2016/01/02

Qiu Chuji (丘处机)- A Noted Figure in the Taoist History

Qiu Chuji (simplified Chinese: 丘处机)(1148-1227) was born in Xixia County, Dengzhou City, Shandong Province. He started to learn Taoism at his early age, and was a pupil of Wang Chongyang, the founder of Quanzhen Sect. After Wang Chongyang died, he went secluded inJuxi(the southeast of Baoji City, Shanxi Province) and Longzhou (Longxian County, Shanxi Province), etc., to practice Taoism, and gradually became famous. When he became known by the imperial government, he was summoned to Zhongdu (today's Beijing) 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 of Turkestan(today's Afghanistan), 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 of Shenxian(immortal) and Taizongshi(great master) by Genghis Khan.

In 1223, Qiu Chuji came back from Turkestan, and resided in Taiji Palace of Yanjing (west side of today's Baiyuan Temple in Beijing). As Genghis Khan assigned Qiu Chuji to take charge of Taoist sects of the whole country, Quanzhen Tao 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 of Quanzhen Tao, halls were built specially for him in many of the later Taoist temples, such as Baiyun Temple in Beijing.

A painting in Changchun Temple, Wuhan, depicting en: Wang Chongyang(simplified Chinese: 王重阳), and his 7 disciples. The personage with the yellow nimbus around his head is Patriarch Chongyang.

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 book Dadanzhizhi(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 include Mingdaoji(a collection of Taoism-preaching),Shesheng Xiaoxilun(on regimen),Xiji(a stream collection), and so on.