Chinese Healing Exercises, 4


4. (pp. 128-61) "Pathways to Immortality".

pp. 128-9 Tan-dynasty Daoism

p. 128

"Tang dynasty (618-907) ... Daoists ... created a complex ordination hierarchy, joining the three major medieval schools of

Celestial Masters, Numinous Treasure, and Highest Clarity

into one system. ... They became a part of the political structure, managing state-sponsored Daoist temples in all districts of the empire, serving in key ritual and official functions".

p. 129

"And, of course, they wrote a number of essential works on self-healing and self-realization. These works ... actively integrate medical techniques ... with the practices common to healing exercises ..., then on this basis systematically guide followers to spiritual attainments through more cosmic-oriented exercises, which include talismans, meditations, and qi-absorption. The works of the great Tang masters are longer and more intricate [than those of masters in praevious dynasties], and they place exercise practice firmly in the transition between healing and spiritual transcendence."

p. 133 ethics, according to the Fu-s^ou Lun ("On Happiness and Long Life", DZ 1426) by Sun Si-miao

"The key to being good, apart from accumulating "hidden virtues" by doing good deeds that may not even be recognized, is

to appreciate one’s standing within the greater scheme of things or remain within one’s allotment, the share (fen ...) one has in the world." (2a)

"In this context, Sun distinguishes nine different kinds of people :

sages who embody the Dao in nonaction;

worthies who know misfortunes but do not cheat to avoid them;

accomplished ones who obey destiny and do not pursue anything beyond their level;

faithful people who guard their faith and rest in calm tranquillity no matter what happens;

benevolent folks who are moderate and diligent, caring and circumspect in their relations with others;

ordinary people who observe the principles but are careless about their implementation; ignorant ones who are obstinate in their egotism ...; and, finally,

small men who actively go against the Dao ... without even thinking about the greater picture". (1a)

"One should examine oneself to see which category fits, then cultivate the attitude of the next higher level, so that one ends up with ... a dedication to service, benevolence, and destiny." (4b)

p. 134 rules of personal conduct, according to the Bao-s^en Min (On Praeserving Life, DZ 835) by Sun Si-miao

"Cut your nails on yinchou days ... . ...

Never face north to relieve yourself ... .

Observe all the taboos on Sun and Moon ... . ... .

... when getting up, put the left foot first. ...

Focus on performing the Seven-Stars Step ... . .

Sour flavors harm the muscles and

pungent flavors reduce good qi.

Bitter flavors diminish the heart while

sweet taste injure the will.

Salty flavors hinder your long life".

"Write this on your wall or door".

p. 140 actions which are prohibited according to the Z^en-z^on Ji ("Pillowbook Record", DZ 837) by Sun Si-miao

"Eating the meat of the zodiac animal corresponding to the year of one’s father’s birth".

"Eating the meat of the zodiac animal corresponding to the year of one’s own birth".

"Eating anything raw or the five pungent vegetables".

"Urinating while facing north". (6a)

p. 141 restrictions on sexual behaviour by adepts according to Sun Si-miao

"Female adepts should not get pregnant;

male adepts should not approach pregnant or menstruating women.

Both should venerate the gods and goddesses but not dream of engaging in sexual intercourse with them (Engelhardt 1989, 282)."

fn. 8 : "Sexual relations with divine beings were ... common ... among Tang seekers" {praesumably, only in their dreams}.

Engelhardt 1989 = Ute Engelhardt : "Qi for Life : Longevity in the Tang". In :- Livia Kohn (ed.) : Taoist Meditation and Longevity Techniques. Ann Arbor : U of MI. pp. 263-94.

pp. 141-2 benefits from self-massaging of areas of the head, according to the Z^en-z^on Ji








"prevent all wayward qi from accosting you."




"you will be able to see as far as ten thousand miles."




"you attain immortality."

p. 148 praeternatural music & luminance emanating from sleeping body of Si-ma C^en-x^en

[quoted from the Xu-xian Z^uan ("Supplementary Immortals’ Biographies", DZ 295) 1.2a; Engelhardt 1987, 41] "Suddenly the Daoist heard a sound. It seemed ... as if bells of gold and jade were sounding. ...

Then he saw a miniature sun on Sima’s forehead. It was about the size of a coin and spread a bright radiance.

{A variation to this is a set of praeternatural bright points (which I have seen; the points were all of different colors) simultaneously seen on the body of another person.}

He stepped closer and listened carefully. The sounds came from Sima’s head."

{I have likewise heard a praeternatural buzzing sound emerging from the head of another person.}

Engelhardt 1987 = Ute Engelhardt : De klassiche Tradition der Qi-U:bungen. Wiesbaden : Franz Steiner.

[Such praeternatural manifestation can apparently emanate only from the body of a person with whom "the deities were present" : those deities "were so prominent that their radiance issued from his head and their chanting could be heard" (p. 149)]. {The persons whom I witnessed emitting from their bodies luminance or sound, were likewise possessed of miraculous powers (consorting with divine flying-saucer pilots, etc.).}

p. 150 vanishment of Si-ma C^en-x^en

"In June of 735, after announcing his imminent transformation for transfer to an official post in the celestial administration, he sat quietly in meditation and, accompanied by white cranes, purple clouds, and celestial music,

ascended into emptiness, vanishing before the astounded eyes of his disciples (Engelhardt 1987, 51)."

p. 152 bodily correlations, according to the Fu-qi Jin-yi Lun ("Essential Meaning of Qi-Absorption") (14b) by Si-ma C^en-x^en

the __


the __


correspond to






relate to



linketh with


p. 156 incantation citing correlations of directional substances nourishingly with the body, according to the Fu-qi Jin-yi Lun (3a-b)

O! __ __

of the __

do be absorbed to feed my internal __ :

I drink thee through the __

Green Sprout


green sprout

Morning Flower

Vermilion Cinnabar


vermilion cinnabar

Cinnabar Lake

Lofty Great Mountain


essence & qi

Sweet Spring

Radiant Stone


radiant stone

Numinous Liquid

Mysterious Sap


mysterious sap

Jade Sweetness

fn. 14 "The practice, including the chants, is also presented in the Taixi qi jing (Highest Qi Scripture Nourishing Life through Embryo Respiration, DZ 819), translated and discussed in Jackowicz 2003."

Jackowicz 2003 = Stephen Jackowicz : The Mechanics of Spirit : an Examination of the Absorption of Qi. PhD diss, Boston U. {published in 2009}

pp. 156-7 Green Sprout

p. 156

"The sprouts ... assemble at dawn in the celestial capital, from where they spread all over the universe until the sun begins to shine. Turning like the wheels of a carriage, they ascend to the gates of the nine heavens ... – to the five sacred mountains ruled over by the five emperors of

p. 157

the five directions – and finally descend into the individual. ... (Robinet 1989b, 166)."

Robinet 1989b = Isabelle Robinet : "Visualization and Ecstatic Flight in Shangqing Taoism". In :- Livia Kohn (ed.) : Taoist Meditation and Longevity Techniques. Ann Arbor : U of MI, Center for Chinese Studies Publ. pp. 157-90.

p. 157 return to the primordial qi

"The individual returns to the primordial state of being and is like an embryo, but ... he or she is now nourished in the womb of the universe, the body corrected to be only zhengqi [harmonious qi]. The universe is zheng and the individual partakes of its nature ... of universal correctness. ... Primordial union has been reestablished, and the practitioner partakes of the unlimited supply of original. primordial, ever-circulating qi. ([Jackowicz] 2006, 82-83)"

Jackowicz 2006 = Stephen Jackowicz : "The Complexities of the Absorption of Qi". In :- Livia Kohn (ed.) : Daoist Body Cultivation. Magdalena (NM) : Three Pines Pr. pp. 68-90.

pp. 158-60 formalities for adepts : their daily routine of practice of inner alchemy, according to the Dao-s^i Ju-s^an Xiu-lian Ke ("Rules on Refining Cultivation for Daoist Masters and Mountain Hermits", DZ 1272)




[paraphrased translation] "Adepts begin with the absorption of qi ... at sunrise in a special chamber set up for this purpose. They burn incense, face east, and strike the sacred lithophone nine times to announce their intention to practice. Next, to the rhythmic beat of the lithophone they chant an incantation that invokes the deities in charge of qi and its cultivation to help them in their effort to gain ... no-death, activate the twenty-four cosmic energies in their bodies, and provide them with divine guards that will protect them at all times (1a).

With divine help, they open the inner palaces in their bodies ...,


overcome all hunger and thirst, and eventually ascend to heaven as flying immortals ... . The actual practice begins with adepts ... lying down supine ... . ... their hands ... are curled into fists. In their minds, adepts actualize the presence of the Six Jia deities who are responsible for the different aspects of the body in relation to time and space as well as the gods of the Niwan Palace in the head and the cinnabar or elixir field in the abdomen. They feel how these divine agents pull in the living qi from Heaven and Earth through the nose and allow stale qi from their bodies to be released through the mouth. ... At first the ratio is three inhalations to one exhalation; this is gradually increased to a ratio of twelve to one ... (1b).


... The goal is to reach a stage of the "long breath" (changxi ...) and continue the practice to the count of 360 or even 1,200.

{This is the breathing-aequivalent to the drinking (or eating) of food by the gallon at one sitting (which I have habitually done); which is feasible because it is being transported away praeternaturally by the deities, in order to be consumed by needy beings elsewhere.}


Only when this has been accomplished should adepts begin to hold their breath and make it so subtle that ... the breath is reversing ..., creating a continuity of qi-flow and a sense of being submerged and immersed in qi. ... Still lying supine, adepts ... lift their arms up toward the ceiling ... . ... (2a).

Next, they open the hands and lift the palms up to the ceiling ... . ... Next, ... they pull both knees


into the chest, hold their feet with their hands ... . ... (2b).

... This is followed by a resting period ... . To conclude the session, adepts ... pray for the qi that descended in the beginning to exit again from their bodies and return to Heaven, thus creating an open set of pathways between their bodies and the cosmic sphere. ... (3ab).

... At that point they should be able to survive on nine dried dates per day ... . ... Only at this point is it feasible to stop eating completely and live entirely on qi ..., advancing to a hundred days or even a year or two (4b)

(see Arthur 2006)."

Arthur 2006 = Arthur, Shawn : "Bigu and the Daoist Body". In :- Livia Kohn (ed.) : Daoist Body Cultivation. Magdalena (NM) : Three Pines Pr.

pp. 160-1 vows for adepts




"The methods of qi-absorption and the liberation from ordinary food are transmitted in a formal ceremony ... .... The specific ceremony for qi-absorption ... was administered to adepts ... who would go to live in the mountains for extended periods of time, becoming hermits ... . ... Their precepts reflect this, insisting that they remain silent, live in


solitude, and avoid all encounters with anything potentially defiling (23b-24a). ...

Thus mica should be taken ... only after the ingestion of sesame for a year ... (24b).

Similarly, mica should be collected only on a cloudy day ... (25a)."


Livia Kohn : Chinese Healing Exercises : the Tradition of Daoyin. A Latitude 20 Bk, U of HI Pr, Honolulu, 2008.