Alchemists, Mediums, and Magicians: Stories of Taoist Mystics
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Here is an introduction to the magical and mystical realm of Taoism through biographical and historical sketches of Taoist adepts over two thousand years. This panoramic view of the many faces of Taoism and its intimate connection with Chinese culture and society includes intriguing accounts of the Taoist secret societies that carried out mystical exercises and powerful consciousness-altering techniques, including sensory deprivation, incantation, visualization, and concentration.
This collection of sketches, compiled by Zhang Tianyu, a Taoist priest in the fourteenth century, and translated by renowned translator Thomas Cleary, portrays more than one hundred remarkable individuals from the eleventh century B.C.E. to the thirteenth century C.E. It introduces us to a broad and fascinating range of personalities including philosophers and scholars, magicians and mediums, alchemists and physicians, seers and soothsayers, and artists and poets, among many others.
Cleary’s expert translation and informative footnotes make this collection a lively and accessible read.
vessel were still there. The governor sighed, “The master’s practice was exceptional; it’s just as if he simply molted.” So then he composed a eulogy for him. 1. In Henan. 2. In Henan. 3. The word used for disposition here means “substance” and implies inborn nature or character. 4. In Henan. 5. Wang Dao was a minister of state for Emperor Yuan of the Jin dynasty (r. 317–323) and mentor to his successors Emperor Ming (r. 323–325) and Emperor Cheng (r. 326–342). 6. Wen Jiao was
calligraphy and painting. He was able to perform the various arts people practice as soon as he was exposed to them. Later he went along to Nanhuo, then back to Muliu.45 In 512 he followed Tao back to Maoshan, where he went on to receive maps of the five sacred mountains and the Inner Writings of the Three August Ones.46 In the autumn of 513 his family announced that his relatives were going to come to live in the mountains. He went off to stay in a separate lodge in the west hills. Ziliang
aim look up the road and stop. How could it be that heaven does not favor loftiness? Why is so little heard of the mountains and forests?” So then he went into seclusion on Maoshan, determined to spend the rest of his life there. Shu’s family was scattered by civil war when he was young. Wherever he lived, robbers and bandits did not invade, so there were always several hundred families depending on him. In the first year of the Tianxi era  of the Chen dynasty, Emperor Wen summoned Ma to
reappeared during the Sui and Tang dynasties.” According to Announcements of the Realized, “The Maestro of the Cliffs of Hong is now the Realized Man of Green City;111 his grave is in Guzang county in Wuyi.”112 1. In Shandong. 2. Shamen shizhi. No such text seems to be extant. At a glance, shizhi looks like a misprint for baozhi, in which case the title would yield the name of the notorious Buddhist monk (shamen) Baozhi, who appeared at the court of Emperor Wu of Liang and whose standard
Accumulated Blessings of the Highest Purity Path. In 1097 the emperor decreed that the Hermitage of the Hidden Spirit where he had lived in Jiangningfu be made the Monastery of Accord with the Origin, and in a separate decree ordered that the religious establishment of the Mountain of the Three Maos, Dragon and Tiger Mountain36 of Xinzhou, and Gezao Mountain37 in the Linjiang commandery be made the Three Mountains for scriptures and charts.38 Emperor Huizong enlarged the monastery; augmented its