Patriarch Wang Chongyang

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The Life of Wang Chongyang Family Name

Family name: Wang

Given Name: originally Zhongfu, later changed to Dewei

Literary Name: originally Yunqin, later changed to Shixiong

Daoist Name: Master Chongyang

Origin of Wang Chongyang

Wang Chongyang changed his given name to Zhiming when he became a Daoist. He was born into a rich family in Liujiang Village of Xianyang, Shanxi Province. Before he practiced Daoism, he was at first a Confucian scholar and then took the imperial provincial examination for military candidates in the early Jin Dynasty. He served as a petty government official for some time, but then felt officialdom was not the proper arena to display his talent. He therefore resigned from his post and returned home, his manners becoming all the more unconstrained and even unruly. In the fourth year of Emperor Zhenglong of the Jin Dynasty (AD 1138) when he came into a pub in Ganhe Township (now Guangxian County of Shanxi Province), he met Zhongli Quan and Lu Dongbin, the two immortals and learned from them the mnemonic rhyme of refining Golden Elixirs. He abandoned his wife and children and went to Nanshi Village near Mt Zhongnan. There he made a tomb as his dwelling place which was named "Tomb for a Living Dead Body".

Later he set out from Tongguan and begged his meals all the way to the east. When he came to Ninghai (now Mouping), Shandong Province, he met the Mas (Ma Jue and his wife Sun Bu'er) who built him a Daoist temple with the name of Quanzhen ( 全真 Quanzhen ) (Complete Perfection). Wang Chongyang began to teach Daoism to many people who were all called Complete Perfection Daoists. Having finished his begging and teaching in Shandong Province, he went back to the west in the ninth year of Emperor Dading of the Jin Dynasty. On his way back to the west, he fell ill in Bianliang and died there the next year. His body was taken back to his hometown, Liu-jiang Village, and buried there. The Complete Perfection Doctrine began to spread in the Yuan Dynasty, and the Yuan Emperor Kublai Khan (1216-1294) granted Wang Chongyang, the Patriarch of the Complete Perfection Doctrine, the title of "Perfect Sovereign Chongyang of the Complete Perfection, Who Initiates Salvation" ( 重陽全真開化帝君 Chongyang Quanzhen Kaihua Dijun ). He was later granted the title of "Imperial Sovereign Chongyang of the Complete Perfection, Who Initiates Salvation and Assists the Ultimate" ( 重陽全真開化輔極帝君 Chongyang Quanzhen Kaihua Fuji Dijun ) by the Yuan Emperor Wuzong.

Wang's Ideas

In terms of theory and the practice of Daoism, Wang Chongyang advocated the view of the integration of the Three Doctrines (i.e., Daoism, Buddhism and Confucianism), that is, the integration of Confucianism, which values rationality, Chan (Zen) Buddhism, which values spiritual cultivation, and Daoism, which values the cultivation of bodily life. He suggested that people read the Book of the Purity and Tranquility of Dao and its Virtue ( 道德清靜經 Daode Qingjing Jing ), the Book of Prajna, and the Book of Filial Piety ( 孝經 Ziaojing ).

"Complete Perfection" means being complete in terms of one's Essential Matter ( 精 Jing ), Vital Breath ( 氣 Qi ), and Spirit ( 神 Shen ) to the extent of being perfect, never polluting any one of them. In terms of the practice of Daoism, Wang Chongyang opposed the practise of Outer Alchemy ( 外丹 Waidan ), Talismans and Registers ( 符籙 Fulu ), and the Arts of Exorcism, and stressed the cultivation of spirit before the cultivation of the body.

Wang Chongyang demanded that Complete Perfection Daoist followers lead an ascetic life by controlling themselves, putting their pride in their pockets, practicing pristine cultivation and self-vexation, and vegetarianism. Only in this way, according to Wang, can they better cultivate themselves and assist the world, finally overcoming material desire and attaining sainthood.

Inheritance

After Wang Chongyang established the Complete Perfection Teaching, he taught many disciples, among whom the most famous were the Seven Perfect Ones of the North ( 北七真 Beiqizhen ) as they were later known, including Ma Danyang, Tan Chuduan, Liu Chuxuan, Qiu Chuji, Wang Chuyi, Hao Datong and Sun Bu'er.

Works by Wang Chongyang

  1. Wang Chongyang's Compilation of the Complete Perfection ( 王重陽全真集 Wang Chongyang Quanzhen Ji )
  2. Wang Chongyang's Compilation on Civilization ( 王重陽教化篇 Wang Chongyang Jiaohua Ji )
  3. Fifty Treatises on the Establishment of the Complete Perfection Doctrine ( 立教五十篇 Lijiao Wushi Pian )

Drunken with Water

Patriarch Wang Chongyang was fond of drinking. When he met Patriarch Liu Haichan, he drank some water from the Ganhe River (now in Huxian County, Shanxi Province). Since then forsake drinking liquor. He only drank water which, however, also made him look drunk.