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Reason for Xu Xun's study of Dao

Xu Xun, a celebrated Daoist priest of the Jin dynasty (AD 265-420), was styled Jingzhi and born in Nanchang. Both his grandfather and father honoured Dao in order to secure Immortality. It was recorded in Daoist books that during his early teens, he once entered the mountains to hunt deer. When he shot a doe and her infant fell to the ground, the doe, mindless of her own arrow wound, turned round, licked her baby, and then died. Xu Xun was enlightened by this experience, so he broke his bow and discarded his arrows, and became bent on the practice of Dao.

Practice of Dao ( 修道 Xiudao )

Xu Xun was intelligent enough to acquire a wide knowledge about the Confucian classics and history, and to perfectly master geography, music, the Five Agents ( 五行 Wuxing ), and works on the Esoteric Speculations ( 讖緯 Chenwei ). He was especially fond of the techniques for attaining Immortality. It is said that he followed the famous Daoist priest Wu Meng to practice and study Dao, and chose to live and Refine ( 修煉 Xiulian ) himself on Xianyao Mountain ( 西山 Xishan ), which was situated on the south side of West Mountain. Later, Xu was named Pious and Incorruptible ( 孝廉 Xiaolian ), and was appointed county magistrate of Jingyang. His honest and clean government and large grants completely convinced both the officials and the people, and his moral enlightenment moved his contemporaries. When he later saw that the imperial family of the Jin dynasty was in a chaotic state, he resigned from office and returned to the east to travel among rivers and lakes and propagate the principle of filial piety. It is said that Xu Xun once became a student of Mother Chen and mastered ingenious Daoist Magical Skills ( 道法 Daofa ), and many mystical stories spread in the whole area of Yuzhang about his fights against dragons and killing of snakes to rid the people of evils. Also, it is said that he once attained the Pure Brightness Way of the Supreme Numinous Treasure ( 太上靈寶淨明法 Taishang Lingbao Jingming Fa ), and was revered as the founder of the Pure Brightness sect ( 淨明道派 Jingming Daopai ). Later, returning to West Mountain, Xu Xun became a hermit and was indefatigable in his meticulous practice.

Attaining immortality

Xu Xun was already 136 years old in the second year of Ningkang, during the reign of emperor Xiaowu. On the first day of the eighth lunar month of that year, an Immortal ( 仙 Xian ) descended from Heaven and said: "You have been appointed Supreme Historiographer and Glorious Envoy of the Immortals of the Nine Realms' ( 九州都仙太史高明大使 Jiuzhou Duxian Taushi Gaoming Dashi ) by order of the Jade Emperor." ( 玉皇 Yuhuang ) Then on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, his whole family of 42 persons ascended to the heaven, together with their house and their fowls and dogs. Emperor Hui of the Song dynasty honoured him with the title "Perfect Sovereign and Sublime Saviour of Divine Virtuosity in Profound Resonance with the Higher Dao" ( 至道玄應神功妙濟真君 Zhudao Xuanying Shengong Miaoji Zhenjun ), ranked as Minister of the Celestial Pivot ( 天樞使相 Tianshu Shuxiang ), one of the Four Ministers of the Heavenly Government ( 天府四相 Tianfu Sixiang ).