Ma Yu

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Ma Yu's Life

Ma Yu's personal name was Chongyi, and his literal name was Yipu. In later years, he changed his personal name in Yu and his literary name to Xuanbao. He also styled himself Danyangzi. So he was known as Ma Danyang. Because he was born in a very wealthy family in Haining, Shandong, he was also called 'Ma Who Owns Half the Realm'. As a young man, he was famous for his talents in poetry and acupuncture. In the seventh Dading year of the Jin dynasty (AD 1167), when Wang Chongyang was transmitting Daoism in Ninghai, Ma Yu and his wife Sun Bu'er followed him. They gave up their family property and became Daoist monks. Since then, they lived a simple and peaceful life. Before his death, Wany Chongyang conferred on Ma Yu the secret formula of the Complete Perfection as well as his behest to develop the Complete Perfection. In the sixth Zhiyuan year of Yan emperor Shi (AD 1269), Ma was granted the title 'Perfect Man Danyang Who Embraces Oneness and Non-Interference' ( 丹陽抱一無為真人 Danyang Baoyi Wuwei Zhenren ). He was also known as 'Perfect Man Danyang' ( 丹陽真人 Danyang Zhenren ). In later times, he was worshiped as one of the Seven Perfect Ones of the North ( 北七真 Beiqi Zhen ).


He inherited Wang Chongyang's tradition of Integrated Cultivation of Spiritual Nature and Bodily Life ( 性命雙修 Xingming Shuangxiu ), and based the cultivation theory of the Complete Perfection on a spiritual pursuit for purity and non-interference. He stressed a combination of one's mind and Spiritual Nature. On the other hand, he likened the relation between Spiritual Nature ( 性 Xing ) and Bodily Life ( 命 Ming ) to that between Spirit ( 神 Shen ) and Vital Breath ( 氣 Qi ). All these, in his opinion, are to be embodied in the theory of Purity and Tranquility ( 清靜 Qingjing ) and Non-Interference ( 無為 Wuwei ).


Ma Yu also founded the Encountering Immortality sect ( 遇仙派 Yuxian Pai ), a branch of the Complete Perfection tradition. He had many disciples, ten of whom became very famous in later period. His disciple Li Shouning was among the Four Outstanding Daoists in the early period of the Yuan dynasty.


  1. Brilliance of Divine Light ( 神光璨 Shenguang Can ),
  2. Gold and Jade Essays of the Pervasive Mystery ( 洞玄金玉集 Dongxuan Jinyu Ji ).