The Five Northern Patriarchs

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Origin of the Five Northern Patriarchs

The Five Northern Patriarchs ( 北五祖 Bei Wuzu ) were the five Daoist founders worshiped by the Complete Perfection Doctrine ( 全真教 Quanzhen Jiao ), including Wang Xuanpu the Imperial Sovereign of Donghua ( 東華帝君 Donghua Dijun ), Zhongli Quan the Zhengyang Imperial Sovereign, Lu Dongbin the Chunyang Imperial Sovereign, Liu Haichan the Haichan Imperial Sovereign, and Wang Chongyang the Chongyang Imperial Sovereign. They were known as the Five Northern Patriarchs, as there were five other Daoist patriarchs – the Five Southern Patriarchs ( 南五祖 Nan Wuzu ).


According to the Records of the Orthodox Sect of the Golden Lotus ( 金蓮正宗記 Jinlian Zhengzong Ji ), the Doctrine of Complete Perfection was passed down from the Supreme Venerable Sovereign ( 太上老君 Taishang Laojun ) to the Golden Mother ( 金母 Jinmu ), who passed it to the Highest Perfect Man of White Clouds ( 白雲上頂 Baiyun Shangzhen ), who passed it to Wang Xuanpu, the Donghua Imperial Sovereign. At the Ningyang Grotto of Mt Zhongnan, Wang Xuanpu imparted the Perfect Formula of Longevity ( 長生真訣 Changshen Zhenjue ), the Fire Phases for Refining Golden Elixirs ( 金丹火候 Jindan Huohou ) and the Black Dragon Swordplay ( 青龍劍法 Qinglong Jianfa ) to Zhongli Quan, who later taught Lu Dongbin the Swordplay of the Heavenly Withdrawal of the Great Dao ( 大道天遞 Dadao Tiandun ) and the Secret Formula for Making Dragon and Tiger Elixirs. Lu Dongbin later imparted to Liu Haichan and Wang Chongyang the Daoist skills of 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 Abstracting Elixirs from Liquefied Gold ( 金液還丹 Jinye Huandan ). While Liu Haichan taught the Dao to Zhang Ziyang whose disciples formed the Southern Lineage ( 南宗 Nanzong ) of Daoism, Wang Chongyang imparted Dao to the Seven Perfect Ones of the North ( 北七真 Beiqi Zhen ) whose disciples formed the Northern Lineage ( 北宗 Beizong ). From then on the Doctrine of Complete Perfection was spread increasingly widely with the passage of time, and its followers were found everywhere.