Teachings and Practices of the Early Quan-z^en Taoist Masters

p. vii "Chapters 3, 4, 6, 8, and 9 of this book are heavily revised versions of chapters from my 1989 master’s thesis, "The Beliefs and Practices of Early Ch>u:an-chen Taoism". ... (A slightly different version of chapter 5 has appeared in the Journal of Chinese Religions 29 [2001] under the title "Seeking Signs of Proof ... .")"









Cultivating Clarity & Purity



Asceticism of the Masters



Cultivating Health & Longevity



Visions & Trance



Miraculous Powers of the Masters



Death & Dying



Compassion of the Masters





Capp. 1-3


1. (pp. 1-20) "Introduction".

p. 201, n. 1:1 Quan-z^en for householders

"Although Quanzhen temples in northern China are, as a general rule, monastic establishments, the same is not always true in the southern provinces. There, particularly in Guangdong and Hong Kong, one can find temples staffed by Taoist clergy who affiliate themselves with the Quanzhen School but are householders."

p. 2 spirit-writing

"the early Quanzhen masters are said to be immortal beings who can be prayed to for aid and guidance, or even encountered in meditation traces and dreams. Images of them are enshrined and worshipped in temples. Non-monastic Quanzhen organizations in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and overseas sometimes communicate with them through spirit-writing (fuji) [p. 202, n. 1:6 "The characters are written with ... a peach wood stick and a tray of sand".] – especially with Lu: Yan". [p. 205, n. 1:23 "Lu: Yan (sobriquet, Chunyang; style name, Dongbin) ... born at the end of the eighth century ... is an important deity among the popular spirit-writing cults."]

pp. 10-1 dreams dreamt by disciples of Wan Z^e

p. 10

Ma Yu : "one night he dreamt of two cranes alighting in his vegetable garden; this inspired him to build a Taoist monastery". [according to Jin-lian Z^en-zon Ji 3/4a-b]

p. 11

Tan C^u-duan : "One night in a dream he encountered the Great Emperor and Astral Lords of the Ursa Major and upon waking made the resolution to dedicate himself to the Tao." [according to Li-s^i Z^en-xian Ti-dao Ton-jian Xu-pian 2/1b]


Hao Da-ton : "he once had a dream in which a "divine man" (shenren) revealed to him the secret meanings of the Yi jing, and thus he acquired his great divinatory skills." [according to Li-s^i Z^en-xian Ti-dao Ton-jian Xu-pian 3/6a]

p. 11 hearing a voice by Wan C^u-yi, a disciple of Wan Z^e

"he ... heard from midair the voice of "the master of the Palace of the Mysterious Court" (Xuanting Gongzhu)." [according to Li-s^i Z^en-xian Ti-dao Ton-jian Xu-pian 3/1b-2a]

p. 15 miraculous powers of Wan Z^e

"Along with exhibiting clairvoyance on numerous occasions, Wang Zhe

manifests his form in multiple locations,

emits radiance from his body,

heals diseases with talismans or by physical contact,

makes a boulder stop in midair,

throws an umbrella to a location 100 km. away, and so on."

p. 17 largest Taoist canon

"the restoration and expansion (completed in 1244) of the Xuandu baozang ("Precious Storehouse of the Mysterious Capital["]) in 7,000 volumes, the largest Taoist canon ever compiled."


2. (pp. 21-38) "Cultivating Clarity and Purity".

pp. 22, 25 abstruse instructions by Wan Z^e

p. 22

[quoted from C^on-yan Quan-z^en 1/8a]

"All becomes manifest to you as the circular light reaches completion,

Guiding forth the golden elixir and fetching the jade fungi."

p. 25

[quoted from C^on-yan Li-jiao S^i-wu Lun (DT1221/TT989) 3b]

"make your mind be like Mt. Tai ... . ...

One who is able to be like this already has his/her name recorded in the ranks of the immortals, even though his/her body resides in the dusty world."

p. 29 practitioners’ examining their own thoughts

[quoted from Qin-he Z^en-ren Bei-you yu-lu (DT1298/TT1017) 1/5b-6a] "Barefooted Master Liu [C^u-xuan] once said ..., "It figured that Mater-Father Tan [C^u-duan] would complete the Tao early on. ... In the evening he would examine all the thoughts that had arisen [in his mind] since morning. In the morning he would examine all the thoughts that had arisen [in his mind] since evening. ..."".

[quoted from Qin-he Z^en-ren Bei-you yu-lu 2/7b-8a] "When our predecessors ... trained themselves, during each and every moment, they examined their thoughts. When they became aware of even a single bad thought, they always confessed it to others, in order to bring humiliation and shame upon themselves."

p. 31 attaining true merit

[quoted from C^on-yan Quan-z^en Ji 10/21a; based on Jin Z^en-ren Yu-lu 3a]

"Realized Man Jin [Jin Z^en-ren = (?) Jin Dao-c^en] said,

"Without movement and without action, in true clarity and true purity,

embrace the origin and guard the One,

preserve your spirit and solidify your qi. This is true merit.

If you want true deeds, you should cultivate benevolence and accumulate virtue,

by relieving the poor and rescuing those who suffer. ...

In whatever you do, put others first and yourself last. ... This is true deeds. ...""

pp. 32-3 sayings by Ma Yu & by Qiu C^u-ji

p. 32

[quoted from Ma Yu, in Z^en-xian Z^i-z^i Yu-lu 1/4a] "If you train yourself in this way you will definitely become a Divine Immortal. ... Secretly accumulate merits and deeds; do not seek for recognition from people,

p. 33

but only wish to be observed by Heaven."


[quoted from Qiu C^u-ji, in Z^en-xian Z^i-z^i Yu-lu 1/15b] "To forgive others and withstand insults, ... this is your inner daily sustenance. ...

To put others first and yourself last, to put yourself in accord with others, this is your outer daily sustenance."

pp. 35-7 instructions in internal alchemy

p. 35

[quoted from C^on-yan Quan-z^en Ji 10/20b] "The commentary to the Yinfu jing says, "The spirit is the child of qi, and qi is the mother of the spirit."


When the child and the mother meet each other, you can become a divine immortal."

{"Blending of the Clear Light of the Mother and the Son." (TY&SD 4:32)} {"reuniting the Clear Lights of the Mother and of the Son" (GL, p. 52)}

p. 36

[quoted from Jin Z^en-ren Yu-lu 1b-2a] 1. "[stage] one. Concentrate your whole mind on the inside of the Cave of the Immortals in your Lower Elixir Field ... . ... Darkly and silently, constantly and without ceasing, diligently maintain this for three to five years. Naturally within the crucible of the elixir furnace, the two energies (spirit and qi) will converge with each other, warmly becoming ... a soul of vacuous non-being. The womb’s

p. 37

immortal completes its vessel. The spirit in the heart naturally becomes numinous, jumping in joy, dancing and singing all by itself. ... Naturally, ... the way of immortality will be accomplished.

[stage] two. ... Naturally, in the qi of the Tao, amid purity and clarity, the spirit ascends to the Upper Palace. ...

[stage] three. ... Be pure and serene ... . Hereby the Great Tao Without Limits is accomplished."

TY&SD = Walter Yeeling Evans-Wentz : Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines. Oxford U Pr, 1935; 2nd edn 1958. , http://books.google.com/books?id=GjDEf0Hit2sC&pg=PA229&lpg=PA229&dq=%22clear+light+of+the+mother%22&source=bl&ots=dzspekk69X&sig=s08LQXW4o8-T8zDYD9RQYOD7ip0&hl=en&ei=sFKnTqztIoPAtgfrk8kk&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CCAQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=%22clear%20light%20of%20the%20mother%22&f=false

GL = John Myrdhin Reynolds (transl & commentator) :

The Golden Letters : the three statements of Garab Dorje. Snow Lion Publ, Ithaca (NY), 1996. http://books.google.com/books?id=SJbxvDZOZz8C&pg=PA52&lpg=PA52&dq=%22clear+light+of+the+mother%22&source=bl&ots=QdaC_hU2Tz&sig=HGvwRsLYrEuVuSUGkQws5Tlc9lo&hl=en&ei=sFKnTqztIoPAtgfrk8kk&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBsQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22clear%20light%20of%20the%20mother%22&f=false


3. (pp. 39-56) "Asceticism of the Quan-z^en Masters".

p. 39 "Ode on Laziness"

[quoted from C^on-yan Quan-z^en Ji 1/9a-b]

"In my dreams, with my brush, I record my good causes. ...

A paper cloak and hemp robe always clothe my body.

With my messy hair and grimy face I am perpetually in complete Reality."

p. 39 [set to the tune of] "Night Wandering Palace" (Ye-you Gon)

[quoted from C^on-yan Quan-z^en Ji 4/6a]

"When I thoroughly nurture my spirit and qi, ... I enjoy true serenity,

And enter into the red mist and yellow-green fog."

pp. 40-1 advantage of voluntary poverty

p. 40

[quoted from Ma Yu : Dan-yan Z^en-ren Yu-lu 10b-11a]

"A person of the Tao must not dislike being poor.

Poverty is the foundation of nurturing life. ...

p. 41

Therefore understand that the single matter of purity and clarity cannot be acquired by the wealthy."

p. 41 discalced in order to become a barefooted immortal

[quoted from Ma Yu : Jian-wu Ji (DT1133/TT786) 1/2b]

"Vowing unto death to go barefoot, ...

Refining the mercury and boiling the lead,

My deeds are fulfilled and my merit is complete.

I [thus] become a barefooted immortal of Peng[-lai] and Ying[-z^ou]".

[p. 217, n. 3:6 : Penglai and Yingzhou, along with Fangzhang, make up the legendary Three Divine islands – dwellings of immortals ... thought to exist somewhere to the east of the Shangdong Peninsula. This legend was likely inspired by the mirages that are known to periodically appear off the coast of this peninsula."]

p. 41 "Living in the Hut"

[quoted from Ma Yu : Jian-wu Ji 2/21b]

"Wax candles I do not burn,

but I make bright the candle of my [Real] Nature.

Garoo wood incense I have no use for,

since I can burn my heart’s incense (sincerity of will and devotion)."

p. 43 voluntarily taking on the semblance of a fool

[quoted from Liu C^u-xuan : Wu-wei Qin-jin C^an-s^en Z^en-ren Z^i-z^i Yu-lu (DT1048/TT728) 3b] "Accomplished men of old ... took on the outer appearances of fools."

{"We are fools for Christ’s sake" (1st Epistle to the Korinthians 4:10).}

p. 43 abandoned post of governmental minister for brothels

[quoted from Dan-yan Z^en-ren Yu-lu 5b-6a] "Sir Haichan (Liu Cao) was originally a minister of the land of Yan. [p. 218, n. 3:12 : "Yan was the name for a region in northeast China that included present-day Beijing. Liu Cao served under the Liao dynasty ... of the Khitan people".] One morning he realized the Tao. Thereby he cut off his family connections. His poetry includes the words "I abandoned and left the 3,000 people of my household fires (domestic life and its attachments). I abandoned my personal troops which numbered one million." ...

He got to the point where he would go into brothels carrying barrels of liquor."

{In the Su-han region, Liu C^>an-s^en "exchanged his monkish garb for the fine array of a rich merchant and walked into one of the most exquisite brothels in the town." (STM 20 (p. 115)).}

STM = Eva Wong (translatrix) : Seven Taoist Masters. Shambhala, Boston, 1990.

p. 45 self-detrimental vs. self-benefiting self-induced sufferings [quoted from Liu C^u-xuan : Wu-wei Qin-jin C^an-s^en Z^en-ren Z^i-z^en Yu-lu 6b-7a]

"The confused people of the world make themselves suffer by coveting life and entering into the road of death.

Straining their minds they use cleverness, and thus their [real] Nature sinks into the land of punishments.

One who understands the Tao makes himself suffer by training his body. ... it is like shattering a rock to take out a piece of jade.

Staining his will power he forgets cleverness and therefore his [Real] Nature ascends the Nine Skies."

p. 47 destiny

[quoted from Qiu C^u-ji, in Z^en-ren Z^i-z^i Yu-lu 1/12b-13a] "Even if you have not yet acquired the Tao, if your roots of goodness are deep and solid, support for a holy sage will come to you in this life or the next. One who has no roots of destiny is far [from salvation] indeed! ... I did not have bones of destiny ... . [Thus] even though I have met an insightful master (Wang Zhe), I have not yet completed [my self-cultivation] ... . Danyang (Ma yu) and Changzhen (Tan Chuduan) were predestined, and thus they were able to rise and fly beyond the heavens at will after ten or five years."

p. 50 asceticism of Liu C^u-xuan, a disciple of Wan Z^e

[quoted from Jin-lian Z^en-zon Ji 4/5a] "The teacher [Liu C^u-xuan] hid his traces in Luojing (Luoyang) .... . ... His mind was like ashes ... . His body was like a tree ... . ...

If someone asked him something, he would answer with hand gestures."

{Similarly with Meher Baba.}

p. 50 asceticism of Qiu C^u-ji, a disciple of Wan Z^e

[quoted from Jin-lian Z^en-zon Xian-yuan Xian-z^uan 28a] "After mourning [Wan Z^e’s death] in a graveside hut for two years, [Qiu C^u-ji] entered the Panxi Gorge ... . He lived in a cave ..., going about wearing a grass mantle. ... After this he hid himself in Mt. Longmen in Longzhou (northwestern Shaanxi) and performed acts of suffering as he did in Panxi."

p. 51 asceticism of Wan C^u-yi, a disciple of Wan Z^e

[quoted from Jin-lian Z^en-zon Ji 5/2b] Wan C^u-yi "went back and forth between Deng[-z^ou] and Ning[-hai] (both located on the north coast of the Shandong Peninsula). At night he would return to the Cloud Radiance Grotto (... located on Mt. Cha) where he stood at the entrance on one foot facing the great sea for nine years".

p. 51 asceticism of Hao Da-ton, a disciple of Wan Z^e

[quoted from Jin-lian Z^en-zon Ji 5/7a-b] "The teacher (Hao Datong) ... was begging in Wo[n]zhou when he suddenly understood the secret words of Chongyang (Wang Zhe). ... Consequently he went to a bridge and sat silently and motionlessly upon it. ... He was like this for three years. People called him "Mr. Speechless." ... He just sat under the bridge for three more years. Water and fire overturned, yin and yang came together, and the Merit of Nine Cycles was completed."


Stephen Eskildsen : The Teachings and Practices of the Early Quanzhen Taoist Masters. State U of NY Pr, Albany, 2004.