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Qiu Chuji - A Noted Figure in the Taoist History


Qiu Chuji (1148-1227) was born inXixiaCounty,Dengzhou City,ShandongProvince. He started to learn Taoism at his early age, and was a pupil of Wang Chongyang, the founder ofQuanzhenSect. After Wang Chongyang died, he went secluded inJuxi(the southeast ofBaoji City,ShanxiProvince) andLongzhou(Longxian County,ShanxiProvince), etc., to practice Taoism, and gradually became famous. When he became known by the imperial government, he was summoned toZhongdu(today'sBeijing) to missionize Taoism. After that, he went back home and lived in seclusion.

In 1219, the famous Mongolian leader Genghis Khan heard about Qiu Chuji on his way of conquering the west, and sent an emissary to invite him. Therefore, in the 4thyear (1220) of the Xingding reign in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), Qiu Chuji, together with his eighteen pupils, set off from Laizhou. It took them two years to arrive in the snow mountains ofTurkestan(today'sAfghanistan), covering a distance of over 5,000 kilometers. When he finally met with Genghis Khan (the founder of the Yuan Dynasty), he tried to dissuade the latter from killing; meanwhile, he preached Taoist doctrine to Genghis Khan, advising him to revere the heaven and love his people on the one hand, and have a pure heart and few desires on the other hand. For this reason, he was conferred the title ofShenxian(immortal) andTaizongshi(great master) by Genghis Khan.

In 1223, Qiu Chuji came back fromTurkestan, and resided inTaijiPalaceof Yanjing (west side of today'sBaiyuanTempleinBeijing). As Genghis Khan assigned Qiu Chuji to take charge of Taoist sects of the whole country,QuanzhenTao became extremely popular in the north, and had a big political as well economical influence on society. In the autumn of 1227, Qiu Chuji died of illness. Due to his special role in the development ofQuanzhenTao, halls were built specially for him in many of the later Taoist temples, such asBaiyunTempleinBeijing.

Qiu Chuji followed the heritage of Quanzhen Sect, insisting that the three religions be communicated on an equal basis, and that Taoism followers should cut off all the earthy relations and become a total Taoist practitioner. He also argued that a pure heart and few desires were essential for one to become immortal. In his bookDadanzhizhi(straight way to elixir), he proposed nine alchemical methods, claiming that the interaction of the innate and acquired air inside the human body could generate elixir. His other works includeMingdaoji(a collection of Taoism-preaching),Shesheng Xiaoxilun(on regimen),Xiji(a stream collection), and so on.

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