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Master Guangcheng

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Guangchengzi (广成子; 廣成子)




From the idea of Taoism, Guangchengzi was the avatar of Taishang Laojun (also named Daode Tianzun) during the period of Yellow Emperor in ancient Chinese history. According to Zhuangzi's recording, Guangchengzi lived in Kongtong Mountains, the Yellow Emperor visited him there for his teaching. Guangchengzi gave the Yellow Emperor several books that talked about the moral, natural, and philosophical issues, which helped the Yellow Emperor create the early Chinese civilization. It is said that Guangchengzi had a long life of 1200 years. There is another saying that Guangchengzi was the avatar of Dao, who appeared in the human world three times – the first time as Guangchengzi during the Yellow Emperor time; second as Laozi during the Spring and Autumn period; and third time as Zhang Daoling in the Han Dynasty



To Live as long as Heaven and Earth by Robert Ford Campany


Ge Hong said of Guangchengzi;


Guangchengzi was a transcendent in ancient times.  He lived in a stone chamber on Mount Kingtong.  They Yellow Thearch heard of him and went to see him, saying, “I make bold to inquire about the essentials of the ultimate Way”.  Master Guangcheng replied: “you have ‘ordered’ all under Heaven, to the point that the migratory birds do not wait for the season to fly and the leaves of vegetation do not wait until they are yellow to drop off. Why would you deserve to be told about the ultimate Way?”

The Yellow Thearch withdrew and dwelt in seclusion for three months, then returned to see him again.  He crawled forward, prostrated himself repeatedly, and asked about the way of ordering the self.  Master Guangcheng replied:


The essence of the ultimate Way

Is dark and obscure.

It involves no seeing, no hearing,

But only embracing your spirit in quietude.

Your body will then correct itself

And will certainly become pure.

Do not egg on your body,

Don not disturb your essence,

Any you may achieve long life.

Take care of what is within, and close yourself to what is without.

Know much, and you will suffer decay.

As for myself, I abide where [Heaven and Earth, yin and yang] are one,

So as to settle where they harmonize.

That is why I have reached the age of one thousand two hundred years

And yet my body has never grown decrepit.

He who obtains my way will ascend to become an august one;

He who loses my way will descend to become dust.

I am about to leave you now to pass through the gate of the inexhaustible.

To wander about in the wilds with no bounds.

I will compare my light with that of the sun and moon;

I will last as long as Heaven and Earth.

When humankind has completely perished.

I alone will remain.



Zhuangzi’s older story goes as: 


Translation by Burton Watson



The Yellow Emperor had ruled as Son of Heaven for nineteen years and his commands were heeded throughout the world, when he heard that Master Kuang Ch'eng was living on top of the Mountain of Emptiness and Identity. He therefore went to visit him. "I have heard that you, Sir, have mastered the Perfect Way. May I venture to ask about the essence of the Perfect Way?" he said. "I would like to get hold of the essence of Heaven and earth and use it to aid the five grains and to nourish the common people. I would also like to control the yin and yang in order to insure the growth of all living things. How may this be done?"


Master Kuang Ch'eng said, "What you say you want to learn about pertains to the true substance of things, but what you say you want to control pertains to things in their divided state.6 Ever since you began to govern the world, rain falls before the cloud vapors have even gathered, the plants and trees shed their leaves before they have even turned yellow, and the light of the sun and moon grows more and more sickly. Shallow and vapid, with the mind of a prattling knave - what good would it do to tell you about the Perfect Way!"


The Yellow Emperor withdrew, gave up his throne, built a solitary hut, spread a mat of white rushes, and lived for three months in retirement. Then he went once more to request an interview. Master Kuang Ch'eng was lying with his face to the south. 7 The Yellow Emperor, approaching in humble manner, crept forward on his knees, bowed his head twice and said, "I have heard that you, Sir, have mastered the Perfect Way. I venture to ask about the governing of the body. What should I do in order to live a long life?"


Master Kuang Ch'eng sat up with a start. "Excellent, this question of yours! Come, I will tell you about the Perfect Way. The essence of the Perfect Way is deep and darkly shrouded; the extreme of the Perfect Way - is mysterious and hushed in silence. Let there be no seeing, no hearing; enfold the spirit in quietude and the body will right itself. Be still, be pure, do not labor your body, do not churn up your essence, and then you can live a long life. When the eye does not see, the ear does not hear, and the mind does not know, then your spirit will protect the body, and the body will enjoy long life. Be cautious of what is within you; block off what is outside you, for much knowledge will do you harm. Then I


will lead you up above the Great Brilliance, to the source of the Perfect Yang; I will guide you through the Dark and Mvsterious Gate, to the source of the Perfect Yin. Heaven and earth have their controllers, the yin and yang their storehouses. You have only to take care and guard your own body; these other things will of themselves grow sturdy. As for myself, I guard this unity, abide in this harmony, and therefore I have kept myself alive for twelve hundred years, and never has my body suffered any decay."


The Yellow Emperor bowed twice and said, "Master Kuang Ch'eng, you have been as a Heaven to me!"


Master Kuang Ch'eng said, "Come, I will explain to you. This Thing I have been talking about is inexhaustible, and yet men all suppose that it has an end. This Thing I have been talking about is unfathomable, and yet men all suppose that it has a limit. He who attains my Way will be a Bright One on high,8 and a king in the world below. But he who fails to attain my Way, though he may see the light above him, will remain below as dust. All the hundred creatures that flourish are born out of dust and return to dust. So I will take leave of you, to enter the gate of the inexhaustible and wander in the limitless fields, to form a triad with the light of the sun and moon, to partake in the constancy of Heaven and earth. What stands before me I mingle with, what is far from me I leave in darkness.9 All other men may die; I alone will survive!"


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