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Xian (Taoism) – Wikipedia

Group 1: Xian in Chinese Folklore and Taoism – Immortals in Chinese folklore live in pure places like mountains. – They do not eat cereals […]

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Group 1: Xian in Chinese Folklore and Taoism
– Immortals in Chinese folklore live in pure places like mountains.
– They do not eat cereals and can change their appearance.
– Immortals move swiftly, fly, and have traits similar to ancient Indian ascetics.
– The Eight Immortals are examples of xian.
– Xian can be good or evil and are associated with Taoist adepts.
– Types of xian and levels of achievement:
– Ghost Immortals cultivate yin energy and drain life essence.
– Human Immortals have balanced energies and do not age or get sick.
– Earthly Immortals have bodies not affected by natural elements.
– Spirit Immortals have supernatural powers and teach about the Tao.
– Celestial Immortals oversee earthly and celestial realms.

Group 2: Textual References and Historical Context
– Early Chinese texts like Zhuangzi and Chuci used allegorical descriptions of ‘xian’ immortals and magic islands for spiritual immortality.
– Later texts such as Shenxian zhuan and Baopuzi described physical immortality through Chinese alchemical practices like neidan and waidan.
– Techniques for immortality included breath control, meditation, alchemical recipes, herbal medicines, and dietetic practices.
– ‘Xian’ figures were prominent in Taoist texts, with some mentions in Buddhist sources and Chinese folk religion.
– The Three Sovereigns in Chinese mythology shared similarities with ‘xian’ due to their supernatural abilities and legends surrounding their immortality.

Group 3: Influence and Significance of Xian
– Xian are venerated in various ways across Chinese cultures and sects.
– They are viewed as beings who can offer assistance to humans.
– Xian were sometimes considered similar to ghosts rather than deities.
– Taoists pray to xian and follow their examples.
– Xian are associated with gods inside the body and can be fought with martial arts.

Group 4: The Book of Master Embracing Simplicity and Immortality Levels
– The Baopuzi by Ge Hong provides detailed descriptions of ‘xian’ immortals, categorizing them into three classes based on their level.
– The Tiānxiān are considered the highest level of celestial immortals, followed by the Dìxiān as middle-level earthly immortals.
– The Shījiě xiān, the lowest level, involves a method of faking one’s death to escape earthly retribution and achieve a form of immortality.
– Different levels of Shījiě immortals, such as Dìxià zhǔ and Dìshàng zhǔzhě, have specific roles and responsibilities within the Chinese underworld.
– The Baopuzi highlights the complexities of achieving immortality and the consequences of misdeeds on one’s allotted lifespan.

Group 5: Transcendence in Art, Symbolism, and Etymology
– Artistic representations of ‘xian’ immortals often depict them in various forms, symbolizing spiritual enlightenment, longevity, and the pursuit of higher realms.
– The etymology of ‘xian’ remains uncertain, with interpretations linking it to concepts of aging without death and dwelling in mountains.
– The term ‘xian’ is used in various compounds and phrases in Chinese language, reflecting different aspects of immortality and transcendence.
– Scholarly interpretations of the term ‘xian’ range from shamanic dancing to symbols of longevity and spiritual elevation in Chinese culture.
– Various texts and traditions in Chinese culture explore the complexities of immortality, highlighting the virtues and challenges of transcending mortal limitations.

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