Life of Min Yide (AD 1758-1836)
Min Yide was a celebrated Inner Alchemist ( 內丹家 Neidanjia ) of the Qing dynasty. His courtesy name was Xiaogen, his Daoist name was Yide, and his sobriquet was Lanyunzi. He was a native of Wuxing in Zhejiang (i.e. Chaozhou City of today), and the 11th generation successor of the Dragon Gate sect ( 龍門派 Longmen Pai ). He was born into an old distinguished family. Born weak, he still walked with difficulty at the age of nine. Later, he became a student of Gao Dongli (named Qingxian and styled Dongli), who was the tenth generation successor of the Dragon Gate sect, in order to study gymnastic techniques. After Gao Dongli died in the 33rd year of the reign of Qianlong (AD 1768), he regarded Gao's disciple Shen Yibing (also known by his literary name Qingyun) as his teacher and became an 11th generation disciple of the Dragon Gate sect. Later, Min Yide secured an official position in the south of Yunnan. In this period, he once called on a Daoist Master of Chickenfoot Mountain ( 雞足山 Jizu Shan ), who was a native of Yuezhi and a disciple of Wang Changyue, in Yunnan in the 55th (or 57th) year of the reign of Qianlong. Yide transmitted books on commandments to the Daoist Master ( 道者 Daozhe ), who imparted to him the Skills of the Dipper ( 斗法 Doufa ). He kept in contact with Jin Huaihuai (i.e. Wang Qingchu, a native of Yunnan), who belonged to the Mind Lineage of Xizhu of the Dragon Gate sect ( 龍門西竺心宗 Longmen Xizhu Xinzong ); White Horse Li (i.e. Li Qingchun, a native of Jiangxia, Hubei); and Li Pengtou (whose name and native place were unknown). Around the last year of the reign of Qianlong, he resigned from office and returned to Wuxing, where he led a secluded life on Mt. Jingai. Then he was put in charge of the religious affairs of that mountain, and engaged himself in writing. He lived in seclusion on Mt. Jingai for more than 40 years, and died in the 16th year of the reign of Daoguang (AD 1836).
Prosperity of the Dragon Gate sect
After Min Yide took charge of the religious affairs of Mt. Jingai, feeling pity for the decline in successors to the sect and for the collapse of religious buildings, he endeavoured to revitalize Daoist affairs with deep feelings. So he revealed convenient methods of practise of the Dragon Gate sect and advocated the simultaneous cultivation of the Three Doctrines. According to him, Confucianists inquired into the truth through reading, managed state affairs, and harmonized the family; Buddhists awoke to the truth by sitting in deep meditation, realizing Spiritual Nature, and enlightening the mind; and Daoists Cultivated Moral Character ( 修身 Xiushen ), reduced sins, and benefited things and people. As a result, one could just as well practise Commandments ( 律 Lu ), Magic Arts ( 法 Fa ), Worship ( 宗 Zong ), or Doctrine ( 教 Jiao ), and could either stay at home, secure official position, Cultivate Dao ( 修道 Xiudao ) in mountains, pay respect to teachers and visit friends, or grow long hair and change clothes. Following its rejuvenation during Wang Changyue's lifetime, the Dragon Gate sect became fairly prosperous during the reigns of Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong. Since Min Yide took charge of the sect, contemporary high officials, Buddhists, Daoists, and petty officials and servants admired his Daoist demeanor, and a lot of people associated with him or became his disciples.
Min Yide was a prolific writer. During the Jiajing years, he wrote the Light of the Mind on Mt. Jingai ( 金蓋心燈 Jinggai Xindeng ) in eight volumes, which recorded the lives of over one hundred figures of the Dragon Gate sect from the first to the 14th generation. It has become an important reference material for researching the history of the Dragon Gate sect. During the reign of Daoguang, Min Yide compiled the Supplementary Daoist Canon ( 道藏續編 Daozang Xubian ) containing about 30 books on Inner Refinement ( 內煉 Neilian ) from the Ming and Qing dynasties. In addition, he compiled the Collection of Ancient Books from the Tower of the Bookish Hermit ( 古書隱樓藏書 Gushu Yinlou Cangshu ), which contained 38 books on Inner Alchemy written by him and other writers of the Qing dynasty. The above two books are important reference materials for research on the Daoist Inner Alchemy ( 內丹 Neidan ) of the Ming and Qing dynasties.