Wu Yun, cap. 1

p. 15 mt. Yi-di

"Wu Yun praises Yidi shan as the foremost of all the wonderfully shaped mountains of ... the ancient state of Chu ... . Also known as

Mount Qili ... (‘Stands Like A Horse’),

Mt. Qiji ... (‘Forked jujube’) or

Mt. Wudao ... (‘Five Clusters’),

it has been ... located one hundred and thirty li (on foot) northwest of Zi shan ... (Purple Mountain), which is itself situated twenty-five li north of Nanyang."

p. 24 the 1st imperially-authenticated Daoist canon

"The end of the Kaiyuan era saw the culmination of a systematic and nationwide search for Daoist scriptures with the compilation of the Sandong qionggang ... (‘Exquisite Mainstays of the Three Caverns’)."

pp. 27-28 gift of elixir to a waiting-maiden of the Pretious Consort

p. 27

"Shen Yuanzhi ... stayed in the Kaiyuan guan ... . In those days, also ... Wu Yun ... upheld the "vogue of mystery" (xuanfeng ...) ... . Even [emperors] Wu of the han and [Taiwu of] the Yuan-Wei [dynasty] had not gone this far in their veneration of the Way."

When the waiting-maiden Z^ao Yun-ron besought of him,

p. 28

"Yuanzhi gave her a scarlet snow pill, saying : "If you ingest this pill, your body will not deteriorate after you have died. ... if a piece of genuine jade is put in your mouth ..., your hun will not waste away and your po will not disperse. After one hundred years you will come to life again. This is the ‘way of grand yin for refining the body’ (taiyin lianxing zhi dao ...). It will enable you to become an earthly immortal. Another hundred years later, you will move your residence to a grotto-heaven." When Yunrong ... fell ill in the Lanchang palace ... Yunrong recounted her conversation with Shen Yuanzhi to the Precious Consort. ... Yunrong died ... . At the end of the Yuanhe era ..., one hundred years had passed, and Yunrong indeed came to life again."

pp. 29-30 thaumatourges

p. 29

Shen Yuanzhi ... would seem to be the same person as the Celestial Master Shen ... who once guided Xuanzong on a well-known trip to the moon." [In other variants of this account, the dream-guide "is not Shen Yuanzhi but Luo Gongyuan, Ye Jingneng or Ye Fashan." (p. 30, fn. 92)]

p. 30

"Xing Hepu ... was a Daoist priest and fortune teller, and according to his hagiography, knew a method to raise the dead."

pp. 31-32 visionary audience with a divine emperor

p. 31

Xiao Con-yi (a Daoist priest of Tai-qin Gon ‘Great Peace Palace’ temple) said : "As I came by the Gate of the Three Pure Ones (Sanqing men ...), a purple cloud suddenly descended from heaven, while exceptional music resounded. ... In mid air I saw a singular man, accompanied by immortal lads and jade maidens. He spoke to me :

p. 32

I am the August Emperor of the Mysterious Prime (Xuanyuan huangdi). You may report the following to my grandson : ‘You ([the emperor] Xuanzong) are a Perfected One from the Upper Worlds (shangjie zhenren ...) ... . ...’

p. 32 "Xuanzong’s sponsorship of Daoism indeed exceeded anything seen before."

p. 33 transmission-lineage of the "method of the Orthodox and One"

it was bequeathed is succession to "[the Master of] __"

"Undefiled Whiteness"

"the Ascent to the Mystery"

"the Embodiment of the Mystery"

pp. 37-38 the mountain-range Son

p. 37

"Song shan is the collective name for

Taishi shan in the east,

Shaoshi shan ... in the west and

some seventy minor peaks strewn in between them, spanning some sixty kilometers."

p. 38

"Daoists have venerated Song shan as the sixth of the Thirty-six Lesser Grotto-heavens ..., named Sizhen Dongtian ... ."

p. 38, fn. 122

"Sometime during the Jin dynasty, an old man fell into a large cave situated in Mt. Song’s northern part. After some ten days of searching through the grotto, the old man ran into two immortals who gave him "jade broth" to drink ... . ... After a long journey through a tunnel, the old man finally emerged on Mt. Qingcheng about half a year later ... . ... Qingcheng is the fifth of the ten Major Grotto-heavens ... ."

p. 38, fn. 123 "Zhang Xunliao ..., who has examined a number of so-called "grave-securing texts" (zhenmu wen ...) of the late first and second centuries AD, has come to the conclusion that ... the Beimang shan diocese near Luoyang was, so to speak, the mother of all the dioceses."

p. 42 acknowledgement of receipt, by emperor Xuan-zon, of Wu Yun’s Xuan-gan (‘Mystic Mainstay’)

"Having perused these Veritable Instructions [z^en-quan], I have found them to be in profound agreement with what I envision in my dreams."

p. 43 proper sequence (according to Xuan-gan 11.9b) for perusing the the Dao-zan

one beginneth with

Z^en-yi (litourgical corpus of the Caelestial Masters)

next moveth to

Don-s^en (organized around the San-huan Wen)

dwelleth in

Lin-bao (the Don-xuan section of the canon)

and cometh to rest in

Don-z^en (the S^an-qin scriptures)

p. 44, fn. 144 "the appending of portions from Wu Yun’s Xuangang to Li Rong’s Daode jing commentary seems to have been the responsibility of Qiang Siqi ..., who compiled the Daode zhenjing xuande zuanshu around 900 [Chr.E.]."

p. 55 dream by emperor Xuan-zon

"Xuanzong dreamt of an immortal who introduced himself as an envoy from the Nine Heavens, charged by the Jade Emperor himself and Taishang Laojun with the task of inspecting the realm. The celestial envoy promised Xuanzong that, if a shrine were to be erected on Lu shan, the region would be blessed with 500 years of prosperity."

p. 60 transformations into animals (according to the Xuan-yuan Fu ‘Rhapsody on the Black Gibbons’)

In the story of the southern travels of king Mu of the Z^ou dynasty, it is told that "the noblemen transformed into gibbons and cranes, whereas petty men changed into insects and fish."

p. 65 environs of Kuai-ji

"The town of Kuaiji and its immediate surroundings housed no less than three major Daoist establishments :

the Ziji gong ... or ‘Palace of the Purple Culmen’ (... later renamed Tianqing guan ...),

the Qianqiu guan ... or ‘Abbey of a Thousand Autumns’ (... later renamed Tianzhang guan ...) and

the Kaiyuan guan ... .

Twenty-five li southeast of the town, on the mountain also named Kuaiji, stood the Longrui gong ... or ‘Palace of the Dragon Omen.’ It was believed that on the same spot the Yellow Emperor had once erected the Houshen guan ... or ‘Temple for Awaiting the Divinities.’ "

pp. 72-81 various spiritual techniques metaphorically described




"The neijing pian ... [‘Inner Prospects Book’] ...is ... short for Huangting neijing jing ..., the work which, recited ten thousand times, was supposed to confer immortality. ["Zhen gao, 15.10a describes a method of a Master Meng ... whereby once recites the entire Huangting neijing jing once before going to sleep every evening. When practiced ..., one achieves immortality after 21 years." (fn. 237)] ...

The reading of both Huangting neijing and Huangting waijing ... is furthermore advocated in the sections on qi absorption (fuqi ...) and sexual practice (shoushen ...) of Wu yun’s Discourse on the Feasibility of Consolidating Body and Spirit (Xingshen kegu lun ...)."


"Out of its precious box emerges the Golden Register,

The Flowery Pond is rinsed by the Jade Spring. (Du Yi)"

"Du Yi’s second line ... would ... refer to two legendary ponds in the Kunlun Mountains, mentioned in the Shi ji, which quotes the Basic Annals of Yu, and the chapter ‘Tan tian’ ... in the Lun heng ... ."


"A wonderful dragon goes where its wings take it,

Green banners descend from the mists. (Li Qing)"


"The references to dragons and banners is reminiscent of the hagiographies of Wang Yuan ...and Cai Jing ... in the Shenxian zhuan ... ." ["The green banners (qingjie ...) are also found in a ‘Preface Taking leave of Two or Three Perfected of the Central Marchmount’ ... by Chen Zi’ang ... ." (fn. 244)]


"Where formerly the Cinnabar Furnace was left behind,

It has now been transformed into seas and fields. (Liu fan)"

"The Cinnabar Furnace ... occurs in Jiang Yan’s ‘Rhapsody on Separation’ (bie fu ...), where the alchemical exploits of a Daoist master of Huayin, who in the end "reverted to immortality" ..., are described."


"Cultivating the form, one courses the two luminants,

Refining the bones, one lives a thousand years longer. (Xie Liangbi)"

"The "two luminants’ (er jing ...) ... some prefer to render as "radiances" or "phosphors" ... .


"In the Zhen gao, Tao Hongjing also mentions "the way to course the two radiances" ..., otherwise known as the method of Yilin ... . [DZ 1016, 18.12a]"


"Riding a bamboo staff, I throw it into [Lake Ge]bei,

Carrying a gourd, I suspend it beside the window. (Zheng Gai)"

"The gourd and the bamboo staff which is ridden and then thrown into the lake are ... references to the well-known story of Fei Changfang ... meeting the old man in the gourd, Hugong ..., as told in both the Hou Han shu ... [82B.2743-5] and the Shenxian zhuan. ... Thrown into Lake Gebei ..., the staff changed into a dragon."


"Far away is the mouth organ’s music of Yi and Luo,

On Penghu, the sun and moon stand slantways. (Fan Xun)"

"When travelling between the rivers Yi and Luo, Wangzi Qiao met a Daoist master, a certain Fuqiu gong ..., whom he followed up Song shan.

Penghu ... is better known as Penglai ..., one of three mythical islands ... reputedly shaped like a gourd."


"A black mule is pulled along by Ji Xun,

A white dog is led by Boyang. (Qiu Dan)"

"Both references are to animals brought back to life by immortals ... . ... Qiu Dan seems to have in mind the Shenxian zhuan here, where ... the color of Ji Zixun’s donkey is specified as black."


"Wei Boyang, traditionally credited with the authorship of the Cantong qi ..., was followed by a white dog as he went into the mountains. {cf. Yudhis.t.hira, along with his brethren, being followed, subsequent to Kuru-ks.etra, by the hound Dharma (according to the Maha-bharata)} ... Wei Boyang revived himself, his faithful disciple and his dog, after which they all became immortal."


"Once the Way is achieved, one is able to contract space,

When merit is abundant, one will rise up to heaven. (Fan Yan)"

"Contracting space (suodi ...) was one of the things Fei Changfang was said to be capable of. [Baopuzi neipian jiashi 12.228; Lishi zhenxian tidao tongjian 20.9b]"

pp. 86-87, fn. 281 visitations of a dream-goddess succuba (translation adapted from RE&LSTCh, p. 157)

p. 86, fn. 281

"they came up below the Temple of the Younger Aunt. ... He caught sight of a girl in a green robe, aged fifteen or sixteen and very pretty. Zhu Ao ... felt surprised that she should be wearing warm clothing in summertime. He ... questioned her. She smiled, said nothing, and walked into the temple. Zhu Ao ... found no sign of anyone there. Then he looked at the paintings on the walls and saw in them a girl in a green robe – the girl he had seen on the road. ...

p. 87, fn. 281

That night while asleep he dreamed that the girl came to him. And ... in an access of pleasure his semen poured out. This happened several night in a row. Wu Yun, a Daoist priest of Mount Song, wrote out for him a talisman to drive her away, but this proved impossible. Wu then used Daoist techniques ... to control her, but that too failed." {a possible implication may be that Wu Yun was in secret collusion with the green-clad dream-succuba}

RE&LSTCh = Glen Dudbridge : Religious Experience and Lay Society in T’ang China. Cambridge U Pr, 1995.

pp. 86-88 biography --according to Yun-ji Qi-qian (= DZ 1032), 115.8a-9b; and Lishi zhenxian tidao tongjian (= DZ 298), 5.11b-13a -- of Wu Yun’s female disciple ne’e Wan from Kuai-ji




"Mrs. Wang ... frequently recited the Huangting jing. ... In those days, Celestial Master Wu Yun was roaming [the mountain ranges] Siming and Tiantai, Lanting and Yuxue and had taken up temporary residence in Shanyin. ...


Mrs. Wang thereupon visited the Celestial Master ... . ... It was her ambition to "fly away at daybreak." Therefore she abstained from cereals and practiced qi ingestion. ... At a certain moment, there was a strange fragrance; bizarre clouds drew near and spread their glow over her residence. ...

One day, she suddenly said to her maidservant : "... Only after twenty years will I obtain liberation ... . When I die, do not use a coffin; you can make a tent out of cedar wood and put my corpse in the wild. ..."


That evening she passed away. The family members ... did as she had told them. ... Moreover she did not change. ... Twenty years later ... was the coldest winter month; suddenly by the side of the tent the sound of thunder was heard. ... The whole family ... ran out to see what had happened. When they lifted up the corpse, the body was as light as if it were an empty shell."

87, fn. 282

"This is similar to the last moments of the Daoist priestess Huang Lingwei ..., who enjoined her disciples not to nail her coffin shut but to cover it with crimson gauze instead. Also the thunderclap at the moment of transformation from corpse to immortal is found in both accounts. See ... R. Kirkland, "Huang Ling-wei : A Taoist Priestess in T’ang China," Journal of Chinese Religions 19 (1991), pp. 57-73."

p. 88 the 2 categories of immortals

"The Lady of the Southern Marchmount (Wei Huacun) once said : "Of those who obtain [union with] the Way, the highest class ascends to heaven in broad daylight; their body and bones all flying upwards, they fill a vacancy as a Perfected Official. Next are those who exuviate like snakes and cicadas; their ... essence ascends to heaven. They all become immortal humans and reside on magic mountains!"

p. 89 praevalence of priestesses

"the Tang dynasty, and the eighth century in particular, represents the apogee of feminine Daoism, more than a third of the Daoist clergy consisting of women."

pp. 90-91 death of Wu Yun

p. 90

"Wu Yun, while halting at a Daoist monastery in Xuancheng ... (in southeastern Anhui), ... "reverted to perfection" (fanzhen ...) inside an "empty room" (xushi ...), i.e., a room where meditation is practiced."

p. 91

According to Don-xiao Tu-z^i 5.41, "Previously, the Celestial Master had once addressed his followers with these words : "When I die, it is befitting to move my remains to the [Cavern of ] the Stone Chamber on [Mount] Tianzhu. ..." Therefore his wish was complied with."

p. 93 Cavern-Heaven mountains & other blessed places visited by Wu Yun

__ s^an (__ mountain)

housing the __ __ Grotto-heaven


6th Lesser


8th Lesser


31st Lesser


10th Lesser


9th Greater


9th Lesser

Xian-du (in Jin-yun county)

29th Lesser

Yi-di (nigh Nan-yan)



blessed place


blessed place

p. 94 Daoism’s 72 fu-di (‘blessed places’) are listed by Du Guan-tin in the Don-tian Fu-di Yue-du Min-s^an Ji (= DZ 599), 10b. "Ge Hong, finally, had singled out Nanyang, Zhongnan shan and Goushi shan for special mention [in Bao-pu-zi 4.85 & 11.204-7] as belonging among the best places for immortality seekers."

pp. 99-101 post-mortem apparitions of Wu Yun

p. 99

"Barely two generations after Wu’s demise, the inhabitants of Kuaiji were convinced that, many years before, Wu Yun had been seen roaming the region of Yuezhou in the company of Ye Fashan, the Celestial Master from Kuocang, and the famous Immortal Elder Mao, who made frequent appearances in the lower Yangzi area ... . ... Wu Yun was thought to have joined the ranks of the immortals whose example he sought to emulate during most of his lifetime. The Taiji jilian neifa ... contains the following passage, [DZ 548, 3.39b] ...

p. 100

Numerous have been those immortals of earlier times who acquired the Way as a result of meticulous reflection. [The list includes] not only the Celestial Master of the Han (Zhang daoling), Liu Gen, Bo He ..., Bo Shanfu ..., Jie Xiang ..., Zuo Ci ..., Immortal Duke Ge (... i.e., Ge Xuan) and Wu Yun; also

the Scripture of the Great Cavern (Dadong jing ...),

the Scripture on Concentration and Contemplation (Dingguan jing ...)

and Guanyinzi ...

all discuss meticulous reflection."


"From time to time, Wu Yun would appear in someone’s dream. In ... a Jin ... dynasty collection of ... fantastic anecdotes, a pregnant woman dreamt about Wu Yun, who was looking for a place to spend the night. She described the Daoist priest as "a man ... who had the looks of an immortal." ...

p. 101

Another apparition by Wu Yun in a dream occurs in ... the Xuantian shangdi qisheng lu ... (D 958), which ... presents ... a very curious story about the financing of the restoration works of a temple dedicated ot the worship of Zhenwu [‘Perfected Warrior’, alias dictus Xuan-wu ‘Dark Warrior’]. ... In this story, Wu Yun ... appears at night in the dream of an official in order to exact twenty thousand cash from him."

SINICA LEIDENSIA, Vol. LXXII = Jan de Meyer : Wu Yun’s Way. Brill, Leiden, 2006. cap. 1 = pp. 1-102