Making Transcendents, cap. 8

pp. 219-220 summoning of ghosts in hagiography of Liu Gen, according to Traditions of Divine Transcendents

p. 219

" "Causing ghosts to appear is quite easy." Gen borrowed a brush and inkstone and composed a memorial. [In a moment,] a clanging sound ... could be heard outside, and then came a long whistling sound, extremely plangent. ... In another moment, an opening several dozen feet wide appeared in the south side of the chamber, and ... crimson-clad swordsmen then appeared, escorting a carriage straight through the opened wall into the chamber. The opened wall then returned to its former state. ... With that, the crimson-clad guards flung back the shroud covering the carriage to reveal an old man and old woman tightly bound inside. ... Upon examining them closely, the Commandant saw that they were his own deceased father and mother. ... The ghosts reprimanded him ... . ...

p. 220

As the carriage moved out, the wall opened back up; then, when it was outside, the wall closed again and the carriage was nowhere to be seen. Gen had also diappeared."

pp. 221-222 alteration of earlier historical record of deaths of saints into later hagiographic account of their bodily ascension into heaven


earlier record

later account


"Fan[ Ye]’s History [of the Later Han (Hou Han S^u 57:1841-2)] ... records Luan [Ba] as having killed himself while under guard

while Ge[ Hon]’s Traditions maintains that Luan ascended into the heavens as a transcendent".


C^en Wei’s wife "died, according to Huan Tan’s ... New Discourses (Xin lun ...),

but Ge’s Traditions ... states she performed shijie and departed into transcendence."

p. 222 rumors spread concerning supposed "instances of shijie, "escape by means of a corpse substitute," and bingjie, "escape by weapon.""

"the adept Wang Yuan’s lay supporter, Chen Dan, on the Occasion of Wang’s death :

"Chen knew that Wang had departed as a transcendent and so did not dare bury his body in the ground.""

Ge Hon : Traditions

"when the adept Gu Qiang ... died of illness at the home of one Huang Zheng,

Huang "suspected he had transformed and departed. ...""

Nei Pian 20:348

pp. 225-230 the adept Fei Z^i, according to a stele found at Luo-yan in 1991 Chr.E.

p. 225

"Fei ... of Anle in eastern Liang district, Henan ... habitually dwelt atop a jujube tree, not descending for three years. ...

p. 226

Now at this time a red qi accumulated and filled the skies. ... the ... man of the Dao atop a jujube tree ... dispelled the calamitous anomaly. ...

The Lord ... emerged holding two bundles of mallow. ... Thus was confirmed the Lord’s spiritual power. ... He traveled several myriad li in less than the space of a single day; he wandered out to the eight extremities, resting in transcendents’ courts. ...

p. 227

The Lord took Zhang Wu ... of Wei commandery, Yanzi ... of Qi, and Huang Yuan ... of Haishang as his teachers, and was befriended by Master Redpine ... ."

p. 228

"The divine transcendent ... retreats into silence, solemn as a submerged dragon."

p. 230

"The Regional Transcendent ... saw the barrens of the Queen Mother of the West and received [from her] a dao of transcendence. The disciples following the Great Master ... were five : Tian Yu ..., Quan ... Zhong ..., Songzhi Jigong ..., Bi Xianfeng ..., and Master Xu ... ["Xu You" (fn. 54)]. All consumed stony fat and departed as transcendents."

p. 244 diverse evaluations of Ji Kan (223-262 Chr.E.), who was put to death (Jin S^u 49) [under false accusations of treason?]

"In the Wang Lie story, a stony, longevity-inducing substance, then an esoteric text written in a strange script, spontaneously appear to Wang but mysteriously become unavailable when he tries to share them with Ji. ...

But ... the hagiography of Ge’s own father-in-law, Bao Jing, contains a passage implying that Ji, though apparently executed in 262, was still alive strumming on his zither in Bao’s own company long after that event."

p. 238 hagiography of (Tan Gon-fan’s teacher) Li Ba-bai (‘Li Eight Hundred’), according to Traditions of Divine Transcendents

"Li Babai was a native of Shu. ... Successive generations had seen him, and people of the day calculated his age to be 800, hence his sobriquet. ...

Li wished to teach Tang and transmit text to him, so he first went to test him. He pretended to be a hired servant ... . ... Li then pretended to fall ill an to be near death. ... Li then declared to Tang, "I am a transcendent. ... I will now transmit to you instructions for transcending the world." He then had tang, his wife, and the three maidservants who had licked him bathe in the wine he himself had bathed in, and they all reverted to youth ... . Afterwards he transmitted a scripture on elixirs in one fascicle to Tang. Tang entered Mount Yuntai [‘Cloud Terrace’ Mountain – "otherwise known as Tianzhu shan (Celestial Pillar Mountain) in Cangxi district, Sichuan Province" (fn. 70)] to make the drug. When it was complete, he ingested it and departed as a transcendent."

pp. 232-234 dedicated to the transcendent Tan Gon-fan : inscription (discovered in the Son dynasty) dating from the Eastern Han

p. 232

Gon-fan of C^en-gu (in Han-z^on area) "was Thearch Yao’s ... . ...

He soared up to the luminous brilliances,

driving and riding yin and yang,

flying into the limpid [heavens] and treading floating [clouds].

p. 233

... in the second year of Wang Mang’s regency [7-8 C.E.], ... the Lord was ... eating melons in the garden when there was a Perfected Person [z^en-ren] nearby. ...

The Perfected Person ... arranged a meeting ... at the top of the mountain at the Xi valley entrance. There he presented the Lord with a divine medicine, saying, "After ingesting it you can travel at will over thousands of miles and you will understand the speech of birds and beasts."

p. 234

... a rat gnawed through the [prefect’s] chariot roof. The Lord drew a jail on the ground, summoned the rat [into it] and killed it. ...


Gongfang quickly returned to the valley entrance and called on his master ... . His master returned with him in order to give Gongfang and his wife an elixir to drink ... . ... So they daubed the elixir on the house posts and made the livestock and domestic animals drink it. In a moment a great wind {tornado, rather than typhoon?} ... appeared, gather up Gongfang, his wife, their house and their domestic animals, all of them flying upwards and departing together. ...

In the past, [Wan-zi] Qian ..., Song ...[Redpine], Cui [Wen-zi] ..., and Bo ... [Whitestone] all attained the Dao alone, but Gongfang ascended and crossed over with his entire household."

pp. 242, 235 absence of frosts & of noxious animals

p. 242

According to the Annotated Classic of Waterways, "On the day Gongfang ascended and became a transcendent, his son-in-law was traveling and had not returned. ... It is said that there is no trouble with killing frosts, krakens, or tigers in the area. The local people credit him with this. This is why [the town] is called Xu [Son-in-law] village."

p. 235

According to the inscription found in the Son dynasty, Gon-fan "has accordingly caused Xi village to be without mosquitoes ..., free of frost".

pp. 237, 240-242 Tan rat

p. 237

According to the Bo-wu Z^i ("Treatise on Curiosities") by Z^an Hua (d. 300 Chr.E.), "When Tang Fang ascended to become a transcendent, his chickens and dogs went with him. There was only a rat that he didn’t take with him. ... It’s called Tang’s Rat."

p. 240

According to the Lian-z^ou Ji (cited in Yi-wen Lei-ju 95:1658-9), "North of the Zhi ... Rover is the Zhi...xiang Mountain. On it is a shrine to the transcendent Tang Gongfang ..., and just north of the temple is a large hole. ... this was the site of his former house; when Gongfang lifted up his household and ascended into transcendence, it left a hole there. On the mountain there is a "guts-changing rat." Three times a month it vomits ... out its guts. This is what Shu Guangwei ... called Tang’s rat."

p. 241

According to the Yi-yuan ("Garden of Marvels") by Liu Jin-s^u, "The Tang rat ... has a rather long tail and is of a greenish-black color. On the side of its belly is an appendage resembling intestines, which sometimes grows discolored and falls off. {umbilical cord?} The rat is thus also called "changing-its-guts" rat. Formerly the transcendent Tang Fang took his household and ascended into the heavens. His chickens and dogs all went with him. Only a rat fell back down. It did not die, but its guts now protrude three inches. It changes them every three years. It’s commonly called Tang’s rat. It lives in Chenggu and the Sichuan area."

p. 242

According to the Annotated Classic of Waterways by Li Dao-yuan (d. 527 Chr.E.), "Tang was styled Gongfang and was a native of Chenggu. He practiced a dao and became a transcendent, entering Mount Yuntai to synthesize and ingest on elixir. He ascended into the heavens in broad daylight. His cocks now crow in the heavens and his dogs bark in the clouds. [fn. 81 : said also of Liu An] He left only a rat behind ... . The rat ... began spitting up its guts on the last of every month, and grow new ones. So people today call it Tang’s rat." [p. 245 Lun-hen ("Arguments Weighed") by Wan C^on (27-97 Chr.E.) citeth xian-aspirants’ ascription of this ascent, whereby "his dogs and chickens were in the heavens as well and barked and crowed in the clouds", to Liu An prince of Huai-nan.]

pp. 243, 248 history of Liu An (d. 122 B.Chr.E.), patron of the 8 Sires (who wrote the Huai-nan-zi)

p. 243

Liu An was unjustifiably put to death for taking merely "symbolic steps toward the proclamation of a new dynasty," {toward a mystic kingdom not of this world}.

p. 243, fn. 94

According to the Han S^u (44:2145), Liu An "spoke of arts of divine transcendence and the yellow and white" (viz., alchemy) {-- but since alchemy had been patronized by the deposed Qin dynasty, he may have been accused of inciting sympathy for restoration of the Qin dynasty}.

p. 248, fn. 100

"Gan Bao’s Record of an Inquest into the Spirit-Realm (Soushen ji) ... 1:15 records a song Liu An is reported to have sung on meeting the Sires."

pp. 247-253 legends of the transcendence of Liu An

p. 247

according to the Fen-su Ton-yi by Yin S^ao, "An, prince of Huainan, summoned several thousand masters of esoteric arts as guests; wrote the Swan’s Jewel ...; and completed [alchemical] gold and silver in a cauldron, thus ascending to the heavens in broad daylight."

p. 248

According to the Treatise on Curiosities by Z^an Hua (232-300 Chr.E.), "Han prince of Huainan ... obtained a dao and ascended upward."


According to Ge Hon’s Traditions, "Liu An, prince of Huainan, was a grandson of Han emperor Gao [Gao Zu ‘Exalted Progenitor’, founder of Former Han dynasty, Liu Ban]. ... He wrote an Inner Book (Neishu ...) in twenty-one chapters [fn. 102 : "This is the ... Huainanzi, which still exists in twenty-one chapters (one important recension is preserved ... as DZ 1184); Inner Book was its original name".]; he also authored "central chapters" (zhongpian ...) in eight section, which spoke of matters concerning ...

p. 249

the "yellow and white" [fn. 103 : "That is, matters of gold and silver, or alchemy"] and were titled The Swan’s Jewel (Hongbao ...). And he wrote the Myriad Ends (Wanbi ...) in three fascicles, which discussed ways of transformation.

There were Eight Sires who ... penetrate ...

the Three Tombs (Sanfen),

Five Exemplars (Wudian),

Eight Cords (Basu), or

Nine Hills (Jiuqiu), ...

matters of the utmost depth and remoteness, ... hidden principle and natures ... . ... The Sires ... are ... in possession of a way ... known as ‘turning over a stone to find jade’ or ‘reaching into a grotto to find a pearl.’

p. 250

... the Eight Sires transformed into youths of fifteen ... . At this, the gatekeeper was shocked and ran to inform the prince. Upon hearing the news, the prince immediately rushed out to greet them, not even stopping to put on his shoes. Together they climbed the Longing for Transcendence Tower, where [the prince] spread out brocade canopies and ivory mats, lit hundred-harmonies incense, brought out stools of gold and jade, and comported himself as a disciple. Facing north, he ... said, "... I have loved the Dao and its Power ... as distant as the Milky Way. ... I only beg you lords of the Dao to ... teach me, that I might, like a caterpillar who borrows a swan’s wings, depart from earth and fly upward to heaven!" At this, the Eight Sires changed back into old men and declared to the prince :


"... One of us can sit and summon wind and rain,

stand and call up clouds and fog,

draw on the ground to form rivers, and

pile up soil to form mountains.


One of us can topple mountains,

plug up springs,

tame tigers and leopards,

summon dragons and krakens, and

dispatch spirits and ghosts.


One of us can divide himself into multiple bodies,

alter his countenance,

appear and disappear at will,

conceal the six [types of] troops, and

bring on darkness in broad daylight.


One of us can ride on emptiness,

pace the void,

cross over the ocean waves,

enter and exit where there is not open space, and

go a thousand li in a single breath.


One of us can enter fire without being burned,

enter water without getting wet,

take knife blows without being cut,

get shot at without being pierced,

not fee cold in the depths of [winter] and

not sweat in the height of summer.


One of us can transform himself in a myriad of ways,

become whatever he likes,

turn into a bird, beast, plant, or tree in an instant,

move all manner of creatures and

p. 251

land formations at will, and

transport palaces and houses.


One of us can quell fires,

rescue others from danger,

avoid all manner of calamities,

extend his years,

and lengthen his lifespan ... .


And one of us can decoct clay to form gold,

distill lead to form mercury,

refine the eight minerals,

fly aloft with the ‘flowing pearl,’

ride dragons hitched to cloud[-carriages], and

drift and wander about in the [Heaven of] Grand Purity.


... An ... asked for a demonstration of it; all of them – the transformations, the winds, clouds, and fogs – proved effective.


... when Liu An was falsely accused by the Gentleman of the Interior ..., he ascended into heaven with the Eight Sires. Imprints were made in the mountain stone on which they [last] stepped, and today the tracks ... are still visible there.

Legend has it, as An was in the process of departing as a transcendent, ... chickens and dogs ... all flew upwards as well."

p. 252

According to the Nei Pian 20:350, Xian Man-du recounted that : "In former times when Liu An, prince of Huainan, ascended to the heavens for an audience with the Thearch on High, he sat spread-legged, spoke loudly, and referred to himself as "I, the single man." For this he was assigned to guard the celestial latrine for three years."

[comment by author :] "his spread-legged seated posture, literally "like a winnowing basket," was used to ward off demons".

p. 253

Li Dao-yuan described, in his S^ui-jin Z^u ("Annotated Classic of Waterways") 32:407, "his visit to the temple to Liu An on Eight Sires Mountain in or near Shouchun ... district :

... In the temple was drawn an image of An and the Eight Sires. They were ... all dressed in ... feathered cloaks."

{These 8 Sires may well be prototypes of the later "8 Immortals".}

p. 254 Don Z^on-s^u, in the hagiography of Li S^ao-jun, according to Traditions of Divine Transcendents

"Before he died, he told his son, Daosheng, "When I was still young, I obtained Li Shaojun’s esoteric medicine. At first I didn’t believe in it; ... I will carry my regret over this with me to the Yellow Springs ... . ... If you persist in taking this medicine, you will certainly transcend the world."

pp. 255-256 hagiography of Kon An-guo, purported discoverer of the "old text" "of the Book of Documents embedded in the walls of his ... family home."

p. 255

"Kong Anguo was a native of Lu. ... He reached 300 years of age and had the appearance of a boy. He secluded himself in Mount Qian [in An-hui Province (fn. 123)], [but] he had hundreds of disciples as followers. ...

There was a certain Chen Bo ..., a native of Anle ["of Anle district, situated in modern Shunyi district, Hebei Province" (fn. 124)], who sought to serve him ... for three years. Anguo then ... told him :

"When I was young, ... I only received methods

p. 256

for attaining earthbound transcendence ... . But then I began to serve ... the minister of the ancient kingdom of Yueh, Fan Li ... [mentioned in Traditions of Exemplary Transcendents], who had changed his names and remained in seclusion ... . He ... transmitted to me secret macrobiotic methods by which one is able to transcend the world. It was by them that Da Wu, Si Cheng, Zi Qi, Jiang Bo, and Tu Shan managed to revert to youthful appearance after reaching 1,000 years in age. Since the time when I received this Way, I have been ingesting its drugs for over 300 years. I transmitted just one of the methods to Cui Zhongqing ... [fn. 127 : "Cui Zhong (NP 15.272)"] when he was 84 years old, and he has been taking the product for 33 years now. ... You should go and serve him."

So Chen Bo did so. He received his methods, and he, too, transcended the world and did not grow old.

There was also the wife of a certain Zhang He ... . At the age of 50, she ingested [the elixir] and reverted to the appearance of someone in her early twenties. ... At the age of 86, she gave birth to a son.

Anguo also taught several other people; they all lived 400 years. Afterward he entered the mountains and departed."

p. 257

"In his Inner Chapters, Ge cites a work titled simply Esoterica (Miji ...) that is attributed to Kong Anguo. The cited passage concerns Zhang Liang ... (d. 187 C.E.), a figure known in the histories ... as an advocate of Laozian values at the Han court. It maintains that Zhang was in fact a student of the ancient Sire Yellowstone (Huangshi gong ...) and his teachers the Four Elders (Sihao ...) – all ... transcendents themselves. Zhen had, thanks to methods received from them, achieved transcendence".

p. 257, fn. 130

"An old man who associates himself with the "yellow stone" at Mount Jicheng, and who bestows an esoteric ... manual on Zhang Liang, appears in Han shu 40.2024. Sire Yellowstone receives a biography in Huangfu Mi’s Traditions of Eminent Masters (Gaoshi zhuan ... 2:12a-13a), and ... manuals (perhaps including methods for summoning spirit-troops) were attributed to him ... . Two versions of a "sil text" attributed to him are also preserved in the Daoist Canon (DZ 1178, 1179) ... , and the preface to the latter version says the text was found during the Jin disorder in Zhang Liang’s tomb." (cf. Schipper & Verellen : The Taoist Canon, 64-5.)

Robert Ford Campany : Making Transcendents. U of HI Pr, Honolulu, 2009.