Liu Chuxuan

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The Life of Liu Chuxuan (1147-1203)

Liu Chuxuan ( 劉處玄 Liu Chuxuan ) was from Donglai (in today's Shandong province), was styled Tongmiao or Daomiao, and his alternative name was "Changshengzi". He lost his father when he was very young, and he served his mother with filial piety. Liu was immune to high position and great wealth, pursuing purity and tranquility. In the 9th year of Dading he followed his master Wang Chongyang to cultivate Dao, travelling around Shandong and Henan provinces and staying there to beg in order to refine his bodily life. After the death of Sovereign Chongyang, out of filial piety, he stayed at Wang's graveyard with Wang's disciples Ma Yu, Tan Chuduan, and Qiu Chuji for three years. After that he followed Wang's will and moved to Luoyang with Tan Changzhen ( 譚處端 Tan Chuduan ). Like Tan Changzhen he wandered around and lived on begging, refining his spiritual nature on streets full of hustle and bustle. He kept corresponding with Tan as well. In the 16th year of Dading he returned to his hometown (Yexian County, Shandong) to do missionary work with great efforts. Emperor Zhangzong of the Jin dynasty invited him in private after he got the news, and treated him as a very distinguished guest. The endless stream of officials, educated men, and folks of all walks came to make friends with him, so that there were many shoes undressed on the steps outside his room from morning until evening. In the 25th year of Dading, he succeeded as the head of the Daoists of the Complete Perfection Tradition ( 全真道 Qunzhen Dao ). In 1203 he passed away as an immortal. In the 6th year of Zhiyuan, he was conferred the title 'Long-Living Perfect Man Who Brings about Salvation and Virtue' ( 長生輔化明德真人 Changsheng Puhu Mingde Zhenren ). In history, he was called 'Perfect Man of Longevity', one of the Seven Perfect Ones of the North ( 北七真 Beiqizhen ).


Liu Chuxuan founded the Suishan Sect ( 隨山派 Suishan Pai ) of the Complete Perfection Tradition, and he had a large number of disciples, the most famous of whom included the elderly Lifeng and Yu Daoxian. Yu was famous for his ascetic cultivation of Dao, and influential at the end of the Jin Dynasty. Song Piyun, his eldest disciple, was head of the Daoists of the Suishan Sect, and was later in charge of the compilation of the Daoist Canon and of the construction of Daoist temples. Song made a great contribution to the development of the Complete Perfection Tradition.

Major works

  1. Collection of Heavenly Music ( 仙樂集 Xianyue Ji )
  2. Quotations of Higher Perfection ( 至真語錄 Zhizhen Yulu )
  3. Commentary to The Book of Dao and its Virtue ( 道德經注 Daodejing Zhu )
  4. Elaboration of The Book of Secret Correspondences ( 陰符演 Yinfu Yan )
  5. Explanation of the Book of the Yellow Court ( 黃庭述 Huangting Shu )

Classical Allusions

  1. Liu Changsheng ( 劉處玄 Liu Chuxuan ) built a house to cultivate Dao at Wugong. His folks trumped up a charge of murder against him and he was put into jail because he did not defend himself. While he was in jail for over three months, he got the chance to read extensively and practice diligently since he was previously not very well educated, so that his calligraphy was greatly improved, and the Chinese characters were written just like flying dragons and dancing snakes. Three months later he was set free because the murderer himself confessed his crime.
  2. In the 9th year of Dading, when Wang Chongyang wandered to Yexian County, Liu Changsheng from Wugong of Yexian County came to meet him as soon as he got the news. In early spring that year, at an obscure spot between the walls of his neighbor's house, Liu once saw two pairs of couplets of auguries, one of which read "With the immortal man (Changsheng) there, Wugong would be a true sacred place to nourish one's spiritual essence". They seemed to be newly written with powerful strokes. Liu felt it was very strange after he saw it. Just at that time he met Wang Chongyang and his disciples, and Wang smiled looking around, and asked, "Did you see the couplets on the wall?" Liu suddenly realized that it was Wang who had written them, so he revered Wang as his master. Wang Chongyang gave him the assumed name Changsheng after the implication of the words on the wall, to avoid his original name Chuxuan, and also styled him Tongmiao. At the time Liu was twenty-one years old. At that point the four Daoist scholars Qiu Chuji, Tan Chuduan, Ma Yu, and Liu Chuxuan got the chance to know one another.