University of Hawai'i Press

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.

Among the most useful sources for studying the teachings and practices of the early Quanzhen 全真 (Complete Perfection) School of Daoism is the Zhenxian zhizhi yulu 真仙直指語錄 (Record of Sayings That Are the Direct Instructions of the Perfect Immortals, DZ 1256), compiled and edited by a certain Xuanquanzi 玄全子, probably during the Yuan period (1279-1368). It is particularly illuminating for our understanding of Quanzhen methods of moral self-discipline and meditation. Divided into two scrolls (juan 卷), it contains first the teachings of Ma Yu 馬鈺 (1123-1184), [End Page 31] Tan Chuduan 譚處端 (1123-1185), Liu Chuxuan 劉處玄 (1147-1203), Qiu Chuji 丘處機 (1148-1227) and Hao Datong 郝大通 (1140-1212)—all of whom were direct disciples of Quanzhen founder Wang Zhe 王嚞 (1113-1170). Second it presents the utterances of Yin Zhiping 尹志平 (1169-1251), an important leader of the movement and disciple of both Liu Chuxuan and Qiu Chuji.

Among these early Quanzhen masters, the figure revered most by posterity has almost certainly been Qiu Chuji. Perhaps most famous for his heroic journey to the Hindukush mountains (present day Afghanistan) undertaken at the summons of Genghis Khan,1 he is honored as the founder of the Longmen 龍門 (Dragon Gate) branch of the Quanzhen school, to which most Daoist monks and nuns belong today. Among the utterances of Qiu Chuji recorded in the Zhenxian zhizhi yulu2 we find the following statements, which are rather enigmatic:

A person of old has said, "First your thoughts stop. Second, your breathing stops. Third, your pulse stops. Fourth, there is complete cessation."3 You [End Page 32] enter into the great meditative trance and do not interact at all with things, [much like] the ancient awl of 700-years.4


This passage raises several questions. First of all, who is this "person of old" that Qiu Chuji quotes? What exactly is meant by "complete cessation"? What is the "ancient awl of 700 years"? This last question seems the most puzzling.

As we shall see, the problem of the source of Qiu's quote is not easily resolvable despite certain promising clues appearing in Quanzhen literature of later periods. Regarding what Qiu (and his unnamed source) had in mind when speaking of "complete cessation" and the "great trance," our understanding can be aided both by older Buddhist sources and later Daoist discussions. As for what the "ancient awl of 700 years" is, the answer is almost certainly to be found in accounts of an alleged incident involving a Buddhist monk (Huichi 慧持) that occurred in 1113, and is recorded in several Chan Buddhist sources. This incident is in some ways reminiscent of what is said to have happened to a certain noteworthy Daoist figure (Tan Qiao 譚峭) during the 10th century.

The "Person of Old" and "Complete Cessation"

Regarding the identity of the "person of old" Qiu refers to, the answer at first sight seems to lie in a cognate passage found in a different collection of his utterances, the Qiuzi yulu 邱祖語錄 (Record of Sayings of Patriarch Qiu).5 The passage reads:

Yunmen (emphasis added) said, "In the first meditative trance (dhyāna 禪) your thoughts stop. In the second meditative trance your breathing stops. In the third meditative trance your pulse stops. In the fourth meditative trance there is complete cessation." You enter into the great meditative [End Page 33] trance and do not interact at all with things, [much like] the ancient awl of 700-years.6

(Zangwai daoshu, 11.288b)

Here, Qiu provides the name of the person he is quoting, the famous Chan Buddhist master Yunmen Wenyan 雲 門 文 偃 (864-949), founder of the Yunmen school that flourished during the Song period. His utterances are among those contained in celebrated gong'an 公案 (Jap. kōan) collections such as Wumen guan 無門關 (The Gateless Passage) and Biyan lu 碧巖錄 (The Blue Cliff Record), and there is also a collection devoted entirely to his utterances—Yunmen Kuangzhen chanshi guanglu 雲門 匡真禪師廣錄 (The Broad Record of Yunmen, the Meditation Master who Rectifies the Truth). However, I have not been able to trace the statements quoted by Qiu Chuji here to any of Master Yunmen's utterances recorded in Buddhist sources.

While it is possible that Qiu Chuji had access to sayings of Master Yunmen through sources that are not available to us today, it is also possible that Yunmen's name was embellished upon the text by somebody at a later period (though it is not readily apparent why this party would want us to regard Master Yunmen as Qiu Chuji's source). Qiu Chuji does not mention the name of Yunmen in Zhenxian zhizhi yulu, which is likely of Yuan period (1279-1368) provenance and is contained in the Ming dynasty Daoist Canon (Daozang 道藏) of 1445.

The Qiuzu yulu is not found in the Daozang, but rather is included in the Qiuzu quanshu 邱祖全書 (Complete Works of Patriarch Qiu), a larger collection of writings attributed or connected to Qiu Chuji, included in an early 19th-century anthology called Daoshu shiqi zhong 道書十七種 (Seventeen Daoist Books; compiled by Fu Jinquan 傅金銓 during the Daoguang 道光 era [1796-1850]). Although Qiuzu yulu bears a postface by Pan Jingguan 潘靜觀 dated 1380 (Yongle 永樂 13), this date is not credible.

As discussed by Mori Yuria (1998) and Zhao Weidong (2014), Pan Jingguan was active during the 17th century, and Zhao speculates that the correct date of his postface is not Yongle 13 but rather Kangxi 康熙 13 (1674). While it is conceivable that Qiuzu yulu, despite being published [End Page 34] much later than Zhenxian zhizhi yulu, preserves Qiu Chuji's utterances with a comparable level of accuracy (viz., perhaps Qiu Chuji actually did name Yunmen, but Yunmen's name had dropped out in the Zhenxian zhizhi yulu), its credibility is compromised by the nature of much of its content.

As has been well pointed out by Mori, Qiuzu yulu contains statements that appear anachronistic or which seem incongruent with 12th to 13th century Quanzhen teachings on meditation.7 While roughly its final two folios (wherein our passage is found) consist of material cognate to that in Zhenxian zhizhi yulu (and thus seems to be of 13th century provenance), the possibility that this material could also have been embellished by later editors seems great, given the nature of the rest of the text.

Further to be noted regarding the Qiuzu yulu version of our passage is that the four stages (1-thoughts stop, 2-breathing stops, 3-pulse stops, 4-complete cessation) are referred to as the four chan 禪 (dhyana; meditative trances). This terminology again points us squarely at Buddhism, with its long-established framework of meditation theory wherein the meditator's progress is said to unfold over four dhyanas.

Interestingly, in Xianfo hezong yulu 仙佛合宗語錄 (Record of Sayings of the Combined Traditions of the Immortals and Buddhas),8 a late Ming [End Page 35] work by the influential self-professed Quanzhen Longmen internal al-chemist Wu Shouyang 伍守陽 (1573-1640; main text), with commentary by his cousin Wu Shouxu 伍守虛, we find a passage that uses the same Buddhist terminology to describe the same process, but in doing so cites a much earlier Buddhist source. The passage, which appears in Wu Shouxu's commentary, reads:

Therefore, when the Avatamsaka Sutra says, "In the second meditative trance breathing stops, in the third meditative trance pulse stops, and the fourth meditative trance is the Trance of Complete Cessation," it is speaking of a trance wherein breathing and pulse have both stopped.9

(Zangwai daoshu, 5.675a)

Wu Shouxu thus presents roughly the same scheme of meditative progress in the same terms (albeit not mentioning the first meditative trance) as does Qiu Chuji in Qiuzu yulu. However, as his source he cites a famous and influential Indian Mahayana Buddhist scripture—the Avatamsaka Sutra (Huayan jing 華嚴經; Flower Ornament Scripture),10 first translated into Chinese in the early 5th century. Oddly, however, I have not been able to locate this quoted passage in any extant Chinese version of the Avatamsaka Sutra.

Have the suspension of breathing and pulse ever been considered necessary signs of progress in meditation within Buddhist circles? As is well known, Buddhist texts—including early Indian sources included in the Pali Canon—do speak of a progression of Four Meditative Trances (dhyana in Sanskrit; jhana in Pali; chan 禪 in Chinese). These are meditative trance states that Shakyamuni Buddha himself is said to have pro [End Page 36] gressed through and beyond during his decisive meditation session under the Bodhi tree.

While sometimes the distinctive traits of the Four Meditative Trances are described as pertaining entirely to one's state of mind,11 in some texts the suspension of breathing is said to occur when one progresses to the Fourth Meditative Trance.12 One's condition while in the Four Meditative Trances is said to correspond to (and confer rebirth into) the condition of beings that dwell beyond the Realm of Desire (yujie 欲界), in the four highest heavens or Four Meditations Heavens (sichan tian 四禪天) within the Realm of Form (sejie 色界).

Beyond these Four Meditations are said to be the Four Formless Trances (si wuse ding 四無色定) that constitute even subtler mental states and which correspond to the heavens of the Realm of No Form. The Trance of Complete Cessation (miejin ding 滅盡定; Skt. nirodha-samapatti) in Buddhist literature typically refers to the meditative trance stage that surpasses even the Four Formless Trances. It is a trance state that can be entered by a so-called "non-returner" (buhuan 不還; Skt. anagamin)—one who has overcome ignorance and confusion to the point where there will be no more rebirths in the human realm (and thus nirvana is to be attained in the future while dwelling in one of the heavens). This trance state is characterized by a complete cessation of thoughts (Nakamura 2002, 401, 999)

In sum, then, the suspension of breathing is certainly attested to in Buddhist literature, but is associated with the Fourth Meditative Trance (and presumably beyond)—not the Second Meditative Trance. The Trance of Complete Cessation is a stage beyond the Fourth Meditative [End Page 37] Trance, and even the Four Formless Trances. As far as the suspension of pulse is concerned, this is not to be readily found mentioned in association with the Four Meditative Trances (at least so far within my knowledge).

However, in early Buddhist literature one does find evidence that the Trance of Complete Cessation may well have entailed a suspension or dramatic slowing of both breathing and pulse, since apparently on more than one occasion a learned monastic disciple (a nun, in one documented case) of the Buddha had to respond to the question of whether there is any difference between the condition of a dead person and that of one who has entered into the Trance of Complete Cessation. The difference, it is explained, lies in the fact that the person in the Trance of Complete Cessation remains alive, retains bodily warmth, and does not physically decompose.13 One might surmise from this that the most accomplished meditation practitioners did enter into conditions that were hard for an outside observer to distinguish from death, meaning likely that both breathing and pulse were very difficult to detect.

In the Avatamsaka Sutra, one actually can find passages that use the term "Trance of Complete Cessation" (even though the specific state [End Page 38] ments quoted [?] by Wu Shouxu are not there). Most noteworthy for us is the following passage:

It is comparable to the case of a monk who has self-control of mind, and has entered the Trance of Complete Cessation. All functioning of the six roots (thought, sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch) cease, and he is unaware of all speech. Because he is sustained by the power of trance, he does not enter final nirvana (he does not die).14

(Taishō Daizōkyō, 10 [no. 279], 324a)

According to this passage, mental functions (thoughts, emotions) are not all that is suspended in the Trance of Complete Cessation—so are the sensory capacities of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. A monk in this condition is thus said to be oblivious to anything said by anyone in his presence. Yet, he does not enter final nirvana—i.e., he does not die. The text seems to thus imply that he does not die despite being in a condition that resembles death—one wherein perhaps there is extreme retardation or suspension of breathing and pulse.

Thus, while extant versions of the Avatamsaka Sutra do not contain the specific statements quoted (?) by Wu Shouxu, we do find it implied in the Avatamsaka Sutra that the Trance of Complete Cessation is a condition at least somewhat resembling that described by Qiu Chuji in Zhenxian zhizhi yulu and Qiuzu yulu. If Wu Shouxu in fact did not find the statements in the Avatamsaka Sutra and is spuriously naming it as his source, the possibility emerges that his actual source was none other than Qiu Chuji. If so, one is left puzzled as to why he would not just name Qiu Chuji—the figure esteemed as founder of the Quanzhen Longmen Daoist lineage (Wu Shouxu's own tradition)—as his source.

A possible explanation here might be that a central thesis argued throughout the works of Wu Shouyang and Wu Shouxu is that all Heavenly Immortals and Buddhas practice the same true internal alchemy (i.e., that propagated by their own Quanzhen Longmen tradition) and are identical in their attainments. (This thesis is amply reflected in the title of their work Xianfo hezong yulu [Record of Sayings of the Combined Tradition [End Page 39] of the Immortals and Buddhas]). In the internal alchemical system of Wu Shouyang and Wu Shouxu, the Trance of Complete Cessation, wherein breathing and pulse are suspended, is regarded as an effect that must be brought about at the culmination of the second stage of the regimen known as the Ten Months Nurturing of the Fetus 十月養胎; it is a necessary prerequisite for proceeding to the third stage (Three Years Suckling 三年乳哺) where one repeatedly in trance sends one's Sunny Spirit (yangshen 陽神) out of the body through the top of the head (Eskildsen 2011).

Wu Shouxu states elsewhere in his commentary that Quanzhen founder Wang Zhe was undertaking these "nurturing" and "suckling" stages while residing in his famous "Grave of the Living Dead Man" 活 死人墓, implying thus that he was indeed in a trance state outwardly resembling the condition of a dead person.15 While we can see from Qiu Chuji's statements in Zhenxian zhizhi yulu pretty clear evidence that a trance condition of respiratory and circulatory suspension was indeed being aspired to in the Quanzhen tradition from its early years, Wu Shouxu perhaps wanted to claim—by appealing to the authority of a famous [End Page 40] and ancient Buddhist scripture—that the attainment of this trance was essential not only to the Quanzhen tradition, but to all who aspire to Immortality and Buddha-hood past and present.

His claim seems valid to the extent that some Buddhist sources (the Avatamsaka Sutra included) do describe the Trance of Complete Cessation as a condition where vital signs in the meditator are difficult to detect. However, the notion that the four basic meditative trances or dhyanas constitute a progression from 1) stoppage of thought to 2) stoppage of breathing to 3) stoppage of pulse to 4) complete cessation, cannot be traced to any extant Buddhist source, despite the fact that it is attributed to Master Yunmen in Qiuzu yulu and to the Avatamsaka Sutra in Xianfo hezong yulu. It could actually be of Daoist origin.

The Ancient Awl of 700 Years

So now, what is this "ancient awl of 700 years" that—according to Qiu Chuji—one resembles when one is in the "great meditative trance" and "do(es) not interact at all with things"? The answer to this question is actually rather simple. It is an allusion to an alleged incident recorded or mentioned in a number of Chan Buddhist sources. The oldest of these is Xuetang Xing heshang shiyi lu 雪堂行和尚拾遺錄 (Record of Anecdotes and Sayings Gleaned by Monk Xing of Snow Hall),16 compiled by Daoxing 道行 (1089-1151).17 There we read:

Dharma Master Huichi 慧持, when traveling to Mount Emei 峨眉山, entered into meditative trance inside a large tree by the roadside in Jiazhou 嘉 州 (near present day Leshan, Sichuan Province). [End Page 41]

In the 4th month of the 3rd year of the Zhenghe 政和 era (1113) there was a ferocious wind and rain storm which shattered and toppled the tree. Officials policing the area for thieves happened by [and found Huichi]. They saw that his whiskers and hair covered his entire body, and his nails had grown out and encircled his body.

Regarding this very strange, they reported it to the royal court. An order was issued to carry [Huichi's body] to the capital. Then Xitian Zongchi 西天總持 (a learned monk present in the capital)18 brought [Huichi] out of his trance by ringing a metal chime. He then asked him, "You are a monk from what era?"

Dharma Master Huichi replied, "I am the younger brother of Dharma Master Yuan (Huiyuan 慧遠; 334-416) of the Donglin Monastery (on Mount Lu 廬山). I was on my way to Mount Emei. I don't know what year it is." He then asked, "Is Dharma Master Yuan here?"

[Xitian] Zongchi replied, "It has been 700 years since he passed away. How could he possibly be here?" [Huichi] said no more. [Xitian Zong]chi then asked, "Now that you are here, where would you like to go?" Master (Huichi) answered, "Chenliu County," and then went back into trance.

Emperor Huizong 徽宗 (r. 1100-1126) ordered an artist to paint a portrait of the Master [Huichi] and distributed copies of it. To go with it he composed three odes.

The first ode read:

The ancient awl of 700 years.Who knows what he experienced while in trance?How is this as good as returning to the West with one sandal[in the manner of Bodhidharma]?Birth and death is a vain labor; a tree became his skin.

The next ode read:

Hide a mountain in the marshes and also hide your body.If there is nothing under heaven that you hide,You can be intimate with the Way.Pass the message on to Zhuang Zhou, [End Page 42] And stop all pondering and hesitation.He in these lines (the tree?)19Is not one who shoulders and carries off in a hurry.20

The third ode read:

The body of a sentient being is not insentient.There and here, person and person are all bodies in trance.If you understand that enlightenment has no tree to begin with,You need not strive bitterly inquiring about Lu Neng

[Huineng 慧能, 638-713].21

[Chan Master] Sixin wrote a eulogy to the portrait that read:

In trance for 700 years,He deceives the village folk.Rising above with the single thought,He rampages throughout the realm under heaven.22

(Taishō Zoku-zōkyō, 83 [no. 1576], 373c-374a)

The "ancient awl of 700 years" referred to in Emperor Huizong's first ode is of course the monk Huichi, who had been meditating inside the tree for roughly 700 years, oblivious to the outer world and the passage [End Page 43] of centuries, and yet still alive. It seems that Qiu Chuji was familiar with this story and poem, and that he too was referring to this incredible phenomenon when he uttered his statements recorded in Zhenxian zhizhi yulu and Qiuzu yulu.

The term "ancient/old awl" (laogu zhui 老古錐) appears elsewhere in Chan Buddhist literature and is used to refer fondly and respectfully to an elderly monk. "Awl," a pointed tool used for piercing holes, here is a metaphor describing the sharp and vigorous manner in which a seasoned monk engages fellow monks and guides disciples (Nakamura 2001, 3:1757). However, in the case of Huichi as memorialized by Emperor Huizong, "awl" might also be taken as referring to how, for 700 years (!), Huichi's body had been lodged in the tree, much like an awl stuck in a piece of wood.

As for how exactly he came to be lodged and concealed inside the tree is not made clear by the wording of the text. Perhaps there was some sort of crevice or opening in the base of the trunk of what must have been a very large tree indeed, and the bark, branches or roots subsequently grew in a manner that covered his body as he sat obliviously—hence the poem's phrase, "a tree became his skin." Another intriguing question to which the text provides no clue at all is what happened to Huichi after he returned to his meditative trance after having been woken up and told of his brother's death and of how much time had elapsed. Could he still be alive and in meditative trance?

Additional interest is added to the episode owing to the identity of its protagonists. Huichi is said to be the younger brother of Huiyuan, one of the greatest figures in the early history of Chinese Buddhism, known—among other things—for establishing in 402 the White Lotus Society (Bailianshe 白蓮社), the first known organization in China devoted to the worship of the Amitabha Buddha (Amituofo 阿彌陀佛) for gaining rebirth in the Pure Land Sukhavati (Jile 極樂).

His name may well appear in the narrative in order to provide the reader with a sense of just how long Huichi had been in trance; many readers would have known who Huiyuan was, and that he lived many centuries before the reign of Song Emperor Huizong. That Emperor Huizong would be the one to write the odes in honor of Huichi is perhaps somewhat unexpected, since this Emperor is well known to have held a [End Page 44] pronounced personal preference for Daoism, and to have in 1119 (six years after the Huichi incident) enacted oppressive policies against Buddhism.23

There is in fact a tone of criticism in his first ode (if I am understanding it correctly), which seems to be saying that the 700 years had been spent somewhat in vain, and that he would have done better if he could have been like Bodhidharma, who had (according to Chan Buddhist legend) faked his death and attained immortality much in the manner of a Daoist Immortal who carries out what has been known as "liberation by the corpse" (shijie 尸解).

While it is thus yet another Buddhist figure whom Huizong extols over Huichi, this is a figure whom Daoists and other proponents of immortality cultivation were coming to embrace and extol as a veritable Immortal and expert of Embryonic Breathing (taixi 胎息) and/or the Inner Elixir (neidan 内丹) (Capitanio 2015; Eskildsen 2017). Huizong's Daoist leanings show forth more clearly in his allusion to Zhuang Zhou in the second ode, yet a close familiarity or affinity for the Chan tradition again shows forth in his allusion to the enlightenment verse of the Sixth Patriarch Huineng 慧能 (638-713).

In any case, Qiu Chuji's interest in the incident lies apparently in his perception that Huichi's condition in his 700-year trance is exactly that which one can enter into by practicing meditation in the manner that he himself endorses and describes by quoting the "person of old." By entering into states of increasingly deeper calm whereby thoughts, breathing and pulse successively become suspended, one enters into a state outwardly resembling death; yet, it is in this state resembling death that one is able to survive an incredibly long amount of time without nourishment. [End Page 45]

Qiu Chuji would likely contend that Huichi's thoughts, breathing and pulse had been in suspension and that this is how he had survived for 700 years; it would seem to naturally follow that the same could be possible for a Quanzhen Daoist meditation practitioner of high attainment, though it is unclear whether Qiu Chuji would have actually expected or desired his followers to mimic the feat of Huichi.

The Hibernation of Tan Qiao

Although Qiu Chuji alludes to a story from Chan Buddhist lore as a precedent for the sort of death-resembling trance of respiratory and circulatory suspension that he endorses and describes (by means of a quote from a "person of old" who may have been Yunmen or some other Buddhist), there does exist a rather similar story about a famous Daoist that he might equally as well have alluded to for the same purpose. The story is about Tan Qiao 譚峭 (fl. 880-950), whom most credit with authoring the very interesting and influential 10th century Daoist mystical-philosophical work, Huashu 化書 (Book of Transformations).24

The story in question pertains to how credit for writing Huashu was stolen from Tan Qiao by Song Qiqiu 宋齊丘 (887-959),25 a vain and un [End Page 46] scrupulous high official of the Five Dynasties Wu 吳 (902-937) and Southern Tang 南唐 (937-975) kingdoms.26 It is recorded in a preface (dated 1060) to Huashu by the prominent Northern Song Daoist Chen Jingyuan 陳景元,27 which is today preserved in Tao Zongyi's 陶宗儀 Shuofu [End Page 47] 說郛 (The Outer City Walls Enclosing All that has been Said; ca. 1370).28 Chen Jingyuan relates there that he had been told the story by his teacher Zhang Wumeng 張無夢,29 who in turn had heard it from his own teacher, Chen Tuan 陳摶 (d. 989).30 The story that Chen Tuan told was as follows:

Tan Qiao, who had written Huashu when he was living in the Zhongnan mountains 終南山 (Shaanxi), was traveling toward Mount Mao 茅山 (Jiangsu). On the way there, in Jinling 金陵 (Nanjing), he met Song Qiqiu. He immediately recognized Song Qiqiu as somebody who had significant potential for attaining immortality, but who was too clever and crafty for his own good. Tan Qiao tried to reform Song Qiqiu by reciting for him a passage from his book that describes, among other things, how "children who play with their shadows do not understand that they get played by their shadows" 稚子弄影 不知為影所弄.31 Song Qiqiu did not understand the message being conveyed to him. Nonetheless, Tan Qiao then handed over his book to Song Qiqiu and requested [End Page 48] him to compose a preface to it and to help with the proliferation and perpetuation of the book. Song Qiqiu consented, but then proceeded to get Tan Qiao drunk, sew him up inside a leather bag, and throw him into a deep pond. After this Song Qiqiu wrote a preface (preserved in Shuofu 42.27a [p. 700]) in which he claimed authorship for himself, and Huashu subsequently circulated under his name. The story, however, does not end here.

One day much later on, a hermit who was fishing at a pond discovered the leather bag and opened it. He found Tan Qiao in there still alive and snoring; his fingernails had grown to the point to where they en-wrapped his body ("his fingernails had enwrapped his body" 指甲已纏 體). The hermit shouted at Tan Qiao and woke him up, whereupon Tan Qiao told the hermit that Song Qiqiu had usurped his Huashu and had submerged him in the pond. He also asked the hermit whether Huashu was circulating in the world. The hermit replied that Huashu had in fact been in circulation for quite some time. Tan Qiao then remarked that if such was indeed the case, there was no need for him to return to human society; furthermore, the years that he had spent inside the leather bag had been most relaxing. He thus asked the hermit to sew him up in the leather bag and throw him into the pond again; the hermit complied.32

The authenticity of this strange story (and the integrity of Chen Jingyuan's preface) has—justifiably—been called to question, and other sources variously indicate that Tan Qiao had walked away from his interview with Song Qiqiu quite unsubmerged and unharmed, or that—quite to the contrary—he was killed by Song Qiqiu.33 Whatever the case, [End Page 49] the story grabs our interest because it describes a Daoist active almost 200 years before the days of Huichi and Huizong who had been found alive after having survived for years (how many is not specified in this case) in a motionless state, oblivious to the passage of time. The phrase, "his fingernails had enwrapped his body" 指甲已纏體 in Chen Jingyuan's preface brings to mind the phrase "his nails had grown out and encircled his body" 爪申繞身 describing Huichi in the account of Xuetang Xing heshang shiyi lu. One important difference, perhaps, is that Huichi is specifically described as having been in a meditative trance (ding 定), whereas Tan Qiao's condition is described more as one of sleep—he was found snoring. Yet, one can surmise that his condition must have resembled the trance condition of "complete cessation" as described by Qiu Chuji in the sense that he could not have been breathing in any ordinary sense while underwater (though he apparently was breathing once the bag came out of the water, since he was snoring). One could further surmise that his pulse rate might have been greatly retarded as well.

While this story may of course well be only that (a story), it is interesting to note that in one particular essay in Huashu, entitled "Hibernation" (Zhecang 蟄藏; 1.3b), Tan Qiao (assuming he is the author) describes just the sort of state that he would have been in if he had been [End Page 50] submerged in the sack under water, and provides us with a theory as to how such a thing could be possible. The essay reads as follows:

Among creatures there are those that are good at hibernating. Some of them can thereby resist great coldness. Some of them can thereby do away with great hunger. Some of them can live 10,000 years without dying. This is because their minds are dark, and do not know anything. Their spirits are at leisure, and do not go anywhere. Their qi is relaxed, and does not do anything. The myriad worries do not confuse them. Even if they were to seek death, they could not obtain it.34


Thus, we are told, hibernating animals exhibit remarkable tolerance to cold and hunger, and remarkable longevity, owing to their total absence of thoughts and utter stillness of mind and body. By saying that the qi of a hibernating animal "does not do anything," Tan Qiao is perhaps under the impression that they suspend their breathing and pulse. Anyway, one might reason by extension that a human being also might accomplish the same feat; by bringing all thoughts to a stop one can proceed to suspend breathing and pulse to enter the undying state of motionless oblivion—the condition of the "ancient awl of 700 years."


Who was this "person of old" that Qiu Chuji quoted? Where did Qiu Chuji get this theory on the progression toward the "great trance" condition of "complete cessation"? We do not know for sure. However, the belief in the attainability of such a condition through deep serenity is well reflected in the lore and theories of both Buddhism and Daoism. This belief, which was expressed by Qiu Chuji—arguably the greatest figure in the early history of the Quanzhen movement—came to be magnified in its importance by the late Ming period within the Quanzhen Longmen internal alchemy theories of Wu Shouyang and Wu Shouxu.

Whether or not one considers Chan master Yunmen or the Avatamsaka Sutra to be the "person of old" that Qiu Chuji quoted, it is undeniable [End Page 51] that the meditation theory presented in the quote is strongly influenced by Buddhism. The quote describes a four-stage progression reminiscent of the classic Buddhist scheme of the four dhyanas 四禪 (indeed the term dhyana 禪 is used in the Qiuzu yulu version), and the term "complete cessation" miejin 滅盡 is one that in Buddhism from ancient times denotes an extremely advanced state of meditative trance (nirodhasamapatti 滅盡定). Qiu Chuji's familiarity and affinity for Chan Buddhism becomes even clearer when one realizes that "ancient awl of 700 years" is an allusion to a story about a Buddhist monk preserved in Chan sources.

Having said this, we have also noted that the four-stage scheme of meditative progression described by Qiu Chuji does not match in its contents the scheme of the four dhyanas as described in any Buddhist text. Also, while the Avatamsaka Sutra and some other very old Buddhist texts describe the Trance of Complete Cessation as a state that is difficult to distinguish from death, this is considered a level of trance far beyond the four dhyanas. This would suggest perhaps that there were alternative Buddhist theories on the four dhyanas and the Trance of Complete Cessation that were circulating orally, or which somehow did not survive for our scrutiny if they had been written down. Another strong possibility is that someone within the Daoist fold prior to Qiu Chuji had adapted and modified these theories.

The story of Tan Qiao's underwater sojourn and the essay "Hibernation" in his Huashu reflect that in Daoism prior to the time of Qiu Chuji there was the belief that it is possible to survive for years or centuries without nourishment in a state of mental oblivion wherein one's qi 氣 (breath; energy) is inactive—implying perhaps a state of respiratory/circulatory retardation or suspension. As I have discussed in a prior study, the notion that breathing can be brought to suspension amid the calm of meditation can be found in a number of first millennium Daoist texts. In Taishang Laojun xuwu ziran benqi jing 太上老君虛無自然本起經 (Most High Lord Lao's Scripture of the Original Arising; ca. 5th-7th century)35 it is described how by emptying the mind of all thoughts and focusing [End Page 52] attention toward one's heart, one enters a condition where one can no longer tell whether one is breathing, and whether one still has a body; one then experiences one's spirit hovering up above the heavens (Eskildsen 2015, 170-72, 289-90). In the "Marvelous Functions Lesson," an 8th or 9th century discourse on embryo respiration (taixi 胎息) contained in various versions in four different texts,36 it is described how by calmly focusing one's mind inward and merging it with the qi in the lower Elixir Field (dantian 丹田), spirit and qi form an embryo that takes on a life of its own and begins to "breathe." One is then to guide this "embryo" on a circuit through one's body. While one does so, one's ordinary breathing apparently becomes suspended,37 since breath ceases come out of one's nostrils (Eskildsen 2015, 268-70, 293-94.).

In regarding the suspension breathing and pulse as phenomena that should be expected to occur in meditation, Qiu Chuji was not unique among the Daoist masters of his time. His contemporary in the south, Chen Nan 陳楠 (d. 1213; regarded by posterity as the 4th Patriarch of the Nanzong 南宗 lineage of internal alchemy), in the long poem Luofu cuixu yin 羅浮翠虛吟 (Song of Master Cuixu on Mount Luofu; transmitted, we are told, in the fall of 1212 to his disciple Bai Yuchan 白玉蟾 [1194-1229; Nanzong 5th Patriarch]) states, "In the past after I had undertaken my training practice for one year, my six pulses38 came to a stop and my qi [End Page 53] returned its root."39 Further on in the poem he states, "Make the hundred vessels all return to their source. When pulse pauses and the breath stops, the elixir forms for the first time."40 Chen Nan thus states quite unequivocally that suspension of breathing and pulse are effects that must occur if the inner elixir is to ever be successfully concocted. Indeed, Chen Nan was one of the authorities that Wu Shouxu would cite (along with the "Avatamsaka Sutra"[?]) in maintaining that the Trance of Complete Cessation occurs at the culmination of the Ten Months Nurturing of the Fetus, and must occur if one is to become a Heavenly Immortal.41

In sum, while it has been widely noted and is undeniable that Qiu Chuji and his northern Quanzhen tradition drew significant inspiration from the Chan tradition (as did the Nanzong tradition of Chen Nan and Bai Yuchan), his theory on respiratory suspension, circulatory suspension and "complete cessation" also finds precedents and parallels within the lore and theories of Daoists prior to him and during his time. His theory, whatever its ultimate source was, was in its specifics different from anything we know of in received Buddhist literature. In the Quanzhen and Nanzong traditions of Qiu Chuji's time, and even more so in the Quanzhen Longmen tradition of the late Ming, the suspension and breathing of pulse—the Trance of Complete Cessation—would be emphasized in a way and to a degree unknown in Buddhism.

Stephen Eskildsen

Stephen Eskildsen holds a Ph.D. degree in Asian Studies from the University of British Columbia. He is professor at International Christian University in Tokyo. His specialty is Daoist cultivation, notably of the Complete Perfection school. Email:


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1. He undertook this journey between the years 1220 and 1223, when he was an elderly man in his early seventies. He gave Genghis Khan advice primarily on matters of health and longevity, but also tried to persuade him toward employing less brutal tactics in his conquests (and is thus said to have saved many, many lives). Genghis Khan was impressed enough with him that he granted tax exemptions to the Quanzhen School, as well as authority over all monastics (Daoist and Buddhist) under Mongol rule. See Komjathy 2007, 57; Eskildsen 2004, 16-17.

2. The portion of Zhenxian zhizhi yulu containing the teachings of Qiu Chuji (1.12a-19a) bears the heading "Genuine Man Qiu Changchun" (Qiu Chuji's sobriquet [hao 號]) Letter to Friends of the Dao in the Western Provinces" (Changchun Qiu zhenren ji Xizhou daoyou shu 長春丘真人寄西州道友書). However, only the text from 12a.5 to 13b.2 constitutes such a letter, and is followed by utterances and conversions with various interlocutors—some named and some anonymous.

3. It is not clear where the quote ends, though in my translation I have tentatively placed the end quote after "…complete cessation" (miejin 滅盡), and regarded the remainder of the passage as Qiu Chuji's comment on the statement he quotes. If the "person of old" lived at a period significantly earlier than Qiu's lifetime, he/she is unlikely to have uttered the portion referring to the "ancient awl of 700 years," since—as is to be argued in this paper—this is an allusion to an incident that allegedly occurred in 1113, during the same century Qiu was born.

4. 古人曰 初念住 二息住 三脈住 四滅盡 入乎大定 與物不交 七百年老古錐也

5. The text appears in Daoshu shiqi zhong 道書十七種 (Seventeen Kinds of Daoist Books), compiled by Fu Jinquan 傅金銓 (ca. 1796-1850) and contained in Zangwai daoshu 藏外道書 (Daoist Books outside the Canon, 11.284a-290a).

6. 雲門曰 初禪念住 二禪息住 三禪脈住 四禪滅盡 入乎大定 與物不交 七百年老古錐 也

7. Probably the most blatant anachronism is found in a passage (Qiuzu quanshu 6a-b) where an interlocutor proclaims that "the methods of the Dao of the Northern Lineage have come to be greatly carried under our teacher [Qiu Chuji]." 北宗道 法 至吾師而大行 This statement could not have been uttered by anybody during Qiu Chuji's lifetime, since the appellation of "Northern Lineage" (as opposed to the Southern Lineage [Nanzong 南宗] of Bai Yuchan 白玉蟾 and his spiritual forebears) did not come into use until after the unification of China under the Mongols (1279). The internal alchemical teachings found through most of the text (esp. Qiuzu quanshu 7b-12b) are not very similar to what is found in 12th or 13th century materials associated with Qiu Chuji, and seem to reflect theories developed during the Ming or later. For instance, we find Qiu Chuji referring in one place (Qiuzu quanshu 7b) to a regimen consisting of "three prior segments" 前三 節 and "seven latter segments" 後六節, and referring repeatedly to the method of "turning back the light" (huiguang 回光)—none of which are notions that figure in 12th-13th century Quanzhen works.

8. The text is contained in Zangwai daoshu, 5.639a-776a. Main text by Wu Shouyang 伍守陽, with commentary by his cousin Wu Shouxu 伍守虛. Both Wus professed affiliation with the Quanzhen Longmen Branch, though they seem not to have been formally ordained as monks or connected to any particular Quanzhen temple.

9. 故華嚴經云 二禪息住 三禪脈住 四禪滅盡定者 言息與脈俱滅盡定也

10. The principal extant comprehensive Chinese translations of the Avatamsaka Sutra are Dafang guanfo huayan jing 大方廣佛華嚴經 (The Flower Ornament Scripture of the Great and Vast Buddha), 60 juan 卷 (translated by Buddhabhadra 佛馱 跋陀羅 in 420; Taishō Daizōkyō 大正大藏經, vol. 9, no. 278); and Dafang guanfo huayan jing, 80 juan (translated by Shikshananda 實叉難陀 in 699; Taishō Daizōkyō, vol. 10, no. 279).

11. The four dhyānas are typically described as follows: 1) applied and sustained thought, with rapture and pleasure born from seclusion; 2) rapture and pleasure born from seclusion, without any more applied and sustained thought; 3) pleasure and equanimity, with neither rapture nor applied and sustained thought; and 4) no pleasure nor pain. See Nanamoli and Bodhi 1995, 367-369 (Sutta #39 of Majjhima Nikaya); Nakamura 2002, 432

12. Sutta #33 (Sangiti Suttanta) of the Digha Nikaya has the following statement: "By the attainment of the First Jhāna, sensuous perceptions cease; Second Jhāna, applied and sustained thought ceases; Third Jhāna, zest ceases; Fourth Jhāna, respiration ceases" (Rhys Davids, 1899, vol. 3:245). See also Dessein 2014, 145-146.

13. In Sutra #210 (Fale biqiuni jing 法樂比丘尼經 [Scripture about the Nun Fale]) of the Zhong ahan jing 中阿含經 (Middle-Length Discourses; 58th juan) a female lay devotee named Bishequ 毘舍佉 asks, "Worthy Sage! What difference is there between dying and going into the Trance of Complete Cessation?" 賢聖 若死及入 滅盡定者 有何差別. To this, the nun Fale 法樂 (Dharma Joy) replies, "As for dead people, their life has been extinguished. The warmth [of the body] leaves them, and their various sense faculties decay. When a monk enters the Trance of Complete Cessation, his life is not extinguished, warmth does not leave him, and his various sense organs do not decay. Thus it can be said that there is a difference between those who die and those who enter the Trance of Complete Cessation." 死者壽命滅訖 溫暖已去 諸根敗壞 比丘入滅盡定者 壽不滅訖 暖亦不去 諸根不敗壞 若死及入滅盡定者 是謂差別 (Taishō Daizōkyō, 1 [no. 26], 789a).

Similar conversations (between male interlocutors and monks) can be found in Sutra #211 (Dajuchiluo jing 大拘絺羅經; The Scripture about [the Elder Monk] Dajuchiluo) of the Zhong ahan jing (58th juan; Taishō Daizōkyō, 1 [26], 791c), and in Sutra #568 of the Za ahan jing 雜阿含經 (Connected Discourses; Taishō Daizōkyō, vol. 2, no. 99, p. 150a.). See Shi 1999, 73.

14. 譬如比丘得心自在 入滅盡定 六根作業皆悉不行 一切語言不知不覺;定力持故 不 般涅槃. Translation by the author, adapted from Cleary 1993, 1150.

15. Wu Shouxu states, "The Genuine Man Wang Chongyang (Wang Zhe) dug a hole in the earth to make a tomb. He personally resided in it for three years in order to nurture the fetus and suckle the spirit. He called it "the Grave of the Living Dead Man". When undertaking the Great Training you should only know of stabilizing the mind; do not let yourself give rise to thoughts. While you remain very much alive, you resemble a dead person; only then will you have gotten it right. If you are not like this, you will definitely not arrive at the status of an Immortal or a Buddha." (王重陽真人掘土穴爲墓 自居三年以養胎乳神 名之曰 活死人墓也 大修行時只知有定心不致有動念 活活的似一個死人始得 不如是 必不到 仙佛地位; Zangwai daoshu, 5.706a)

Hagiographies of the Jin and Yuan periods record that Wang Zhe, in Nanshi Village 南時村, from 1161 to 1163 lived inside a burial mound with an underground vault ten feet deep that beside it had the sign, "Grave of the Living Dead Man" (huo siren mu 活死人墓). However, those accounts do not specifically say that he was undertaking procedures known as "nurturing the fetus" or "suckling" the spirit (such a rubric is not used in Quanzhen sources of that period). From them one gets the sense that Wang Zhe was the "living dead man" in the sense that in his mental attitude he was dead to the world and its ways. (See Eskildsen 2004, 5; Komjathy 2007, 40-41.)

16. Taishō Zoku-zōkyō 大正續藏經, no. 1576, vol. 83.

17. Among the various other sources that describe or allude to the incident are the Song period works Jiatai pudeng lu 嘉泰普燈錄 (Comprehensive Lamp Record of the the Jiatai Era; Taishō Zoku-zōkyō 大正續藏經, no. 1559, vol. 79; by Zhengshou 正受; 1204); Wudeng huiyuan 五燈會元 (Essentials from Five Lamp Records; Taishō Zoku-zōkyō, no. 1569, vol. 80; by Puji 普濟; 1253); and Fozu tongji 佛祖統紀 (Comprehensive Chronicle on the Buddha and the Patriarchs; Taishō Daizōkyō 大正續藏 經, no. 2035, vol. 49; by Zhipan 志磐; 1269).

18. Some of the other sources recording this incident refer to this Xitian Zongchi as "Xitian Zongchi sanzang" 西天總持三藏 (Tripitaka Master Xitian Zongchi). "Sanzang" (Tripitika Master) is an appellation frequently used in China to refer to a monk extremely well versed in the scriptures.

19. In the version recorded in Jiatai pudeng lu, this portion of the ode reads "in the tree" 樹中 instead of "in these lines" 句中. See Taishō Zoku-zōkyō 大正續藏經, no. 1559, vol. 79), 421c.

20. This ode alludes to a passage in Zhuangzi, ch. 6. See Watson 1968, 80-81

21. Huineng was the famous 6th Patriarch of Chan Buddhism. Lu 盧 was his secular surname. The ode here alludes to his famous enlightenment verse that convinced 6th Patriarch Hongren 弘忍 to bestow the patriarchal robe upon him. See Ch'en 1964, 355-356.

22. 惠持法師。遊峨眉山。遂於嘉州道傍大樹內入定。政和三年四月。風雨暴作。樹 為摧折。捕盜官經歷。見其鬚髮蓋體。爪申繞身。頗異之。遂奏于朝廷。有旨令肩 輿至京。時西天總持以金磬出其定。乃問。何代僧。法師曰。我東林遠法師弟也。 因遊峨眉。不記時代幾何。仍問。遠法師在否。總持曰。今化去七百年矣。安得在 耶。遂不復語。持問曰。既至此。欲歸何方。師曰。陳留縣。復入定。

徽宗命畫師像頒行。并賜三頌。一曰。七百年來老古錐。定中消息許誰知。 爭如隻履西歸去。生死徒勞木作皮。又曰。藏山於澤亦藏身。天下無藏道可親。寄 語莊周休擬議。句中不是負趨人。又三曰。有情身不是無情。彼此人人定裏身。會 得菩提本無樹。不須辛苦問盧能。死心贊其像曰。七百年定。誑謼閭閻。一念超 越。天下橫行。

23. He decreed that Buddhism was to be in effect merged into Daoism. Buddhas were to be referred to as Golden Immortals of Great Awakening (Dajue Jinxian 大覺金仙), and there images should be clothed in the garments of Daoist Heavenly Worthies (Tianzun 天尊). Monks and nuns were to abandon their traditional Buddhist garb and be known as Scholars of Virtue (deshi 德士). Temples were to be renamed with the Daoist designations gong 宮 (palace) and guan 觀 (belvedere). See Qing 1996, 2:621-630.

24. The best and most comprehensive Western-language study on the Huashu—equipped with a full translation and copious notes—is the massive 1998 doctoral dissertation of John Didier.

Over the years, various editions of the Huashu were produced and circulated, and a large number (46 by Didier's count) are extant. See Didier 1998, 1027-1112. In the Daozang there are two different versions (DZ1044 and DZ1478), and a synopsis of the text—entitled Wuhua pian 五化篇 (Chapter on the Five Transformations)—is also found in the first juan of Daoshu 道樞 (Pivot of the Dao; DZ1017; compiled by Zeng Zao 曾慥, ca. 1151).

25. See Didier 1998, 900, ft. nt. 1; Sima Guang 司馬光, Zizhi tongjian 資治通鋻 (Comprehensive Mirror for Aiding Government; Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju 1983), chs. 268-294; Ouyang Xiu 歐陽修, [Xin] Wudai shi [新]五代史 ([New] History of the Five Dynasties; Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju 1974 and 1990), ch. 62; Long Gun 龍 袞, Jiangnan yeshi 江南野史 (Unofficial History of the Jiangnan Region; Qinding siku quanshu, Taipei: Taiwan Shangwu rpt. of Wenyuange ed., vol. 464), Ch. 4; Ma Ling 馬令, Nan Tang shu 南唐書 (History of the Southern Tang Dynasty; Siku quanshu 四庫全書 ed.), ch. 20; and Lu You 陸游, Nan Tang shu 南唐書 (History of the Southern Tang Dynasty; Siku quanshu ed.), Ch. 4.

26. Song works that attribute authorship of the Huashu to Song Qiqiu include Ma Ling's 馬令 Nan Tang shu (1105), Chao Gongwu's 晁公武, Junzhai dushu zhi 郡齋讀 書志 (Bibliography with Abstracts from the County Study; 1151), Zheng Qiao's 鄭樵 Tongzhi lüe 通志略 (Comprehensive Records Summaries; 1161), You Mao's 尤袤 (1124-1193) Suichutang shumu 遂初堂書目 (Library Catalog of the Suichu Hall), Chen Zhensun's 陳振孫 Zhizhai shulu jieti 直齋書錄解題 (Jizhai's Bibliography and Abstracts; ca. 1240) and Huang Zhen's 黃震 Huangshi richao 黃氏日抄 (Daily Writings of Mr. Huang; 1270). See Didier 1998, 1031-34. According to Didier's reckoning, there still exists one edition that attributes authorship to Song Qiqiu, as well as three editions that bear the title "Qiqiuzi" 齊丘子, but give "Tan Qiao" as the name of the author.

27. According to the entry on him in Zhao Daoyi's 趙道一 (fl. ca. 1294) massive Daoist hagiographical collection Lishi zhenxian tidao tongjian 歷世真仙體道通鑑 (Comprehensive Mirror on the Perfect Immortals over the Ages who have Embodied the Way; DZ296; 49.4a-5a), Chen Jingyuan was summoned to perform rituals by Northern Song Emperor Shenzong 神宗 (1067-1085), and was appointed to important religious administrative posts. He had friendly interactions with the famous Prime Minister Wang Anshi 王安石 (1021-1086). He wrote various works including a commentary to the "Dao jing" 道經 (Daode jing 道德經 [?]), a commentary to Zhuangzi 莊子 (Nanhua zhenjing zhangju yinyi 南華真經章句音義 [DZ736]; Nanhua zhenjing zhangju yushi 餘事[DZ737]; Nanhua zhenjing yushi zalu 雜錄 [DZ738]), a phonetic index and commentary to the Dadong jing 大洞經 (Shangqing dadong zhenjing yujue yinyi 上清大洞真經玉訣音義 [Jade Commentary on the Sounds and Meanings of the True Scripture of the Great Cavern of the Upper Clarity; DZ104]), a commentary to the Lingbao duren jing 靈寶度人經 (Yuanshi wuliang duren shangpin miaojing sizhu 元始無量度人上品妙經四註 [Four Commentaries to the Upper Chapters of the Wondrous Scripture of Limitless Salvation of the Primordial [Heavenly Worthy]; DZ87]), Laoshi zangshi zuan 老氏 藏室纂 (Daode zhenjing zangshi zuanwei pian 道德真經藏室纂微篇 [Subtleties Culled from the Storehouse of the Way and the Virtue; DZ714]; a commentary to Laozi), a hagiographical collection entitled Gaoshi zhuan 高士傳 (Biographies of Eminent Scholars), and a literary anthology (wenji 文集). See Lishi zhenxian tidao tongjian 49.4a-5a. While Gaoshi zhuan is unfortunately lost, his various commentaries have survived and are found in the Daozang. The Daozang also includes his commentary (comprised of quotes that he selected and edited from earlier commentaries) to Xisheng jing 西昇經 (Xisheng jing jizhu 西昇經集註 [Four Commentaries to the Scripture of the Western Ascension; DZ726])

28. See Shuofu 42.27a-28a (Taipei: Xinxing Shuju 新興書局 1963), pp. 700-701.

29. Zhang Wumeng authored an internal alchemical treatise and series of poems entitled Huanyuan pian 還元篇 (Chapter on Returning to the Origin). This work came to the attention of Northern Song Emperor Zhenzong 真宗 (r. 997-1022), who summoned him to the palace. See Lishi zhenxian tidao tongjian 48.5a-7a. What appears to be a synopsis of Huanyuan pian is preserved in Daoshu 13.6b-9b under the title Hongmeng pian 鴻蒙篇 (Chapter by Master Hongmeng)..

30. Chen Tuan is arguably the most famous Daoist of the tenth century. His life and feats are recorded not only in Daoist hagiography, but also in various secular sources such as the official history of the Song dynasty (Song shi 宋史) and "collections of miscellaneous notes" (biji 筆記) of literati. Chen Tuan is probably best known for his prognosticative (esp., physiognomic) skills, his cosmological studies based on the Yijing 易經—especially his Wuji tu 無極圖 (Diagram of the Limitless)—and his sleeping meditation, by which he is said to have remained asleep (or seemingly so) for weeks and months at a time. (See Kohn 1990)

31. The passage was from the essay "Children" 稚子 in juan 1 (7b-8a)

32. After narrating (third-hand) this episode, Chen Jingyuan concludes his preface by pointing out that Song Qiqiu's life eventually came to a justly inauspicious end. Presumably he is referring how Song Qiqiu's life ended in suicide by hanging, after he had faced charges of treason and gone into retirement on Mount Jiuhua 九華山.)

33. Chen Jingyuan's preface is also quoted (in full?) in Lishi zhenxian tidao tongjian, at the end of the hagiographical entry on Tan Qiao (39.16b-18b). Curiously, there the part of the story where Tan Qiao gets submerged underwater is missing. Song Qiqiu steals credit for authoring Huashu, but Tan Qiao goes away unharmed. One wonders whether the portion of the preface regarding Tan Qiao's underwater sojourn was omitted in Lishi zhenxian tidao tongjian, or whether in fact it was absent from the preface to begin with, and embellished upon the preface by somebody prior to its inclusion in Shuofu. Didier argues that it likely was a later embellishment. While such could be the case, I myself am inclined to think that Chen Jingyuan's preface did originally include the underwater sojourn episode. If Chen Jingyuan, through his teacher Zhang Wumeng did in fact inherit a tradition of teaching and practice traceable back to Chen Tuan (and perhaps Tan Qiao and He Changyi 何昌一), he would not have been averse to claiming that a seasoned adept could survive for extended periods in a somnolent condition without breathing and eating.

Interestingly, according to Yu Yan's 俞琰 (1253-1314) Xishang futan 席上腐 談 (Rotten Discussions from the Seating Mat), Song Qiqiu "killed Jingsheng (Tan Qiao), and thereupon stole his book and put his own name on it" 殺景升 遂竊其 書自名之. (Xishang futan, 2.19 [Wang Yunwu 王雲五 ed., Conshu jicheng edition, vol. 128 1966, Taipei, Taiwan Shangwu Yinshuguan]) If Yu Yan's account is accurate and Tan Qiao was in fact murdered, the story of Tan Qiao's underwater slumber can be understood as a ploy to rationalize or obscure the apparent death of an "immortal."

34. 物有善於蟄藏者 或可以禦大寒 或可以去大飢 或可以萬歲不死 以其心 冥冥兮 無 所知 神 怡怡兮 無所之 氣熙熙兮 無所為 萬慮不能惑 求死不可得

35. DZ 1438; also in Yunji qiqian 雲笈七籤 (DZ1032), 10th juan (under the title Laojun Taishang xuwu ziran benqi jing 老君太上虛無自然本起經).

36. Changsheng taiyuan shenyong jing 長生胎元神用經 (Scripture on the Divine Functions of the Embryonic Origin of Long Life; DZ1405; after 779); Taixi jingwei lun 胎息精微論 (Treatise on the Essential Subtleties of Embryonic Breathing; DZ829; 8th or 9th c.); Zhuzhen shengtai shenyong jue 諸真聖胎神用訣 (Lessons from the Various Perfected on the Divine Functions of the Holy Embryo; DZ826; 12th c. or later); and Damo dashi zhushi liuxing neizhen miaoyong jue 達磨大師住世留形内 真妙用訣 (Grand Master Bodhidharma's Lesson on the Marvelous Functions of the Inner Perfection for Living in the World and Remaining in the Body; in Yunji qiqian 59.14b-18a; 9th or 10th c.).

37. Although an alternative interpretation could be that air is inhaled, but becomes exhaled through the body's pores.

38. This refers to the palpation points on the wrist. Each wrist has three palpation points (cun 寸, guan 關, and chi 尺), making a total of six points.

39. Haiqiong Bai zhenren yulu 海瓊白真人語錄 (DZ1307), 4.4b: 我昔工夫行一年 六脉 已息氣歸根.

40. Haiqiong Bai zhenren yulu, 4.4b: 促將百脉盡歸源 脉住氣停丹始結

41. See Zangwai daoshu [Xianfo hezong yulu] 5.675a. Here he quotes Chen Nan's statement on how his my "six pulses came to a stop" and his qi returned its root."