Liu Haichan

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The Life of Liu Haichan

Family name: Liu

Given Name: Cao

Literary Name: Zongcheng or Zhaoyuan

Daoist Name: Master Haichan

Birthday: 14th day of the 12th lunar month

Date of Ascension: 15th of the 6th lunar month

Origin of Liu Haichan

Liu Haichan came from Guangling of the Yan area (now Hebei Province). He lived in the Later Liang period (907-923) and once served as the prime minister for the Lord of the Yan area. Liu admired the Huang-Lao Tradition ( 黃老道 Huanglao Dao ). When he met Master Zhengyang he immediately resigned from officialdom. Later he became a disciple of Lu Chunyang's and learned about the ways of refining elixirs; thereupon, he went to live in seclusion on Phoenix Mountain of Daizhou Prefecture.


Master Haichan learned from Lu Chunyang about Purity and Tranquility ( 清靜 Qingjing ) and Non-Interference ( 無為 Wuwei ), Nourishing Spiritual Nature and Cultivating Bodily Life ( 養性修命 Yangxing Xiuming ), and ways of Refining Elixirs from Liquefied Gold. He later taught these skills to his disciples Dong Ningyang and Zhang Ziyang.


When Liu Haichan was still the prime minister, a Daoist who called himself Master Zhengyang came to him one day. The Daoist asked him for ten coins and ten eggs and then piled them all one on another, egg upon coin and coin upon egg on the table. Master Haichan was frightened at what the Daoist was doing and cried, "It is dangerous! It is dangerous!" The Daoist said, "No, no. There is less danger than your own life." Master Haichan grasped what he meant immediately and followed him to practice Daoism the next morning.

Works by Liu Haichan

  1. On Returning to Gold ( 還金篇 Huanjin Pian )
  2. Explanations to the Yellow Emperor's Book of Secret Correspondences ( 黃帝陰符經集解 Huangdi Yinfu Jing Jijie )


Liu was granted the titles of "Enlightened Perfect Sovereign of the Magnificent Dao" ( 明悟弘道真君 Mingwu Hongdao Zhenjun ) and "Enlightened Imperial Sovereign and Pure Protector of the Magnificent Dao" ( 明悟弘道純佑帝君 Mingwu Hongdao Chunyou Dijun ) by Emperors Shizu and Wuzong of the Yuan Dynasty respectively.