The famous Quanzhen master Qiu Chuji (1143-1227), according to the Zhenxian zhizhi yulu, once stated: "A person of old has said, 'First your thoughts stop. Second, your breathing stops. Third, your pulse stops. Fourth, there is complete cessation.' You enter into the great meditative trance and do not interact at all with things, [much like] the ancient awl of 700-years." This statement describes how mental activity, breathing, and pulse can be progressively brought to suspension while in meditation. But who/what is the source quoted here by Master Qiu, and what is "the ancient awl of 700 years"?

The source cited by Master Qiu cannot be traced definitively. However, several Buddhist sutras, including the Avatamsaka Sutra, use the term "Trance of Complete Cessation" to refer to a condition where the meditator appears as if dead. "The ancient awl of 700 years," refers almost certainly to Buddhist monk Huichi—a younger brother of the famous Huiyuan (334-416)—who in 1113 was allegedly found meditating inside a tree (for a duration of roughly 700 years!). Master Qiu thus seems to imply that a body can stay alive for centuries in a hibernating state reached through meditation.


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pp. 31-56
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