Inner Alchemy: Notes on the Origin and Use of the Term neidan - article ; n°1 ; vol.5, pg 163-190
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Inner Alchemy: Notes on the Origin and Use of the Term neidan - article ; n°1 ; vol.5, pg 163-190

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Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie - Année 1989 - Volume 5 - Numéro 1 - Pages 163-190
Le terme neidan désigne un ensemble de pratiques d'ordre physiologique et psychologique qu'on pourrait qualifier de yoga chinois. Destinées à prolonger la vie et, sur le plan mystique, à mener à la délivrance finale, ces pratiques s'étendent de la concentration et la méditation jusqu'à des exercices respiratoires et de gymnastique. Les techniques même furent connues dès la dynastie des Han mais le terme neidan ne figure pas encore dans les textes taoïstes de cette époque.
L'emploi de ce terme est un phénomène tardif qui, selon l'auteur, devrait se situer entre les dynasties des Tang et des Song. Une analyse historique et régionale des sources montre que le terme était utilisé d'abord dans certaines régions du Sud, où il semble avoir été lié aux montagnes sacrées telles que le Lofou Shan et le Heng Shan. Les informations concernant ce sujet sont tirées surtout des biographies des immortels taoïstes.
Quant aux différentes définitions du terme neidan dans les textes alchimiques, on note que souvent, le neidan est défini comme technique du Souffle, telle que la respiration embryonnaire (taixi) ou l'art de conduire le Souffle (xingqi). D'autres textes parlent du neidan comme d'une étape dans le processus alchimique, d'autres encore le comprennent comme médecine intérieure, ou comme une technique de pratique sexuelle (fangzhong) . La diversité de ces interprétations dans les enseignements de différents maîtres nous permettra peut-être, dans l'avenir, d'établir une liste des écoles au sein du courant neidan dans le taoïsme.
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Farzeen Baldrian Hussein
Inner Alchemy: Notes on the Origin and Use of the Term neidan
In: Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie, Vol. 5, 1989. pp. 163-190.
Résumé
Le terme neidan désigne un ensemble de pratiques d'ordre physiologique et psychologique qu'on pourrait qualifier de "yoga
chinois". Destinées à prolonger la vie et, sur le plan mystique, à mener à la délivrance finale, ces pratiques s'étendent de la
concentration et la méditation jusqu'à des exercices respiratoires et de gymnastique. Les techniques même furent connues dès
la dynastie des Han mais le terme neidan ne figure pas encore dans les textes taoïstes de cette époque.
L'emploi de ce terme est un phénomène tardif qui, selon l'auteur, devrait se situer entre les dynasties des Tang et des Song. Une
analyse historique et régionale des sources montre que le terme était utilisé d'abord dans certaines régions du Sud, où il semble
avoir été lié aux montagnes sacrées telles que le Lofou Shan et le Heng Shan. Les informations concernant ce sujet sont tirées
surtout des biographies des immortels taoïstes.
Quant aux différentes définitions du terme neidan dans les textes alchimiques, on note que souvent, le neidan est défini comme
technique du Souffle, telle que la respiration embryonnaire (taixi) ou l'art de conduire le Souffle (xingqi). D'autres textes parlent du
neidan comme d'une étape dans le processus alchimique, d'autres encore le comprennent comme "médecine intérieure", ou
comme une technique de pratique sexuelle (fangzhong) . La diversité de ces interprétations dans les enseignements de
différents maîtres nous permettra peut-être, dans l'avenir, d'établir une liste des écoles au sein du courant neidan dans le
taoïsme.
Citer ce document / Cite this document :
Baldrian Hussein Farzeen. Inner Alchemy: Notes on the Origin and Use of the Term neidan. In: Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie, Vol. 5,
1989. pp. 163-190.
doi : 10.3406/asie.1989.947
http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/asie_0766-1177_1989_num_5_1_947INNER ALCHEMY:
NOTES ON THE ORIGIN AND USE
OF THE TERM NEIDAN
Farzeen Baldrian-Hussein
Le terme neidan désigne un ensemble de pratiques d'ordre
physiologique et psychologique qu'on pourrait qualifier de "yoga
chinois". Destinées à prolonger la vie et, sur le plan mystique, à
mener à la délivrance finale, ces pratiques s'étendent de la concen
tration et la méditation jusqu'à des exercices respiratoires et de
gymnastique. Les techniques même furent connues dès la dynastie
des Han mais le terme neidan ne figure pas encore dans les textes
taoïstes de cette époque.
L'emploi de ce terme est un phénomène tardif qui, selon l'auteur,
devrait se situer entre les dynasties des Tang et des Song. Une
analyse historique et régionale des sources montre que le terme
était utilisé d'abord dans certaines régions du Sud, où il semble
avoir été lié aux montagnes sacrées telles que le Lofou Shan et le
Heng Shan. Les informations concernant ce sujet sont tirées surtout
des biographies des immortels taoïstes.
Quant aux différentes définitions du terme neidan dans les
textes alchimiques, on note que souvent, le neidan est défini comme
technique du Souffle, telle que la respiration embryonnaire (ta.hd)
ou l'art de conduire le Souffle fxingqij. D'autres textes parlent
du neidan comme d'une étape dans le processus alchimique, d'autres
encore le comprennent comme "médecine intérieure", ou comme
une technique de pratique sexuelle (Tangzhong) . La diversité
de ces interprétations dans les enseignements de différents maîtres
nous permettra peut-être, dans l'avenir, d'établir une liste des
écoles au sein du courant neidan dans le taoïsme.
Introduction
In recent years the study of Chinese religion in general, and of Taoist medita-
tional techniques in particular, has attracted the attention of scholars both
in the West and the Orient. Confusion reigns, however, in the use of the term
neidan p3f5", or "inner alchemy," since it covers a number of schools using one
or a combination of spiritual techniques. A twelfth-century author defines it
as a syncretic system comprising all the longevity methods. It is, moreover,
characterized by the use of a special esoteric vocabulary borrowed from
practitioners of waidan ^j-^-, alchemists. Although the latter often worked in
a laboratory and used various ingredients in an effort to turn base metals
into gold and silver or to concoct drugs which would cure diseases and
Cahiers d'Extrême- Asie 5 (1989-1990): 163-190 Farzeen Baldrian- Hussein 164
eventually lengthen the lifespan of the user, the main motive seems to have
been religious (N. Sivin, see postscript, p. 189). One of the aims of Chinese
alchemy, since antiquity, has been the attainment of immortality. This goal
was shared by both waidan and neidan adepts alike. For the neidan alchemist,
however, his body was the laboratory which contained all the elements needed
to transform the mortal self into an indestructible entity. How this was done
depended on the affiliation of the adept : although most neidan masters employed
a common terminology, their interpretation of the terms and techniques in
volved were often dissimilar. What these techniques were does not concern
us here, as this topic has been the object of various studies.1 The present article
deals with two vital problems in the study of neidan, namely, the date when
the term neidan actually came into use and secondly, the different meanings
and equivalents of the term itself.
1. Pseudo-historical Sources
The problem of the earliest use of the term neidan is a thorny one. We are
dealing with a term for which the sources are of dubious date and at best can
be considered pseudo-historical. The present article cannot claim to be a
complete or exhaustive study of a subject that would require a considerable
amount of research on Buddhism, especially concerning the problem of the
relationship of Taoism to the Tiantai ^i$ and Mijiao $J|& schools of Bud
dhism. Until this has been done, nothing definitive can be said on the problem.2
The present study is simply intended as an outline of the present level of re
search.
Many years ago Arthur Waley, in his "Notes on Chinese Alchemy,"3 claimed
to have found the source of the first use of the term neidan fàfjr: the phrase,
surprisingly enough, figures in a vow taken by the meditation pp master Huisi
H,g> (515-77), entitled: Nanyue da chanshi lishi yuanwen W&JkWMaLm^Â^C (see
below, p. 169). Many scholars, including Joseph Needham and Yoshinobu
1) See in particular J. Needham, SCC, vol. V:5; I. Robinet, Méditation taoïste, Paris, 1979,
and La révélation du Shangqing dans L'histoire du taoïsme, Paris, 1984; Catherine Despeux, Traité
d'alchimie et de physiologie taoïste, Paris, 1 979 ; Poul Andersen, The Method of Holding the Three Ones :
A Taoist Manual of Meditation of the Fourth Century A.D., Copenhagen and Atlantic Highlands,
N.J., 1980; Farzeen Baldrian-Hussein, Procédés Secrets du Joyau magique, Paris, 1984; Edward
A. Schafer, The Divine Woman, Berkeley, 1973, and Pacing the Void, Berkeley, 1977; Livla Kohn,
Seven Steps to the Tao: Sima Chengzhen's J^uozvang tun, Monumenta Serica Monograph Series XX,
Nettetal, 1987; Ute Engelhardt, Die klassische Tradition der Qi-Ubungen (Qigong), Mûnchener
Ostasiatische Studien, Stuttgart, 1987.
2) It is to be hoped that Michel Strickmann will soon publish a study on the subject. I have
unfortunately been unable so far to obtain a copy of the article by Sengoku Keisho flllEIÏJÏ,
"Eshi no shinsen shiso to Nangaku nyûzan ni tsuite" @JS©#flllSfê!£ S?SfcA|iJK.o(,>-C, in Koma-
zawa Daigaku Daigakuin Bukkyôgaku kenkyûkai nenpô ^}R±^±^U\%WiWift^i¥-W 16, 1983,
pp. 38^14.
3) Arthur Waley, "Notes on Chinese Alchemy (supplementary to Johnson's 'Study of Chinese
Alchemy')," in Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 1930, 6.1, p. 14. on the Term ' neidan3 165 Motes
Sakade, accept the authenticity of this tradition.4 Chen Guofu I^H^F, on the
other hand, believes the phrase was first used in the £hidao pian Hg, at
tributed to the elusive Taoist Su Yuanming Mtu^B (or Yuan-lang xâf]).5 Both
these sources are dubious, as we shall presently see. As far as Taoist tradition
is concerned, we find the terms neidan and waidan used in the biographies of
legendary or semi-historical figures such as Laozi ^^ and Deng Yuzhi fP|j|$;è.;
the latter at least antedates the monk Huisi (see below, p. 169).
The development of meditational techniques in the South and their con
nection with particular regions, especially mountains, in pre-Tang Taoism,
has already been the subject of studies by Isabelle Robinet and Michel Strick-
mann.6 Robinet has shown that meditational techniques practiced on Maoshan
(in Jiangxi) underwent a progressive change towards interiorization, which
can be said to be a characteristic of the later neidan schools.7 Although Maoshan
techniques play an important role in inner alchemy, two other mountains in
the South are of interest to us in connection with the use of the term neidan'.
Luofoushan H#|iJ in the vicinity of Canton and Hengshan HfiiJ in Hunan.
In the following pages I present some of the stories which link these two mount
ains to the first use of the term neidan.
a. Luofoushan
It is difficult to find sources for the use of the term neidan that definitely date
to the pre-Tang period, as most of the sources available to us are of a much
later date. As far as Luofoushan is concerned, Michel Soymié's excellent mono
graph gives us a list of these.8 The monograph further shows the importance
of this mountain as a religious and alchemical center. Luofoushan is the mount
ain where Ge Xuan M~&> Ge Hong M$k and Zheng Siyuan HJSsi are said
to have practiced their alchemical arts.9 The Taoist Su Yuanlang Mtù^,
considered to be the earliest exponent of neidan by Chen Guofu, was also a
hermit on this mountain.
The following extract from the J^hidaopian if Hit attributed to Su Yuanlang
is recounted in his biography in the Luofoushan zhi li??U4^.10 This geographical
"É" 4* 39 If Mffc encyclo- monograph, which is quoted in the Gujin tushu jicheng
4) SCC V:5, p. 140. Sakade Yoshinobu 4gtf}|#t>, Rendan Shûyo hô fiW&eS, Tokyo, 1987, p. 8.
5) Chen Guofu fàmÏÏ, Daozangyuanliu kao mMMMM, Peking, 1963, Vol. 2, p. 435, n. 16.
6) Robinet, Méditation taoïste and La révélation du Shangqing dans l'histoire du taoïsme. Michel
Strickmann, Le taoïsme du Mao Chan {chronique d'une révélation), Paris, 1981.
7) Cf. Robinet, La révélation du Shangqing, vol. I, p. 176.
8) Cf. Michel Soymié, "Le Lo-feou chan," Bulletin de l' Ecole française d'Extrême-Orient XLVIII,
Paris, 1956.
9) Cf. Soymié, op. cit., pp. 120-1.
10) Cf. op. cit., pp. 128-9. There existed several works to which the title Luofoushan
zhi could apply. Of the two Luofoushan zhi, one is dated 1557, the other, 1689. The Luofou zhi
SifèM (Lingnan yishu HilOJiïï ed.) 4.2a by Chen Lian WE: (1410) says that Su Yuanming lived
during the Han dynasty. On Su Yuanlang cf. also J. Needham, SCCV-.2, p. 273, and SCC V:3,
p. 130. 166 Farzeen Baldrian-Hussein
paedia of the Qing dynasty (1725) states:
Su Yuanlang originally studied the Tao on Mount Gouqu (Maoshan)11
where he obtained "true secrets" from the [Director of] Destinies (i.e.,
Mao Ying12) and thereupon attained the rank of "terrestrial immortal."
During the Kaihuang era (581-600) of the Sui Dynasty, already over
three hundred years old, he came to Mount Luofou. He sojourned in the
Ravine of Blue Mist (qingxia gu), where he cultivated and purified the
Great Elixir.
Disciples who had accompanied him [to the mountain], having heard
that the immortal Zhu13 had ingested a mushroom and thereby attained
immortality, were discussing the attributes of the numinous fungus ani
matedly: [its color was] green in spring, red in summer, white in autumn
and black in winter.14 [Regrettably, they said] the Yellow Mushroom
only grows on Mt. Song, which is too far away for us to go and fetch it.15
Yuanlang laughed and said: "The numinous fungus is within your eight
luminaries,16 why not search the yellow chamber for it? This is what is
meant by the proverb: 'Before heaven and earth existed, the numinous
plant without roots was controlled by the mind and turned into the
perfect treasure."' He thereupon wrote the ZJiidao pian ("Instructions
on the Tao") for them. Thenceforth, Taoist disciples at last became
aware of inner alchemy.
11) Gouqu and Luofou are linked by subterranean caverns, cf. Soymié, op. cit., pp. 95-6.
12) Cf. Maoshan zhi f=Ui;£ 5.1a ff., DZ 304, fasc. 153-8. On Mao Ying or Lord Mao's con
nections with alchemy, cf. Michel Strickmann, "On the Alchemy of T'ao Hung-ching," in H.
Welch and A. Seidel eds., Facets of Taoism, Yaie U.P., 1979. Lord Mao had sown hidden mush
rooms on Maoshan which were already efficacious during T'ao Hung-ching's lifetime (Six
Dynasties) in the quest for immortality (Strickmann, op. cit., p. 176). Cf. also Strickmann's Le
Taoïsme du Mao Chan, p. 172.
13) Cf. Soymié, op. cit., p. 25. Zhu zhenren is a legendary Taoist named Zhu Lingzhi %zM3E
or Qingjing xiansheng W'S^i of the Han dynasty. An alchemist and master of breathing and
meditational techniques, he was approached by a bird carrying a mushroom called the "Mush
room of the Red Dragon" ^H3E in its beak. He ate the mushroom and became immortal.
14) Taipingyulan -jZ^'Mft 97.5b-6a (Zhonghua shu ju éd.), p. 4366: "Gui Bao's Gujin zhu
says: '. . . The mushroom grows by the stream Ying. Every sixth month it grows a leaf: it is
green in spring, purple in summer, white in autumn and black in winter'"
15) Cf. Taipingyulan iC^PK 97.5b-6a: "The Pharmacopea says: 'The Yellow Mushroom is
also known as the Golden Mushroom. He who ingests it becomes an immortal. It grows in the
ravines of Mount Song'" *^g0: . . . ïfê— «&£, ££j*<lll, ^.MMlUiU^^. Cf. also Tujing
yanyi bencao fHISffilS^^ 9.23a, D£ 769, fasc. 536-50, which also states that the yellow or golden
mushroom is found on Mt. Song.
16) On the term bajing AJS, cf. M. Kaltenmark "King yu pa-king" jprf^Ajp: Fukui Kojun
ig#HJlM Festschrift, Tôyô bunka ronshû jfCï¥3tibfnS, Tokyo, 1969, pp. 1147-54; and Michel
Strickmann, "On the Alchemy of T'ao Hung-ching," op. cit., pp. 173-8, who explains the differ
ent meanings of the term. Bajing, the eight luminaries or "eight effulgences" (Strickmann),
designates luminous spirits within the adept's body and also the brilliance of heavenly constella
tions in Maoshan texts. In the above quotation, bajing refers to the adept's microcosm as a whole. on the Term 'neidan' 167 Notes
This source is not very ancient: the £hidao pian by Su Yuanlang is first
mentioned in the bibliographical chapters of the Songshi 5i?jë..17 It is possible
that Su Yuanlang or Su Yuanming tcK was a Taoist of the Sui dynasty.18
What we do know is that Qingxiazi is mentioned as the author of alchemical
texts in bibliographies from Tang times. The Shiyao erya £jHHi3B, which has
a preface dated 806, mentions a "Qingxiazi jue |£."19 Nevertheless, most
titles attributed to him are found in bibliographies of the Northern Song period.
The Chongwen zongmu ^~%M @ and the Xin Tangshu {yiwen zhi)
both indicate Su Yuanlang as the author of the Taiging shibiji
This text, according to the bibliographies, was later compiled by a Mr. Sima
between 758 and 760. As far as the Qingxiazi quotations are concerned, the
majority are found in texts of the Northern Song.21 The same can be said for
the tradition linking Su Yuanlang and Maojun.22
Also of interest in the Su story is the name of the legendary Taoist
Zhu Lingzhi. According to the Luofou zhi SËff/ë of 1410, Zhu presides over
the Grotto-Heaven of Red Brilliance fè^MMM^.23 Elsewhere, though,24
it says that the name of the Taoist is Zhu Taozhui ^WfèMlfe&MiMMJi'î.-
Zhu Taozhui's biography states that he was a native of Sichuan Hj and the
author of "Explanations on Inner Alchemy"
b. Hengshan
Hengshan $$\H, or Nanyue ^t|5, in Hunan, one of the five sacred peaks,
17) Songshi yiwenzhi SSaiJIiC* 4.16a (Bona edition; cf. also Piet van der Loon, Taoist Books
in the Libraries of the Sung Period, London, 1984, p. 102).
18) Soymié, op. cit., pp. 120 and 122, suggests that the names refer to two different persons.
Chen Guofu, however, is convinced that Su Yuanlang died in the last year of the Kaihuang era
(i-e. 600) of the Sui dynasty, cf. Daozang yuanliu xukao WWMMM%, Taipei, 1983, p. 315.
19) DZ 901, fasc. 588, T, 3a.
20) Cf. van der Loon, op. cit., p. 91. The text with the same title in the Daozang (DZ 881,
fasc. 582-583) mentions another author.
21) Cf. for example the quotations in Xiuzhen liyan chaotu 1^f8MSÉ#g, DZ 152, fasc. 68, also
in TJddJ. 72; Tujingyanyi bencao gg|SS*^, DZ 769, fasc. 536-50, ca. 1116; Jindan zhenyi
lun &f$^i—M DZ 1080, fasc. 741. Some of these quotations are clearly waidan, the others are
open to various interpretations. For a study of the dates of the Qingxiazi quotations, cf. Chen
Guofu, Daozang yuanliu xukao MMMMM^, Taipei 1983, pp. 314-20.
22) Cf. Jindan zhenyi lun ^fl-fi— Wë, DZ 1080, fasc. 741, lb, 4b. The Maoshan zhi 9.13a lists
a Shou Maojun ge gf^tfc by Su Yuanming of the Taikang era (280-90) W^ffi^AISxMP.
23) The Luofou zhi »#& (Lingnan yishu £3fSft ed.) 4.2a.
24) Luofou zhi 1.1b.
25) Cf. LSZX^- ^a ff- which mentions a Shenxian zhuan fWlljflï of the Tang dynasty as a source: Farzeen Baldrian-Hussein 168
is a mountain renowned for its Buddhist and Taoist temples. From the Six
Dynasties on, many books have been written describing the splendor of the
temples and the beauty of the sites. Most of these monographs, however, are
no longer extant. We have, nevertheless, a Song edition of the Nanyue zong
shengji fffefvUMB, compiled by Chen Yuxing UUM in 1163,26 which quotes
many lost sources. One of these is the Xiangzhongji, which says :
[On the Linglu peak WkMM\ there is the Grotto of Embracing the Yel
low. Below it lies the abbey Dongzhen (Grotto of Perfection) , where Deng
Yuzhi of the Eastern Jin (3 1 7-420) cultivated the inner and outer elixirs.
Later he rose to the rank of Perfected One on the Southern Peak ( = ITeng-
shan) .
m-21
Slightly further on, the Nanyue zongsheng ji recounts the following anecdote
concerning Deng Yuzhi f^ftiè., a Taoist alchemist from the Jiuxian gong
(Temple of the Nine Immortals) :28
Then there was Deng Yuzhi, a native of Xinye in Nanyang.29 . . . He
met a Perfected One who transmitted the technique of the Golden Tripod
and the Fire Dragon to him. In the second year of the Yuanhui era (474)
of the Song, [the Taoist] Xu30 ascended [to the heavens as an immortal] .
Youzhi thereupon retired to the Gate of the Grotto (Dongmen) where
he sojourned for a long time .... The emperor gave him money and
silk and let him choose a secluded scenic site at which to build three
temples, one above the other so that he could cultivate the inner and
outer elixirs.
According to his biography, Deng died towards the end of the Tianjian
era (502-519) of the Liang dynasty. A Tang text quoting the Daoxue zhuan
5 A:
26) Nanyue zongsheng ji ^S£$Ë!fï2, T. 1097, p. 1075a. The Taishô and the Song edition repro
duced in the Lushanjingshe congshu lÈU-lSiiïf iSlIr are the same.
27) Nanyue zongsheng ji _h 1060c. A note after Linglu leng says rhat Linglu is just another name
for Yuelu gffi. Yuelu lies at the foot of Mount Heng. Cf. also LXZX 33.6b-7b, which writes:
28) 1075c. Deng Yuzhi was himself one of the nine immortals of Hengshan, cf. Nanyue jiu
zhenren zhuan if Sb^RÀ*! 0»£452, fasc. 201) 6b and Nanyue xiaolu mm^M (A? 453, fasc. 201),
p. 12b.
29) In Henan. During the Jin (If) dynasty, it was known as Xinye jun
mfftm. wmmmmmm.
30) Xu Lingzhi Î&H2E:, also one of the nine Hengshan immortals. on the Term'neidan' 169 Notes
M¥\4j- 18, places Deng between 483 and 493 (Pf^K^A).31 All these ex
amples contain conflicting material regarding such matters as Deng Yuzhi's
dates. Moreover, we do not know which Xiangzhong ji Chen Youxing had
access to in 1163. Both the Taiping yulan and the Taiping guangji quote many
books with similar sounding titles.32 The ji compiled by a Q,ing
scholar from earlier quotations does not include any such passage.33 Moreover,
the older version of the biography in the Nanyue jiu zhenren zhuan^4 does not
mention neijwaidan, but writes "cultivation and purification" ||tif[;e.$? instead.
The second important Hengshan hermit is the monk Huisi U©, the
teacher of the founder of the Tiantai school of Buddhism, Zhiyi ^H. The
vow entitled Nanyue Si dachanshi lishi yuanwen ^SS^ClPSPSltfl^^35 is believed
by Waley and by Needham to be the first text to use the words neidan and
waidan. Here is the text as translated by Needham :36
I am now going into the mountains to meditate and practice austerities,
repenting of the numerous sins and infractions of the Law which have
been so many obstructions to the Tao, both in my present and previous
incarnations. I am seeking for longevity in order to defend the Faith,
not in order to enjoy worldly happiness. I pray that all the saints and
sages will come to my help, so that I may obtain some good magic mush
rooms 3E and numinous elixirs ;|f fjr, enabling me to cure all illnesses and
to stop hunger and thirst. In this way I shall be able to practice con
tinually the way of the Sutras and to engage in the several forms of meditat
ion. I hope that I shall find a peaceful dwelling in the depths of the
mountains, with enough of the numinous elixirs and medicines to carry
out my plans. Thus by the aid of external ^ffl- I shall be able to
cultivate the elixir within p3^-. For in order to bring peace to others I
must first bring peace to myself; in order to undo the bonds of
one must first undo one's own.
31) Sandong zhunang Hîiïfcïg 2.3b (Z>£ 1 139, fasc. 780-2). Cf. also Tao Tinju neizhuan ^ffigftli
2. 12b- 13a (DZ 300, fasc. 151), which quotes the Dengzhen yinjue gMUlfe {DZ 421, fasc. 193)
in connection with Deng Yuzhi.
32) Xiangzhouji flflWHH, Xiangchuanji #8J!II2, cf. the indices to these two encyclopaedias. The
Sandong qunxian lu HPfîtilft (DZ 1248, fasc. 992-5) quotes a Xiangzhong bieji M^MB (19.3b-
4a) and a Xiangzhong yelu ftfl^lfife (20.1b). This last title is of the Song dynasty since it mentions
Chen Tuan M.W (Five Dynasties, early Song) .
33) Xiangzhong ji M^B by Geng Zhongyong MWM of the Liu Song (gljîfc) dynasty (420-79).
Lushanjingshe congshu ftlillltiîrïïïl ed. Some sources indicate Luo Han gl"â" of the Jin (If) dynasty
as the author.
34) See above, note 28.
35) T. 1933, p. 791, 1.3.
36) SCC. V:5, p. 140. Farzeen Baldrian- Hussein 170
According to a study on Huisi by Paul Magnin, which analyzes his life and
thought,37 there is no doubt as to the authenticity of the vow itself, which was
made in 559. 38 Magnin has some doubts, however, concerning the authentici
ty of the Taoist passages.39 This view is not quite shared by Chen Yinke
M.'M.'fë,40 who quotes some Tang sources to prove his point. In these examples,
however, only the ancient techniques of ingesting drugs IIHjl and of longevity
JIÉL are used, not neidan or waidan. Coming back to the vow itself, what can
we deduce from the content of the vow in general? In several places in his
vow, Huisi reiterates his desire to live as an ascetic in the mountains, in order
to live long enough for the coming of Maitreya, who will lead the chosen to
salvation in this age of decline of the Law (mofa ^^) . As Erik Zûrcher has
pointed out,41 belief in the apocalypse and the coming of a savior was not
restricted to Buddhist circles, but played an equally important role in early
Taoist eschatology.42 The question as to which group influenced which is
beyond the scope of this article, as we are dealing here with "a typically hybrid
complex of ideas."43 The impact of prophetic Taoist texts on the Chinese
politico-religious scene has been amply dealt with, and I shall not go into
it here.44 There are some early Taoist texts, however, in the Daozang which
show a remarkable similarity of ideas. The Nuqing guilu ^cW^^545 a collec
tion of community rules of the Celestial Master tradition, parts of which go
back to the third century, describes the cataclysm of the cyclical year gengzi
The calamities of gengzi are also the main theme of the Laozi bianhua wuji
jing ~M~f'MitMW&,4'7 which advocates retreat to the mountains and abstention
from cereals as a means of escaping disaster. Describing the vows taken by a
Taoist, the Taishang dongxuan lingbao sifang dayuan jing
37) Paul Magnin, La Vie et l'Oeuvre de Huisi {515-577) : Les origines de la secte bouddhique chinoise
du Tiantai, Paris, 1979, pp. 104-16.
38) Magnin, op. cit., p. 109.
39)op. cit., pp. 23 and 236, n. 99.
40) Ghen Yinke, Chen Yinke xiansheng lunji E£j£fô5fc4.ifeS, Taipei, 1971, p. 261 (re-edition) .
I am grateful to Madame Kuo Liying for having brought this point to my attention.
41) HH for the Taoists, see Anna Seidel, "The Image of the Perfect Ruler in Early Taoist
Messianism: Lao-tzu and Li Hung $3/,," in History of Religions 9, 1969-70, pp. 216—47.
42) Erik Zûrcher, "Prince Moonlight," T'oung Pao LXVIII, 1-3, 1982, pp. 1-75. See also
the excellent summary by A. Seidel, "Le Sutra merveilleux du Ling-pao Suprême, traitant de
Lao-tseu qui convertit les barbares," in M. Soymié, éd., Contributions aux études de Touen-houang
III, Publications de l'Ecole Française d'Extrême-Orient, Vol. CXXXV, Paris, 1984.
43) Zûrcher, op. cit., p. 1.
44) Cf. Anna Seidel, La divinisation de Lao-tseu dans le taoïsme des Han, Paris, 1969; id., "The
Image of the Perfect Ruler in Early Taoist Messianism: Lao-tzu and Li Hung," loc. cit.; Barbara
Kandel, Taipingjing, the Origin and Transmission of the "Scripture of General Welfare": The History
of an Unofficial Text, Hamburg, 1979. K.M. Schipper, "Millénarismes et messianismes dans la
Chine ancienne," in Understanding Modem China, Proceedings of the XXVlth Conference of Chinese
Studies, Rome, 1970, pp. 31^9.
45) DZ 790, fasc. 563, j. 5, contains an apocalyptic poem.
46) On gengzi, cf. Zûrcher, op. cit.
47) DZ 1 195 (fasc. 875), 7b.8b. For the date see below, n. 73. on the Term 'neidan' 171 Notes
states: "I now vow to become an immortal in order to see the True Lord,
avoid the calamities of this world and become one of the future elect" 4"l§f5£
M, gMWM, ^^i&ffiS.48 The fifth-century Dongyuan shenzhoujing
M, on the contrary, says:49
If a Taoist desires to save himself50 he should retire to some famous mount
ain, but if he wishes to save all mankind he should remain among the
people and transform the stupid. The stupid have no wisdom, but when
they see a Taoist they are transformed. If the Taoist retires to lofty mount
ains, the common people cannot see him and have no chance of being
transformed, and although they may have good intentions at the start,
there is no hope of salvation without a teacher. This is the reason why
the wise Taoist does not necessarily belong in the mountains.
As we can see, there are clearly two different attitudes towards asceticism
and immortality, and the benefit and salvation of mankind. While the Six
Dynasty alchemists, such as Ge Hong Jf$Ç and Tao Hongjing p^§£j|;, con
sidered personal immortality to be vital, the Shenzhoujing clearly emphasizes
the Taoists' position in the community of the faithful.51 These examples show
that although the basic ideas inherent in the vow were current during the
Six Dynasties period, there is no certainty that the phrases containing the
terms neidan and waidan are not a later interpolation. That this was common
practice during the Song is illustrated in the case of Laozi.
2. Laozi and the Alchemical Tradition
Laozi has for centuries been linked with change, transformation and the
alchemical tradition. For the use of neidan and waidan we have two traditions :
in the first, Laozi is portrayed as a teacher of alchemical secrets, in the second
he himself is the disciple. The first of these has already been pointed out by
Chen Guofu52 and is found in the biography of Yin Xi ^||fl|. The second is
48) Taishang dongxuan lingbao sifang dayman jing, DZ 343, fasc. 1 76, 2a.
49) Juan 8, P. 2365, cf. Ôfuchi Ninji ±WMM éd., Tonka dôkyô ^{fîttS {Torokuhen WMM)
Tokyo, 1979, p. 549.
50) The Taoist's vow to save himself and become an immortal is a common formula: in one
of the litanies of the Taishang dongxuan lingbao zhong jiamven %±MiM.%^M% {DZ 410, fasc.
191, 12b) we find the following verse: HK@i£, ffifflWlil.
51) This tendency is continued in the Southern Song, for the Jinsuo liuzhuyin &^ffî%î%\ {DZ
1051, fasc. 631-6), attributed to Li Shun-feng ^W%. of the Tang dynasty, clearly vituperates
against asceticism — especially that of hermits who retire to the mountains, and of alchemists —
as a false method of obtaining immortality: f#îl^£fè**i=-, ^fWÊWlJÊ'MW
(3.6a), mm-eLgmnzmtti® mmmm\UAmnmm, c-mmmmmm (7.1 a).
52) Chen Guofu, Daozangyuanliu xukao UWMMM^, Taipei, 1983, pp. 255-6.