Workshops 2018: Evolution of Wudang Taoist Inner Alchemy

Home workshops Workshops 2018: Evolution of Wudang Taoist Inner Alchemy
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Many thanks for your interest in this special journey to sacred Mount Wudang and the Taoist treasure, Wudang Taoist internal alchemy study!

Wudang Mountain, or Wudangshan, famous throughout China for its beautiful landscapes, covers an area of more than 800 sq. km. With its array of dramatic mountain peaks and primeval forests, Wudang has always been regarded as the meeting place between Heaven and earth. Throughout China’s history, the captivating scenery and legendary stories, have constantly drawn many Taoists and hermits to Wudang to cultivate the inner elixir for longevity, enduring health, physical and mental well being. Over the long course of history, Wudang Mountain has been regarded as the birthplace of primitive Chinese Taoism.

Wudang Mountain

Many famous alchemy practitioners of Taoism, have, at one time or another, been active in Wudangshan. The principle deity to be worshipped here is Zhen Wu (The Turtle God). In the old recorded annals, some of which are still available today, we learn that Zhen Wu was once prince of a state called Jing Loe. From a very young age, he preferred to read religious scriptures, and lost interest in taking over the role of emperor. At the age of 15, he bade his parents farewell, and left for Mt. Wudang to practice alchemy. In the course of the next 42 years, he met an endless succession of challenges, and finally became an immortal. Accordingly, Wudang Taoism is one sect characterised by its veneration of the Zhen Wu deity in the circle of ChineseTaoism. In the present time, the Immortal-converting Cave still hangs half way down the Southern Cliff, beckoning resolute practitioners to follow in his footsteps.

In the book, Zhen Hao, written by Tao Hong Jing, it is recorded that in the Zhou dynasty, Yee Xee and Yee Gui, the first and second disciples of Lao Tzi, practiced Taoist alchemy in Wudang. Their master Lao Tzi also visited his disciples there.

Chen Tuan is another very famous alchemist in the history of Taoism. Around A.D. 950, he began to practice inner alchemy in mount Wudang, continuing over a period of almost 20 years. He created the Five-dragon sleeping Qigong form, and later moved to Huan Shan. Nowadays people can still find the cave in which he practiced alchemy and read scriptures. He produced many poems and much calligraphy work, which are still enjoyed to the present day.

Lu Dong Bing is renowned in the Western world for his legendary tales and magic powers. He is one of the figures in the popular Eight Immortals legend. Lu Dong Bing wrote numerous poems in praise of the magnificent scenery and quietitude in Mt. Wudang. He also wrote many inner alchemy books while in Wudang. One is entitled ‘Personal Experience on Cultivating Elixir’.

Zhang Shanfeng is a mysterious Taoist of the Ming Dynasty. Through his efforts, physical Kung Fu and inner alchemy practice were combined, and thus Wudang Inner Kungfu Fu came into being, and has grown in fame ever since. Zhang Shanfeng created Tai Chi Chuan, Ba Gua Chang and Shing-I Chuan here in the Tai Tzi Cave, not far from Purple Heaven Palace. However, his inner alchemy attainment is of much greater significance than being credited with the creation of Kung Fu. He wrote numerous inner alchemy poems and articles that are still very popular in inner alchemy circles. His poem ‘A Tree Without Roots ‘ is much quoted in articles and books. ‘Elixir Cultivation Direct Revelation’ and ‘Tai Chi Skills in Cultivating Elixir’ are both widely known, in the present day.

The medicine King, Shun Si Miao, was once a famous Taoist and hermit. He stayed in Mt. Wudang for many years both for alchemy practice and to treat disease, and was actively involved in finding and gathering herbs. In Chinese medicine theory and practice, his book ‘Typhoid Fever Treatise’ is so important, that almost all TCM students have to study it to gain a well developped understanding of complicated diseases.

During the time of the Song Dynasty, Wudang Taoism significantly developed in scale, forming its own organizational framework, and constructing many Taoist buildings in the mountain range. Right to the present day, on the day of Zhenwu’s birthday and the immortal-converting date, countless groups of pious people from nearby provinces come here to worship Wudang Mountain.

Wudang Taoism evolved to reach its most prosperous stage during the Ming Dynasty. Cheng Emperor, Zhu-Li gave orders to work vigorously to enhance and develop Wudang Taoism, after he was crowned emperor. He gave all the relevant orders himself, personally, engaged in the renaissance and design of the Taoist edifices, sent qualified officials to supervise the projects, and demonstrated respect for the Taoists’ cultivation. By the time the building project was finished, many immense buildings had been constructed on both sides of the 140-km ancient road leading to the Golden Peak.

The following lists the famous alchemists of the Wudang area and from the accounts, you can well understand why and how to inherit the invaluable human wealth.

Yee Xie
Wudang figureAlso called Guan Yee. In the ancient book Worthy Figures Collection there recorded that YeeImmortalsXee once was an aristocrat in West Zhou Dynasty. At that time the Tao study became obscure and people lost interest in it. So, Yee Xee divined one time and knew a big figure would show up with purple color cloud in near future. He later went to work as the warder of Han Gu Pass in Shan’Xi Province and met Lao Tzu who was upon his way of wandering around westward. Yee Xee brough all his disciple to welcome Lao Tzu in sincere courtesy and invited him to stay in Lou Guan Tai temple for a rest. There Lao Tzu wrote his famous book Tao Te Ching and after finishing it he moved on to ShiChuan Province, inviting Yee Xee to meet him in Qing Yang Shi, a place in ShiChuan Province.
Later Yee Xee, on the excuse of feeling bad, sought to retreat as a hermit and wandered into ShiChuan Province. Late afterwards he came to Mt. Wudang and found a cave in First Heavenly Gate under the Heaven Pillar Peak. There he practiced internal alchemy for many years and nowadays people still can behold the stone door, stone house, stone bed in the cave. Some people call it Yee Xee Cave under which there is a creek called Ox Manger (or Green Sheep Creek). It is heard the Lao Tzu once reached here to pay a visit to his disciple Yee Xee and thre places are those they met. Lao Tzu and Yee Xee are commonly regarded as Gods in Mt. Wudang ranges.

Dai Meng
The Biography of Immortals by Ge Hong (283- 363) carries the following recording: Zhai Meng, family name as Yan, surname as Zhong Wei, lived in the period when emperor Han Ming reigned. He once was a famous army general who committed much credit and merit in fighting against the Mongolia invaders. But he resigned his status and went to Mt Hua and Mt Wudang and received the Jade and Gold Cannon and Stone Essence Incantation supplied by Immortal Fei. After years of practice his body became as light as a sparrow, flying freely among mountain ranges. Later local people called him Meng Sheng Tzu and once during his free flying he left his cap on top of a peak, this peak was thus named as Cap Remaining Peak in Mt. Wudang.

Ma Ming Sheng
The Biography of Immortals by Ge Hong (283- 363) carries the following recording: Ma Ming Sheng gained the knack of cultivating magic elixir pill and accomplished Golden Pill after practiced many years. He preferred to wander around bringing his living straw hut with him and people can not know who he really was. In Five Dragon temple people can find a house called Naturalness Hut and it is recorded that is his hermitage place. Also, the well called Alchemy Practice Pond in the Five Dragon Temple is the remains of his former practice site.

Yin Chang Sheng
The book Immortal Mirror carries the following recording: Yin Chang Sheng, from Xin Yee, was the grandson of empress Yin when emperor Han He reigned. When very young, he did not like the honor and status in society and liked to study immortal, Tao, alchemy subject. When heard of the story regarding Ma Ming Sheng, he visited many many mountains to search him and later met him in Mt. Wudang. Though born in a wealthy family, he worked hard to serve Ma Ming Sheng, who, however, preferred to talked about the worldly wealth and influence and power and how to administrate the world in face of many his disciples. In more than 10 years serving Ma Ming Sheng, Yin Chang Sheng never felt regrettable, though other 20 disciples left Ma Ming Sheng, one after another. In such way when time amassed to reach 20 years Ma Chang Sheng began to teach him the knack for serious alchemy practice. Yin Chang Sheng thus gained the success of alchemy practice in a stone cave under the Five Dragon Peak. People called it Chang Sheng Cave and such site continues to remain a tourist site here in Five Dragon Temple.

Xie Yun
A Taoist belonging to Upper Purity sect. A person in Li Yang, and once served as governor of Luo Yi. He liked to read all kinds of books and especially alchemy classics and behaved clean and capable with the governing affairs when he serves as a governor. Long cherished the ideal of resigning from the society and achieving the eternity, he undressed his office uniform and began to practice Tao in all efforts. He moved into Mt. Wudang in 258 and studied internal alchemy with Dai Meng. Later on he constructed a stone house in the mountains and within several years he gained his true ego and transcended all limitation in the worldly region. Later his body changed into light and disappeared. Till now people also called Mt. Wudang as Xie Luo Mountain, in memory of this accomplished practitioner.

L u Dong Bing
Master L u is a very famous accomplished Taoist figure in Western World. He was a person born in Pu Zhou in Tang Dynasty. Family name L u and surname as Dong Bing. Some people called him as Pure Yang Tzu. He tried several times in the national examination which selected the government officials but failed to gain any success. When he was 64 years old and wandered in Xi’An city, he chanced to meet Han Zhong Li who, the accomplished Taoist, found him a capable and qualified man for alchemy practice. After trying him many times to test his capability and morality, Han Zhong Li brought him to Zhong Nan Shan ( a mountain ranges in the south of Xi’ An) and taught him the learning of internal alchemy practice. Later he succeeded in his practice and began to wander around and did lot of magic deeds to help the poor and kind and punish the evil and the bad. His stories were carried in many many legendary books and circulate among general people. L u Dong Bing once visited Mt. Wudang and he even wrote several poet in praise of the imposing and fantastic Mt. Wudang.

Chen Tuan
Chen Tuan is a well-known Taoist in Northern Song Dynasty. He called himself Free Excursion Man and people called him White Cloud Gentleman. He was born in Hui Zhou, An Hui Province. ImmortalsAs Song History records, when young, Chen Tuan entertained the ideal to well administrate the world, help the poor and the kind and penalize the bad and illegal. Several times of failure along the course of government advancement he gradually understood more of society and later on he retreated to lead a hermit life in Nine Room Cave in Mt. Wudang. Nine Room Cave is a place now located in Yun county in Hubei Province in Mt. Wudang area. Now people still can find some caves and collapsed debris, but most of the part are covered under the wild grass. Later he moved to stay in Five Dragon Temple, the place where Ma Ming Sheng once stayed. He moved to stay in Mt. Hua and stayed there for 20 years. Now in Mt. Wudang people can find many Chen Tuan statues worshipped in the temples. Chen Tuan left behind him many many poem and writings.

Zhang Shou Qing
Also called Dong Yuan. Born in Yi Du in Hubei Province. He was the most well known Taoist in Wudang in Yuan Dynasty. He succeeded to the kernel of Chuan Zhen sect, Purity and Nothingness sect and Zheng Ye sect, and successfully founded the Wudang sect of Taoism system which worships Xuan Wu God and promotes the methods and learning from Purity and Nothingness sect. He worked hard in many ways to renovate the temples and construct new ones, and accepted as many serious disciples as possible. Zhen Qing Palace was constructed under his unswerving efforts and till 1,285 it was ready. Now it collapsed almost into nothing.

Zhang San Feng
In the Chinese history there existed two men called Zhang San Feng. One was born in the Sung dynasty (960-1279), who upon retirement retreated with disgust from the world to a Taoist monastery on Wudang Mountain, where he acquired his Taoist name of San Feng. He is said to have learned T’ai Chi Ch’uan in a dream, or after watching a bird and a snake fight. More likely, Zhang applied the Taoist health principles and knowledge of energy circulation to his vast ability in external kung fu, thus creating something really different – a martial art that dos not use muscle power as a primary source of movement, but Chi. Later he became an accomplished Inner KungFu master after long term practice with several teachers. Therefore, he was regarded as the common founder of all Taichi boxing schools.

Another Zhang San Feng was a native of I-Chou in LiaoTung Province. His scholar name was Chuan Yee and Chun Shee. He lived in Yuan dynasty (1279-1368).

The Chinese old book Ming History bearing records available in the monastery on Wudang Mountain does indeed mention him. Descriptions picture him as being seven feet tall, with the bones of a crane and the posture of a pine tree, whiskers shaped like a spear, winter and summer wearing the same bamboo hat, carrying a horsehair duster and being able to cover 1000 Li in a day, sometimes eating 50 Kg food in one meal, sometimes keeping fasting as long as several months, possessing amazing memory as to recite a scripture fluently after reading it just one time.

The early legends about Zhang San-Feng are linked with activities of Emperor Chengzu (1403-1424) who searched for Zhang for many years without results. By 1459, Zhang had been declared an Immortal and, as with most saints, stories of his miraculous powers became part of the folklore in the Wudang Mountain area. There is a fairly long tradition amongst Wudang Mountain martial artists and Taoists that attributes the development of soft style martial arts to Chang San-Feng and his disciples. In 1670, Huang Zongxi wrote a book called Epitaph for Wang Zhengnan in which Zhang San-Feng was called the founder of internal martial arts practiced near Mount Wudang.

Both the first Ming Dynasty Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang and the Emperor Zhuli gave the orders beckoning Zhang Sanfeng. In the letter written by Zhuli carried such words as “Great immortal aspires for something ethereal and ascends all limitations, thus beyond common people’s surmises. Your orphaned cherishes the idea to meet you day and night.” Yet, no one was heard to ever meet him ever since.

In YongZheng Period of Qing Dynasty, Wang Xeeling collected all articles written by Zhang San Feng and thus Full Collection of Zhang San Feng began to circulate among general society. Later Lee Xu Han, the founder of Western School of Taoism, re-edited the book and collected it to the enormous Taoism book Tao Zhang.

After more than 30 years of search and exploration, Zhang San Feng finally was apprenticed to Huo Long to study inner alchemy practice when he was almost 64 years old. By applying inner alchemy theory, Zhang San Feng made lot of improvement and correction to Taichi Boxing which was created by Zhang San Feng, the KungFu master in Sung Dynasty. So, most of people mistake the two Zhang San Feng as one Zhang San Feng and regarded him as one accomplished both in martial arts and inner alchemy.

In fact, Taichi boxing form set composes the first beginning phase for the inner alchemy practice. People can find such conclusion from one Zhang San Feng’s book Zhang San Feng Secret Skills For Taichi Alchemy. From other books written by Zhang San Feng people can know he widely absorbed the essence from Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism and held the three religions head the same target with different routes.

In his book Direct Explanation For The Mystery he introduced the different methods for inner alchemy practice according to diverse mental and physical constitution and the consecutive practice phases are consisted of discipline heart, fetus breathing, water wheel, cultivate elixir, etc.

His another book Great Dao was regarded as the guiding creed collection towards the understanding of the roots of three religions.

The Tree Without Root is a famous long poem. With the poem he emphasized his viewpoint that practitioners should cultivate both life force and primeval nature in the same time. He likened a human being’s life as a tree without root which means Jing, Qi and Shen are limited and continued consumption destines the final death from the very beginning. “People should not wait until the boat becomes too corrupt to sail out,” Zhang San Feng shouted to all people and warned all human beings.

Lee Shu Er
Also called Light Reserved Master. Born in Luo Yang, Henan Province, in late Yuan Dynasty. When young he began to study Confucius learning and had no desire for honor and influence. ImmortalsHe went to Five Dragon temple and lived a very poor life there, on coarse food and thin clothing. He preferred to read I-Ching book and Tao Te Ching and later understood the meaning in them. In early Ming Dynasty he became the normal Taoist and presided over the affairs of Five Dragon Temple. Later he renounced the post and sought retreat in Zhi Ran Hut and stopped almost all contact with anyone. In 1,405, the very old plum tree bloomed into flower and he regarded it as the sign for an abundant year and he sent Taoist Yi Ben Zhong to pay tribute to the then emperor, who offered back with 40 pieces of gold in return. Later the emperor called upon him to enter the court and asked about the country administration affairs and entertained him with high level of courtesy. Later he died and in Lang Plum temple people still can see the monument tablet in memory of him.

It is with this spirit of history, practice and exploration of Taoist Practice on Mount Wudang that we hold our special workshop in June and September 2010.

This training on Wudang between 2003- 2010 will be a very special offering by organizer Wudang Taoist Kungfu Academy, Wudang Taoist Association and prominent Taoism master Hu Xuezhi. We will teach a complete system of Taoist Daoyin, Taoist Internal Alchemy, Taoism and Buddhism theory, Tai Chi Chuan.

The practice of what is commonly referred to as “Qigong” is the first stage of practice in Taoist Internal Alchemy training. Qigong can be thought of as an art of discovering and mastering the Qi or Vital Energy — Qigong seeks to open the Energy Meridian System in the body, purify the Qi, store the Qi and bring our energy system back into a state of harmony – Giving one greater heath and balance in life. This is a very important first step in the Art of Internal Alchemy.

In higher levels in the practice of Nei Tan (Taoist Internal Alchemy), we are able to uncover an “Inner Medicine”. This “Inner Medicine” is able to uproot the direct cause of all disease and will give the student a wonderful sense of happiness and vital health. Yet, people are always making great efforts in searching for medicine externally, rather than searching within. The art of Taoist Internal Alchemy is a journey within — discovering the Original Nature and Essence of our True Self – Gaining Health, Vitality, and Harmony. We hope that people who have given up hope with their chronic disease will join us in this special course and training. through the patients own self effort and self practice of these ancient Taoist methods.

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