On the Possibility of Learning to be an Immortal

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On the Possibility of Learning to be an Immortal ( 神仙可學論 Shenxian Kexue Lun ) was compiled by Wu Yun of the Tang dynasty and collected in the middle volume of Anthology of Gentleman Zongxuan ( 宗玄先生文集 Zongxuan Xiansheng Wenji ). The issue whether immortality can be learnt and attained has held an important position in Daoism ever since the Han dynasty, and this book sums it up. The book first raises the question whether immortals exist and holds that "the truth that immortals never die is universal". Immortals exist, thus immortality can be learnt. Sometimes immortality can be attained without cultivation, sometimes it can be attained only through learning, and sometimes it cannot be attained even after learning. We cannot treat different matters as the same. Besides, the book points out seven conditions distant to the way of immortality and another seven that are close to it, and holds that to learn immortality is to "give up the former seven conditions and adopt the latter seven conditions". It concludes, "The feasibility of learning immortality is so evident. "Can't everyone be encouraged by it?" This book is simply a work propagating the Daoist theory of immortality. It is collected in the Supreme Mystery Section ( 太玄部 Taixuan Bu ) of The Daoist Canon of the Zhengtong Era ( 正統道藏 Zhengtong Daozang ).