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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.


Lu Dongbin 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 cooking.*

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 ) of an immortal.


water and fire turn the wheelIn 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

More Articles


*The Eight Immortals T.C. Lai

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