The Making of an Immortal
One day a certain Lu Dongbin was buying a drink in the
marketplace when he met a Taoist adept scribbling a
poem on the wall which attracted his attention, it went
something like this:
Sitting or lying I always have a bottle of wine around.
I do not aspire to be a mandarin;
I desire no fame in the universe;
I am a true man among the world's mortals.
It is not often one meets a true immortal.
Are you then willing to come with me?
He lives in the wilderness adjacent to the sea
Up in the peak of the island of Peng Lai.
was impressed with the lofty sentiments of the poem and
inquired of the author's name which he learned was Chong
Lichuan. Lu invited Chong Lichuan to his lodging and the
latter helped him to boil some millet for dinner. Suddenly
Lu felt tired and fell asleep. He dreamt he won many laurels
in the court examination, was tremendously successful in
official life, raised many children and grand children and
rose to premiership.
After a life of success he suddenly
fell into disgrace, severed from his family and stranded in
the middle of a thunder storm when he suddenly awoke. Chong
Lichuan was sitting there smiling at him, the millet still
Legend tells us that Lu
Dongbin became the disciple of the immortal Chong Lichuan
and eventually attained immortality. Here is a modern day
temple devoted to him in Taiwan
Zhi Nan Gong South Pointing Temple-Taiwan
Many stories of immortals have been passed down through a
tradition of oral story telling, popular plays of the Yuan
and novels of the Ming and Qing dynasty. With stories and
plays dating from the Tang Dynasty (618-907) Lu Dongbin has
been and is still revered as an immortal.
Path of An Immortal
An immortal has supernatural control over the natural world,
including longevity and a mind enlightened through
self-cultivation. To develop the enlightened mind of an
immortal is to follow the path (dao
道) of an immortal.
the oldest exercise of Praying Mantis' Luohan Gong,
the exercise 'immortal raises hands' is subtitled 'water and
fire turn the wheel,' four characters that outline the
process of the immortals self-cultivation.
'Water and fire' is a multi-level metaphor. Under the topic
of breath, it refers to our inhalation and exhalation.
'Turning the wheel of water and fire' is to regulate your
cycle of breath. The metaphor of water and fire as breath
asks us to look at the subtleties of our breath.
Water and fire of breath becomes a part of the visualization
of the mind on specific points within the body-this is
called Zhou Tian Gong-the Work of the Cosmic Round.
Focus your mind on the present moment, the moment of now,
point your mind to your breath and let your breath become
the thought of your mind. When you can control your mind you
can witness the action of your thought.
Thought asks itself for clarity. Deeper clarity of mind
allows deeper concentration. Within this state of deep
concentration witness and be the cosmos.
Water and fire mutually
turn the micro-cosmic round
The cosmos within you
*The Eight Immortals T.C. Lai