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Posted (edited)

I don't know where to put this, on what section of the forums, so I thought that I'd put it here. Apologies if it's posted to the wrong section of this forum.

 

First, I've described Lao Zi as riding on "a Water Buffalo", I'm not sure that any body really cares, but most of the discussions of the animal that he was riding on, say that it was an OX. 

 

OK, I wanna ask about Daoist "Immortals".  When you write using this word, are you meaning people who literally have become so at One with the Dao, that they live, literally FOREVER? THEY DON'T DIE.  Or hundreds of years, or thousands of years?  I realize that to ask "how does one do this?" Is almost comical.  I've read one of Red Pine's books about traveling in the Wu Dang Mountains in China, seeking out Daoist hermits, but a hermit, is a way different thing, then an Immortal. Or it seems so to me!  I'm not in any way mocking that one might be able to live to a very, very old life, but I guess that I do not understand what the word "Immortals" used in a Daoist sense actually means. Might someone here be able to speak to this, and help me to understand it?  Thanks,  Wayist

 

P.S. This seems like it might be a very lonely kind of life, if one lives forever, with only a few others to share this with, but that's just me.

Edited by Wayist

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Posted (edited)

According to Master Ludongbin (吕洞宾), Daoist master from the Tang Dynasty (8th century A.D.), there are 5 types of immortals: Ghost Immortal (鬼仙), Human Immortal (人仙), Earth Immortal (地仙), Spirit Immortal (神仙), and Heaven Immortal (天仙).

 

 
Guǐxiān (鬼仙—"Ghost Immortal"): A person who cultivates too much yin energy. These immortals are likened to Vampires because they drain the life essence of the living, much like the fox spirit. Ghost immortals do not leave the realm of ghosts.
 
Rénxiān (人仙—Human Immortal”): Humans have an equal balance of yin and yang energies, so they have the potential of becoming either a ghost or immortal. Although they continue to hunger and thirst and require clothing and shelter like a normal human, these immortals do not suffer from aging or sickness. Human immortals do not leave the realm of humans. There are many sub-classes of human immortals.
 
Dìxiān (地仙—“Earth Immortal”): When the yin is transformed into the pure yang, a true immortal body will emerge that does not need food, drink, clothing or shelter and is not affected by hot or cold temperatures. Earth immortals do not leave the realm of earth. These immortals are forced to stay on earth until they shed their human form.
 
Shénxiān (神仙—"Spirit Immortal"): The immortal body of the earthbound class will eventually change into vapor through further practice. They have supernatural powers and can take on the shape of any object. These immortals must remain on earth acquiring merit by teaching mankind about the Tao. Spirit immortals do not leave the realm of spirits. Once enough merit is accumulated, they are called to heaven by a celestial decree.
 
Tiānxiān (天仙—“Celestial Immortal”): Spirit immortals who are summoned to heaven are given the minor office of water realm judge. Over time, they are promoted to oversee the earth realm and finally become administrators of the celestial realm. These immortals have the power to travel back and forth between the earthly and celestial realms.
 
 
Edited by Bindi
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North China is quite dry that water buffalo don't live.  

 

The word "Immortal" is a loose translation.   It refers to a class of beings, than pure living forever or be one with the Tao.  Taoism is the rare system that claims man , or animals, can be transformed into gods, or at least god-like beings, with a system.  In modern terms, immortals are self-made meta-humans, or supermen.    Immortals still die in spite of very long life.  Be one with the Tao which is enlightenment does not make one into an immortal.   There must be a transformation of physical body.  It is called the inner alchemy.  It is not a mind thing.

 

As @Bindi wrote, there are different levels.  The 1st level is actually a ghost.  Level 2 and 3 have long lives, but still live on earth.  You might find them in the back mountains of Wu dang.  It has be sighted that one flies.  Level 4 and 5 are no longer very human.  But it is not sure whether the highest level can reach the capabilities of an inborn deity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The character xian is traditionally translated as immortal, because the context often is about living for ever. 

 

Pregadio states that transcendent is a relevant option to choose from as well. 

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My own personal opinion is that an immortal could only be related to the ‘spiritual foetus’ that is produced in neidan, the subtle spirit that is produced, I don’t know of course if this includes keeping the physical body, or continuing as only the subtle body. 

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1 hour ago, Bindi said:

 

I don’t know of course if this includes keeping the physical body, or continuing as only the subtle body. 

Both options are hinted at in nei dan litterature. 

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I cannot think of a better word than "Immortal" too.  The "Spiritual Foetus" has a philosophical problem.  Let say a person develops it, so does it mean there are 2 of him?   What happens if the body is dead, then the person is dead or not?   A dead body means no immortality and a person's spirit is believed to be still exist for a long time.  So what is the difference with normal person?  a normal consciousness or higher power in spiritual form?

 

According to folklore, most of the immortals "liberated by corpse" when they leave the world.  Only a handful turned into immortals with bodies - outright transformation.  It seems to be much more difficult.  There is another scenario whereby an immortal can vaporize and resemble into human form.

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25 minutes ago, Master Logray said:

The "Spiritual Foetus" has a philosophical problem.  Let say a person develops it, so does it mean there are 2 of him? 

The person can choose to shed the husk, or stay for a while and finish his/her worldly affairs. The adept can also let the foetus roam. It is described in litterature. 

25 minutes ago, Master Logray said:

  What happens if the body is dead, then the person is dead or not?   A dead body means no immortality and a person's spirit is believed to be still exist for a long time.  So what is the difference with normal person?  a normal consciousness or higher power in spiritual form?

A dead body and a shed husk are different things. Or, ar least, dying while meditating and shedding the husk are not the same. 

 

A normal person splits his/her hun/po, an immortal has a unified spirit in one or another way. 

25 minutes ago, Master Logray said:

 

According to folklore, most of the immortals "liberated by corpse" when they leave the world.  Only a handful turned into immortals with bodies - outright transformation.  It seems to be much more difficult. 

Earthly immortal, living in the physical body without dying, is supposed to be a lesser accomplishment that becoming a celestial immortal who can manifest as physical but probably will not do that. 

25 minutes ago, Master Logray said:

There is another scenario whereby an immortal can vaporize and resemble into human form.

 

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Posted (edited)

Some scholars writing in English have chosen to render "Xian" as "transcendent." The radicals comprising 仙 individually mean "person" and "mountain."

 

It's tricky to generalize about Daoist cosmology- there are so many versions- but from what I've read it is not generally held that anything is eternal apart from the Dao itself, rather that everything else, including the highest deities, return to non-being at some point (though the Dao may re-emanate them later). A phrase sometimes used to describe the attainment of 仙 is "to age with the sun and moon", suggesting a very long duration but not an endless one.

Edited by SirPalomides

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As a small note

 

It is incorrect to say that this physical or subtle body is immortal (yinshen). The arts of it's lifespan bring longevity.

 

Consciousness, at one with the Dao, IS immortal (yangshen).

 

Longevity arts are different from immortality (immortal faetus). Many people gather postnatal chi through visualization from the air and soil and call that accumulation the immortal faetus. In the end, later or sooner the end will come. Even this earth, and solar system, and galaxy will end in time, as it was born.

(Also some people say simply accumulating chi is building the elixir field, the Tian, not the Dan. so elixirs are different from the immortal faetus/bacteria).

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23 minutes ago, EmeraldHead said:

As a small note

 

It is incorrect to say that this physical or subtle body is immortal (yinshen). The arts of it's lifespan bring longevity.

Are you calling Zhongli Quan a liar? 

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My bro' the Zhong says:

 

In deep stability (samadhi), their yin spirit emerges, so they become ghosts of plain life force rather than immortals of pure yang. Since their will remains firmly unified and their yin life force never scatters, they are called ghost immortals. 

 

The description goes on with the other four forms. 

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“The idea of spiritual immortality...was that it was a fully awakened spirit, that when it dies, does not die, that... your spirit is so illuminated, strong, active, that even when you die, you can control your spirit and go wherever you wish. So this term spiritual immortality is really important here, because what it’s really getting at, is the fact that these teachings are going to teach you how to strengthen your spirit, so that your spirit becomes immortal. It’s not about the body here, it’s about your spirit becoming immortalised.”

 

From the Yellow Court lecture series by Stuart Alve Olsen available Here, this excerpt starts at 26 minutes in. 

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1 hour ago, Bindi said:

“The idea of spiritual immortality...was that it was a fully awakened spirit, that when it dies, does not die, that... your spirit is so illuminated, strong, active, that even when you die, you can control your spirit and go wherever you wish. So this term spiritual immortality is really important here,

 

Spiritual immortality is a interesting term.  Spirits are supposed to be more of less immortal?

 

I think the body/spirit immortality is a matter of choice and capabilities.  Taoists, based on their objectives and body conditions, may choose different transformations.  For example, a 90 years old Taoist, with a failing body, would likely prefer a spiritual way, or simply reincarnate to be in a better situation.   A 50 years old may opt for staying alive very long to complete the process.  A 20 years old, will not pursue Tao, though he is ideal for body transformation.

 

 

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15 hours ago, Cleansox said:

My bro' the Zhong says:

 

In deep stability (samadhi), their yin spirit emerges, so they become ghosts of plain life force rather than immortals of pure yang. Since their will remains firmly unified and their yin life force never scatters, they are called ghost immortals.

I'm saying the exact same thing as bro Zhong.

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1 hour ago, Cleansox said:

Still immortals, although lacking yang shen. 

how? the earth will end. Their lifeforce will dissipate with the astronomical giants, if not earlier.

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32 minutes ago, EmeraldHead said:

how? the earth will end. Their lifeforce will dissipate with the astronomical giants, if not earlier.

 

This is too far.  The earliest immortal Pang Jo, was only 800 years old.  Laozhi, if still lives, is roughly 2500 years old.  This is impressive for humans.  But the earth still has a few billion years' life.  Immortal is a relative term.

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Posted (edited)

And I am mostly trying to convey that a daoist classic on the subject do not define immortal as yang shen. 

 

The how and what of it is another thing. 

 

I do recall though that litt states that (something) will live for 10 000 years. 

Edited by Cleansox

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4 minutes ago, Cleansox said:

And I am mostly trying to convey that a daoist classic on the subject do not define immortal as yang shen. 

 

The how and what of it is another thing. 

so there is a shen higher than yang shen? Yang shen is a vehicle not an energy. So I thought the vehicles of immortality roughly infers immortality.

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43 minutes ago, Master Logray said:

 

This is too far.  The earliest immortal Pang Jo, was only 800 years old.  Laozhi, if still lives, is roughly 2500 years old.  This is impressive for humans.  But the earth still has a few billion years' life.  Immortal is a relative term.

That can't be. Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism are often trio-ed togetherfor comparison.You can't have buddhism beating the Daoist teachings in lifespan of consciousness.

RESPECT.

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13 minutes ago, EmeraldHead said:

That can't be. Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism are often trio-ed togetherfor comparison.You can't have buddhism beating the Daoist teachings in lifespan of consciousness.

RESPECT.

 

Huh?

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1 hour ago, Cleansox said:

And I am mostly trying to convey that a daoist classic on the subject do not define immortal as yang shen. 

 

The how and what of it is another thing. 

 

I do recall though that litt states that (something) will live for 10 000 years. 

 

I am not sure Yang Shen is a necessary part in all the paths in different transformations.   Any idea?

 

The problem for immortals' immortality arise out of definition.   If the definition of Immortals is "a class of beings" that live very long and possess super powers,  then any length is possible.  Animals like fox and turtle can train on their own, so they can have few thousand years.  Would trees transform?  Rocks/Quartz?

 

However, if Immortals are defined as "human" that goes through the Taoist or pre-Taoist system to achieve very long life span and possess powers, then the longest life would not exceed history of Taoism itself.  If all Taoist immortal accounts are true, most of them would not be over 1000 years.

 

 

 

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37 minutes ago, Master Logray said:

 

I am not sure Yang Shen is a necessary part in all the paths in different transformations.   Any idea?

No. 

But obviously some daoists believe that Buddhists and Daoists that only sit in oblivion become yin shen. 

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