Patriarch Lu Dongbing

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The Life of Lü Dongbin

Family Name:

Given name: Yan

Literary Name: Dongbin

Alias: Master Chunyang

Birthday: born at the sixth stem (of the ten Celestial Stems) on the 14th day of the 4th lunar month in the fourteenth year of Emperor Zhenyuan of the Tang Dynasty (AD 798)

Date of Ascension: 20th of the 5th lunar month

Lü Dongbin called himself the Man Who Returns to Dao ( 回道人 Huidaoren ). He was born in Yongle County of Hezhong Prefecture in the Tang Dynasty. He began to cherish the dream of becoming an Immortal even when he was still young. He was indifferent to fame and wealth and admired the quiet and simple lifestyle. On his way to Chang'an (now xi'an, Shaamxi Province) to take the imperial examination at the provincial level, he stayed at a pub where he met Zhongli Quan the Patriarch. Lü was awakened by a Golden Millet Dream (pipe dream) and then converted to Daoism, receiving the alias Chunyangzi. From then on he devoted all his life to cultivating himself according Daoist doctrines and preaching Daoism. One day when it was still broad daylight he ascended to Heaven from the Yellow Crane Tower, Ezhou Prefecture. He was one of the Five Northern Patriarchs ( 北五祖 Bei Wuzu ) and one of the Eight Immortals ( 八仙 Baixian ) as well.

Lü's Ideas

  1. Lü Dongbin carried on his teacher Zhongli Quan's alchemy of abstracting elixirs from liquefied gold but reformed the alchemy of refining elixirs from gold and silver into refining Inner Alchemy ( 內丹 Neidan ).
  2. In Lü's conception of Inner Alchemy, one outstanding feature is his proposition that Daoism and Buddhism should be integrated.
  3. He advocated the integrated cultivation of both Spiritual Nature and Bodily Life ( 性命雙修 Xingming Shuangxiu ).
  4. He reformed swordplay the three avoidances: avoiding greediness, avoiding the desire for love and avoiding feeling worried.


Lü Dongbin was Zhongli Quan's student and learned from him the skill of refining the Great Elixirs from Liquefied Gold, the Secret Formula for Refining Dragon and Tiger Elixirs, and the Swordplay of the Heavenly Concealment of the Great Dao ( 大道天遁 Dadao Tiandun ). Later on, Lü's disciples Liu Haichan and Wang Chongyang established the Southern and the Northern Lineages ( 南宗、北宗 Nanxong; Beizong ) of Daoism respectively.


After having killed demons and monsters, Patriarch Lü would throw his sword into the sky which would become a dragon. He would ride on it and go back to Heaven. This is how the sword got its name.

Works by Lü Dongbin

  1. On the Revelation of Mysteries ( 指玄篇 Zhixuan Pian )
  2. The Song of the Direct Revelation of the Supreme Elixir ( 直指太丹歌 Zhizhi Taidan Ge )
  3. The Song of the Hexagrammatic Lines ( 敲爻歌 Qiaoyao Ge )
  4. One Hundred Questions ( 百問篇 Baiwen Pian )
  5. The Song of the Grain Spirit ( 谷神歌 Gushen Ge )
  6. Principles of the Golden Essence of Supreme Oneness ( 太乙金華宗旨 Taiyi Jinjua Zongzhi )
  7. On the Numinous Treasure ( 靈寶篇 Lingbao Pian )


He was granted the titles of "Perfect Man of Sublime Communion" ( 妙通真人 Miaotong Zhenren ) by Emperor Huizong of the Song Dynasty, "Perfect Sovereign Chunyang Who Preaches Orthodoxy and Exhorts to Salvation" ( 純陽演正警化真君 Chunyang Yanzheng Jinghua Zhenjun ) by Emperor Shizu of the Yuan Dynasty, and "Imperial Sovereign Chunyang and Protector Who Preaches Salvation" ( 純陽演化孚佑帝君 Chunyang Yanhua Fuyou Dijun ) by Emperor Wuzong of the Yuan Dynasty.