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Life of Sun Bu'er

Sun Bu'er (1119-1182), who had the surname Sun, the given name Fuchun, the religious name Bu'er, and the sobriquets 'Leisurely Lady of Purity and Tranquility'( 清靜散人 Qingjing Sanren ) and 'Immortal Lady Sun' ( 孫仙姑 Sun Xiangu ), was a native of Ninghai (present-day Muping, Shandong) in the Jin dynasty. She was the wife of Ma Danyang and had three children. In the seventh year of Dading of the Jin dynasty, when living at her home, Wang Chongyang transformed Sun Bu'er and Ma Danyang by the metaphor of "cutting pears into halves". In the ninth year of Dading of the Jin dynasty, Sun Bu'er renounced her family to live in the Golden Lotus Temple ( 金蓮堂 Jinlian Tang ). Wang Chongyang transmitted to her the Secret Formula of Heavenly Talismans and Cloud Seals ( 天符雲篆 Tianfu Yunzhuan Mijue ). Afterwards, she practised Dao in the Grotto of the Immortal Phoenix Lady ( 鳳仙姑洞 Fengxiangu Dong ), and succeeded in refining elixirs six years later. In addition, she created the Purity and Tranquility Sect ( 清靜派 Qingjing Pai ) of the Complete Perfection Tradition ( 全真道 Quanzhen Dao ), and became the founder of the Daoist female alchemy of later ages. Emperor Shizu of the Yuan dynasty bestowed on her the title "Meek and Virtuous Perfect Woman of Purity, Tranquility and Profound Perfection" ( 清靜淵真順德真人 Qingjing Yuanzhen Shunde Zhenren ), and emperor Wuzong of the Yuan dynasty conferred upon her another title, "Primordial Sovereign of Purity, Profound Chastity, Mysterious Emptiness and Obedient Salvation" ( 清靜淵貞玄虛順化元君 Qingjing Yuanzhen Xuaxu Shunhua Yuanjun ). Later, she was venerated as one of the 'Seven Perfect Ones of the North' ( 北七真 Bei Qizhen ).

Ideas on Inner Alchemy

Sun Bu'er inherited Wang Chongyang's theory of Inner Alchemy ( 內丹 Neidan ), and moreover noticed the difference between female alchemy and male alchemy. She divided the practice and study of female alchemy into fourteen steps: controlling the mind, nourishing the vital breath, practising the skills, killing dragons, nourishing the elixir, embryonic breathing ( 胎息 Taixi ), corresponding with fire, receiving elixirs, refining the spirit, dietetics ( 服食 Fushi ), abstaining from grains ( 辟穀 Pigu ), facing walls, entering oblivion, and ascending to heaven.


When the Immortal Lady Sun Bu'er passed away in a sitting posture, the perfume wind and auspicious air didn't disappear all day. At that time Ma Yu, who was practising Dao in Ninghai, looked up and saw the Immortal Lady flying past on colorful clouds. The Immortal Lady lowered her head and said to Ma Yu, "Now I'll first go to the Penglai Island of Immortals." At these words, Ma Yu was so happy that he began to dance. ==Lineage==Sun Bu'er took many disciples, but only a few of them can be investigated in the written biographies of the Complete Perfection Tradition.


  1. The Secret Book of Alchemical Skills Imparted by Primordial Sovereign Sun Bu'er ( 孫不二元君傳述丹道秘書 Sun Bu’er Yuanjun Chuanshu Dandao Mishan ),
  2. Quotations from the Preaching of Primordial Sovereign Sun Bu'er ( 孫不二元君法語 Sun Bu’er Yuanjun Fayu ).