The Teachings and Practices of the Early Quanzhen Taoist Masters

By Stephen Eskildsen

Subjects: Taoism, Asian Studies, Asian Religion And Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture
Paperback : 9780791460467, 282 pages, January 2006
Hardcover : 9780791460450, 282 pages, June 2004

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Table of contents


1. Introduction


Opening Comments
Historical Summary
Preview of This Book's Contents


2. Cultivating Clarity and Purity




3. The Asceticism of the Quanzhen Masters

4. Cultivating Health and Longevity


The Anatomy
The Causes of Disease and Death
How the Quanzhen Masters Combated Disease and Death
Conclusion: Nurturing the Qi and Completing the Spirit


5. Visions and Other Trance Phenomena


A Remarkable Incident from the Childhood of Yin Zhiping
Communications from Realized Beings of Past and Present
Miscellaneous "Signs of Proof ": Sights, Sounds, Tastes, and Sensations
Difficulties and Frustrations Involved in Gaining
"Signs of Proof "


6. The Miraculous Powers of the Quanzhen Masters


How to Attain Miraculous Power
Manifesting the Radiant Spirit
Two Physical Feats of Wang Zhe Confirmed by Qiu Chuji
Healing and Ritual Thaumaturgy
Wondrous Mirages


7. Death and Dying in Early Quanzhen Taoism


Collected Sayings


8. The Compassion of the Early Quanzhen Masters

9. Rituals in Early Quanzhen Taoism


Attitudes toward Rituals
The Quanzhen Masters As Ritual Purists
Final Remarks


10. Conclusion




Secondary Sources in English and French
Secondary Sources in Chinese
Secondary Sources in Japanese
Primary Sources from the Taoist Canon
Other Primary Sources




Explores the religion developed by the Quanzhen Taoists, who sought to cultivate the mind not only through seated meditation, but also throughout the daily activities of life.


Stephen Eskildsen's book offers an in-depth study of the beliefs and practices of the Quanzhen (Complete Realization) School of Taoism, the predominant school of monastic Taoism in China. The Quanzhen School was founded in the latter half of the twelfth century by the eccentric holy man Wan Zhe (1113–1170), whose work was continued by his famous disciples commonly known as the Seven Realized Ones. This study draws upon surviving texts to examine the Quanzhen masters' approaches to mental discipline, intense asceticism, cultivation of health and longevity, mystical experience, supernormal powers, death and dying, charity and evangelism, and ritual. From these primary sources, Eskildsen provides a clear understanding of the nature of Quanzhen Taoism and reveals its core emphasis to be the cultivation of clarity and purity of mind that occurs not only through seated meditation, but also throughout the daily activities of life.

Stephen Eskildsen is UC Foundation Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He is the author of Asceticism in Early Taoist Religion, also published by SUNY Press.