Daoist Exercises for Nurturing the Body and Longevity. Essential Secrets of Cultivating Perfection


The two works presented here are by an unknown author. The appearance and contents are similar to other editions of the same work, both in manuscript and printed versions, but this edition is very rare. It has a fragmented preface dated 1513, but the name of its writer is missing. It also has a postscript by Daoist Yunya Daoren, whose real name was Shao Yuanjie (1459‒1539), who resided at the Shangqing Temple (also seen as Palace of Highest Clarity) on Mount Longhu  (Dragon and Tiger Mountain). He was a favorite of Emperor Jiajing in the early years of the reign (1522‒66). At the end of the postscript the date is given as the tenth year (1515) of the Zhengde reign. The two works are placed in one single case, together with a reprint of Tong ren zhen jiu jing (Acupuncture points on a bronze figure), which has an inscription, indicating that it was printed in Pingyang Prefecture, Shanxi. Thus it can be assumed that these two works were printed at the same time and at the same location. They are in a similar format. The Daoist practice of nurturing health by meridian channeling originated from primitive witchcraft in China. It was the result of mysticism before the Qin (pre-221 BC), Daoist spiritual alchemy, and the tradition of magic and immortality during the Qin and Han dynasties. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, Daoist exercises intended to nurture the body and longevity became more practical and easier to popularize, so they received much more attention. Many works about these practices appeared in large quantities, including these two. The techniques of these qigong (Daoist healthy exercises), no longer a special skill unique to Daoist practitioners, became widely regarded as exercises to repulse ailments, so they achieved broad social acceptance. These two works focus on exercises and massage to nurture the body, promote longevity, and to cure diseases. Yang sheng dao yin fa (Daoist exercises for nurturing the body and longevity) lists 27 methods of exercises for treating apoplectic strokes, rheumatism, backaches, stomach and eye ailments, and so forth. The methods selected were taken from those of Chao Yuanfang of the late Sui dynasty. The contents of the second work, Xiu zhen mi yao (Essential secrets of cultivating perfection) are similar, and mainly deal with breathing exercises and the Daoist theory of inner alchemy. There are also two seal impressions.

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Publication Information

Pingyang, Shanxi


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Physical Description

2 juan, 1 volume

Last updated: January 16, 2018