Myths and Legends of China
Page: 51Page 134stamped him under foot, and Chun T’i was thrown to the earth, and only just had time to rise quickly and mount into the air amid a great cloud of dust.
There could be no doubt that the fight was going against T’ung-t’ien Chiao-chu; to complete his discomfiture Jan-têng Tao-jên cleft the air and fell upon him unexpectedly. With a violent blow of his ‘Fix-sea’ staff he cast him down and compelled him to give up the struggle.
T’ung-t’ien Chiao-chu then prepared plans for a new fortified camp beyond T’ung Kuan, and tried to take the offensive again, but again Lao Tzŭ stopped him with a blow of his stick. Yüan-shih T’ien-tsun wounded his shoulder with his precious stone Ju-i, and Chun-t’i Tao-jên waved his ‘Branch of the Seven Virtues.’ Immediately the magic sword of T’ung-t’ien Chiao-chu was reduced to splinters, and he saved himself only by flight.
Hung-chün Lao-tsu, the master of these three genii, seeing his three beloved disciples in the mêlée, resolved to make peace between them. He assembled all three in a tent in Chiang Tzŭ-ya’s camp, made them kneel before him, then reproached T’ung-t’ien Chiao-chu at length for having taken the part of the tyrant Chou, and recommended them in future to live in harmony. After finishing his speech, he produced three pills, and ordered each of the genii to swallow one. When they had done so, Hung-chün Lao-tsu said to them: “I have given you these pills to ensure an inviolable truce among you. Know that the first who entertains a thought of discord in his heart will find that the pill will explode in his stomach and cause his instant death.”
Immortals, Heroes, Saints
An Immortal, according to Taoist lore, is a solitary man of the mountains. He appears to die, but does not. After ‘death’ his body retains all the qualities of the living. The body or corpse is for him only a means of transition, a phase of metamorphosis—a cocoon or chrysalis, the temporary abode of the butterfly.
To reach this state a hygienic regimen both of the body and mind must be observed. All luxury, greed, and ambition must be avoided. But negation is not enough. In the system of nourishment all the elements which strengthen the essence of the constituent yin and yang principles must be found by means of medicine, chemistry, gymnastic exercises, etc. When the maximum vital force has been acquired the means of preserving it and keeping it from the attacks of death and disease must be discovered; in a word, he must spiritualize himself—render himself completely independent of matter. All the experiments have for their object the storing in the pills of immortality the elements necessary for the development of the vital force and for the constitution of a new spiritual and super-humanized being. In this ascending perfection there are several grades:
(1) The Immortal (Hsien). The first stage consists in bringing about the birth of the superhuman in the ascetic’s person, which reaching perfection leaves the earthly body, like the grasshopper its sheath. This first stage attained, the Immortal travels at will throughout the universe, enjoys all the advantages of perfect health without dreading disease or death, eats and drinks copiously—nothing is wanting to complete his happiness.
(2) The Perfect Man, or Hero (Chên-jên). The second stage is a higher one. The whole body is spiritualized. Page 136It has become so subtile, so spiritual, that it can fly in the air. Borne on the wings of the wind, seated on the clouds of Heaven, it travels from one world to another and fixes its habitation in the stars. It is freed from all laws of matter, but is, however, not completely changed into pure spirit.
(3) The Saint (Shêng-jên). The third stage is that of the superhuman beings or saints. They are those who have attained to extraordinary intelligence and virtue.