Wudang Mountain, the famous scenery destination in China, whose perimeter is over 800 km, full of beautiful mountains and primeval forests, was always regarded as the meeting place between Heaven and earth. The charming scenery and the legendary stories had been invariably inducing many Taoists and hermits in the history of China to come for cultivating inner elixir for longevity and enduring health well-being, physically and mentally. In a long run in history, Wudang Mountain was regarded as the origin place of primitive China Taoism.
Many Taoism famous alchemy practitioners once were very active in Mt. Wudang. The number one God to be worshipped here is Zhen Wu (The Turtle God). In the old recordings available up to now people can find that Zhen Wu was once a prince of a state called Jing Loe. From very young he preferred to read religious scriptures and lost interest to become an emperor. When aged 15 he bade his parents and went to Mt. Wudang to practice alchemy. During the following 42 years he experienced endless difficulties and finally became an immortal. Therefore, Wudang Taoism is one sect characteristic of worshipping Zhen Wu God in the circle of China Taoism. At present, the Immortal-converting Cave still hangs half way down the Southern Cliff, beckoning resolute practitioners to follow his footsteps.
In the book Zhen Hao written by Tao Hong Jing there carries a recording that Yee Xee and Yee Gui in Zhou Dynasty, the first and second disciples of Lao Tzi, once practiced Taoist alchemy in Wudang. Their master Lao Tzi also visited his disciples once upon a time.
Chen Tuan is another very famous alchemist in the history. In around A.D. 950 he began to practice inner alchemy in mount Wudang which lasted almost 20 years. He created Five-dragon sleeping Qigong form and later moved to Huan Shan. Nowadays people still can find the cave in which he practiced alchemy and read scriptures. He had lots of poem and calligraphy work and people can enjoy them till now.
Lu Dong Bing is very renowned in Western world for his legendary tales and magic power. He is one figure in the popular Eight Immortal legend. Lu Dong Bing wrote many poem in praise of the pretty scenery and quietitude in Mt. Wudang. He also finished writing many inner alchemy books when he stayed in Wudang. One is titled Personal Experience for Cultivating Elixir.
Zhang Shanfeng is a mysterious Taoist in Ming Dynasty. Due to his efforts the physical Kung Fu and inner alchemy practice combined together and thus Wudang Inner Kungfu Fu came into its fame. Zhang Shanfeng created Tai Chi Chuan, Ba Gua Chang and Shing-I Chuan here in the Tai Tzi Cave, not far away from Purple Heaven Palace. In fact, his inner alchemy attainment matters much more in comparison with his credit of Kung Fu creation. He wrote many inner alchemy poem and articles still very popular in inner alchemy circle. His poem A Tree Without Root is much often quoted in many articles and books. Elixir Cultivation Direct Revelation and Tai Chi Skills in Cultivating Elixir are very famous nowadays.
The medicine King Shun Si Miao was once a famous Taoist and hermit. He stayed in Mt. Wudang many years for alchemy practice and disease treatment and did herbs picking and digging. In Chinese medicine theory and practice, his book Typhoid Fever Treatise is so important that almost all TCM students have to learn it for advanced understanding upon complicated diseases.
During the Song Dynasty, Wudang Taoism had developed into considerable size, forming its own organization frame and many Taoist buildings in setting. Till now upon the day of Zhenwu' birthday and immortal-converting date, pious people from nearby provinces would come here in endless groups worshipping Wudang Mountain from all directions.
Wudang Taoism evolved to reach the most prosperous stage in the Ming Dynasty. Cheng Emperor, Zhu-Li gave orders to emphatically enhance and develop Wudang Taoism after he was crown to become the emperor. He gave all the related orders by himself, personally, concerned about the reconnaissance and design of Taoist buildings, sent qualified officials to supervise the project, gave consideration to the Taoists' cultivation. When the construction project drew to the end, there stand ed many immense buildings on the both sides of the 140-km old road leading to the Golden Peak.
In the Chinese history there existed two men called Zhang San Feng. One was born in the Sung dynasty (960-1279), who upon retirement retreated with disgust from the world to a Taoist monastery on Wudang Mountain, where he acquired his Taoist name of San Feng. He is said to have learned T'ai Chi Ch'uan in a dream, or after watching a bird and a snake fight. More likely, Zhang applied the Taoist health principles and knowledge of energy circulation to his vast ability in external kung fu, thus creating something really different - a martial art that dos not use muscle power as a primary source of movement, but Chi. Later he became an accomplished Inner KungFu master after long term practice with several teachers. Therefore, he was regarded as the common founder of all Taichi boxing schools.
Another Zhang San Feng was a native of I-Chou in LiaoTung Province. His scholar name was Chuan Yee and Chun Shee. He lived in Yuan dynasty (1279-1368).
The Chinese old book Ming History bearing records available in the monastery on Wudang Mountain does indeed mention him. Descriptions picture him as being seven feet tall, with the bones of a crane and the posture of a pine tree, whiskers shaped like a spear, winter and summer wearing the same bamboo hat, carrying a horsehair duster and being able to cover 1000 Li in a day, sometimes Aeating 50 Kg food in one meal, sometimes keeping fasting as long as several months, possessing amazing memory as to recite a scripture fluently after reading it just one time.
The early legends about Zhang San-Feng are linked with activities of Emperor Chengzu
(1403-1424) who searched for Zhang for many years without results. By 1459, Zhang
had been declared an Immortal and, as with most saints, stories of his miraculous powers became part of the folklore in the Wudang Mountain area. There is a fairly long tradition amongst Wundang Mountain martial artists and Taoists that attributes the development of soft style martial arts to Chang San-Feng and his disciples. In 1670, Huang Zongxi wrote a book called Epitaph for Wang Zhengnan in which Zhang San-Feng was called the founder of internal martial arts practiced near Mount Wudang.
Both the first Ming Dynasty Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang and the Emperor Zhuli gave the orders beckoning Zhang Sanfeng. In the letter written by Zhuli carried such words as “Great immortal aspires for something ethereal and ascends all limitations, thus beyond common people’s surmises. Your orphaned cherishes the idea to meet you day and night…” Yet, no one was heard to ever meet him ever since.
In YongZheng Period of Qing Dynasty, Wang Xeeling collected all articles written by Zhang San Feng and thus Full Collection of Zhang San Feng began to circulate among general society. Later Lee Xu Han, the founder of Western School of Taoism, re-edited the book and collected it to the enormous Taoism book Tao Zhang.After more than 30 years of search and exploration, Zhang San Feng finally was apprenticed to Huo Long to study inner alchemy practice when he was almost 64 years old. By applying inner alchemy theory, Zhang San Feng made lot of improvement and correction to Taichi Boxing which was created by Zhang San Feng, the KungFu master in Sung Dynasty. So, most of people mistake the two Zhang San Feng as one Zhang San Feng and regarded him as one accomplished both in martial arts and inner alchemy.
In fact, Taichi boxing form set composes the first beginning phase for the inner alchemy practice. People can find such conclusion from one Zhang San Feng’s book Zhang San Feng Secret Skills For Taichi Alchemy. From other books written by Zhang San Feng people can know he widely absorbed the essence from Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism and held the three religions head the same target with different routes.
In his book Direct Explanation For The Mystery he introduced the different methods for inner alchemy practice according to diverse mental and physical constitution and the consecutive practice phases are consisted of discipline heart, fetus breathing, water wheel, cultivate elixir, etc.
His another book Great Dao was regarded as the guiding creed collection towards the understanding of the roots of three religions.
The Tree Without Root is a famous long poem. With the poem he emphasized his viewpoint that practitioners should cultivate both life force and primeval nature in the same time. He likened a human being’s life as a tree without root which means Jing, Qi and Shen are limited Aand continued consumption destines the final death from the very beginning. “People should not wait until the boat becomes too corrupt to sail out,” Zhang San Feng shouted to all people and warned all human beings.
The level of martial arts practice is in proportion with Taoist inner alchemy practice. Zhang San Feng’s books often have the same conclusion. No good foundation of inner alchemy practice practitioners’ martial arts practice is more like a tree without root. The outside strong cannot last long when the inner is weak enough. This is the relationship between root and branches in one tree.
Wudang Taoist Alchemy Practice, originated from Zhang San Feng, is a systematic training procedure handed down by generations of Wudang Taoists. By practice step by step, KungFu practitioners can gradually open up channels, preserve Chi and deploy Chi to every parts of body, thus laying a good foundation for any kinds of Wudang Kung Fu which emphasize the inner Kng Fu practice at first. Therefore, all Wudang Kung Fu practitioners are advised to begin their practice first from Wudang Taoist Alchemy Practice.
There are many wonderful benefits derived from practicing Taoist Internal Alchemy, Taoist Daoyin and Qigong, and they may be generalized into the following five categories:
- Expanding the mind and intellect / balancing the emotions / developing wisdom.
- Overcoming illness / self healing /
- Spiritual cultivation / Development of the innate nature/ Release from bondage.
- Enhanced masculinity /
- Enhancing internal force / inner strength
We sponsor Wudang Internal Alchemy practice class every year in Mt. Wudang. For more information please visit http://www.taoiststudy.com/node/77/