzhen.

99

ritual with him, or used it thereafter supplicates the inneralchemical tutelary gods
Zhongli Quan and L Dongbin for their aid in completing the elixir. As I argue
throughout this dissertation, the elixir is produced by fusing male and female
pharmaca, the male adepts seminal essence, and the female partners sexual qi.
Asking for aid, the ociant says:
I look up in expectation that you, in compassionate mercy will look down with
pity on my petty lowliness, and give me relief with your expedient means,
helping me to enter the chamber without demonic hallucinations .197
When Chen intones words like these, he is asking for Zhongli or L to descend and
support him during the moment of gathering the partners pharmacon, during sex.
The vital thing is to make marvelous use of a splitsecond. The hardest thing is to
be truly tranquil and respond to things. How much the more dicult is the
great danger of what is referred to by the phrase supreme treasure of the rst
passing
shoujing zhibao  , and the deep fear from when the virile tiger
reduces its passion!198
I hope that there will be hidden scrutinizing of this mortal body, and it will soon
receive substances and pharmaca. I will gather the the initial crossing of the
ultimate treasure.
Looking up, I beg . . . that you make it such that I enter the chamber and achieve
success, without deviating from the great ring periods; that my fetus will
soon be born and transform into a spirit, and be promoted on high to be among
the ranks of the transcendents.
When Chen says this, he is praying for the pharmacon that is coincident with the
menarche of a pubescent partner. In my reading, this rened ritual has become very
strange indeed.
The proof for my argument that Chen is a sexual alchemist must
wait until later chapters, especially chapter 5, 1. In the nal passage, Chen also
prays that his internal ring and yangspirit training will be successful. Internal ring
is stage 3 of the alchemical path, or forming the elixir
jiedan  , and yangspirit
training is stage 4, or transformation into a spirit
shenhua  .
This ritual functions through performative speech. On pages 29 30 above, I
argue that Chen Zhixus texts are full of illocutionary acts: when he tells his disciples
197

These translations all come from chapter appendix 3, so I do not cite line numbers or include Chinese
characters here.
198

Supreme treasure of the rst passing is the female partners pharmacon at menarche. See pp. 455 57
chap. 5,
3.1.2.3 . The erce tiger is usually the female sex organ, in its threatening aspect as a robber of the male adepts
seminal lifeessence; see pp. 389 90 below.

100

that the gods have blessed them, or that they have achieved enlightenment, he
performs this as truth through illocutionary speech acts. Examples of this abound
in the ritual:
Now, the candles one point of numinous radiance has not been lacking in the
past or today. Throughout the whole world, it pervades places both visible and
inaccessible. The ignorant believe that it is the ame that is transmitted. Those
who are in the know say: the wisdom of the inherent nature causes the dark
chamber of ignorant consciousness to sprout a heart
mind and know awe, and
to return the radiance.
We trust that there is a path to Heaven, and we can approach it; that we can
transcend the mundane and enter into the holy.
Chen is performing the wisdom of the ritual participants, performing their status
as members of the spiritual elect. In the second passage, he establishes salvation as a
possibility merely by speaking of it. In another passage, Chen performs a meeting
with L Dongbin:
You wish to succor the world, and the people do not recognize you; I wish to
seek you, but my fortunes have not yet succeeded. I dare to recall that I do not
understand the principles of xuan and pin; I have been fortunate to have had the
chance to receive a sworn transmission from you, perfected teacher.
You have enlivened this declining body, and made me familiar with the re

timing. Although I have naught with which to repay you, I rely on your
fondness for life i.e., for helping people live longer.
The themes that it is dicult to recognize L Dongbin in disguise as he wanders
through the mortal world, and that only those worthy of receiving his teachings will
be able to recognize him, occur often in L Dongbin hagiographies.199 Because it is
so hard to meet Patriarch L in real life, Chen and his fellows perform this
meeting. They even manage to cadge a transmission from L, obsequiously
arrogating the status of pure
hearted disciples worthy of Ls condescension. All of
these performative statements are what I have termed salvic eects: subtle, semi

conscious, and secondary to the primary salvation of the alchemical path.


Performative speech is often constitutive of ritual. In a study of performative
utterances in African healing ritual, Benjamin Ray describes how illocutionary speech
199

According to Katz, in DZ 305, Chunyang dijun shenhua miaotong ji, compiled by Miao Shanshi  . 1288
1324 , 43 percent of the stories involve the theme of recognition of the transcendent by mortals; Paul Katz, Images
of the Immortal, 173.

101

works:
In telling the spirits to leave o a icting people, the priests emphasize that the
command to do so is su cient to separate and release them from the ailing
persons. . . . From the Dinka point of view, the e cacy of the priests command
lies in his institutional authority over the spirits, together with the added
authority of the divinity Flesh and the spirits of his ancestors.200
Chens speech act works the same way, though his authority may be less secure, based
on his continuing e orts to manage his mastership, and backed up by the master
e ect. Chen cannot command Zhongli Quan and L Dongbin to descend and aid the
ritual participants, so his performative speech is more uncertain than in the African
case, but the way it works is quite similar.
7.5, Conclusion on the Issue of Chens Quanzhen Aliation
Chen Zhixu was not a Quanzhen Daoist. He probably did not know many Quanzhen
Daoists personally, and probably did not even read many Quanzhen texts. His
interest in Quanzhen may have been stimulated by other SouthernLineage Daoists
rather than directly from a Quanzhen source. Rather than being a Quanzhen Daoist
himself, he merely used the Quanzhen marque as a freshsounding, prestigious, and
in Yuan China
socially dominant source of authority. My conclusions thus diverge
somewhat from the standard line within Daoist historiography that Chen Zhixu
represents the lateYuandynasty historical trend toward the fusion of the Northern
and Southern lineages. While I agree that there was such as trend, and that he
represents it, his own fusion was of the shallowest sort.
Rather than a master of cultural fusion, Chen was more like a karate
instructor in an American suburb who decides to hang out his shingle as an authentic
teacher of kungfu or, these days, Brazilian JiuJutsu
. He is like a Beijing fastfood
franchiser selling Californiastyle Chinese noodles. Such folk can achieve
commercial success with their mislabeled products because their clientele knows
only enough about the foreign marque to respond to its appeal, and not enough to
question its zhengzong  authenticity. Chen Zhixu represents only the barest
200

Ray, Performative Utterances in African Rituals, 26. Ray is able to make a strong case for a performative
reading of Dinka ritual, due in part to articulate native concepts that correlate well with the theory of speech
acts. I have not found analogous concepts in Chens writing, so my use of speechact theory is tentative for now.

102

trickle of Quanzhen Daoism into Yuandynasty Jiangxi.

8, Chens Students, Disciples, and Acquaintances


Chens students include ordained Daoist monks or priests,201 and laymen. Among the
Daoist monks, he instructed both powerful abbots and common members of the
assembly. Among the laymen, he taught powerful o cials, lesser o cials, and
una liated seekers. Many of them were also Confucian, and some were Buddhist.
One is a Mongol, one a Hmong, and the rest are presumably Han. All are men. The
ages of the students are distributed more or less evenly across a range between
twentytwo and seventytwo years old. Each of these students received a new Daoist
stylename daohao  from Chen Zhixu, in the form Xyangzi , by which
Chen acknowledged him as his disciple. Some of these disciples had powerful
conversion experiences under Chens guidance e.g., Ming Suchan, Deng Yanghao,
while others may have accepted the stylename only as a courtesy and kept their
distance from Chen e.g., Zhao Renqing, or just regarded Chen as a conversation
partner or drinkingbuddy e.g., Yu Shunshen. I provide a full list of Chens disciples
and acquaintances in chapter appendix 2.
The main source of information on Chens contacts is his transmission
epistles. Eight of these are included in juan 1011 of the Zhengtong daozang edition of
Jindan dayao, but fteen more are included in the Jindan zhengli daquan edition
fourteen in the Daozang jiyao edition. In dissertation appendix 2, I defend the
authenticity of these texts missing from DZ 1067. Chen wrote each epistle to a
disciple except in the case of Luo Xizhu, who is not a disciple, to recount their
meeting, and to serve as a formal record of Chens transmission of lineage to the
disciple. They were not just certicates for the recipient to store away, but essays
201

The professional Daoists we meet in Chens epistles were neither Quanzhen monks nor married Celestial
Master priests huoju daoshi  . They were probably under the jurisdiction of the Celestial Masters but
perhaps leading lifestyles more like Quanzhen monks, having left the householders life chujia . I call them
monks, but one might also call them priests. The Mt. Jiugong gazetteer, written centuries later, tells us little
about their daily activities.

103

polished for posterity, to be savored by a future readership, and reinforce Chens


reputation as a true master forever. Other sources of information on Chens contacts
are the prefaces to texts by Chen and Zhao Youqin, some other materials preserved
in Jindan dayao, and the Mt. Jiugong gazetteer.
In this section, I will discuss a handful of Chens disciples under three
headings: masterdisciple relationships, patronage, and literati association. I
relate masterdisciple relationships and patronage to the overarching themes in
this dissertation, managing mastership, spreading the teachings of sexual alchemy,
and achieving salvation. In chapter 3, I discuss Chens threeway feedback loop of
propagation, authority, and salvation. Here is my denition of this concept:
Chens teachings are the tools he uses in his struggle to achieve three interrelated
goals: 1 achieving recognition and authority as a master, or managing his
mastership ; 2 spreading his teachings in the religious eld; and 3 attaining
personal salvation.
These three goals are complementary. Why does he seek authority?
Proximately, for the sake of advantages in this world; ultimately, for the sake of
his own salvation. The authority he gains will help him attract a support network
and audience base of patrons, disciples, or readers. This support network in turn
will help him nance his personal quest for salvation.
In addition to this, his teaching activities within his network, and his
successes in spreading his teachings to new audiences, will generate karmic merit
for him, which will further contribute to his salvation.
The relationships that Chen forged with disciples and patrons allowed him to
develop his authority as a master, and spread his teachings. He could spread his true
dao to one person at a time as we see in most of his transmission epistles; or he
could attract the patronage of wealthy laymen Zhang Shihong and Wang Shunmin
or powerful abbots Che Kezhao and Pan Taichu, who could subsidize the
publication of his writings, and thereby allow him to reach a much wider audience.
Spreading the teachings is a duty to the gods, and would bring karmic merit, or count
as good deeds in the celestial register, ultimately helping Chen achieve salvation.
Establishing authority and spreading his teachings would also help Chen attract
patrons who could nancially support his sexual alchemical practice.
The third heading, literati association, does not contribute as much to the
threeway feedback loop, and I will discuss it only briey.
104

8.1, MasterDisciple Relationships


8.1.1, Ming Suchan, at Mt. Jiugong.

Mt. Jiugong was an important place in Chen

Zhixus career because of the support and acclaim he received from the Daoist
monks there. Although Daoists had dwelt on the mountain from early times, the
great Daoist center at Mt. Jiugong, Qintian Ruiqing Gong , was founded
in 1184 by the Zhengyi Daoist Zhang Daoqing  11311207 .202 Zhang also
founded the Zhengyi ordination sublineage Yuzhi Pai 
, which was centered
there. Zhang and his disciples were summoned to the Song court to heal emperors
and their family members several times, and received imperial largesse. Ruiqing Gong
was one of the ve great Daoist centers of the Song Dynasty.203 Zhangs mummied
body was preserved in a seated position in a cave near Ruiqing Gong and worshiped
there for over six centuries as the focus of a major local cult.204 In 1855, a warlords
army stormed the mountain and tried to burn the body along with the temple
buildings; the body resisted the re, but the bandits did cut it into six pieces, so the
priests buried the body for safekeeping.205
Ming Suchan ,206 styled Zongyangzi , was a monk from Ruiqing
Gong, and perhaps Chens closest disciple. Ming contributes one of the prefaces to
Jindan dayao, so we can read the accounts of their relationship in both Mings preface
and Chens epistle. Ming met Chen Zhixu for the rst time in 1335, and they hit it o

immediately:
In the fth month of the summer of 1335, in the SquareJug Heaven, I chanced to
meet my master, the Perfected Man of Highest Yang of the Crimson Palace of the
Purple Empyrean. I opened my breast and tipped my canopy when we met for
the rst time, joyous as if we had known each other our whole lives. I steeped tea
202

Byname Deyi, stylename Sanfeng, from Yingpu , Zao Li  presentday Jingshan  County, Hubei
Province . While still alive, Zhang was honored by Song Ningzong r. 11941224 with the title Taiping Huguo
Zhenmu Zhenren   . In his deied or ancestral form he was known as Zhenmu Jun  .
203

Liu Sichuan, Jiugong Shan yu daojiao Yuzhi Pai ; Fu Xieding, Jiugong Shan zhi, passim.

204

Fu Xieding, Jiugong Shan zhi, 4.12a 7:89 .

205

Fu Xieding, Jiugong Shan zhi, 3.11b 7:72 .

206

Byname Tiancong !, original name Chen Zongming  ? . Zongyangzi is identied as Chen
Zongming, and given a biographical entry in Fu Xieding, Jiugong Shan zhi, 4.4a 7:91 . This biography seems to be a
conation of Zongyangzi with one of Zhang Daoqings disciples, so Chen Zongming is probably not his name.

105

and burned incense, and together we discussed alchemy. When the crucial point
was slightly revealed, we became naturally drawn together.
Anh'DZs[B]G0V d{_l}
~JW@qgup`|L4?(207



Living on Mt. Jiugong, Ming had seen dozens of alchemical teachers come to o er
their teachings to the monks:
Generally, regarding those who came from the four directions, although they
followed sidepaths and narrow ways, in all cases he listened to their discourses
to the end with an open mind and manifest sincerity. In all there were several
dozen of these men; they believed that they had completely attained the way of
the golden elixir.
-3zEy
UT \*ek.m#: 8:ro
$=RM5g 208
Ming had accepted some teachings from these teacherswho were charlatans to
Chen but whom we ought merely to call rivals
so Chen had to disabuse Ming of
his false learning:
I inquired unhurriedly about the teachings he had received, which included
transporting spirit and qi within the body. This seems to be true, but is not. The
teachings also included tempering the lead and mercury in the dantian, which
seems to be the same as the true teachings but is not. At their most extreme, if
these teachings werent about gathering and battling, then they were about
roasting the yellow gold and boiling the white silver ; if they werent about
sitting dazedly, then they were about concentrating the thoughts on empty
words.209 Now he had slacked o , believing that the dao of the golden elixir was
like this and nothing more. He was wellsuited to alchemical scriptures,210 and his
chanting of them aloud was like owing water. Furthermore, his crooked
interpretations were successful though from a sideangle, their words almost
reasonable. When he surveyed those of his own generation below him, it was as if
no one could match him; others had the hope of encircling him, but they could
not check his arguments .
jNCK./Mm9"bf, HF3X%;#6"Qc
i)3%#S>#6Ot9v^Y6 &91a2+I!
207

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao, preface, 1a10b2. The Square Jug Heaven is a building at Mt. Jiugong: the
Pavilion of the Jug Heaven Hutian zhi Ting V7
; Fu Xieding, Jiugong Shan zhi, 9.13a9 7:235
. The idiom
qinai _l goes back to Han literature, and refers to two friends meeting each other on the road, then drawing
their carriages close together so they may converse. Qinai also came to refer to a rst meeting; Hanyu da cidian,
s.v. qinai _l. The idiom zhenji xiangtou L4?( refers to the supposed
phenomena of pins being attracted
by magnets, and mustard grains by amber; Hanyu da cidian, s.v. zhenji xiangtou L4?(.
208

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 12.1b35.

209

It appears that Chen Zhixu is here referring to the principle forms of selfcultivation associated with the
Caodong P< and Linji xw Chan lineages, respectively. Both lineages were active in this period.

210

Alternative translation: As for alchemical scriptures, talismans and tallies, . . .

106

T"x9 k^! &+4 jW;Hr@6FZ


8UCduFAaQ | _!
l211
After convincing himself of Ming Suchans intelligence and worthiness, Chen agrees
to transmit his teachings to Ming at Luo Xizhus Jiaotai Hermitage JR:
Because at the time I was busy in coming and going, I could not fully investigate
his qualities. Afterward, I waited and looked into the distance for the purple qi,212
and chased the yellow crane, arriving at the Jiaotai osite hall. I kowtowed and
made my request, repeatedly and sincerely. Then we smeared213 cinnabar on a
written document and made vows to Heaven, spread out bluegreen silk214 and
swore upon the Earth. With multitides of perfected beings supervising the
ordination, Shangyangzi bestowed his secrets in toto.
G]X'O>!}DcIPyf#J$zB
t{`b= h3:sVKo<nS1L215
Ming goes on to describe his enlightenment experience, which has much in common
with Chens description of his own enlightenment under the guidance of Zhao
Youqin:
Ming Suchan was startled when he rst heard Shangyangzis teachings, and was
dubious when he heard them again, . . .
Suddenly, while standing on a wall tenthousand fathoms high, he straightaway
accepted this teaching, and was rst enlightened to the facts that inherent
nature and life endowment are none other than a couple of yins and yangs, and
that the body and mind possess so much spirit and qi.
5N~.q!q!m/bwi72g.E0-%?*
p[e)v YMI216
Ming learned that the cultivation of inherent nature and life endowment must
involve the interaction of a man and woman. As a Daoist monk, this was shocking to
Ming, but after several days of soulsearching, he nally came to accept this as truth.
This whole episode is reminiscent of sudden enlightenment in a Songdynasty Chan
narrative, and is even set in language drawn from Chan Buddhist texts, such as
plunging from a high wall, or drinking up the West River in one mouthful.
211

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 12.1b62a2.

212

This refers to Yin Xis \ encounter with Laozi at the Hangu ,( Pass.

213

Sha refers to the ancient practice of drinking the blood of a sacricial victim to seal an agreement. In
Daoism, blood sacrice is replaced with writing or other practices.
214

Daoist ordination rites may involve oering silk and other goods to the spirits as a pledge. Cf. Benn, The
CavernMystery Transmission.

215

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao, preface, 1b26.

216

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 12.4a68.

107

Chens describes Ming Suchan as being a talented young writer of some


renown while living the life of a Daoist monk:
When I climbed Mt. Jiugong, there was a man named Ming Suchan. From the
age of capping twenty years old when he abandoned his family and went forth
from the householders life, he was bright and fond of learning. At the age when
he was established thirty years old , he towered above the rest. Selecting widely
and reading mightily, he modestly made visits to the vast records, discussing the
present and investigating the past, and producing literary writings. Galloping
madly across the scene, his writings pleased peoples sensibilities, though he was
not free from the fault of becoming full and overowing, or raising a whirlwind
with his burning, so good and understanding friends were few.
c[
G*<Lq?-H@SlFR,'j)X,%5d
aWQ^rnUJOh+!.DV8:kCI _/
E,`Y vA;3<>?217
Ming adopted his odd name in homage to Bai Yuchan.
I asked him: Does Ming Suchan mean something? He replied: I, Cong, often
admired Bai Yuchan, so with my surname I thanked Heaven and Earth, with my
name I thanked my family, and with my byname I thanked my friends.
Ming bright is Bai white ; Su undyed is like Yu jade; su and yu both
connote purity ; and chan toad
is chan toad
; therefore I am called Ming
Suchan.
P<Lq?4*mu 2f$"q? B#9
opb&ol(o<0$ LZ" Bm<Lq218
Bai Yuchan could have been a hero to any inner alchemist, but he was also a local
gure, having been active in Jiangxi and even visiting Mt. Jiugong in 1218.219 Chen
points to Bai Yuchan as an object lesson for Ming, telling Ming that he, like Bai
Yuchan, should ignore the mockery of others who would deride Ming for being a
sexual alchemist
:
O, that Old Man Bai Ziqing was able to su er the mockery and scorn of all the
people of his times, and accept it all with dull silence and nondi erentiation!220 .
. . If you are able to use clarity and elegance to transform your heart, and use
modesty and selfe acement to expel your pride and disregard, then you will
certainly be able to repay others mockery and scorn with dull silence.
i\TMN6e Kg,=71sNT],t;
217

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 12.1a9b3.

218

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 12.4b36.

219

Liu Sichuan, Jiugong Shan yu daojiao Yuzhi Pai.

220

The term oneavor yiwei 7


is used in classical Buddhist as well as Chan Buddhist texts to refer to a
highlyrened state of mind which does not discriminate or thematize separate objects or concepts.

108

<W\'E,=")
;Q&221
I believe that in the account of Mings encounter with Chen, we see Chen convincing
a monk chujia ren 9, presumably celibate of the truth of sexual alchemy. Chen
initiated Ming at Jiaotai Hermitage, and perhaps Ming was able to practice sexual
alchemy at Jiaotai; I suggest below that Jiaotai Hermitage was a secret site for sexual
alchemy. Also note that Chen was one of dozens of peripatetic teachers who climbed
Mt. Jiugong over the years to o er their teachings to the monks. Because Chen
secured the temples nancial backing for publishing his books, he must have been
more successful than most of his rivals from the marginal traditions pangmen B1.
I will argue in chapter 5 that Chens practices may not have been so much di erent
than those of his rivals, but I would not say the same about his writing. I do not
think that Chens oeuvre was also just one among dozens of others that have since
slipped through the cracks and been lost. Chens oeuvre is of rare quality.
8.1.2, Deng Yanghao, in Hongzhou.

Chen Zhixu also spent a good deal of time

in Hongzhou or Yuzhang, modernday Nanchang, in Jiangxi. In chapter appendix 2,


I list three or four disciples that Chen met there: Zhao Boyong, Zhao Renqing, Deng
Yanghao RS:, and possibly Zhou Yunzhong. Three of these four men were
disciples in name only: Chen may have conferred Daoist stylenames on them, but
they seem not to have been ardent followers like Deng Yanghao. Deng Yanghao was
not a Daoist monk like Ming Suchan, but a layman and a spiritual seeker. Chen
describes Dengs character:
Nanyangzi is a scion of the Deng clan of Old Hong Hongzhou. His byname is
Yanghao. His father named him Ximeng #*, but at one point he changed his
avoidancename to Yi U. From birth his superiority stood out, and he cared little
about the details of his conduct.
Because he lacked the dao of correctness in heart and sincerity in intent, he
ended up taking a tumble, behaving outrageously and searching wildly. Although
the aspirations in his heart were lofty and not shallow, among the benighted
persons of the marketplace there was not a single one who was suitable. It is
impossible to avoid making comparisons between self and others, or to avoid you
and me mocking one another. Why? Because you
never heard the dao.
2D05R S:( #*M/T UL
-V@> HF
JK7[Z %X< .8GG
?]^
CA!+IN$6Y3POJ4
221

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 12.5a67, 5a9b2.

109

222
Chen addresses Deng directly, discussing his character and biography quite frankly:
Deng is a talented man, but he initially lacked direction. His career or projects were
blocked by petty men chan an zhi ren  .
I came traveling through Yuzhang in order to nd people of correct heart and
sincere intent, so I could tell them about the dao of cultivating ones person
xiushen N6 and long life.
But as soon as I would express a single idea,
I
would arouse a riot of slander and acrimony. Yanghao would come and go,
hearing what he heard, seeing what he saw.
I knew that
he was a person who
was always coming to chime in about this dao, so Yanghao would certainly exhaust
his knowledge yun , and then cease.223 Sure enough, the next day, he came
again and spent the whole day inspecting these teachings
of mine ,
but I was
not able to get him to enter the gate
i.e., completely accept my teachings . In the
space of more than a month, he came and went three times, both doubt and trust

mingled in his heart . When he asked me for some


teachings , I unhurriedly
answered him with a few words. Because of this, he told me all of the teachings
he had received from his teachers.
He had once experienced enlightenment after hearing the teachings of the
monk Youtan , and nally he denitely did receive a transmission from old
man Huayang o.224 Now all had become clear
to Deng Yanghao . Whenever
he entered a calm and settled state, he had the sensation of something like qi or
cloud within the doublepass of his Spinal Straits, rising steadily upward and
reaching the Muddy Pellet.
The sensation would be similar to the state hou M

called three owers gathering in the crown, and the ve qi paying court to the
prime sanhua juding, wuqi chaoyuan
DeSk .225 After
Deng
Yanghaos claims , everyone who came from every direction to discuss this all
expressed their wildfox imp views.
y7uc`3%tr N6nv;W
l,TC&<,74<4,!8#Rjv,.C
T$}<,I >?i7d0j)[8F,K

:|GLw*ay\O^ ']m8V<_P5
Cz=x5 *QfI=oXB*<qZl29
H1Y(S(p, .@ E/
DeSkM
-{gI"7+CJbA~4s226
Yanghao was sure that he was correct, was quite full of himself, and even went so
far as to style himself Peng the Perfected. 227 He was wild in his study, and made
deep errors like this. I heard a lot of his errors, but did not dare to assent to the
222

Jindan dayao, Jindan zhengli daquan ed., 6.41b742a1 missing from DZ 1067 .

223

I.e., after a while Deng would run out of impudent comments, and begin to listen to Chen.

224

I have yet to identify this Daoist teacher.

225

For wuqi chaoyuan, see pp. 33839; for sanhua juding, see pp. 34142. Deng is claiming a high state of attainment.

226

Jindan dayao, Jindan zhengli daquan ed., 6.42a110 missing from DZ 1067 .

227

This is likely a reference to the famous preQin transcendent Pengzu hU.

110

errors. I was deeply aware that he was wrong, but did not dare to straighten out
his wrongheadedness. How could it be said that I was slow of speech or
chickenhearted and did not dare? We may say that if you wish to draw someone
in, you must gradually soak
zi him in order to melt
shi him.
The next day he came back with his cloud companion Zhang Shouqian228 ^
9 to invite me over to his house, where he laid out his clauses
liekuan n ,
begging me over and over for the teachings of my Qingcheng master . I again
inquired about what he had learned previously from his teachers, and based on
this, quizzed him on point after point. Yanghao revealed all without privileging
anything,229 so I was well able to show him that suchandsuch were marginal
teachings , soandso were blind teachers, suchandsuch were perverse trails,
suchandsuch were merely qicirculation, suchandsuch were gathering and
battling
caizhan , and suchandsuch were vacuous stillness. Among all of these,
he had only taken one of Huayangs teachings as a given, and in the end missed
the single principle threading through them all, and furthermore nally had no
place to settle upon.
Now, when he sought my instruction, he was full of this willingness. I praised
him, saying: Your lofty aspirations like this will lead to your soon receiving the
teachings of the old transcendent from Qingcheng. But then, why would the
teachings only be openly exposed230 between Jintang and Zhongling?231 You must
overleap the eight limits of space, and gallop after the tracks of Zhong li Quan
and L Dongbin !
7T)L)O*)NlV N0#&~"7
(mL7cA7G(m@7GX~gm b
S6] e4v>^9*; P n
/.FJ%~|7H<_=QPC!{TGU
<W7MCNkEMCN?QMCN3RMCN}MCNa
MCNB\7t`uNyp8_hdjoqz
f/K2&~-[:#&5T$_FJ
'%IX+YDxit]sr
Z,(1232
Chen says that he came to the Nanchang region
near his home in the Lu Mountains
seeking worthy disciples to receive his teachings. As he says elsewhere, Chen came
looking for disciples after writing an initial version of the Jindan dayao.233 He says that
when he rst began to teach, he suered signicant ridicule. It seems that Chens
228

I have yet to nd any other information on this gure.

229

For the meaning of the word feite GU, dictionaries give only bujin w
not only , but I read feite as
meaning not regarding anything as privileged, not regarding anything as particular.

230

The specic meaning of xuanbao Y is unclear. Xuan can open and spacious. 
bao, to explode could
conceivably be a loan for 
bao, to expose .
231

By Jintang Dx Chen may mean a city about twenty miles southeast of Changsha, Hunan Province.
Zhongling i was part of presentday Nanchang County, Jiangxi Province.
232

Jindan dayao, Jindan zhengli daquan ed., 6.42a10 43a4


missing from DZ 1067 .

233

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 11.6a5 6.

111

audience recognized that his teachings are sexual, and heckled him for it. Deng was
among this largely hostile audience. Over time he was drawn to Chen, yet Deng
remained boastful of his own prowess. Chen hooked Deng with carefully chosen
words, and reeled him in slowly. Then Chen disabused Deng of his illusions, showing
him that all the things he had learned were only minor techniques, not a great dao of
the same caliber that Chen o ered. Chen accuses Deng of practicing coarse sexual
practices, which is probably what Chens hecklers were saying about Chen.
When Deng describes his sensation, he is not describing a heterodox or
merely trivial practice: other inner alchemical authorities describe the sensations of
orbital circulation in the same way. Chen probably rejected Dengs alchemical
experiences because he was doing mostly solo cultivation, and some coarse sexual
cultivation, but not the true practices of the golden elixir.
One of Deng Yanghaos erstwhile teachers is Youtan, i.e., Pudu  1255
1330, a.k.a. Youtan Zongzhu
, a Buddhist monk who established a White
Lotus cloister in the Lu Mountains, and wrote defenses of the White Lotus Buddhist
movement.234 We may imagine Deng Yanghao as drifting between rival teachersthe
Buddhist preacher Pudu, the alchemist Huayang about whom I know nothing
more, and then Chen Zhixuwith each teacher extolling his own tradition, and
excoriating his rivals. Chen Zhixu criticizes his rivals, but not Pudu per se. However,
Pudu would have criticized Chen Zhixu, had he known of him. Pudu did know of
Daoist or quasiDaoist sexualcultivation networks in Chens exact place and time,
though he would not have known of Chen, since Pudus deathdate 1330 and the
date of Chens enlightenment 1329 overlap by only one year. Barend ter Haar
discusses several of Pudus attacks on his rivals; these attacks
seem to deal with sexual techniques and can be connected with each another.
One attack is as follows:
Nowadays there is a bunch of stupid people who habitually practise a
divergent religion yijiao  and assume the name of Pupils of the Lotus
Tradition lianzong dizi . They falsely point to dual cultivation and
engage in dirty acts.
Dual cultivation can be short for The dual cultivation of the inner nature and
234

Foguang da cidian, s.v. Pudu , 49901; and ter Haar, The White Lotus Teachings in Chinese Religious History,
passim.

112

life xingming shuangxiu  , i.e. inner and outer alchemy sic
, which can
apply to the Complete Perfection Teachings. In Yuan Daoism it could also refer
to sexual disciplines, short for the dual cultivation of Yin and Yang. Pudu uses
the second interpretation here, and below I shall suggest an explanation for his
doing so.
Elsewhere, he again attacks sexual techniques being practised by people who
used the name of the Lotus Tradition. According to one such attack, these people
distorted the Lotus Tradition with Daoist methods of cultivation daomen
xiuyangfa  . . . .
Pudus criticism on the practice of sexual techniques by Pupils of the Lotus
Tradition, therefore, served two purposes: he defended his own tradition against
potential suspicion and at the same time raised doubts about a competing and
supercially similar tradition.235
Here we see Chen Zhixu, or his ilk, criticized from a Buddhist point of view. Pudu is
attacking Daoist sexual cultivation in exactly the same way, and for exactly the same
reasons, that Chen Zhixu attacks the marginal traditions and minor daos pangmen
xiaodao
  of his own nameless rivals. In his book, ter Haar argues
convincingly that most of the attacks on popular religious movements in late
imperial China by secular o cials, or Buddhists like Pudu involved stereotyping these
movements. Thus, a common criticism of these movements was that they
encouraged the sexes to mingle together in nocturnal assemblies, or even engage in
unregulated sexual activity. Some of Pudus attacks on rival movements may use
stereotypes, but there certainly were Daoist sexual cultivators practicing and
teaching in his place and time, so there is a grain of truth to his attacks.
Chen does not attack Pudu, because he is a respected Buddhist leader, and
Chen respected Buddhism as much as he did Daoism. Note that, in his speech to
Deng Yanghao, he does not thematize Dengs erstwhile teachers as Buddhist or
Daoist : they are all just masters. Chen and Deng would agree that the learning
and experience that Deng gained from the Buddhist Pudu complemented what he
gained from Huayang who was probably what we would call a Daoist.
Next, Chen describes his conversion of Deng, and transmission to him:
I understood Yanghaos sincere intent and knew about his human relations and

235

Ter Haar, The White Lotus Teachings in Chinese Religious History, 1067, citing Lushan lianzong baojuan  
 10:49b.

113

entanglements.236 I probed his shortcomings, and blunted his wildness. I


corrected his doubts, and saved him when he strayed. I caused him to repent
his past deeds, and straightened out his errors. Then I made him swear a compact
with the revered teachers, and we made vows to one another. Yanghao was
pierced through with sincere feelings, and unwittingly began to weep streams of
tears, experiencing a great enlightenment while weeping pitifully. I then bestowed
him with the secret contents of the Qingcheng teachings , saying: . . .
07!. /645*  2$
9(3-&)8+7!/1;,
(%'#
": 237
Chen straightens Deng out, and Deng experiences a tearful moral conversion and
enlightenment. Chen has successfully enacted his mastership, and convinced Deng to
accept his dao. Then Chen presents Deng with the secret teachings, and with it a
long lecture, lasting until the end of the essay. I believe that this lecture is not
reportage of Chens speech to Deng, but a piece of writing composed for this essay.
The essay may have been presented to Deng at the time of the transmission of the
secret teachings, or soon thereafter. I discuss the content of this homily on pages
43140 below.
What were the secret teachings? Chen is always managing the boundary
between revealing his teachings and retaining some things as too secret to put in
writing.238 While many secrets can be deciphered from Chens texts
as I show in
chapter 5 , he would have reserved his ultimate secrets for oral transmission only.
Whatever it is that Chen passes to Deng is something which can be summed up
briey, and is not transmitted over a period of months through a regimen of training.
Like in Chan Buddhism, it is the transmission of an essence, rather than careful,
handson instruction. However, it is probably not as nonrepresentational or
mystical as the mindtomind transmission of Chan Buddhism.239 Chens
236
Human relationships and entanglements
yuan shu 64 . In Quanzhen texts of this period, students are
enjoined to sever their yuan, i.e., to sever family ties. I read shu as meaning shouren 4, or acquaintences.
237

Jindan dayao, Jindan zhengli daquan ed., 6.43a48


missing from DZ 1067 .

238

Urban describes this esoteric strategy as the advertisement of the secret the claim to possess very precious,
rare, and valuable knowledge, while simultaneously partially revealing and largely concealing it ; Urban, The
Torment of Secrecy, 235; also see pp. 2526 above.
239

Thus alchemical transmission diers from Chan tranmission as we see it in McRaes description: As is
frequently stressed in the texts of Chan, there is no thing such as enlightenment, the Buddhamind, or
whatever that is actually passed from one patriarch to the next ; McRae, Seeing through Zen, 6. Of course, Chan
lineages also often transmitted objects of a more public nature, such as robes, bowls, certicates, or kirikami <

114

transmissions to his various disciples would have varying depths of content; most
were related to sexual alchemy, but some might involve solo alchemical teachings,
Buddhist k ans, or NeoConfucian moral cultivation.
Here are some things we may learn about Chen Zhixu and his religiosocial
environment from this transmission epistle to Deng Yanghao: 1
Some of Chens
disciples are spiritual seekers, consumers of both Daoist and Buddhist teachings
within a spiritual marketplace. 2
Chen rejects practices that are close to his own.
We may say that he is trying to sail a narrow strait between the Scylla of false sexual
cultivation caizhan 
and the Charybdis of false meditation zuochan 

. In
chapter 5, I show that Chens own practice actually outwardly resembles both caizhan
and zuochan: we could even say it is call it about 70 percent zuochan.240 3
Conversion
and enlightenment are a central feature of Chens masterdisciple relations. 4
Chen
justies all of his teachings through allusion to scriptures and sages, the esoteric
strategy of stealing the lightning. 5
The key to Chens authority is the esoteric
assumption that the truth is known only to a master.
8.2, MasterPatron Relationships
8.2.1, Tian Zhizhai.

Chens rst patron was Tian Zhizhai, the younger brother of the

pacication commissioner of Siguo, Guizhou. I have already discussed him on pages


6770 above, suggesting that he could have provided Chen with alchemical
requisites, i.e., shelter and female partners.
8.2.2, Chens Three Networks.

Looking at the prefaces to the books by Chen

and his master Zhao Youqin, we nd several prefaces written by Chens disciples.241
These prefaces tell us about how these books came to be published. Jindan dayao has
prefaces by Ming Suchan of Mt. Jiugong, and Ouyang Tianshu  of Taiping
Xingguo Gong in the Lu Mountains. Ouyang Tianshus preface dated 1336
reveals
that the publication of Jindan dayao was arranged by Chens lay disciple Wang
 esoteric texts
, to accompany the formless mind transmission xinchuan 
.
240

See p. 444 below.

241

Chen also writes his own prefaces to each of his texts, plus one to Xianfo tongyuan. His preface to Jindan dayao
has been displaced to become a section of juan 1. Also, there is a preface by Zhao Youqin for Xianfo tongyuan.

115

Shunmin < zi Bingtian  , and by Pan Taichu M


$, the abbot of Xingguo
Gong:
The teatransport o cial242 Sir Wang Bingtian hides his transcendent potential in
a clerical career, and has long felt a profound attachment to alchemy. Having met
a friend and condant, he wanted to spread his transmission.

Pan Taichu, the mountain chairman, is superintendent of the Daoist


monastery. With its high roofs and quiet eaves, its deep pools that reward slow
enjoyment, here was the redoubled mystery rst expounded. When the exquisite
printing
of Jindan dayao reached its gates, the phoenix ed and the dragon
coiled, the cicada exuviated and the tip pierced through. We lay out all the
prefaces, hoping to receive some fame. I, my humble self, have entrusted my steps
to the purple prime, and my mind remains set on the mystic gaze. My seed karma
already ripe, I have been able to hear some leftover traces.
0G V6&#*F'L ? ,
$
9WE">:R56/!)+2X4A- %(K=SZY
B\8J@U113C;. [HONT7I
P243
It appears that Wang Shunmin nanced an initial printing of Jindan dayao; this would
have been in 1335 or early 1336. Then Pan Taichu contributed to a subsequent printing
in 1336, with Ouyangs and Ming Suchans prefaces.244
Does Ming Suchans preface to Jindan dayao indicate that his own temple,
Ruiqing Gong, also contributed to the printing of the book? Not necessarily; yet Che
Kezhao of Ruiqing Gong probably did contribute to a related publishing e ort, Wang
Shunmins printing of Xianfo tongyuan in 1337:
My preceptor Shangyangzi gave me the oral instructions in a facetoface
transmission, and thereupon composed Jindan dayao among other books in
order to enlighten and guide people of these times. Chuyangzi
Wang Shunmin is
one of his senior disciples. He was able to plumb the depths
even with his
beginners mind. He only feared that others would be unable to achieve
transcendenthood, so he engraved and printed
this book, Xianfo tongyuan in
order to spread
the teachings widely.
In the past Mou Pufu from our mountain
Mt. Jiugong was deeply
committed to doing this, but met with great changes in the passing of time, and
his strength did not equal his intention. There was
a book called Yigui jince
242

Mingcao 0G. Wang Shunmin may have been employed in the Transport O ce Caoyun Si GD , though the
main sort of good managed by this o ce was grain, not tea.

243

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao, preface, 4b510. Chantui yingtuo YB\8 comes from the idiom tuoying er
chu 8Q the tip of the awl pokes through the bag: talent will out . \ in this passage must be a loan for
Q.

244

I discuss the printing history of Chen Zhixus texts in chapter 6, 1.

116

Golden writingstrips on the return of the One that was transmitted in this
generation.
Although I discussed and chanted
Yigui jince? , I had not fully understood
their wonders. Now I have undeservedly received my masters bestowal of the
essentials of the truth, and only now have I realized that the secrets are in oral
transmission. . . . Written in the month of the MidAutumn Festival, 1337, by
lineal heir, the Master of Azure Yang, Che Shuke, with the tabooname Langu.
?J f EU
Yn/> DaMe{R2=f
<=4TLVw7h:0*)\|39_Fj
N^od3(&>b-9yu+$q71sJ
UOD;P'
h,CiAKHrf 6M 
}5M245
Che Kezhao 6

c was the abbot zhuchi .@ and imperial superintendent tidian

] of Ruiqing Gong during the period of Chens visits. He was probably about
sixty years old at this time, and he died at the age of ninetytwo.246 He oversaw the
rebuilding of the complex after res in 1314 and 1321.247 In addition to buildings for
the monks, and for visiting Daoists and selfcultivators, he built lodgings for lords,
ministers, and great men from the four directions "G  and for o cials
t . These lodgings were occupied by pilgrims coming to the birthday festival
of the mummied founder of the mountain, Zhang Daoqing. We know of at least
several great men who did visit, and who left stele inscriptions for the templethe
calligrapher Zhao Mengfu v8z 12541322 , and the literatus Yu Ji lg 12721341 ,
both of them devotees of Daoism.
Finally, DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian sanzhu has a preface by Zhang
Shihong S # Zhang Yifu x of Jinling >Z Jurong !I, near Nanjing ,
stating that it was he who edited and printed Chens Wuzhen pian commentary,
together with commentaries by Xue Daoguang ~m% actually, this is by Weng
Baoguang Qk% and Lu Shu [p:
While listed in the Secretariat
zhongshu sheng MB I had my will set on this. I
always suspected that transcendents and buddhas each had their own dao, and

the cultivation of inherentnature and lifeendowment were two paths. Later, I


245

Xianfo tongyuan, preface, 2b610, 3a12; Zhongguo shudian ed., 461. Gengji 4 means wellrope or drawing
water by means of a wellrope. A related idiom is gengduan jishen `4W the rope is short, and to draw water
one must reach down the well a long way; ones abilities are not up to the task . The text has X, which I emend to
2.
246

Che had been a Daoist for over forty years, so was probably over sixty years old. Fu Xieding, Jiugong Shan zhi,
4.7b7 7:98 says he died at age ninetytwo.

247

Fu Xieding, Jiugong Shan zhi, 9.15a 7:239 .

117

received the transmission of my master, and only then did I receive guidance on
which way to go, and realize for the rst time the principle that there are not two
di erent daos in this world. Whatever is not the instruction of a teacher is
mendacious chatter. I have read the various books one after another, and also
traveled to every quarter in search of learning. I may have seen thirty or more
commentaries to the Wuzhen pian. . . . Now, I have collected the commentaries of
the Xue Daoguang , Lu Shu , and Chen Zhixu , and had them printed for
circulation. Their meanings and instructions are in unisontruly a stair for latter
day students! . . . Written by Zhang Shihong, Minister of the Ministry of Works.
+f/819!5_)JB_@xZdqo\
CO vbSd-`^f"<1e
gUZ#=
c|{ cKs 3A*
2-(ZriyGfn$f248
In his transmission epistle to Zhang Shihong, Chen mentions that it was Wang
Shunmin who rst introduced them, by the grace of Providence :249
Zhang is ftyseven years of age. The Creator of All Things, desiring that he
should hear of the exalted a air, is going to treat him generously. My friend
Chuyangzi Wang Shunmin , seeing that his virtue was pure and his qi abundant,
o ered up the exalted a air and displayed it to him.
When I was lodging in Jinling, Zhang paid his respects to me, boldly resolving
to make eternal progress. He vowed, I dared to hold a position at court, of the
third rank. My will has been deeply xed upon this a air of the golden elixir ,
but I had never encountered an enlightened teacher. I saw that his words were
genuine and his expression true. After more than ten days, I ascertained that he
was indeed sincere, resolute, and in good faith. Then I chided myself privately,
saying: How deep are this mans roots of faith!
3,
HwNP_t?jG>m W7Q
AhajG> }RzE~0V:'/
4IF Y8>&MdApg] .
%lT[;6 Tu
Zhang was a high ocial, who had risen to the third rank, and his name appears
once in the Yuanshi 32.719.7
, for the period 132829. Chen describes him as an
intelligent and uncorrupt ocial. Perhaps when he and Chen met in 1335, Zhang was
already in retirement. At home in Jinling, Zhang Shihong had a small network of
friends, and it seems they were all interested in selfcultivation, perhaps also in
reading Daoist and Buddhist texts with Zhang. In his transmission epistle addressed
248
DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian sanzhu, preface, 7a8b2, b67, 8a12 preface entitled Ziyang Zhenren
Wuzhen pian quandi g eg
.
249

I think this Creator of Things is an echo from Zhuangzi, as in the following passage: Amazing! said Master
Yu. The Creator is making me all crookedly like this!  kX alt.  wNPm _1LL;
chapter 6, Da zongshi Dd, H.Y. 6.4950; translation from Watson, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, 84.

118

to another disciple, Li Tianlai , Chen mentions that Li Tianlai and Zhang were
friends, together with three other men:
From time to time, your good friends and auroral companions250 such as the four
gentlemen, Zhang from the Ministry of Works, Zhang Tailang, Wang Jiujiang, and
Wang Jiage, will have to straighten you out and line you up, as you make
concentrated e orts to advance. Im telling you clearly: having already had a
chance to hear of the dao of the golden elixir, can you now
achieve it without
rening yourself lianji /?
'!7 )-)4&%6 "(,2.
+ 5#
1$*3 / 
Li Tianlai and the other men must have been of the same class as Zhang Shihong,
and perhaps of the same age and station. Were they encouraging Li Tianlai in his
sexual practice, or just in the basics of rening the self ? Rening the self lianji is
stage 1 of the alchemical path; the adept must avoid losing energy through strong
emotion or seminal expenditure, and must work to replenish his seminal essence and
train his spirit or mind through inner circulation and/or concentration meditation.
Wang Shunmin was the linchpin of Chen Zhixus new triplestrength network
of disciples in Jinling, Mt. Jiugong, and the Lu Mountains. It was Wang Shunmin who
introduced Chen Zhixu to Zhang Shihong in Jinling; Zhang subsequently edited and
published Chens Wuzhen pian commentary. It was also Wang Shunmin who brought
Jindan dayao to the attention of Taiping Xingguo Gong in the Lu Mountains, where it
caused quite a stir. And it was Wang Shunmin who brought Xianfo tongyuan to the
attention of Qintian Ruiqing Gong on Mt. Jiugong. Wang Shunmin himself was an
o cial on the point of retirement:
How mighty is Chuyangzi, Wang Shunmin! Hes a great man. He has been in and
out of government service for around thirty years. I have heard that in his
service, even when there is personal gain to be had, Shunmins heart did not
waver, and even when he was weary, he did not alter his integrity. He is decisive
and yet conservative. Generally, even to
those lodging with him who have
underestimated him, he has shown no sign of any small aws or defects.
In the winter of 1335, we met at his
o ce on the Pen River.251 After a single
bow, it was as if we had known each other
for a long time. He wanted to take
my hand and talk about how in his heart he did not really want to be an o cial. I
saw that his bearing was lofty and free, and his bonephysiognomy was suited for
250

I.e., companions on the path of selfcultivation leading to ascension to the skies.

251

The Pen River usually called Penshui 8 is a small river in northern Jiangxi Province of fewer than sixty
miles in length, originating in Ruichang 0 County and owing into the Yangtze at Jiujiang  City.

119

transcendenthood. He had had the fortune to run into me, and sought my
alchemical dao. Thereupon we made vows before Heaven, and I bestowed upon
him my Qingcheng masters secrets of the metal caldron and ring periods one
after another.
:Y XI=  R*abX 0
FN51F35fhW+) 7S$ /?9!Vi[M
K"Zj-#7U,A
BTdLV68a]5D(H
gG@&'ceQ42^_\<>.C;`PE,
OJ 252
Perhaps Wang Shunmin cut back on his ocial duties soon thereafter, and spent his
talents and energies in promoting Chen Zhixus career, allowing Chen to strengthen
his position as a master, bring the dao to others, and gain patrons for sexual alchemy.
This may have been a way for Wang Shunmin to gain prestige for himself, too. He
was a li %, a sub
ocial functionary, but his discovery of Chen Zhixu gave him an
excuse to meet higher ocials such as Zhang Shihong. I do not know if Wang and
Zhang could have met under normal circumstances perhaps they could have. I
discuss this issue in sociological terms on page 197 below.
This bears some resemblance to Urbans esoteric strategy number 1, the
creation of a new social space or private sphere, which promises equality and
liberation for all classes.253 This is not to say that any of the gures mentioned in
this dissertation professed ideals of social equality, but that esoteric self
cultivation
may have created a sort of communitas, where literati of dierent ranks could have
mingled and formed unusual networks.
8.2.3, Luo Xizhu and the Jiaotai Hermitage.

The extant Mt. Jiugong gazetteer

from 1882 possibly based on 156773, 164462, or 173696 editions records the
history of the Daoist center there, and mentions Chen Zhixu, Ming Suchan, Che
Kezhao, Luo Xizhu, and many others from before and after Chens time. Many of
these Daoists received purple robes and imperial titles during their lifetimes. Because
it was a relatively small Daoist center, which achieved one of its peaks of activity
during the time Chen visited, it is much easier for us to grasp the relationship
between Chen Zhixu and the Daoist center at Mt. Jiugong than it would be to
understand Chens status vis

vis the Daoist temples in the Lu Mountains, or his
252

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 11.3a18.

253

Urban, Elitism and Esotericism, 1. Also pp. 2526 above.

120

place in an urban setting like Hongzhou or Jiujiang.


Luo Xizhu L

, stylename Dongyun %=,254 was a fthgeneration lineal

heir of the founder Zhang Daoqing. When Ruiqing Gong was destroyed in a 1259
battle between Kublai Khan and other Mongol princes, Luo spent more than thirty
years helping his master Feng Taiben #  to rebuild it from the ground up. Luo
was later summoned by Kublai and given an imperial title. Luo met Zhao Mengfu at
the capital, and got him to write a 1287 stele inscription about the rebuilding of
Ruiqing Gong, which would have contributed to the temples acclaim and attracted
muchneeded donations from visitors.
Luos rst contact with Chen Zhixu was when he sent an attendant to ask
Chen to write a commemorative essay for his satellite temple, Jiaotai Hermitage.
Chens essay Record of Jiaotai Hermitage at Mt. Jiugong (-1/, is the
most formal and rococo of all the essays he wrote. It is said that Chens essay
contributed to Luos own fame:
Shangyangzi, Chen Zhixu wrote the Record of Jiaotai Hermitage, and also gave
Luo
a letter. Its the hermitages
name was wellrespected for a time.
<5sic:&-1/; ,'+255
Luo solicited this essay from Chen, and Chen wrote it before he had ever visited the
place. Perhaps this is what drew Chen to Mt. Jiugong for the rst time:
When I was staying in old Hong zhou
, I happened to run into his disciple
Tingzhang )6, and thereby was able to hear about his daily activities.
Furthermore, Tingzhang
besought my words as a record. I was delighted with
Tingzhangs simple and not irritating manner
, his directness and love of justice.
Although I had never set eyes upon that splendor which is Jiaotai Hermitage, I
thought from afar of what would be writable about its dimensions, and made a
general record of it.
D.$H?*)6230! F /
D8)6K
A"CJB-1
7E>4G
,<@/

256
In this essay, Chen depicts the hermitage as a rustic retreat, though it may have been
a highroofed and nely decorated temple:
254

Byname Jingshan 9, Daoist stylename Mibian Xiansheng IM; Fu Xieding, Jiugong Shan zhi 4.7a5
7:97.
255

Fu Xieding, Jiugong Shan zhi, 4.7a9 7:97.

256

Jindan dayao, Jindan zhengli daquan ed. 6.33b14 missing from DZ 1067.

121

Luo Dongyun, of Qintian Ruiqing Palace on Mt. Jiugong, approached the stream
and parted the clouds, slew the thatchgrass to build a hut. His gate, though made
of sticks, is without vulgarity. His mind is far and his place of dwelling is distant.
0 >CK0T*B<BD,P'2$?%J8257
Chen gently chides Luo for neglecting his selfcultivation training:
Now, his cranium is seventytwo years old.258 His brows are expansive, and his
hair is sti , his face is peachy and his skin is lustrous. Ordinarily, he must dash
about on business, and he is sparing with his inner cultivation. How could things
be like this?
QUVG+;N:R4LO/19IHW"M
65-(&259
One long section of the essay is full of sexualalchemical signals. Chen is
acknowledging that Luo practices sexual alchemy at Jiaotai Hermitage, giving his
approval, and telling Luo to have more restraint:
Letting wu  ow to reach ji
, controlling the four and bulging the three,
seeking the mystery beyond the usual pattern, practicing the dao of the Yijing,
uniting the strip of qian  with the track of kun , using the nine to circulate the
six, knowing the male but maintaining the female, leaving small and returning
large, in order to collect and summon good fortunethese are the correct
activities of Jiaotai Hermitage. It would be well for you to have continence.260
There is even the gripping of Jingyangs Xu Xuns sword, and the gulping of
Chenmus261 elixir. The moon appears in the geng region, and the ingredient
comes home into the caldron. . . . The one above and the one below have
intercourse with a shared intention; the roof is stable, and the celestial light
shines forth. With ones awakening, one awakens the one behind; beneting
oneself, one benets the other.This is how Zhimu Zhang Daoqing is
constantly present, and this is the thing that Jingyang transmitted secretly. This is
gaining the peaceful state of the hermitage. It is meet that you should single
mindedly glorify thishow could it be so suitable without belonging to Jiaotai
Hermitage?
)=


A3 # F7@! .E

257

Jindan dayao, Jindan zhengli daquan ed. 6.33a34 missing from DZ 1067
.

258

I.e., seventytwo sui, between seventy and seventyone years old.

259

Jindan dayao, Jindan zhengli daquan ed. 6.33b67 missing from DZ 1067
.

260

Wu is wuearth wutu 


, and ji is jiearth. These are the kan   and li S  aspects of the catalytic
agent earth, and correlate with the female and male pharmaca or sex organs; see pp. 33334, 48892. Four is
agent metal, i.e., the outer pharmacon of the female partners sexual qi; three is agent wood, the male adepts
inner pharmacon of seminal essence; cf. pp. 34243, 49091 and chap. 5, 3, passim
. Whip and track are
technical terms related to the adding of yaolines from hexagrams; here, they may have a sexual connotation.
Nine and six refer to qian and kun respectively, but must have an additional meaning here. Geng is the third
day of the lunar cycle, when the outer pharmacon rst appears.
261

Chenmu was a deity who aided Xu Xun. See the footnote on Xu Xun below, pp. 14950n87.

122

@[#a
9& 2\&:%LQ c07 $#
G&WUZ b,g V8jh^. &"
6&XllD'++%?> P!&UZ ;MTAE
FSQ L7 OH)e&BLQA262
Note how Chen reinterprets sexual alchemy in terms of the Jiangxicentered Xu Xun
cult, and also in terms of the local Zhang Daoqing cult. Zhang Daoqing may have
become associated with sexual alchemy at some point in time: in Mingdynasty texts,
Zhang Sanfeng RI is the name of a sexual alchemical master and transcendent,
and this was also Zhang Daoqings nickname he chose the name himself based on
the three peaks near Ruiqing Gong. Some later said that Zhang Daoqings nickname
was the origin of this Mingdynasty master.263 Of course, sanfeng is also a term for a
form of sexual cultivation see pages 41416 below.
There can be no doubt that Chen Zhixus commemorative essay is talking
about sexual alchemy. He took some of the wording from an epistle written by Luo
for Che Kezhao, in which Luo describes the teachings of Jiaotai Hermitage.264 Chen
must have been presented with this essay when Luos attendant visited him in
Hongzhou with the commission for Chens own essay. The essay is ostensibly about
the technical Yijing studies that take place at Jiaotai Hermitage, but does contain
some faintly suggestive language, such as
With a shared intention, the one above and the one below have intercourse.
&.

The site was known in aftertimes as a place for Yijing studies, as is recorded in the
Mt. Jiugong gazetteer:
Luo built Jiaotai Hermitage, and discussed the Yijing with his disciples. Relying
on the positions of precosmic qiankun, postcosmic likan, precosmic kanli, and
postcosmic zhendui, they actualized the interlocking hu  of tai L  and
guimei h5 , and thereby illuminated the meaning of one life after another
without cease.
CLQ_3Jd<1N4Di--iDf* (
kLh5= K ]265
262

Jindan dayao, Jindan zhengli daquan ed., 6.35a4b2 missing from DZ 1067.

263

Liu Sichuan, Jiugong Shan yu daojiao Yuzhi Pai.

264

The Teachings of Jiaotai Hermitage, as Revealed to Che Kezhao LQ`/Y, in Jiugong Shan zhi, ed.
Fu Xieding, 4.7a9 7:97.

265

Fu Xieding, Jiugong Shan zhi, 4.7a57 7:97.

123

Jiaotai Hermitage may have been built or christened for sexual alchemy from the
beginning. Jiaotai could be a pun for tai intercourse. Guimei is a standard Yijing
hexagram, but literally means bringing home the maiden; and the guimei hexagram
is a red ag because it is mentioned only extremely rarely within inner alchemical
discourse it would only be mentioned as part of a set of sixty or sixty four
hexagrams. From comparing the phrase interlocking of tai and guimei with the
name of the temple Jiaotai, I suspect that the temple s name itself was meant to be
a double signi
er of Yijing studies and sexual alchemy. The later editors of the
gazetteer passage would have had no idea what Chen and Luo were talking about.
It is possible that Luo Xizhu had been practicing sexual alchemy for his whole
career, and not just at the end of it. In an essay on the rebuilding of the temple
complex, Che Kezhao cites several important turning points in the ongoing feedback
loop of fund raising, temple construction, temple fame and glory, and further fund
raising. Important points include the enfeoment of founder Zhang Daoqing s
parents, the post mortem ocial promotions of Zhang Daoqing and his disciples,
Zhao Mengfu s essay, and Luo Xizhu s sojourn at the imperial court. In 1286, Tiemuer
Buhua 266 put out a general call, and Luo Xizhu
traveled to the palace gates at a gallop, accepting the duty of applying the
talismans and ritual methods fufa . Xizhu also promoted in court the
secrets that he had kept as part of his family transmission. Through this, the
silken sounds of imperial commands descended in layers, and tax and corve
requirements were dismissed.
$+'&
267


#(! %*",

What were these family secrets that Luo Xizhu was teaching to the courtiers and/or
the imperial clan? They could have been something like macrobiotic practices, or
medicinal recipes, or prestidigitation, or . . . sexual cultivation. I suspect that the
imperial largesse bestowed upon Qintian Ruiqing Gong during Luo Xizhu s time at
court was thanks for Luo s instruction in the arts of the bedchamber, or even sexual
alchemy. Extending this admittedly tenuous line of inference, the guesthouses that
266

This must be a confusing reference to Chengzong , Borjigin Temr ) r. 1294 1307. There
was also a Tiemuer Buhua who lived 1286 1368.

267

Fu Xieding, Jiugong Shan zhi, 8.13a10 b27 7:205 6.

124

Che Kezhao built at Ruiqing Gong could also have been lodging for V.I.P.s seeking
the same sort of instruction. I am less condent in this latter supposition, though,
because we should note that Ming Suchan was shocked to learn Chen Zhixus sexual
teaching, thus, shocked even to consider that sexual alchemy could be the true dao.
Luo Xizhus activities in his o site hall could have been kept secret from the monks
at Ruiqing Gong, but I dont think Che Kezhao could have kept the secret from
Ming Suchan if it were being practiced in guesthouses right beside the main temple.
It seems that, when Luo rst sent his attendant Tingzhang to visit Chen in
Hongzhou, he invited Chen to come to visit Jiaotai Hermitage. Chen promises:
Another day, I will follow the river back to Jiujiang city, climb Mt. Jiugong, roam
at leisure, pay a call at the Yulong Palace, and borrow from Jiaotai Hermitage
, in
order to cultivate my elixir. In setting the furnace and choosing the caldron, one
meets the right
person. I ought to see what can be seen, and encounter what I
have heard of. I will consider this.
 %' 
& (#
 !$" *268
Because he speaks of borrowing something at Jiaotai Hermitage, I think Luo Xizhu
was o ering Chen the use of female partners at his Daoist temple. Were Daoist
temples used as private sites for sexual alchemy? I have seen no account of this in the
secondary literature, but it seems to have been so.269
We see that Chen and the monks from Mt. Jiugong contributed to each
others reputations: Chens essay for Luo Xizhu brought glory to Jiaotai Hermitage,
and the prefaces by Che Kezhao and Ming Suchan recommended Jindan dayao to
curious readers. Also, the Ruiqing Gong may have funded the publication of Chens
works, may have given Chen a place to stay, and may even have found alchemical
partners for him. To extend my model of the threeway feedback loop of
propagation, authority, and salvation, perhaps we could image a doubled, sixloop
model, with Chens tripleloop and the tripleloop of the Daoists of Mt. Jiugong
interconnected.
268

Jindan dayao, Jindan zhengli daquan ed., 6.35b68 missing from DZ 1067. I read yi  as su ).

269

Why would Chen need female partners any longer at this point, if he had gathered enough pharmaca during
the twoyear period of preparation, 132931? Either 1 Chen actually did not need any more partners; 2 he
actually had not completed his elixir during the period 132931; or 3 he wanted to practice an advanced form of
cultivation. I discuss the evidence for this advanced cultivation in pp. 52223 chap. 5, 3.4.3.

125

8.3, Literati Association


Inner alchemy has always been a literary tradition, and, until recent times, a literati
tradition. From the perspective of social history, one may argue that the shift from
laboratory to inner alchemy in the Tang dynasty, and the popularity of inner alchemy
in the Song, is linked to a general social shift from aristocratic society to gentry
society.270 Due to advances in printing, the wider availability of education, and a
general growth in population, the literati class grew dramatically in the Song, until
only a small proportion of literate and educated men were able to nd employment
in government service. Unable to pursue traditional literati careers on a national
scale, they developed regional forms of higher culture, and enjoyed the arts of private
life, including inner alchemy. As Skar says, adepts and their patrons used these new
teachings . . . to add to the repertoire of literati association.271 Along with this new
alchemy came new deities, a new type of supralocal transcendent being, such as
Zhongli Quan, L Dongbin, or Liu Haichan who resembled the cultivated
gentlemen he sought to attract.272
The aspect of literati association is evident in Chens transmission epistles to
each of his disciples, both in the genre of the epistle itself, and in his descriptions of
their meetings. For example, Chen often speaks of the character qualities of his
disciples e.g., Ming Suchan, Deng Yanghao, Zhang Shihong, and Wang Shunmin
,
often mingling them with physiognomical observations e.g., Luo Xizhu
. Chen
speaks of enjoying conversation with his disciples e.g., Ming Suchan at the Square
Jug Heaven
, along with tea, alcohol, and meat, as in the following examples from
epistles to Xu Renshou  and Yu Shunshen , both laymen living on Mt.
Jiugong:
I climbed to the peak of Mt. Jiugong, and met with Squire Xu of LikeaFool
Studio. . . . In the past, he stored tea and clay bowls in a little case. As soon as I
arrived, he would have to provide me with tea ; whenever our drink of tea was
done, we would have to sit. Or, we might take a stroll and look at the vista, or
270

Skar, Golden Elixir Alchemy, 14.

271

Skar, Golden Elixir Alchemy, 231.

272

Skar, Golden Elixir Alchemy, 14.

126

climb the mountain to view its excellences, gazing down on the cleansing ow of
the springs, and thus gaining everything that this place was good for. Now, Mr.
Nanshan, with his heart yearning for the Dao, has been inquiring into this a air
of the golden elixir for some forty years. . . . Yet he did not know where to begin
his practice.
z
e3g=8o7(IBn
(>M{AvzDd]^[rJN#SX#
mH"& 46R}273
Recently I saluted Yu Shunshen, Mr. Guangu Xin One Who Views the
Ancients with His Mind
. We met casually and hit it o , striking up an
acquaintance with a single word. The fragrance of our meeting? was like a
numinous plant or an orchid, and the avor was like smoky mist or aurora. Aside
from conversing liberally, we drank freely. His style and appearance was free and
unrestrained. . . .
On 68 of the yihai year June 29, 1335 , with a pigling on the shoulder and
caged geese, we met at his lodgings. We joined in drinking and o ered toasts
back and forththis was truly a rare moment in a mans life, and so I wrote it
down to show our similarities and di erences. Guangu Xin said, Since we share
so many similarities they were born on the same year, day, and hour, and their
names were also similar , you could bestow me with the dao . . . so our similarity
could be moreorless complete. I replied, Okay, lets meet again next year.
Asking about his increased diligence, I exhorted him, saying:  When following
the dao of the golden elixir, one must rst amass merit, and only then may one
ask about it, otherwise one will take a tumble. At present you are tempted by
scheming for prot, fettered by cares, buried in lusts, and sunk in anger and
doubt. Seeking merit in this state of character would be slanderous; seeking the
Dao like this would be dicult.
!y:|*%wY@UJc0L
'WQka - TONxpQ+
~, )?51h#E0ut%9J20l#
#`sKqFJN0$P4/mj
"V(.6Z$<W_Of;
ObiOGO3\6C3\6C274
Acquaintances like Xu Rengong and Yu Shunshen were not talented selfcultivators,
but they were good for quiet or cheery companionship. Alchemical learning was a
common interest that brought them togetherit was one tool available in their
repertoire of association, together with poetry, tea or alebibbing, and moral
cultivation. Chan Buddhism was also part of Chen Zhixus repertoire of literati
association, as we see from Chens long epistle to the lay Buddhist and/or spiritual
273

Jindan dayao, Jindan zhengli daquan ed., 6.27a9b5 missing from DZ 1067
.

274

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 12.11a13, 12b713a4. Man can be a loan for man , including the meaning
casual, random.

127

seeker, Wang Xiangweng .275 This essay could have been written by a Chan
Buddhist and, in a sense, it was. Foulk speaks several levels of identication with
Chan Buddhism: there were a few enlightened dharma heirs in Chan lineages, there
were other Chan lineage holders, there were monks in Chan monasteries, and there
were monastics or laypeople who had received precepts from a Chan master, and so
on.276 Chen Zhixu was none of these. But the Chan school chanjia  , chanmen
  , on the other hand, consisted of everyone who believed in the Chan lineage,
gained inspiration from its lore, worshiped its patriarchs, and followed or supported
the Chan masters who were its living representatives.277 Chen certainly possessed
some aspects of this relationship to the Chan lineage, gaining inspiration from its
lore and showing reverence to its patriarchs in his own way.
I believe that the Ritual for Celebrating the Birthdays of the Two
Transcendents, Zhong and L in DZ 1070 translated in chapter appendix 3 also
reects the same atmosphere. Note that, when the ritual participants oer candles,
incense, tea, ale, and owers, they make statements on the cosmic signicance of
these oerings except the owers , but these statements are also exercises in literary
appreciation. Look at the statement for oering tea:
Now, as for tea there are the sparrows tongues of early spring, tender leaf
tips
trembling in the rain. We pour the crab
eye water, and white owers oat on the
surface of the water in the bowl. We pour water from the dragon
spring, and a
transcendent wind is aroused in Penglai. Lu Tong  penetrated to the
transcendents and spirits in six bowls; and Zhaozhou  joined the buddha

nature with one cup. It rouses sleepy fellows, and brings illumination to drowsy
transcendents. We bow and bow again, oering up tea.278
Although I have not undertaken a systematic comparison of this text with other
ritual texts, I believe that this text is more literati than most. It is true that poetry
has always been associated with ritual, such as ci
poems on pacing the void buxu ci

from the early medieval period, or blue
paper prayers qingci  from
the Tang dynasty, yet these two ritual poetic genres are more Daoist, dwelling on
275

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 15.1a36a3.

276

Foulk, Myth, Ritual, and Monastic Practice in Sung Chan Buddhism, 162.

277

Foulk, Myth, Ritual, and Monastic Practice in Sung Chan Buddhism, 163.

278

DZ 1070, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao liexian zhi 5b96a6.

128

the vastness of the cosmos more than on the virtues of tea.279 I believe that the ritual
in DZ 1070 was written for a literati audience, rather than a strictly sacerdotal one.
This is not a Quanzhen ritual, it is a literati ritual. While tea is an oering
appropriate for many kinds of divinities in China, this is literati tea, tea described
in a amboyantly literati language.280

9, Conclusion
In this chapter, in addition to introducing some basic data about Chens dates, the
arc of his career, his area of activity, list of contacts, and general social and religious
environment, I have discussed the following themes.
The feedback loop.

According to the schema of seven perspectives laid out in

chapter 1, this chapter mainly represents a historical perspective; the next chapter
will oer a structural/ institutional perspective. In chapter 3, I will discuss Chen
from the perspective of conict sociology, developing a theory of elds and capital.
In this chapter, I have provided background material for such a theoretical
discussion. One concept from chapter 3 that I have already adumbrated in this
chapter is Chens threeway feedback loop of propagation, authority, and salvation.
According to this process, Chens transmission of his teachings, his struggle to build
his authority, and his eventual salvation from the mortal condition, are all linked in a
virtuous circle. I have suggested how this feedback loop worked within Chens own
career. I have also suggested that this model may be applied, not only to the life of
one man, but to the fortunes of a larger institution, such as Qintian Ruiqing Gong on
Mt. Jiugong.
Performative speech.

I have oered the ritual in DZ 1070 as an example of

279

Bokenkamp, The Pacing the Void Stanzas of the Lingpao Scriptures is a study of buxu ci; Liu Tsunyan,
The Penetration of Taoism into the Ming NeoConfucianist Elite includes a section on qingci.
280

In chapter 1, we saw that Hugh Urban has found one aspect of esotericism to be the creation of a new social
space or private sphere, which promises equality and liberation for all classes, while at the same time
constructing new and more rigid hierarchies ; Urban, Elitism and Esotericism, 1. If we were to nd such a thing
in Chens milieu, we would look for it here, in his literati association with disciples and kindred spirits. I dont
think that Urbans description applies to Chens case, however.

129

performative speech as a secondary salvic e ect: Chen and his ritual participants
perform enlightenment, perform a meeting with L Dongbin, or perform alchemical
transmission.
Patronage.

I have identied Tian Zhizhai and perhaps Luo Xizhu as patrons

Chen relied on to supply the requisites for his sexual


alchemical workshop. I have
also noted Chens source of patronage for spreading his books: the triple network of
Zhang Shihong
and perhaps his four friends in Jiujiang, and the temples at Mt.
Jiugong and the Lu Mountains, with Wang Shunmin as the middleman bringing them
all together.
The marketplace of daos.

I also show Chen in a shakier semblance, as a

wandering teacher in a marketplace of daos, su ering derision in order to nd a few


worthy disciples. This may reect a stage in Chens career before he developed his
network, but I think that, in such a wide
open marketplace, Chen would have
continued to face the same sti competition in the marketplace of daos. Chens
transmission epistles to his two most promising young disciples, Ming Suchan and
Deng Yanghao, show just how many rivals he had for their trust.
Conversion and mystical experience.

I have shown the powerful e ect Chen

had his on disciples, and how this was understood, by Chen and disciple alike
e.g.,
Ming Suchan , in the terms of a discourse drawing equally from the Daode jing and
the classics of Chan Buddhism. Actually, we cannot be certain how far or near the
epistles and prefaces are from the experience. Following Steven Katz, I hold that
their conversion experiences would not be pure, unmediated, mystical experience,
which they would later describe in words drawn from religious tradition; rather,
tradition would prep them, suggesting to them what experience to expect, and would
give them practices to stimulate the experience. Thus, the use of traditional
discourse to describe the experience would be a natural result rather than a forced
translation of the experience into the straitjacket of language. These conversion
events come to us in textual form. Someone who is optimistic that we may
understand the conversions qua experience might say that the written and
intertextual nature of the experiences may serve as a handle by which to grasp a

130

participant understanding of the event: just as we can read and attempt to embody
the same texts they read, so we may approach their own understanding of their
experience. A pessimist and skeptic might say that the textuality of the sources
would pose an obstacle to understanding the experience: Chen Zhixu and Ming
Suchan might have composed their texts without the intention of representing
experience at all, but rather to repeat the proper phrases and attain a conventional
and literary respect in the eyes of others. Chen and Ming could simply be using
writing to manage mastership and enact enlightenment. A third position, which we
might call postmodern with Faure as an example, or poststructuralist in
Wuthnows terms,281 would advocate focusing on publiclyavailable texts and
symbols rather than on subjective inner meaning or experience, or on surfaces
instead of depthsnot because public surfaces are all the scholar can see, but
because this is the only side of a person worth studying, the only aspect of human
being with cashvalue for social thought. In this dissertation I waver between all
three of these positions.
Lineage and Quanzhen Daoism.

The question of Chen Zhixus relation to

Quanzhen Daoism is a very important one in the hagiography of Daoism, as I show


through a survey of the literature. I attempt to dispel any remaining suggestion that
Chen was a Quanzhen Daoist in any substantial sense. Not only did he fabricate his
Quanzhen lineage, but he probably had not met many Quanzhen initiates or read
many Quanzhen books: his Quanzhen Daoism was in name only. While he does
represent a trend toward the fusion of the Northern and Southern lineages, he does
not embody this trend substantially. Chen probably invented his Qingcheng master,
and the two patriarchs standing behind his real master, Zhao Youqin. Chen may have
gotten the idea of crafting a Quanzhen lineage for himself from his reading of a
Quanzhen text, but it is just as likely that he got the idea from reading a genealogy by
Xiao Tingzhi of the Southern Lineage of inner alchemy.
Buddhism.

Chan Buddhism will be a continuing theme throughout the

dissertation. In this chapter, we saw Chen, Ming Suchan, and possibly Zhao Youqin
281

Wuthnow, Beyond the Problem of Meaning. Wuthnows poststructuralists include Foucault, Habermas, and
Mary Douglas.

131

experiencing or performing Chanstyle enlightenment and/or describing it in Chan


avored language. The traditional terms for the shock of satori serve them as well for
describing their shock at discovering that the true dao is in fact sexual alchemy.
Sometimes, Chen sees Daoism and Buddhism as fundamentally di erent, and
sometimes he does not. In his speech to Deng Yanghao, Chen does not thematize
Dengs erstwhile teachers as Buddhist or Daoist: they are all simply masters.
Just as Chen manipulates Buddhist elements for his own purposes, so too can Chens
material be manipulated according to Buddhist sympathies: a Chan lineage leading to
L Dongbin was attached to Chens ritual genealogy by a later redactor, apparently
based on a local Jiangxi story of Ls defeat at the hands of a Chan master.

132

Appendix 1 to Chapter 2,
Places Chen Zhixu Is Known to Have Visited
Presentday Yuandyn.
Later placenames
province
placenames
Above and below
Anhui?
Xuan Xuanzhou Xuancheng  County

?
Sitang ,
Guangxi
Pingnan  County
Sitang Zhou


Citation

Notes

JDDY 6.55b2 Zhengli ed.

Met Tao Tangzuo.

Guizhou tongzhi 1741 32.13b

Travelled from Yelang to


Sitang.

Guizhou

Yelang 

Tongzi !% County

DZ 142, xu, 5b8; Guizhou


tongzhi 1741 32.13b; Da
Qing yitong zhi, j. 396

Guizhou

Sinan 
Sizhou 


Wuchuan > County

Guizhou tongzhi 1741 24.5a Stayed with Tian Zhizhai.

Guizhou

Mt. Wansheng
.), ./

In Wuchuan > County

Guizhou tongzhi 1741


Went there with Tian
32.13b; Da Qing yitong zhi, j.
Zhizhai.
396

Guizhou

Qiongshui =
County

Zhenyuan :3 County

DZ 142, xu, 5b8

Henan

West E *

Hubei

Jingnan $

Hubei

East E *

Hubei

Mt. Jiugong 


In Tongshan ' County

Hunan
Hunan
Hunan

Yuanzhi 
Chenyang +
Changsha 

Zhijiang  County
Chenxi ,, Chenzhou 

Changsha City

Hunan

On a side of the


S. Marchmount
7

Mt. Heng 6, or Hengyang 6+ DZ 1067, 2.3a7, 9.3a7

Hunan?
Jiangsu
Jiangsu
Jiangxi

Huojia 81 County, Nanyang 


+ Commandery, Dengzhou 5

Nanping , Jiangling (


County
Wuchang 

Jingzhou 0
County? Or
Mt. Heer < Guangfeng 49 or Yongfeng 9
Counties?
Qinhuai #&
Jiangning 2 County
Jinling (
Jiangning County
Luling ;(
Jian 

Jiangxi

Mt. Lu ;, Lu
Fu ;

Mt. Lu

Jiangxi

Penjiang ?

Ruichang -, Jiujiang 


County

Jiangxi

Penpu ?"

Jiujiang  City

Jiangxi?

The waterside at
Jiang Jiangzhou
Jiangzhou is Jiujiang  City

? Or just the
Yangtze?

133

DZ 142, xu, 5b9


DZ 142, xu, 5b9; DZ 1067,
15.5a3
DZ 142, xu, 5b9
DZ 1067, 12.1a9; JDDY
6.27a8 Zhengli ed.; Jiugong
Shan zhi 4.6a8b1
DZ 142, xu, 5b8
DZ 142, xu, 5b8
DZ 142, xu, 5b9

Met Wang Xiangweng.


Met Che Langu, Ming
Suchan, Yu Guangu, Xu
Renshou

First met Zhao Youqin and


received teachings there.

JDDY 6.55a10 Zhengli ed. Met Tao Tangzuo.


JDDY 6.30b1 Zhengli ed.
JDDY 6.31b2 Zhengli ed.
DZ 1067, 12.11a9

Met Li Tianlai.
Met Zhang Shihong.
Birthplace.
Met Pan Taichu, Ouyang
DZ 1067, 11.6a9, 12.8b8;
Yuyuan, Ouyang Yutian,
DZ 142, xu, 5b9
Zhou Caochuang.
Met Wang Shunmin, Zhou
DZ 1067, 11.3a5; JDDY
Yunzhong, Zhou
6.17a6, 33b6, 66b10,Zhengli
Caochuang, Zhang
ed.
Xingchu, Zhao Boyong.
JDDY 6.36b7, 46b10
Met Xia Yanwen, Zhao
Zhengli ed.
Boyong.
JDDY 6.55b1 Zhengli ed.

Met Tao Tangzuo.

Jiangxi
Jiangxi

Old Hong 
Hongzhou , Nanchang 
Yuzhang 
Within Hongzhou or Jiujiang
Jintang 
City?

Jiangxi

Zhongling 

Jiangxi

Mt. Jinluo 

Within Hongzhou

DZ 1067, 1.2b8, etc.

134

Met Tingzhang, Zhao


Renqing, Deng Yanghao.

JDDY 6.42b10, 45a9


Met Zhao Boyong.
Zhengli ed.
JDDY 6.42b10a1 Zhengli
Part of Chens circuit.
ed.

Mt. Wansong , in Ganzhou


DZ 91, xu, 5a12
 City
Southcentral Jiangxi ?
JDDY 6.53b3 Zhengli ed.

Mt. Mei 
Mt. Qingcheng  In Guan  County
Sichuan

Sichuan now Old Yu 


Chongqing 
Chongqing Yuzhou 
The marketplace
Zhejiang?
of Hu Huzhou Wuxing  County
?
Jiangxi?

JDDY 6.33b1, 40a4, 41b7,


42a1 Zhengli ed.

Wrote DZ 91 there, 1336.


Met Zhenxi Haci.
Chen never says he
actually went there . . .

JDDY 6.17a5 Zhengli ed.

Met Zhou Yunzhong.

JDDY 6.55b1 Zhengli ed.

Met Tao Tangzuo.

Appendix 2 to Chapter 2,
Chens Disciples and Acquaintances1

A Guizhou Province


Tian Qi L, a.k.a. Zhizhai `, Marquis . Tian
HanHmong, younger brother of Pacication Commissioner?
B Hongzhou 4 or Yuzhang [H i.e., Nanchang /*, Jiangxi

Deng Yi X\, zi Yanghao Y=


Spiritual seeker
Studied with Youtan ]Z Pudu K0, and later, Old Man
Huayang O?; friend of Zhang Shouqian B%^
Zhao Boyong UA
3
Aged almost 30; starting out on ocial career
Is he the son of Zhao Renqing 4?
Zhao Renqing U 8
4
Aged over 50; ocial for 30+ years
Is he the father of Zhao Boyong 3?
Also from Jiangxi:
5
Zhou Yunzhong &

Aged ca. 40; NeoConfucian
C Jiujiang , Jiangxi
Wang Shunmin M, a.k.a. Bingtian 
Aged 52; teatransport ocial mingcao @R
6
Knows Che Kezhao 12, Ouyang Yuyuan 18; friend of Zhang
Shihong 9
Zhang Xingchu B),
Aged over 60; Confucian physician
7
Former disciple of Zhao Youqin
Xia Yanwen 91
8
Aged over 50; physician, diviner
D Jinling -G i.e., Jurong ;, near Nanjing, Jiangsu
2

Zhang Yifu BW , Shihong , Dingzhai (`, Gongbu F


Aged 57 ; a high ocial
9
Friend of Li Tianlai 10, Wang Shunmin 6 presumably also
Zhang Tailang, Wang Jiujiang, and Wang Jiage
Li Tianlai ! $
Spiritual seeker; ocial?
10
Friend of Zhang Shihong 9, Zhang Tailang BT7,
Wang Jiujiang , and Wang Jiage 3V
E Mt. Jiugong :, Tongshan E County, Hubei
11

Ming Suchan +>a, Tiancong c


Daoist monk

12

Che Kezhao #N, zi Langu #b", a.k.a. Shuke <


Aged 5560? Daoist for 40+ years; abbot zhuchi 2 and
superintendent tidian J_ of Ruiqing Gong
Knows Wang Shunmin 6, knew Mou Pufu I deceased

DZ 1067, 11.1a2a Zhiyangzi 132931? 133134?


O

JDDY 6.41a44a Nanyangzi


Zhengli ed.
/O
JDDY 6.44a48a Zhiyangzi
Zhengli ed.
6O
JDDY 6.39a41a Fuyangzi
Zhengli ed.
O
JDDY 6.15b18a Guyangzi
Zhengli ed.
"O

DZ 1067, 11.2b
6a

1334, 1335

Chuyangzi met in the


,O
winter of 1335

JDDY 6.23a26a Xiyangzi


O
Zhengli ed.
JDDY 6.35b39a Deyangzi
Zhengli ed.
CO

met 1341

met in 1335 after


JDDY 6.30b32b
meeting Wang
Huiyangzi
Zhengli ed.; DZ
O
Shunmin in
142, xu, 6a8a
winter
JDDY 6.29b30b Laiyangzi
$O
Zhengli ed.

DZ 1067, xu 1a
3b; 12.1a6a;
JGSZ 91 error
DZ 1067, 11.8a
12b; XFTY, xu, p.
461; JGSZ 9899,
passim

Zongyang
met 1335
zi
'O
Biyangzi
SO

met 1335?;
preface 1337

Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 517, citing a Daotong yuanliu QDP5 source unidentied, says that
Chen transmitted the dao to Zhang Sanfeng B, styled Xuanxuan . I do not take this seriously.

135

13

14
15
16

17
18
19
20

Luo Xizhu O#, zi Jingshan <, hao Dongyun *B, daohao


Mibian Xiansheng JP
Aged 72; eminent Daoist leader
Disciple: Tingzhang ,:
Yu Shunshen @, a.k.a. Guangu S , Guangu Xin S
Exactly Chens age; not a Daoist or an ocial
Xu Renshou -E, hao Nanshan % of Ruyu Zhai CM
Aged 5560? alchemst for 40+ years; Confucian ocial?
Also from Hubei: Wang Xiangweng 80 from Jingnan 1%
Buddhist layman and/or BuddhoDaoist spiritual seeker
Dharmadescendant of Yingan K4, in the Linji lineage.
F Lu mountains N, Jiangxi
Pan Taichu H$
Abbot zhuchi ) of Taiping Xingguo Gong
Ouyang Yuyuan GA7, a.k.a. Tianshu , Ziyuan ?
Monk at Taiping Xingguo Gong
Knows Wang Shunmin 6
Ouyang Yutian GA
Friend of Zhou Caochuang 20
Zhou Caochuang 2>
Exam candidate, ChengZhu NeoConfucian
Friend of Ouyang Yutian 19

G From other places, or place unknown


Zhenxi /. Zhenxi Haci? &: met at Mt. Mei 6, Jiangxi ?
21
Mongolian, NeoConfucian
Descendent of Hacilu &I, son of Earl Fengyi Q
Tao Tangzuo 9+: met at Mt. Heer R ?; Huzhou =,
Zhejiang; Jiangzhou , Jiangxi; Xuanzhou ', Anhui
22
Aged over 70
Is Xiangfu  his master?
Zhang Yanwen 5(
: location unknown
23
Spiritual seeker; clerk lowlevel?
24

Han Guoyi L3F: location unknown

25

Dingyangzi !A other names unknown


Aged 24; seeking an ocial post

136

JDDY 6.32a35b Not


Zhengli ed.;
Chens
JGSZ 97, passim disciple
DZ 1067, 12.10b
13b
JDDY 6.26a28a
Zhengli ed.
DZ 1067, 15.1a
6a

DZ 1067, 11.6a
8a

met 1335?

Xinyangzi met 1334? parti


A
ed June 29, 1335
Nanyangzi
%A
Not
Chens
disciple
Yiyangzi
A

met 1336 or
before

DZ 1067, xu 4a Xuanyang met ca. 1335?


5a; 12.6a7b
zi A preface of 1336
DZ 1067, 12.7b
10b

Fuyangzi
;A

same as above

Quanyang
zi A

JDDY 6.51b55a Zhenyang


February 3, 1343
Zhengli ed.
zi /A
JDDY 6.55a59a Dongyang
4th month, 1343
Zhengli ed.
zi "A
JDDY 6.28a29b
Zhengli ed.
JDDY 6.48a51b
Zhengli ed.
JDDY 6.57b58a
Zhengli ed.

Nanyangzi
%A
Yiyangzi
DA
Dingyang
zi !A

Appendix 3 to Chapter 2,
Translation of DZ 1070
The Master of Highest Yangs Great Essentials of the Golden Elixir: Stream of Transcendents2
Shangyangzi jindan daoyao xianpai /
 %!

1a2
Composed by the Master of Highest Yang of the Scarlet Palace of the Purple Empyrean, Chen
Zhixu, byname
Guanwu
,;-&/
=*$.9.
Stream of Transcendents xianpai !.
The GreatUltimate precosmic Laozi 1a4
1
.3
At the beginning of the Great Ultimate,4 the Celestial Sovereign of Marvelous Nonbeing
produced the three qi, the Mysterious, the Primal, and the Incipient xuan yuan shi  . The
Incipient Qi transformed, producing the precosmic Laozi. Since then, the precosmic Laozi has
been born down below time after time, by means of the Mysterious Qi.5
+

1 " 


5


This appendix is a complete translation of DZ 1070. In the Zhengtong daozang, this text is treated as a stand
alone text or perhaps an appendix to DZ 1067, but it was originally a section within juan 8 of Jindan dayao. The
Jindan zhengli daquan and Daozang jiyao editions of Jindan dayao retain this original structure.
3
Note how Laozi is not Most High taishang , i.e., at the top of the hierarchy of divinities. Rather, his pre
cosmic xiantian  origin is emphasized.
4

This is when nonbeing was rst showing signs of a division into yin and yang.

The following list of fteen names is a list of Laozis successive incarnations in di erent prehistoric and
historical eras. I have compared the sequence of names in a variety of texts: DZ 296, Lishi zhenxian tidao tongjian;
DZ 770, Hunyuan shengji; Laozi bashiyi huatu 
3 lost edition, quoted in T 2036, Fozu lidai tongzai,
49:713c; and T 2116, Bianwei lu, 52:755a, 756a; Laozi bashiyi huatu Hangzhou edition, quoted in Yoshioka, Dky
to Bukky, 1:199284; DZ 774, Youlong zhuan; Shenxian zhuan (0 in Campany, To Live as Long as Heaven and
Earth, 19496; DZ 1205, Santian neijie jing; S. 2295, Laozi bianhua jing; Huahu jing #2 in DZ 1139, Sandong
zhunang 9.6b7b; DZ 1437, Laozi Kaitian jing also DZ 1032, Yunji qiqian 2.9a14b; and DZ 1123 Yiqie jing yinyi
miaomen youqi.
For most of these I just looked at the chart in Kohn, God of the Dao, 218. I conclude that the lists closest to
Chens list are the lists in Tidao tongjian, Hunyuan shengji, and the Taish edition of the Bashiyi huatu the top three
items in the list above. The Tidao tongjian and Hunyuan shengji materials are extremely similar. Both may have
been based on a lost Hunyuan shilu ) 4<, which Tidao tongjiao quotes. To ll out these gures hagiographies
below, I rely on these two texts. Chens list and these other three lists are not identical, though.
Tidao tongjian does not identify these gures as avatars of Laozi, and they follow the entry on the Yellow
Emperor. This is an eccentric treatment of the material. It may have been a way of escaping the wrath of
Buddhist censors, or it may be a holdover from a Songdynasty arrangement of the material. In the Song, the
Yellow Emperor was said to be the imperial Zhao clans ancestor. Zhao Daoyi was a Song loyalist Tidao tongjian
includes prefaces by two Song loyalists, Liu Zhenwen 7' 123297
and Deng Guangjian :86 12321303
,
so this rst chapter on the Yellow Emperor may be a form of resistance to the Mongol conquest.

137

,,
Celestial Master of a Myriad Methods;6<appeared in the time of the earliest Great August One>. =$+%*
,7

The Great and Ancient Master;8 <appeared in the time of the middle Great August>.   *,
Master of Dense Florescence; <appeared in the time of the latter Great August One>.9 P6
(*,
Master of Great Attainment; <appeared in the time of Fuxi>.10 
G,
Master of Broad Attainment; <appeared in the time of the Yellow Emperor>.11 E
1L,12
Master Who Responds Freely; <appeared in the time of Shaohao>.13 JK
R,
Master of Red Essence; <appeared in the time of Duanxu>.14
1b1

C
N@,

Wanfa Tianshi is called Tongxuan Tianshi 4+, a.k.a. Xuanzhong Da Fashi  $+, in DZ 296, Tidao
tongjian. Tongxuan Tianshi produced the Dongzhen ). section of the Daoist canon in the time of the Celestial
August One tianhuang * the rst of the Three August Ones *, cosmogonic deities Tidao tongjian 2.1a .
The Taish ed. Bashiyi huatu gives this name as Wantian Fashi =$+, a.k.a. Xuanzhong Fashi  $+.
Fashi $+, translated here as master of methods, could alternatively be translated as master of doctrine,
master of
cosmic law, or even master of dharma.
7

The following phrases in angle brackets are found in the the Jindan zhengli daquan and Daozang jiyao eds., but not
in the DZ 1070 ed.
8

Yougu Da Xiansheng produced the Dongxuan ) section of the Daoist canon in the time of the Chthonic
August One Dihuang * ; DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 2.1a. The Taish ed. Bashiyi huatu concurs.
In Tidao tongjian, Yougu Da Xiansheng is followed by Pangu Xiansheng F, in the time of the Human
August One Renhuang * . The Taish ed. Bashiyi huatu gives Jinque Dijun &M'. This third gure is
missing from Chen Zhixus list.
9

Yuhuazi, a.k.a. Wanyua !6 or Tianyezi 5


, descended in the time of Fuxi QO = G , and transmitted
the Tianhuang neiwen * , and writings on the River Chart Hetu #A and Eight Trigrams. He also wrote the
Yuanyang jing 7> in thirtyfour rolls; DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 2.1b. The Taish ed. Bashiyi huatu is similar, but
without details. This Yuanyang jing sounds like a Lingbao scripture found as DZ 334, P. 2336, P. 2450, S. 3016, and
D4717, but these texts dont mention Yuhuazi, and do not have 34 juan.
In Tidao tongjian, Yuhuazi is followed by Guangshouzi EB
, who descended in the time of Zhurong 0H.
The Taish ed. Bashiyi huatu concurs.

10
Dachengzi, a.k.a. Chuanyuzi 8I
, descended in the time of Shen Nong /? and transmitted the Dihuang
neiwen * , and taught the people how to grow vegetables instead of hunting. Some say he wrote the Taiyi
yuanjing jing  C> in thirtysix rolls; DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 2.2a. The Taish ed. Bashiyi huatu is similar, but
without details. No Yuanjing jing is extant, but it is quoted briey several times in DZ 1032, Yunji qiqian 11.52b4,
64.2a3, 72.24a9 . It was a Lingbao scripture.
11
Guangchengzi taught selfcultivation to the Yellow Emperor; DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 2.2ab. The Taish ed.
Bashiyi huatu is similar, but without details. His dialogues with the Yellow Emperor were quoted in all manner of
Daoist texts. A Guangchengzi shul e E
-2 is included in the Zangwai daoshu 3:7058 .
12

In the Jindan zhengli daquan and Daozang jiyao editions, the eraascriptions from Guangchengzi to Guyi
Xiangsheng have been displaced, so Suiyingzi appears in the time of the Yellow Emperor an error instead of
Shaohao correct . I have corrected this error to avoid confusion.

13

Suiyingzi, a.k.a. Taiji Xiansheng <, descended in the time of Shaohao 9 = " and preached the
Zhuangjing jing 3;>; DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 2.3a. The Taish ed. Bashiyi huatu is similar.

14

Chijingzi preached the Weiyan jing :> in the time of Zhuanxu N@; DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 2.3a. The Taish
ed. Bashiyi huatu is similar. No Weiyan jing is extant, but a Weiyan : in three scrolls is mentioned at DZ 1185,
Baopuzi neipian 19.5a7.

138

Master of Records and Charts; <appeared in the time of Gaoxin>.15 OF63 


Master Who Has Completed His Task; <appeared in the time of Yao>.16 7=3 
Master Yin Shou; <appeared in the time of Shun>.17 G@3 
Master of Perfected Practice; <appeared in the time of Yu>.18 4,3 
Master Who Bestows Guidelines; <appeared in the time of Cheng Tang>.19 N&?3 
Master of the Ancient Burg.20 



Jian Keng <this is Pengzu>.21 WQ>5


Shang Rong.22 81
The precosmic Laozi, although he transformed and crossed over from one generation to the
next, did not reveal any traces of his births. But then in the time of the eighteenth Shang king,
Yangjia A, he took shelter as a fetus within the body of the Jade Maiden of Wondrous Mystery
15

Lutuzi descended in the time of Diku *V, and preached the Huangting jing B2C DZ 331, 332. He also
transmitted talismans to Diku, who ascended to become a celestial deity; DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 2.3b4a. The
Taish
ed. Bashiyi huatu is similar, but without details.

16

Wuchengzi descended in the time of Tang Yao /=, and preached the Xuande jing IC. Some say that he
wrote the Zhengshi xuanhua jing +!)
C in forty rolls; DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 2.4a. The Taish
ed. Bashiyi huatu
gives this as the Xuanhua jing )
C.
17

Yinshouzi descended in the time of Yu Shun D@, and preached the Daode jing. He transmitted the dao to
Pengzu >5. Some say he wrote the Tongxuan zhenyi jing <4C in seventy rolls, and the Daode jing in 1200
rolls !; DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 2.4a. The Taish
ed. Bashiyi huatu is the same. No Tongxuan zhenyi jing is extant, but
a text with a similar title, Wenzi tongxuan zhen jing <4C, is quoted in DZ 725, Daode zhenjing guangsheng yi,
by Du Guangting 2 3.19b6, 30.20b8. The quotes are in Daode jingstyle language.
18

Zhenxingzi, a.k.a. Ningzhenzi U4, descended in the time of Xia Yu 0,, and transmitted many texts and
talismans to Yu, including the Lingbao wufu TR; DZ 388, Taishang lingbao wufu xu. Some say he was called Ji
Ziken #$, and wrote the Yuanshi jing "C in fortysix rolls, the Miaole jing JC in seventy rolls, and the
Dewei jing I(C in thirty rolls; DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 2.4a5a. The Taish
ed. Bashiyi huatu gives this as a Yuanshi
jing in forty rolls. A Yuanshi jing is quoted at DZ 1032, Yunji qiqian 21.2a2, and Taiping yulan 9S 675.8a25.
Might Miaole jing refer to DZ 1192, Dahui Jingci Miaole Tianzun shuo fude wusheng jing?
19
Xizezi descended in the time of Shang Tang 8?, and preached the Changsheng jing %C. The Taish
ed.
Bashiyi huatu says this too. Some say he was called Xishouzi NG or Jie ziken $, and that he wrote the
Daoyuan jing E C in seventy rolls; DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 2.5ab. For translating his name, I take x N as a loan
word for c L.
20

The name Guyi Xiansheng shares the character yi with Xieyizi P  in DZ 296, Tidao tongjian; Huahu
jing; Kaitian jing, yi Xiansheng  with Wenyi Xiansheng  in Shenxian zhuan. Xieyizi, a.k.a.
Chijingzi H note that Chijingzi has already appeared in the list, descended and preached the Chijing jing 
HC. Xibo  i.e., Zhou Wenwang employed him as an archivist Tidao tongjian 2.5b. The Taish
ed. Bashiyi
huatu is similar.

21

Jian Keng is the avoidancename hui M of Pengzu >5. Pengzu was best known for his longevity. He was said
to have practiced gymnastics, sexual cultivation, etc., in order to live more than eight hundred years Campany, To
Live as Long as Heaven and Earth, 17286. It is unusual to see him listed as an avatar of Laozi. Jian Keng is not
mentioned in the Taish
ed. Bashiyi huatu.
22

Shang Rong was a worthy xianren K in the time of the last Shang king, Zhou - Shiji ., 55:2041a10f.. In
the Huainanzi :', Shang Rong is said to have been Laozis teacher. He stuck out his tongue, and from this
Laozi learned how to maintain his softness like the soft tongue; Huainan Honglie jijie, 1:237, j. 10. This may seem
at odds with the claim here that Shang Rong is an avatar of Laozi, but elsewhere in the Jindan daoyao, Chen Zhixu
himself says that Laozi took Shang Rong as his teacher 1.5a10b1, 16.9b12. Shang Rong is not mentioned in the
Taish
ed. Bashiyi huatu.

139

Xuanmiao Yun /=0 for eighty one years, only then being born. He descended and was
born between 5:00 and 7:00 a.m. on February 8, 1241 .23 He pointed to a plum tree to indicate
his surname.
4!7(( Y8.1 Mm'{2ho`/=0C
6$1O 24LD &%*hc\@^J
The Most High Laozi, the Mysterious Prime and Latter Day Sage. Z/"7
<Yin Xi, Master of the Origin of the Text>#I41t

25

< Gautama the Ancient Buddha> ,;

26

<Yin Gui, the Perfected of Great Harmony> "Fi a

< kyamuni> b#;

<Du Chong, the Perfected of the Great Ultimate> "i AB

<Mahkyapa> zb

<Peng Zong, the Perfected of Great Clarity> "ri uK <The 27 Patriarchs of India in the West> :! 
j
<Song Lun, the Perfected of Great Clarity> "ri >

<The First Chinese Patriarch, Bodhidharma> Qj

<Feng Zhang, the Perfected of the Western Marchmount> :i |S<The Second Patriarch, Huike>  jv+
<Yao Tan, the Perfected of the Mystic Continent> /]i WH

<The Third Patriarch, Jingzhi> jw

<Zhou Liang, the Perfected of the Eight Simplicities> ki GT

<The Fourth Patriarch, Daoxin> -jU



<Yin Zheng, the Perfected of the Great Ultimate> "i y 

<The Fifth Patriarch, Daman> j

<Wang Cong, the Perfected of the Yellow Court> }ei '

<The Sixth Patriarch, Dajian> j

<Li Yi, the Transcendent Minister of the Western Marchmount> :)d@

<Qingyuan Xingsi> r9[28

<the Elder, Sire on the River> P 

<Nanyue Huairang> V29

<Liu Jinbi the Perfected> Ri 

<Mazu Daoyi> lj30

<Master An Qi the Perfected> 5x1i 

<Shitou Xiqian> 3?31

<Master Ma Ming the Perfected> lN1i 

<Tianhuang Daowu> !_g32

<Yin Changsheng the Perfected> sS1i 

<Longtan Chongxin> pU33

<Xu Congshi the Perfected> fqEi 

<Deshan Xuanjian> X34

<Wei Boyang the Perfected> <{i 

<Gantan Ziguo> n35

23

The text gives the date and time as the mao * hour on 225 in the gengchen LD year of the Shang King
Wuding O .

24

The Jindan zhengli daquan ed. has $MO instead of $1O  . Daozang jiyao ed. has O.

25

The following names in angle brackets are found in the Jindan zhengli daquan and Daozang jiyao eds., but not in
the DZ 1070 ed.
26

Apparently, the person who compiled this Chan genealogy regarded Gautama and kyamuni as two dierent
persons.

27

Usually named "~ instead of " and instead of y.

28

Qingyuan Xingsi d. 740 was a disciple of Huineng.

29

Nanyue Huairang 677744 was a disciple of Huineng.

30

Mazu Daoyi 70988 was a disciple of Nanyue Huairang.

31

Shitou Xiqian 70090 was a disciple of Qingyuan Xingsi.

32

Tianhuang Daowu 738819 was a disciple of Shitou Xiqian.

33

Longtan Chongxin dates unknown was a disciple of Tianhuang Daowu.

34

Deshan Xuanjian 782865 was a disciple of Longtan Chongxin.

35

Gantan Ziguo dates unknown was an heir of Deshan Xuanjian.

140

<The Old Patriarch and Celestial Master, Zhang Daoling> 4 09G:

<Xuefeng Yicun> ;/E36

<Wang Chang, Perfected of the Left Mystery> 3%

<Yantou Cunhuo> ZQ,37

<Zhao Sheng, Perfected of the Right Mystery> 3I#

<Xuanquan Yan> *(38

2a1 The Great Sovereign of Eastern Florescence from the Purple Oce Cavern Heaven, Who
Establishes the Ultimate and Assists the Primal. $=<!J C'39
<Huanglong Huiji> ARHO40

Zhongli Quan, Sovereign Lord of Correct Yang Who Spreads Awakening and Transmits the Dao. ?
>1BG'SUY41
<Ge Xuan, the Old Transcendent Fellow of the Grand Ultimate> C6F
L Yan, Sovereign Lord of Pure Yang Who Morally Transforms People through Admonition, the
Trustworthy Right hand Aide. 5?X 'W42
<Ge Zhichuan, the Perfected Who Embraces the Unhewn> "3FD 43

Liu Cao, Sea Toad Sovereign Lord Who Propagates the Dao and Is a Pure Right hand Aide. 2VG
5'LN44
<Zheng Siyuan, the Perfected of Cinnabar Yang> 
?3M)K45
Wang Zhe, Sovereign Lord of Redoubled Yang and Complete Perfection, Who Spreads
Transformation. .?3> '[46
36
Xuefeng Yicun 822 908 was a disciple of Deshan Xuanjian, and master of Yunmen Wenyan @&7 864
949.
37

This must be Yantou Quanhuo ZQ 828 87, a disciple of Deshan Xuanjian and fellow of Xuefeng Yicun.

38

Xuanquan Yan, or Xuanquan Shanyan ( . 800s, was a disciple of Yantou Quanhuo.

39

This title was granted by Yuan Wuzong r. 1307 11 cf. DZ 174, Jinlian zhengzong xianyuan xiangzhuan 13b10.
Note that Donghuas title here, tiandi, is one level higher than his title as given in DZ 1069, Liexian zhi, where it is
dijun.
40

Huanglong Huiji dates unknown was a disciple of both Yantou Quanhuo and Xuanquan Shanyan. T 2035, Fozu
tongji, 49:390b4 14, records an encounter dialogue between Huanglong and L Dongbin. When passing Mt.
Huanglong, L Dongbin attended a public assembly ascending to the hall, shangtang 8 at Huanglong Huijis
monastery, and boasted about his inner elixir. When Huanglong mocked this, L Dongbin returned at night, and
attempted to assassinate Huanglong with a hidden sword. Huanglong parried the blows with a single nger, then
caused L to achieve enlightenment. Fozu tongji lists the source of this tale as Xianyuan yishi -P no longer
extant?.
This tale makes L Dongbin a disciple of Huanglong Huiji, with a lineage stretching back to Qingyuan Xingsi,
Bodhidharma, and
kyamuni. This Chan lineage leading up to L Dongbin was spliced into this chapter of
Jindan dayao by a later redactor. It is not found in the DZ 1067 edition, and probably was not known to Chen
Zhixu at all. L Dongbin is the butt of this story, which would contradict Chen Zhixus consistent veneration of
L.

41

This version of Zhonglis title is a combination of two dierent titles granted by Yuan Wuzong and Yuan Shizu
r. 1260 94; DZ 174, Jinlian zhengzong xianyuan xiangzhuan 15a3. Chen Zhixu gives the correct up to date title
granted by Yuan Wuzong on p. 4a4 below.
42

This is a combination of the titles from Yuan Shizu and Yuan Wuzong; DZ 174, Jinlian zhengzong xianyuan
xiangzhuan 16a10. Chen Zhixu gives the correct up to date title granted by Yuan Wuzong on p. 4a5 below.

43

This is Ge Hong F+ 283 343, the Master Who Embraces the Unhewn Baopuzi ".

44

This is an abbreviation of the title was granted by Yuan Wuzong; DZ 174, Jinlian zhengzong xianyuan xiangzhuan
18a1. The correct title is given on p. 4a6 below.

45

Zheng Yin MT, by name Siyuan . 298 302, was a disciple of Ge Xuan, and was Ge Hongs master.

46

This title was granted by Yuan Shizu; DZ 174, Jinlian zhengzong xianyuan xiangzhuan 23a3 4. The longer title
granted by Yuan Wuzong occurs on p. 4a7 below.

141

<Lan Yangsu, the Master Who Laughs Long on the Marchmount> c


/:f_;47

Ma Yu, Perfected Lord of Cinnabar Yang Who Embraces the One and Maintains
Nonaction. L)
I28"=n48
<Zhang Boduan, the Perfected of Purple Yang> JL>8>!U
Tan Chuduan, Perfected Lord of Extended Perfection of Clouds and Water Who Holds Virtue
Within. /8MkZ8"jCU49
<Shi Tai, the Perfected of the Apricot Grove> &,86
Liu Chuxuan, Perfected Lord of Long Life Who Assists Transformation and Illuminates Virtue. /
W+Z8"XC50
<The Perfected of Purple Nobility, Xue Shi> J^8d
Qiu Chuji, Perfected Lord of Extended Spring, Who Develops the Dao and Takes Charge of the
Teaching. /1TR?8"C`51
<Chen Nan, the Perfected of the Mud Pellet> -8EP
Hao Datong, Perfected Lord of Broad Tranquility Who Penetrates the Mysterious, Named
Great
Antiquity. YSD8"<D52 <Bai Yuchan, the Perfected of the Sea QiongJade> 7h8i
Wang Chuyi, Perfected Lord of Jade Yang Who Embodies the Mysterious and Saves Broadly. Lm
54
Y08"C53
<Peng Si, the Perfected of the Crane Grove> l,8FB
2b1
Sun Buer, Perfected Lord of Purity Who Sounds the Depths of Chastity and Obeys the Dictates
of Virtue. @bA3NZ8"4 55 <Xiao Tingzhi, the Perfected of Purple Vacuity> JK8a$ 56
Song Youdao, Sire YellowHouse, the Perfected of Virtuous Radiance Who Parts the Clouds. O'(
MZ8# R
Li Jue, the Perfected of the Grand Void Who Perches in Perfection, Named
Double Jade. KG
8g8%.
Patriarch Zhang Mu, Master of Purple Redgem, with the Byname Junfan. 95Jh >["\
Master Who Follows the Middle, Zhao Youqin. ] Q V  H
47

Lan Yangsu is mentioned by Li Jianyi %e* in DZ 245, Yuxizi danjing zhiyao, preface, 1a5b7. The story seems
to be, not a common legend, but part of Lis personal family heritage. In the story, Lis ancestor meets Lan at the
Southern Marchmount, and Lan does laugh long, so it appears Lis story is the locus classicus for this citation in
Jindan dayao. Lan is said to be an associate of Liu Haichan X7i, who is one of the patron saints of Quanzhen
Daoism and the Southern Lineage.
48

This title was granted by Yuan Shizu; DZ 174, Jinlian zhengzong xianyuan xiangzhuan 26b45. A title closer to
Yuan Wuzongs title occurs on p. 4a10 below.
49

This title was granted by Yuan Shizu; DZ 174, Jinlian zhengzong xianyuan xiangzhuan 29a56. Yuan Wuzong
granted a longer title, but a title even longer than Yuan Wuzongs title occurs on p. 4b1 below. It is a combination
of Shizus and Wuzongs titles.

50

This title was granted by Yuan Shizu; DZ 174, Jinlian zhengzong xianyuan xiangzhuan 31b56. The longer title
granted by Yuan Wuzong occurs below on p. 4b2.
51

This title was granted by Yuan Shizu; DZ 174, Jinlian zhengzong xianyuan xiangzhuan 35b1036a1. Yuan Wuzong
granted a longer title, but a title even longer than Yuan Wuzongs title occurs on p. 4b3 below.
Wang Yuyang should follow Qiu Chuji in the sequence, but in this text he follows Hao Datong.
52
This title was granted by Yuan Shizu; DZ 174, Jinlian zhengzong xianyuan xiangzhuan 41a45. The longer title
granted by Yuan Wuzong occurs below on p. 4b4.
53

This title was granted by Yuan Shizu; DZ 174, Jinlian zhengzong xianyuan xiangzhuan 38b1039a1. The longer title
granted by Yuan Wuzong occurs below on p. 4b5.

54

Peng Si 1185after 1251 was a disciple of Bai Yuchan.

55

This title was granted by Yuan Shizu; DZ 174, Jinlian zhengzong xianyuan xiangzhuan 43a12. The longer title
granted by Yuan Wuzong occurs below on p. 4b6.

56

Xiao Tingzhi . 1260 was a disciple of Peng Si.

142

Master of Highest Yang, Chen Zhixu.    y Z }57

3a1 Ritual for Celebrating the Birthdays of the Two Transcendents Zhong and L.
?
&
<The patriarchs surname is Zhongli,58 his byname is Yunfang, and his taboo
name is Quan. His time of birth was the 4 15.
Prior to this, on the 14th of the month, we hold a jiao
fte of celebration for him together with L the transcendent. The
other patriarchs surname is L, his byname is Dongbin, and his taboo
name is Yan. His ancestors resided at the Western
Capital <E in Henan Prefecture QUL,59 Mantuo County N, Yongle Town -. His four paternal uncles of his
mortal clan, were L Wen, L Gong, L Qian, and L Rang. L Rang served the Tang government as an ocial, and was
recommended for the post of functionary scribe in Hainingzhou,60 and the family was based there. Dongbin was born on May
30, 755, between 9 and 11 a.m.61 He was a bright child; after three attempts he passed the ocial exam, and was given the
command of Dehua62  in Jiangzhou 84 as District Magistrate, xianling %. He walked about in the Lu mountains,
where he encountered old man Zhongli, who gave him the sword technique of the celestial transcendents. After a further ten
trials, L attained the great dao of the golden elixir. Subsequently, he obtained the secret instructions on the ring periods from
Cui the Perfecteds Ruyao jing, and practiced self
cultivatation to complete the dao.>
jbI3M( .CO (1?&~jbI?3XajK<E
QULN- !=#( c$_f4|'2avX.O_ (5+(
(d):rxp84%2Blp&R :oT
onh  "]i7^;6

Sequence and rank of ritual participants; ritual actions; sprinkling and purifying; sending out
the incense.
AgRDu;\
We have respectfully heard that the season is the fourth month between late April and early June; it
is proper that the pure and harmonious trigram of summers beginning be full, with six yang lines:
the exact central moment of joyous and pure qian m , the dawn of the sagely masters birthdays. We
extend the sincerity of people of afterdays who pay respects and oer congratulations. In one voice,
with incense and owers, the pure assembly oers and requests the following.
cd( J[`tGFzkm,b.*/V {~t
w1\SH
Raise the incense and owers, and make the request three times.
\S
We cautiously bow and make our request, to:
W
Most High Lord Lao, Pre
cosmic Dao
Ancestor; 0j9@
Former Sages and Transcendent Masters of the Three Teachings, Who Have Achieved the Dao;63 q
57
The Jindan zhengli daquan and Daozang jiyao eds. have > instead of Z} , and do not space out the last two
names.
58

This section is found in the Jindan zhengli daquan and Daozang jiyao eds., but not in the DZ 1070 ed.

59

I.e., Luoyang Y. Luoyang was called the Eastern Capital during most periods. It was only called the Western
Capital during the Song, as well as the Later Liang s 907 23 and Later Jin e 936 46 Dynasties.
60

This is probably Haizhou f4, in present


day Donghai Pf County, Jiangsu Province, rather than the
Hainingzhou in present
day Zhejiang Province.

61

The text gives the date as 4 14 of Tianbao  14, an yiwei + year, the si  hour.

62

In present
day Jiujiang 8, Jiangxi Province. This place was called Dehua from the Southern Tang 937 75
until the Ming Dynasty.
63
Presumably, Chen Zhixu means to include all important sages from Daoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism
here, before concentrating on the Daoist sages in the rest of his list. Note that here, although the Three

143

+86 &
Master Yin, Celestial Worthy of the Origin of the Text;64
1
Yin, the Perfected of Great Harmony;65 (
Du, the Perfected of the Great Ultimate;66 5(
Peng, the Perfected of Great Clarity;67 '-2(
Teachings are given equal status, Taishang Laojun also stands preeminent over all Three Teachings. Yet Taishang
Laojun is not a universal deity: according to the Chinese way of referring to teachings by the name of their
founders, Laozi or Taishang Laojun is synonymous with Daoism. This is a Daoist inclusivism.
64

Yin Xi 0, byname Gongwen 


, a.k.a. Wenshi Xiansheng the Master of the Origin of the Text
of the
Daode jing , or Guanyinzi ?. He was the keeper of the Hangu Pass Hangu Guan ?, in presentday
Lingbao County A@<, Henan Province to whom Laozi transmitted the Daode jing before decamping for the
West. This was during the reign of Zhou Kangwang * . ca. 1000 ? . During the reign of Zhou
Zhaowang  . c. 990970 ? , Yin Xi built a straw tower caolou ): in the Zhongnan mountains .
 near the Hangu Pass , and Zhou Muwang ; . ca. 970940 ? later rebuilt this tower into the
TowerAbbey or TowerObservatory, Louguan :B .
Because other parts of DZ 1070 resemble the DZ 296, Tidao tongjian, it is possible that Chen Zhixu would also
have been familiar with the material contained in Yin Xis entry in Tidao tongjian 8.119. The entry contains a long
description of the alchemical teachings that Laozi transmitted to Yin Xi. The use of Yijing symbolism in the
teachings is reminiscent of the Cantong qi, yet the entry says Laozi transmitted Taiqing scriptures to Yin 8.6b46,
8.10a89 . Laozi also teaches Yin inner alchemy 8.7a9a , and nally gives him the Daode jing 8.11b1 . At the end
of Yins training, Laozi ascends to Heaven, but promises to meet Yin after one thousand days in the market of
the black goat qingyang zhi si 7 in Chengdu. Laozi is born into a local family, and transforms from the
form of an infant into his godlike golden body to greet Yin 8.13a4f. , then bestows Yin with the title Wenshi
Xiansheng, and a celestial oce. They then travel about the heavens and the holy isles and mountains, and nally
a few lines about their converting the Western barbarians are mentioned 17b59 . DZ 954, Taishang hunyuan
zhenlu, gives the same material at even greater length.
Yin was mentioned throughout the history of Daoism. In 1233, a longlost text attributed to him was
rediscovered and delivered to the Quanzhen master Yin Zhiping 11691251 , who had claimed Yin Xi as an
ancestor. The longlost text was called Guanyinzi ?, and the rediscovered text is DZ 667, Wushang miaodao
wenshi zhenjing.

65

Yin Gui $, byname Gongdu ", from Taiyuan %, was said to have been a disciple of Yin Xi, who
transmitted about one hundred Daoist sciptures to him. After Yin Xi went to his heavenly reward, Yin Gui
practiced together with Du Chong, abstained from grains and nourishing his qi. This stimulated the Most High
Lord Lao to make him a transcendent ocial of Duyang Gong 4. He wandered about the human realm
using his alchemical powers to succor the needy and sick: cf. his entries in DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 8.1921 and
Shenxian zhuan Campany, To Live as Long as Heaven and Earth, 34749 . Yin Guis link to Yin Xi may have been a
later addition by the 5th c. Louguan Daoists? .
Yin Gui is mentioned in Shangqing texts. According to later hagiographies, there is a Shangqing scripture
which mentions Yin Gui as roaming the cosmos with other lofty Perfected this scripture is a Shangqing qiongwen
dizhang ->
!/; this may be DZ 55
=Robinet A.30 or DZ 129 . Yin Gui is also listed in Tao Hongjings DZ
167, Dongxuan lingbao zhenling weiye tu as Jiuku Zhenren Jun
=Yin Gui ,#(
= $ 16b3 .
Elsewhere, Chen Zhixu refers to a lineage from Laozi to Yin Xi to Yin Gui. This is a lineage of the
transmission of enlightenment, parallel to the Chan lineage BuddhaMahakasyapaAnanda, and to a Confucius
Zengziother disciple lineage Jindan dayao, Daozang jiyao ed., 2.39a6b4 .
66

Du Chong , byname Xuanyi 3, from Haojing = in presentday Shaanxi, west of Xian heard of Yin
Xis ascendence, then went to stay at the tower Yin Xi had built. He practiced together with Yin Gui. During this
time, Zhao Muwang rebuilt into the tower into the TowerAbbey. After Du had dwelt at the TowerAbbey for over
twenty years, Yin Xi, now a Perfected, returned to bestow Du with alchemical scriptures. In 922 , at the end
of his mortal career, Du received a celestial post as Transcendent Monarch of Mt. Wangwu Wangwu Shan
Xianwang  . Cf. DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 9.1a2b.

67
Peng Zong 2, byname Faxian , from Pengcheng 2 presentday Tongshan 9 County, Jiangsu
Province , was said to have been a disciple of Du Chong in the time of Zhou Muwang. Several hagiographical

144


3b1 Song, the Perfected of Great Clarity;68 50
Feng, the Perfected of the Western Marchmount;69 C70
Yao, the Perfected of the Mystic Continent;70 (%0
Zhou, the Perfected of the Eight Simplicities;71 20
Yin, the Perfected of Great Tenuity;72 :0
Wang, the Perfected of the Yellow Court;73 8- 0

entries portray him as a wonderworker. In 866 , at the end of his mortal career, he was given a transcendent
position in charge of Chicheng Palace Chicheng Gong $, . Cf. DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 9.2b3b. His title is
also written as Taiqing 5, the same as the next gure, Song Lun.
68

Song Lun *, byname Dexuan =, from Luoyang, was said to have entered the TowerAbbey Terrace in 857
, reciting the Daode jing and ingesting herbal drugs. After twenty years, Lord Lao was stimulated by his pure
and sincere practice, and gave him talismans. He was known as a wonderworker and cosmic traveler. In 784 ,
at the end of his mortal career, he was given charge of the records of spirits and transcendents at the Central
Marchmount, Mt. Song Songgao Shan 93 . Cf. DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 9.4a5a.
69

Feng Chang 7", byname Yanshou <, from Lishan G presentday Lintong D> County, Shaanxi
Province , was said to have been hired as an archivist by Zhou Xuanwang & r. 827782  . He soon
resigned his post and became a Daoist. He recited the Daode jing and ingested herbs for several years, stimulating
the transcendent Lord Deng @ to descend and transmit holy scriptures. Later, Peng Zong, riding on a white tiger,
descended to his chamber and transmitted more scriptures. Feng made a name for healing the sick and saving
those in distress with his powers. In 751 , at the end of his mortal career, he was appointed as a Perfected of
the Western Marchmount. Cf. DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 9.5b6b. The entry in DZ 956, Zhongnan Shan Shuojing Tai
lidai zhenxian beiji 5a says Lord Deng transmitted the Huangting jing 8-; to him.

70

Yao Tan %, byname Yuantai /, from Pingyang 6 presentday Linfen D County, Shanxi Province ,
was said to have been employed by the lords of Jin . in the time of Zhou Pingwang  r. 771720  . He
recited the Daode jing and ingested pine resin for several decades, until a transcendent child bestowed him with
charts and scriptures. In 575 , at the age of 210, he disappeared in a terric thunderstorm, and was appointed
Xuanzhou Zhenren, in the White Water Palace Baishui Gong  , . Cf. DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 9.6b8a.
71

Zhou Liang #, byname Taiyi /, from Taiyuan +, was said to have been a disciple of Yao Tan, who
bestowed on him the Daode jing and the Basu zhen jing 20;. The Basu jing is a Shangqing scripture, text A.3.
in Robinets analysis of the Shangqing corpus. He served the people by exorcising ghosts and fox spirits. He
received honors from the Zhou prince. In 402 , at the end of his human career, he was appointed a Perfected
of the Qinlong 1E Palace. Cf. DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 9.8a9a. His entry in DZ 956, Zhongnan Shan Shuojing Tai
lidai zhenxian beiji 6a adds that he was a close companion of Zhou Lingwangs F r. 571544  son, and was
renowned for his musical abilities.
72

Yin Cheng ?, byname Chumo B, from Fenyang 6 presentday Yangqu County 6, Shanxi Province ,
was said to have entered the Tower Abbey in 399 . Qin Shihuang as well as successive Han emperors donated
lands to the Tower Abbey, and built buildings there and installed Daoists there in hopes of getting Laozi to return
from the West and teach them secrets of immortality. Too many of the faithful came to worship, and so Yin
changed his name to Lin  and escaped into the wilds. On Mt. Emei he met Lord Song Song Lun? , who
transmitted to him Sanhuang neiwen )
, and alchemical scriptures. The talismans gave him great magical
powers. In 87 , at the age of more than 340, Taiwei Dijun :' made Yin into Taiwei Zhenren. Cf. DZ
296, Tidao tongjian 9.9a11a.

73

Wang Tan 4, byname Yangbo A, from Taiyuan, was said to have served the Latter Han, then when
Empress L  gained power in 188  he quit in protest, and went into retirement at the Tower Abbey, where
he practiced qi circulation and breathing exercises. He was visited by transcendents who gave him secrets of
transforming his form. In 124 , when he was ninetyone, Xiling Jinmu F! sent transcendent ocials to
give him the title of Taiji Zhenren, and put him in charge of Dayou Gong , this may be Greater Cavern
Heaven #2 . Cf. DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 9.11b12b.

145

Li, the Transcendent Minister of the Western Marchmount;74 . 


the Elder, Sire on the River;75 
the Perfected, Master An Qi;76 $
the Perfected, Master Ma Ming;77



74

Li Yi / was said to have received his dao from Wang Tan and transmitted it and the Daode jing to Heshang
Gong . Li was installed as Transcendent Minister of the Western Marchmount by the Celestial Sovereign
Tiandi  . Cf. DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 9.12b.
His entry in DZ 956, Zhongnan Shan Shuojing Tai lidai zhenxian beiji 7b adds that his byname was Zhongfu ),
and he came from Yingchuan - ? . He entered the Daoist vocation at the Tower Abbey when Han Wudi r.
14187  was installing new Daoists there. He encountered Yin Gui, and was promoted to Duyang Gong Yin
Guis bureau , where he served a Transcendent Lord Wang Wang Xianjun  . He ascended as Transcendent
Minister of the Western Marchmount in 179 .
But Li Zhongfu and Li Yi were probably generally not the same gure. Li Zhongfu  has an entry in the
Shenxian zhuan Campany, To Live as Long as Heaven and Earth, 23032 , and is mentioned by Tao Hongjing in DZ
1016, Zhengao as being a transcendent Director of Destiny Siming ; 9.22a1 , the Perfected of the Central
Marchmount 10.18b5 , and the master of Zuo Ci ' 12.3b1 . This Li Zhongfu has nothing to do with the Li Yi
of either of the above TowerAbbeyrelated hagiographies.
Note: Chen Zhixus lineage leaps from the TowerAbbey masters to Heshang Gong, but the TowerAbbey
lineage in Zhongnan Shan Shuojing Tai lidai zhenxian beiji continues on for twentytwo more TowerAbbey gures
before leaping to the Quanzhen master Yin Zhiping who wished to attach himself to the TowerAbbey lineage .
75

According to the Shenxian zhuan, Heshang Gong lived in a hut by the river and studied the Daode jing. Han
Jingdi r. 157141  called him to court to consult him about the Daode jing, and when Heshang Gong would not
come, went out to visit him in person DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 12.13f. and other texts say it was Han Wendi
r. 180
157  . But Heshang Gong rejected the emperors authority over him, and humbled the emperor by levitating
above him.
The commentary to the Daode jing attributed to Heshang Gong may not be a Han commentary; it may date
from between the 3rd c.  and the Sui Dynasty. The standard received version of the Daode jing in fact comes
from the edition of the Daode jing in the Heshang Gong commentary.
DZ 770, Hunyuan shengji 7.1a45 says that Heshang Gong was an avatar of Laozi.

76
Master An Qis name is written as $ in later hagiographies, but the Liexian zhuan  & gives his name as
$. According to the Liexian zhuan, An was called to an interview with Qin Shihuang r. 221210  . They
spoke for three days and nights. Qin Shihuang rewarded An handsomely, but An discarded the treasure, and
disappeared, leaving a pair of red jade slippers and the message: Meet me in Penglai +% in a few years some
texts give: in a thousand years . Qin Shihuang sent search parties out into the Eastern Sea, but they did not nd
Penglai DZ 294, Liexian zhuan 2.14b; Kaltenmark, Le Liesien tchouan, 11518 .
By some accounts, Heshang Gong taught Master An Qi Shiji 80.2436a12, quoted in DZ 296, Tidao tongjian
13.1b6; also, Gaoshi zhuan !& 2.10a . By another account, Master An Qi taught Master Ma Ming, who in turn
taught Master Yin Chang Hunyuan shengji 7.1a56 . The AnMaYin lineage is relatively early. Pregadio notes that
Tao Hongjing contested the usual attributed origin of the Taiqing teachings to Zuo Ci , and says that the Taiqing
teachings came from the AnMaYin lineage Pregadio, Great Clarity, 145, citing Robinet, La Rvlation du
Shangqing, 1:10, who cites DZ 300, Tao Huayang yinju neizhuan 2.6b .
Putting the Shiji and Huanyuan shengji accounts together and discounting parts of each account discounting
the Shiji lineage after An Qi and the Hunyuan shengji lineage after Yin Changsheng gives the HeshangAnMaYin
sequence in Chen Zhixus list. These four gures also appear in sequencesignicantly followed by Wei Boyang
in Tidao tongjian 12.13a13.15a. In Chen Zhixus list, the XuWei Cantong qi alchemical lineage directly follows the
HeshangAnMaYin Taiqing alchemical lineage.
77
Master Ma Mings name is written as  in most hagiographies, but the Shenxian zhuan gives his name as
* Campany translates this as Master Horseneigh . According to the Shenxian zhuan, his name was originally
He Junxian ,. He took Master An Qi for his teacher, and received two alchemical scriptures from him: the
Grand Purity and the Gold Liquor Taiqing Jinye dan jing
#"( . He lived for ve hundred years, then
eventually ascended to Heaven; Campany, To Live as Long as Heaven and Earth, 32526. Mas entries in DZ 296,
Tidao tongjian 13.3a8b and DZ 1032, Yunji qiqian 106.15b21a include a long story about Ma following a female
Perfected, who brought in An Qi Sheng to teach him. DZ 962, Wudang fudi zongzhen ji 2.21a, gives the alchemical

146

the Perfected, Yin Changsheng;78 '


the Perfected Xu Congshi;79 "
<the Perfected Wei Boyang>;

80

3)



teachings Ma received as Taiyang shendan )!.


78
Yin Changshengs name could be also be parsed as Yin Chang Sheng
Master Yin Chang . According to the
Shenxian zhuan, Yin came from a noble family, but having heard of Master Ma Ming, he served him as a servant.
After ten years, Ma transmitted the Taiqing shendan jing $!- to Yin at Mt. Qingcheng 
Wudang fudi
zongzhen ji 2.21a gives Taiyang shendan )! and Mt. Wudang . He travelled about performing good works for
three hundred years before taking a full dose of the elixir and ascending to Heaven
Campany, To Live as Long as
Heaven and Earth, 274 77 . Yins entries in DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 13.8b 13a and DZ 1032, Yunji qiqian 106.21b 24b
add detail to the same general story.
Yin, together with An and Ma, were seen as part of a Taiqing alchemical lineage from early on
ca. 3rd c. ,
Ge Hongs time or before . But in the Tang and Song, Yin was seen as part of a Cantong qi alchemical lineage.
Three Tang or Songperiod works attributed to Yin Changsheng are included in the Zhengtong daozang: DZ 226,
Ziyuan Jun shoudao chuanxin fa; DZ 904, Jinbi wuxianglei cantong qi; and DZ 999, Zhouyi cantong qi
with Yins
commentary .
79

No entry for Xu Congshi exists in any Daoist hagiographical work, but he is mentioned in writings about the
Cantong qi. There is a tradition that, after Wei Boyang composed the Cantong qi, Xu Congshi was the rst
recipient of the text. In his preface to DZ 1002, Zhouyi cantong qi fenzhang tongzhen yi, Peng Xiao says that Wei
Boyang rst gave the text to Xu Congshi of Qingzhou 
preface, 1a9 10 , who wrote an anonymous
commentary to it. Later, in the time of Han Xiaohuandi /
r. 146 67 , Wei transmitted the text again, to
Chunyu Shutong #%, whom we have to thank for spreading the text in the world
preface, 1a9 b1 . There is
a tradition that Xu Congshis personal name was Jingxiu (
supposedly mentioned in Yu Yans 6 DZ 1005,
Zhouyi cantong qi fahui, but I could not nd the reference; cf. Xiao Hanming and Guo Dongsheng, Zhouyi cantong
qi yanjiu, 5.
Guwen Cantong qi jianzhu, Zangwai daoshu, 6:254 70, is ascribed to Chen Jingxiu, named Congshi, of
Eastern Han Qingzhou. Finally, at DZ 1016, Zhengao 12.8b3, we are told that Chunyu Shutong received the
Cantong qi from Xu Congshi rather than from Wei Boyang himself.
By another tradition, however, Xu Congshi composed the rst juan of the Cantong qi, and transmitted it to
Wei Boyang. Wei composed the second juan, and transmitted both to Chunyu Shutong, who composed the third
juan
Xiao Hanming and Guo Dongsheng, Zhouyi cantong qi yanjiu, 27 28 . Xiao and Guo say that this is closer to
the truth, and that Peng Xiaos version of the lineage is erroneous
ibid., 33 .
In other places in his writings, Chen Zhixu gives a YinXuWei sequence. In his Cantong qi commentary Zhouyi
Cantong qi fenzhang zhu, Daozang jiyao ed., 3.40a5 6, Chen Zhixu cites Peng Xiaos preface to DZ 1002, Zhouyi
cantong qi fenzhang tongzhen yi, which would make Wei the master and Xu the disciple
see above . But in the same
passage, immediately after citing Peng Xiao, Chen says that Weis initial teacher was Yin, but that Wei afterward
took Xu as his teacher. And at DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 13.19a6 9, Chen says that Wei Boyang received
the dao from Xu, wrote the Cantong qi to express this teaching, and passed it on to Fuyuan Tianshi 0
.
Fuyuan Tianshi here must be an error for or variation on Fuhan Tianshi 0/ , i.e., Zhang Daoling. Chen
also says this at DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 1.1a7.
80

Not much is known for sure about Wei Boyang. His birthyear has been given as 107 , but he may be a
legendary gure. A Songdynasty source gives his personal name as Ao 2, his byname as Boyang, and his style
name as Yunyazi *
DZ 1017, Daoshu 34.1a1 . He was said to have come from Shangyu . in Guiji ,1, and
to have written the Zhouyi cantong qi, and a related text, the Wuxiang lei 4. Entries on Wei in the standard
hagiographical collections repeat a story in which he takes an elixir and fakes his death in order to test the faith
of three disciples.
As mentioned in the above note, Peng Xiao says Wei was active in the reign of Han Huandi
r. 146 67 , and
was linked with gures named Xu Congshi and Chunyu Shutong. Pregadio has shown that a text entitled Cantong
qi was extant by at least 200 , and was probably composed and transmitted in southeastern China until it came
into contact with alchemical and Shangqing teachings; Pregadio, The Early History of the Zhouyi cantong qi, 153
59. So the Han Dynasty is indeed an appropriate era for Wei Boyang and the Cantong qi whether in fact or legend.
Links between Wei Boyang and Laozi have been proposed by some. Chen Xianwei &5+
. 1254 claims
that Wei Boyang was a manifestation body
huashen  of Laozi; DZ 1007, Zhouyi cantong qi jie 2.20a7. Fukui
Kjun suggests that Laozis byname Boyang ) gave rise to the legendary gure Wei Boyang; Fukui, A Study of
Choui Tsantungchi.

147

<the Perfected Liu Jinbi>;81 +(

the Great Ritual Master of the Three Heavens;82  


the Great Ritual Master amidst the Mystic;83 
81

I can nd nothing denite on this gure. By placing him after Wei Boyang in the list, Chen seems to be
presenting him as a Handynasty follower of Wei. His monicker Jinbi also suggests the Jinbi jing ($, a text
or textliation related to the Cantong qi. Chen Zhixu does not mention the name Liu Jinbi in his Jindan dayao, but
at one point he does mention a Liu Yan +& as author of or commentator to a Longhu shangjing .$
Jindan dayao, Daozang jiyao ed., 2.21b9 . Longhu shangjing probably refers to the wellknown Longhu jing, which
was closely related to the Cantong qi and Jinbi jing. So perhaps Jinbi is the byname of this Liu Yan. I have not been
able to nd any other reference to Liu Yan.
82
This is Zhang Daoling. At DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 13.19a89, Chen says that Wei Boyang transmitted
his dao to Fuyuan Tianshi * , i.e., Fuhan Tianshi *' , i.e., Zhang Daoling. In the DZ 1070 list, Liu
Jinbi is interposed between Wei and Zhang, but I cannot say why.
Zhang Daoling . 141 is remembered as the founder of the Celestial Master movement though some have
argued that his grandson Zhang Lu , coopted the organization of an unrelated Zhang Xiu , and
subsequently promoted Zhang Daoling posthumously as the founding Celestial Master; cf. Ren Jiyu, Zhonuo
daojiao shi, rev. ed., 3738 .
The hagiography of Zhang Daoling is more relevant to us than his actual historical identity. From the end of
the Tang Dynasty, he was remembered as the founding patriarch of the Celestial Master lineage headquartered at
Mt. Longhu in presentday Jiangsu. The new ritual traditions of the Song Dynasty, and popular religion down to
today, remembered him as a demonqueller he is included as a patriarch of the Qingwei " tradition; cf. DZ
171, Qingwei xianpu 11a .
Pregadio makes the important point that Zhang Daoling was remembered as an alchemist. The Shenxian zhuan
emphasizes Zhangs knowledge of the Elixirs of the Nine Tripods of the Yellow Emperor Huangdi jiuding dan !
%
, and also claims that Zhangs involvement with the Celestial Masters was really just a strategy for raising
funds for his own alchemical endeavors Campany, To Live as Long as Heaven and Earth, 350 . This early
reinterpretation of Zhang Daolings activities as covers for laboratory alchemical work is quite reminiscent of
Chen Zhixus view that the activities of sages of the past were all covers for another sort of alchemy. Pregadio
argues that Shangqing Daoists remembered Zhang Daoling as a Taiqing alchemist in order to both acknowlege
the Celestial Masters presence in the Jiangnan region and assert the preeminence of their own teachings over the
Celestial Masters teachings; Pregadio, Great Clarity, 149. But Zhang Daoling was remembered as an alchemist
long after the extinction of the Shangqing lineage. Pregadio notes that If one reads the account of Zhangs life in
the fourteenthcentury
DZ 1473 Lineage of the Han Celestial Masters Han tianshi jia with no knowledge of the
crucial role that he played in the history of Daoism, one might indeed take that account to refer to an alchemist ;
ibid., 151.
It is primarily as an alchemist that Chen Zhixu remembers Zhang Daoling. Note that Zhang Daoling is
followed by Wang Chang and Zhao Sheng in DZ 1070 list the intervening Xuanzhong Dafashi, who must be Wei
Jie #, is perplexing . Wang Chang and Zhao Sheng are linked to Zhang Daoling in his persona as a master of
esoteric methods especially alchemy . If Chen Zhixu were remembering Zhang Daoling primarily as the founder
of a Daoist lineage, he would have included Zhangs son, grandson, and possibly even his wife in the list, rather
than his disciples Wang and Zhao. In DZ 296, Tidao tongjian, the entries for Wang Chang and Zhao Sheng appear
directly after Zhang Daolings entry, and before the entry for Zhang Lu, whereas in DZ 1473, Han Tianshi shijia,
Wang and Zhao of course do not receive individual entries, as they do not belong to the Han clan.
83

This must be Wei Jie #, but I cannot imagine why Wei Jie would follow Zhang Daoling in Chens list. Wei Jie
496569 , byname Chuyuan  , came from Duling  near presentday Xian . He served successive
Northern Wei 386534 emperors, beginning as a court calligrapher at the age of fourteen. He was permitted to
go to Mt. Song to study under Master Zhao Jingtong )-. Zhao asked him to nd a better place to practice;
Wei used divination to choose the south side of Mt. Hua, so he received the monicker Huayangzi  . At Mt.
Hua he ingested numinous drugs, and practiced the teachings of the Huangting jing !$. He possessed both
Shangqing and Lingbao scriptures. He wrote commentaries to the Xisheng jing $ excerpted in DZ 726,
Xisheng jing jizhu; cf. Kohn, Taoist Mystical Philosophy and other Daoist and Confucian texts, and also wrote a
hagiography of Yin Gui. Zhou Wudi r. 56078 was pleased with him, and gave him the title Xuanzhong Dafashi.
Cf. DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 29.4a5b.
Note: Xuanzhong Dafashi is also a name for Taishang Laojun in his role as the teacher treasure shibao 
/ , the great teacher of all Daoists cf. DZ 1032, Yunji qiqian 43.5a6; Tidao tongjian 23.4a7 .

148

the Perfected Wang of the Left Mystery;84  


the Perfected Zhao of the Right Mystery;85 1
Ge the Old Transcendent Fellow of the Grand Ultimate;86 -/

the Grand Astrologer and Chief of Transcendents of the Nine Prefectures
of China '
 ;87
84

This is Wang Chang or Wang Zhang , Zhang Daolings rst foremost disciple. According to Zhang
Daolings entry in Shenxian zhuan, Zhang only entrusted his most essential Nine Caldron jiuding 0 alchemical
teachings to Wang, and later, Zhao. The Shenxian zhuan dwells on Zhangs testing of his disciples among who only
Wang and Zhao displayed sucient tenacity and faith. In the end, Zhang and the two disciples ascend into the
clouds together. Cf. Campany, To Live as Long as Heaven and Earth, 35254.
According to the DZ 296, Tidao tongjian entry 19.1a , Wang was the only one of Zhangs disciples from
Shandong to accompany him to Mt. Yunjin +5 near presentday Luzhou 7, Sichuan Province .
85

This is Zhao Sheng 1, Zhang Daolings other foremost disciple. The Shenxian zhuan entry says that Zhang
awaited Zhaos arrival in Sichuan, and gave Zhao seven trials, which he passed Campany, To Live as Long as Heaven
and Earth, 35254 . The DZ 296, Tidao tongjian entry 19.1b adds that Zhaos byname was Lutangzi )!.
Wang Chang and Zhao Sheng are listed in Tao Hongjings DZ 167, Dongxuan lingbao zhenling weiye tu as
Protectorgenerals of the Three Heavens Santian duhu '8 9a8 . They would seem to be demonquellers
in Tao Hongjings pantheon.
86
This is Ge Xuan /, Ge Hongs greatuncle. In the Shenxian zhuan he is portrayed as a typical master of
esoterica, and adept . . . who sees and controls spirits and is on familiar terms with local gods, who heals the sick,
. . . and who seems most memorable for his illusional arts of multilocality and transformation . . .
and his use of
talismans Campany, To Live as Long as Heaven and Earth, 158 . Campany notes that, although Ge Xuan transmits
alchemical scriptures, he is not depicted as an alchemist in the Shenxian zhuan.
Ge Xuan became even more important in the Lingbao scriptures, in which he is a highranking deied human,
and a main vector for the transmission of teachings from the Lingbao deities to the human realm. Bokenkamp
has argued that Ge Xuans exalted place in the Lingbao scriptures is a reaction on the part of Ge Chaofu /",
the author of the early Lingbao scriptures, against earlier Shangqing revelations which had demoted Ge Xuan to
the rank of a lowly earthbound spirit Bokenkamp, Sources of the Lingpao Scriptures, 44243 .
According to Ges long entry in DZ 296, Tidao tongjian whole of j. 23 , his byname was Xiaoxian , and his
ancestors had dwelt in Langye .% in presentday Shandong Province and served the Han Dynasty. At the age
of fteen or sixteen, he was visited by the Perfected Xu Laile  while strolling on Mt. Tiantai, and received
all thirtyeight sections of the Lingbao scriptures, as well as ten types of zhailiturgy 23.3bf. . After serving his
uncle Ge Mi /6 23.4f. , he chose Mt. Gezao 3 in presentday Qingjiang $ County, Jiangxi Province; in
the late Tang this was considered to be the home mountain of the Lingbao lineage as a place to complete his
alchemical procedures. However, his ancestors had killed many people in battle while serving the Han Dynasty,
and Ge had rst to perform Lingbao liturgies to save their souls and remove this obstruction to his progress
23.5af. . The narrative abruptly shifts to recounting Ges magical feats from the Shenxian zhuan 23.7bf. , and his
exchanges with the ruler of Wu  Sun Quan 9, r. 22252 23.10b17a . Eventually he leaves the Wu ruler to
work on his alchemical elixir with disciples in solitude. He tried to rene his elixir for a long time without
success, leaving traces of his alchemical platforms in twentytwo dierent spots on dierent mountains 23.17b .
He used to sing about how he was already sixty years old and had still to successfully complete his elixir 23.17b10
18a1 . Finally, on Dec. 24, 238 , the Most High three times bestowed Ge with titles and clothes of celestial oce
as reward for his pains 23.18b420a . Ges elixir was nally ready at this time too, so he was able to ingest it and
ascend to Heaven at the age of eightyone 23.21a9 . DZ 450, Taiji Ge Xiangong zhuan, covers the same material as
the Tidao tongjian entry, often verbatim.
It is important to know the content of the full, late Ge Xuan hagiography, because Chen Zhixu seems to have
been aected by Ge Xuans story. A halfdozen times Chen cites Ges lament at being sixty years old and still
unsuccessful at his elixir. For Chen, the moral of the story is that even a great transcendent like Ge had to face
old age and failure, before nally succeeding, so lesser mortals should be prepared for the same or worse.
87

This is Xu Xun &2 some read 2 as Sun . The gure Xu Xun does not appear in Six Dynasties hagiography:
his cult developed out of a local Jiangxi deity cult, only appearing within Daoism in the late Tang.
Xu Xun 23992/374? , byname Jingzhi ,, a.k.a. Xu Jingyang &#*, lived in Yuzhang 4( a.k.a. Hongzhou
, presentday Nanchang , Jiangxi Province . After his mortal career, he was worshiped locally as a healer
and dragonqueller, later becoming seen on a national scale as a paragon of lial piety and patron of the Jingming

149

4a1 and the Eleven Perfected Lords, from Wu to Huang P9.88


We respectfully look for the transcendents to have the compassion to descend to their seats at this
jiaofte.
5A R2fk4
We cautiously bow and make our request, to:
h/^
The ancestral masters: :3
the Great Sovereign of Eastern Florescence from the Purple Oce Cavern Heaven , Who
Establishes the Ultimate and Assists the Primal;89 *LK'ZS.
Sovereign Lord Zhongli of Correct Yang Who Spreads Awakening, Transmits the Dao, and Sends down
the Teachings; giNM6QV-?.
Sovereign Lord of Pure Yang Who Develops Uprightness and Morally Transforms People through
Admonition, the Trustworthy Righthand Aide; <NXl !.
Zhongxiao B)( Daoist tradition. Song Huizong
r. 1100 25 recognized Xu Xun with an the ocial title
Shengong Miaoji Zhenjun ;e9 in 1112, and Yuan Chengzong
r. 1295 1307 expanded it to Shengong
Miaoji Zhidao Xuanying Zhenjun ;eVd9
Akizuki, Chgoku kinsei dky no keisei, 5 . Akizuki says
that Jingming Daoism was founded later by Liu Yu \
1257 1308 . Cf. Boltz, A Survey of Taoist Literature, 70 78.
It is important to know how Chen Zhixu saw Xu Xun. Xus entry in the DZ 296, Tidao tongjian
j. 26 is almost
a verbatim copy of Jingyang Xu Zhenjun zhuan @ND9Q
j. 33 of Yulong ji cO, by Bai Yuchan j, in
DZ 263, Xiuzhen shishu, j. 31 6 , plus sections from Xu Zhenjun zhuan D9Q and Yujiang Zhenjun cegao
biaowen >29 Y, in j. 34 of Yulong ji. I summarize this Tidao tongjiao entry forthwith. As a youth, Xu
heard that Wu Meng C had received marvelous prescriptions, and went to study from him. Wu taught him all
he knew. Xu then visited the named mountains with Guo Pu Fa
276 324: Guos birthdate belies the story ,
settling at the Mt. Xiaoyao E[, south of Mt. West
Xishan , 30 km from Nanchang
26.1b . In 280 he was
made magistrate of Jingyang @N County in Shu U Commandery
in presentday Zhijiang + County, Hubei
Province ; he was a paragon of virtue, and used his post to spread moral transformation among his subordinates
and the people of the region. He also used his miraculous prescriptions to heal the sick in great numbers
26.2 .
When saw the Jin Dynasty was in decline and he decided to leave his post, the local people begged him not to
leave
26.3 . He received sword techniques from ve transcendent maidens, and went with Wu Meng to study
under Chenmu b&
later included in the Qingwei Daoist lineage
26.3b . She had been waiting for him to arrive
for many years, and transmitted to him the Way of Filiality
Xiaodao V , talismans, alchemical teachings, and
Correct Unity
Zhengyi  demonquelling methods
26.4a , etc. She revealed to Xu and Wu their celestial
titles
Xus was Gaoming Dashi =)$ , and told Wu to take Xu as his teacher
26.4b . Xu and Wu pursued a
career of wonderworking and demon and dragonslaying, the site of each deed part of the XuXun cults sacred
topography
26.5 14b . Finally, when Xu was 136 years old, transcendents descended to reward him for his years of
magical healing and dragonslaying with a new celestial title and post of Jiuzhou Duxian Taishi Gaoming Dashi 
G
=)$
26.15a3 . He left instructions for his eleven disciples, achieved the salvation of his
ancestors, and arose to Heaven with his whole household, including chickens and dogs
26.16b3 . The entry
concludes with records of imperial edicts honoring Xu. There are several clues that Chen Zhixu knew this
material, whether from Bai Yuchans text or other sources. He gives the same title for Xu Xun
Jiuzhou Duxian
Taishi , and the same list of eleven disciples
see below .
88

These are Xu Xuns eleven disciples. The sequence and details of the eleven vary between dierent Xu Xun
hagiographies. According to the chart on Akizuki, Chgoku kinsei dky, 35, a version of the list beginning with a
gure named Wu and ending with a gure named Huang can be found in three texts: DZ 448, Xishan Xu Zhenjun
bashiyi hua lu; DZ 296, Tidao tongjian
27.1 9 ; and Xiaoyao Shan qunxian zhuan E[T Q
in j. 35 of Yulong ji, by
Bai Yuchan, in DZ 263, Xiuzhen shishu . The Tidao tongjian material seems to be an abridged copy of Bai Yuchans
text, with added commentary.
This list of eleven from Wu to Huang is: Wu Meng C, Chen Xun H_, Zhou Guang %], Zeng Heng
J, Shi He 71, Gan Zhan `, Shi Cen 0", Peng Kang I#, Xu Lie n8, Zhongli Jia giW, Huang
Renlan Pm.
89

For the following twelve Quanzhen patriarchs, see notes to their titles above, pp. 141 42, nn. 46 55.

150

SeaToad Sovereign Lord Who Illumines with Awakening, Propagates the Dao, and Is a Pure Right
hand Aide; 4^#2M8&
and Sovereign Lord of Redoubled Yang and Complete Perfection, Who Spreads Transformation and
Assists the Ultimate. ,G5FRK&
We respectfully look for the transcendents to have the compassion to descend to their seats at this
jiaofte.
1< J-[_0
We cautiously bow and make our request, to:
](V
The ancestral masters: 6/
Perfected Lord of Cinnabar Yang Who Embraces the One, Maintains Nonaction, and Disseminates
Moral Transformation; G"A*@5
4b1 Perfected Lord of Extended Perfection of Clouds and Water and Dark Tranquility Who
Concentrates His Spirit and Holds Virtue Within; %5H
X7Y`T5
Perfected Lord of Long Life Who Assists Moral Transformation, Takes Mystery as Its Principle, and
Illuminates Virtue; %R!#T5
Perfected Lord of Extended Spring, Who Develops the Dao, Makes Virtue Complete, Miraculously
Transforms, and Illumines Response; %)OMT7#Z5
Perfected Lord of Broad Tranquility and the Marvelous Ultimate, Named Great Antiquity; SN?
K 5
Perfected Lord of Jade Yang Who Embodies the Mysterious and Broadens Compassion and
Disseminates Salvation; GbSJ@'5
Primal Lord of Purity and the Mysterious Void, Who Sounds the Depths of Chastity and Obeys the
Dictates of Moral Transformation
Qingjing Yuanzhen Xuanxu Shunhua Yuanjun =Y>+DI
 .
We respectfully look for the transcendents to have the compassion to descend to their seats at this
jiaofte.
1< J-[_0
We cautiously bow and make our request, to:
](V
Perfected of Purple Yang, Who is Awakened to the Real, from Tiantai
Tiantai Wuzhen Ziyang
Zhenren  25BG5 ;90
Perfected of the Apricot Grove, of Halcyon Mystery;91 Q$5
Perfected of DaoRadiance, the Purple Worthy;92 MBW5
90

His surname was Zhang :, personal name Boduan P, byname Pingshu  , later personal name Yongcheng
, from Bead Street in Tiantai County  aCE
in presentday Zhejiang Province
DZ 143, Ziyang
zhenren wuzhen zhizhi xiangshuo sancheng miyao 15a . Zhang Boduan
traditional dates 987 1082 was the author the
Wuzhen pian 25U Stanzas on awakening to the real , the single most important inner alchemy text.

91

His surname was Shi , personal name Tai 3, byname Dezhi ;, stylenames Xinglin $ and Cuixuan Q
, from Changzhou 9. Shi Tais dates are traditionally given as 1022 1158. He is said to helped get Zhang
Boduan out of prison, and become his rst proper disciple. Cf. DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 49.12b 13b.

92

His surname was Xue \, personal names Daoguang M, Shi , and Daoyuan ML, byname Taiyuan .,

151

the MuddyPellet Perfected of the Halcyon Void;93 (RG6


5a1 and Perfected of Purple Purity from Hainan.94 5+F@6
We respectfully look for the transcendents to have the compassion to descend to their seats at this
jiaofte.
4?K/]c3
We cautiously bow and make our request, to:
_-X
the ancestral masters: 72
Song, Sire YellowHouse, the Perfected Who Parts the Clouds; J%&I695
Li, the Perfected of the Grand Void; G6
Zhang, the Perfected of Purple Qiongjade; Fa<6
Preceptor Zhao, the Perfected of Following the Middle; ,2WMS6
Preceptor Liu, the Perfected of ValleyCloud. ,2IU696
<Chen the Perfected, Master of Highest Yang> HB697

We respectfully look for the transcendents


all sages and worthies from the past to the present who
have cultivated perfection, studied transcendenthood, and achieved the Dao
to have the compassion
to descend to their seats at this jiaofte.
$ !06[=PNY4?K/]c3
We extend a notication and request, asking that the deities forgive the sully of stooping down
to us. We oer up our hope that we might detain the deities, that they might accept our
from Mt. Chickenfoot `
in presentday Shan : County, Henan Province , or possibly from Langzhou e
 area of presentday Langzhong e , Sichuan Province . He had once been a monk, with the dharmanames
Zixian FY and Chan Master Piling .A\2. Xue Shis dates are traditionally given as 1078 1191. According to
his entry in DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 49.13b 14b, he had practiced selfcultivation this is described in a mixture of
neidan and Buddhist language and achieved a certain level of enlightenment as a Buddhist monk, before meeting
Shi Xinglin in 1106, and received his neidan teachings, later returning to the lay life in order to practice neidan.
93

His surname was Chen B, personal name Nan L, byname Nanmu +, stylenames Cuixu RG and Niwan (
, from Whitewater Cli d in Boluo Cb County near presentday Huizhou D, Guangdong Province .
Chen Nans dates are traditionally given as ? 1213. He received neidan teachings from Xue Shi, and also practiced
apotropaic thunder rites. Cf. DZ 296, Tidao tongjian 49.15a 16b.
94

His surname was Bai  originally Ge O , personal name Yuchan ^ originally Zhanggeng *# , bynames
Ruhui >, Ziqing F@, Baisou 1, stylenames Haiqiongzi 5a , Hainan Weng 5+9, Qiongshan Daoren
a
P, Binan f;, Wuyi Sanren 'E, Shenxiao Sanli 8ZE, from Minqing T@ near presentday
Fuzhou Q, Fujian Province or Qiongzhou a Hainan Province . Bai Yuchan 1194 1229 or his disciples are
responsible for creating this Southern Lineage of the Golden Elixir Jindan Nanzong ) +" . Chen Zhixu
knew Bai Yuchans writings and teachings.
95

The Jindan zhengli daquan and Daozang jiyao eds. omit &I from 72J%&I6, and add a
separate entry for &I6. These editions do not recognize Huangfang Gong and Song Defang as being a
single person. As is evident from numerous other places in Jindan dayao, Chen Zhixu did consider Huang
Fanggong and Song Defang to be the same person, yet other authorities such as Hu Fuchen, Zhonghua daojiao da
cidian, s.v. Huang Youdao JP, 142, and Song Defang V, 153 do consider these to be two persons. The
alternate wording of the Jindan zhengli daquan and Daozang jiyao eds. is clearly by a later hand.
96

I have not been able to discover any information about this gure. He may be Chen Zhixus second teacher,
from Qingcheng.

97

Added in the Jindan zhengli daquan and Daozang jiyao eds.

152

reverence and wish for refuge. Today we encounter L Chunyangs auspicious dawn birthday,
and meagerly extend our dullards sincerity in paying our congratulations.
.7ri98+*;dfc[e%n(z9
Taking up our candles, we say: Now, the candles one point of numinous radiance has not been
lacking in the past or today. Throughout the whole world, it pervades places both visible and
inaccessible 5b1. The ignorant believe that it is the ame that is transmitted. Those who are in the
know say: the wisdom of the inherent nature xinghui @ causes the dark chamber of ignorant
consciousness to sprout a heart
mind and know awe, and to return the radiance. We trust that there
is a path to Heaven, and we can approach it; that we can transcend the mundane and enter into the
holy. We bow and bow again, oering up birthday shou candles.
F+$XOYuEF W>EFT@=
N4EKj+Mm34#} -R 
Ritual action.
D<
Taking up our incense sticks, we say: Now, as for incense, we venture to say yue that one stick of
it has been standing forth since the beginning of greatest antiquity. Why would it have waited for after
the time of the Three August Ones99 Sanhuang Z ? And through how many kalpas has its
fragrance owed? Inferior fools have noses but have not smelt it, while superior gentlemen smell the
fragrant and distinguish it from the malodorous. This is like the way that the holy master L
Dongbin? rubbed earth between nger and thumb, leaving a fragrance everywhere. At pains we can
call this virtue; everyone should receive and apply it. We bow and bow again, oering up birthday
shou incense.
^Fp$JCa"_P ZQw8VG
34| ^4
g1`q ttI 4o/?'-R ^
Ritual action.
D<100
Taking up our tea, we say: Now, as for tea there are the sparrows tongues of early spring, tender
leaf
tips qiangqi trembling in the rain huyu L . We pour the crab
eye water,101 and white
owers oat on the surface of the water in the bowl. We pour water from the dragon
spring, and a
transcendent wind is aroused in Penglai. Lu Tong102 6a1 penetrated to the transcendents and
spirits in six bowls; and Zhaozhou103 2 joined the buddha
nature with one cup. It rouses sleepy
fellows, and brings illumination to drowsy transcendents. We bow and bow again, oering up tea.
hF,Sv5Ls{)HbA\kU!]A
4u!24l6@yx~B!-Rh
98

The Jindan zhengli daquan ed. has instead of i , and Daozang jiyao ed. has :. Neither of these make sense
here.
99

The Celestial, Chthonic, and Human August Ones Tianhuang Z, Dihuang 0Z, Renhuang Z were
rulers at the beginning of history. By tracing his lineage back to Wanfa Tianshi D` and Yougu Da Xiansheng
3$,& in 1a89 above, Chen Zhixu has implicitly traced his lineage back to these times.

100

The DZ 1070 ed. omits D<.

101

Water just coming to a boil, with tiny bubbles the size of crabs eyes.

102

A disaected Tang
Dynasty poet who wrote poems about tea. He was praised by Han Yu 768824 . Cf.
Zang Lihe, Zhonuo gujin renming da cidian, 1589.

103

Zhaozhou Congshen 2p 778897 , a Chan Buddhist master from the Tang Dynasty, and subject of many
later Zen kan. This seems to be a kan in which Zhaozhous every response is Go have some tea Shih Chao

chou, The Recorded Saying of Zen Master Joshu, 146 .

153

Ritual action.
4/104

Taking up our ale, we say: Now, ale is sweet dew sent down from the heavens, or sweet water welling
up from the earth. Those who drink claried butter of superior avor are ever alert and never
intoxicated. Those who get the dregs of the sages can thereby revert from existence to nonexistence.
If one sucks up the West River in one mouthful,105 ones appearance will never age. One can penetrate
to the great Dao with three cups, and ones dharmabody will have a long existence. We bow and bow
again, o ering up birthday shou \ ale.
E59m Ml?1poR5Gb&N`WdJH "&fN
+($Ai %@K
Y4n7!=P\E
Ritual actions.
4/
Chant the HeartSeal Scripture and the Merit Scripture of Thirty Items. 106
aV8_V
Those who have drawn up ju 0 memorials o ering congratulations ought to cautiously kneel and
present them.
0"^O6gUX:
Memorial of Congratulation for Ancestral Master Zhongli Quan. ehDBO6
The disciple of the great Dao named
insert name here , on the fteenth day of this month,107 has
reverently arrived at

Y- >CL

6b1 this day fraught with the auspicious, the day of Ancestral Master Zhongli, the Sovereign Lord of
Correct Yang. In anticipation of this day, on the fourteenth, I reverently presented
i.e., wrote out my
memorial o ering congratulations:
DBehQ;*ST .[.g26^O5
Crouching on the righthand side,108 I
proclaim : The Dao is revered and De _ is valued: I look
upward
along the cord of a myriad generations of masters. Yin is extinguished and yang is pure: the
birthday shou \ morn of the exalted transcendent has arrived. The moon is full in the heavens, and
in the human realm there is an auspicious haze. I kowtow, bow and bow again, and reverently make
wei I
the following statement :
104

The DZ 1070 ed. omits 4/.

105

Mazu Daoyi FDY 70988 once answered Layman Pang Yun jk3 d. 808 : When you can swallow
the whole water of the Western River in one gulp, I will tell you <#+]($)#Y. Cf. Wudeng
huiyuan, Zhonghua shuju ed., 3:186; trans. by Ogata, in Tao Yuan, The Transmission of the Lamp, 293. For Chen
Zhixu, West River is correlated with both agent metal in the west as the outer pharmacon of lead, Pb, qian Z,
kan , and agent water the female partners uid as the source of the pharmacon . According to the usual
production sequence of the ve agents, metal produces water, but according to the alchemical sequence,
interlaced waxing of the ve agents wuxing cuowang 'c , it is water which produces metal. This also
represents the appearance of fresh yang metal out of pure yin water .
106

The HeartSeal Scripture is DZ 13, Gaoshang Yuhuang xinyin jing, or something like it. This short neidan text is
still recited daily by Quanzhen monks. The Merit Scripture of Thirty Items is unidentied, but likely another text
used in daily liturgy, perhaps with precepts.
107

Zhongli Quans birthday is on the fteenth day of the fourth lunar month.

108

The martial side, and yin side, thus the more humble of the two sides?

154

E:M<C,P9J>1L4H @
BR=(G+&
-7
Ancestral Master, the Sovereign Lord Zhongli of Correct Yang Who Spreads Awakening, Transmits
the Dao, and Sends down the Teachings, is his own origin and root, preceding Heaven and Earth. He
takes qian 5  and kun   as the caldron, renes kan   and reverts li O , nabs the crow and
rabbit as the ingredients, subdues the dragon and the tiger. His dao surpasses the Great Ultimate Taiji
A , and his grace nourishes the company of living things. Continuing on and on for kalpa after
kalpa all people receive salvation. From L Chunyang, Liu Haichan, and Wang Chongyang
who bestow the transmission upon the array of later sages, mind after mind to Ma Danyang,
Qiu Changchun, and Zhang Ziyangs supplying aid, and on, they serve as 7a1 father after father
for the masses. Their merit is not something that can be extolled in words; their cohumanity ren 
can be compared to that of cosmic creation and transformation zaohua 8 itself.
I am merely mundane bones,109 and do not yet possess a numinous perfected heart
mind. In
the dao I have been fortunate enough to receive the teachers instructions. The xuan110  and pin 
are the root of heaven and earth the details of this are in the writings on the elixir. Essence jing K
and qi are the roots of yin and yang. The oreate pool huachi ; and the spirit water shenshui
0 are styled qians gold qianjin 5" and earths caldron tufu 2 .111 Flowing pearl liuzhu
)/ is a name for woods mercury mugong  .112 The two lunar quarters xian 113 unite their
substances, and for ten months you bear the fetus. The vital thing is to make marvelous use of a split

second. The hardest thing is to be truly tranquil and respond to things. How much the more dicult
is the great danger of what is referred to by the phrase supreme treasure of the rst
passing shoujing zhibao +DQ , and the deep fear from when the virile tiger reduces its
passion xionghu guaqing ?!I6 !114
For these reasons, I pay my respects and oer congratulations, furthermore discoursing on the
dangers and diculties. I look up in expectation that you, in compassionate mercy will look down
with pity on my petty lowliness, and give me relief with your expedient means, helping me to

109

This humilic statement likely means both I am just an lowly old bag of bones and I do not possess the
bone
physiognomy guxiang 3* which would mark me as transcendent
material.
110
The term xuanpin originally comes from Daode jing, chapter 6: The gateway of the mysterious female is called
the root of heaven and earth #'N
.. Some texts read xuan and pin physiologically as a
denite entities, and some read them as mystical or indenite entities. For Chen Zhixu, they always retain the
meaning of the male and female sex organs, whether foregrounded or in the background.
111

According to Chen Zhixu, spirit water is a cover


name for mercury gong ,  , and oreate pool is a cover

name for lead qian F,  ; DZ 1069, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao liexian zhi 9b6, 10a10. Qians gold is a cover
name
for the center yang line yao  within lead; DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 13.16b23. The earth caldron
could be the outer caldron the female sex organ , or the inner caldron the Yellow Court .

112

Flowing pearl is quicksilver, an aspect of mercury. Woods mercury is just mercury emphasized as coming
from the east the direction corresponding to wood . They are both correlates of the male adepts seminal
essence.
113

Xian
means a line stetching across a circle, usually the circle of the moon. The fore
chord qianxian $
and after
chord houxian % are lines representing the yin
yang light
dark ratios of the moon on the eighth
and twenty
third days of the month, respectively at the ends of the rst and third quarters ; Wang Mu, Wuzhen
pian qianjie, 82. Uniting the two chords would mean gathering each of the two ingredients at the rst and third
quarters; yet in pp. 50913 chap. 5, 3.3.2.2 , I argue that this is a theoretical point rather than a practical
instruction for Chen.
114

Supreme treasure of the rst passing is the female partners pharmacon at menarche. See pp. 45456 chap. 5,
3.1.2.3 . The erce tiger is usually the female sex organ, in its threatening aspect as a robber of the male adepts
seminal life
essence; see pp. 38990 below.

155

enter the chamber without demonic hallucinations.115 You transcendents live as long as the sun and
moon, so why would you depend on eulogies from the mundane, dusty world? In a future year, our
work and deeds will be complete, relying on our craftsmen masters casting of us.
Secondly, I wish that superior gentlemen, worthies, and the virtuous will all become enlightened to
the ultimate Dao; and that errant fools, liars, 7b1 and absurd men will repent and develop trust; that
claried milk116 will ow in rivers, and claried butter will anoint the crown;117 that the earth will all
become cyan jade, and the ground will everywhere become gold.
I risk imposing myself upon the masters and Perfected, trembling and sweating unbearably. I have
cautiously drawn up ju ` a memorial oering congratulations, and make them heard. With sincere
glee and joy, I kowtow, bow and bow again, and cautiously speak.
-uwRL+L66?VbSs^
W4l1QQoA ax3z9
o|%]$$(pZ)~,
fcF.J?@}+I# n
}<"X_d= !ekT2kjiM
Z;Kl>C;5B[f
r
v%'!o Py&D(N7\:EG 
YgMqEh/?nt
H`m%~8{Z
Fill in year, month, day. Congratulatory memorial of disciple of the great Dao ll in name
here.
D!U~m
Memorial of Congratulation for the Birthday shou  of Ancestral Master L
Chunyang.
m
The disciple of the great Dao named insert name here, on the fourteenth day of this month,118 has
reverently arrived at this day when
U~! *
the Ancestral Master, the Sovereign Lord of Pure Yang, descended to be born. I have cautiously drawn
up ju ` a memorial, and reverently pay my respects and extend congratulations. Crouching on the
righthand side, I proclaim:
115

That is, practice meditation without the mara phenomena, or hallucinations, known to aict meditators. For
a list of ten maras, see the chapter Lun monan in Zhongl chuandao ji, in DZ 263, Xiuzhen shishu 16.22b
26b; translated in Wong, The Tao of Health, Longevity, and Immortality, 135 41.
116
Eskildsen translates sulao as koumiss, an alcohol made of fermented mares milk. I cannot discover an
English equivalent from the entry in Hanyu da cidian, s.v. sulao . It is some food made from the essence of
the milk of mares or ewes, but does not seem to be alcohol. In Qing dynasty Beijing, it was commonly mixed with
sugar.
Foguang da cidian, s.v. tihu guanding , 6322, says that tihu is a kind of rened sulao, so it seems sulao is
a more general term for milk products which are partially rened, but not as rened as ghee tihu.
117

The term tihu guanding looks Tantric, but I have only found it in three Chinese Buddhist texts: two Chan texts,
T 1999, Mian heshang yulu, 47:969a9, and ZZ 1318, Xukan guzun suyu yao, 119:32a18; and one Dunhuang text ?, T
2859, Huiyuan waizhuan, 85:1316b24. It seems not to occur in any Tantric texts in the Taish canon.
The term shows up in some later inner alchemical texts. It has obvious inner alchemical connotations, but the
inner alchemical texts are merely quoting what seems to have become a common Chinese phrase, tihu guanding,
ganlu saxin 0, meaning cool and refreshing. Hanyu da cidian, s.v. tihu guanding, quotes this
phrase from both Honglou meng and Shuihu zhuan #. Some inner alchemical texts quote it from the
the Xiyou ji O. How did this Indian and possibly Tantric phrase make its way into colloquial Chinese?
118
L Dongbins birthday is on the fourteenth of the fourth lunar month, one day before Zhongli Quans.

156

4/5<)-H !J"(07;' 

The season has arrived at the point of pure yang, and tonight is the rst night of the full moon. In the
heavens, primal qi has gathered, and meritorious deeds have been performed in full over many years.
The cosmos is full of joy, and transcendents and mortals express birthday shou B wishes. I kowtow,
bow and bow again, and reverently make wei 6 the following statement:
@%5< >&#I2D&$MP EB+A.*06
8a1 O Sovereign Lord of Pure Yang Who Develops Uprightness and Morally Transforms People
through Admonition, Trustworthy Right
hand Aide 5<CL), your dao has been exalted
for millenia, and of all the numinous spirits, your auspiciousness is the nest. You observed your
heart
mind within, and your form without, and therefore achieved the mystery of making your form
complete quanxing  . By means of existence you  one observes the courses of things jiao
O , and by means of nonexistence wu 8 one observes the mystery. All return to the gateway of all
mystery.119 From the waters source, you ladle out water of greatest purity; you rene the golden
elixir and soon attain it. The green snake within the sleeve passes Dongting Lake with a resounding
cry.120 The yellow crane before the tower nds its hermitage amidst the marketplace, playing a
ute.121 You play at impartiality and quickly transform the transcendent lady. You head south but soon
arrive at Mt. Hua :. Astride a blue ox you enter Dongting Lake; riding a white deer you pass over
the Grass
green Sea Canghai F3 .122 You are exaltedly conrmed in the position of Sovereign Lord,
and your achievements have lived on forever, from past to present. You broadly transmit the authentic
lineage of Dao and De, by the south and by the north.123 You wish to succor the world, and the people
do not recognize you;124 I wish to seek you, but my fortunes have not yet succeeded. I dare to recall
that I do not understand the principles of xuan and pin;125 I have been fortunate to have had the
chance to receive a sworn transmission from you, perfected teacher.
Now, enlightenment about the Dao 8b1 is not something which can be shown in words; only
then will one know that it is something transmitted from mind to mind. One must seek eight ounces

119

The last three lines are a paraphrase of Daode jing, chapter 1.

120

This refers to a poem attributed to L Dongbin. I found the untitled poem in an electronic le, but was not
able to locate it in Lzi quanshu. Green snake means mercury  from the east = green; snake = dragon . The
lyric poem seems to mean 1 L was rening his mercury as he traveled past Dongting Lake, in present
day
Hunan and Hubei Provinces; and 2 L was rening his seminal essence beside the water
source, the female sex
organ.
121
This refers to another poem attributed to L, entitled Ti Huanghe Lou Shi Zhao K=NG?. I found the
poem in an electronic le, but was not able to locate it in Lzi quanshu. Huanghe Lou was a famous storeyed
pavilion, in what is now Wuhan, Hubei Province. This also refers to foreplay: the male adepts ute is handled
probably by the female partner while he dwells in private seclusion in an urban setting the greater recluse hides
in the marketplace .
122

These must all be episodes from L Dongbins hagiography. They are also playful references to the sex organs.

123

The authentic lineage of Dao and De could mean a virtuous lineage, the transmission of Dao and De, or
the transmission of the Daode jing. I read zi  as you  L transmitted his teachings through both the
Northern Lineage of the Golden Elixir through Wang Chongyang , and the Southern Lineage through Zhang
Boduan . Wang Chongyang was said to have received teachings from L Dongbin, and Zhang Ziyang was said to
have received teachings from the transcendent Liu Haichan, whose own teacher had been L Dongbin.
124

The theme that it is dicult to recognize L Dongbin in disguise, and that only those worthy of receiving his
teachings will be able to recognize him, was occurs often in L Dongbin hagiography. According to Katz, in DZ
305, Chunyang dijun shenhua miaotong ji, compiled by Miao Shanshi ,91 . 12881324 , 43 percent of the stories
involve the theme of recognition of the transcendent by mortals; Paul Katz, Images of the Immortal, 173.

125

See p. 155n110 above.

157

of qians gold. 126 First one must be clear about the guest and the host. 127 Furthermore, one
transports the half a catty of woods mercury, matching the yin and the yang.128 One renes them into
a single lump, and keeps watch on them for a full ten months. One calmly listens to the keening of the
dragon and the roar of the tiger, and must not allow the watersupply go dry or the re to grow cold. If
one has been able to remain at this
stage , one must act with great trepidation.
Ones mind is so
occupied with it that one does not know how to proceed; one is so anxious that one forgets
mealtimes. If one is fortunate enough to receive pity
a teachers guidance , one can harvest and ingest
a spatulaful daogui H . You have enlivened this declining
body , and
made me familiar with the
retiming. Although
I have naught with which to repay
you ,
I rely on
your fondness for life

i.e., for helping people live longer .


In this fortunate moment in a ourishing season
in late spring , I have even joyously arrived at
this auspicious morn. I dare to state my mundane sincerity, and pay my respects from afar to
your
transcendent deportment xianfeng 2 . I believe that you, revered one, dwell above in the celestial
supervisory department jiusi }8 , and I think that you extend pity down to us beginning students.
Although I am not making use of eulogizing from the everyday human realm, I am relying on
this
other form of address to inform you of my heartfelt feelings. I hope that there will be hidden
scrutinizing ? yin xiang of this mortal body, and it will soon receive substances and pharmaca.129
I will gather the the initial crossing of the ultimate treasure. Faultless inside and outside, I will rene
the
9a1 precosmic
aspect of the One qi. Completely moral from beginning to end, I will no longer

encounter demonic obstacles.


When I meet the numinous
spirit of the heartmind130 xin ling "
, I will then begin swiftly cultivating. Now, who would not want to be given relief through
expedient means, and to have their a airs easily succeed? Secondly, I wish that superior gentlemen,
worthies, and the virtuous will all become enlightened to the ultimate Dao. 
The rest is same as
before. 131
=_Y[7p"9paCaQ1
1^^*WUOU]
U\U2Uq-U @U
[X37UVUV4.U
ceU
;Auz>TPt j&|l"e n
Bz05%(fFJM']Um*U
+)wLL~ggbU HSU|+
6vI?twy/w:2s }
8w<
G1wwONw{
W9B rdi"#1!
Kkw&ZlxMRhzW D`133

Those who have drawn up memorials testifying to their oaths, reverently face
the deities and
proclaim:
oQ$
126

Qians gold is a covername for the center yang line yao , within lead DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao
13.16b23 . Cf. p. 155 above.

127
Guest and host have many possible connotations. In general, the host is that which is more substantial of
the pair such as the  within the  , the guest is the more insubstantial such as the  within the  .
128

In the alchemical process, one gathers eight ounces of pure yang from , and eight ounces of pure yin from
, and unites them in the caldron. The reason they mention eight ounces of each is to symbolize the eight days
approx. of a lunar quarter.
129

Wu yao {: a fancy way of saying yaowu {, the usual term for the ingredients of the elixir?

130

For a discussion of Chens use of intention spirits during the process of cultivation, see pp. 53839 below.

131

Referring to the end of the previous memorial to Zhongli Quan.

132

DZ 1070, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao xianpai has { instead of { .

133

DZ 1070, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao xianpai has E instead of D` less comprehensible .

158

The disciple of the great Dao named insert name here


, on the fourteenth day of this month, has
reverently arrived at
9M"Zn
this auspicious birthday of the Ancestral Master, the Sovereign Lord of Pure Yang; and on the
fteenth day will
arrive at
^Y`|J8;Zn
the auspicious birthday of the Ancestral Master, the Sovereign Lord of Correct Yang. Cautiously
equipped with incense and candles, on this fourteenth day I have drawn up a memorial, and together
with my fellows
pay my respects and extend congratulations. After this is nished, I hope to be
bestowed with a sealed compact yin meng * from all of the exalted transcendents and holy beings
together. I piously o er paper funds spirit money
and respectfully exhaust myself
in taking refuge
in you
and paying thanks jing dan gui xie O. I pray that you guarantee that I can study the
Dao without demonic hallucinations
, and that I be fated to cultivate transcendenthood. Looking up,
I beg for compassion and pity, for invisible protection from dangers and di culties; that you make it
such that I enter 9b1
the chamber and achieve success, without deviating from the great re

timings; that my
fetus will soon be born and transform into a spirit, and be promoted on high to be
among the ranks of the transcendents.
Secondly, I wish that superior gentlemen, worthies, and the virtuous will all become enlightened to
the ultimate Dao; and that errant fools, liars, and absurd men will repent and develop trust; that
claried milk will ow in rivers, and claried butter will anoint the crown; that the earth will all
become cyan jade, and the ground will everywhere become gold. In my seeking I risk the masters
severity, making my declaration without end. On the righthand side, I have cautiously drawn up a
memorial, and, kowtowing present it to:
^Y#|J8;qS;"<B,&uz\=~'gl,
*acvbOPExV1'o7+WI4 /
X U0mQ4_gs]2t
:T?5e[yD{/@
p N$-}CFYHAL!<kRK

PreCosmic DaoAncestor Most High Lord Lao, (^
38
Former Sages and Transcendent Masters of the Three Teachings, Who Achieved the Dao, jh(
Y
Master Yin Xi
, Celestial Worthy of the Origin of the Text. >r(%
As before, ask the spirits to come to their
positions; there should be
no addition or subtraction in
the sequence or layout.
.G_62)f134xw
Document for Sending the Spirits O d_
In my previous passionate sincerity, I risked profaning the clear hearing and vision of the spirits
.
Looking up, I hope for pity and forgiveness, and that you should broadly extend greeting and
guidance, that you should stoop your transcendent banners and come down into the dusty realm, that
I who
am shivering and do not know how to proceed in returning to the perfected condition

should
10a1
voyage back to the isle of Penglai.135 Taking
clinging and loving attachment as my
task, I now must, bowing, send them the spirits
o . I expect to bear the shame of dwelling vacantly
without the spirits after they have gone?
. I have heard that even if a person travels alone or sits
alone, his name could
still move the heart of an emperor or king. Poems that no one comprehends
134

The Jindan zhengli daquan and Daozang jiyao eds. have i) instead of 2) +f
.

135

This is a general reference to transcendent lands or heavens, and need not refer literally to an island in the
eastern sea. The patterns of usage of the term Penglai deserve closer study.

159

can still make their way to the ears of the highest


ranking ministers. How much can the eshly eyes
of a common mortal comprehend?
A single grain of elixir establishes long life; this meeting of ours was not unfated. I have the
heartfelt wish to proclaim that the entire world ought to? seek this dao. This aair is dicult to
know, but if you get started on it, it will be speedily cultivated. If you are too slow at it, who in the
whole world would be able to carry it out? This body has already appeared in the trichiliacosm
sanqian
jie X . In the past you even gave it to Zhang Seng p ? , and permit us to rove together to the
realm of the Five Emperors.
Now, I wish that you should take pity on these mortal bones, and not say that this common mans
empty life
endowment is ill
fated
ming bo @ .136 I beg to trade my bones to an impoverished
Confucian for elixir.137 You the Perfected are already roving in the realm of Jade Clarity, your sword
spanning the twin riverbanks.138 After you have left, master, it ought to be dicult for you to grow
old:139 your body is in the Great Veil Heaven
Daluo Tian  . Coming, you leave no shadow;
leaving, you leave no tracks. You supervise
jiusi L$ 10b1 the records of the spirits and
transcendents up in the heavens. You cannot be heard by listening, or seen by watching.140 I serve the
Jade Emperor as he returns to the realm of Great Clarity
Taiqing fv . My risk of profaning the
spirits has been deep. I bow and see them o with a concentrated mind.
,?qRI)\csD!]4?_GaMtOh4G
drgUm^2E(898:A-oS
J%b[5 6xJ1PyBQ'}/[<kqu
Y22>J
~` Vj9N2=" XHCGp
{;+SG nz WK@ |nh0&v
F*'#T3=0?#L$ i!<7>
&ZfvRrwUm
<Transform the funds burn the paper money >

<Take away the seats>

le141

136

This paraphrases a line from a poem attributed to L Dongbin: Zi shi fanliu fuming bo 8V W@.

137

This is a line from a poem attributed to L Dongbin. I found the untitled poem in an electronic le, but was
not able to locate it in Lzu quanshu.
138

This is a line from a poem attributed to L Dongbin.

139

This is a twist on a line from a poem attributed to L Dongbin: Xiansheng qu hou shen xu lao *'#.=3.

140

Quoting Daode jing, chapter 14.

141

DZ 1070, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao xianpai omits these nal instructions.

160

Chapter 3, A Conict View of Daoist Mastership


Chen Zhixus writings reveal him as a man striving to spread his teachings, achieve
recognition as a master, and attain salvation. The story told by his writings is, in the
main, a story of social competition between rival intellectuals within a soteriological
marketplace. Chen is competing against other purveyors of daos, anonymous
salesmen of salvic teachings, who like him are relatively marginal, operating
sometimes within and sometimes between the interstices of social institutions, both
religious and secular. Chen is competing for recognition from disciples, patrons,
rivals, and readers. He is striving to achieve recognition for selfcultivation as a
practice per se, recognition for Daoism visvis other religious traditions, recognition
for his own dao in particular, and, ultimately, recognition of himself as an authentic
master and keeper of the keys to Heaven. I call this work managing mastership.
In this chapter I argue that Pierre Bourdieus sociology of culture o ers the
best conceptual framework for studying a case like Chens. Bourdieus sociological
work on culture, knowledge, and art provides a welldeveloped vocabulary, and will
help me frame my picture of Chen Zhixu and his world, and organize its parts. After
I have introduced Bourdieu, we will be able speak of Chen competing for economic,
social, cultural, symbolic, and religious forms of capital, within the concentric
elds of social power, religion, and selfcultivation.
Chens teachings are the tools he uses in his struggle to achieve three inter
related goals: 1
achieving recognition and authority as a master, or managing his
mastership; 2
spreading his teachings in the religious eld; and 3
attaining
personal salvation. These three goals were complementary. Why does he seek
authority? Proximately, for the sake of advantages in this world; ultimately, for the
sake of his own salvation. The authority he gains will help him attract a support
network and audience base of patrons, disciples, or readers. This support network in
turn will help him nance his personal quest for salvation. In addition to this, his
161

teaching activities within his network, and his successes in spreading his teachings to
new audiences, will generate karmic merit for him, which will further contribute to
his salvation.1 I call this dynamic a threeway feedback loop of propagation,
authority, and salvation. His struggle for the rst two of these three goals involves
competition with others, while the third goal does not. Chens activity, as he has
recorded it for posterity, takes place in the toil and moil of an arena of social
competition. His ultimate goal of salvation involves transcending the realm of human
conict, though in practice he imagines and expresses it in human, social, and
competitive terms.
In this chapter, I argue that we must not only place Chens teachings within
the eld of social competition, but we must also recognize the element of
competition within Chens religious teachings themselves, even his most abstruse and
technical teachings. Chens teachings are thoroughly strategic, often polemic, colored
by their competitive context. Since Chens sexual alchemical teachings are radically
revisionary, he has more di culty than most alchemical teachers would in gaining
recognition and acceptance for himself and his dao, and so his teachings may exhibit
this competitive aspect more than most alchemical teachings would. Yet if Bourdieu
is correct, this competitive, strategic aspect must be present, to a greater or lesser
extent, in a religious teachings, and we ought to reread the history of all Chinese
religion in this light especially relatively intellectualized elements of Chinese
religion .

Chens goal is to become a transcendent. To become a transcendent, the cultivator must combine inner
cultivation with outer deeds that generate karmic merit:
If one makes progress in ones inner training, and achieves success in outer deeds, only then can one be called
a transcendent. Inner training is the dao of applying proper ring periods, followed by parturition
of your
holy fetus and transformation into a spirit. Outer deeds are succoring people and bringing benet to
things, such in as
the cases of the Celestial Master of the Han
Zhang Daoling distinguishing humans from
demons, Transcendent Ge
Xuan s mission to save netherworld souls, and Perfected Lord Xu
Xun s judicial
slaying of the dragongoblin.
+  )  
  '#. 2/!&
$,
20("-%* DZ 91, Yuanshi wuliang duren shangpin miaojing zhujie 1.29a9
b3

This concept of spiritual merit combines the Indian Buddhist concept of karma with preBuddhist Chinese ideas
about the e ects of virtuous power de 1 upon people, Heaven, spirits, and the natural world.

162

1, A Conict View of Chen Zhixus Life and Work


1.1, Chens Teachings within a Field of Competition
The best justications for a new approach are that it suits the material, reveals new
meaning in the material, and yields new theoretical insights applicable elsewhere.
Here I will show that an approach emphasizing conict suits the case of Chen Zhixu
particularly well. The new meanings that this approach reveals in the material will
appear in subsequent chapters; as for the new theoretical insights applicable
elsewhere, these would only become evident as I apply the approach to other topics
in future work. For now, I will show that a conict view is appropriate for the case of
Chen Zhixu by showing the elements of conict in Chens story
showing which
kinds of opponents Chen is competing against, and which kinds of goods Chen is
competing for. First I will place Chens teachings within his eld of competition, and
then I will place the eld of competition within Chens teachings.
1.1.1, Skeptics.

Chen is competing against several kinds of opponents in a

cultural debate over selfcultivation. Logically, his most fundamental opponents


would be those who reject the possibility of Daoiststyle transcendence altogether.
Such people he consigns to hell:
There is one kind of trivial fool who, never having joined in the practices of
transcendents and sages, sneers at selfcultivation activities, saying, In this
world, since there is birth, there must be death. How could the dao of longlasting
vision i.e., longevity exist? These people are seeded for hell, content with their
lot in sasra!
% 
!'  
"#$ &2
Chen is competing with these skeptics for the advantage of authority in the religious
eld. While we might expect those critics who are fundamentally skeptical of self
cultivation to constitute a dangerous threat, as they could undermine Chens entire
religious enterprise, Chen does not mention them very much, and they seem not to
be a threat to him. Perhaps his audience is already well committed to the idea that
2

DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian sanzhu 4.19a3 5. These people have hell seeds diyu zhongzi #$ ,
karmic seeds that will bear the fruit of rebirth in hell.

163

transcendence truly can be cultivated.


1.1.2, The marginal traditions.

Chens next type of opponent is the purveyor

of the heterodox teachings of a marginal tradition pangmen 7*, lit. side door,
side gate, or side school
.3 Chen apparently considers this his most dangerous
type of opponent.4 Chen denes the teachings of a marginal tradition as any
teachings that are not devoted to the gathering and rening of the one point of
prenatal perfected qi, i.e., the golden elixir5:
Recently, how many are the people of this generation who take it upon
themselves to discourse vacuously upon all things between Heaven and Earth!
All these side doors and perverse paths are briey but exhaustively listed in
Cuixu yin Chant of Mr. KingsherblueVoid
. Besides teachings on the one
point of prenatal perfected qi , all strands of teaching beyond this are, overall,
perversions of the truth.
(#8@&DCE7*,"5A9
3+I2?F"6

 4G>

The cultivation of the one perfected qi is the core of Chens teaching, the good
news that he partially displays while still keeping secret, and it is the same secret
teaching that all the sages have possessed.7 Teachers from the marginal traditions do
not know of, or do not accept, this ultimate teaching. Yet in addition to mere
ignorance of the golden elixir, there seems to be a second component to this concept
of marginal tradition. When he criticizes ordained Daoist monastics for their
ignorance of the golden elixir and their reliance on false teachings, Chen does not
3

Other terms equivalent to pangmen 7*//* in Chens writings include qianxi baijing H., xiexi qujing "H
., pangmen xiejing 7*"5, pangmen qujing 7*., pangxi xiaojing /H 5, pangxi yu qujing 7HB5,
qujing pangxi 57H, and pangmen zuodao /*<.

J. Z. Smith has observed that rather than the remote other being perceived as problematic and/or dangerous,
it is the proximate other, the near neighbor, who is most troublesome. That is to say, while dierence or
otherness may be perceived as being either  or , it becomes most problematic when it is
 or when it claims to  ; Smith, Dierential Equations: On Constructing the Other, 145.

For Chen, the golden elixir is the qi gathered on the outside, i.e., from a woman. Qi, when on the outside, is
called black lead, that is, the dao of the golden or, metal elixir. 0':=)<
 Qi,
when on the inside, is called black mercury, that is, the dao of cultivating and xing 0':!-$
<
 DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 2.2a. So, for Chen, the term golden elixir refers more often to the
exterior work of inner alchemy than to the process as a whole.
6

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 9.3b24. Cuixu yin is the polemical poem Niwan Zhenren Luofu cuixu yin %
2J1A9 The MudPill Perfecteds Chant of Mr. KingsherblueVoid of Mt. Luofu
, attibuted to
Chen Nan 6; d. 1213
, a patriarch in the Southern Lineage of the Golden Elixir. The poem is collected in DZ
1307, Haiqiong Bai Zhenren yulu 4:16; and DZ 1090, Cuixu pian 712.
7

According to my numbering of Hugh Urbans esoteric strategies, display is no. 4, advertisement, and appeal to
the sages is no. 2, stealing the lightning ; see pp. 2526 above.

164

call them purveyors of the teachings of marginal traditions, as we might have


expected. So, in practice, marginaltradition teachings are not just any false or
ignorant teaching, but rather those teachings which are false and furthermore
practiced mainly by uncertied teachers or gullible laypersons.
In his Song on Judging Delusions
Panhuo ge -6 ,8 Chen states that there
are 3600 marginal traditions. 9 He o ers dozens of examples of false teachings,
which can be divided into several overlapping categories. I will not use the term
heterodox for these teachings, because this list includes many traditional and non
controversial Daoist, Buddhist, and macrobiotic
yangsheng D practices, as well as
some more controversial practices. Chen rst criticizes meditation or selfcultivation
practices that involve a vain outward show, such as various kinds of noisy breath
control,10 massage and gymnastics,11 or inneralchemical practices involving shaking
the body or inducing borborygms
bellyrumbles .12 Second, Chen criticizes practices
involving the ingestion of concrete substances, whether they be the mineral
ingredients of traditional alchemy,13 herbal drugs,14 or bodily uids.15 Third, Chen

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 9.3a66a10. A full translation of this song is appended to this chapter.

Polemics against marginal traditions can be found throughout Chens writings another representative passage
is Zhouyi Cantong qi fenzhang zhu, Daozang jiyao ed., 2.59a4b2. But the Song on Judging Delusions is the longest
and richest polemical passage.

10

Chen mentions the noisy macrobiotic breathing practices of spitting and gulping
tutun  , or pu ng,
hooting, and swallowing
xuhe fu yanyan =,LL . He also mentions counting respirations
shuxi @# ,
harmonizing the breath
tiaoxi B# , stopping the breath
bixi (# , and sitting and gazing at the nose
zuoguanbi
P< . Chen describes the face of someone sitting and gazing at his nose as being like sh
the eyes gazing at
insects as they come alive in a marsh in the spring
the nose . This suggests that breath control is a noisy practice.
11

Chen mentions massage and stretching


anmo shenqu !? , and gymnastic exercises with animal names

xiongshen niaoyin, guisuo heshu 7*


SHO/ , reminiscent of an early macrobiotic practice called the Five
Animal Frolics
Wuqin xi 3G .
12
Chen mentions shaking the inner passes
dong weil, han jiaji 'CE% , or producing sounds in the
cranium and belly
dingmen xiang, fuzhong ming ) N5; and calling these the cries of dragon and tiger

longyin huxiao sheng F>I .


13

Chen mentions smelting the Three Yellows and Four Spirits


sanhuang ji sishen J0 $ , or Five Metals
and Eight Minerals
wujin bing bashi 
see p. 205nn12932 below , as well as ingesting metals and
minerals generally
er jinshi :
14
Chen mentions ingesting atractylis and tuckahoe
yong zhufu  Q , or herbal medicines generally
souji
yaozhong zhu caomu 18MA& .
15

Chen mentions ingesting phlegm


choutuo 4+ , seminal essence and urine
jing ni 92 , breast milk and urine

ru sou R , menses
nren tiangui  " , semen and menses
jingxue 9 , and other lthy and evil things

K. .

165

criticizes certain forms of sexual cultivation as false.16 I believe that for Chen, these
three categories of practice have a common aw
they are too coarse, relying on
outward sounds and movements, tangible external substances and secretions
mineral, vegetable, or human , or tangible internal secretions the adepts semen
within the body , rather than intangible internal energies. Perhaps the reason Chen
criticizes the traditional Daoist practice of ingesting the qi of sun and moon17 is
because it too relies on external things, even though they are intangible. Chen also
criticizes several other Daoist or macrobiotic practices,18 as well as the Buddhist
practices of Chan zazen and Pure Land nianfo chanting.19
1.1.3, Sexual cultivators.

The marginal
tradition teaching that Chen

condemns most carefully throughout all his writings is the coarse sexual cultivation
called gathering and battling at the three peaks or, battling to reap from the three
peaks, sanfeng caizhan <FS . Chen aims to draw a clear distinction between this
practice and his own rened form of sexual alchemy, which does not involve gross
bodily substances. Chen tells us that the false practices of coarse sexual alchemy are
foolish and debased:
if one does not join with another of the same category an approving reference to
sexual alchemy, and instead practices the various marginal
tradition methods,
whether this be the art of the bedchamber, or gathering and battling at the three
peaks, these are all perverse paths, and are like mistaking sh eyeballs for pearls.
9 CY!R@2+,
E+<FS7'=KQJ6

16

Chen mentions using the numinous bough yong lingke Z4 , and a ve
stage practice of retaining,
retracting, sucking, extruding, and sealing cun, suo, xi, chou, bi wushi U%-I ( ; see p. 206n139
below. He also mentions lying in wait for the movement of the semen, and recycling it as a tonic for the
brain sihou jingxing zhuanbu nao $;P!XNL , i.e., recycling seminal essence to replenish the brain huanjing
bunao VPNL .
17

Chen criticizes gazing at the sun and moon, then inhaling the two qi of the sun and moon and sending them
down to the xuanpin cavity ies wang riyue, erqi xi gui xuanpin xue GA%W  .
18

Chen criticizes grasping at a single bodily site, visualizing a golden radiance, and daring even to regard this as
the dantian zhuo yichu, cun jinguang, ren shi dantian ?H1Q3  ; the qigong
like practice Eight
Sections of Brocade baduan jin 5T ; fetal breathing taixi 8> ; and the prognostication of death dates
shengsi dingnian ci yueri ) or fetuses guanwu zhitai [./8 . Bernard Faure mentions similar
mantic practices in Kamakura Japanese Buddhism; Faure, The Rhetoric of Immediacy, 186. These practices are not
specically Daoist.
19

Chen criticizes zazen as sitting stubbornly in emptiness zuo wankong &O0 , and criticizes those who chant
the name of Amitbha Buddha zhuan nianfo D*# and yearn for his western paradise yixin zhiyao xiang xifang 
:" , yet do not keep the precepts hunjiu MB .

166

L20
Yet Chen reserves the harshest rhetoric, not for those who practice false sexual
alchemy, but for those who pose obstacles to his true sexual alchemy. Such persons
may pose obstacles by slandering the true sexual dao such as the dao of the Wuzhen
pian as a false sexual dao:
it is only this rst passage of the white tiger which, when forced to put a name to
it, we may term, the one precosmic qi. . . . If a fool of this generation points to
this as the teaching of gathering and battling, or a technique using the boudoir
elixir, then calamity will come to his person.
&AI]P!K[ HEGQhd8if 
S?Cb:521
Or such persons may pose obstacles by misinterpreting a truly sexual and correct dao
as a nonsexual dao:
Whenever he met someone who would chat about the dao all day long, repeatedly
claiming to have met and received
instruction from an eminent person, my
master Zhao Youqin
would immediately bow before him and ask: Not daring to
ask about your dao, let me just ask for now: What sort of
thing are the dragon
and tiger?
The other person would say: Dragon and tiger are within your body.
Master would say: What shape do they take?
The other person would say: They are the liver and lungs.
The master would say: You ought to go down to the hell where they pull out
peoples tongues and receive your punishment there, never again to delude or
cheat the people of this world! Old Man Ziyang Zhang Boduan
has now
indicated the twin things dragon and tiger too closely!
Now, my thing is the dragon, and the partners thing is the tiger. There is a
distinction between east and west, so Wuzhen pian
has each to east and west. The
dragons head is ji, and the tigers gate is wu. The dragon and tiger rely on these for
their coition . . .
/e(J"4 ag^1iV_N W;J.BD)O^ U
O^jAG,= jA$'5 J-,> 3@F
 J'\
9*#`6T20 Yck XZMEj
A=lR /=Gj7=GA%7/F<+

20

Zhouyi Cantong qi fenzhang zhu, Daozang jiyao ed., 1.30a12.

21

DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian sanzhu 5.7b58. Boldface represents a reference to the passage in Wuzhen pian
that Chen is commenting on. For Chen, rst passage of the white tiger refers, not to a girls rst menses, but to
the primal qi coincident with menarche; see pp. 45557 chap. 5, 3.1.2.3. A xation on physical menses would be a
coarse sexual teaching. It would be a sin to misrepresent the holy teachings of Zhang Boduans Wuzhen pian as
coarse sexual teachings. However, I will argue in chapter 5 that Chens own sexual alchemy is not so distant from
the practices he condemns.

167

>
=$

!$>


/22

Chen is battling with rivals on several fronts, but the most bitter and ticklish of his
battles is this one over the denition of the true dao of sexual alchemy. Most of the
handful of passages in which Chen or his master Zhao Youqin consigns a rival to
hell involve a rival who mischaracterizes the dao of true sexual alchemy either as
coarse sexual alchemy or as nonsexual alchemy, often through an alternative reading
of a classic text.23 Because of the frequency of this topic, and the vehemence of his
reactions, we can infer that such rivals seem most threatening to Chen. In the above
passage we also gain a glimpse of a concrete social setting for Chens competition, a
public market of daos.
Just as Chen criticizes his rivals, he is also the object of much slander and
abuse. He occasionally refers to his own troubles of this sort:
I came traveling through Yuzhang in order to nd people of correct heart and
sincere intent, so I could tell them about the dao of cultivating the self and long
life. But as soon as I would express a single idea, I would arouse a riot of
slander and acrimony.
5
3<*( 2.
6%-
4C?AD&
,24
More often than recounting his personal trials, however, Chen mentions slander as a
general problem for any teacher of the correct dao. He claims that all true teachers
have su ered slanderous attacks or mere misunderstanding. This has been a problem
for even the sages of the past. Therefore sages have always been leery of revealing
their secrets openly, and this is why their writings are so di
cult to interpret!
Alas! The abilities and virtue of people of the world are meager and shallow, and
they easily turn to slandering. Therefore the sages of old and the great worthies
did not let slip the treasures of heaven, and strewed them about in the scriptures.
: ;7)@8A#19"'  B+
025
In the passage following the line quoted above, Chen goes on to cite Zhou Wenwang
and Confucius as Confucian sages, the Yellow Emperor and Laozi as Daoist sages,
22

DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian sanzhu 3.17b818a6. Italics are for emphasis.

23

The passage in which Chen consigns a skeptic to hell see p. 163 above is an exception.

24

Jindan dayao, Jindan zhengli daquan ed., 6.42a12.

25

Zhouyi Cantong qi fenzhang zhu, Daozang jiyao ed., 1.4a10b2.

168

and kyamuni and Bodhidharma as Buddhist sages, all of whom left secret teachings
i.e., teachings on sexual alchemy within their scriptures, but did not speak them
openly for fear of slander by ignorant oafs. This claim by Chen that the sages did not
reveal their sexual teachings openly for fear of slander or misunderstanding is a
version of his esoterizing strategy of managing secrecy and display displaying a few
hints that the sages possessed secrets, and oering this as evidence that their secret
is his own secret.26
Chen is competing directly with teachers from marginal traditions and from
our perspective he is himself a marginal teacher! He is competing rstly for authority
or capital as we will term it later within the religious eld, secondly for patrons,
disciples, and readers, and thirdly for the benets these followers could bring him.
We would not say that Chen is competing with his rivals for salvation, per se, since his
nal goal of personal salvation is not a good in limited supply, as a worldly good
would be. Yet he is competing with rivals for the goods he would need in his quest for
salvation: competing for authority, which would attract disciples and patrons, who
could oer the nancial support, women, and private quarters Chen needs to
complete his self
cultivation. And he is also competing for an abstract good: the
denition of salvation, and religious truth. While there might be enough patronage
and authority for Chen to share with his rivals, it would be much more dicult for
competing denitions of religious truth to co
exist. Chen could re
read the daos of
the holy teachers of the past, but not brook competition in the present between his
true dao of the golden elixir and his rivals rival regimes of truth,27 potentially
true daos such as sanfeng caizhan, stubborn zazen, or embryonic breathing. The
town of Hongzhou was not big enough for the both of them.
1.1.4, The Three Teachings.

Although Chen is, in the nal analysis, a Daoist,

he rmly distances himself from ordinary ordained Daoists, as well as from


Buddhists and Confucians. He criticizes Zhengyi, Quanzhen, and other monastic or
reclusive Daoists who know nothing of inner cultivation:
26

In addition to the esoteric strategies, of managing secrecy and display, and stealing the lightning, we see here
imperialist inclusivism: embracing other religious traditions, yet violently misreading them according into ones
own lights.

27

The phrase comes from Bruce Lincoln, e.g., Lincoln, Theorizing Myth, 18.

169

Crowned with the seven stars of the Dipper , and named Zhengyi Daoists ,
which man among them can recognize the gates of xuan and pin?28
RC

(?1bn

They dwell in the mountains and forests and are called Daoists, but they dont
know what the great Dao is. Nor have they ever heard the name golden elixir
so how could you want to teach them to understand life and death or, sasra !
48a] < ]B,2>

Uc9FQ6'

Wanderers of cloud and water, they are called Quanzhen Daoists , and from
morning to night they work at saving themselves. Their patriarchs have left
behind teachings on the spatula, but nowadays how many men know this?29
ZA\K@DV7P0LIJ !f<="%T
Chen appears to be positing three Daoist categories here Zhengyi, Quanzhen, and
just Daoist. Do these three categories line up with a general view about the
categories of Daoists in his place and time? Would he call
the misguided ones
among the monks from Mt. Jiugong or the Lu mountains Zhengyi, or just
Daoist? The answers are unclear. Next, Chen criticizes Chan Buddhist monks who
joust with kans, vainly maintain their precepts, or lord it over their disciples, but do
not see the truth:
There is one type of person, called Chan monk, who walks on foot, passing
about with kans of great dynamism and great application ever on his tongue.
He only struggles over victories and defeats in idle linguistic jousting , and
neglects to face Mt. Tai and check the old woman.30
*[h\l3 j  k^:SGX/edM)N
The Chan monks they shave their temples, but the Buddha holds out this
monkish mien and orders us to examine it.31 Forming lines and troops, they
lower not their heads. Hardly a patchedrobe monk among them has actually
seen his buddha nature and illuminated his mind.
l_Hoi+O&E`$*$Y-k.56WTp
Clearsighted men, who have seen their buddha natures, because they ascend
and sit on the teaching dais they then rail at the buddhas and patriarchs. The
teaching mechanisms of stickblows, shouts, and the single nger are most deep,
28

For Chen, xuan and pin refer to the male and female sexual organs
or to their points of contact .

29

Spatula refers to the alchemical pharmacon


yaowu m; . The metaphor comes from laboratory alchemy,
where the elixir is scraped out of the caldron with the tip of a spatula.

30
This refers to the kan Zhaozhou checks the old woman
Zhaozhou kan po g#MN . In this kan, an old
woman by the roadside gives monks the correct advice to go straight and immediately toward Mt. Tai, i.e.,
become suddenly enlightened without wavering or mediation.
31

Monks follow the monastic code, but


according to Chan teachings the Buddha pointed to any emphasis on
proper behavior as itself an impediment and subject for contemplation.

170

but nowadays they have turned these into routine phrases.32


$9"&.)3-F?<(LK;7 =4B
He criticizes NeoConfucian sophists or exegetes who think that the ultimate truth
can be captured in oral dialetic or written commentary:
Those smarties, yakking on about inherent nature and principle, with wanton
words and forced sophisms say that only they are correct. But who understands
inherent nature and the great Dao? Master Yan sat in forgetfulness and Master
Zeng said Yes.33
N$!G"8J

6Q1*"D CH$P
>
1

Chanting the Great Learning and discussing the Mean, they swerve not a jot from
the teachings of Zhu Wengong Zhu Xi . With correct mind and sincere intent
they search for commentary for each stanza and sentence, but sincere intent is
originally not found within stanzas and sentences.34
E IO 5 / #A@:A@':

Daoist, Buddhist, and Confucian religious specialists are Chens rivals within the
religious eld, but they are not as threatening to him as the uncertied or lay
purveyors of marginaltradition teachings. Chen criticizes these certied religious
specialists for not understanding the inner truth of their own traditions, rather than
for peddling dangerously misleading teachings. Chan Buddhist monks have facility
with k anjousting, but have lost sight of the true goal of enlightenment. Confucian
disputators and exegetes have forgotten their own sages mental cultivation practices
and understanding of the inherent nature. And ordained Daoists from Zhengyi,
Quanzhen, and other lineages have forgotten Laozis true teaching of the golden
elixir.
In fact, the sexual dao of the golden elixir is the true teaching, not just of
Laozi, but of each of the Three Teachings:
32

In this stanza, Chen is referring to Chan masters who perform a ceremony of ritual antinomianism called
ascending the hall shengtang %2 or shangtang 2
; cf. Foulk, Myth, Ritual, and Monastic Practice in Sung
Chan Buddhism, 17679. Zhitou (L nger
likely refers to the onenger Chan method yizhi Chan (M

of the Tang monk Juzhi ,+. Chen himself uses the Chan methods mentioned by Foulk, although here Chen
rejects them. Perhaps it is because he would consider substance of the teachings of ordinary Chan masters to be
incomplete merely zazen or k anpractice, with no alchemy
.

33

Chen criticizes NeoConfucian disputators, arguing that Confuciuss disciples also supposedly meditated Yan
Hui P, in Zhuangzi, H.Y. 6.92
, and understood the esoteric for Chen, sexual
aspect of Confuciuss dao Zeng
Shen >0, in Lunyu, H.Y. 4.15
.

34

Zhangju : stanza and sentence


refers to a type of careful, analytical sentence commentary, distinct from a
broadbrush, bigidea approach to commentary.

171

Within the caldron of the suspended fetus, one renes the owing pearl, already
joyous to have the gold return to the origin of the inherent nature. The sages of
the Three Teachings all follow a single track, yet, in after times, other people
and myself are on dierent paths.
V4OMJ18 D-$Q(,?KS0$"/7C35
This dao is the true teaching of Laozi, kyamuni, and Confucius; they each taught it
in secret to their immediate disciples, but due to their secrecy, the true teaching
became lost to subsequent tradition:
Laozi said, Always be without desires, in order to observe its secrets: this is the
recycled elixir of jade uid. Always have desires, in order to observe its orice:
this is the recycled elixir of golden uid. This dao is very great, so the sage kept
it a secret and did not disclose his pretext. . . . The Tathgata did not dare to
disclose it in words, thus he held a ower between two ngers to transmit the
dharma, and Kayapa received it with a smile. Confucius did not dare to disclose
it in words; when it came to his lineal disciples, Zeng Shen managed only a Yes.
Laozi did not dare to disclose it in words; when it came to the ve thousand
character mysterious writing the Daode jing, the Guardian of the Pass Yin Xi
used it to arrive at ming life endowment and reach the mysterious.
 =G@X% 2AP=@X%R2-AP
%N3
K9 WT$ EW#)+H*6LI:
& EW#.! F;>< EW#
U5'B36
Chen Zhixu is competing with representatives of the Daoist, Buddhist, and
Confucian traditions for the very denition of these traditions. Contrary to the more
mainstream interpretations of the Three Teachings, as taught by Daoist and
Buddhist monks and Neo Confucian scholars, Chen oers the esoteric
interpretation that the essence of the Three Teachings is none other than his own
brand of sexual alchemy. Here he is competing mainly to establish the authority of
his teachings, and thus establish and manage his mastership.
While Chen does compete with religious institutions for the denition of
truth as we have seen in chapter 2, he sought disciples and patrons in Daoist
monasteries, he never criticizes rival religious professionals as harshly as he does the
teachers of marginal traditions, so we may infer that he either has a reason not to do
35

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 9.10a910. For Chen, the caldron of the suspended fetus is the male sexual
organ, and the  owing pearl is the seminal essence, which will escape in ejaculation unless carefully retained.
The gold is the female partners primal metal qi. After the male siphons up this qi, he renes the amalgam of
male and female energies within his body. The reference to joy suggests sexual pleasure.

36

Jindan dayao, Jindan zhengli daquan ed., 6.36a35, a8b1.

172

so, or no reason to do so. A possible reason not to harshly attack Daoist and
Buddhist monks or NeoConfucian scholars is that this would arouse too much
antipathy among them, and he would no longer be able to recruit from their ranks.
And he may have less reason to attack them, because he would not have to struggle
to distinguish himself from them. While an outsider might mistake Chen for a
false
teacher from a marginal tradition, the outsider would not mistake Chen for
an ignorant
monk or scholar. The danger of being mistaken for such a false

teacher would be greater, and so he would have to work harder to distance himself
from them.
1.1.5, Chen as marginal.

Indeed, Chen does look much like a teacher from

one of the marginal traditions that he attacks. Like Chen, such teachers are also
attempting to promulgate subversive counterinterpretations of the teachings of the
sages. Although he never mentions the names of his rivals from marginal traditions,
at one point he lists the titles of several texts which may have been composed and
promulgated by such anonymous teachers:
We may say that, of those who have not attained the perfected instructions, and
are silently speculating and benightedly cogitating about the contents of the
alchemical scriptures, not a single one can complete their practice . They can
only make marginal allusions and warped attempts at proof, wideranging debates
and highying discourses, to pass away their lives. Then again, whats surprising
about this?
Furthermore, ignorant men wantonly contrive alchemical writings, borrowing
the names of former sages for their titles, such as The Old Transcendent Ge
Xuans Alchemical Instructions for Preserving Ones Life and Nourishing Ones Life
Endowment, Disquisition on Bodhidharmas Scripture on Fetal Breathing, Zhaozhous Song
of the Twelve Hours, Sire Pangs Encomium on the River Cart, as well as things like
Eight Sections of Brocade, and Qi of the Six Characters.
There are even more titles of such writings, but they are denitely
unreliable. The essentials of any true teaching ought to take the Cantong qi and
Wuzhen pian as their main source .
Y3HCK2/ SaJPON&H?'db^E]
7QM).IN12"L AF<T9 #UD5_
- KV[:=S^Z%
@Xc0+W(
8`$B e,*! 4;RG6>C
\937
These former sages, whose names other teachers are attaching to their own texts
37

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 1.5a39. Both of the last two false practices are still popular today within
qigong circles.

173

the Daoist holy man Ge Xuan, and the Chan patriarchs and worthies Bodhidharma,
Zhaozhou Congshen  , and Layman Pang Yun are also frequently
cited by Chen Zhixu himself as masters of his dao. From our outsiders perspective,
Chens claims upon these former sages are just as false as the claims by the rival
teachers that Chen is criticizing. From our perspective, there are many structural
similarities between Chen Zhixu and his marginal rivals. We will see in chapter 5 that
the line separating Chens sexual alchemy from other forms of sexual cultivation that
he criticizes is very thin. Similarly, here the line between other teachers claims to the
former sages and Chens own claims is very thin.
If Chen Zhixu is a marginal gure, this may actually play to his advantage.
Remaining marginal, he would be able to deploy his esoterizing strategy of managing
secrecy and display. If his secret teachings were to become mainstream teachings,
practiced by all, he would lose his special outsiders advantage. While I do not
believe that Chen wishes to remain a marginal gure,38 he does receive certain
benets from this peripheral position, and so we may say that his managing of his
mastership contains an inherent tension.
1.2, The Field of Competition within Chens Teachings
Chen uses his teachings as a tool to compete within his religious eld. But the
situation becomes more complex and interesting when we look at the religious
content of his teachings. It is not the case that Chen simply wields a set repertoire of
teachings in a strategic way; rather, his teachings themselves are permeated with
strategies. In a sense, the competitive eld can be found within Chens teachings just
as much as Chens teachings can be located within a competitive eld.
For an example of the thoroughly strategic nature of Chens abstract teachings
on alchemical or other Daoist matters, I could analyze almost any technical topic and
nd seams of strategic action within Chens treatment of that topic. One striking
38

Chen claims that the Old Man from Qingcheng . . . exhorted me, saying: In the future there will certainly be a
prince, marquis, or great man who seeks to take you as his teacher. 
 
 DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian sanzhu, preface, 5b45. I believe that Chen would have liked to nd a
patron of the very highest rank. With such a patron, while he could retain his esoteric secrecy, he would no longer
be a marginal person.

174

case I have found is Chens treatment of the Dao.


The Daoist tradition takes its name from the Dao as found in early classics
like Laozi.39 This metaphysical Dao is a great Way that is at once the ground of
existence, the principle or motive force beyond the natural functioning of all things,
and the proper guide for authentic human being and action. Because Chen Zhixu is
teaching a version of Daoism, the Dao ought to be the starting point for our
discussion of Chen; yet the Dao is actually mentioned in Chens Daoist teachings
rather less than one might suppose. In only a small fraction of the occurrences of the
word  in Chens corpus does this word refer to the metaphysical Dao. For Chen, 
usually refers instead to a tradition,40 and usually to his own tradition. In most cases
we ought to romanize Chens  as dao rather than Dao, and translate it as a
way rather than the Way. And when Chen is referring to his own tradition, we
ought to translate it as the way rather than a way, because for Chen, there is only
one true way to salvation: the way of the golden elixir, using the outer pharmacon
gathered from a female partner.
One place Chen does discuss the cosmic Dao is in his section The Daos
Root Is Yin and Yang Dao ben yinyang . In this section we can see Chens
slippery equation of the Dao with his dao. In an exchange with a disciple,41 Chen
presents his conceptions of the cosmic Dao, the human Dao, and the alchemical dao.
The alchemical dao involves sexual practice inviting slander from ignorant persons
yet is equivalent to the cosmic Dao itself. Here is a translation of almost the entirety
of the short section:
The Daos Root Is Yin and Yang
A disciple again approached the master
, and said, . . . The socalled Dao is able
to bring the vastness of the Heaven and Earth to completion. But you have also
said, The Dao is nothing more than a thing within the human body. Why is
there this di erence between the small and the great? What is this Dao, after all,
39

Cf. Kidder Smith, Sima Tan and the Invention of Daoism, Legalism, et cetera.

40

This was the original meaning of the word . Analyzing the graph , Robert Eno argues that its original
meaning was a formula of speech and step, connoting aspects of both discourse and skilled practice Eno,
Cook Dings Dao and the Limits of Philosophy, 129. And it remained a common use of the word. Campany
argues that In early medieval Chinese discourse, probably the most ubiquitous way of nominalizing what we
would call religions was to speak of one or multiple ways or pathsone or more dao 
Campany, On the
Very Idea of Religions, 300.

41

This teaching encounter was probably composed on paper, and is probably not a report of an actual occurrence.

175

that its numinous pervasion and transformations could be like this? Your disciple
dares to ask this, so that his surprise and doubts might be dispelled.
The Master of Highest Yang replied, The Dao generates Heaven and Earth,
brings the transcendents and buddhas to completion, and organizes the myriad
things by classes. This is the precosmic Dao lit., the Dao from before Heaven
and Earth
. Now, presently, there are Heaven and Earth, humans, and the myriad
things; this is the postcosmic Dao. Yet the Dao runs within them. As for what I
am calling the precosmic Dao, its merit is universal and vast, and its application
cannot be plumbed. That which the heavens conceal is unimaginable, and cannot
be rashly discussed. Theres no need for you to rashly listen, either.
The disciple asked, What do you mean?
The master replied, Now, the Dao or dao
is di cult to put into words.
The disciple said, I wish to receive your instruction.
The master replied, Not yet. Superior gentlemen listen eagerly and are
courageous in their practice, and middling gentlemen listen tentatively and are
indolent in their practice. When inferior gentlemen hear of it, hostility and scorn
arise.
The disciple advanced on his knees, and said, Between Heaven and Earth,
the Dao or dao
is the most great. How could a middling or inferior gentleman
hear of it or receive it? Your disciple will not speculate about it on his own, and
with his simple minded mediocrity would not dare to slight or neglect it, or be
indolent. I wish to hear of the ultimate Dao or dao
.
The Master of Highest Yang replied, I once made an interpretive
commentary on the Daode jing, and as for the wonders of the ultimate Dao or
dao
, I have already indicated a few of the details in my essay on the Dao That
Can Be Spoken Of chapter the rst chapter of the Daode jing
.42 In a moment I
will bestow you with that.
Now, the Dao is none other than a yin and a yang: havent you heard this?
Heaven and Earth are a yin and a yang, humans are a yin and a yang,43 and each of
the myriad things is a yin and a yang. . . . As for the Dao of Heaven and Earth,
when yang reaches the limit it becomes yin, and when yin reaches the limit it
becomes yang; therefore the myriad things are nished and generated. As for the
Dao of human beings, when yin reaches the limit and stops, there is thus birth
and death in the world; when yang reaches the limit and stops, there is thus the
golden elixir in the world. Worldly birth and death are the postcosmic Dao of
repletion and deciency, waning and waxing. It is the golden elixir alone which is
none other than the Dao of Heaven and Earth, and does not make people or
things or, and is not procreation
. One does not seek it by following the
current; instead one attains it by advancing against the current, bringing life
without death. Such a person is called a sage, a transcendent, or a buddha. Do you
alone not know that the precosmic Dao or dao
is the golden elixir? People of
this generation are not only unaware that the precosmic Dao is the golden elixir:
when they hear of it, if their response does
not stop at mere
laughter, then
42

Chens essay Dao ke dao zhang  Section on the Dao which can be spoken of is in juan 1 of Jindan
dayao 2.7b812b7 in DZ 1067.

43

I.e., humanity is composed of a yin human a woman and a yang human a man.

176


their response develops into ensuing slander and scorn.44 Therefore Confucius
said: If he is not a sage, there is no way
to teach him . . . .
)t
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45
When Chen speaks of a that incites surprise, hostility, and slander, we should
recognize that he is no longer speaking about the cosmic Dao which would be
known to and largely accepted by all, including nonDaoists , but instead is speaking
of an esoteric dao, a dao which strains the credulity and tolerance of most people who
have never previously heard thishe is speaking of his own sexualalchemical dao.
Chens strategic shifts between Dao and dao can be tricky to catch, but we can see
him doing this in the second paragraph of the translation above. Between the words
. . . what I am calling the precosmic Dao, its merit is universal and vast . . . and . . .
is unimaginable, and cannot be rashly discussed, . . . Chen has shifted strategically
from a vast cosmic Dao to a sexual dao that cannot be rashly discussed without
inciting slander from ignorant philistines. There may be another such shift when the
disciple says Between Heaven and Earth, the is the most great. . . . I wish to hear
of the ultimate , . . . and Chen replies Not yet. . . . When inferior gentlemen hear
of it, hostility and scorn arise . . . The disciple seems to be referring to the cosmic

44

I read Rc as analogous to the Mandarin pattern \Aw\B.

45

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi jindan dayao 13.6a78a5.

177

Dao, and Chen is certainly referring to the sexual dao which arouses hostility .46 We
might say Chen shifts from Dao to dao, or we might say he embeds his dao within the
Dao as its mainstream.
This shift from Dao to dao is an example of strategic ambiguity, and is also a
clear example of a rhetorical strategy found throughout Chens works: marshaling
universal truths in service of his own particular truth, or extension. He argues for
the validity of sexual alchemy by rst citing a non controversial and widely accepted
religious truth such as the Dao, the buddha nature, or the person or teachings of
Laozi, kyamuni, Confucius, Mencius, or any one of various holy persons from
history or legend , then reinterpreting this truth in terms of sexual alchemy, and
attempting to convince us that the real import of this truth is to teach the sexual
dao of the golden elixir.
In the above passage we see that Chens teachings are not simply set pieces
that he applies in strategic ways, but that his teachings are strategic all the way
down. We nd traces of social competition everywhere in his writing, even in
abstract discussions. This is not to say that he has concocted his religious thought for
the sake of advancement in a teaching career. It is not a matter of making things up
from whole cloth, but of activating or emphasizing those conceptual or praxological
links or homologies from within Chens overall religious toolkit that would be most
useful to his purposes.47

2, Toward a General Conict Theory of Society


I have argued that it is appropriate to apply a conict view to the case of Chen
Zhixu; that is, to focus on the conictual aspects of his life and work, which are
indeed manifest and manifold. The remaining steps in this chapter are to draw the
46

When inferior gentlemen hear of it, hostility and scorn arise 


  recalls chapter 41 of the
Daode jing: When inferior gentlemen hear of the Dao, they have a big laugh over it 
 . Yet the
hostility mentioned by Chen is quite dierent from the mere derision or incredulity in the Daode jing passage.

47

See my discussion of Bourdieus concept of matrimonial strategies on p. 190 below.

178

outline of a general conict theory of society, and then to choose the best specic
theory for our purposes. In this section I take the rst of these two steps.
2.1, Conict.

Human social life is pervaded with both competition and

cooperation, with both conict and consensus.48 Conict is always based on some
sort of consensusevery debate has its rules of order and given topics, and every
ght has its groundrules49but consensus is not more basic than conict. Just as
species evolve through natural selection based on intraspecies competition as much
as on competition with other species
, human societies and cultures change due to
conict. In the animal and human worlds, conict and consensus exist in a dialectic,
and it is unrealistic to imagine any other state of a airs.
While human society will always possess both aspects, we may still ask which
aspect is dominant. Is human social life fundamentally characterized more by
conict, or by consensus? This might seem to be a false question fundamentally
conictual or consensual relative to what? , we might ask
, but I argue that it is
reasonable. Some societies are clearly more conictual than others, and it is also
reasonable to ask whether human society as such is more conictual or
consensual. We might compare human society as we know it with imagined utopian
societies, heavenly orders, animal orders, or even inorganic natural processes. Or we
might compare human social life as it is seen by sociologists with social life as
represented in our own commonsense view our common sense being based on our
own biography, culture, and society, of course
. So, nally, this is a reasonable
question.
2.2, Why choose conict theory?

There is no scholarly or cultural agreement

on the answer to this question of whether competition or consensus is more


48

Social conict may be dened as the intentional mutual exchange of negative sanctions, or punitive behaviors,
by two or more parties, which may be individuals, corporate actors, or more loosely knit quasigroups Blalock,
Power and Conict, 7
.
I understand the terms conict and competition to be largely interchangeable. Most conict is
competitive, and most competition aside from friendly games
is conictual. Finks review of the relation
between terms conict and competition in various conict theories shows that there is no general consensus
on how to use the two terms together; Fink, Some Conceptual Di culties in the Theory of Social Conict,
44053.
49

In Bourdieus terms, every eld has its doxa. Anthropological research has shown that even violent conict
follows culturally encoded patterns, has institutionalized forms, and is controlled and directed in its
appearance Elwert, Conict: Anthropological Aspects, 4:2543
.

179

dominant. Yet I will argue that, in the absence of theoretical agreement, a theory
assuming that conict is endemic to human society o ers unique theoretical
advantages.
We may all agree that every human society has possessed aspects of both
consensus and conict, and human social life as such will always possess both aspects.
Yet social theorists continue to disagree on issues such as:
how to dene conict, competition, or consensus,
whether conict is a species of competition, or vice versa,
how broadly or narrowly conict should be construed,
whether a general theory of conict is possible or desirable,
the relative amounts of conict and consensus in society or social groupings,
which varieties or patterns of conict are worthy of study,
at which level of society from micro to macrolevels conict should be
studied,
how di erent varieties of conict interrelate,
what kinds of general phenomena can be observed in conict relationships.50
With this much disagreement on basic points, we should not expect it to be easy to
develop a general theory of conict.
Theorists views on conict di er for objective technical or theoretical
reasons, but also for subjective moral or political reasons. In his book on the
conictconsensus debate in Western social thought,51 Thomas Bernard concludes
that most thinkers views on conict are actually based on their underlying
assumptions about human nature and proper human society, rather than on empirical
observation, and furthermore that the question of whether human society as such is
conictual is yet unresolved. Bernard has compared the positions of more than a
dozen classic and contemporary thinkers on the issue of social conict, analyzing
their views on human nature, their contemporary society, and the ideal society, and
dividing their positions into four types:
conservative consensus theorists such as Aristotle, Aquinas, and Locke, who
regard both their contemporary society and human nature as basically consensual;
sociological consensus theorists such as Hobbes, Durkheim, and Talcott
Parsons, who regard human nature as conictual but identify contemporary and
ideal society as a means of holding individuals together in a consensus;
50

Fink, Some Conceptual Di


culties in the Theory of Social Conict.

51

Bernard, The ConsensusConict Debate.

180

radical conict theorists such as Plato, Rousseau, and Marx, who regard
humans as having a sociallyharmonious nature which is made conictual by
society;
sociological conict theorists such as Machiavelli, Georg Simmel, and Ralf
Dahrendorf, who regard both human nature and human society as basically
conictual.52
In comparing the positions of thinkers from similar eras and societies, Bernard
shows how often assessments by two contemporaries of the same society may be
radically dierent, and in almost every case Bernard concludes that the dierence
between the two theorists is not one of empirical descriptions of existing societies,
but rather one of value judgments about what is described and predictions about the
future course of society which are also based upon these value judgments.53 For
example, Locke and Rousseau lived in similar oligarchical societies, but because
Locke saw this social arrangement as legitimate, he did not recognize any real
endemic struggle within his society, and therefore saw his society as consensual.
Rousseau did not see the arrangement of his society as legitimate, and so he was
inclined to see it as marked by conict.54 In midcentury sociological thought,
functionalists were inclined to support the status quo of modern society and of
society in general, and thus to describe the dominant power group as incorporating
the large majority of people in a society, making this social arrangement morally
legitimate and practically stable.55 Marxists, on the other hand, were inclined to
reject the status quo of modern society and of most known human societies in favor
of a utopian society, and thus to portray the dominant social group as quite small,
making this social arrangement morally illegitimate and practically precarious.
Bernard argues that, until the question of whether human society as such is
more conictual or consensual has been answered empirically, sociological
conict theories56 are the best option that we have. Unlike sociological consensus
e.g., functionalist theorists, or radical conict e.g., Marxist theorists, sociological
52

Bernard, The ConsensusConict Debate, passim, esp. viii ix, 189 93.

53

Bernard, The ConsensusConict Debate, 102.

54

Bernard, The ConsensusConict Debate, 85.

55

Bernard, The ConsensusConict Debate, 210.

56

E.g., the theories of Ralf Dahrendorf, Lewis Coser, or Randall Collins.

181

conict theorists are not fundamentally biased toward or against the status quo of
their own society or other societies. Sociological conict theories merely provide a
framework for analyzing conict, and are not intended as weapons in a culture war.57
If evidence emerges in the future suggesting that human nature and society are
relatively more consensual or conictual, this nding could be incorporated into the
sociological conict approach,58 but until then, this approach may operate with
thinner assumptions about the basic character of human nature or society.
Sociological conict theories emphasis on conict is a methodological choice
rather than a moral one. In a similar vein, I argue that emphasizing conict over
consensus helps us to remain alert to the possibility of di
erences between
individuals and within groups at all levels of society, rather than merely between
societies. Emphasizing conict over consensus has heuristic advantages. For
example, when introducing students to unfamiliar traditions, it is easier to draw
students into the material by teaching the debates within the tradition or between
rival traditions emphasizing conict rather than by merely describing static
structural elements in the tradition emphasizing consensus. The same strategy
works for introducing unfamiliar material in writing to any audience. This bias
toward conict is based on the practical exigency of presenting the subject in a
striking light and drawing the audience into the subject.
In the eld of Daoist studies, too many scholars have preferred to study
Daoist history, structure, and ideas as a general continuum, perhaps implicitly
distinguishing Daoism from Western religion and culture, but not marking sharp
di
erences within the continuum of Daoism itself. The best way to cultivate an
alertness and sensitivity to di
erences within Daoism is by emphasizing conict
within Daoism. All scholars of Daoism would agree that the history of Daoism has
been a history of political struggle and competitive cultural innovation, but scholars
have not emphasized strife enough, or have underestimated the pervasiveness of
strife in Daoist religious life. Scholars have too often represented the history of
Daoist concepts or texts as an unfolding of ideas themselves, when in fact the main
57

Bernard, The ConsensusConict Debate, 198.

58

Bernard, The ConsensusConict Debate, 213.

182

motor of change is social competition between individuals between di erent


Daoists, or between Daoists and nonDaoists, or between people who are
sometimes Daoist, or Daoist in some aspect .59
One ne model of a conict approach to the study of Chinese thought and
religion is Michael Puetts book To Become a God. In this book, Puett rereads classic
early Chinese philosophical and religious texts as arguments, as statements in a
cultural debate over concepts of divinity shen  .60 He criticizes attempts by some
modern scholars to understand Chinese ideas as features of a Chinese mind, or
attempts by others to explain the ideas of particular texts in terms of a broad
evolution of Chinese ideas across the millennia, and criticizes as well the common
habit of marking particular texts as representatives of schools of thought such as
Confucianism or Daoism.
All of these interpretive strategiesreading in terms of schools, essentialized
denitions of culture, evolutionary frameworkshave the consequence of erasing
the unique power that particular claims had at the time. My strategy is, instead,
to contextualize through a di erent approach: to ask why statements are made in
particular situations, to understand the cultural signicance they would have had
at the time, and to work out the historical consequences of the ensuing debates.61
Following Puett, we must view religious ideas, not as the solid and natural furniture
of an ageless and holistic Chinese cultural system, but rather as unsteady new
proposals advanced in specic circumstances and rmed up through cultural debate.
We must think of teachings like those of Chen Zhixu as arguments in cultural
debates about specic issues relating to tradition, lineage, or selfcultivation, rather
than merely expressions of the Daoist mind. Finally we must move beyond the
59
Exceptions include the work of Stephen Bokenkamp e.g., Scripture of the Inner Explanations of the Three
Heavens: Introduction, in his Early Daoist Scriptures, 186203 , Kenneth Dean e.g., Taoist Ritual and Popular Cults
of Southeast China, and Lord of the Three in One , and Paul Katz e.g., Images of the Immortal . Articles by Schipper
Purity and Strangers and Stein Religious Taoism and Popular Religion must also be mentioned. Skar, Golden
Elixir Alchemy comes close to the perspective adopted in this chapter, but Skar emphasizes consensus at the
expense of conict. He identies selfcultivation as a form of cultural power that elites could use at court or
among their peers 23 . Adepts and their patrons used these new inneralchemical teachings and the
transcendents bound up with them to add to the repertoire of literati association 231 . Yet the texts of the
Southern Lineage of the Golden Elixir whose teachings he is referring to here are rife with polemicthe story
of inner alchemy is a story of division as much as association.
60

Bokenkamp notes that such debates are not always carried out in terms of grand concepts, but often in terms
of the various local concerns of importance to the people involved therein; Bokenkamp, Ancestors and Anxiety, 17
18.

61

Puett, To Become a God, 25.

183

range of Puetts book and place Chens teachings within larger social and cultural
contexts, rather than considering only intertextual relations within an intellectual
arena, as Puett does.
2.3, Why choose Bourdieu as a conict theorist?

The conict view of Daoist

mastership that I propose in this chapter is based on the social thought of Pierre
Bourdieu. Although Bourdieu uses the term conict only rarely he uses the term
violence more often , David Swartz characterizes Bourdieus view as a conict
view of the social world, which tends to downplay processes of imitation or
cooperation.62 Out of all the work on conict theory I have reviewed for this
chapter, I have found Bourdieus work the most useful, as I will explain below. To
understand where Bourdieus conict theory stands within the eld of conict
theories, we may chart conict theories along two axes, as constructed by C. J.
Crouch gure 3.1 below .63



Momentous

Structural
functionalism


Mundane

Marxism

Insitutionalization of
conflict theories

Micro-functionalism;
applied sociology

Critical
applied
sociology 

Functions of
conflict approaches
Neo-Weberian
sociology

X
Exceptional
Y

Endemic

Fig. 3.1, The main axes of sociological theories of conict

The X axis runs from Mundane to Momentous i.e., from theories that
treat conict as a minor occurrence to theories that treat conict as a cataclysmic
event , and the Y axis runs from Exceptional to Endemic i.e., from theories that
treat conict as a rare event to theories that treat conict as part of everyday life in a
normal society .
62

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 6364.

63

Figure 1 and the following discussion is from Crouch, Conict Sociology, 4:255558.

184

In quadrant 1, we nd Talcott Parsons functionalist sociology, in which


conict is regarded as unusual and undesirable.64 In quadrant 2, we nd Marxism,
which concerns itself with major conicts between classes, conicts which are
regarded as inescapable in feudal and capitalist societies. Because they treat conict
as a momentous occurrence, both of these theories are inappropriate for the study of
conict in Chen Zhixus career and teachings. We have seen that, in Chens case,
conict is endemic rather than exceptional. Marxism and its heirs such as Ralf
Dahrendorf s institutionalization of conict theory65 are further inappropriate
because they treat mainly classes or other large groups. Functions of conict
approaches as found in the work of Georg Simmel or Lewis Coser are unsuitable for
the same reason.66 Randall Collins microfunctionalism is more useful, because it
discusses conict at the microlevel.67 But NeoWeberian approaches are the most
appropriate, because they recognize conict as endemic and ubiquitous in everyday
life as it is for Chen Zhixu. Also, whereas Marx imagines a simple polarization of
society into propertied and nonpropertied classes,68 Weber and his heirs recognize
the complexity of social stratication in cultural and social terms as well as
economic. Chen Zhixu cannot be easily sited within a Marxian economic class
structure. As an itinerant teacher, he is economically marginal; his sexual alchemy
makes him culturally marginal within Daoist society, yet his secret circle of disciples
includes many social and religious elites. So he is a marginal gure within the
economic eld, but an authority within his local Daoist subeld.
As I will show below, Bourdieus sociology of culture is basically Weberian.
Among all of the positions in Crouchs eld of conict theories in gure 3.1 above,
NeoWeberian theories are the most appropriate for the study of endemic, mundane
conict, and among conict theories of this type, Bourdieus work o
ers the richest
array of concepts and methods, on macro, meso, and microlevels.
64

E.g., Parsons and Smelser, Economy and Society.

65

Dahrendorf, Class and Class Conict in Industrial Society.

66

Simmel, Conict and the Web of Group Aliations; Coser, The Functions of Social Conict.

67

Collins, Conict Theory: Toward an Explanatory Science.

68

Turner, Conict Theory, 136.

185

Crouch writes that Todays postmodern, postCold War world presents a


scene in which conict seems at once endemic and directionless, and sociological
theory is reecting that.69 This comment is a good characterization of Bourdieus
work. Bourdieus theory of elds is based on his research on academics, artists,
writers, and middleclass consumers in modern French society, and the theory of
conict as endemic and mundane that we may abstract from his specic research
reects the modern society which he both studies and embodies. Surprisingly
enough, Bourdieus distinctively modern view of conict as endemic and
directionless is also well suited to Chen Zhixus specic social environment, even
though Chens premodern Chinese society would seem to be otherwise quite foreign
to Bourdieus modern Western society.

3, Bourdieus Sociology of Culture


My study of Chen Zhixus alchemy in the remainder of this chapter takes the social
thought of Pierre Bourdieu as its framework. My reading of Bourdieu is deeply
indebted to David Swartzs study, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu.
Bourdieu did not write much about religion,70 so why is his thought my best choice
here? I will study religion as culture, and sociologists of culture tell us that peoples
main use of culture is to deal with institutions and social structures,71 so religion
must be studied in relation to these structures. Bourdieu o
ers a sophisticated
approach to the study of the politics of culture, one which attends to the macrolevel
structures of societies class and habitus , and to the microlevel strategies of
individual persons struggling to improve their cultural and economic positions by
accumulating and converting di
erent forms of capital, and furthermore adds the
mesolevel concept of eld. Bourdieus work o
ers one of the most appealing
theoretical frameworks for understanding relations between persons, groups,
69

Crouch, Conict Sociology, 4:2558.

70

His longest work on the sociology of religion is an article, Genesis and Structure of the Religious Field.

71

Swidler, Talk of Love, 17779.

186

structures, and cultural products.


The view of culture as an arena for social striving has deeply informed my
study of Chen Zhixus teachings and biography from the beginning of my research.
This view is current within the human sciences, which is partially due to Bourdieus
work. Yet Bourdieu does not merely support a view of culture as a competitive arena:
he has developed a set of new concepts and theories to sharpen this general view. For
my purposes, Bourdieus most important concepts are eld, capital, and
misrecognition, and his most important theoretical insights include the
interconvertibility of various forms of capital, the semiautonomy of elds, and the
function of elds in mediating macrostructures.
3.1, Bourdieu and Weber
Bourdieu, like Karl Marx, studies the relation between cultural and economic life,
but unlike Marx he does not reduce culture to a merely suprastructural legitimating
function. Building on Max Webers thesisthat not only does economic activity
shape religious ideas, but religious ideas can also shape economic activity72
Bourdieu applies Webers religious thesis to culture more generally. Weber speaks of
the eects of ideas, but this is not to say that ideas generally exercise direct eects
upon social life. For Weber and Bourdieu, more important than ideas are ideational
interestsideas as used by social actors for their own purposes. As Weber says, Not
ideas, but material and ideational interests, directly govern mens conduct.73 The
action of individuals or groups is interested, strategic, and aimed at advantage, yet
interests can be ideational as well as strictly material. Bourdieu develops Webers
concept of ideational interest into a theory of various types of interest, all distinct
from but intertwined with material interest. I will analyze Chen Zhixus teachings
and biography in terms of Bourdieus economic, cultural, social, and symbolic
interests.
Bourdieu studies human action as social action, and he assumes that peoples
action is directed toward other people, rather than toward transcendent ideals or
72

As in Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.

73

Weber, From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, 280.

187

superhuman entities. Weber writes that, while religious life is more than merely an
outgrowth of economic life as Marx would say , it is still a human social product:
the most elementary forms of behavior motivated by religious or magical factors
are oriented to this world. . . . Religious or magical thinking must not be set apart
from the range of everyday purposive conduct, particularly since even the ends of
the religious and magical actions are predominantly economic.74
Bourdieu adds that Webers insight allows him to escape from the simplistic
alternative . . . between . . . the absolute autonomy of mythical or religious discourse
and the reductionist theory that makes it the direct reection of social structures.75
Following Bourdieu, I will neither regard Chens religion as an autonomous realm or
system with its own phenomena or laws as Mircea Eliade or Claude Lvi Strauss
might do , nor will I reduce it to social structure as Marx would do . Chens
teachings are inseparable from his social position, yet neither are they reducible to
this. Chens striving for social goals, and for the extra social goal of salvation, is
mediated by his interests, strategies, and struggles in religious and other cultural elds
which I will introduce presently .76
Bourdieu regards social life as fundamentally agonistic, characterized by strife,
not only on the macro level, but in all the little deeds of daily life. The recurring
image one nds in Bourdieus work is one of competitive distinction, domination,
and misperception; this is a conict view of the social world, which tends to
downplay processes of imitation or cooperation.77 This view is a fundamental
presupposition not a hypothesis for testing,78 and, as such, is a point in his thought
that is open to criticism. Yet Bourdieus conict view is also one of the reasons why
his thought is suitable as a framework for studying the teachings of Chen Zhixu and
other Chinese masters like him. Much of Chens writing is manifestly interested,
74

Weber, Economy and Society, 399.

75

Bourdieu, Genesis and Structure of the Religious Field, 5.

76

Chens religious striving is oriented toward goals in this world, but also toward reward in the heavens or union
with the Dao. His trajectory beyond the human realm is still presented in social terms of course: the celestial
bureaucracy is consciously modeled on the Chinese imperial bureaucracy, for example. Daoist heavens are often
imagined as societies, but not human societies. We may doubt whether Chens conceptualization escapes the circle
of human society, but we may not doubt his extra human, transcendent aspirations.
77

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 63


64.

78

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 42.

188

agonistic, even antagonistic. At any time his discourse on technical aspects of


alchemy can segue into a criticism of rival teachings on selfcultivation. Given that
parts of Chens writing are manifestly agonistic, it is reasonable to view all of his
writing as possessing this agonistic aspect to some degree, or at least to have been
shaped in agonistic contexts. His struggle with rival teachers must thus be present,
whether as a trace in all of his writing as I have suggested in section 1.2, pages 174
78 above , or as a basic reason for his engaging in teaching activities at all as
Bourdieu might say . David Swartz notes that Bourdieus approach works best for
certain professions in the media, the arts, and academe, where individuals seek to
convert their valued cultural resources into economic rewards;79 Chens profession
as master of a dao of salvation is just such a case.
Bourdieu has developed a sophisticated model for the study of culture: a
political economy of practices, which he calls a science of the reproduction of
structures. His fundamental aim is to study how stratied social systems of
hierarchy and domination persist and reproduce intergenerationally without
powerful resistance and without the conscious recognition of their members.80 The
basic elements of this model are superstructure,81 habitus, eld, capital, and practice.
3.2, Habitus
Habitus is a matrix of practices, a exible system of structures produced and
reproduced semi or unconsciously by each generation, a set of loosely organized
dispositions or principle rather than conscious aims or procedures.82 Habitus is a
heuristic concept, expressing Bourdieus view that practices are not structured in
terms of formal rules, but neither do practices represent individuals unfettered free
will. We may even say that habitus is a polemical concept, by which Bourdieu stakes
79

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 289.

80

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 6.

81

Superstructure includes the economy, polity, and class structure of a society. I will not be dealing with this level of
social structure in my study of Chen Zhixu.
82
In Bourdieus words, habitus is a system of durable, transposable dispositions, structured structures
predisposed to function as structuring structures, that is, as principles which generate and organize practices and
representations that can be objectively adapted to their outcomes without presupposing a conscious aiming at
ends or an express mastery of the operations necessary in order to obtain them; The Logic of Practice, 53.

189

out a position in opposition to both objective structuralist and subjective


existentialist positions, as exemplied by Claude Lvi
Strauss and Jean
Paul Sartre
respectively. With habitus, Bourdieu is asserting what practice is not as much as what
practice is.
Practice is not strictly based on codes, because in practice social actors vary
their use of overlapping social codes such as rules about cousin
marriage and
cosmological schemes such as cosmological correlations between parts of a human
body, parts of a house, and seasons83 according to context. A telling example of how
Bourdieus approach diers from a structuralist approach is the fact that Bourdieu
replaces the idea of rules of kinship with matrimonial strategies.84 Peoples actual
deployment of social codes is strategic, and cannot be adequately represented by the
owcharts of a structuralist kinship analyst. These codes and schemes have an
inherent practical coherence85 because they are all generated by the same
underlying habitus
matrix, yet their linkages are polyvalent, allowing individuals or
traditions to apply them variously in practices. Codes and schemes are used
strategically in practices, but this strategy is often unconscious, being the eect of
lifeways what Bourdieu calls objective intentions86 that ow through similar
channels over the generations, as much as the conscious work of individual agents.
A habitus is a class subculture, an array of dispositions possessed by a social
class. Class, in turn, is dened as all of the people sharing a common habitus. Habitus
is both structured and structuring: it is structured by the life chances or
conditions of existence of the people in that class, and it in turn structures their
aspirations and expectations. The dispositions of a habitus are master patterns of
behavioral style that cut across cognitive, normative, and corporal dimensions of
human action.87 A male habitus characterized by machismo, for example, could be
expressed in all aspects of a mans life, including language, nonverbal
83

Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice, 157.

84

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 99. Cf. Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice, 30 71.

85

Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice, 118.

86

Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice, 79.

87

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 108.

190

communication, tastes, values, perceptions, and modes of reasoning.88 Habitus can


be seen in specic lifestyles, and bodily ways of being in the world. The corporal
aspect of habitus, called hexis, is the unconscious embodiment of principles and
values specic to a class or group. Bourdieu calls this process of embodiment
an implicit pedagogy, capable of instilling a whole cosmology, an ethic, a
metaphysic, a political philosophy, through injunctions as insignicant as stand
up straight or dont hold your knife in your left hand.89
In addition to its hexis, a habitus will also generate a distinctive pattern of lifestyles
or aesthetic tastes specic to its social class. Bourdieu characterizes the four
lifestyles of the four social classes in France, for example, as ostentatious indulgence
and ease within the upper class, aristocratic aestheticism among intellectuals,
awkward pretension by middleclass strivers, and antipretentious ignorance and
conformity within the working class.90 These lifestyles are structured by the past
social conditions of the members of a class, and in turn structure their future
horizon.
For Bourdieu, people develop practices as they act, on the basis of their semi
conscious habituses and their accrued capital, within elds.91 In my study of
Chen Zhixu, I draw on the concepts of capital and eld to explain Chens
practices as strategic action, and make little direct application of the concept of
habitus. Chen Zhixu shares the same basic literati class habitus with his rivals,
friends, patrons, disciples, and readers, and indeed with every other party, group, or
type of person who appears in his writings, so as we compare Chen with his rivals and
friends, habitus is a constant quantity within the equation, and will not help us
understand the dierences among the ideational interests we nd.
The concept of habitus will still be relevant throughout this dissertation,
however. My account of Chen Zhixus teachings as strategic, semisystematic
applications and mobilizations of selfcultivation practices, social forms, myths, or
88

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 108.

89

Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice, 94. The concept of bodily hexis is clearly indebted to the philosophical
phenomenology of Maurice MerleauPonty, et al.
90

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 109.

91

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 141.

191

cosmological and soteriological concepts is informed by Bourdieus concept of


habitus as a loose cosmological matrix applied strategically through the practices of
individual agents within traditional lifeways. Bourdieus concept must be applied
carefully, however. In Outline of a Theory of Practice, Bourdieu often warns
ethnographers against intellectualizing the practices they are studying, against
regarding them as philosophy, against seeking eternal answers to the eternal
questions . . . in the practical answers which the peasants . . . have given to the
practical . . . problems which were forced on them by their lifeconditions.92 But
with Chen Zhixu, we have not a peasant, but an intellectual. Chen does elaborate
cosmological meanings consciously, yet Chens teachings are still a form of practice.
Bourdieus account of practices being generated out of the loose matrix of the
habitus does apply to Chen Zhixus teachingaspractice, but not directly. Chen
Zhixus teachings are situated somewhere along the continuum in gure 3.2:
X   

 Y 

Unconscious
workaday practices

Semiconscious
micropolitical practices

Hyperconscious
intellectual practices

Governed by
practical logic

Governed by
decient logic

Governed by
formal logic

Unconscious objective
intention only

Practices are infused


with strategic intent

Practices have a place


within a general strategy

Fig. 3.2, Continuum of consciousness, logic, and strategy of practices

The peasant practices that Bourdieu alludes to in Outline of a Theory of Practice and
The Logic of Practice would belong to a range extending from point X on the left pole
of the continuum toward the center Y. The practices of mathematicians or formal
logicians, for an opposite example, would belong to point Z at the right pole of the
continuum. Academic logicians are just as strategic as any social actors, but there may
be little evidence of strategic moves within the detail of their theorizing itself.
Rather, their theorizing is part of general strategy with the goal of success in
academic competition, for example. I have argued above in my analysis of Chen
Zhixus use of the term  dao or Dao that Chens theorizing is infused with
92

Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice, 115.

192

strategic action. I would place Chen near point Y on the continuum, where his
teachingaspractice is governed by Bourdieus concepts of habitus and practice, but
less directly. The concept of habitus helps to articulate a point that I made in section
1.2 above pages 17478 , that Chens teachings are permeated with political
strategies. Chens teaching activity is neither habitual behavior nor formal
philosophy, but something inbetween. It is semiselfconscious micropolitical
practice, governed by inconsistent logic, and infused with strategic intent.
3.3, Field
A eld is a network, or conguration, of objective relations between positions.93
The concept of elds in the social sciences is based in part on the concept in physics
of the electromagnetic eld. Fields are
arenas of production, circulation, and appropriation of goods, services,
knowledge, or status, and the competitive positions held by actors in their
struggle to accommodate and monopolize these di
erent kinds of capital. Fields
may be thought of as structured spaces that are organized around specic types
of capital or combinations of capital.94
Fields are similar to markets in some respects, but unlike the concept of market,
the concept of eld suggests not only exchanges between buyers and sellers, but
also rank and hierarchy within a force eld. Fields are similar to institutions when
institution is dened in the broadest sense , but the concept of eld privileges
struggle rather than consensus. The concept of eld is more exible than the
concept of institution: elds can incorporate multiple institutions, or multiple
elds may be found within a single institution. The concept of eld may also be used
for undeveloped societies or subcultures with weak institutionalization.95 Bourdieus
theory of elds of struggle for capital is reminiscent of Foucaults hydraulic theory
of power,96 but Bourdieu criticizes Foucault for paying insu cient attention to

93

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 117. Cf. Martin, What is Field Theory? for a
discussion of the advantages of a eldtheory approach in sociology.
94

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 117.

95

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 120.

96

As in, for example, Foucault, The History of Sexuality, vol. 1.

193

institutions.97
An aspect of Bourdieus social thought that is most signicant for my study of
Chen Zhixu is Bourdieus attention to how elds mediate outside interests. Fields
have internal dynamics, capitals, aims, and vectors, which modulate external e
ects.
The e
ects of economic forces upon individuals, for example, are mediated by elds,
translated into terms or valences specic to each eld. The concept of eld is a
conduit for Bourdieus polemic against class reductionism and vulgar materialism.98
Human action, or practices, cannot be reduced to the e
ects of class habitus or
economic interests alone. Struggle within a eld is in terms of the elds capital and
positions, rather than in terms of external structures. External inuences are always
retranslated into the internal logic of elds.99 The eld Bourdieu has studied in the
most detail is the intellectual eld, the eld of academic practice in France. For
him, intellectuals are strategists who aim to maximize their inuence within cultural
elds.100 He argues that an academics intellectual or political stances cannot be
explained merely in terms of his or her scientic judgment, philosophical inclination,
or class habitus, but always reect the internal structure of the intellectual eld and
his or her discrete position within that eld or within overlapping elds.
Based on my reading of the sociology of culture of Bourdieu and Ann Swidler,
I feel that it would be irresponsible to study culture without also studying the social
structures elds or institutions in which culture is inscribed. Swidler has suggested
that
a good deal of what we normally mean by culture is not an internalized set of
values, easily transportable from one institutional setting to another. Precisely the
opposite: most culture sustains the symbolic capacities people develop to deal
with institutions. ...
Even the deeper parts of culturehow people conceive the nature of
personhood, the sense in which one is an individual, or the ways one feels
obligated to collectivities, may be much more directly tied to the institutional
forms than we normally acknowledge. . . .
This formulation of how culture inuences action calls for an approach
97

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 79n17.

98

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 119.

99

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 128.

100

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 228.

194

dierent from those that prevail in much of the sociology and anthropology of
culture. First, it suggests that rather than looking at cultural meanings in the
abstract, it is crucial to attend to the contexts in which they are actually used.101
Swidler shows how people use culture as a toolbox of resources for negotiating their
way through institutions, and she believes that this is one of the main functions of
culture as such. Bourdieus sociology speaks of elds rather than institutions, but
makes a similar point, and to this adds case studies and new conceptual instruments.
Swidlers work does not address the question of how intellectual culture ts within
institutions, but Bourdieu has devoted much study to intellectual elds. Both make
the same point: we cannot understand culture without attending to how it is being
used within strategies for action, and cannot understand these strategies without
attending to mesolevel social structures such as elds or institutions. In the case
of Chen Zhixu, we cannot understand his alchemical teachings without attending to
his jockeying for authority with rival teachers, and, further, we cannot understand
Chens specic relations with his rivals without placing them within a general,
agonistic eld of production, consumption, and transmission of teachings on self
cultivation. This is not to say that Chens religious activity is completely reducible to
social activity, only to say that his religious activity in life is thoroughly and
inescapable social.
In studying the phenomenology of elds, Bourdieu has shown how two or
more elds may develop homologous patterns, including positions of dominance
and subordination, strategies of exclusion and usurpation, and mechanisms of
reproduction and change.102 A notable example of this phenomenon is the way that
struggles between producers in the cultural eld produce analogous eects in the
social eld:
legitimation of social class inequality is not the product of conscious intention
but stems from a structural correspondence between dierent elds. . . . When
cultural producers pursue their own specic interests in elds, they unwittingly
produce homologous eects in the social class structure. . . . In serving the
interests of their particular elds, intellectuals also serve the interests of the class

101

Swidler, Talk of Love, 177, 179.

102

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 129.

195

structure.103
The structural correspondence between elds is underlain by shared habitus or
aspects shared by distinct habitusesspecically, by a common set of dichotomous
symbolic categories such as rare/common, good/bad, high/low, inside/outside, male/
female, light/heavy, or distinguished/vulgar.104 When intellectuals employ these
distinctions for cognitive purposes in the intellectual eld, this can help reproduce or
reinforce corresponding class distinctions in the social eld.
I will not be studying medieval Chinese class relations in this dissertation, but
we may note how Chen employs eld homologies as he strives for distinction as a
master, and for personal salvation. For example, Chen sometimes makes a distinction
between the two or three quasisocialclasses of holy selfcultivators and vulgar
worldlings. A class of men with middling potential is sometimes listed between the
two levels of superior and inferior men, as in the following example:
The Master of Highest Yang says: There are three levels
of transmission of the
dao.
The superior ones in this scheme
are men of letters and virtuous gentlemen,
of few words and loving the good, able to discard their wealth, and anxious only
about their person. These are called superior gentlemen, and one may transmit
the dao to them.
The middling ones in this scheme
are solid but unlettered; hearing of the
dao, they have deep trust in it, and are able to sever loving attachments, put e ort
into making improvement, and do not pay attention to squabbles. These are
called middling gentlemen. If they have the same intention as a superior
gentleman, one may transmit the dao to them.
The inferior ones in this scheme
, though foolish, are of stout faith, delight
in good and discard evil, giving up their own desires
to follow others, and acting
with daring and courage. These are called inferior gentlemen. If their intention
passes muster, one may still transmit the dao to them.
4 85, ,1
91'+.2(#
$
58,,> <8?!'-&7;
3 @$ $

58,,6!:=
1+/* )"0%$
58,105
This class hierarchy within the eld of religious practice would be homologous in
some respects with a class hierarchy within the social eld, or more fundamentally,
103

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 134.

104

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 84.

105

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi jindan dayao 8.6a7 b3.

196

within the superstructure of the society. Yet Chens employment of eld homologies
is strategic, not mechanically structuralist. In the above passage, Chen lists three
levels of cultivator, and he oers a place within his dao for even the lowest. In the
passage below, Chen lists two kinds of cultivator, excluding the lower one from his
dao, and he does this for strategic purposes.
In the following example, Chen tells his disciple Wang Shunmin 3 a
tea transport ocial that superior men practice earnestly once they receive the dao,
while fools have doubts and are unwilling to proceed:
The old transcendent Chunyang L Dongbin said, Then, even if you set to
work now and speedily cultivate, you are still too late, in order to spur superior
gentlemen to be sure to diligently cultivate the dao once they have heard it. As for
those common men, when they hear it they are both surprised and dubious,
unwilling to get to work as soon as possible. The ash of a thunderbolt the
spark from the striking of stones like the speed of an arrow o, how
frighteningly quickly does human life pass! Now I tell you, Chuyangzi, do not
neglect it!
-4 '1+2> :65 "0$@
(A9
%, 7/ ? < 1*)
;&4!B#=106
Chen is trying to make rm his disciples commitment to self cultivation, both by
warning him that death looms near and only Chens dao can save Wang from his
mortal fate, and by warning Wang that if he does not practice diligently, this will
prove him to be a commoner rather than a superior gentleman. Chen is
employing a eld homology between classes in the social eld and classes in the
religious eld. Wang Shunmin is a subocial functionary li  whose line of work is
transporting tea mingcao .8 .107 Wang may have an ambiguous social position, or at
least a position of middling or low social status within the literati class. Chen takes
advantage of Wangs social location to make a religious point, threatening to demote
Wang to the rank of religious commoner. This strategic move, originally written for
the purpose of managing his teacher patron relationship with Wang, is then printed
in Jindan dayao for the purpose of perpetuating this as a social structure. This micro
structure, in turn, would structure future teacher patron relationships.
106

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi jindan dayao 11.3b1


5.

107

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi jindan dayao, preface, 4b5.

197

For Bourdieu, there are many eldsas many elds as there are forms of
capitalbut all elds can be given specic locations relative to a metaeld, the
eld of power. Bourdieus work on elds is based mainly on his study of modern
France; he has determined that two major competing principles of social hierarchy
. . . shape the struggle for power in modern societies: the distribution of economic
capital . . . and the distribution of cultural capital.108 These two principles can be
represented as two poles on a continuum, and this continuum can be used as the X
axis in a twodimensional space, with volume or amount of capital as the Yaxis. The
eld of power encompasses the upper part of the space of capital, and other elds are
arrayed within the eld of power gure 3.3 .109 We can mark the position of any
actor or group in a eld based on the amount of economic and cultural capital they
possess. Bourdieu identies two types within each eld: in the French academic
eld for instance, professional researchers are located toward the EC/CC+ pole,
and university mandarins toward the EC+/CC pole. We can also mark the
positions of entire elds relative to one another. Religious, artistic, and intellectual
elds will usually be located toward the EC/CC+ pole of the Xaxis continuum for
a given society, and relatively high or low on the Yaxis depending on the status of
the eld within that society. Chen Zhixu, as an itinerant master with little economic
capital but a certain amount of cultural capital as an educated man and Daoist
master, would be located near the EC/CC+ edge of his religious eld.
more capital
3.

2.

EC-/CC+

EC+/CC1.

less capital
Fig. 3.3
EC/CC+ indicates relatively more cultural capital CC
than economic capital EC , and EC+/CC vice versa.
1: The entire space of capital. 2: The eld of power. 3: The religious eld.
108

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 13637.

109

This gure is based on Figure I in Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 139.

198

3.4, Capital
A eld is a structured space organized around a specic form of capital. The concept
of a variety of dierent interconvertible forms of capital is perhaps Bourdieus most
widelyknown contribution to social science. Bourdieu took Webers idea of
ideational interests that are distinct from material interests, and developed his own
idea of a cultural capital that is distinct from economic capital. Cultural and
economic capital are not Bourdieus only forms of capital. Bourdieu, unlike Marx,
sees a much broader range of types of labor social, cultural, political, religious,
familial, to name but a few that constitute power resources110 and can be embodied
as capitals. Usually, though, Bourdieu speaks of four generic types of capital:
economic capital money and property, cultural capital cultural goods and services
including educational credentials, social capital acquaintances and networks, and
symbolic capital legitimation.111 Cultural capital, for instance, covers a wide
variety of resources including such things as verbal facility, general cultural awareness,
aesthetic preferences, information about the school system, and educational
credentials.112 All forms of capital are used by dominant groups within a society, or
by dominant individuals within a group, in the struggle for power. Bourdieus
descriptions of capital are based on his study of modern France, and must be
modied somewhat when applied to any other society, but still hold much
explanatory value for my study of premodern China.
It is not hard to apply the concepts of economic, cultural, social, and symbolic
capital to the case of Chen Zhixu. Economic capital does not weigh heavily on
Chens mind.113 The only type of luxury goods Chen would need economic capital
for, apparently, are female partners and a secure space for practice. To obtain the
economic capital needed to hire female partners, and private quarters for sexual
cultivation, Chen mobilizes his social and cultural capital. Through his social
110

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 75.

111

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 74.

112

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 75.

113

Economic capital did not weigh as heavily on Chens mind as it might for some religious people, such as, for
example, a religious layman worried about the corrupting eects of money.

199

network of masterdisciple relationships, he is able to meet rich and powerful patrons


such as Tian Zhizhai K from a HanHmong warlord clan, Zhang Shihong 8
 a high court o cial, or Luo Xizhu L!' an eminent Daoist from a national
temple, who could o er the women and quarters he needed. Chen nds such
patrons through his network social capital and gains their patronage by proving his
status as a cultured literatus and authentic alchemical master cultural capital,
receiving in return lodging and probably women economic goods. He also receives
money from patrons directly. Chens defensiveness about possessing cai 5 which can
mean either wealth or alchemical material, and the way he contrasts cai with
religious poverty, suggests that he would indeed have received cash from disciples or
patrons:
In general, whenever the fools and vulgar men of the present generation hear of
techniques and wealth, they have a hearty laugh, and say that selfcultivators
must be impoverished to the bone, and not wear even a stitch. They only practice
stubborn seated meditation, and devolve into empty vacuity and haziness without
horizon.
?H F(50
4+J3*2E6;<
:9#C /)7MI114
There are some passages which suggest that Chen may also have given teachings
cultural capital to his female partners in exchange for their sexual labor and its
product the prenatal yang qi possessed only by women:
Having heard the ultimate dao and yet lacking elixir material, one is cautious and
careful; having met one who has more than enough elixir material
and is fond of
virtue, then the two people can make an exchange. This is called application of
both technique and wealth, with neither party lacking in either of the two
goods
.
-FA ",DD@@BG=*,1>&.(5$
% 115
Now, according to the technique of nine recyclings and seven reversions, one
must unite the external ingredient with the inner ingredient. If one does not have
gold and jewels as a surety, how can one gain the wonder of this jing? How can one
cause the tiger to submit in order to cause the dragon to descend? How can one
114
DZ 91, Taishang dongxuan lingbao wuliang duren shangpin miaojing zhujie 2.52b68. Chen is either criticizing Chan
Buddhists yisi bugua < : is a Chan phrase, referring to a mind which relies on nothing, or to Daoists who
act like Chan Buddhists.
115

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi jindan dayao 13.12a10b2. Because the word dancai " is used here, it probably refers to
the female partners material cai ", rather than the patrons wealth cai 5.

200

attain the state in which the precosmic qi comes out of void nonbeing?
H)I I2+*J/E,9:@#

9'4F
9:3!=L% 116
In the second passage above, Chen takes the term jing @ scripture from the
Scripture of Salvation Duren jing -@ , and reinterprets it to refer to the womans
qi which appears before her menses her yue jing @ . This alchemical pun is based
on a sentence from the alchemical classic, Wuzhen pian.117 Chen is speaking of
exchanging cash for the female partners prenatal qi, to be gathered from her through
sexual cultivation. I analyze all of the available data on Chens relations with his
female partners in chapter 5.118
Bourdieus fourth major type of capital, symbolic capital i.e., the legitimation
of power relations by the dominant party , is possessed by Chen in the form of his
skillful justications of his teachings and of his supposedly dominant position vis 
vis rival teachers. This symbolic capital is quite unstable, and depends upon Chens
skill in convincing his audience of the truth of his words, combined with his listeners
reception and application of his message for their own reasons.
For Bourdieu, the conversion of economic, social, or cultural capital into
symbolic capital can only be done successfully through the process of
misrecognition. Misrecognition is the denial of the economic and political
interests present in a set of practices,119 and is akin to the Marxist concept of false
consciousness, or the Freudian concept of psychic repression. Most human action
relies on symbolic communication, and because most action is interested, in most
cases the actor must mobilize his or her capital in order to carry out the action. If
116

DZ 91, Taishang dongxuan lingbao wuliang duren shangpin miaojing zhujie 2.52b2
6. In Chens linguistic system, the
tiger represents the female sexual organ, and the dragon represents the male.
117

The supreme treasure of the rst passing of the white tiger baihu shoujing zhibao '5@"J ; DZ 142,
Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian sanzhu 5.6a5. Lu Ziyes commentary on this Wuzhen pian passage is an unmistakably
sexual interpretation: At two eights the age of sixteen, a mans perfected seminal essence pervades him,
while at two sevens the age of fourteen, a womans celestial gui sign menses descends. This being the time of
rst descent, is it the rst passing? $  8D;  04?&(47.5@1 .
Chen arms Lu Ziyes reading: The transcendent teacher Zhang Boduan, author of Wuzhen pian has leaked the
secrets too much, and the commentaries of Xue Daoguang and Lu Ziye are too detailed 6KBC
G<>A . Chen is telling his readers to be thankful for the details revealed in the Wuzhen pian and its
sexual alchemical commentaries. For a discussion of the shoujing zhibao, see pp. 455
57 chap. 5, 3.1.2.3 .
118

See pp. 446


70 chap. 5, 3.1.2 .

119

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 89.

201

the actor is mobilizing economic, social, or cultural capital, it must be converted into
symbolic capital to cloak its naked interest: most symbolic action can be carried out
successfully only if its interested character goes misrecognized.120 Chens teaching,
writing, and publishing activities are symbolic labor, devoted to the conversion of
economic capital e.g., leisure, publishing expenses, social capital e.g., distribution
networks, and cultural capital e.g., education, cultural knowledge, writing ability
into symbolic capital religious discourses, arguments, and teachings. Chen can use
this religiosymbolic capital to gain more of the other forms of capital, or can
mobilize symbolic capital to work toward his own salvation.

4, Conclusion
However, I do not mean to suggest, ultimately, that Chen Zhixus religious career
consists of nothing more than social competition, as a sociologist might argue. For
Bourdieu, the aim of social analysis is liberation and social justice. Once the social
analyst has identied the habituses, practices, elds, and capitals of a specic case,
and related the specic eld to the general eld of power, the analyst can then
publish these ndings with the aim of exposing social inequalities and
inauthenticities for the general reader, or for insider readers who actually belong to
the specic case in question. Bourdieu would have no qualms about reducing a
persons religiosity, if not to social structure itself as a Marxist would, at least to the
persons position within a eld.121 He would not take peoples religious aims seriously
on their own terms, but rather merely reduce them to forms of symbolic labor aimed
at reproducing social structure and securing the religious actor a more dominant
position within that structure.
Yet as I have mentioned throughout this chapter, I do take Chens quest for
salvation seriously. Chen is striving to spread his teachings, achieve recognition as a
120

Swartz, Culture and Power: The Sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, 90.

121

Bourdieu, Genesis and Structure of the Religious Field, 18.

202

master, and attain personal salvation, in a threeway soteriological feedback loop. The
rst two of these three goals may be understood within Bourdieus frameworkand I
have argued that Bourdieu may indeed o er the best theoretical framework for
understanding Chens working toward these goalsyet the third goal of salvation
does not have a place within Bourdieus system.
In this chapter I have argued that we must study religious action as strategic
and competitive. This is certainly true for the case of Chen Zhixu; further work
would be necessary to determine how well this approach would suit disparate cases
such as popular religious cults, monastic life, or a lay Buddhism, for example. If
Bourdieu is right, as I believe he is, all religious action can be shown to be strategic
and competitive, and this sort of analysis is always appropriate, even necessary.
We cannot study religious concepts without analyzing how they are being
employed by specic actors or groups within religious elds, and within economies
of symbolic capital. But neither should we reduce religious action to the struggle for
power within this world alone. As Weber says, the most elementary forms of
behavior motivated by religious or magical factors are oriented to this world page
188 above , yet it would be wrong to say that religious action is oriented only toward
this world. As I have stated above, Chens teachings are the tools he uses in his
struggle to achieve the three goals of managing mastership, spreading his teachings
in the religious eld, and attaining personal salvation. Chens quest for personal
salvation ultimately structures his social action. His quest structures his entire career
in the long term , his writings and teachings in the medium term , and his daily
practices in the short term . While worldly micropolitical goals and strategies
permeate his social action, I do not mean to suggest that Chen is a cynical social
climber masquerading as a true master. His life is ultimately pointed, not toward
social mastership, but toward the mastery of transcendence, and the transmundane
goal of salvation. As I show in chapter 5, Chen speaks of salvation most often as
eternal life in the celestial realm, but also speaks of it as escape from sas ra, or
union with the Dao.
In this chapter, I have established the dynamic, or motor, of Chens teachings.

203

In the next two chapters, I discuss the content of Chens teachings, always within the
context of Chens strategic action with a competitive eld.

Appendix to Chapter 3, Song on Judging Delusions122


Song on Judging Delusions (Wd
I, Master of Highest Yang, was late in hearing the dao, rst meeting my teacher at Hengyang123 at the
age of forty. I had never believed in the teachings of longevity or immortality, but when I received
my teachers words, my doubts were dispelled.
[k`rq[2aBM0;8lLB-<ze
Only then did I lower my head, rub my nostrils, and trust that there are perfected seeds of spirithood
and transcendenthood. Thus I perceived that my myriad activities of the past were wrong because
they did not mention any little ol perfected thing like this.
{'scm;E$DgyM=^/:`RHDJ_
This little ol thing is greatly mysterious and wondrous; its wonder is in constantly possessing desire
and watching the aperture.124 This aperture is clear, right in front of your face, but when inferior
gentlemen hear of it they immediately have a big laugh.125
RJ_\++"K$|1w%w3"Q=
k)G
Since I gained the teaching, I have not dared to keep it a secret, and have desired to discuss
similarities and di erences with true friends. Recently, how many are the people of this generation
who take it upon themselves to discourse vacuously upon all things between Heaven and Earth!
,L0XFNb5Ap

P70 Vi6&n l!

All these marginal traditions and perverse paths are briey but exhaustively listed in Cuixu
yin Chant of Mr. KingsherblueVoid .126 Besides teachings on the one point of precosmic
perfected qi, all strands of teaching beyond this are, overall, perversions of the truth.
oU9@.SjZ*OufI>vD#ht.
The great dao is simple. One cannot expound on it, only use the wonder of the aperture127 to x qian
 and kun  cosmic or celestial male and female principles. How can it be helped that people lose
the central road, and on the roadsides point to three thousand six hundred false gates?
122

Translation of Song on Judging Delusions Panhuo ge (Wd from DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 9.3a6
6a10.

123

Presentday city of Hengyang, Hunan Province, about thirty miles south of Mt. Heng, the Southern
Marchmount.
124

Alludes to Daode jing, chapter 1: ?KYN|1+$N|1w or }. Chen is likely imparting a sexual
meaning here.

125

Alludes to Daode jing, chapter 41: 


k`G.

126

Cuixu yin is the polemical poem Niwan Zhenren Luofu cuixu yin 4 DxCjZ* The MudPill
Perfecteds Chant of Mr. KingsherblueVoid of Mt. Luofu , attibuted to Chen Nan T] d. 1213 , a patriarch
in the Southern Lineage of the Golden Elixir. The poem is collected in DZ 1307, Haiqiong Bai Zhenren yulu 4:16;
and DZ 1090, Cuixu pian 712. Chens verses echo Cuixu yin on many points.
127

Or, use wonder and aperture to x qian and kun.

204

W!xHPvNO#`b ;]
There is counting the breaths, there is stopping the breath; within these practices the practitioners
are in a predicament128 and without a track. Some rene the Three Yellows129 and the Four Spirits,130
some rene the Five Metals131 and the Eight Minerals.132
7m7mVb T "sT\5
+
Desiring to take atractylis and tuckahoe133 at mid summer, they search exhaustively for all of the herbs
within the pharmaceutical corpus . How many of them shorten their lives because of this? After all,
ginseng has a deadly toxin.
j

k)%u3/9_I( wQ7~ f

Chunyang L Dongbin said, Minister Zhang lost his eyesight from ingesting medicines, and his
spirit and qi became drained. How amazingly foolish it is not to know that the recycled elixir is
originally without material substance, and instead to ingest metals and minerals!
tyQpY#Xsqe[&\+@
Wanting to practice breath control, they sit watching their noses, like a sh in a marsh at springtime
when the hundreds of insects are awakening from hibernation and buzzing . As for the limitless
marvel of this practice , where is it? If one grows old never having succeeded in the practice ,
wheres the benet in that?
}mFBcZ;IH1gK<6@Ur
Grasping at a single site, they visualize a golden radiance, daring even to regard this as the dantian.
They themselves know for certain that they cannot gain it by practicing this way , but still they
teach others to practice this technique.
n4\-d* G>M[?zCx9{$?
Embodying heaven and earth, gazing at the sun and moon, they inhale the two qi of the sun and
moon and send them down to the xuanpin cavity ies . Massaging themselves, stretching and crooking
doing physical exercises , spitting and gulping breathing heavily without restraint, from dawn till
dusk they pu and hoot, swallowing again and again.
0|qE':,aARl.DL
Fixing the point in time by means of an earth gnomon,134 they use this to say that it seems true; but it
is not. They know to teach that ones own inherent nature will penetrate through to the goal at a
specic time, but they still ought to consciously examine such thoughts.
2PoJxBd=^{>S7o
128

b is not cuzh but czh, and means in a predicament.

129

Realgar
xionghuang , orpiment
cihuang , and sulfur
liuhuang  .

130

The identity of the Four Spirits varied


Needham, Science and Civilisation, 5.2:285 . The line  "s
itself comes from Wuzhen pian
e.g., DZ 142, Ziyang zhenren Wuzhen pian sanzhu 1.25a9 . Hu Fuchen, Zhonghua
daojiao da cidian, s.v. sishen "s, 1150 cites Liu Yimings Wuzhen pian commentary Wuzhen zhizhi to identify the
Four Spirits as powdered cinnabar
zhusha 8h , mercury
shuiyin  , lead
qian , and saltpeter
xiao .
However, Chen Zhixu may not have known or cared about the exact identity of the Four Spirits.

131

Gold, silver, copper, iron, and lead


or tin .

132

The identity of the Eight Minerals varied.

133

Atractylis
zhu % is an herb similar to thistle; tuckahoe
fuling i is a fungus that grows on pine roots. For a
description of these wondrous ingredients, cf. Campany, To Live as Long as Heaven and Earth, 134n4, 310n73.

134

This refers to a technique by which geomancers determined the cardinal directions by erecting a pole and
observing the positions of its shadow, or it could refer to alchemical symbolism. Tugui 2 could also have an
alchemical meaning, but Chen Zhixu is referring here to a line in Chen Nans Cuixu yin
see p. 204n126 above ,
and in Chen Nans line, tugui denitely refers to the surveyors tool.

205

Shifting the Tail Gate


point, at the tailbone and shaking the Spinal Straights
pass, in the spine , they
swallow their135 phlegm, seminal essence, and urine. Proting from the great yang elixir their whole
lives, they focus on gathering and eating womens menses.
h>=f9x#H$ ik Zy
Rening urinary crystals and collecting urine,
receiving urine
and feces? is their fate. Furthermore,
they regard this recipe as a secret treasureif you have no wealth they wont transmit it to you!
]%RR*nW@?.Ye_~g[
Entering chambers of lechery in a state of great agitation, they lie in wait for the movement of their
semen, and recycle it as a tonic for their brain. If they desire to achieve longevity
through absurd and
perverse
practices like this, their ancestors to the seventh and ninth generations will have di culty
keeping
their stations !136

mK {4b2+|L`P#d!6S
Eating lthy and nasty things, slurping milk and urine, they have a look at the two
sides of the
womans face to see if it is ruddy yet. Furthermore they await for a woman and a man to unite

sexually , and gulp down their semen and blood as the basis for the elixir.
az;137D\G}^:@UA[)916
Cherishing their inherent nature and life endowment, and making whole their primal qi, they even
suck the liquid seminal essence from within the jade gate.
Practicing this until old age lacks even a
iota of merit, but they blame Shouguang and Huangguzi
for leading them astray .138
jJI(c;"/Fl

~TV&B

There is a ringing in the fontanel, and a twittering in the belly, and


they say this is none other than
the sound of the dragon keening and tiger roaring.
Calisthenic practices like the bear stretch and the
bird pull are a vain expenditure of energy, and why even mention turtleretracting and crane
spreading?
tQ.8<O5uNv 3C

Practices concerning the instructions on preserving life, using the numinous bough, or the twin
elixirs of yin and yang, transmit great error. As for the ve matters of retaining, retracting, sucking,
extruding, and sealing, at present these techniques are unsurpassably numerous.139
SIp$Xs q,;MrE0.ow*
As for transmitting Bodhidharmas
teachings , this talk ends up being vacuous.140 As for watching a
thing
or animal and knowing about the fetus, such talk is irrational. As for xing the year of birth
and death, and following that, the month and daywhen the time
of death? comes, furthermore

135

Ta  here could mean other peoples or their


own .

136

According to the laws of clan karma, if a living person commits a crime, not only the guilty party but also his
deceased ancestors may be remitted to hell.
137

DZ 1067 has , while the Jindan zhengli daquan and Daozang jiyao eds. have ;.

138

Ling or Leng 7 Shouguang and Master Huanggu Huanggu xiansheng '# were legendary transcendents.
For Shouguang, see Campany, To Live as Long as Heaven and Earth, 23233, 44041. In Chen Nans Cuixu yin see p.
204n126 above , both are associated with sexual cultivation.

139

All of the teachings mentioned in this quatrain are related to sexual cultivation. Hao Qin discusses the ve
matters of retaining, retracting, sucking, extruding, and sealing, based on Fangzhong lianji jieyao, by the Ming
prince Zhu Quan -; Hao, Longhu dandao, 34748.
140

Or, teaching returning to emptiness.

206

you must x the action of your mind!141


URTe~$4I/2mDI
The Eight Sections of Brocade142 and the Ode of Ten Shouts ? are both as useless as the ring nger
on your hand.143 When suddenly oating clouds obscure the sun and moon, and the great limit the
day of death arrives, one must be settled and rm.
`
+(^ %*piGFJh
Saving the celestial demons and cutting o the yin demons is also called ddling with the celestial
gate. When the zi hour 11 pm
1am comes in the middle of the night on the jiazi day, one cycles qi,
draws it seven times, and places it on the tongue.
[ uBQ&jEmoNO+7
Pointing to the Indian Taixi jing Scripture of fetal breathing,144 they say that they can live on in the
world, and retain their bodies. They dont know that the virtuous ones of old were men of few words,
only wanting people to follow the correct road.
^Velt;rCT,=gy#8
Drinking unrestrainedly yet keeping a vegetarian diet, some people cut o smoke and re, and do not
burn wood. In their previous lives they did not spread and plant mouth merit,145 yet they glare
indignantly and in vain at their lot in their present life.
kvY]MnW$! Y'3$U"
Sitting in stubborn zazen, practicing only nonaction, they maintain an empty chamber and old, worn
hedge. Lacking their ll of food? morning and evening, and also not dressing warmly, if they are
suering like this they should reect on their life choice before long.
"A

a-UZ0z1469 @}uHf0)\

Grasping white beads, focused on chanting the buddhas name, when they see others eating and
drinking pungent herbs and alcohol, they want to vomit. Directing themselves singlemindedly toward
the western paradise, Sukhvat, whats the use of east, south, or north to them?
]s147qwL<Ev{

g':bPX

Practicing many rituals, and making rounds of prayer: if thus, then they read scriptures all the way to
old age. Being unable to distance themselves from covetousness, anger, love, and concupiscence, how
can they succeed in extending their lifespan in this lifetime?
,>Qd1_148cSG5|t.x3$K6
As for presently practiced teachings, in no case should you use them. If you amass such techniques,
141

Lit., the ve minds, or quintipartite mind. Soothill identies these as the ve conditions of mind produced by
objective perception; Soothill and Hodous, A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms, 117.
142

This is a daoyin guiding and pulling practice involving stretching and breathing, attested as early as the Song
Dynasty and still practiced today; Hu Fuchen, Zhonuo daojiao da cidian, s.v. Baduan jin ` and Baduan jin
daoyin fa `Q, 1031. The practice is encapsulated by a text of eight stanzas, thus its name.

143

Wuming zhi (^ means ring nger, which is considered a useless, extra digit.

144

This may refer to teaching on fetal breathing ascribed to the Indian Chan patriarch Bodhidharma.
Bodhidharma was associated with the practice of fetal breathing by the Song dynasty e.g., DZ 1017, Daoshu 3.7a1,
dated ca. 1151 .
145

Meaning unclear. Lu can mean fu fortune which in turn can mean karmic merit.

146

DZ 1067 has ? instead of  an error .

147

DZ 1067 has s, while the Jindan zhengli daquan and Daozang jiyao eds. have .

148

DZ 1067 has _, while the Jindan zhengli daquan and Daozang jiyao eds. have m.

207

you will incur a heavy debt of karmic retribution. If you meet a perfected teacher, swiftly bow to him
as your teacher and throw yourself on his mercy . In some cases, a single word from a new teacher
will strike the target and bring about the students enlightenment .
e+Ag

76zwOLUSEF2;A5DR

If you have not heard it, you may not transmit it. How many marginal teachings are setting inherent
nature and heaven149 in disorder? If you want to know where that which is within the mystery
really is, you ought only to commit Wuzhen pian Stanzas on awaking to the perfected to memory.
A ux#jBv:LM@h\{WTU
There is one type of person, called Chan monk, who walks on foot, passing about with kans of
great dynamism and great application ever on his tongue. He only struggles over victories and defeats
in idle linguistic jousting , and neglects to face Mt. Tai and check the old woman.150
+|}8

?lNs5 ! Z)^

The Chan monks they shave their temples, but the Buddha holds out this monkish mien and
orders us to examine it.151 Forming lines and troops, they lower not their heads. Hardly a patchedrobe
monk among them has actually seen his buddha nature and illuminated his mind.
Q,_(J%+%t .4:=ro
Clearsighted men, who have seen their buddha natures, because they ascend and sit on the teaching
dais they then rail at the buddhas and patriarchs. The teaching mechanisms of stickblows, shouts,
and the single nger are most deep, but nowadays they have turned these into routine phrases.152
=f4:AX/H_,VqmGkc*1-n`
Those smarties, yakking on about inherent nature and principle, with wanton words and forced
sophisms say that only they are correct. But who understands inherent nature and the great Dao?
Master Yan sat in forgetfulness and Master Zeng said Yes.153
=9:d5b\I:
&= /0p \
Chanting the Great Learning and discussing the Mean, they swerve not a jot from the teachings of
Zhu Wengong Zhu Xi . With correct mind and sincere intent they search for commentary for each
stanza and sentence, but sincere intent is originally not found within stanzas and sentences.154

a Y <'~y3i~yCi
Crowned with the seven stars of the Dipper , and named Zhengyi Daoists , which man among
them can recognize the gates of xuan and pin? Within the more than ve thousand words in the Daode
149

For xingtian :, Hanyu da cidian gives tianxing :


inherent nature bestowed by heaven , or xing, tian
as
the two main topics of debate in NeoConfucianism ; Hanyu da cidian, s.v. xingtian :.

150

This refers to the kan Zhaozhou checks the old woman


Zhaozhou kan po $Z^ . In this kan, an old
woman by the roadside gives monks the correct advice to go straight and immediately toward Mt. Tai, i.e.,
become suddenly enlightened without wavering or mediation.

151

Monks follow the monastic code, but


according to Chan teachings the Buddha pointed to any emphasis on
proper behavior as itself an impediment and subject for contemplation.

152

In this stanza, Chen is referring to Chan masters who perform a ceremony of ritual antinomianism called
ascending the hall
shengtang >] or shangtang ] ; cf. Foulk, Myth, Ritual, and Monastic Practice in Sung
Chan Buddhism, 17679. Zhitou G
nger likely refers to the onenger Chan method
yizhi Chan G
of the Tang monk Juzhi PK.
153
Chen criticizes NeoConfucian disputators, arguing that Confuciuss disciples also supposedly meditated
Yan
Hui ", in Zhuangzi, H.Y. 6.92 , and understood the esoteric
thus, for Chen, sexual aspect of Confuciuss dao

Zeng Shen p[, in Lunyu, H.Y. 4.15 .


154

Zhangju i
stanza and sentence refers to a type of careful, analytical sentence commentary, distinct from a
broadbrush, bigidea approach to commentary.

208

jing, as soon as
zheng you have attained the One
yi , the myriad aairs are complete.155
R@");.dpk,^g[LZ/O
They dwell in the mountains and forests and are called Daoists, but they dont know what the great
Dao is. Nor have they ever heard the name golden elixir so how could you want to teach them to
understand life and death or, sasra !
25c^8^?*/:" Te7BN3(
Wanderers of cloud and water, they are called Quanzhen Daoists , and from morning to night they
work at saving themselves. Their patriarchs have left behind teachings on the spatula, but
nowadays how many men know this?156
Y=\!G<AU4M-HCF
#f89%&S 
According to Old Man Zhengyangs Zhongli Quan Zhimi ge Song for directing the confused ,157
this dao is clear, and its matters few. I only wish that all people might become awakened. How can it
be helped that peoples fortune is meager, and they cling to delusions?
XI>Ja'^3/$+q Q]D0hbnKJ*
The aairs of this oating world are but waves on the water: having gained this precious human
birth, do not live it in vain! If you have the fortune of meeting with the instructions of an enlightened
teacher, who can say that you will have no means of ascending to the Great Veil Heaven?
E/ 6 -LPW`&hj_3C>ilV

155

o

For Chen, xuan and pin refer to the male and female sexual organs
or to their points of contact .

156

Spatula refers to the pharmacon. The metaphor comes from laboratory alchemy, where the elixir is scraped
out of the caldron with the tip of a spatula.

157

This is an odd title. There is a wellknown polemical text ascribed to Zhongli Quan, but this is entitled, not
Zhimi ge, but DZ 270, Pomi zhengdao ge
Song for abolishing confusion and rectifying the way .
There is also a text ascribed to Zhang Boduan entitled Chanding zhimi ge m1>Ja
Song of directions
regarding confusions about dhyna ; DZ 263, Xiuzhen shishu 30.6a98b9. However, this text is unrelated to the
present discussion.

209

Chapter 4, What Is Inner Alchemy?


This chapter is a general introduction to inner alchemy. It is an extended prologue
for my analysis of Chens alchemical teachings in chapter 5, a careful explanation of
terms, concepts, and practices that can only be mentioned more briey in the later
chapter. By laying out the inneralchemical eld as a whole in this chapter, and
locating Chen Zhixu within this eld, comparing and contrasting his teachings with
those of other alchemists, I aim to impart signicance to ne technical points, and
inspire appreciation for otherwise dry details. Not enough has been written in
English about inner alchemy, and I hope this chapter will have general value for
scholars of Daoism or selfcultivation.
Comprehending the textual legacy of Chinese inner alchemy is a di cult task,
for a number of reasons. Inner alchemy is a di
use tradition or family of traditions,
without a founder or founding revelation, and whose origins are the subject of
debate. While it is associated with specic social institutions such as masterdisciple
lineages and monastic life, these give it only a loose structure, and a great amount of
variation remains, regarding its borders and outlines as well as its inner details. From
the FiveDynasties period 90760 on, inner alchemists did recognize inner alchemy
as a coherent category, calling it jindan  golden elixir, golden elixir alchemy
instead of the modern name neidan  inner elixir, inner alchemy . While it was
a native category, I will show in this chapter and chapter 6 that very di
erent
denitions, selfunderstandings, and views have always abounded within the eld of
inner alchemy.
Aside from historical and sociological considerations, inner alchemy is also
di cult to dene and describe because of its internal complexity. While we can point
to some common elements within inner alchemical discourse, thought, and practice,
these elements often cannot be dened in terms of a single factor, but instead must
be given multifactorial denitions that include a range of variation, even including
210

internal contradictions. As Isabelle Robinet notes, while the discourse of the


alchemists rests on a logical foundation, their discourse is not linear and is often
poetic,1 or shot through with intentional contradictions or conations. The
alchemists develop this complexity intentionally, both to create esoteric authority for
the teacher as a possessor of powerful and rare secrets, and to transform the student
by forcing him or her to overcome knotty intellectual challenges. Finally, some
Chinese scholars2 identify a further di culty confronting the scholar of inner
alchemy: long personal experience in alchemical meditation, and perhaps even the
guidance of a true master, would be necessary for a deep understanding of the
tradition. This opinion has some merit, but it should not dissuade we who lack this
level of personal experience from studying inner alchemy with the same condence
or lack of condence! that we bring to any subject in the human sciences.
If inner alchemy is to be seen as a multidimensional eld of variations, as I
say it must, it can only be understood through historical and structural comparison.
The authorities I have relied upon for my understanding of inner alchemy
principally Hao Qin, Ma Jiren, Li Yuanguo, Robinet, Needham, Despeux, and Wile
do a fair amount of implicit comparison, and a bit of explicit comparison.3 The
Chinese authorities generally present the history of inner alchemy as one of
continuous development, and represent that history through short studies of the
more famous and oftcited texts or authors, from the Zhouyi Cantong qi 
dubiously ascribed to the 2nd c.
 to Chen Yingning  1880 1969. Since
these modern scholars may discuss similar themes in each chapter of their books,4
the reader may make his or her own comparisons between chapters, but the scholars
themselves o er no systematic comparative theory. Robinet and Needhams books do
contain comparative insights, yet these two authors would prefer to see inner
1

Robinet, Introduction  lalchimie intrieure taoste, 90 91.

E.g., Ge Guolong, Daojiao neidan xue tanwei, 30, 34 35. I have heard this opinion from other scholars as well.

Secondarily, I have also relied on books by BaryosherChemouny, BaldrianHussein, Wang Mu, Ge Guolong, Hu
Fuchen, Zhang Guangbao, and Zeng Chuanhui; articles or chapters by Pregadio and Skar, and Azuma;
dissertations by Wang Li, Liu Xun, Valussi, Komjathy, Crowe, and Belamide; and a halfdozen Chinese
dictionaries devoted to Daoism and qigong.

For example, each chapter may contain a discussion of an alchemists theory of the heartmind and inherent
nature xinxing xue 
 or stages of practice.

211

alchemy as a unitary tradition, with certain alchemical works being more or less
clear, rened, or exemplary than others, and so comparison is not their basic
method.5 Wiles book on sexual cultivation is explicitly comparative, but his interests
are sexological, and the specic categories he uses are not completely relevant for the
comparative study of inner alchemy.
In this chapter, I will attack the problem of dening, describing, and
understanding inner alchemy from several di
erent angles. In part 1, I describe its
structure and history in the form of a list. Part 2 is an extended discussion of the
points in part 1. And in appendix 1, I o
er a set of questions for future study. I can
o
er no systematic comparative framework at this point of my research, but I intend
the questions in appendix 1 to be a contribution toward the future development of
such a framework. I will include comparative insights within my discussion in part 2.
Prototypes, paradigms, and the standard account.

I take my theoretical

approach to the study of inner alchemy or the study of Daoism, or religion from
Benson Salers book on dening religion.6 Saler advocates a comparative, polythetic
or multifactorial approach informed by prototype theory. Following Saler, I
attempt to dene inner alchemy in terms of a collection of elements, rather than one
central feature or paradigmatic case or text such as the Wuzhen pian, and do not
expect to nd any one specic element present within all forms of inner alchemy.
Section 1.2 of this chapter is a list of these elements of inner alchemy. Yet if no one
specic element must be present to call a text inneralchemical, then how can our
denition ever get o
the ground? How do we know what we should be looking for?
Saler o
ers a solution to this problem by appealing to prototype theory. We begin our
denition of inner alchemy with an uncritical idea of what inner alchemy ought to
look like, a prototype taken from tradition. We may take elements and themes from
this prototype a , and use them to look for other arrangements b, c, . . . x of similar
5

I do not assume that any inner alchemical text is more or less valuable than any other. According to the
hermeneutical circle by which each part is understood with reference to the whole, and the whole is understood
with reference to each of its parts, all texts represent positions with an entire eld, and each text must be
understood against the background of this entire eld and each of its constituent positions. Some texts, such as
Wuzhen pian, will be more popular, oftencited, or representative, but our view of the inneralchemical eld must
not focus on these to the exclusion of other texts that may appear less dominant within the eld but may turn out
to be important for our understanding of inner alchemy.
6

Saler, Conceptualizing Religion.

212

elements that hold a family resemblance to the prototype. We continue the process
by adding new elements from b, c to a, resulting in a new, modied paradigm a1.
After we have compared our paradigm with enough outside cases, each time causing
it to evolve further a1, a2 . . . ax, we will have a polythetic denition ax that is much
better able to account for the variety within the alchemical eld. Remember, though,
that the alchemical eld itself is neither a completely objective nor subjective
construct: the eld is rst organized around a prototype taken from tradition, which
evolves into a paradigm that may escape from the strictures of the initial perspective,
but never completely so.
Let me illustrate my approach. The scholarly traditions upon which I am
basing this chapter are 1 Chinese contemporary traditional scholarship e.g.,
Wang Mu, Hao Qin, Ma Jiren, and Li Yuanguo , and 2 Western Sinological
scholarship e.g., Robinet, Needham, Despeux, and Wile , with more weight given to
the Chinese scholarship. I have identied a prototype of what these Chinese scholars
think that inner alchemy ought to look like, which I call the standard account of
inner alchemy. I am not aware of any Chinese scholar who discusses this prototype
explicitly and self consciously as a paradigm. My sense is that contemporary
traditional scholars believe that inner alchemy, at heart, is a true tradition, and that
truth is unitary; thus, they are less likely to be critical about their own categories.7
The standard account seems to be a late imperial consensus based on the teachings
of writers like Wu Shouyang and Liu Huayang, Liu Yiming and Zhao Bichen, Qinghua
miwen and Xingming guizhi; these late imperial teachings in turn are derived in large
part from the Southern Lineage established by Bai Yuchan.8 Within Western
scholarship, there is no single, consistent prototype of inner alchemy. Wiles
prototype is the Chinese standard account. Needham and Despeux privilege the
Zhong L teachings, and Robinet privileges Li Daochun. In writing this chapter, I
rely on the Chinese standard account, but my aim is to test it critically, compare it
7

Even a scholar like Ge Guolong, who is more consciously analytical, believes that inner alchemy is a true
tradition, and that truth is unitary Daojiao neidan xue tanwei, 30
31, 35, 40 .

Wu Shouyang, Liu Huayang, Liu Yiming, and Zhao Bichen all belong to the Longmen lineage of Quanzhen
Daoism, but their alchemical teachings reect a prior synthesis of the Southern Lineage and the Northern i.e.,
Quanzhen Lineage.

213

with other, alternative forms of inner alchemy, and arrive at a broader picture of the
eld of inner alchemy in history.

Part 1, Toward a Denition of Inner Alchemy


My strategy for dening and describing inner alchemy in this chapter will be to begin
with concise denitions, and expand thence to a brief description of around two
thousand words, and nally to a full discussion of each important term and category.
In order to represent the complex structures of alchemy clearly for the reader, I have
found it useful to compose my description of alchemy in the form of a tiered list
rather than in paragraphs. I hope that the concision of the twothousandword
description will enable the reader to hold the entirety of alchemy together within a
single horizon of view. Inevitably, some of the references in the brief description will
appear puzzling until explained at length in the full discussion. Each item in the brief
description is followed by two numbers in parentheses; these are the section and
starting page numbers of the extended discussion for that same item in the full
discussion. I hope that attacking the problem of description from both sides at once
showing the whole and explaining the parts, all the while marking the links
between the parts and the wholewill contribute to the readers understanding.
My description of inner alchemy is both historical and structural, both
diachronic and synchronic. I will mention some dierences between dierent strands
of the tradition within the full discussion, but I am not able to cover all the historical
and structural variation in the eld of inner alchemy within this chapterthis would
be a much larger project. I oer an outline history of inneralchemical literature in
section 7 of the list; I have chosen not expand on this outline in the full discussion,
yet many of the texts or people from section 7 are discussed elsewhere in this
dissertation. The aim of this chapter is to provide a full outline of the eld of inner
alchemy as a background for my description of the alchemical practice of Chen
Zhixu in the following chapter.
214

Short Denitions
Inner alchemy in fteen words.

In my own words,

Inner alchemists aim to join yin and yang, and recover primal perfection, through
contemplative practice.
Inner alchemy in sixty words.

In the words of Hao Qin,

Inner alchemists borrow the experience, theory, and technical terms of laboratory
alchemists to rene their life endowment ming  . They take the human body as
the chamber, heart and kidneys as furnace and caldron, essence, qi, and spirit as
the pharmaca, intention and breath as the ring, to create an elixir within the
body, and seek immortality and transcendence.9
Inner alchemy in a hundred words.

In the words of Isabelle Robinet,

Interior alchemy texts are always characterized by these features:


1. a concern for training, both mental and physiological, with the mental aspect
often tending to predominate;
2. a synthesizing tendency bringing together various Taoist elements breathing
exercises, visualization, alchemy , certain Buddhist speculations and methods
speculations on the wu and the you, Chan gongan
the kans of Japanese zen ,
and references to Confucian texts;
3. a systematized use of the trigrams and hexagrams of the Book of Change, already
used metaphorically in laboratory alchemy and ritual; and
4. references to chemical practices, of a purely metaphorical nature, following an
interiorized interpretation we have already seen in less developed form in the
Shangqing school.10
An overextended denition.

Joseph Needham writes,

We may list the techniques designed to give rise to one or other form of
anablastemic enchymoma i.e., elixir of life as follows: 1 What one may call
redemptive mental and bodily hygiene juchu fa   in all its aspects. . . . 2
Respiratory exercises and techniques harmonising the qi, tiaoqi  . . . . 3
Allied with the respiratory exercises were others intended to assist actively the
circulation of the qi and the uids in the body banyun  . . . . 4 Passing to
exercises requiring still greater muscular exertion, one reaches the large eld of
remedial gymnastics daoyin  . . . . 5 An exceptionally important role was
played by the conservation of certain secretions, for example saliva. . . . 6 Sexual
techniques fangzhong buyi 
. . . . 7 Techniques of meditation, trance,

From Ge Guolong, Daojiao neidan xue tanwei, 5, citing Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 23 p. 7 in the 1994 ed. . My two
thousand word description is partially based on this denition. Hao literally says that intention and breath are
the huohou , which I translate here as ring, but usually translate as ring periods.
10

Robinet, Taoism: Growth of a Religion, 127.

215

and ecstasy zuowang . . . . All these were the neidan procedures.11
This denition is probably based on an oftcited Songdynasty denition by Wu Wu
:
The theory of the Neidan enchymoma is nothing more than the mutual
conjunction of the heart and the reins xinshen jiaohui ", the circulation
of the jing seminal essence and the qi jingqi banyun % $, the preservation
of the shen and the retention of the air cunshen bixi , exhaling the old
and breathing in the new tugu naxin
!. Besides this, one may practise the
special arts of the bedchamber huo zhuan fangzhong zhi shu , or take
the rays and emanations of the sun and moon huo cai riyue jinghua %,
or consume particular vegetable substances huo fuer caomu &, or again,
it may be, abstain from cereal grains, or practise celebacy huo pigu xiuqi #'
.12
Both Needhams and Wu Wus denitions are overbroad. Some of these practices
such as macrobiotic practices, gymnastics, qi circulation, sexual cultivation,
ingesting solunar qi or elixirs made of concrete substances may have been considered
inneralchemical practices by some adepts at some time, but not by most adepts
most of the time. Of course, most or all adepts would have practiced macrobiotic
yangsheng ( practices in addition to, or preparatory to, inneralchemical practice,
all the while distinguishing the two. If we were to assemble a consensus view of inner
alchemy, drawing upon texts from the entire range of inneralchemical history, this
view would certainly not include gynmastics or ingesting solunar qi, for example.13
Comparing Needhams denition with Ge Guolongs and Robinets denitions
quoted above, we can see that Needhams denition emphasizes physiological
practices, but lacks any mention of inneralchemical thought or discourse.
A Full Description: Inner Alchemy in Two Thousand Words
1. Roots
11

Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, 5.5:2931.

12

Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, 5.5:3435, translating DZ 921, Zhigui ji, preface, 1a10b2.

13

Thus, I disagree with BaldrianHussein, who says that Wu Wu  dened neidan as a syncretic system
comprising all the longevity methods: gymnastic, respiratory, dietary and sexual techniques. This is the denition
which persists to the present day; BaldrianHussein, Inner Alchemy: Notes on the Origin and Use of the Term
Neidan, 187.
Robinet says that what we call inner alchemy would be included within what Wu Wu calls waidan, while
what Wu Wu calls neidan are the classical Daoist physiological practices; Robinet, Sur le sens des termes waidan
et neidan, 1011.

216

Inner alchemy borrows, develops, combines, and transforms previous traditions


within Daoism 1.1, 228 and Chinese society 1.2, 229, including
laboratory alchemy 1.3, 230,
qi cultivation 1.4, 232,
sexual cultivation 1.5, 235,
mind cultivation 1.6, 236, and
literary mysticism 1.7, 237.
2. Social Contexts 238
In sociological terms, the inner alchemists
use culture within social institutions 2.1, 238
such as small groups characterized by interpersonal relationships, including
the masterdisciple relationship 2.1.1.1, 238,
the patronclient relationship 2.1.1.2, 239,
the advisorruler relationship 2.1.1.3, 240,
friendship and literati association 2.1.1.4, 241, or
the family or clan and its related institutions 2.1.1.5, 242;
or midsized groups, characterized by semipersonal relationships, including
the monastery, temple, or cult association 2.1.2.1, 243, or
local practice and printing networks 2.1.2.2, 243;
or large groups, macrostructures, and the broader society, characterized by
impersonal or abstract relationships, such as
macroeconomies, class, state 2.1.3.1, 244, or
daos, teachings, traditions, schools, and sectarian movements 2.1.3.2;
for the goals of selftransformation 2.2, 245 into
authoritative and holy masters within this world,
distinct from the common run of mortal humanity,
and transcendent beings beyond it.
3. Ontological Registers, and Language

217

Inner alchemists may, for rhetorical, philosophical, or soteriological reasons,


interpret their concepts and discourse on a number of dierent ontological
registers or levels of reality 3.0, 246, including the registers of
the microcosm of human body 3.1.1, 247, mind 3.1.2, 252, and spirit or spirits
3.1.3, 252,
including empirical, theological, and symbolic perspectives on the body 3.1.1,
the mesocosm of signs 3.2, 254,
including abstract signs such as yin and yang 3.2.1.1, 257, the ve agents
3.2.1.2, 260, the trigrams and hexagrams 3.2.1.3, 262, or the numbers of the
River Chart Hetu 3.2.1.4, 265,
and gurative signs such as lead and mercury, or dragon and tiger 3.2.2, 267,
the macrocosm of Heaven, Earth, and humanity 3.3, 268,
including temporal diurnal, mensual, annual aspects 3.3.1, 269, and
spatial cosmographical, geographical, or political aspects 3.3.2, 271,
and other nonspatiotemporal metaphysical realities such as
purposive action and nonaction wuwei 3.4.1, 272, or
inherent nature xing and life endowment ming 3.4.2, 273, or
inherent nature xing and human dispositions qing 3.4.2, or
the Dao or the One 3.4.3, 276.
There are also dualistic categories that cut across all of these registers, such as
the cosmogonic categories 3.5.1, 277 of
xiantian precosmic or prenatal and
houtian postcosmic or postnatal;
or the hermeneutical categories 3.5.2, 277 of
prosaic interpretation, which takes alchemical terms or passages to refer to
tangible or denite entities, and
mysticizing interpretation, which takes terms to refer to formless or indenite
entities;
or the hermeneutical categories 3.5.3, 279 of
exoteric interpretation, which accepts terms according to their most apparent

218

meanings, and
esoteric interpretation, which gives secret meanings to terms.
Inneralchemical discourse is characterized by constant shifts between these
dierent registers. Alchemical authors exploit crossregister ambiguities in order to
make and break linkages between dierent symbols, or keep the multiplicity of
registers constantly present,14 for the sake of
weaving a picture of the salvic eects of the alchemical work that would be
convincing enough to convert the reader or listener 3.6.1, 281,
creating an air of authority for the text, teacher, or lineage 3.6.2, 281,
writing about teachings in a code that is opaque to unworthy readers but partially
transparent to worthy readers 3.6.3, 281,
synthesizing elements from many sources into a single teaching 3.6.4, 282,
representing or delighting in the unstable and protean nature of alchemical
discourse itself 3.6.5, 282, and
directly causing salvic eects in the reader 3.6.6, 282.
4. Psychophysiological Elements 283
In psychophysiological 4.1.1, 283 and soteriological terms 4.1.2, 283, the inner
alchemists,
following the dao of the golden elixir 4.2, 283,
take
the human body as the alchemical chamber 4.3, 285,
dantian three bodily centers associated with the kidneys, heart, and brain as the
furnace and caldron 4.4, 285,
inner tracts as the pathways of circulation 4.5, 285,
the three treasures the three lifeenergies of essence, qi, and spirit as the
pharmaca15 4.6, 291,
sometimes identied as outer pharmacon, inner pharmacon, and greater
14

Robinet, Introduction  lalchimie intrieure taoste, 91.

15

Pharmacon/pharmaca is my term of art for yao or yaowu , usually translated as the ingredient or the
medicine.

219

pharmacon see 4.9,


respiration, guiding intention, intense concentration, or formless samdhi as the
alchemical re 4.7, 292,
with ring periods of low or high heat, or nonring 4.8, 293,
whose patterns of ring are modeled on lunar and seasonal cycles and
represented with cycles of trigrams and hexagrams,
over a series of stages lasting days, months, and years 4.9, 299,
and monitoring their progress by means of temporal cycles, trihexagram cycles,
psychophysiological responses, or inner vision 4.10, 311,
in order to
create, gather, rene, crystallize, incubate, purify, and sublimate elixirs within
themselves 4.11, 312 through
gathering the spark of pure yang qi remaining from the time of cosmogenesis
4.11.1, 315,
inverting and uniting contrary principles 4.11.2, 317,
rening essence into qi, qi into spirit, and spirit into void 4.11.3, 317,
and/or rening the postnatal three treasures seminal essence, respiratory qi,
and cognitive spirit into the prenatal three treasures primal essence, primal
qi, and primal spirit 4.11.4, 317,
stimulate and enlighten the intellect 4.12, 320,
grasp the handle of cosmic creation and transformation 4.13, 321,
reverse cosmogonic devolution 4.14, 322,
returning from a postcosmic state to a precosmic state,
and from postnatal deterioration to prenatal wholeness,
ow backwards against the lifecurrent of the natural man which leads toward
death 4.15, 323,
return to a state of youth and health 4.16, 323,
escape from the round of birth and death sasra 4.17, 324,
perfect their inherent nature xing and life endowment ming 4.18, 324,
give birth to a new inner self, or spirit of pure yang 4.19, 324,

220

and seek immortality or transcendence in the heavens 4.20, 326,


and/or union with the Dao 4.20.

5. Symbolic Elements
One of the most distinctive aspects of inner alchemy is its use of symbolic terms
drawn from the Book of Changes Yijing, the cosmology of yinyang and the ve
agents, the numerology of the River Chart, and other systems 5.0, 328. Robinet
writes that the joining of trigrams and chemical terms is the distinctive element that
distinguishes interior alchemy from the ancient breathing exercises.16
In symbolic terms, the inner alchemists goal 5.1, 329 is to
unite contrary principles,
i.e., yin and yang,
especially in their mixed forms of yangwithinyin and yinwithinyang,
in order to recover a state of primal perfection,
described in terms such as pure yang, the One, Taiji the Great Ultimate, or
Wuji the Limitless.
According to trihexagram symbolism, the union of yin and yang involves
reversing the course of cosmogonic devolution 5.2.1, 331
leading from the trigram qian pure yang;  to the trigram kun pure yin; 
by wedding the trigrams kan yang within yin;  and li yin within yang;  5.2.2,
322,
extracting the single central yaoline of perfected yang from the trigram kan
,
and applying it to the brokenyang trigram li , repairing it by replacing
its single central line of yin with a line of yang,
relying on agent earth as an intermediary 5.2.3, 333,
in the doubled form of wuearth and jiearth,
to remake the trigram qian pure yang;  5.2.4, 334.
According to veagent symbolism, the union of yin and yang
16

Robinet, Taoism: Growth of a Religion, 127.

221

involves reversing the cosmogonic expansion and devolution from Taiji to the ve
agents, and then to the myriad existents 5.3.1, 335
by condensing the ve agents together into three, and then into one 5.3.2, 336:
uniting them symbolically
through condensing the ve . . .
in terms of abstract mesocosmic signs, by turning the ve agents
upsidedown 5.3.2.1.1.1, 336,
or in terms of the body microcosm, by uniting the ve qi of the ve
viscera 5.3.2.1.1.2, 338,
or condensing the three . . .
in terms of abstract mesocosmic signs, by uniting the three cardinal
agents water, re, and earth 5.3.2.1.2.1, 339,
or in terms of the body microcosm, by uniting the three owers
essence, qi, and spirit 5.3.2.1.2.2, 341,
. . . into one elixir;
or, uniting them numerologically 5.3.2.2, 342
through condensing the three ves, according to RiverChart numerology,
into one Taiji.
6. Allegorical or Visionary Elements 343
In terms of allegorical, visionary, or gurative mesocosmic signs, the inner alchemists
goal is
to unite mercury with lead 6.1.1, 344,
or
to unite the dragon with the tiger 6.1.2, 344,
or
to unite the gold or metal crow in the sun with the jade toad or rabbit in the
moon 6.1.3, 346,
or, to wed
the lovely girl from the east, who rides the cyan dragon 6.1.4, 346,

222

to
squire metal from the west, who rides the white tiger 6.1.4 ,
through the mediation of
the yellow dame in the center 6.2, 348 ,
and bring about
the birth of the naked infant, the alchemists new self 6.3, 348 .
Other allegories or visions include
the goatcart, deercart, and oxcart by which the alchemist transports the
pharmaca during the process of circular renement 6.4, 349 , and
the description of the inner landscape of the body, with sun and moon, mountain
peaks, gates, bridges, towers, springs, and lakes 6.5, 350 .

7. A Historical Outline of InnerAlchemical Literature17


Period of Nascence.

While teachings on inner circulation resembling inner alchemy

appear in several SixDynasties texts,18 the elements of inner alchemy rst appear as
alchemy during the Sui and Tang dynasties within
eclectic alchemical teachings that take inner alchemy as a complement to
laboratory alchemy,
the Zhouyi Cantong qi, which may have been recomposed around or just before
this time, transforming it from a weft text into a cosmological treatise on
alchemy,19
as well as other alternative forms of inner alchemy whose relationships to better
known and later traditions await further study.
17

See Pregadio and Skar, Inner Alchemy Neidan  for a detailed chronological overview of inner alchemy up to
the early Ming dynasty.
18
E.g., the Shangqing texts DZ 639, Huangtian Shangqing Jinque Dijun lingshu ziwen shang jing cf. Bokenkamp, Early
Daoist Scriptures, 28486 , and DZ 1382, Shangqing jiudan shanghua taijing zhongji jing; the Lingbao text DZ 361,
Taishang dongxuan lingbao bawei zhaolong miaojing cf. Robinet, Taoism: Growth of a Religion, 228 ; and the early
Southern text Huangting jing see p. 236n89 below , which reects the traditions of Ge Hong and his lineage. Also
of note is Qingling Zhenren Pei Jun neizhuan , a Shangqing text preserved in DZ 1032, Yunji qiqian
105.126; this text teaches a form of inner circulation which has many of the hallmarks of inner alchemy.
19

Pregadio, The Early History of the Zhouyi cantong qi, 16869. For a discussion of the transition from preinner
alchemical Daoist meditation to inner alchemy, see idem, Early Daoist Meditation and the Origins of Inner
Alchemy.

223

Formative Period.

From the late Tang to the Five Dynasties and Northern Song,

alchemists developed
teachings related to the Zhouyi Cantong qi, such as
the teachings of the Ruyao jing,20
the writings of Peng Xiao,21
the tradition of Chen Tuan,22
and teachings with less relation to the Cantong qi, such as
the Zhong L tradition,23
the Zhenyuan tradition,24 and
the writings of Chen Pu.25
Classical Period.

During the Northern and Southern Song dynasties and the Jin

dynasty, we
nd
Cantong qi in ected teachings, especially
Zhang Boduan s Wuzhen pian,26
the work that became the root text of the Southern Lineage founded by
Bai Yuchan and his heirs,27
and other works later included in the Southern Lineage,
20

Baldrian Hussein identi


es four dierent versions of Ruyao jing  Mirror on the admixture of pharmaca,
dating them from the Tang to the end of the Southern Song dynasty. See her entry for DZ 135, Cuigong ruyao jing
zhujie, in Schipper and Verellen, The Taoist Canon, 2:844.

21

Peng Xiao  d. 955, Cantong qi commentator.

22

Chen Tuan  traditional dates 871? 989.

23

Regarding the Zhong L  tradition 10th 13th c., cf. Baldrian Hussein, Procds secrets du joyau magique;
Baryosher Chemouny, La qute de l immortalit en Chine.
I de
ne a text as part of the Zhong L tradition, not by whether it is said to be derived from Zhongli Quan
or L Dongbin, but by whether it shares characteristics and terminology with paradigm texts such as DZ 1191,
Michuan Zhengyang Zhenren lingbao bifa, or Zhong
L chuandao ji. Thus, I de
ne some Quanzhen texts as Zhong
L.
My generalization that Zhong L texts are relatively unrelated to Cantong qi learning may need to be clari
ed;
cf. Xie Zhengqiang, Zhong L neidan sixiang yu Zhouyi Cantong qi guanxi shixi.
24

Robinet, Recherche sur l alchimie intrieure neidan: L cole Zhenyuan. The texts of the Zhenyuan 
tradition, though edited as late as the Ming, may be based on Tang dynasty materials.

25

Chen Pu  11th or 12th c.; cf. Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 300 11; Eskildsen, Neidan Master
Chen Pu s Nine Stages of Transformation.
26

Zhang Boduan  984? 1082; Wuzhen pian .

27

Southern Lineage Jindan Nanzong 


; Bai Yuchan  1194 1229+. Cf. Skar, Golden Elixir Alchemy;
Wang Li, The Daoist Way of Transcendence.

224

most of which teach solo cultivation


such as the texts collected in Xiuzhen shishu
ca. 1340 ,28
but some of which may teach paired sexual cultivation,29
ZhongL teachings,
early Quanzhen teachings,30
advocating a formless approach to inner alchemy
as in the teachings of Ma
Danyang , and mostly quite unrelated to the Cantong qi or Wuzhen pian,31
the alchemical ritual teachings of liandu,32
from ritual traditions such as Shenxiao, Tianxin Zhengfa, Jingming Zhongxiao
Dao, Lingbao Dafa, Lingbao, and Qingwei,33
and many other texts whose a liation with or links to the betterknown traditions
have yet to be studied.
Period of Integration.

Beginning in the Yuan dynasty and continuing in the Ming,

alchemists systematically borrowed and combined teachings from di erent


traditions, or even from di erent religions.
Many Quanzhen texts
i.e., texts composed by authors associated with Quanzhen
institutions combine
early Quanzhen teachings
28

Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, 5.5:88nc describes DZ 263, Xiuzhen shishu: The sexual element seems
to be rather played down in this text, either because of later bowdlerisation, . . . or perhaps more likely because
these practices were from a quite early time a matter of oral instruction.
29

Texts o ering a sexual version of SouthernLineage alchemy may include DZ 151, Jinye huandan yinzheng tu; DZ
555, Gaoshang yuegong Taiyin yuanjun xiaodao xian; DZ 878, Zituan danjing; the works of Weng Baoguang
DZ 141,
Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian zhushu; part of DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian sanzhu; DZ 143, Ziyang Zhenren
Wuzhen zhizhi xiangshuo sansheng miyao; DZ 144, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian shiyi; and DZ 145, Wuzhen pian zhushi ;
and the works of Chen Zhixu. Two other SouthernLineage sexual alchemists are Dai Qizong
cf. DZ 141, 143 ,
and Lu Ziye 
cf. DZ 142 .
Robinet argues that Weng and Chen do not teach sexual alchemy
Robinet, Introduction  lalchimie intrieure
taoste, 48 50; Sur le sens des termes waidan et neidan, 5 6; Taoism: Growth of a Religion, 227 . I argue for a sexual
alchemical interpretation of Chen Zhixus teachings in chapter 5, but I will not be able to address the question of
Wengs views.
30

The early period of Quanzhen Daoism   is the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

31

Ma Danyang 
1123 84 ; cf. Zhang Guangbao, Jin Yuan Quanzhen dao neidan xinxing xue.

32

Liandu 
salvation through renement ; cf. Boltz, Opening the Gates of Purgatory.

33

Shenxiao , Tianxin Zhengfa  , Jingming Zhongxiao Dao 


, Lingbao Dafa  ,
Lingbao , and Qingwei .

225

with
Cantong qi learning,
teachings from the Southern Lineage,
or Zhong L teachings.34
Southern Lineage teachers
claimed ties to Quanzhen Daoism,
and continued the earlier trend of combining inner alchemical with Chan
Buddhist teachings
Chen Zhixu does both of these things.
Masters from traditions associated more with ritual than self cultivation began to
advocate inner alchemical learning: for example,
Qingwei master Zhao Yizhen35 taught Zhong L style alchemy,
and the forty third Celestial Master Zhang Yuchu36 taught Southern Lineage
style alchemy.
Sophisticated theoretical texts were composed by teachers from the Quanzhen or
Southern lineages, or from backgrounds that combine both traditions teachers
such as
Yu Yan,37 Li Daochun,38 Mu Changchao, Niu Daochun, Chen Zhixu, Chen
Chongsu, and Wang Daoyuan Wang Jie .39
Late Imperial Period.

Inner alchemy in the Ming and Qing dynasties is marked by

features such as
a new view of the eld of inner alchemy based on a basic distinction between solo
practice pure cultivation and paired practice sexual alchemy ,
34
Two studies of Quanzhen texts that I believe teach Zhong L style inner alchemy are Belamide, Self
Cultivation and Quanzhen Daoism; Komjathy, Cultivating Perfection.
35

See pp. 567


68, 606
8; cf. Schipper, Master Chao I chen  ?
1382 and the Ching wei  School of
Taoism.

36

Zhang Yuchu  1361


1410 ; see pp. 568, 602
6.

37

Yu Yan
 1253
1314 ; cf. Zeng Chuanhui, Yuandai Cantong xue.

38

Li Daochun  . ca. 1288 ; cf. Crowe, The Nature and Function of the Buddhist and Ru Teachings in Li Daochun.

39

Mu Changchao  . ca. 1294 , Niu Daochun  . ca. 1296 , Chen Zhixu 1290
1343+ , Chen
Chongsu  Chen Xubai , . Yuan dyn. , and Wang Daoyuan  Wang Jie , . ca. 1360

226

with more alchemists advocating sexual alchemy than before, alchemists such
as
Lu Xixing and his Eastern Lineage,40
Tao Susi, Qiu Zhaoao, and Sun Ruzhong,41
Zhang Sanfeng,42
Li Xiyue and his Western Lineage,43 and
Fu Jinquan,44
and most solo practitioners of nonsexual alchemy also at least acknowledging
the importance of sexual alchemy;
a trend toward more explicit and lucid discussions of social and psycho
physiological details, as in the teachings of
Qinghua miwen,45 Xingming guizhi,46 Wu Shouyang and Liu Huayang, Zhang
Sanfeng, Fu Jinquan, Huang Yuanji,47 and Zhao Bichen;48
the Longmen revival, when a series of great masters from the Longmen tradition
of Quanzhen Daoism were active,49 including
Wu Shouyang and Liu Huayang, Zhu Yuanyu, Liu Yiming,50 Dong Dening, and
Min Yide;51
the appearance of inner alchemical elements
40

Lu Xixing   1520 ca. 1601; cf. Yang Ming, Daojiao yangshengjia Lu Xixing yu tade Fanghu waishi ; Wile, Art
of the Bedchamber, 146 53.

41
Tao Susi  . 1700 11, Qiu Zhaoao - . 1638 1713, Sun Ruzhong   . 1615; for Sun
Ruzhong, cf. Wile, Art of the Bedchamber, 146 49, 153 69.
42

Zhang Sanfeng ,, , or ; cf. Wong Shiu Hong, Investigations into the Authenticity of the Chang
San
Feng Ch uan
Chi ; Wile, Art of the Bedchamber, 146 49, 169 88.

43

Li Xiyue   1806 56.

44

Fu Jinquan ' 1765 1845; cf. Xie Zhengqiang, Fu Jinquan neidan sixiang yanjiu.

45

DZ 240, Qinghua miwen full title Yuqing jinsi qinghua miwen jinbao neilian danjue, probably a Mingdynasty work.

46

Xingming guizhi 1615 and after; cf. Darga, Das alchemistische Buch von innerem Wesen und Lebensenergie: Xingming
guizhi.

47

Wu Shouyang 
! 1574 1644; Liu Huayang ! b. 1736; Huang Yuanji " . ca. 1841 83.

48

Zhao Bichen &+$ 1860 after 1933; cf. Despeux, Trait d alchimie et de physiologie taoste.

49

Longmen *; cf. Esposito, Longmen Taoism in Qing China.

50

Liu Yiming ( 1734 1821; cf. Liu Ning, Liu Yiming xiudao sixiang yanjiu.

51

Zhu Yuanyu  . 1657 69; cf. Dong Dening #)% . 1788; Min Yide

227

 1758 1836.

within medical literature,


and within new religious movements, in scriptures known as precious
scrolls;52
and the development of a new literature on female alchemy.53
Modern period.

Alchemists since the late Qing have, in response to the challenges

posed by modern science, often given their teachings names other than inner
alchemy or Daoismnames such as
Transcendent learning,
used by Chen Yingning and his heirs since the Republican era,54
or, qi training qigong,
used since 1950.55

Part 2, An Extended Discussion:


Inner Alchemy in Forty Thousand Words
1, The Roots of Inner Alchemy
1.1, Inner alchemy combines and transforms previous traditions within Daoism . . .

Inner alchemy neidan is a tradition of practice, thought, and discourse within


religious Daoism. Daoism is a form of organized Chinese polytheistic religion whose
daos paths or traditions are guided by and aimed toward the Dao as a metaphysical
and cosmic principle, and spiritual source.56
The term dao/Dao  way/Way is used in every Chinese philosophical or
religious tradition; its most general meaning is a way of being or acting, passed on as
52

Precious scrolls baojuan ; cf. Overmyer, Precious Volumes.

53

Female alchemy ndan ; cf. Valussi, Beheading the Red Dragon; Despeux, Immortees de la Chine ancinne;
Despeux and Kohn, Women in Daoism.

54

Transcendent learning Xianxue 


; Chen Yingning  1880 1969; cf. Liu Xun, In Search of
Immortality.
55

Qigong ; cf. Palmer, Qigong Fever.

56

Also see my polythetic denition of Daoism on pp. 19 22.

228

a tradition. In its earliest occurrences in Western Zhou bronze inscriptions and the
Book of Poetry ,  appears to combine the meanings of 1 a path or walking along a
path , 2 an art, and 3 speaking. Thus we may call it a formula of speech and step,
connoting aspects of both discourse and skilled practice.57 In early Daoist texts
such as Neiye , Daode jing, and Zhuangzi, the term  is used in complex ways to
refer to 1 the most basic sacred agent or pattern in the cosmos, 2 a perfect society,
3 a state of mind, or 4 a style of being or action. In medieval Daoism,  usually
refers to that most basic sacred cosmic agent the Dao , or to a tradition of practice
a dao aimed at salvation. On pages 17478 above, I note that Chen Zhixu takes
advantage of the dual meanings of the term  to argue that his own dao uniquely
represents the Dao as such.
Some scholars argue that inner alchemy should be seen as a tradition that
overlaps Daoist religion, weaving in and out of Daoist and other contexts in the
course of history, rather than as a branch of Daoism.58 Yet, while not all inner
alchemists or inneralchemical writings are Daoist, most of them are. Other scholars,
adopting a narrow denition of Daoism, have argued that inner alchemy belongs to
the category of Transcendent Learning xianxue  , rather than
Daoism daojiao  .59 Yet something like Transcendent Learning appears as a
category separate from Daoist religion only in a few cases in Chinese history, such as
in the Han dynasty. Inner alchemy is intimately related to Daoism in doctrine and
practice, social forms, and historical instances.
1.2, Inner alchemy combines and transforms previous traditions within . . . Chinese
society.

Inner alchemy also has roots in other traditions within Chinese society.

Inner alchemists frequently include Chan Buddhist and NeoConfucian concepts and
modes of discourse within their alchemical teachings. This is partly due to the times
while Daoists have always incorporated Buddhist and Confucian elements into
57

Eno, Cook Dings Dao and the Limits of Philosophy, 129.

58

Skar, Golden Elixir Alchemy, 304, citing Michel Strickmann.

59

Zeng Chuanhui, Yuandai Cantong xue, 39, 142. Mou Zhongjian  makes a conclusive counterargument
ibid., pref., 5 .

229

their teachings, this trend increased from the Song dynasty onward as part of a
general view among Chinese intellectuals that the Three Teachings Confucianism,
Buddhism, and Daoism were three versions of a single underlying truth. And among
latterday Daoists, inner alchemists borrow more heavily from Chan Buddhism and
NeoConfucianism than other Daoists do, often thinking carefully about the links
between these traditions. Alchemists take various approaches to the questions of
where alchemy ts within the Three Teachings, how the Three Teachings could all be
true, and how they could be related. One approach, adopted by Bai Yuchan, Li
Daochun, Chen Zhixu, and probably many others, is for the alchemist to claim that a
deeper truth underlies all daos, and that he approaches this common truth more
closely than any other teacher does. Li Daochun teaches that Golden Elixir alchemy
is just one version of this truth, one among many.60 Chen Zhixu, on the other hand,
claims that his own dao has a privileged relation to the truth: the underlying truth is
precisely the dao of the Golden Elixir, and all the sages of the Three Teachings have
always been transmitting this teaching, in secret. Chen sometimes divides the eld of
religious teachings, not according to the faultlines of Daoism, Buddhism, and
Confucianism, but according to the lines of true selfcultivation including true
teachings from Buddhism and Confucianism as well as Daoism and false self
cultivation including false Daoist teachings as well as false nonDaoist teachings.
Emic views of inner alchemy like this are helpful for us to use in constructing an etic
denition of inner alchemy within the eld of Chinese religion and society.

1.3, Inner alchemy borrows, develops, and transforms . . . laboratory alchemy.

The

original form of alchemy, in China as well as in other civilizations, was laboratory


alchemy  waidan. The use of the name alchemy dandao  within inner
alchemy, as well as many terms and concepts from laboratory alchemy, identies
inner alchemy more closely with laboratory alchemy than with any other source.
From the time of Ge Hong 283 343 or earlier, laboratory alchemists included inner
cultivation practices as part of their overall regimen. These innercultivation
60

Crowe, The Nature and Function of the Buddhist and Ru Teachings in Li Daochun, 161.

230

practices included breath control, qi ingestion and circulation, sexual cultivation, and
visualization.61 Such practices later became important parts of inner alchemy, but
during the early medieval period these innercultivation practices were not yet seen
as alchemy, only as ways for the alchemist to cultivate life and health during his
long years of labor in the laboratory. These components of later inner alchemy began
to emerge as an alchemical system in the early Tang dynasty, and only gradually
became separate from laboratory alchemy.
Chinese laboratory alchemy came in many forms. The two most common
forms were 1 attempting to make a mercurysulfur compound, and 2 attempting to
make a leadmercury compound; a third form worth mentioning is 3 the attempt to
make a mercurygold solution.62 In 1 mercurysulfur alchemy, mercury Yin is
rened from cinnabar Yang, added to sulfur Yang, and rened again. This process,
typically repeated nine times, yields an essence deemed to be entirely devoid of Yin
and thus to incorporate the qualities of Pure Yang.63 In 2 leadmercury alchemy,
rened mercury Real Yin, zhenyin is rened from cinnabar Yang, and rened lead
Real Yang, zhenyang is rened from native lead Yin. The elixir produced by joining
rened mercury and rened lead to each other is also equated to Pure Yang.64 The
nal product of each of these forms of alchemy is called huandan  cyclically
transformed elixir, reverted elixir, or recycled elixir. While inner alchemists adopted
terminology from 3 mercurygold alchemy e.g., the terms golden liquor, jinye 
, and golden elixir, jindan  and perhaps also from 2 mercurysulfur alchemy,
it is 1 leadmercury which they took as their theoretical basis. For inner alchemists,
mercury represents the principle of yinwithinyang li  , or its central yin line,
and lead represents the principle of yangwithinyin kan  , or its central yang
line. This dominant position of leadmercury alchemy coincides with the dominance
of the Zhouyi Cantong qi within inner alchemy. A text with this title had been in
continuous transmission from the Han dynasty on probably as a weft text, weishu 
61

Ma Jiren, Daojiao yu liandan, 23; Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 18491.

62

Pregadio, Great Clarity, 114 18; Pregadio, Elixirs and Alchemy, 190.

63

Pregadio, Great Clarity, 100.

64

Pregadio, Great Clarity, 100.

231

 , but it was probably reedited into a text of alchemical theory toward the end of
the Six Dynasties, or as late as the Sui or early Tang.65 The form of alchemy taught in
Cantong qi, the fusing of lead and mercury, established this leadmercury complex as
the alchemical mainstream; or perhaps the establishment of both Cantong qi as the
central text, and leadmercury alchemy as the alchemical mainstream, were part of
the same process.66
Other important laboratoryalchemical terms or concepts found within inner
alchemy include the alchemical chamber, furnace, caldron, bellows and tuyre
tuoyue
 , re and water, yellow sprouts
huangya  , white snow
baixue 
, and
granulated cinnabar
zhusha  . Some important terms or concepts from
laboratory alchemy, such as sulfur and luting mud, were not picked up by the inner
alchemists.
Sometimes, inneralchemical interpretations of terms from laboratory
alchemy are numerological and not metaphorical at all, obviously unrelated to the
original meaning. Thus, inner alchemists often do not interpret the terms nine
recyclings or seven reversions
jiuhuan qifan   as nine or seven stages of
cultivation, but rather dwell on the numerological signicance of the numbers nine
or seven. In inner alchemy, jiuhuan and qifan are, to a certain extent, merely
oating signiers.

1.4, Inner alchemy borrows, develops, and transforms . . . qi cultivation.

The concept

of qi67 is the most important concept within Chinese cosmology, embracing gaseous,
energetic, and material phenomena. Its root meaning is air, vapor, ether, breath, but
it came to be seen as the substance of all solid bodies, insubstantial
airy qualities,
and energic processes in the macrocosm of the natural world and the microcosm of
the human body. For example, Songdynasty NeoConfucian philosophers beginning
with Zhang Zai
1020 77 believed that, soon after the cosmic origin, some qi
65

Pregadio, The Early History of the Zhouyi cantong qi, 168 69.

66

Pregadio, Elixirs and Alchemy, 170 71.

67

English translations for the term qi in the Sinological literature include pneuma, air, matterenergy,
congura tional energy, vital energy, vapor, breath, and subtle breath.

232

became turbid hunqi


 68 and solidied into matter, while other qi remained
insubstantial as air or energy.
Religious Daoists regarded qi as the primary medium by which one might
apprehend and eventually join with the Dao.69 Daoist selfcultivation in general
involves the gathering and renement of qi, and qi is indeed one of the main
ingredients of the inneralchemical process. BaldrianHussein notes that The
earliest texts which speak of neidan compare it with qi techniques, either with
embryonic breathing or with the absorption of breath.70 Among the qicultivation
practices to which inner alchemy is heir, we may distinguish 1 the practice of
cultivating external qi from 2 the practice of cultivating internal qi, with the former
involving breath control and the latter involving circulation of internal energies.71
Daoist qicultivation practices include spitting out the old
qi and drawing in the
new tugu naxin  , tuna  , rst mentioned in Zhuangzi72 , guiding and
pulling daoyin , which may refer to gymnastics as well as qicultivation73 , fetal
respiration taixi  , ingesting qi fuqi  , circulating qi xingqi  , rening qi
lianqi  ,74 and visualizing colored qi.75 Henri Maspero argues that, towards the
middle of the Tang dynasty, there was a revolution in the theory of qicultivation, and
a change from the ingestion of external atmospheric qi through swallowing air and
saliva to the cultivation of the internal qi of the viscera.76 This is reected in the
changing theory of fetal respiration. Whereas in the early medieval period, the adept
practicing fetal respiration slowed and softened the breath until it was imperceptible,
68

Hun could also mean curdled or rotten.

69

Bokenkamp, Early Daoist Scriptures, 16.

70

BaldrianHussein, Inner Alchemy: Notes on the Origin and Use of the Term Neidan, 179.

71

This is a helpful distinction, but it overly simplies the matter, since qi always includes both gaseous and
energetic aspects.
72

Zhuangzi, H.Y. 15.5; Watson, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, 167.

73

Campany, To Live as Long as Heaven and Earth, 175n140.

74

Maspero, Methods of Nourishing the Vital Principle in the Ancient Taoist Religion, 469, identies
circulating qi as guiding it e.g., to an a icted area , and rening qi as letting it go where it will without
guiding it.
75

Visualizing colored qi is an important practice within Shangqing Daoism, e.g., Robinet, Taoist Meditation, 110.

76

Maspero, Methods of Nourishing the Vital Principle in the Ancient Taoist Religion, 460, with special
reference to DZ 824, Songshan Taiwu Xiansheng qi jing.

233

at which point the adept could be assumed to be respiring through the umbilicus like
a fetus in the womb, in the midmedieval period fetal respiration came to mean
forming a spiritual fetus within the subtle body through internal respiration.77
The later form of internal fetal respiration is one of the main sources of inner
alchemy. Some forms of classical inner alchemy contain a stage called fetal
respiration, a state of deep stillness during which the holy fetus forms.78 Thus,
some forms of inner alchemy may be distinguished from fetal respiration in theory
and discourse, yet resemble it in practice.
Inner alchemists may be unique in the singlemindedness of their emphasis
upon cultivating the One Qi, a point of pure yang energy left over within this fallen
world from the state of cosmogenesis, and left over within the adult body from the
pure state of infancy. Inner alchemists had various notions about gathering this One
Qi through respiration and salivaswallowing, internal sensation, or sexual congress.
There was a practice of cultivating a spiritual fetus in the Shangqing tradition
that may also be relevant to the prehistory of inner alchemy. DZ 639, Huangtian
Shangqing Jinque Dijun lingshu ziwen shang jing from the root text Zishu lingwen shang
jing describes a practice in which the the adept ingests yin qi jade placenta, yubao 
 from the sun and yang qi jade fetus, yutai  from the moon.79 These qi are
mixed in the region of the lower dantian by the corporeal spirit Peach Child or
Peach Vigor, Taokang  , producing the Ruddy Infant or Naked Infant, Chizi 
 , who nds lodging in the region of the upper dantian. Bokenkamp says that this is
an alternative to sexual practice, a sublimated form of huanjing bunao recycling
essence to replenish the brain .80 This practice resembles inner alchemy in its use of
two pharmaca, one yinwithinyang yubao from the sun and the other yangwithin
yin yutai from the moon ,81 but in its use of solunar qi it is more like the earlier form
77

Maspero, Methods of Nourishing the Vital Principle in the Ancient Taoist Religion, 481.

78

Wile, Art of the Bedchamber, 42. Zeng Chuanhui, Yuandai Cantong xue, 223, says this of Yu Yan.

79

DZ 639 is a piece of Zishu lingwen shang jing, probably composed by Yang Xi  330? around 36470. This
root text exists in the Ming Daoist canon as four separate texts DZ 639, 255, 442, and 179 . A translation and
study of these texts is found in Bokenkamp, Early Daoist Scriptures, 275372.
80

Bokenkamp, Early Daoist Scriptures, 284.

81

Bokenkamp, Early Daoist Scriptures, 286.

234

of fetal respiration where external qi is ingested than the Tangdynasty form where
internal qi is cultivated . Also note that this Shangqing practice was associated with
alchemical discourse, though not directly. The root text Zishu lingwen shang jing
includes both this quasifetal respiration in DZ 639 and a form of astroalchemy in
DZ 255, Taiwei lingshu ziwen lanan huadan shenzhen shang jing , but while these two
practices were both found in the original text, they were not integrated. This is like
what we see in the early alchemy of Ge Hong and others, where selfcultivation
practices are part of the alchemists overall regimen, but are not integrated with
laboratory alchemy. The practices in DZ 639 go unmentioned by later inner
alchemists. These practices may reect a moment in the prehistory of inner
alchemy, but are not direct ancestors of the tradition.

1.5, Inner alchemy borrows, develops, and transforms . . . sexual cultivation.

Hao Qin

believes that we should seek the origins of inner alchemy in sexual cultivation
bedchamber arts, fangzhong shu 
, rather than in qi cultivation.82 He believes
that the concept of circulating energy along subtle tracts within the body comes
from the classical sexual practice of recycling the seminal essence to replenish the
brain huanjing bunao  ,83 and does not come from qicirculation or fetal
respiration. His best evidence for this theory comes from the Mawangdui manuscript
Ten Questions Shiwen  , which contains key elements of later inner alchemy,
including the interconvertibility of seminal essence and qi,84 retaining seminal
essence bijing  , rening essence lianjing  , and recycling the essence to
replenish the brain.85 In addition to transporting the essence up the dorsal tract to
the brain equivalent to the superintendent tract, dumai  , the Ten Questions
manuscript also includes the concept of swallowing the rened essence and returning
it to the abdomen which would follow a course comparable to the ventral
82

Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 55.

83

Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 56.

84

The Ten Questions contains the line For human qi, there is nothing as good as the essence of the penis 

  Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 73 . The Ten Questions is translated in Harper, Early Chinese Medical
Literature, 385411.
85

Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 28788.

235

conception tract, renmai  , and thus this practice uses an internal route that
looks much like the lesser orbit xiao zhoutian   of classical inner alchemy.86
Hao also argues that Ge Hong describes a close cousin of later inner alchemical
practice though not in alchemical language , and that Ge Hongs protoinner
alchemy is in fact sexual cultivation.87
Hao also believes that the concept of the inner pharmacon neiyao 
comes, not from rening outer qi atmospheric qi into inner qi subtle energy , as
Maspero thinks, but from rening seminal essence into qi.88 My tentative judgment is
that both Hao and Maspero may be correct. Maspero may be right that there was a
revolution in the theory of qicultivation in the Tang, but the idea of the cultivation
of inner qi could have existed for centuries within sexual practice before it was
applied to breath control.89

1.6, Inner alchemy borrows, develops, and transforms . . . mind cultivation.

Just as

NeoConfucian learning of the heartmind and inherent nature xinxing xue 
can be seen as a Songdynasty reaction from within Confucian tradition to the
challenge posed by Chan Buddhist mind cultivation, the xinxing xue within Daoist
texts can be seen as a Daoist echo of both Chan Buddhism and NeoConfucianism.
From the Song dynasty on, intellectuals advocating the unity of the Three
Teachings sanjiao heyi 
 would take commonalities in Buddhist, Confucian,
and Daoist xinxing xue as one of their main points of comparison. As Li Daochun
writes, the Three Teachings all speak of the inherent naturethe Chan Buddhists
want to actualize or see their inherent nature xianxing or jianxing  , the Daoist
inner alchemists want to preserve their inherent nature cunxing  , and the Neo
86

Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 289, 384.

87

Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 29497.

88

Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 73.

89

A fuller evaluation of this issue would require more research on the Scripture of the Yeow Court Huangting jing ,
especially the Outer scripture DZ 332, Taishang huangting waijing yujing; DZ 403, Huangting neiwaijing jing jie; or
Huangting waijing yujing zhujie , in DZ 263, Xiuzhen shishu . This scripture seems also to
contain the alchemical lesser orbit, and Maspero argues that the scripture is teaching something like recycling the
essence to replenish the brain, but his interpretation is highly speculative Methods of Nourishing the Vital
Principle in the Ancient Taoist Religion, 52329 . Also, his claim that the Scripture of the Yeow Court knew only
about external qi and not internal qi 495 is hard to accept.

236

Confucians want to exhaust their inherent nature in order to illuminate bright


virtue .90 Or, as Mu Changchao and Chen Zhixu say, Confucianism
recties the heartmind, Buddhism claries the heartmind, and Daoism empties or
puries the heartmind.91 Of course, inner alchemists usually also say that their
xinxing xue is superior. For example, they say that whereas Chan Buddhists only
cultivate the inherent nature, Daoists cultivate both inherent nature and life
endowment xingming  , and so whereas alchemists can become yang spirits after
death, Chan Buddhists will become mere yin ghosts.92

1.7, Inner alchemy borrows, develops, and transforms . . . literary mysticism.

This is

one of the signature insights in Isabelle Robinets study of inner alchemy. While
there are many manifest echoes of Chan Buddhism within inner alchemical texts,
Robinet also argues the two traditions share deeper similarities in their playful and
antiessentialist use of language, or even their metalinguistic reection on the
limitations of language. It is, in e
ect, as a k an that neidan acts on the spirit of the
adept.93 Like Chan Buddhist masters, inneralchemical masters try to induce
mystical experiences in their disciples, not only by the ancient physiological
practices, but also by harnessing the mind to disentangle knotty problems and break
logjams.94 She traces this ultimately back to the Zhuangzis insights on the arbitrary
nature of human language.95
Yet mystical language is not always directly related to mystical experience.
Inneralchemical teachers also used mystical language to describe the state of mind
and body that the adept ought to feel at certain points in the alchemical process, or
to reinforce analogies between the microcosmic body and macrocosmic universe.
90

Robinet, Introduction  l
alchimie intrieure taoste, 6768, citing DZ 249, Zhonghe ji, by Li Daochun, 6.21a25b.

91

Robinet, Introduction  l
alchimie intrieure taoste, 71, citing Mu Changchaos DZ 1066, Xuanzong zhizhi wanfa
tonui 4.5b, and Chen Zhixus DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 14.4b. In the section Robinet cites, Chen Zhixu
argues that the Three Teachings are univocal on the following points of doctrine: the One Dao, the heartmind,
inherent nature and lifeendowment, yin and yang, and the teaching institution jiaomen  .
92

Robinet, Taoism: Growth of a Religion, 250.

93

Robinet, Introduction  l
alchimie intrieure taoste, 78.

94

Robinet, Taoism: Growth of a Religion, 218.

95

Robinet, Taoism: Growth of a Religion, 219, 229.

237

When Chen Zhixu often uses mystical language to describe the sex act, he is doing
both of these at once.96 Finally, looking at inneralchemical literary mysticism from a
political perspective rather than a philosophical perspective, we can see that inner
alchemical teachers use mystical language to heighten the secret and therefore
socioeconomically valuable penumbra surrounding their practices.
2, The Social Contexts of Inner Alchemy
2.1, The inner alchemists use culture within social institutions.

I dene social

institutions, not only as formal organizations, but also as informal groups, and the
xed patterns of social interaction identied with these groups or organizations. I
hold that the cultural elements of inner alchemy must be analyzed in terms of
Chinese social structures. Sociologists of culture say that people develop and use
discourses and other cultural elements in order to deal with the institutions and
structures that make up human social lifeand perhaps this is even our main use of
culture.97 Social institutions are more than a vague background structure that we can
assume is standing behind our cultural analyses; rather, social institutions strongly
shape how people use culture. We cannot understand cultural elements without
understanding how they relate to institutions.
2.1.1.1, Inner alchemists use culture within . . . small groups, . . . including the
masterdisciple relationship.

Daoist selfcultivation teachings have almost always

been transmitted within masterdisciple lineages. Many distinct social institutions


that is, distinctive patterns of social interaction are essentially linked to, or
secondarily associated with, the masterdisciple relation. Examples of social
institutions linked to the masterdisciple relation include the roles and duties of
master and disciple; lineage; secret or privileged transmission or knowledge;
esotericism; and rites of transmission. Certain textual forms may be associated with
the masterdisciple relation, such as oral instructions, and manuscripts or private
printings. Textual forms, like social forms, may shape how people use culture.
Masterdisciple relationships could grow into masterdisciple networks, or
96

See pages 492 93 below for an example of this mystical analogizing by Chen.

97

Swidler, Talk of Love, 177 79.

238

even cults of disciples following a charismatic gure or saint, such as in the case of
Tanyangzi
 155880.98
2.1.1.2, Inner alchemists use culture within . . . small groups, . . . including . . . the
patronclient relationship.

This relationship depends on the exchange and conversion

of di erent forms of capital: the patron gives the client an alchemical adept or
teacher economic support and protection economic capital or a social network
social capital, and in exchange the client gives the patron oral instructions, written
texts, or other forms of training cultural capital.99 Also, the patron receives cultural
capital merely from association with a Daoist master, and the Daoist adept
consolidates his status as a master through the patrons attentions. The patron is
often a disciple of the master at least nominally, so in many cases the patronclient
relationship would be a special case of the masterdisciple relationship. When the
patron is also a disciple, he will submit to the masters authority in some respects
e.g., in the religious eld while the master submits to the patrons authority in other
respects e.g., in the economic eld, or the eld of social status. A study of this
powerswitching would be a valuable contribution to the sociology of inner alchemy,
but Chens writings do not o er much data on the subject.
Some alchemists lacking wealth of their own or connections to monastic or
temple networks would have to rely on patrons completely. For example, after giving
up his wealth and o cial career for a life of selfcultivation, Zhang Boduan relied on
the patron Lu Shen  rst, and, after Lu died, Ma Chuhou . In return for
Ma Chuhous economic support, Zhang Boduan gave him the manuscript of Wuzhen
pian. The advice of Zhang Boduans disciple and second patriarch of the Southern
Lineage, Shi Tai  d. 1158 to the third patriarch, Xue Shi  d. 1191, is also
often repeated:
Shi Tai
furthermore warned Xue Shi
, saying, Swiftly make your way to a
central town well served by many roads
or a metropolis, and, relying upon a
powerful person, make plans to do this cultivation
. The Purple Worthy Xue
Shi
followed this advice
, and thereby completed the dao.

98

See pp. 62224 below.

99

See my discussion on pp. 199202 above.

239

 
  100
Other alchemists, such as Chen Zhixu, might rely on lay patrons at some times and
temple networks at other times. In addition to exchanging forms of worldly capital,
both patron and client might also help each other toward salvation: the client might
help the patron by giving religious teachings, and the patron might help the client by
giving him the space and time to complete his selfcultivation. If the client is a sexual
alchemist, he would need the patrons help in procuring female partners, and privacy
or protection from disapproving outsiders.
2.1.1.3, Inner alchemists use culture within . . . small groups, . . . including . . . the
advisorruler relationship.

This is a special case of the patronclient relationship. The

trope of an adept presenting teachings or texts to a ruler, or a ruler seeking wisdom


or secrets from an advisor, can be found in early texts such as Zhuangzi, and was of
especial importance in the Han dynasty.101 This became a continuing literary trope:
Douglas Wile notes that mainstream sexual literature from the Han to the Tang
dynasty or later was written in the form of a dialogue between an emperor often the
Yellow Emperor and his counsellor, while texts on private practice were written in
straightforward exposition.102 The advisorruler relation is not merely a literary
trope: it is also a social institution, or at least a social ideal. In his writings, Chen
Zhixu often retells the story of the Yellow Emperors meeting with Guangchengzi 
, Guangchengzis advice to the Yellow Emperor not to belabor his body or
disturb his seminal essence, and the Yellow Emperors eventual apotheosis. This
legend of the Yellow Emperors disciplerelation to Guangchengzi is an important
myth in Chens religious world. This was a myth that Chen hoped to embody himself.
Chen reveals that he would like to repeat this scenario in his own life, with himself

100

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 13.12b7 8.

101

In Imperial Treasures and Taoist Sacraments, Seidel argues that the spiritual function of the Celestial
Master as established in the Han was conceived on the model of the ancient sages who . . . instructed the
mythical sovereigns of antiquity 293. A medieval emperor could prove his legitimacy that is, could prove that
he possessed the Mandate of Heaven by attracting wise men including Daoists to his court by the power of his
vertu de , and these wise Daoists could receive his support for their religious projects and institutions in return
369.
102

Wile, Art of the Bedchamber, 14.

240

playing the advisor.103 And we can say that he achieved this wish while staying with
his disciple Marquis Tian Zhizhai and the ruling Hmong Tian clan in Guangxi.
2.1.1.4, Inner alchemists use culture within . . . small groups, . . . including . . .
relations of friendship and literati association

between male equals. Inner alchemy has

always been a literary tradition, and, until recent times, a literati tradition. From the
perspective of social history, one may argue that the shift from laboratory to inner
alchemy in the Tang dynasty, and the popularity of inner alchemy in the Song, is
linked to a general social shift from aristocratic society to gentry society.104 Due to
advances in printing, the wider availability of education, and a general growth in
population, the literati class grew dramatically in the Song, until only a small
proportion of literate and educated men were able to nd employment in
government service. Unable to pursue traditional literati careers on a national scale,
they developed regional forms of higher culture, and enjoyed the arts of private life,
including inner alchemy. As Skar says, adepts and their patrons used these new
teachings . . . to add to the repertoire of literati association.105 Along with this new
alchemy came new deities, a new type of supralocal transcendent being, such as
Zhongli Quan, L Dongbin, or Liu Haichan who resembled the cultivated
gentlemen he sought to attract.106
From the perspective of the sociology of culture, we may view inner
alchemical culture as a repertoire of tools used by literati to pursue strategies within
and among literati institutions.107 This way we can explain specic features of inner
alchemical culture, such as the fact that many inneralchemical texts are poem or
song cycles written by named authors
either human literati, or terrestrial
transcendent literati such as L Dongbin , rather than scriptures dictated or
revealed by celestial deities. Poetry was an important cultural currency among
literati, and the value of a literati poem as art or as cultural capital is usually closely
103

DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian sanzhu, Chen Zhixus preface, 5b.

104

Skar, Golden Elixir Alchemy, 14.

105

Skar, Golden Elixir Alchemy, 231.

106

Skar, Golden Elixir Alchemy, 14.

107

Cf. Swidlers theory of cultural tool kits; Swidler, Culture in Action; idem, Talk of Love, 24 44.

241

related to its authorship.


2.1.1.5, Inner alchemists use culture within . . . small groups, . . . including . . . the
family or clan and its related institutions.

Family or clanrelated social institutions

relevant to the study of inner alchemy include lineage, the ancestor cult, and
polygamy. Inner alchemy has always been transmitted within lineages, for several
reasons. The rst reason is historical: the family has always been the main model for
Chinese society, and beginning in the Song dynasty or earlier, the familybased
institution of the lineage in particular was taken as a model for society.108
Another reason why lineage is important within inner alchemy is because
alchemy is an esoteric tradition. Inner alchemical training requires the oral
instruction and handson guidance of a master, but even then, how can the adept
know whether to trust his or her teacher? Unlike religious healing or apotropaic
ritual, which can be veried through extraordinary miracles or ordinary good
fortune, the spiritual attainments of inner cultivation can rarely be publicly veried.
Thus, people will judge the value of an alchemical teaching according to their trust in
the authority of the teacher who is transmitting this teaching, or their own personal
experience in practicing it which also depends on this trust in the teacher.109 The
authority of the students teacher depends on the authority of the teachers teacher,
and the lineage extending behind them. Therefore, any inneralchemical teacher will
depend in large part on his lineage to legitimate his teachings.
Inner alchemists often venerated their lineal patriarchs, taking the ancestor
cult in Chinese society as their model. In the Tang and Song dynasties, Chan
Buddhists rst developed the concept of a lineage of Chan patriarchs stretching back
to the Buddha, and later added to this the institution of a cult to their immediate
patriarchs, i.e., an ancestor cult.110 Both lineage and ancestor cult are important to
Chen Zhixu. As we saw in chapter 2, Jindan dayao includes several genealogies of
108

Skar, Golden Elixir Alchemy, 11519.

109

In Language, Epistemology, and Mysticism, Steven Katz argues that mystical experience is tradition
dependent, and I hold that the alchemists experiences or attainment are also traditiondependent. The adepts
experiences will depend directly on his or her training. We could almost say that the adept will experience what
he or she is trained to experience, but this would be an oversimplication. So personal experience also depends
directly on the students trust in his or her teacher.
110

Foulk, Myth, Ritual, and Monastic Practice in Sung Chan Buddhism.

242

mortal and divine patriarchs, as well as many other genealogical statements scattered
throughout, that attempt to place Chen within a Quanzhen Daoist lineage. I have
identied three levels of lineage claim in this material: Chens extended, e ective,
and immediate lineages. Actually, all of these are retrospective, or false, lineages.
Chens one known patriarch, Zhao Youqin, did not have a real historical link any to
Quanzhen Daoist lineage, and Chens teachings themselves have almost nothing to
do with Quanzhen Daoism. Chen Zhixus Stream of Transcendents contains the
texts of rituals reecting Daoist ancestor cult, addressed rst to Zhongli Quan and
L Dongbin but also including all of the patriarchs of Chens lineage.
Finally, the institution of polygamy is relevant to the study of inner alchemy.
Male sexual cultivators have often required multiple female partners to be available
for their practice. Classical Chinese sexual cultivation as studied by Wile assumes a
certain family institution, the polygamous household. The later sexual alchemists
such as Chen Zhixu may have used bondmaids or prostitutes instead of wives or
concubines.111
2.1.2.1, Inner alchemists use culture within . . . midsized groups, . . . including . . . the
monastery, temple, or cult association.

Many alchemists had monastic or priestly

careers, and this may have a ected their teachings. I believe that the strongly
polemical attitude of Chen Zhixus writings, and even of his alchemy itself, is due to
his precarious economic situation; probably the writings, and even the alchemy, of
adepts in economically stable situations within monasteries or temples would be
signicantly less polemical. As I argue in chapter 3, socioeconomic factors can shape,
not only the outer trappings of alchemical teachings, but even their inner technical
details.
2.1.2.2, Inner alchemists use culture within . . . midsized groups, . . . including . . .
local practice and printing networks.

An alchemists use of alchemical culture that is,

his or her practice and teachings may reect the conditions, constraints, and
opportunities of local practitioner networks, and scribal or printing networks. For
111

On pp. 385
87, and pp. 446
70 chap. 5, 3.1.2 , especially pp. 463
65 3.1.2.6 , I discuss the evidence for
Chens use of prostitution or other kinds of paid sexual labor.

243

example, when the alchemist writes down his teachings and disseminates them to a
wider audience, we may expect to nd these teachings in code. Because the
alchemical author cannot select his or her readers, and will no longer have direct
control over who receives his teachings, he will have to use a new means of limiting
their spread to a worthy few: writing coded texts and entrusting that only readers
who have received personal instruction from an authoritative teacher would be able
to decode these texts. As Chen Zhixu writes ever and again,
What does the term reverted elixir refer to? I say, one must have a teachers
personal instructions. Thus Chunyang the Perfected L Dongbin said, If you
do not rely on a teachers instructions, this aair is dicult to comprehend.
Lord Lao said, I am not a sage: I attained this through study. Therefore, in
studying alchemy, you must rst seek a master, and must not speculate wildly
about alchemical discourse by yourself.
()  $ # *
%'!
'   "&112
Chen assumes that his writings could only be properly applied by readers under the
direction of a realized master, whether that be himself, or someone like himself
elsewhere in space or time. This is Hugh Urbans esoteric strategy no. 5: constructing
a hierarchy of levels of truth, and restricting access to them.
2.1.3.1, Inner alchemists use culture within . . . large groups, macrostructures, and the
broader society, . . . including . . . macroeconomies, social class, or the imperial state.

All

of the micro and mesolevel institutions discussed above t into these larger
structures. These larger structures do not impact alchemists use of alchemical
culture directly, but are mediated by the other institutions discussed above. Macro
economies of nancial, cultural, social, intellectual, and other capitals underlie the
alchemical eld.113 When literati use alchemy to maintain networks, develop higher
culture, and enjoy the arts of private life, this activity presupposes the class system
and the privileges and desirability of being a literatus. The advisorruler relationship
found in alchemical literature and in the careers of alchemists presupposes the
Chinese imperial state, with ruler, court, and national and local bureaucracies. The
112

DZ 91, Taishang dongxuan lingbao wuliang duren shangpin miaojing zhujie 1.41a6 9.

113

See pp. 193 202


chap. 3, 3.3 4 .

244

Daoist heavens that alchemists often depict as their nal goal and salvation are
modeled on the Chinese state. This model of the state actually has less impact on
alchemical culture than it does upon other forms of Daoism, such as ritual or
classical Daoist scripture. Sexual alchemists use of bondmaids for their practice also
depends on an exploitative class system.
2.1.3.2, Inner alchemists use culture within . . . large groups, macrostructures,
and the broader society, . . . including . . . daos, traditions, teachings, schools, or sectarian
movements.

Robert Campany has shown that premodern Chinese writers did see

things like what we call religions in their social world, and their term for these was
daos.114 Yet the term dao could also applied to entities at many di
erent levels of
generalityfrom a universal truth, to a major religion practiced in many lands such
as Buddhism , to a regional religion or form of religion, to the tradition of a single
lineage or single teacher, perhaps a smaller dao within a larger dao. Chinese writers
also spoke of abstract schools of thought or practice each organized around a
distinctive principle, zong  , such as the Northern and Southern Schools of
Chan Buddhism, painting, inner alchemy, poetry, or martial arts.115 From their texts
we can see that inneralchemical teachers from the Song dynasty on devoted a great
deal of thought to daos. It is di cult to summarize alchemists various schemata for
categorizing daos, since each thinker seems to have a di
erent schema. Also, to
analyze these attempts sociologically would add several additional levels of
complexity. Such an analysis would require 1 sorting out di
erent alchemists
conceptions of daos, 2 viewing these emic conceptions as uses of culture within
etic social and socioreligious instititions that is, our viewing of medieval Daoists
thinking about and constructing religions, and out setting this against the
background of the objective institutions the Daoists were living in , and 3
theorizing about the categories religion, religions, religious in general.
2.2, The inner alchemists use culture within social institutions . . . for the goals of self
transformation into authoritative and holy masters within this world distinct from the
114

Campany, On the Very Idea of Religions.

115

Skar, Golden Elixir Alchemy, 12752.

245

common run of mortal humanity, and transcendent beings beyond it.

In this

dissertation I argue that Chen Zhixu has three interrelated goals, and it is my
hypothesis that most inner alchemical teachers will have similar goals. Chens three
goals are 1 achieving recognition and authority as a master, or managing his
mastership; 2 spreading his teachings in the religious eld; and 3 attaining
personal salvation. Why does he seek authority? Proximately, for the sake of
advantages in this world; ultimately, for the sake of his own salvation. The authority
he gains will help him attract a support network and audience base of patrons,
disciples, or readers. This support network in turn will help him nance his personal
quest for salvation. In addition to this, his teaching activities within his network, and
his successes in spreading his teachings to new audiences, will generate karmic merit
for him, which will further contribute to his salvation.116 Among Chens strategies for
managing his mastership and attracting disciples is the strategy of emphasizing the
gulf between two types of person: common fools doomed to death and dissolution,
and himself and his fellow illuminati saved by their wisdom, selfcultivation, and
knowledge of the secrets of transcendence.
3, Ontological Registers, and Language
3.0, Inner alchemists may, for rhetorical, philosophical, or soteriological reasons,
interpret their concepts and discourse on a number of dierent ontological registers or
levels of reality.

A classic example of an inneralchemical theory of ontological

registers is Li Daochuns schema of four vehicles and nine grades of alchemical


technique sicheng jiupin danfa .117 This is a sophisticated theoretical
construct, reminiscent of Chinese Buddhist panjiao  classication of teachings
schemas for ranking the various forms of SinoIndian Buddhism, and it serves as a
model for my own schema of alchemical registers below.118
At the bottom of Li Daochuns schema are nine grades of marginal
116

See pp. 16162; also, pp. 72, 84, 104, 12425, 129, and 44852 chap. 5, 3.1.2.1.

117

DZ 249, Zhonghe ji, by Li Daochun, 2.13a17a. Cf. Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 49194; Robinet,
Introduction  lalchimie intrieure taoste, 15052; Crowe, The Nature and Function of the Buddhist and Ru Teachings in Li
Daochun, 28992. This passage is translated in appendix 3 of this chapter pp. 36166.
118

Other such inneralchemical classication of teachings schemata can be found in the writings of Chen Nan,
Bai Yuchan, and Mu Changchao.

246

traditions pangmen , which Li does not consider to be inner alchemy at all;
above them come three gradual vehicles of inner alchemy; and surmounting them all
is the one sudden vehicle. The lowest of the four vehicles is alchemy on the
microcosmic register, alchemy understood in psychophysiological terms, with
body and heartmind as variables occupying the general category caldron and
furnace, and kidneys and heart occupying the category water and re. His
middle vehicle is alchemy on the mesocosmic level, alchemy understood in terms
of abstract signs, with qian  and kun  occupying the category caldron and
furnace, and kan  and li  occupying the category water and re. His upper
vehicle is alchemy on the macrocosmic level, alchemy understood in cosmic and
psychic terms, with Heaven and Earth occupying the category caldron and
furnace, and sun and moon occupying the category water and re. His Supreme
One Vehicle, which is also a sudden vehicle, is alchemy on the purely metaphysical
level or level of nonspatiotemporal realities, alchemy as the direct cultivation of
inherent nature, with the Great Void Taixu  and the Great Ultimate Taiji 
 occupying the category caldron and furnace, and calming meditation ding ,
Skt. samatha and wisdom hui
, Skt. praj occupying the category water and
re. I include a full translation of Li Daochuns nine grades and four vehicles in
appendix 3 to this chapter. These four vehicles line up with my quadripartite schema
of ontological registers below though details vary between them.
3.1.1, Inner alchemists may interpret their concepts and discourse on . . . the register of
the microcosm of human body, . . . including empirical, theological, and symbolic
perspectives on the body.

Kristofer Schipper o
ers a useful schema for categorizing

Daoist body concepts. He writes that Daoists may view the body empirically,
theologically, or symbolically.119 The empirical body is the medical body as
understood by the practicing physician, according to a way of knowing based more
on experience than theory. In the theological body, the multiple souls and spirits
represent the essences and the energies qi of the body. This view also includes
understandings of the body based on correlative cosmology. The symbolic body is
119

Schipper, The Taoist Body, 1035.

247

the body viewed as an inner landscape. Whereas the empirical and theological bodies
are part of Chinese common culture, the body as a landscape is a uniquely Daoist
concept. This beautiful vision includes both the empirical and theological views,
but what distinguishes it from the other ways of viewing the body is that it is related
to a rich and meaningful mythology. By turning the light of his eyes within, a Daoist
may see a mythical inner world, with the great sacred mountain; the Kunlun, pillar
of the universe; the isles of the Immortals; the holy places, such as the altars of the
Earth God; in short, the whole mythical geography as well as its corresponding
pantheon.120
In this chapter, I discuss the 1 psychophysiological, 2 symbolic, and 3
allegorical or visionary elements of inner alchemy; almost all of these are related to
body and mind. These do not map directly to Schippers A empirical, B
theological, and C symbolic visions of the body, but Schippers categories are useful
for comparison. The 1 psychophysiological elements of inner alchemy include
essence, qi, spirit or spirits, and so on. The 2 symbolic elements come from
Chinese correlative cosmology. The 3 allegorical or visionary elements include
dragon and tiger, or squire metal jingong , lovely girl chan , and naked
infant chizi . Comparing Schippers categories with mine, I have left out
Schippers A empirical perspective, and divided his B theological perspective into
1 psychophysiological and 2 symbolic dimensions. The closest relation is between
Schippers C symbolic view and my 3 allegorical or visionary perspective. As in
Schippers account, in some cases inner alchemists do represent the body as a
mountain, or a landscape.121 Chen Zhixus Jindan dayao contains an illustration of the
alchemical body gured as a mountain, copied from an earlier text.122 This
illustration does not represent Chens usual bodydiscourse, and may be related to
liandu  salvation through renement practice, which plays no role in Chens

120

Schipper, The Taoist Body, 105.

121

Catherine Despeux has written a book, Taosme et corps humain, on Daoist images of the body as a landscape.
Many of her images are related to inner alchemy.
122

DZ 1068, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao tu 3a; copied from DZ 90, Yuanshi wuliang duren shangpin miaojing neiyi 8b9a.

248

teachings.123 As I say in section 6 below on the allegorical or visionary elements of


inner alchemy, I do believe that the 3 allegorical elements of inner alchemy belong
to an embodied mythology that is comparable to Schippers C symbolic view, yet
the contents of the two mythologies are quite di erent.
The inneralchemical theological body includes the Five Viscera124 wuzang 
 , which are yang; the Six Receptacles liufu  ,125 which are yin; the three
dantian in the front of the body and the Three Passes in the back; and the lesser orbit
xiao zhoutian 
 , or ecliptic huangdao  , often thought to be made up of
the twin tracts of conception and superintendency rendu ermai  ;126 and
various other subtlebody tracts, some of which may be used for the greater orbit da
zhoutian 
 .127
While the descriptions of the Five Viscera and Six Receptacles do not vary
much according to the teachings of various inneralchemical authors, there is
considerable variance in the conception and description of the three dantian, the
lesser and greater orbits, and the various tracts. The nomenclature of some sites
especially the dantian varies tremendously, mostly for rhetorical reasonsthe
dantian or other sites may be given di erent epithets to emphasize their di erent
functions or correlations. The conception of some sites also varies, though to a lesser
extent. I list many alternate terms for body sites in appendix 2 to this chapter.
123

Chens illustration includes body sites labeled Luofeng  and Kuhai , which are infernal sites for the
renement of souls.
124

These are the kidneys correlated with agent water , the liver wood , the heart re , the lungs metal , and the
spleen earth . The most important viscera for inner alchemists are heart and kidneys, representing the opposed
principles of yinwithinyang and yangwithinyin, or the human beings two major systems of cognition
heart
and reproduction
kidneys ; Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 190.

125

These are the gallbladder, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, bladder, and Triple Burner. The Triple
Burner is associated with certain bodily locations, but should be thought of as a triple set of functions rather than
an organ. See Komjathy, Cultivating Perfection, 457, for a full denition. Medical texts beginning with the Huangdi
suwen   further add a set of ve Odd Receptacles qiheng zhi fu 
126

The superintendent tract dumai leads from the lower Magpie Bridge between coccyx and anus up the spine
through the Three Passes, and over the crown to the upper Magpie Bridge between upper palate and tongue .
The conception tract renmai leads from the upper Magpie Bridge down the front of the body, through the
middle and lower dantian, and back to the lower Magpie Bridge.
127
These tracts include the cardinal jing  and reticular tracts luo  . According to the modern medical
system, there are twelve regular cardinal tracts zhengjing  , eight extraordinary cardinal tracts qijing  ,
and fteen reticular tracts; Ma Jiren, Daojiao yu liandan, 15378. Of the cardinal tracts, the twin tracts of
conception and superintendency rendu ermai are the most important.

249

As for the lesser orbit, we can divide the di


erent versions of it into two
categories: those versions in which the pharmacon being circulated is swallowed as
saliva, with the circuit thus involving the salivary glands, tongue, and throat, and
those versions in which the pharmacon is circulated as intangible essence or qi, with
the circuit thus bypassing the throat. Conceptions of the greater orbit vary
tremendously; some versions involve the greater and lesser tracts, while others do
not.
Alchemists see upper, middle, and lower ranges in the body, each range with
its dantian. Important bodily sites within the upper range of the alchemical body
include the upper dantian MudPellet Palace, Niwan Gong   and sites related
to it such as the brain and the crown of the head; the eyes, brows, and the ophryon
midway between the brows; the upper Pass JadePillow Pass, Yuzhen Guan 
at the occiput; and the upper Magpie Bridge shang Queqiao , nose, mouth,
and the tongue with its precious saliva. The eyes, ophryon, and salivary system are
not important for all alchemists, but the other sites in the upper range of the body
are generally relevant in most forms of inner alchemy. The eyes and ophryon become
important in Quanzhen alchemy of the Ming and Qing dynasties. The salivary system
is emphasized in some forms of inner alchemy, but less so by Southern Lineage
alchemists and their heirs.128
Important bodily sites within the middle range of the alchemical body include
the middle dantian Crimson Palace, Jianggong   and sites related to it such as
the Bright Hall Mingtang  ,129 Grotto House Dongfang
 , heart,130
spleen,131 and Yellow Court Huangting  ; the liver; the lungs; the digestive
128
An exception to this trend is Weng Baoguang, whose teaching involves swallowing saliva called recycled elixir
of metallous humor, jinye huandan  as part of the lesser orbit; Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 27. Although he
was not part of Bai Yuchans Southern Lineage, Weng Baoguang did consider himself a true heir of Zhang
Boduan.
129

Some texts locate the Bright Hall below the throat, and the Grotto House between the Bright Hall and the
middle dantian Maspero, Methods of Nourishing the Vital Principle in the Ancient Taoist Religion, 458;
Despeux, Taosme et corps humain, 72. Other texts use these terms to refer to the middle dantian itself.

130

Sometimes the heart is considered to be a section within the middle dantian; Maspero, Methods of
Nourishing the Vital Principle in the Ancient Taoist Religion, 458.

131

The spleen may also be an assistant of the lower dantian; Maspero, Methods of Nourishing the Vital
Principle in the Ancient Taoist Religion, 459.

250

system with ve of the Six Receptacles


gallbladder, stomach, small intestine, large
intestine, and bladder ; the middle Pass SpinalStraits Pass, Jiaji Guan   ; the
throat, esophagus, and trachea the Storied Building, Chonglou  ; and the arms
and hands. Crimson Palace is the most common term for the middle dantian, but
sometimes it refers directly to the heart. The middle dantian is usually located below
the heart, and is related to it functionally. The Yellow Court is usually associated with
the spleen both correlated with agent earth , but is sometimes glossed as the middle
dantian.132 The throat and esophagus are emphasized only in relation to saliva
swallowing. The arms and hands are only mentioned rarely, when the greaterorbital
practice involves transporting qi along their tracts.
Important bodily sites within the lower range of the alchemical body include
the lower dantian simply called the Dantian, or Dantian Palace and sites related to it
such as the kidneys, bellows and tuyre tuoyue ,133 genitals, and gate of seminal
essence ; the lower Pass TailGate Pass,  and sites related to it such as the
lower Magpie Bridge xia Queqiao , Gate of Destiny Mingmen  ,134
perineum Huiyin  , and anus ; and the legs and feet. The legs, feet, and related
sites135 are only mentioned rarely, in relation to greaterorbital practice.
Certain sites vary in their physicality, with some teachers giving them physical
locations, some arguing that they have only a functional or mystical existence and no
xed location,136 and others saying that either of these positions may be appropriate,
depending on the adepts depth of understanding or stage of cultivation. Such sites
include the xuanpin  which is sometimes understood to be a pair of sites, the
132

Despeux, Taosme et corps humain, 78.

133

Quanzhen alchemists place the bellows between the heart and kidneys or as a function of heart and kidneys ;
Southern Lineage alchemists place them between the two kidneys or as a function of the two kidneys ; Despeux,
Taosme et corps humain, 165.

134

Because it is understood functionally, the Gate of Destiny is variously dened as the navel or below the navel,
right kidney, a point between the second and third vertebrae, eyes, lower dantian, spleen, nose, and the Gate of
Essence.

135

Such as the Bubbling Well acupoint Yongquan xuewei 


 in the sole of the foot.

136

Bai Yuchan especially criticizes the view that regards xuanpin as nose and mouth in alchemical practice.
Rather, Bai says that xuanpin is the gate of generation or creation; Wang Li, The Daoist Way of Transcendence, 159
also see 266 67 . Li Xiyue says that the Mysterious Pass does not have a physical existence or site, yet is
connected with the various inner bodily sites; Zeng Chuanhui, Yuandai Cantong xue, 115.

251

xuan and pin , the Mysterious Pass Xuanguan , a.k.a. One Aperture of the
Mysterious Pass, Xuanguan Yiqiao  , the Yellow Court, the Gate of Destiny,
and the three dantian. Also, some terms are given additional or variant
interpretations within sexual alchemy, especially the xuan and pin, and the Mysterious
Pass.
Finally, some alchemists develop conceptions of the alchemical body based on
Buddhist terms such as formbody seshen  or dharmabody fashen
 .137
3.1.2, Inner alchemists may interpret their concepts and discourse on . . . the
register of . . . mind.

The cultivation of the heartmind xin  and inherent nature

xing  is an important part of inner alchemical practice. The inherent nature is


often understood as transcending the heartmind while also depending on it. Most
alchemists take inherent nature rather than heartmind as an object of cultivation,
but some such as Bai Yuchan emphasize heartmind instead of inherent nature.138
This prefence by some alchemists for inherent nature, and others for the heartmind,
parallels a divergence between proponents of Xingxue  and Xinxue  within
the eld of NeoConfucian thought.139 Alchemical proponents of cultivating the
inherent nature rather than the heartmind must also still, purify, and clarify the
mind, of course; some such as Ma Danyang even say that this is the whole of the
alchemical process. They may interpret this in terms from Chan Buddhism, calling it
illuminating the heartmind and actualizing the inherent nature or

buddha nature  mingxin xianxing


or, jianxing  . They also draw on the
Buddhist idea that six forms of sensory consciousness may be embodied as ve or
six thieves liuzei  , maras who will tempt the unwary and lead them astray.
3.1.3, Inner alchemists may interpret their concepts and discourse on . . . the
register of . . . spirit or spirits.

The human subtle body as a bureaucracy peopled with

spirit o cers is one of the most distinctive concepts of medieval Daoism i.e,

137

Chen Zhixu o ers a remarkable discourse on these terms in DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 10b11a. I do
not have the opportunity to analyze this passage in the dissertation.

138

Di ering from the Northern Lineage of Complete Perfection that usually regards nature xing  as the
golden elixir, Bai insists the mind xin  is the golden elixir; Wang Li, The Daoist Way of Transcendence, 222.

139

Yang Lihua, Niming de pinjie, 157.

252

religious Daoism, and perhaps also early Daoism i.e, philosophical Daoism.140
The corporeal spirits of early medieval Daoism, such as the spirits of the Nine
Palaces in the upper dantian, twentyfour phosphors jing  from the Huangting
jing in three sets of eight,141 or the set of ve spirits from the Duren jing,142 are still
present within the purview of many inner alchemists, but they are usually mentioned
only within quotations from the scriptures, and are not developed within the
alchemists own teachings. Calling the corporeal spirits by name is no longer an
important practice. Alchemists may also speak of summoning groups of corporeal
spirits, such as the hundred spirits or myriad spirits, but these are anonymous
groups, and their response is a result of alchemical practice rather than the direct
goal of practice. Some alchemists may even speak of classical corporeal spirits as
mere qie
ects, rather than independent entities, but this sort of demythologization
is not universal. The classical concepts of the cloudsouls hun , whitesouls po ,
and corpses or deathbringers, shi  or worms chong  seem to be widely
accepted in inner alchemy, though these spirits are not named individually.143 They
may be reinterpreted as forces of alchemical process, or understood as individual
corporeal spirits as in classical Daoism. Some alchemists, such as Chen Zhixu,
develop unusual teachings on corporeal and mental spirits.144
The most important spirits in inner alchemy are 1 the spirit of the heart
mind xinshen  and related concepts of cognitive spirit shishen 145 and
primal spirit yuanshen ; and 2 the pureyang spirit yangshen . The spirit
of the heartmind exists both as an individual spirit being though not visualized
140

Something like this concept can also be found in nonDaoist texts from early China, such as Xunzi;
Bokenkamp, What Daoist Body? While the concept is not unique to medieval Daoism, we may say that it is
distinctively medievalDaoist.
141

In the upper range, spirits of the hair, brain, eyes, nose, ears, mouth, tongue, and teeth; in the middle range,
lungs, heart, liver, spleen, left and right kidneys, gallbladder, and throat; in the lower range, kidneyorb, intestines,
abdomen, chest, diaphragm, armpits, and two yinyang spirits; DZ 1067, Shangyangzi Jindan dayao 4.4ab.
142

Grand Unity Taiyi in the MudPellet Palace; Nonpareil Wuying and White Prime Bai Yuan, in the head or
liver and lungs; Director of Destinies Siming in the heart and sex organs; and Peach Vigor Taokang, in the
lower dantian.
143

Despeux, Taosme et corps humain, 135.

144

I discuss this on pp. 52326.

145

Also called desiring spirit yushen 


.

253

wearing certain robes and with a certain physiognomy, as it would have been in
classical Daoism , and as a function or quality of mind and inherent nature.146 In its
postnatal, degenerate form, this spirit is cognitive spirit, and in its prenatal,
perfected form, it is primal spirit.147 Primal spirit is at once pharmacon, agent,
and result of alchemical cultivation: it is material on which the alchemist works, yet
it is also an aspect of the alchemists self  and thus an agent of that work. The pure
yang spirit, an invisible and intangible spiritform of the self, is strictly a result of
cultivation, and not an agent of cultivation. It is the alchemists new spiritbody, able
to live forever in the Heavens or in the Dao. Sometimes, it is said that the yang spirit
may divide into multiple spirits, or even countless spirits. Perhaps we can regard the
yang spirit and its o
spring as a new alchemical version of the classical Daoist
concept of corporeal spirits, although, unlike the classical spirits, these alchemical
spirits only come into existence at the end of a long process of cultivation. Some
teachings also may represent the holy fetus shengtai  which is also produced
through renement of the elixir, but at a stage earlier than the yang spiritas a sort
of spiritbeing.148 Other teachings do not personify the holy fetus; this issue awaits
further study.
3.2, Inner alchemists may . . . interpret their concepts and discourse on . . . the register of
. . . the mesocosm of signs . . .

I take the term mesocosm from a denition of the

Tantric maala by D. G. White:


the maala is a mesocosm, mediating between the great and small the universal
macrocosm and the individual macrocosm , as well as between the mundane and
the sublime the protocosm of the visible world of human experience and the
146

That is, this spirit is sometimes a count noun a singularity or plurality of discrete beings and sometimes a
mass noun a spiritstu
 . This phenomenon is found throughout the history of Daoism, but predates Daoism;
Bokenkamp, What Daoist Body? This issue awaits further study.
There may have been a turning point in the Tang period, as evinced by texts such as DZ 1460, Taishang
Dongxuan jizhong jing, which John Lagerway calls A small jewel. . . . In this new form of Taoism the human being is
no longer considered as a body lled with spirits that one must try to retain, but as a spirit endowed with
knowledge; Schipper and Verellen, The Taoist Canon, 1:564.
147
The binary opposition between cognitive spirit and primal spirit could also be restated as the opposition
between heartmind and spirit Ge Guolong, Daojiao neidan xue tanwei, 90 , or, in NeoConfucian terms, as the
opposition between our postnatal inherent nature qizhi zhi xing  and our Heavenbestowed nature
tianfu zhi xing  .
148

E.g., in the illustrations studied by Despeux in Taosme et corps humain.

254

transcendentyetimmanent metacosm that is its invisible font.149


As described by White, a Tantric maala is a grid with a central deity in the center
and a host of other beings, including lesser deities and the human practitioner,
situated amidst a hierarchy of spaces, or moving along pathways of power, which
both organize them into a hierarchy and connect them to the central gure. I am not
using the term mesocosm to describe this sort of an abstract, hierarchical space of
powerpoints within inner alchemy.150 I merely wish to draw attention to how, within
inner alchemical thought, 1 yin and yang, 2 the ve agents, 3 the ve directions,
4 the eight trigrams and sixtyfour hexagrams, 5 the numbers one through ten
within the numerological system of the River Chart Hetu and Luo Writ Luoshu ,
and other abstract cosmological or symbolic systems such as 6 the celestial stems
tiangan  and terrestrial branches dizhi , exist and interact within a plane
distinct from both the macrocosm of Heaven, Earth, and humanity, and the
microcosm of the human body and spirits. The reason why this mesocosm is
ultimately important to the alchemist is because he must apply its laws to his
microcosm in order to achieve transcendence, yet the transformations of the
mesocosm are often accorded a life of their own within inneralchemical discourse,
without direct reference to the microcosm. Often the transformations of the
mesocosm actually appear to be the source of transformations within the microcosm,
so it is important for the alchemist to understand mesocosmic phenomena in their
own terms. Take the following passage from Chen Zhixus commentary to the
Wuzhen pian for example:
Heaven three produces wood, earth two produces re. Fire is numbered two, and
wood is numbered three. Three and two join their natures, integrated into a
single ve. The image of wood is in the east, and its modelimage faxiang  is
the bluegreen dragon. The qi of the dragon is mercurial re, dwelling in the
south, with a modelimage of a cardinalred bird. Wood produces re, so wood is
the substance, and re is the qi that is produced. Therefore wood and re make a
single clan. . . . Heaven ve is jiearth, earth ten is wuearth. Wuearth dwells in
kan, and jiearth dwells in li. . . .
149

White, Introduction: Tantra in Practice: Mapping a Tradition, 9.

150

If one were to pursue the metaphor of body as maala, one would have to be aware that the alchemical body
has neither a singular center gure or position, nor a rigorously hierarchical structure. There may be hierarchies
and central positions at each stage of the process, but these vary according to the stage.

255

--,'# *
*#.. %# *#("#2#
 %"!#$
  

/151
In this passage, the patterned transformations of 1 trigrams from the Book of
Changes, 2 numbers from the River Chart, 3 agents from the system of the ve
agents, and 4 animals from the system of the Four Images Sixiang * take on a
life of their own, distinct from their correlates in the body of the alchemist. Using
mesocosm as a term of art helps us to thematize these structural positions and
transformations as located on a separate ontological register. I will talk more about
these mesocosmic elements in section 5 on Symbolic Elements below.
One word that alchemists often use for these mesocosmic elements is xiang *
images.152 According to Robinet, the xiang occupies a fundamental place in Chinese
thought, similar to the Word Logos in Christianity, or the sound of a mantra in
Tantrism.153 Xiang and shu - number are both fundamental elements within
Chinese tradition; some thinkers privilege the xiang, while others privilege number.
The Commentary on the Attached Verbalizations Xici zhuan 01+ of the Book
of Changes is the earliest text to oer a theory on the xiang as symbolic explanations
of the trigrams. Robinet notes that, for the early medieval philosopher Wang Bi )
226 49, the xiang are a link between thought and language. More mystically, for
alchemists such as Li Daochun, the xiang serve as relays between the inexpressible
vision of totality and the deciency of human discourse, between metaphysicalmoral
Principle li & and practice, between natural tian  principles and the human
mind. I will not attempt to remain true to the emic term xiang, because the term
varies so much in usage. For Chen Zhixu at least, xiang can belong to a specic set
e.g., the Four Images, or it can just mean any kind of sign regarding the changes of
sun and moon, the transformations of the outer pharmacon, or the rening of the
151

DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian sanzhu 2.17a7 b1, b10.

152

Other translations for xiang include: signs, emblems, forms, or manifestations; Platonic Ideas Baryosher
Chemouny, La qute de l
immortalit en Chine, 127; gures or symbols Robinet, Introduction  l
alchimie intrieure
taoste, 84; counterparts Schafer, Pacing the Void, 55; BaldrianHussein, Inner Alchemy, 183; simulacra Schafer,
ibid.; or schemata Sharf, Coming to Terms with Chinese Buddhism, 147 49. Image has become the consensus
translation. The best discussion of the term is in Sharf, ibid.
153

Robinet, Introduction  l
alchimie intrieure taoste, 84 87.

256

elixir within the body. In Cantong qi, qian and kun can be xiang, but macrocosmic
heaven and earth can also be the xiang of mesocosmic qian and kun! Robinet would
say that the inconsistency of the referents for the term xiang is instructive, a
symptom of the alchemists fundamentally ludic and selfcontradictory use of
language. This is a salient point, but I prefer simply to avoid using the term xiang, for
the sake of clarity. Before noting the ssures and inversions in the structures of
alchemical thought and language, let us understand the structures themselves. I talk
about these mesocosmic elements below in section 5, Symbolic Elements, and
section 6, Allegorical or Visionary Elements.
Another alternative view of the xiang comes from Wile, who calls the tri
hexagrams both the myth and mathematics of Chinese thought.154 This is an
exaggeration in the direction of truth. While Wile alerts us to the mythical and
numerological functions of the trihexagrams, and warns us that creation myths can
be found within Chinese culture in places we might not be looking for them, it is an
overstatement to say that trihexagrams are the myth of Chinese thought, and it is
also misleading to call this mathematics. While inner alchemists do often use the
trigrams qian  , kun  , kan  , and li   to tell the myth of a fall from
primordial perfection,155 this myth may be mostly conned to inner alchemy. The
most common sort of myth in Chinese culture, including Chinese thought, is the
myth of a culture hero, or the founder of a tradition e.g., the Yellow Emperor.
3.2.1.1, Inner alchemists may . . . interpret their concepts and discourse on . . . the
register of . . . the mesocosm, . . . including abstract signs such as yin and yang . . .

Yin 

and yang  are key concepts within traditional cosmology, astronomy, divination,
psychology, medicine, cooking, martial arts, and other arts of living. Although they
are central concepts within religious Daoism, they are not unique to or uniquely
associated with the religion. Yin and yang serve as markers for dual categories into
which any aspect of mundane reality can be divided:

154

Wile, Art of the Bedchamber, 29.

155

I discuss this saga of devolution and redemption on pages 43539 chap. 5, 3.0.2.

257

Yang

Male

Heaven

Sun

Yin

Female

Earth

Yang

Pure

Above

Day

Yin

Impure

Below

Night

Heavens

White

Spring

Chinese

Sunny

Host

Action

Black

Autumn

Foreign

Shady

Guest

Passivity

Life

Hot

Summer

Outside

Dry

Ruler

Hard

Death

Cold

Winter

Inside

Wet

Minister

Soft

Moon Netherworld

Fig. 4.1., Yangyin dyads

The pair yinyang is epitomized by the pair malefemale, but it is better to think
of yin and yang as markers of a pair of abstract categories rather than as simply
reducible to the pair malefemale. Note that, in all of the pairs in gure 4.1, yang is
superior to yin. It is commonly assumed, by scholars as well as nonscholars, that
Daoists aim to harmonize yin and yang principles in their bodies or lifestyles, or
even to maximize the yin principle and reduce the yang, but this is somewhat
mistaken. There are many passages within the Daode jing emphasizing the
harmonization of masculine and feminine principles and/or the maximization of the
feminine.156 Readers who assume a strong continuity between the Daode jing and
medieval Daoism may assume that medieval Daoists must therefore also seek to
balance yin and yang, or exalt the yin.157 But this is not true. Medieval Daoists are
essentially devoted to personal salvation from this world of decay and death, of
imperfection and dissatisfaction. The cultivation of health and holism through
balancing yin and yang is but the rst step on their path to salvation, which
ultimately leads beyond the realm of yin and yang to the purer realm of the One Qi,
Great Ultimate, Limitless, or Dao also equated with the heavens, celestial deities,
and cosmogenesis. And this One Qi is yang.158 Because yang is pure, high, and
associated with life, while yin is impure, low, and associated with death, the
purer, higher realm of eternal life is marked yang relative to the sublunar, mortal
realm, which is yin. Thus, while the harmonization of yin and yang, or cultivation
156

E.g., Know the masculine but maintain the feminine, and be a valley for the world  

chapter 28.

157

Cf. Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, 5.5.54: And how profound a truth lay hid in this exaltation of the
feminine qualities and virtues to the highest place, perhaps nothing less than the key to all human social evolution
in its sublimation of intraspecic aggressiveness. Also cf. Schipper, The Taoist Body, 12729.
Needhams view that inner alchemists essentially aim to maximize yin is colored by his love of the Daode jing
and his love of peace, and is not objectively accurate.
158
This claim is based on my understanding of inner alchemy, but also holds generally for nonalchemical Daoist
teachings in the Tang dynasty and after. I believe that it holds generally for early medieval teachings, but there
may be more exceptions in this period.

258

of yin, may play some role in the practices of medieval Daoism, usually these Daoists
would ultimately be aiming for a state of pure yang. This involves inverting turning
topsyturvy, diandao E+ the normal relation between yin and yang cf. pp. 32021
and 323 below .
All of the foregoing holds especially true for the inner alchemists.Yinyang
symbolism plays a more central role within inner alchemy than within perhaps any
other form of Daoism;159 and while the manipulation of yin is essential within inner
alchemical procedures, inner alchemists are always clearly aiming to achieve a state of
pure yang.160 In addition to the set of yinyang paired oppositions listed above in
gure 4.1, the inner alchemists added many of their own.
Yang

Yin

Yang continued

perfected yang

perfected yin

male

female

masculine pin ; xiong 8

feminine mu ; ci =

qian 1

kun

Yin continued

kan 

li C

husband

wife

the yang within the yin

the yin within the yang

above

below

lead qian 9

mercury gong 

host

guest

perfected lead

perfected mercury

self wo 

other bi "

rabbit within the moon

crow within the sun

movement dong 2

stillness jing A

Tiger as kan
White Tiger of the Western
Mountains
the Lad of Kan kannan 

Dragon as li
Cyan Dragon of the Eastern
Ocean
the Maiden of Li lin C

rm gang ,

yielding rou )

pure qi qingqi 4-

impure qi zhuoqi @-

descending jiang *

rising sheng $

the Baby Boy ying er B

the Lovely Girl chan 

exhalation

inhalation

Heaven

Earth

civil ring wenhuo 

martial ring wuhuo %

Sun

Moon

advancing

retreating

south

north

summer

winter

jade caldron yuding :


eight ounces of fallingcrescent
silver !<
ghost gui 0

spirit shen /

qi -

metallous furnace jinlu 'F


eight ounces of risingcrescent
gold !'
transcendent

qi -

essence jing ;

earthly whitesoul dipo ?

celestial cloudsoul tianhun >

heart

kidneys

wuearth wutu 

jiearth jitu 

six digestive viscera liufu


6

ve basic organs wuzang G

nine

six

re

water

white

black

inherent nature xing #

life endowment ming 

outer pharmacon waiyao D

inner pharmacon neiyao D

metallous essence jinjing ';

wood humor muye 3

outer elixir waidan 

inner elixir neidan 

gold humor jinye '3

jade humor yuye 3

yang elixir yangdan 7

yin elixir yindan 5

oating, volatizing fu .

currentdriven waterraising
machine heche &

oxdriven waterraising machine


niuche 

sinking chen 

Fig. 4.2, Inneralchemical yangyin dyads


159

The rhythm and principle of the play of Yin and Yang are essential in all of Taoism, but the practitioners if
interior alchemy have concentrated and reected on their interactions to the greatest extent; Robinet, Taoism:
Growth of a Religion, 10.

160
Robinet, like Needham, would like to portray inner alchemy as requiring the equal involvement of yin and yang
Introduction  l alchimie intrieure taoste, 141 , but she also notes that the equality of yin and yang is a feature of
the houtian ( postnatal, postcosmic, temporal realm, whereas the xiantian  prenatal, precosmic, io
temporal state is pure yang without yin ibid., 117 .

259

The above is a table of the most important paired oppositions within inner
alchemy.161 Note that elements from every register, level, or niche of inneralchemical
thought and discourse macrocosmic, mesocosmic
abstract or gurative , and
microcosmic have a place in the yinyang categorical scheme, and the yinyang
scheme can be used to establish resonances between elements of di erent registers.
3.2.1.2, Inner alchemists may . . . interpret their concepts and discourse on . . . the
register of . . . the mesocosm, . . . including abstract signs such as . . . the ve agents . . .

The schema of the ve agents


wood, re, earth, metal, water is a way for people to
organize species according to a set of categories. Like the schemata of yinyang

above or the trihexagrams


below , the schema of the ve agents can
in theory
include within it all things in the postcosmic
houtian realm. Cosmological treatises
o er many sets of veagent correspondences the ve tastes, smells, musical notes,
styles of government, and so on. A full search would turn up more than a hundred
such sets of correspondences.162 Figure 4.3 lists several such sets that are relevant to
inner alchemy.163
Colors

Directions

Seasons

Yin/Yang

Heraldic animals

Viscera

Parts of the
body

Wood

Cyan

East

Spring

Lesser yang

Cyan dragon

Liver

Muscles

Fire

Red

South

Summer

Greater yang

Cardinalred bird

Heart

Blood

xue 

Earth

Yellow

Center

Dog days

furi 

Yin and yang


in balance

none

Spleen

Flesh

Metal

White

West

Autumn

Lesser yin

White tiger

Lungs

Water

Black

North

Winter

Greater yin

Dark warrior

xuanwu 

Kidneys

Skin and
hair
Bones

marrow

Visceral
spirits
Cloudsoul

hun 
Spirit

shen 
Intention

yi 
Whitesoul

po 
Will

zhi 

Fig. 4.3, Fiveagent correlations

Like yinyang or the trihexagrams, the schema of the ve agents allows people to
thematize
or, understand, within their given epistemological horizon how
A any
one species succeeds another species from a di erent category, or how
B species are
161

Figure 4.2 is based on Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, 5.5:60, and Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 146, with
some deletions and additions.
162

Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, 2:264, citing Eberhard, Beitrge zur Kosmologischen Spekulation
Chinas in der HanZeit.

163

I have selected these correspondences from similar tables in Bokenkamp, Early Daoist Scriptures, 1819;
Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, 2:26263; and Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 15052, with modications.
Bokenkamp lists

260

related to one other by belonging to the same category. As a part of Chinese


cosmology, the ve agents also contribute to C a general sense of metaphysical
order and moral meaning in the natural and social world.
A The schema of ve agents helps the alchemist to understand how one
species in the world produces another, or conquers another, according to their ve
agent value. Standard Chinese veagent cosmology includes several general
sequences of the ve agents. Three of these are the cosmogonic order shengxu ,
the order in which the agents came into being: water, re, wood, metal, earth, the
mutual production order xiangsheng
, in which wood produces re, re produces
earth, followed by metal, water, and wood again; and the mutual conquest order
xiangsheng
or xiangke
, in which wood is conquered by metal, metal is
conquered by re, followed by water, earth, and wood again.164 These orders may
help alchemists to understand the sequence by which the qi of the viscera produce
one another. For example, in DZ 150, Xiuzhen taiji hunyuan zhixuan tu, to make a
lesser recycled elixir xiao huandan , the adept causes the primal qi of the
kidneys to pass through the liver, heart, lungs, then to the middle dantian associated
with the spleen, where the elixir is formed.165 Actually, more often than production
or conquest cycles, the alchemists use a contrary sequence called turning the ve
agents upsidedown wuxing diandao   or interlaced waxing of the ve
agents wuxing cuowang , as I discuss in on pages 336 38 below.
B The schema of the ve agents also helps the alchemist to see links
between di
erent species of the same category xianglei
. For example, following
veagents correspondences, the alchemist can understand how the spirit
corresponds to the heart because both correpond to agent re, or how the will
corresponds to the kidneys because both correpond to water.166 With this
understanding, the adept can guide natural processes of transformation in ways
164

Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, 2:253.

165

Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, 5.5:77.

166

Such correspondences often have their own logic. For example, in discussing the system of kidney correlations,
Wile argues that The soporic state following emission also may have inspired the conceptual link in medical
theory of jing  and zhi  , both associated with the urogenital system the kidneyorb , and of the urogenital
system and the brain; Wile, Art of the Bedchamber, 6.

261

favorable to his own purposes.


The ve viscera are perhaps the most important set of ve within alchemy, or
within any form of Daoist body practice. As Robinet notes in her study of early
medieval Shangqing Daoism, within the human body, the viscera are both the
location and privileged form of the expression of these Powers the ve agents . The
Powers are active everywhere in the body . . . but the viscera are the points of
concentration of nodes which integrate the other bodily parts. As a text related to
the Huangting jing says, the ve viscera are the governors of the body.167 The ve
viscera, as governors of the body, correspond to the ve planets above, or the ve
marchmounts or, ve holy mountains, wuyue  below.168
These relations between species of di erent categories or between species
within the same category work not so much by mechanical impulsion or causation
as by a kind of mysterious resonance.169 A. C. Graham calls Chinese cosmology a
form of correlative thinking, which may be contrasted with scientic thinking, but
which has its own rationality and is an inescapable mode of human thought.170
3.2.1.3, Inner alchemists may . . . interpret their concepts and discourse on . . . the
register of . . . the mesocosm, . . . including abstract signs such as . . . the trigrams and
hexagrams . . .

The trigrams and hexagrams or trihexagrams171 come from the

Zhouyi  Changes of the Zhou. The Zhouyi began as a manual for royal
divination, and was probably compiled over the course of centuries, reaching its nal
form in the late Western Zhou period, perhaps 825 800
.172 By the 2nd c. , it
had become customary to append ten commentaries Ten Wings, Shiyi  to the
Zhouyi to make the Yijing  Classic of changes. By this time, no one
remembered what the original oracle statements of the Zhouyi had meant, and the

167

Robinet, Taoist Meditation, 60 62.

168

Robinet, Taoist Meditation, 180 81.

169

Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, 2:281.

170

Graham, YinYang and the Nature of Correlative Thinking, 7.

171

Both trigrams and hexagrams are called gua ; I use the term trihexagrams to encompass both meanings
of gua.

172

Rutt, The Book of Changes, 33.

262

Yijing was used as a book of ethicometaphysical wisdom.173


In the Han it was assumed that the trigrams came rst, and hexagrams were
later constructed by stacking two trigrams, but actually the hexagrams may be the
older of the two.174 Traditionally, the composition of the trigrams is attributed to the
mythic culturehero Fuxi , and the hexagrams and their statements are
attributed to King Wen of the Zhou Zhou Wenwang
, or to King Wen and
the Duke of Zhou Zhougong
 together.
Like yinyang and the ve agents, the trigrams and hexagrams o
ered Chinese
cosmologists and diviners sets of categories eight for the trigrams or sixtyfour for
the hexagrams to use in A marking di
erence between species, B forging links
between species within a common category, and C contributing to a general sense
of meaningful order. The special value of the trihexagrams lies in their use for
illustrating the dialectical complexities of change bianhua , according to
which No state of a
airs is permanent, every vanquished entity will rise again, and
every prosperous force carries within it the seeds of its own destruction.175 Through
knowledge of the Changes, the wise man may know the patterns of all changes of
heaven, earth, and humanity.
Laboratory alchemists, probably beginning in the Tang, used select sequences
of the trihexagrams to represent the waxing and waning of yin and yang during the
periods of ring the elixir, and this was continued by the inner alchemists. I discuss
the three most important such trihexagram sequences, the Matching Stems,
Sovereign Hexagrams, and Hexagram Qi schemata, on pages 29399 below. Here I
will briey mention two more fundamental trigram sequences, the Precosmic
Trigrams Xiantian bagua   ascribed to Fuxi, and the Postcosmic Trigrams
Houtian bagua   ascribed to King Wen. Both are said to be derived from
quotations from Shuogua  , the eighth wing of the Yijing, but they were
popularized by the Songdynasty NeoConfucian and inner alchemist Shao Yong
101177. The sequences are more commonly seen in the form of circular
173

Rutt, The Book of Changes, 3940.

174

Rutt, The Book of Changes, 28.

175

Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, 2:331.

263

diagrams, which also owe their popularity and perhaps invention to Shao Yong.176

Follow the trigrams from qian at bottom i.e., South counterclockwise to zhen, then from xun above qian clockwise to kun.

8
kun  

7
gen 

6
kan  

5
xun  

4
zhen # 

3
li ' 

2
dui  

1
qian  

Heaven and Earth have xed positions, Mountain and Still Water pervade their qi, Thunder and Wind excite one
another, Water and Fire do not shoot at one another  % &Shuogua
1.3
Fig. 4.4, Precosmic diagram, numerical sequence, and Shuogua quote

9
li ' 

8
gen 

7
dui  

6
qian  

5
zhong 

4
xun  

3
zhen # 

2
kun  

1
kan  

The thearch emerges at zhen, arranges at xun, sees i.e., receives at court at li, is given service at kun, speak his
words at dui, does battle at qian, labors at kan, and completes his words at gen 
#"

' ! $    Shuogua 2.5
Fig. 4.5, Postcosmic diagram, numerical sequence, and Shuogua quote

Both diagram/sequences exhibit mathematical regularity: adding the numerical values


of each opposing pair on the circle qiankun, likan, duigen, or zhenxun always gives a
sum of 9 for the precosmic diagram, and 10 for the postcosmic diagram. However,
for the inner alchemist, whereas the precosmic diagram represents the perfect order
that we all possessed before birth, the postcosmic diagram represents the disorder
and fallenness of our mortal condition.177 Perhaps this is because, whereas the pre
cosmic diagram and numerical sequence are correlated the diagram is constituted by
two fourtrigram subsequences from the eighttrigram sequence, the postcosmic
176

Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 160 62. Rutt, The Book of Changes, 440 43; Smith et al., Sung Dynasty Uses of the I
Ching, 110 20.

177

Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 161.

264

diagram and sequence seemingly do not correlate with one another.


It is said that an adept must follow one or the other of these diagrams
according to his stage of practice. Many scholars say that the adept must follow the
postcosmic diagram at an initial stage of cultivation such as when rening the outer
pharmacon, and the precosmic diagram at a more advanced stage when rening
the elixir.178 However, I see no evidence of this from my study of Chen Zhixu, for
whom li and kan always correlate with the cardinal directions east and west in
accordance with the precosmic diagram, and never, as far as I know, with north and
south in accordance with the postcosmic diagram. Wile oers a dissenting
viewpoint, asserting that the postcosmic sequence is found only in texts on female
inner alchemy.179
3.2.1.4, Inner alchemists may . . . interpret their concepts and discourse on . . . the
register of . . . the mesocosm, . . . including abstract signs such as . . . the numbers of the
River Chart Hetu . . .

In Yijing learning and common practice, the River Chart is

usually paired with the Luo Writ Luoshu .180 While inner alchemists may cite
the titles of the River Chart and Luo Writ together in the same breath, I have
not been able to nd any special uses of LuoWrit numerology in inner alchemy, so I
do not discuss the Luo Writ in this chapter.181 The term River Chart has a long
history within Chinese culture,182 but for our purposes we need only think of them as
two simple cosmograms, each of which correlates 1 the numbers 1 through 10 with
2 the waxing and waning of yin and yang, and 3 the ve agents in their mutual
production cycle wuxing xiangsheng . In the River Chart, we see the
178

Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 161; Ma Jiren, Daojiao yu liandan, 203; Robinet, Introduction  lalchimie intrieure taoste,
141; Wang Li, The Daoist Way of Transcendence, 303 citing DZ 243, Chen Xubai guizhong zhinan.

179

Wile, Art of the Bedchamber, 29.

180

My discussion of HeLuo symbology below is based on Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 176 79.

181

The Luo Writ is a magic square of three adding the values of any three squares in a line gives the same sum
of fteen, and represents the waxing and waning of yin and yang during a cycle around the eight directions of the
windrose. Both River Chart and Luo Writ are correlated with the eight trigrams, with the River Chart
being precosmic representing the trigrams in their precosmic order, and the Luo Writ being postcosmic.
The River Chart when it is drawn as a round chart represents Heaven, while the Luo Writ square represents
Earth; Saso, What is the Ho tu?

182
The titles River Chart and Luo Writ originally referred to palladia, royal treasureobjects, guobao . The
possession of a palladium by a sovereign signied that he also possessed the Mandate of Heaven; Seidel, Imperial
Treasures and Taoist Sacraments, 297 302. These were probably stones with unusual natural markings Hsieh,
Writing om Heaven, 141; the diagrams that we know today may be Songdynasty products.

265

numbers 1 through 10 arranged in a circle over the four cardinal directions and the
center, as in gures 4.6 and 4.7 below.

Fig. 4.6, The River Chart

Fig. 4.7, The Luo Writ

The ve odd numbers are celestial and yang represented with white dots; the ve
even numbers are terrestrial and yin black dots; this arrangement follows a passage
from the Xici zhuan: Heaven has 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9. Earth has 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10. Thus
heaven has ve numbers and earth has ve numbers. The two series are interlocked
in order; each number in one series has its partner in the other.183 Each of the ve
directions has one oddcelestialyang number its production number, shengshu 
, and one eventerrestrialyin number its completion number, chengshu .
Thus, according to these numbers of production and completion, heaven 1 tian yi

produces water, earth 6 di liu 
completes it, and the numbers 1 and 6
dwell in the north. Earth 2 produces re, heaven 7 completes it, and the numbers 2
and 7 dwell in the south, and so on for the other three directions.184 According to
common, nonDaoist understanding, the ve yinyang pairs for the ve agents in the
River Chart symbolize continued blessing and productivity in nature. Blessing,
productivity, and good fortune are possible because the ve elements are married,
that is, their yin and yang aspects are joined together; and also because the chart
represents the veagent mutual production cycle.185 Within inner alchemy, the
183

Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 176; the translation is from Rutt, The Book of Changes, 415.

184

Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 176.

185

Saso, What Is the Hotu?, 402.

266

River Chart is primarily used to represent the union of the ve agents as the union
of three ves, as I discuss below.186
The ten celestial stems, combined with the twelve terrestrial branches, form
the Chinese sexagesimal cycle.187 Inner alchemical texts use a system for correlating
each stem with yinyang and the ve agents. There is also a system for correlating the
branches in the same way, but while these stemcorrelations are often seen in
alchemical texts, the branch correlations are not. This is because the ten stems can
be distributed evenly among the ve agents, while the twelve branches produce a less
elegant distribution. This must be why stemcorrelations are used within inner
alchemy to represent distinctions between the ve agents.188 Texts on sexual alchemy
may advise the adept to gather the gengjin yang metal; i.e., the womans primal qi
from the renshui yang water before the renshui turns into guishui yin water.189 Even
more important are the jitu yin earth and wutu yang earth, which I discuss below.
Each one of these ten yin or yang values of the agents is mentioned within the
literature, although not each one appears in every text.
3.2.2, Inner alchemists may . . . interpret their concepts and discourse on . . . the
register of . . . the mesocosm, . . . including gurative signs such as lead and mercury, and
dragon and tiger...

In addition to the abstract mesocosmic signs of yinyang, the ve

agents, trihexagrams, and RiverChart numerology, inneralchemical texts also


186

Hao Qin notes that the River Chart is also used to correlate the ten celestial stems with ten viscera Longhu
dandao, 178, but I have never seen this correlation employed in an inneralchemical text. The representation of
the ve agents as three ves is very common in the literature, however, especially in SouthernLineage texts
that draw heavily on the Wuzhen pian.

187

The ten celestial stems tiangan  are jia , yi , bing , ding , wu , ji , geng , xin , ren
, and
gui . The twelve terrestrial branches dizhi   are zi , chou , yin , mao , chen , si , wu , wei ,
shen , you , xu , hai . The two sequences may be used individually as a separate cycles of ten values from
jia to gui and twelve values from zi to hai, or combined in staggered cycles to produce a sequence of sixty
combinations from jiazi to guihai, the sexagesimal cycle.
188

Here is the list of the ten stems that are used to mark the yin and yang forms of each of the ve agents
arranged according to the mutual production sequence: jiamu  yang wood, yimu  yin wood, binghuo
 yang re, dinghuo  yin re, wutu  yang earth, jitu  yin earth, gengjin  yang metal,
xinjin  yin metal, renshui
 yang water, and guishui  yin water.
189

Wile, Art of the Bedchamber, 32. In the sexualalchemical texts studied by Wile, the adept must gather from the
renshui and not the guishui ibid., 159, 177, 189, but Chen Zhixu teaches the opposite see p. 472 below. I think this
is just a semantic dierence. For Chen, the outer pharmacon of yang metal within the yin water represents yang
withinyin kan . In Wiles materials, the renshui itself represents yangwithinyin ibid., 32. The point in both
cases is to use water symbolism to signify the gathering the yangwithinyin outer pharmacon with the symbol of
water.

267

contain allegorical elements: from weakly allegorical elements such as lead and
mercury, to relatively richly allegorical elements, such as the lovely girl and squire
metal. I discuss these in section 6 below. To distinguish them from the abstract
mesocosmic signs, I call these allegorical elements gurative mesocosmic signs.
3.3, Inner alchemists may interpret their concepts and discourse on . . . the register of
the macrocosm of Heaven, Earth, and humanity.

In Daoism, the macrocosm is

conceived as a trinity of Three Powers sancai , Heaven, Earth, and humankind.
The link between macrocosm and microcosm in Daoism is often so strong that the
correlation between these the macro and microcosmic ontological registers is simply
assumed by the composers and readers of Daoist texts. When a cosmic process is
described in a Daoist text, this description is often equally applicable to either the
body and mind or to the cosmos. Sometimes the modern reader cannot be sure
whether the text is describing meditation or processes in the macrocosm. Daoist
writers may intentionally create this ambiguity, or writers and readers may even
simply assume that macrocosm and microcosm operate by similar principles, and not
bother to disentangle the two ontological registers.190
In inner alchemy, perhaps the most basic assumption concerning the
correlation of the macrocosm and the microcosm is the assumption that the
appearance of the cosmos ex nihilo, and its expansion and devolution into the fallen
world we know today, is parallel to the birth, growth, maturity, degeneration,
decrepitude, and death of each human being especially males. This is not a
complete correlation, because the microcosmic devolution leads to death and then
rebirth according to the cycle of sasra, whereas the macrocosm devolves into the
generally steadystate system of the world as we know it.191 The aim of the inner
alchemist is to reverse this anthropocosmic fall, and return to a state of primal unity,

190
Sharf, Coming to Terms with Chinese Buddhism, 61. This same observation holds for mainstream Indian Buddhism
too: psychology and cosmology parallel each other in Buddhist thought; Gethin, Cosmology and Meditation,
211.
191

The BuddhoDaoist notion of kalpic cycles of macrocosmic destruction and reformation is, to my knowledge,
rarely exploited within alchemical thought.

268

following a narrative that I call the saga of devolution and redemption.192 This is
done through regaining the energy he has lost, which can still be found in this world,
either in the body as internal primal qi or mingled with atmospheric qi as external
primal qi . The prelapsarian state is called xiantian , and the fallen state is called
houtian .193 Depending on whether the passage in question is discussing
cosmogonic or anthropogonic devolution and redemption, xiantian may be translated
as precosmic or prenatal, and houtian as postcosmic or postnatal. And if
one decides that the passage is talking more about microcosmic process pre and
postnatal , the idea of macrocosmic process pre and postcosmic will always still
be present as a meaningtrace. Such is the inextricable correlation of self and cosmos
in this aspect of inner alchemy.
3.3.1, Inner alchemists may interpret their concepts and discourse on . . . the
register of the macrocosm . . . including . . . temporal aspects.

In addition to the

correlation between human and cosmic devolution, there are many temporal
correlations within this postcosmic, postnatal world. Alchemical theories of the
generation and gathering of the outer pharmacon, and the melding of the two
pharmaca into a single elixir through renement, are based on diurnal, mensual, and
annual cycles of time. The completion of the elixir is based on a human temporal
cyclethe gestation of the child, thought to take ten monthsrather than a
macrocosmic one.
The sexual alchemist cultivates the inner pharmacon gradually in preparation
for the arrival of the outer pharmacon, which is capricious and di
cult to catch. For
most sexual alchemists, the outer pharmacon must be gathered on the third day of an
alchemical lunar cycle, represented by the trigram zhen  and the celestial stem
geng , and corresponding to a certain day of the female partners menstrual cycle.
The sexual alchemist then combines his inner pharmacon his yuanjing 
or
192

I discuss this saga on pages 43539 chap. 5, 3.0.2 .

193

The terms xiantian and houtian were popularized in the NeoConfucian Shao Yongs 101277 teachings on the
Book of Changes: Shao terms the Fuxi  arrangement of the eight trigrams the xiantian arrangement, and the
Wenwang  arrangement the houtian arrangement. For Shao, xian and houtian mean before and after the
creation of Heaven. The term xiantian derives originally from the Wenyan  commentary to the Book of Changes
the seventh wing , where its meaning is unrelated to this meaning. Shao may have taken his meaning of xian
and houtian from the cosmology of medieval Daoism; Smith et al., Sung Dynasty Uses of the I Ching, 112n49.

269

sublimated seminal essence with the outer pharmacon. Conversely, for solo
alchemists, it is the outer pharmacon which must be amassed gradually and the inner
pharmacon which suddenly appears. The solo alchemist cultivates his outer
pharmacon by transporting qi along the lesser orbit, and after he has done this for
long enough, his inner pharmacon appears within his lower abdomen at a moment
called the living midnight hour huo zishi ; corresponding to a moment just
before midnight in the diurnal cycle or called the arrival of winter dongzhi ;
cor responding to a moment just before the winter solstice .194
During the process of rening the elixir, the system of ring periods huohou
 of hot ring, cool ring, and resting, varies from teacher to teacher, or between
traditions, but without any essential di
erence between solo and sexual alchemies.
The ring periods are completely based on macrocosmic time cycles, although some
alchemists may claim that higher forms of alchemy transcend any concrete ring
periods. As I discuss below, within SouthernLineage alchemy there are at least three
di
erent temporal ring schemata: one using six trigrams to represent the waxing
and waning of yin and yang over a lunar month, one using twelve hexagrams to
represent the changes of yin and yang during the twelve months of a year or twelve
hours of a day , and one using sixty hexagrams to represent the changes of yin and
yang during a month. Any teacher or tradition may employ only one of these, or
several.
Many alchemists say that re phasing has nothing to do with time as
measured by the cyclical signs, years, months, and days, xed in precise fashion by
various authors. . . . This cannot be connected with seasonal rhythms.195 This may be
true for many forms of inner alchemy, but in the ZhongL tradition of inner
alchemy, it seems the adept is meant to follow macrocosmic temporal cycles more
literally. For example, in a later tradition drawing upon the ZhongL teachings, the
heat of the re that is, the number of breaths is varied over a microcosmic cycle of
three hundred days according to the macrocosmic season, and time of day, plus the
194

Midnight is the centerpoint of the Chinese zihour lasting from 11 pm to 1 am. In solo alchemical teachings,
the adept is often instructed not to mechanically expect this moment to come just before the actual time of
midnight or the winter solstice: this temporal correlation is only metaphorical.

195

Robinet, Taoism: Growth of a Religion, 245.

270

adepts level of attainment.196


3.3.2, Inner alchemists may interpret their concepts and discourse on . . . the
register of the macrocosm . . . including . . . spatial aspects.

Within inner alchemy,

spatial correlations between the macrocosm and the microcosm are much less
important than temporal correlations. The only two macrocosmic spatial entities of
universal importance within inner alchemy are the sun and moon, which are
correlated with pure yang
qian and pure yin
kun respectively when alone, or with
yinwithinyang
li and yangwithinyin
kan when they harbor the suncrow and
moonhare
or moontoad . The cardinal directions are also frequently included
within alchemical discourse. Within standard correlative cosmology, east is correlated
with the agent wood, south with re, west with metal, north with water, and center
with earth. Within inner alchemy, the southwest is often mentioned as the direction
from whence the pharmacon originates, since the pharmacon is metal, and southwest
is the point on the windrose immediately preceding the west. Since the pharmaca
appear in the lower abdomen, the southwest also correlates with this region in the
bodily microcosm.
In earlier forms of Daoism such as the Shangqing tradition, spatial
correlations between sites in the body and palaces in the heavens, or asterisms, were
of major importance, but this sort of correlative thinking can be found in inner
alchemy only in the quasialchemical practice of liandu 
salvation through
renement , which I mention in section 6 below on allegory and visualization.
Sometimes the alchemical body is depicted as a mountain but this depiction is also
related to visualization practice, so I will not discuss it here.
Macromicrocosmic correlations between bodily spaces and social
spaces
such as the state are not much in evidence in inner alchemy. In early
Daoism
for example, in the Heshang Gong commentary to the Daode jing, from the
Han dynasty , it was thought that to bring order to the self is to bring order to the

196

DZ 244, Dadan zhizhi, discussed in Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 268. The Quanzhen tradition represented in
Dadan zhizhi
ascribed to Qiu Chuji but perhaps postdating him seems to be largely based on ZhongL
teachings. It is translated in Belamide, SelfCultivation and Quanzhen Daoism.

271

state zhishen zhiguo   .197 This is not quite the same as the Confucian theory
from the Great Learning Daxue  that the moral self
cultivation of one and all
alike helps bring about a moral society. In the concept of zhishen zhiguo, cultivation is
more physiological than moral though the two are linked , and the body itself is a
country. Only a few traces of this sort of social
spatial macro
microcosmic
correlation can be found within inner alchemy, such as in the Zhong
L concept of
lordly re, ministerial re, and folkish re junhuo
, chenhuo , minhuo  ,
or the analogy between pacifying the internal energies or passions and bringing
prosperity to the state and peace to the people fuguo anmin  . Finally, in
Zhong
L teachings, a set of nine viscera is correlated to the Nine Regions jiuzhou
 .
3.4.1, Inner alchemists may interpret their concepts and discourse on . . . the register of
. . . other nonspatiotemporal metaphysical realities, such as purposive action and non
action wuwei.198

In accordance with a dominant reading of the Daode jing, within

Daoism even outside of Daoism , non


action wuwei  is usually given a higher
value than purposive action youzuo  ; youwei  , yet purposive action has an
important place within most forms of inner alchemy. During the lesser
orbital cycle,
for example, the adept may rst use purposive action to force the gradually melding
pharmaca up the dorsal tract, but then maintain a state of non
action while he allows
the pharmaca to gently descend the ventral tract.199 Or, the early stages of practice
may generally involve purposive action while advanced and mystic stages may involve
non
action.200 Or, purposive action may be used to rene the life endowment ming
, while non
action may be used to rene the inherent nature xing .201
Purposive action is associated with the cognitive spirit, while non
action is
197

Robinet, Taoism: Growth of a Religion, 21.

198

Wuwei could also be translated as not Acting, e ortless action, non


interference, or conforming with
the spontaneous ow of things.

199

Robinet, Introduction  lalchimie intrieure taoste, 129. Yu Yan teaches this; Zeng, Yuandai Cantong xue, 180.

200

Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 558; Robinet, Introduction  lalchimie intrieure taoste, 149. Yu Yan
teaches this; Zeng, Yuandai Cantong xue, 234.

201

Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 525.

272

associated with the primal spirit.202 In all of these binary oppositions, purposive
action is associated with the inferior element, and nonaction with the superior
element. However, this does not mean that nonaction is superior to purposive
action in all contexts. While some alchemical teachers emphasize nonaction almost
exclusively, other teachers give relative priority to purposive action. Quanzhen
alchemy is generally said to emphasize nonaction. We see this in the teachings of Ma
Danyang 112383 or Wu Shouyang 15741644, or in the Wupian lingwen .203
Yet some Quanzhen teachings are characterized by purposive action.204 Southern
Lineage alchemy is generally said to emphasize purposive action: Chen Zhixu does
this at times.205 Yet some SouthernLineage alchemists, such as Bai Yuchan,
emphasize nonaction. Almost all inner alchemists would agree that inner alchemy
emphasizes purposive action more than Chan Buddhism does Chan emphasizes
nonaction, and this is the advantage of inner alchemy, which cultivates the body as
well as the mind.
3.4.2, Inner alchemists may interpret their concepts and discourse on . . . the
register of . . . other nonspatiotemporal metaphysical realities, such as . . . inherent
nature xing and life endowment ming, or inherent nature xing and human
dispositions qing . . .

Xing and ming together make a major metaphysical category

within postTang Daoist thought, especially within inner alchemy. The new emphasis
on xing and ming within Daoism was probably a reaction to Chan and NeoConfucian
thought while NeoConfucian thought itself was a reaction to Chan. Xing and ming
are a way for Daoists to organize conceptions of body, mind, and spirit, but they are
also a polemical concept. Whereas all inner alchemists teach the dual cultivation of
inherent nature and life endowment xingming shuangxiu , Daoists say that
NeoConfucians, and especially Buddhists, teach cultivation of the inherent nature
only, lacking an emphasis on physiological practice, so Daoist practice is more
202

Ma Jiren, Daojiao yu liandan, 134.

203

Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 264. The Wupian lingwen are ascribed to the Quanzhen founder Wang Chongyang, but
are likely a later composition.
204

Robinet, Introduction  lalchimie intrieure taoste, 54.

205

E.g., DZ 1067, Shangyangzi jindan dayao 11.8b23: Having nothing to do is mere postnatal naturalness; having
something to do is the way of the prenatal One qi  
 .

273

complete, and superior.206


By a simple denition, inherent nature is the abstract essence of mind and
spirit, and life endowment is the abstract essence of physical vitality. According to an
analogy by the modern teacher Chen Yingning, if the body is like a lamp, then ming is
the oil of the lamp, and xing is the light produced by the lamp.207 Note how, in this
analogy, xing and ming are distinct, yet linked together in a single process; xing is
superior and more rened, while ming is inferior and more coarse; xing is an
intangible energy, while ming is a liquid, perhaps suggesting the seminal essence. Both
xing and ming can come in prenatal universal and postnatal individual forms. Pre
natal xing or perfected xing, zhenxing  is what humans share with the Dao, while
postnatal xing is qing
, the minds dispositions, passions, or other
manifestations;208 prenatal ming or zhenming is the point of pure yang within the
body left over from before the cosmogony, while postnatal ming is an individuals
lifespan.
While both nature and life must be cultivated, dierent teachers will give
them dierent priorities, cultivate them in dierent sequences, or place them on
dierent ontological levels. Some scholars say that, in Quanzhen alchemy, one
cultivates nature rst and life thereafter xianxing houming , while in
SouthernLineage alchemy one cultivates life rst and nature next xianming houxing
.209 For example, the Quanzhen patriarch Ma Danyang taught nature
cultivation almost exclusively, advising against lifecultivation practices min ong 
, assuming that the perfection of the life endowment would be a later sideeect
of the more important perfection of the inherent nature;210 this can be contrasted
with the Southern classic Wuzhen pian, in which Chan verses are placed at the end of
the work in order to provide a stage of naturecultivation following the life
206

Robinet, Introduction  lalchimie intrieure taoste, 45; Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 385, discussing Bai
Yuchan.

207

Chen Yingning, Daojiao yu yangsheng, 247, cited in Ge Guolong, Daojiao neidan xue tanwei, 104.

208

Ge Guolong, Daojiao neidan xue tanwei, 108.

209

Ma Jiren, Daojiao yu liandan, 91; Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 372. Li traces this comparison of
Northern and SouthernLineage alchemies to Song Lian  131081.

210

Belamide, Self Cultivation and Quanzhen Daoism, 66. Li Daochun also says that the cultivation of life is included
within the cultivation of nature  yi xing jian ming; Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 459.

274

cultivation that is taught throughout the body of the work.211 Exceptions to this
characterization of the Northern and Southern Lineages include Bai Yuchan, who
teaches the cultivation of nature before life,212 and the Quanzhen text Dadan zhizhi,
which teaches the cultivation of life before nature. Sometimes we will see the same
teacher make apparently contradictory statements about the relative priority of
nature and life, but this is because di erent answers are appropriate at di erent
stages of the process.213
Other scholars reply that all alchemical teachings involve both nature and
lifecultivation throughout all stages of the process.214 It is certainly true that even
the most mingcentered practices, involving the cultivation or gathering of sexual
energies for example, must involve deep mental training, that is, training of the xing;
yet the reverse, that xingtraining always involves mingtraining, is more a matter of
doctrine than an obvious point.215
Robinet goes so far as to state, The truth is that for both schools xing and
ming are to be worked on conjointly, and that any division of them into before and
after is articial.216 These are salutary cautions, but the issue of the priority of
nature or life cannot be dispensed with, because it was an issue alchemists did use as
part of their unending processes of selfinterpretation and construction of alchemical
tradition. There is no essential and unied alchemical truth lying buried beneath the
shifting sands of historical trends, so our object of study must be those shifting

211
Ge Guolong, Daojiao neidan xue tanwei, 118. This structure of Wuzhen pian is analyzed in Fukui, Goshin hen no
k sei ni tsuite.
212

Wang Li, The Daoist Way of Transcendence, 185.

213

Ge Guolong, Daojiao neidan xue tanwei, 102.

214

Robinet, Introduction  lalchimie intrieure taoste, 44; Robinet, Taoism: Growth of a Religion, 226; Wang Li, The
Daoist Way of Transcendence, 223; and Ge Guolong, Daojiao neidan xue tanwei, 106.

215

From my study of Chen Zhixu, I can see that physiological practice must be based on training of the mind or
spirit, but the idea that mental training must somehow also perfect the body is a point of faith.
Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 376, discusses the relative emphasis on xing and ming in the stages of
alchemical process in the SouthernLineage classic Jindan sibai zi: stage one tamping the base, zhuji  involves
both xing and ming, stage two rening essence to qi is mostly ming work, stage three rening qi to spirit is
mostly xing work, and stage four returning the spirit to the void is purely xing work. This is excellent analysis.
216

Robinet, Taoism: Growth of a Religion, 226.

275

sands.217 The categories of inherent nature and life essence were categories the inner
alchemists used to think about practice, philosophy, and tradition, just as Chan
Buddhists used the categories of subitism and gradualism to think about Chan
tradition. In the case of Chan, we will note that any Chan teaching program must
perforce contain both subitist and gradualist elements,218 but this would not lead us
to say that distinctions between subitism and gradualism are articial, since it was in
fact by means of such distinctions that Chan or Zen Buddhists made and understood
their tradition.
In addition to using the categories of xing and ming to think about di
erent
traditions of alchemy, or to think about alchemy in relation to Chan, alchemists also
used the categories to make technical distinctions: xing and ming were correlated
respectively with yin and yang,219 the classic epistemological categories of substance
ti  and function yong  ,220 the upper and lower dantian,221 night and day,222 lead
and mercury,223 nonaction and purposive action, or mind and body.
3.4.3, Inner alchemists may interpret their concepts and discourse on . . . the
register of . . . other nonspatiotemporal metaphysical realities, such as . . . the Dao or the
One.

The Dao gures into inner alchemy as the cosmogonic origin and the nal goal

of practice, that is, at the beginning and end of the cosmogonic saga of devolution
and redemption. Alchemists do not often explicitly seek visions of the Dao, or extol
its workings in the world; in fact, the majority of occurrences of the character  in

217

This does not amount to a serious critique of Robinet. She only makes such a reductionist statement while
summarizing a previous discussion in which she has in fact paid close attention to details.
218

This is a familiar paradox inherent in Chan. How could Chan enlightenment occur without any practice which
is objectively gradualist whatsoever? And yet, according to classical Buddhist understanding, the nal leap to
enlightenment cannot be understood to be caused by the practice leading up to it, and thus the concept of
enlightenment is essentially subitist.
219

Ge Guolong, Daojiao neidan xue tanwei, 87.

220

Ge Guolong, Daojiao neidan xue tanwei, 9394; Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 49798 a discussion of
Wang Daoyuans theory of substance and function .
221

Ma Jiren, Daojiao yu liandan, 91.

222

Robinet, Introduction  lalchimie intrieure taoste, 45.

223

Robinet, Introduction  lalchimie intrieure taoste, 183.

276

alchemical writings refer to a human daos rather than to the metaphysical Dao.224 We
may say however, that the alchemists outer pharmacon, the prenatal One Qi of pure
yang, is the One for the alchemists, their manifestation of the Dao in the
phenomenal world.225 By means of this One outer pharmacon, the alchemist may
return to the Dao. Inner alchemists also speak of guarding unity or, embracing the
One, shouyi  during the phase of the incubation of the elixir, but this is a mere
metaphor, or an echo of earlier Daoist practices, and does not actually involve
embracing the Dao as the One.226 There is also no mention of the Three Ones sanyi
 as in the earlier Shangqing tradition.
3.5.1, Other dualistic categories cut across all of these registers, such as the cosmogonic
categories of xiantian and houtian.

I have already introduced these concepts above on

page 269. Chinese correlative cosmology, and especially inner alchemy, is pervaded
with binary oppositions, with one half of these dyads being yang, and the other yin.
These concepts of xiantian  precosmic, prenatal, i o temporal and houtian 
postcosmic, postnatal, temporal cut across all registers microcosmic, mesocosmic,
and macrocosmic, and through many of these binary oppositions. There can be
xiantian or houtian versions of essence for the male alchemist or water of the female
partner, qi, spirit, inherent nature, life endowment, caldron, furnace, sequence of
trigrams, time,227 and so on. These oppositions help to reinforce the sense of a gap
between sacred and profane aspects of reality, and teach the alchemist to reject the
profane and aspire to gain the sacred for himself.
3.5.2, Other dualistic categories cut across all of these registers, such as . . . the
hermeneutical categories of prosaic interpretation . . . and mysticizing interpretation.

Some terms or passages may be understood to refer either to physiological, tangible,


224

See my discussion on pages 17478 chap. 3, 1.2, on how Chen Zhixu strategically exploits the ambiguity of
the term Dao/dao.

225

Zeng Chuanhui, Yuandai Cantong xue, 37, 105.

226

Some early Daoists also argued against the idea of embracing the Dao as the One; Bokenkamp, Early Daoist
Scriptures, 89, 97 from the section on Laozi xianger zhu, dated to before 255
.

227

The time of gathering the pharmacon is xiantian time, the time of ring the melding elixir is houtian time
Robinet, Introduction  lalchimie intrieure taoste, 122, citing Chen Zhixu, and upon completion of the ring
process the alchemist returns to xiantian time Ma Jiren, Daojiao yu liandan, 203.

277

concrete, or denite entities, or to mental, mystical, abstract, formless, intangible, or


indenite entities. Examples of such terms include the xuanpin or xuan and pin, the
Mysterious Pass, the Yellow Court, the Gate of Destiny, and the three dantian.
Lets take, for example, the Mysterious Pass Xuanguan, also known as the
One Aperture Yiqiao . Some interpreters say that the Mysterious Pass has no
xed location, whereas some say it does have a physical location. In her discussion of
the mystical nature of the Mysterious Pass, Robinet cites a passage from Jindan sibai
zi as evidence of the view that it has not xed location;228 yet Hao Qin interprets this
same passage as hinting that the Mysterious Pass is none other than the Yellow
Court229 associated with the middle dantian. Not only do alchemists vary in regard
to their prosaic or mysticizing interpretations of elements of alchemy, but these
interpretations themselves may be ambiguous. According to a third position, the
same term may refer to a denite bodily site for adepts at a lower level of cultivation,
and to a formless entity for adepts at a higher level. This is Li Daochuns position
regarding the Mysterious Pass. The Mysterious Pass, also called the Center Zhong
, plays an important role within Li Daochuns system. In one passage, he says that
it is no particular part of the body, but neither can it be found outside the body; the
body is like a marionette, and the Mysterious Pass is like the strings that cause the
body to move and act.230 Yet in another section of his collected writings, he locates
the Mysterious Pass within specic bodily locations as appropriate for dierent
vehicles, or levels of cultivation. For adepts practicing the lower vehicle, the
Mysterious Pass is the lower dantian; for adepts of the middle vehicle, it is the upper
dantian; for adepts of the higher vehicle, it is the Heart of Heaven perhaps an
abstract version of the upper dantian; and for adepts of the highest vehicle, it is the
Center.231 Such a position, which includes both prosaic and mysticizing
228
Robinet, Introduction  lalchimie intrieure taoste, 104, citing DZ 1081, Jindan sibai zi, 4a b also found in DZ 263,
Xiuzhen shishu 5.4a b. This text is ascribed to Zhang Boduan, but it was probably composed within Bai Yuchans
circle; Ma Jiren, Daojiao yu liandan, 64 65; Skar, Golden Elixir Alchemy, 185.
229

Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 246.

230

DZ 249, Zhonghe ji 3.3a1 10, translated in Robinet, Introduction  lalchimie intrieure taoste, 105, discussed in
Crowe, The Nature and Function of the Buddhist and Ru Teachings in Li Daochun, 262 63.
231

Cf. pp. 364 66 below.

278

interpretations within a single hermeneutical system, is able to comprise both


physiological and mental cultivation, and other potentially incompatible forms of
doctrine and practice. It serves a function similar to the doctrine of Two Truths232
within Mah y na Buddhism, allowing a teacher to teach concrete doctrines or
practices, or to undermine them, according to the pedagogical needs of his students,
or according to his rhetorical needs for justifying his teachings and striving against
rivals. It is the most common kind of hermeneutical position within inner alchemy.
3.5.3, Other dualistic categories cut across all of these registers, such as . . . the
hermeneutical categories of . . . exoteric interpretation and esoteric interpretation.

Inner alchemical texts are usually explicitly esoteric, announcing their own secrecy.
They often cite an injunction against leaking the celestial trigger xie tianji  ,
or divulging the secrets of Heaven. This celestial trigger could be merely a technical
secret, but more often it was actually thought to be a piece of powerful knowledge
guarded by celestial deities, who would punish any teacher who revealed it to the
wrong persons.233 The case of Zhang Boduan, who mistakenly transmitted his
teachings to unworthy persons three times, is often cited: I transmitted
the
teachings to three persons, and met with three calamities, in each case not more
than ve days
after the wrongful transmission   
.234 While this reason may explain, to a certain extent, why alchemists advertised
the secrecy of their teachings, a more important reason would be in order to generate
prestige and authority for the teachings and the masters who possessed them, or
even to constitute their mastership in the eyes of others.235
Yet in addition to promising that their texts contain esoteric, private
interpretations, alchemical teachers often also o er exoteric, public interpretations
232

These are ultimate truth Ch. zhendi , Skt. paramrthasatya and conventional truth Ch. sudi
, Skt.
savtisatya .

233

This trope in Daoism has a history as long as Daoism itself. One common formulation of this trope in Six
Dynasties Daoism was the idea that scriptures are attended by guardian spirits jade lads and maidens . These
spirits watch over the possessor of the scripture, protecting him from danger or punishing him for misusing the
scripture; Robinet, Taoist Meditation, 26.
234

DZ 142, Ziyang Zhenren Wuzhen pian sanzhu, postface houxu  , 2a7.

235

Recall my discussion of the master function on pp. 2729 above; and my discussion of the threeway
feedback loop in chapters 2 and 3.

279

as part of their teachings. This could be part of a strategy for attracting students, rst
into the outer hall and then, at the right time, into the inner chamber. Chen Zhixu
describes this process of progressive conversion.236 More often, claiming that there
are both exoteric and esoteric interpretations of a teaching is a way for an alchemist
to add a new, esoteric, alchemical interpretation of a classic teaching, without
admitting that it is a new interpretation. Alchemists were able to claim that the
teachings of Laozi, kyamui, and Confucius all contain an esoteric, alchemical layer
as well as exoteric, philosophical layers. Similarly, sexual alchemists were able to claim
that solo alchemical teachings also contained a truer sexual layer. Chen Zhixu takes
this hermeneutical approach in his commentary on the Scripture of Salvation Duren
jing . For each section of the text, Chen Zhixu oers two interpretations, one
according to Daoist usage Daoyong 
, and one according to worldly
technique shifa :
Now, the scripture has both Daoist usage and worldly technique. One can rely
on Daoist usage to cultivate ones practices and ascend to transcendent hood.
As for worldly technique, this involves reciting and keeping the spirits in
mind with vigorous diligence to seek blessings.
 
 
   
237
For Chen, the superior approach is to practice the teachings of the Scripture of
Salvation through both Daoist usage sexual alchemy and worldly
technique classical Daoist recitation or ritual together.238 Like Li Daochuns
synthesis of prosaic and mystical interpretations of the Mysterious Pass, this is a
hermeneutical position that is able to bring together two potentially incompatible
interpretations of the teaching into a single vision.

236
When I encountered various forms of mockery, I suered it glady. If I found a dharma vessel worthy
student, I tried my best to approach him. As for students among them who could reach the gate, I guided them
through. As for those among them who could enter the gate, I guided them up the stair. As for those among them
who could ascend the stair, I guided them up to the hall. As for those among them who could enter the hall, I
guided them into the inner chamber. Generally, my reasons for acting this way were that I wished that the great
dao could continue on in a single line, that I wished to raise up the common run of the mill man from the ery
pit, and that I wished that the world should know there is indeed a dao of the golden elixir, and not slander
it DZ 1067, Shangyangzi jindan dayao 12.8b2 7.
237

DZ 91, Taishang dongxuan lingbao wuliang duren shangpin miaojing zhujie 1.1a9 b2.

238

DZ 91, Taishang dongxuan lingbao wuliang duren shangpin miaojing zhujie 1.1b10 2a2.

280

3.6.1, Alchemical authors exploit crossregister ambiguities . . . for the sake of . . .


converting the reader or listener.

All of these correlations, ambiguities, and polyvalent

hermeneutical positions provide resources for converting students. They allow


alchemists to justify contradictions within the teachings, reinterpret nonalchemical
ideas in alchemical terms, and oer an overall climate of theoretical holism. The
concept of upya expedient means; helpful means is one of the most powerful tools
within Buddhism for resolving contradictions and accomodating all manner of
alternative ideas and practices within a single religious horizon. Alchemists also use
this tool, and many others, for their own purposes.
3.6.2, Alchemical authors exploit crossregister ambiguities . . . for the sake of . . .
creating an air of authority for the text, teacher, or lineage.

This is what I term

managing mastership. As I discuss in chapter 3, the teachers ability to spread his


teachings, his authority as a master, and his own salvation may be interdependent I
term this a threeway feedback loop of propagation, authority, and salvation. His
authority as a master depends on the opinion of his clients or the greater public, and
this in turn depends in part on convincing them of the truth and high value of his
teachings or texts.239 Shifting between ontological registers or hermeneutical
positions are important strategies for achieving this goal. Advertising the secret,
that is, the claim to possess very precious, rare, and valuable knowledge, while
simultaneously partially revealing and largely concealing it,240 is a related strategy.
3.6.3, Alchemical authors exploit crossregister ambiguities . . . for the sake of . . .
writing about teachings in a code that is opaque to unworthy readers but partially
transparent to worthy readers.

Once a book has escaped from the hands of its author,

the author can no longer directly control how it is used. Yet the alchemical author
can manage the uses of his words by writing them in code, and supplying the key
only to chosen initiates. In this way, he can publish his works widely while still
partially controlling access to their secrets. Actually, most alchemical writers do not
239
Robinet says that, rather than aiming to convince or persuade, alchemical language is addressed to the seeker,
whom it guides toward a goal Introduction  lalchimie intrieure taoste, 83. Actually, since the alchemical eld is rife
with con
ict, even an alchemical writer writing moreorless exclusively for readers who are already alchemical
practitioners must always attempt to convince them of the truth of his speci c approach to alchemy.
240

Urban, The Torment of Secrecy, 235. Also see Campany, Secrecy and Display, 294.

281

intend to supply the keys such as the correct ring periods, huohou, or the revelation
that all true cultivation is sexual directly to all of their readers in person. Rather,
writers assume that teachers in other places or later times would do this. Writers
often advise readers to nd a true master on their own, who can help them
understand the import of the text fully, and ll in the necessary gaps. In this way,
the writer may maintain his own monopoly on valuable teachings and charge
students for access, or may contribute to the present and future monopoly of
alchemical teachers as a class. Another important reason for writing in code is to
avoid censurewhich would be a serious danger for sexual alchemists, for example.
3.6.4, Alchemical authors exploit crossregister ambiguities . . . for the sake of . . .
synthesizing elements from many sources into a single teaching.

This is the

intellectualist goal of Buddhist panjiao classi cation of teachings , Li Daochuns


ranking of physiological, mental, and mystical approaches to alchemy, and Chen
Zhixus esotericizing appeal to nonalchemical classics as proof  for the truth of his
teachings.
3.6.5, Alchemical authors exploit crossregister ambiguities . . . for the sake of . . .
representing or delighting in the unstable and protean nature of alchemical discourse
itself.

Robinet argues that, while the discourse of the alchemists rests on a logical

foundation, the discourse is not linear and is often poetic. The ruptures of thought
and language are constantly and consciously worked.241
3.6.6, Alchemical authors exploit crossregister ambiguities . . . for the sake of . . .
directly causing salvic eects in the reader.

Robinet argues that, like Chan Buddhists

practicing with kans,242 alchemists achieve a sort of enlightenment that inheres


within language itself, rather than existing outside of language.243 This is a powerful
insight, though alchemists certainly also hope to achieve salvation by ascending to
the heavens and/or becoming one with the Dao, a Dao which is more than a
linguistic construct.
241

Robinet, Introduction  lalchimie intrieure tao ste, 90.

242

It is, in e ect, as a kan that neidan acts on the spirit of the adept; Robinet, Introduction  lalchimie intrieure
tao ste, 78.
243

Robinet, Introduction  lalchimie intrieure tao ste, 8283.

282

4, Psychophysiological Elements
4.1.1, In psychophysiological terms . . .

Inner alchemists do distinguish body and

mind as separate elements within their systems, regarding mind as superior to body
more raried and ultimately more important , but usually emphasizing the
cultivation of both mind and body or, the dual cultivation of xing, inherent nature,
and ming, lifeendowment on the path to salvation. Alchemists often distinguish
Daoists from Buddhists and NeoConfucians in these terms: while Daoists cultivate
both xing and ming, the other two Teachings neglect the cultivation of ming i.e., the
physiological quality .
4.1.2, In soteriological terms . . .

Inneralchemical practice is always devoted

to personal spiritual salvation or perfection . While alchemical writers may also
have micropolitical, aesthetic, or cognitive goals, these must be understood within
their overall soteriological m
rga.

4.2, Inner alchemists follow the dao of the golden elixir.

Whereas the English term

inner alchemy is derived from the modern Chinese term neidan , most inner
alchemists actually called their teaching the way of the golden elixir jindan zhi dao
 , or the way of the elixir dandao  .244 While we may certainly make
our own distinction between inner alchemy and laboratory alchemy waidan  ,
inner alchemists often did not make exactly this distinction. By the Song dynasty,
many inner alchemists believed that true alchemy had always been inner alchemy,
and that even those texts believed by modern scholars to teach laboratory alchemy
were actually teaching inner alchemy all along. Like Western spiritual alchemists
scorn for sooty empiricks,245 the middleperiod inner alchemists would say that
laboratory alchemists from the early medieval period were simply misunderstanding
244

Robinet writes that the expression interior alchemy is an arbitrary designation for a widely followed
movement still in existence today. At the outset it was not designated by a specic term, except perhaps
jindan . . .; Robinet, Taoism: Growth of a Religion, 215.

245

Needham, Science and Civilisation, 5.3:206, uses this term to translate a Chinese inner alchemists criticism of
laboratory alchemy. The locus classicus of the term is Robert Boyles 162791 The Skeptical Chymist 1661 . Boyle
criticized laboratory alchemy from the standpoint of chemistry rather than spiritual alchemy.

283

the true meaning of alchemy.246 Similarly, sexual alchemists would say that solo inner
alchemists misunderstood true alchemy, and solo alchemists would say the same of
sexual alchemists. Thus, while these inner alchemists would agree that di erent
alchemical practices exist, they would not agree that these represent separate and
equally legitimate traditions.
In the late imperial period, inner alchemists came to understand the eld of
alchemy in terms of three approaches or three elixir methods, danfa  : solo inner
alchemy alchemy taking Heaven as prime, tianyuan danfa  , laboratory
alchemy alchemy taking Earth as prime, diyuan danfa  , and sexual alchemy
alchemy taking the human as prime, renyuan danfa  . The earliest
appearance of this formulation may be in Lu Xixings Xuanfu lun, composed in
1567.247 In this late formulation, alchemists did recognize the various approaches as
distinct and equally legitimate, though not as equally e cacious.248
Is the dao of inner alchemy Daoist? Michel Strickmann advised against
assuming that alchemy is always Daoist, noting that alchemy and other technologies
would . . . emerge more clearly against the backdrop of Chinese society if visualized
as separate entities, weaving in and out of Taoist and other contexts in the course of
history.249 Lowell Skar applies this same perspective to inner alchemy as well,
apparently considering even a work such as Jindan zhengli daquan   ca.
1442 outside the boundaries of Daoism.250 Emic and etic de nitions of alchemy or
Daoism or Buddhism and understandings of their interrelationships are complex
matters which I will discuss further in chapter 6 and the conclusion. I do not limit
246
This perspective oversimpli es the case, but at the present state of my research, I cannot o er a more
nuanced perspective. Actually, there were plenty of alchemical texts mixing inner and laboratory alchemy through
the Southern Song dynasty the classical period of inner alchemy . By my count, approximately eleven such
transitional texts survive from the Tang, ve survive from the Five Dynasties period 90760 , eight from the
Northern Song, and four from the Southern Song many of these dates are speculative . A text entitled Diyuan
zhenjue may include Bai Yuchans teachings on laboratory alchemy; Wang Li, The Daoist Way of Transcendence, 123.
Thus the practice of a combined inner alchemy and laboratory alchemy was a continuing tradition.
247

Xuanfu lun, Sanyuan lun , in Fanghu waishi, by Lu Xixing, 8.1a3b6.

248

Two other examples of lateimperial alchemists teaching both inner alchemy and laboratory alchemy are Peng
Haogu 
 
. 15861600 , and Fu Jinquan   17651845 .
249

Strickmann, On the Alchemy of Tao Hungching, 166.

250

Skar, Golden Elixir Alchemy, 2045.

284

my use of the label Daoist to ordained Daoist clergy, and I assume that all inner
alchemy is Daoist, aside from exceptional cases. Chen Zhixu calls himself a Daoist.251
4.3, Inner alchemists . . . take the human body as the alchemical chamber.

Whereas waidan alchemists manipulate their pharmaca252 in a laboratory, inner


alchemists manipulate pharmaca within the spaces of their own body. Thus, the
inner
alchemical chamber is also corporeal.253 An important exception to this is the
meaning of chamber in sexual alchemy: when a sexual alchemist speaks of entering
the chamber rushi , this may refer either to entering the bedroom to collect
the outer pharmacon, or to sending the elixir into a corporeal chamber for further
rening during a later stage in the process. Another exception may be found in the
works of Li Daochun and others: for adepts at higher stages of practice, the chamber
may be, not the body, but the heart
mind, the macrocosm, or non
spatial space.
4.4, Inner alchemists . . . take . . . dantian three bodily centers associated with
the kidneys, heart, or brain as the furnace and caldron.254

From laboratory alchemy

come the terms lu  furnace or stove; also zao  and ding  caldron, crucible, or
reaction vessel; also dingqi  or fu , together with the bellows and tuyre tuoyue
. Given the importance of the furnace and caldron within inner alchemy, and
given the mutability of inner
alchemical language in general, it should not be
surprising that the usage of these terms varies quite a lot between texts. Also, within
each text, there will be more than one pair of referents for furnace and caldron: as
the adept moves to a new, higher level within the alchemical sequence, the referents
for furnace and caldron will change too. The two most common furnace
caldron
251

In a passage criticizing ignorance and corruption among temple


dwelling Daoists, Chen writes Why dont
they re ect on what it is that we study in our religion!    Soon after, he writes My
our Most High Lord Lao said . . . 
. Chen thus considers himself and the temple
dwelling Daoists to
be members of a common jiao with the deied Laozi as its founder. I translate this passage on pp. 74 75 above. As
Campany notes, in medieval China, The names, partial names, or titles of founding or paradigmatic gures are
sometimes used synecdochally to refer nominally to what in Western discourse would be called an entire religion
or tradition; Campany, On the Very Idea of Religions, 299. This may be the only page on which Chen
explicitly calls himself a Daoist.
252

These pharmaca are principally lead and mercury, but other pharmaca include gold, sulfur, and hundreds of
other mineral, vegetable, and animal substances. Cf., e.g., Huang Zhaohan, Daozang danyao yiming suoyin.

253

There are dozens of inner


alchemical technical terms for corporeal entities using the characters fang  or shi
 chamber.

254

This section draws on Haos discussion of furnace and caldron; Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 189 95.

285

pairings are kidneys heart255


i.e., lower and middle dantian and kidneys brain
i.e.,
lower and upper dantian .
In the Zhong L texts, and other early texts
from the period of nascence, or
the formative period , the primary furnace caldron pairing is kidneys heart, since the
union of hearts uid
yin within yang, li   with the kidneys qi
yang within yin,
kan   is an important practice in this teaching. The furnace caldron pairing of
kidneys and brain is also found within Zhong L texts, as part of orbital
circulation,256 but this is emphasized less. It seems that the kidneys heart pairing is
cultivated rst, and the kidneys brain pairing only gures in at higher levels of
cultivation.
The situation is reversed in Southern Lineage texts
from the classical period
and the period of integration , where the primary emphasis is on orbital circulation
from lower, to upper, to lower dantian;257 while still part of the process, cultivation
using the heart region
middle dantian is a more advanced stage, and is mentioned
more vaguely. Northern Lineage alchemy from the period of integration appears to
draw on both Zhong L and Southern Lineage alchemy, so I do not discuss it
separately here. I know less about the case of early Quanzhen alchemy.258
The standard account of inner alchemy that we have today developed in the
late imperial period, and is found in the teachings of Wu Shouyang and Liu Huayang,
Liu Yiming and Zhao Bichen, Qinghua miwen and Xingming guizhi. In this version,
during the two initial stages of opening the passes and rening seminal essence into
qi, the adept circulates the pharmaca along the lesser orbit from coccyx to fontanel;
here, the lower dantian is the furnace, and the upper dantian is the caldron, together
called the greater caldron and furnace
da dinglu   . As Wile writes, In
255

A related version of the kidneys heart pairing is the pairing of the Pit of Qi
Qixue  and Yellow Court

Huangting . This is a more literal pairing of lower and middle dantian.

256

This is termed called  causing crystals of metal to soar up behind the elbows
zhouhou fei jinjing  ,
i.e., recycling
seminal essence to replenish the brain
huanjing bunao 
.
257

I simplify the orbital path for the sake of clarity here. The path is described more carefully below.

258

Early Quanzhen alchemy is that taught by Wang Chongyang and his rst generation of heirs, especially Ma
Danyang. Although DZ 1156, Chongyang zhenren jinguan yusuo jue, and DZ 244, Dadan zhizhi, are ascribed to Wang
Chongyang and Qiu Chuji respectively, some scholars have dated these to later generations of the Quanzhen
movement; Hachiya, Chy shinjin kinkan gyokusa ketsu ni tsuite. These two texts draw on Zhong L teachings.

286

meditation practice, the crucible is often pictured between the kidneys, and the
spirit provides the re of the furnace, which is fanned by the breath to heat the jing
so that it may rise up the spine.259 Then, during the stage of rening qi into spirit,
the elixir circulates along the greater orbit; now the middle dantian becomes the
caldron, while the lower dantian remains as the furnace, together called the lesser
caldron and furnace xiao dinglu  . During the nal stage of rening the spirit
and causing it to return to the void, the elixir as spirit remains in the upper dantian,
and the furnace caldron metaphor is not used.
In addition to the dyadic pairing of furnace and caldron, bodily centers are
also viewed in triadic and pentadic arrangements: the triadic relationship of three
dantian together,260 and the pentadic relationship of the Five Viscera.261
Sexual alchemists retain the furnace caldron terminology introduced above,
while adding an additional layer of furnace caldron pairings, such as inner and outer
caldrons neiwai ding  , or crescent moon furnace yanyue lu  and
caldron of the suspended fetus xuantai ding  . Chen Zhixu explains that the
inner caldron is the lower dantian, while the outer caldron is the valley spirit,
Mysterious Pass, gate s of xuan and pin, etc., references to the female sex
organ.262 The term crescent moon furnace or yin furnace, yinlu  describes
the shape of the womans lap.263 The caldron of the suspended fetus, or yang
259

Wile, Art of the Bedchamber, 34.

260

Terms for the union of the three dantian include harmonious meeting of the three elds santian hehui 
 , reversion and return of the three elds santian fanfu   , the three owers gather in the
crown sanhua juding   and the three yang gather in the crown sanyang juding  .

261

Terms for the union of the Five Viscera include the ve qi pay court to the prime wuqi chaoyuan  ,
condensing the ve agents cuancu wuxing 
, and pairing up the ve agents wuxing pipei 
 .
Needhams term for this circulation of qi amongst the ve viscera is mutual irradiation; Needham, Science and
Civilisation in China, 5.5.74
76, discussing DZ 149, Xiuzhen taiji hunyuan tu. DZ 149 is a later Zhong L text, and
mutual irradiation is a Zhong L practice. DZ 149 is also studied in Baryosher Chemouny, La qute de
limmortalit en Chine.

262

DZ 1067, Shangyangzi jindan dayao 5.6b10, 7a9


b1.

263

To be sure, solo inner alchemical theory also has its yanyue lu. By one interpretation, it is the Mysterious Pass;
cf. DZ 1007, Zhouyi cantong qi jie, by Chen Xianwei, cited in Hu Fuchen, Zhonghua daojiao da cidian, s.v. yanyue lu
, 1181. By a second interpretation, it is the lower dantian; cf. DZ 240, Qinghua miwen, cited in Hao Qin,
Longhu dandao, 244. By a third interpretation, it is the recumbent new moon, and represents the moment when
the new yang is born on the third day of the lunar cycle; cf. Wang Mu, Wuzhen pian qianjie, cited in Hu Fuchen,
Zhonghua daojiao da cidian, s.v. yanyue lu , 1188.
Sexual alchemists might accept these readings of the symbol yanyue lu, while retaining their own physiological
reading. The idea of a womans lap as a recumbent new moon can also be found in European alchemical

287

caldron, yangding  , which contains the owing pearl264 and enters eight cun
inches into the furnace and remains suspended within it without touching the
ground,265 is the male organ. In the sexual cultivation texts translated by Wile,
however, the symbolism is reversed, with the caldron referring to the woman.
Finally, in multi level alchemical systems, such as Li Daochuns system of Four
Vehicles, the furnace and caldron will have di erent referents at each level, ranging
from the physiological to the cosmic and mystical.
The term bellows and tuyre can refer to various things that fan, pump, or
otherwise promote the rening process; referents range from kidney region, kidneys
heart pairing, lungs, or spirit intention, to yin and yang, heaven and earth, the Dao,
or in sexual alchemy the sex organs the gates of xuan and pin .
4.5, Inner alchemists . . . take . . . inner tracts as the pathways of circulation.

According to classical Chinese medical theory, the body is criss crossed by cardinal
and reticular tracts jingmai  and luomai
 . While one goal of inner alchemy
is to circulate rened qi throughout the whole body using all of the cardinal and
reticular tracts, only a few of the cardinal and none of the reticular tracts266 receive
much mention within alchemical teachings.267 Among the cardinal tracts, there are
two sets, twelve regular cardinal tracts268 and eight extraordinary cardinal tracts;269
alchemists mainly care only about the extraordinary tracts, and of these, usually only
two of the eight are mentioned, the superintendent tract  dumai , and
symbology, as in Robert Fludds painting of the world soul in his Utriusque cosmi historia.
264
DZ 1067, Shangyangzi jindan dayao 9.10a9. When Chen says that the owing pearl within the caldron of the
suspended fetus receives the metal, he means that the semen inner pharmacon meets the womans qi outer
pharmacon within the penis.
265

DZ 1068, Shangyangzi jindan dayao tu 8b6


7.

266

Ma Jiren says that there are fteen reticular tracts, twelve linked to the regular cardinal tracts, two linked to
the conception and superintendent tracts, and nally, the great reticular tract of the spleen; Daojiao yu liandan,
169.

267

Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 197


98.

268

The twelve regular cardinal tracts shier zhengjing  may be divided into four sets: three yin and three
yang tracts for the hands, and the same for the feet. These twelve tracts are related to twelve visceral systems:
lungs, large intestine, stomach, spleen, heart, small intestine, bladder, kidneys, cardiac envelope xinbao  ,
Triple Burner, gallbladder, and liver.
269

The eight extraordinary cardinal tracts qijing bamai   are the superintendent, conception, highway
chong  , belt dai , yin and yang ligative wei  , and yin and yang heel qiao  or  tracts. I take my
translation terminology from Sivin, Traditional Medicine in Contemporary China, 250.

288

conception tract renmai  . The superintendent tract leads from the lower
Magpie Bridge between coccyx and anus up the spine through the Three Passes in
the back at coccyx, mid spine, and occiput , and over the crown, through the
ophryon between the eyebrows , to the upper Magpie Bridge between upper palate
and tongue .270 The conception tract leads from the upper Magpie Bridge down the
front of the body, through the twelve story tower esophagus , the middle and lower
dantian, and back to the lower Magpie Bridge.271 Joined at the two Magpie Bridges,
the superintendent and conception tracts together make up the lesser orbit 
xiao zhoutian ,272 one of the most important features of the alchemical body in almost
all alchemical teachings.273 In the latter day standard account, during the initial stage
of tamping the base zhuji 
, the adept rst opens up the twin tracts which in
an adult will become stopped up over time by circulating unrened seminal essence
or qi, in preparation for the stage of rening seminal essence into qi or joining outer
and inner pharmaca into the greater pharmacon along the same route. During both
of these stages, but especially the second, there are dangers and di culties. The
precious pharmacon may leak away at upper Magpie Bridge in the form of long
stalactites of snot jade pillars, yuzhu  , or at the lower bridge as atulence.
Penetrating the Three Passes in the dorsal tract also takes some care. In general, the
internal mechanism for transporting the pharmaca is called the waterwheel or,
river cart, heche  ,274 but this one che wheel, cart is also split into three, drawn

270

Some alchemists locate the upper juncture of the twin tracts at the crown, rather than the palate and tongue.

271

According to modern qigong understanding, the superintendent tract intersects with the twelve regular cardinal
tracts at many points, and the conception tract intersects with and can control the six yin regular cardinal tracts
Ma Jiren, Daojiao yu liandan, 172
73 . I have not seen this mentioned in premodern alchemical writings.
272

I translate the term zhoutian simply as orbit, but as an astronomical term it refers to the great celestial
sphere in which the visible heavens are embedded. In astronomy, xiao zhoutian refers to a twelve month cycle
year cycle , and da zhoutian refers to a twelve year cycle jovian cycle . An oft cited locus classicus of the term xiao
zhoutian is DZ 243, Chen Xubai guizhong zhinan 1.2b5 Ma Jiren, Daojiao yu liandan, 153 , but an earlier occurrence is
in the Zhong L text DZ 1191, Michuan Zhengyang zhenren Lingbao bifa 1.14a10.
273

A rare counter example is Chen Pus DZ 1096, Chen Xiansheng neidan jue also in DZ 263, Xiuzhen shishu, j. 17,
with the misleading title Cuixu pian . Chen Pu concentrates only on the conception tract, never
mentioning the superintendent tract until the eighth stage of his system; Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue,
311; Eskildsen, Neidan Master Chen Pus Nine Stages of Transformation.
274

Needham identies the heche as a square pallet chain pump Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, 5.5:225
or current driven water raising machine ibid., 5.5:60 .

289

by a goat, deer, or ox.275 When transporting the pharmacon through the Tail Gate
Pass
Weil Guan  in the coccyx, the adept must proceed slowly, as if driving
a goatcart
with his intention . When transporting it through the SpinalStraits Pass

Jiaji Guan  , the adept can rush along with abandon, as if driving a deercart

or a sheepcart . When transporting the pharmacon through the Jade Pillow Pass

Yuzhen Guan  at the base of the skull, one feels as if one must bull ones way
through an obstacle, as if driving an oxcart.276 The adept senses and understands
movements in the tracts through a sensation of heat, reactions of secretions
some
teachers speak of transporting the pharmacon from the mouth to the esophagus by
swallowing saliva, for example , and guided visualization. Higher stages of alchemical
attainment may be signaled by internal visual and aural signs.
Some texts from the late imperial period mention the belt and highway tracts.
Lu Xixing and Li Xiyue mention the visualization of the yin heel tract, a unique
feature of their teachings.277 Some texts ascribed to Zhang Sanfeng speak of
beginning the lesserorbital circulation by drawing qi up from the Bubbling Spring

yongquan  acupoint in the sole of the foot to the Tail Gate Pass.278 ZhongL
texts from the formative period also mention this route from the Bubbling Spring.
There is also a di erent conception of inner tracts found in later imperial
Longmen Quanzhen texts
such as the writings of Min Yide . In this system there are
three main tracts, the red, black, and yellow paths; the red and black paths are the
conception and superintendent tracts, while the yellow path ascends straight up from
the lower dantian to the middle and upper dantian. Chen Yingning in the Republican
Period accepted the central yellow path
zhonghuang zhi dao 
 as a powerful

275

ZhongL texts have an unrelated set of three che, the lesser, greater, and purple waterwheels. The lesser
waterwheel transports qi from one organ to another
in mutual irradiation ; the greater waterwheel transports
pharmaca along the lesser orbit
xiao zhoutian , and the purple waterwheel transports the elixir along the greater
orbit
da zhoutian . Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 298 99, discussing chapter 12 of ZhongL chuandao ji

in DZ 263, Xiuzhen shishu, j. 14 16 .


276

Ma Jiren, Daojiao yu liandan, 154. I also discuss these three carts on page 349 below.

277

Ma Jiren, Daojiao yu liandan, 338.

278

Ma Jiren, Daojiao yu liandan, 94; Wile, Art of the Bedchamber, 171. This is also found in Xingming guizhi
rst
printed 1615, but later expanded , cited in Li Yuanguo, ibid., 297.

290

but dangerous alternative to the twin tracts.279


4.6, Inner alchemists . . . take . . . the three treasures the lifeenergies of
essence, qi, and spirit as the pharmaca.280

According to the latterday standard

account, alchemists usually speak of uniting an outer pharmacon281 with an inner


pharmacon282 to produce an elixir,283 which is further rened into a spiritbody.284
The concept of inner and outer pharmaca seems to have originated, not in alchemy,
but in practices for ingesting qi, as studied by Maspero.285 For solo alchemists, the
adept rst circulates the outer pharmacon, and the inner pharmacon later appears as
a result of this.286 For sexual alchemists, the outer pharmacon is gathered from the
female partners sexual energy as qi , and the inner pharmacon from the male adepts
own sublimated sexual energy yuanjing  . In alchemical texts from the period of
nascence and the formative period, the outer ingredient may be gathered as
atmospheric qi, which is mixed with saliva and swallowed. The common idea in all of
these cases is that the inner pharmacon is the primal qi of the body, almost always
linked to the seminal essence jing , while the outer pharmacon is macrocosmic
primal qi, often called the prenatal One Qi xiantian yiqi  .287 And
common to all forms of inner alchemy and laboratory alchemy , is the idea of joining
the two ingredients to form an elixir.
The three pharmaca are essence, qi, and spirit, with the outer pharacon
279

Liu Xun, In Seach of Immortality, 144. The term zhonghuang zhi dao must be related to the term
huangdao ecliptic .
280

I discuss the nature of essence and qi again below on pp. 31720, and 41819. I discuss spirit above on pp. 252

54.
281

The outer pharmacon waiyao  may also be called lead qian  or perfected lead zhenqian  .

282

The inner pharmacon neiyao  may also be called mercury gong , or perfected mercury zhengong  .
Solo alchemists may call it perfected seed zhenzhongzi  ; sexual alchemists may call it the mysterious pearl
xuanzhu  , since it is linked to the semen.
283

This elixir dan  may also be called greater pharmacon dayao  , golden elixir or metallous elixir jindan
 , mysterious pearl xuanzhu  , yellow sprouts huangya  , Qi  Qi  is sometimes understood as
prenatal qi ; Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 183 , and many other names. At the beginning stage of smelting the elixir,
it may be called mother of the elixir danmu 
.

284

This nal form of the elixir may be called infant yinger  , fetus taier  , holy fetus shengtai  , fetal
transcendent taixian  , yang spirit yangshen  , and many other names.
285

Maspero, Methods of Nourishing the Vital Principle in the Ancient Taoist Religion, 460.

286

Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 250.

287

Ge Guolong, Daojiao neidan xue tanwei, 178.

291

related to qi either primal qi or atmospheric air, the inner pharmacon related to


male seminal essence, and spirit as the nal form of the elixir. But alchemists will also
say that essence, qi, and spirit are all included in most aspects of the cultivation
process. The middle term, qi, is present within essence because, after all, essence is
really just a form of qi;288 and qi is present in the nal form of the elixir as spirit
because, while from one point of view, spirit is a personied being, from another
point of view it is just a form of qi. Essence is also present within the middle stage of
the elixir, since this is the amalgam of essence and qi. I have never seen it stated that
essence is present within the nal spirit form of the elixir, however. Spirit is present
throughout all stages of the process, as both subject and object of cultivation.
Throughout the process, the adept uses intention yi  to force, guide, or observe
the process, and spirit is the semipersonied agent or subject of this intentionality.
Yet spirit is also an object of cultivation, not just in the nal stages, but throughout
the process: the alchemist must usually maintain a state of mental calmness, which
may be called nurturing the spirit yangshen  . Calming the mind or spirit is
crucial in both solo and sexual alchemy; sexual alchemists, for example, assert that
the elixir may be ruined if any lustful thoughts arise, so the adept must undertake a
long period of mental training rening the self, lianji  before approaching a
partner.
4.7, Inner alchemists . . . take . . . respiration, guiding intention, intense
concentration, or formless samdhi as the alchemical re.

For the laboratory

alchemists, ring uses re, of course; yet for the inner alchemists, ring involves
breathing and intention, or usually a combination of the two.
Usually, there are two types of ring, cooler civil re wenhuo  and
hotter martial re wuhuo , each appropriate for a dierent stage in the overall
ring process. The phases of civil and martial ring may also each include hotter and
cooler subphases within them advancing the yang re, jin yanghuo , and
withdrawing the yin tallies, tui yinfu
. There are also periods of nonring
bathing, muyu ; i.e., basting at two points mao  and you  or four points zi
288

I will speak more of this on pages 31720 4.11.4 on prenatal and postnatal essence, qi, and spirit; and on
pages 41820 below.

292

, wu , mao, and you289 within each cycle. Zhong L texts add a further layer of
ring terminology, the folkish, minister, and sovereign res minhuo , chenhuo 
, and junhuo , symbolizing essence, qi, and spirit.
Some authorities say that martial ring is respiration and civil ring is mental
concentration,290 but it would be safer to say that each phase of ring involves both
respiration and concentration, with martial ring being intense, and civil ring
attenuated.291 In some teachings e.g., Zhong L, ring can be a relatively
physiological process, related to breathing and posture; others teach a relatively
wuwei samdhic form of ring, using attenuated intention only,292 based on the
alchemical correlation between spirit as intention and re.293 Most teachings would
include both forms of ring at dierent stages. Niu Daochun, for example, de nes
ring as respiration as appropriate for a lower stage of attainment the lowest level
of the little vehicle takes . . . the circulation of the breath as re, with ring as
concentration at a higher stage in the little vehicle . . . the re is luminous
awareness.294
4.8, The alchemical re . . . has ring periods of low or high heat, or nonring,
whose patterns of ring are modeled on lunar and seasonal cycles and represented with
cycles of trigrams and hexagrams.

Inner alchemists  re their pharmaca and elixirs

according to patterns of intention and respiration called huohou 


ring periods,
re phasing.295 Inner alchemists model their ring periods upon those of the
laboratory alchemists, who would gradually increase and decrease the intensity of the
289
Zhang Zhenguo, Fanpu guizhen, 234, says that during lesser orbital circulation the pharmacon is bathed at mao
and you, while during greater orbital circulation the pharmacon must be bathed at these zi, wu, mao, and you.
290

Zhang Zhenguo, Fanpu guizhen, 233. Baryosher Chemouny, La qute de limmortalit en Chine, 100, in her study of
the later Zhong L texts by Xiao Daocun  , DZ 149, Xiuzhen taiji hunyuan tu, and DZ 150, Xiuzhen taiji
hunyuan zhixuan tu.

291

Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 229; Ma Jiren, Daojiao yu liandan, 143.

292

Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 272, citing DZ 135, Cui Gong Ruyao jing zhujie, by the Quanzhen author
Wang Daoyuan  Wang Jie ,
. 1392; or Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 266, citing the later Quanzhen text,
Wupian lingwen.

293

Wile, Art of the Bedchamber, 37.

294

Robinet, Taoism: Growth of a Religion, 254, citing DZ 276, Xiyi zhimi lun, by Niu Daochun  , dated 1299.

295

Hou
are temporal units. Inner alchemists correlate the day with the month, and with the year: the twelve
Chinese double hours in a day are equivalent to the twelve months in a year, and the six twenty minute hou in a
double hour are equivalent to the six ve day hou in a standard thirty day month.

293

re by using precisely weighted increments of fuel.296 Although inneralchemical


writers usually say that one may only receive the nal details of the ring periods
from ones master, they still tell us much about the subject.
Like the earlier alchemists who used numerological correlations,
correspondences, and resonances297 to model their laboratory upon the cosmos, and
to model their ring patterns upon the natural temporal cycles of day and night,
moon, and seasons, the inner alchemists use cycles of trigrams and hexagrams from
the Yijing to represent, condense, and control macrocosmic time within the
microcosm of the human frame, and to infuse themselves with the creative and
transformative powers zaohua  of the Dao.
Within inner alchemy, there are at least three di erent temporal schemata for
ring elixirs.298 The rst schema, the Method of Matching Stems Najia Fa  
uses a sequence of six trigrams to represent the waxing and waning of yin and yang
over a lunar month. In the second schema, Twelve Sovereign Hexagrams Shier
Pigua 299 represents the changes of yin and yang during the twelve months
of a year, or the twelve hours of a day. The third schema, the Theory of Hexagram
Qi Guaqi Shuo  , uses sixty hexagrams to represent the thirty days of a
month, but this schema is rarely mentioned.
The schema of Matching Stems derives from the Yijing thought of Jing Fang
and Yu Fan,300 and is employed within the Cantong qi. As the Cantong qi became
popular within inner alchemy, so did the Matching Stems. In this schema, the trigram
Zhen   is correlated with the third day of the month, or shuo301 newmoon
296

Sivin, Chinese Alchemy and the Manipulation of Time, 518.

297

Sivin, Chinese Alchemy and the Manipulation of Time, 518.

298

Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 16974; Ma Jiren, Daojiao yu liandan, 14550. The rst person to identify four types of
Handynasty Yijing learning within the Cantong qi was Wang Ming, in Zhouyi Cantong qi kaozheng. These are
najia fa, shier pigua, guaqi shuo, and liuxu shuo  theory of six vacuities; Zeng Chuanhui, Yuandai Cantong xue,
34.
299

I have taken the translation Twelve Sovereign Hexagrams from Liu Tsunyan, Lu Hsihsing and His
Commentaries on the Ts ant ungch i, 224. They are also called the Twelve Hexagrams of Waning and
Waxing Shier Xiaoxi Gua 
.

300

Jing Fang  7737


; Yu Fan  164233
; Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 168.

301

Shuo is actually the rst day of the lunar cycle, but in the MatchingStems schema it belongs to this rst
period.

294

day within the lunar cycle. Here, Zhen represents the arising of fresh new yang out
of the pure yin of the end of the previous cycle; thus, out of  arises _ to make
. Zhen is followed by Dui , Qian  , Xun  , Gen  , and nally Kun
, then Zhen again. The gure below summarizes the correlative signi cances of
these six trigrams.
Zhen 

Dui

Qian 

Xun 

Gen 

Kun

Thunder


Satisfaction


Active


Compliance


Restraint


Earth


new yang

waxing yang

pure yang

new yin

waxing yin

pure yin

third day

eighth day

fteenth day

sixteenth day

twentythird day

thirtieth day

wangyue  full
moon

rst day after full


moon

xiaxian  last
lunar quarter

huiyue  dark
moon day

shuoyue  new shangxian   rst


moon day
lunar quarter

Fig. 4.8., The Matching Stems

Of the eight trigrams in the Yijing Fuxi arrangement, the remaining two
trigrams, kan
 and li  , do not appear within the Matching Stems. This is
because they do not t precisely into the pattern of waxing and waning of yang and
yin i.e.,  , and also because they have a more general function, acting as
gobetweens linking the other trigrams.302
The schema of the Twelve Sovereign Hexagrams is found in a Handynasty
Yijing commentary,303 and in the Cantong qi. In this schema, six yang hexagrams
waxingyang hexagrams, xigua  are followed by six yin hexagrams waningyang
hexagrams, xiaogua  . The cycle begins with Fu   , Return , which is
correlated with the zi  doublehour and the eleventh lunar month, and represents
the arising of new yang out of pure yin. Fu is followed by Lin 
, Tai  , and so
on. Figure 4.9 below summarizes the correlative signi cances of these twelve
hexagrams.

302

According to one interpretation of the cryptic Xici zhuan phrase 


owing everywhere within the six
vacuities zhouliu liuxu ; Yijing, Xici zhuan, 2.8.1; Rutt, The Book of Changes Zhouyi, 428 , while the
other six hexagrams have xed positions in a circle, kan and li enter the center of this circle, and, in the form of
the celestial stems wu  and ji , move about freely between the other hexagrams; Hao Qin, Longhu dandao,
17072.
303

Yu Fans  commentary to Xici zhuan; Ma Jiren, Daojiao yu liandan, 147.

295

Hexagrams of
Waxing

Fu !

Lin $

Tai 

Dazhuang 

Guai &

Qian 

xigua 

Return


Overseeing


Peace


Great Strength

Resolution

Active


zi  hour
11th month;
winter solstice
dongzhi 

chou  hour

yin  hour

chen  hour

si  hour

12th month

1st month

mao hour
2nd month;
vernal equinox
chunfen 

3rd month

4th month

Hexagrams of
Waning

Gou '

Dun (

Pi 

Guan %

Bo 

Kun 

xiaogua 

Encounter

Withdrawal

Obstruction

Viewing

Peeling

Earth


wu  hour


wei
hour


shen hour


you  hour


xu hour


hai hour

5th month;
summer solstice
xiazhi 

6th month

7th month

8th month;
autumnal equinox
qiufen 

9th month

10th month

Fig. 4.9, The Twelve Sovereign Hexagrams

Alchemists use the Matching Stems and Sovereign Hexagrams to understand


the natural cyclical changes of the pharmaca or elixirs within the microcosm of the
body,304 and to understand what they ought to do at each stage of the cycle. The
moment when the pharmacon should be gathered is called Fu the Return of
yang. During the initial short stage after gathering the pharmacon, the adept may
transport the pharmacon along the lesser orbit from the lower to upper dantian;
following the Sovereign Hexagram schema, he advances the yang ring jin yanghuo
"#, or applies hot, martial ring, through the six hexagrams of waxing yang, and
then withdraws the yin tallies tui yinfu 

, or applies cool, civil ring, during

the six hexagrams of waning yang. At the mao and you points, the midpoints of these
two halfcycles, he will cease ring altogether, which is called bathing the
pharmacon a metaphor drawn from laboratory alchemy. During lesserorbital
circulation, the adept may also correlate his ring with the position of the
pharmacon along the orbit within his body. While transporting the pharmacon up his
spine along the superintendent tract, he may use martial ring to smash through the
unyielding JadePillow Pass at the occiput; while transporting the pharmacon down
the conception tract, he may use civil ring. In this schema, the mao and you points

304

Yu Yan introduces a theory that qi naturally circulates along the lesser orbit within the body, and if the adept
knows this, and harmonizes his microcosmic cycle with the macrocosmic cycle, he can harness the macrocosmic
power of qian  and kun  within his corporeal microcosm; Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 408.

296

would be located at the midpoints of the two tracts, in the spine and abdomen.305
During later stages of ring, the adept may circulate the progressivelyfusing
pharmaca either along the lesser orbit as above, or along the greater orbit.306 Instead
of gathering the new pharmacon at the Fu point, now he may need to glean rened
qi, and deposit this qi in his lower dantian. In this case, rather than using the
Sovereign Hexagrams, he will use the Matching Stems to determine the points of
shangxian
the rst lunar quarter and xiaxian
the last lunar quarter , when he must
glean this qi.
Alchemical texts often say that the adept ought not to try to slavishly to map
the images
xiang  existing within the bodily microcosm onto macrocosmic
patterns; that is, the adept should not assume that he must gather the pharmacon at
the zi doublehour between 11 pm and 1 am, or glean qi on the eighth and twenty
third days of the lunar cycle. Rather, the adept should watch for signs or emblematic
scenes
jingxiang  307 within his own body
for the solo cultivator or in the body
of the partner
for the sexual cultivator , and then use the trihexagrams as labels for
these signs, and the trihexagrammatic systems of correspondences as frameworks
for linking individual bodily signs into repeatable patterns.
Yet most alchemists may also speak as though there is an active link between
microcosmic cycles and macrocosmic cycles rather than merely a metaphorical one.
In ZhongL texts, or texts inspired by ZhongL teachings,308 the adept may
actually measure the duration of ring by counting his breaths on a rosary, and he
may change the duration or heat of ring to match the season.309 Or, the adept may
try to match the heat of the ring to the time of day. This latter practice is found in
alchemical teachings from the period of integration,310 or the late imperial period.311
305

Ma Jiren, Daojiao yu liandan, 152.

306

The da zhoutian , usually involving the middle and lower dantian
the lesser caldron and furnace , or
involving circulation throughout the whole body.
307

Ma Jiren, Daojiao yu liandan, 152.

308

Such as the early Quanzhen text DZ 244, Dadan zhizhi.

309

Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 268; Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 473.

310

Li Yuanguo, Daojiao qigong yangsheng xue, 272, discussiong Wang Daoyuan.

311

Hao Qin, Longhu dandao, 277, discussing Liu Huayang; or Ma Jiren, Daojiao yu liandan, 143 44, reecting the

297

The cycle of the Sovereign Hexagrams may be applied simultaneously on di erent


time scales. For example, on one time scale, one complete circulation of the
pharmaca on the lesser orbit may take only as long as one inhalation during which
the adept advances the yang ring and exhalation during which the adept
withdraws the yin tallies. At the same time, the adept could be correlating the
Twelve Sovereign hexagrams with the twelve doublehours of the day with
advancing and withdrawing each taking half a day, and with the twelve months
of the year with each phase taking half a year.
A complete account of the uses of these schemata within the alchemical eld
would be quite complex. Zeng Chuanhui says that 1 Some solo alchemists use the
Matching Stems for the ring periods of the lesser orbit, and the Sovereign
Hexagrams for those of the greater orbit. 2 Some solo alchemists do the opposite.
3 Some solo alchemists use the Matching Stems for gathering the pharmaca and the
Sovereign Hexagrams for the ring periods. 4 Some solo alchemists use the
Matching Stems for the ring periods and the Sovereign Hexagrams for oral
instructions i.e., instructions regarding other issues . 5 Some sexual alchemists use
the Matching Stems for the female partners pharmacon and ring periods, and the
Sovereign Hexagrams for the adepts pharmacon and ring periods. 6 Some sexual
alchemists use the Matching Stems for the pharmacon and ring periods, and the
Sovereign Hexagrams as oral instructions when approaching the partner.312
Robinet is correct to point out that alchemists often warn against
mechanically mapping microcosmic to macrocosmic cycles,313 yet the same
alchemists who do pro er such warnings e.g., Liu Huayang, who advocates a wuwei
approach to alchemy are also making these direct micromacrocosmic correlations
themselves. More research is required to determine whether this is due to situational
rhetoric, di erences between stages of attainment within a single alchemical system,
systematic ambiguity, or simple contradiction.
Alchemical writers usually say that the ring periods are secret, and one may
latterday