The Heavenly Hermit

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The eight-section Heavenly Hermit ( 天隱子 Tianyinzi ) was written by Sima Chengzhen of the Tang dynasty. Since the Song dynasties, most scholars have held that this book was not written by Sima Chengzhen, but rather in his name. According to the content, Heavenly Hermit and Discourse on Sitting in Oblivion ( 坐忘論 Zuowang Lun ) must have the same author. Therefore, in the three chapters of Discourse on Sitting in Oblivion collected in the Pivot of Dao ( 道樞 Daoshu ) by Zeng Zao of the Song dynasty, the two books are integrated into one section under Sima Chengzhen's name. Heavenly hermit is divided into eight chapters,

  1. the first on immortals,
  2. the second on simplicity,
  3. the third on gradualism,
  4. the fourth on fasting,
  5. the fifth on peaceful life,
  6. the sixth on meditation,
  7. the seventh on sitting in oblivion,
  8. the eighth on the transcendent mind.

The book maintains that longevity is the foundation of immortality while nourishing vital breath is the essential of longevity; that vital breath is born by heaven and earth and harmonized by Yin and Yang; that empty Yin-Yang spirit is called mind, and that mind governing day and night is called soul; and that man can obtain the immortal Dao through diligent cultivation. This book is indeed the companion volume of Discourse on Sitting in Oblivion. It is collected in the Supreme Mystery Section ( 洞玄部 Dongxuan Bu ) of The Daoist Canon of the Zhengtong Era ( 正統道藏 Zhengtong Daozang ).