The Golden Elixir Taoist Alchemy Texts > Benefits of the Elixirs

External Alchemy (Waidan): Benefits of the Elixirs

Great Clarity

Translations on this page are reproduced from:

Great Clarity: Daoism and Alchemy in Early Medieval China

Fabrizio Pregadio
Stanford UP, 2006
Hardcover

This is the first book to examine extensively the religious aspects of Chinese alchemy. Its main focus is the relation of alchemy to the Daoist traditions of the early medieval period (3rd to 6th centuries). It contains full translations of three important medieval texts, all of them accompanied by running commentaries. Read more on this book.

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Benefits of the elixirs

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After the methods of making the elixirs, the Taiqing texts describe the benefits that they afford. The Taiqing alchemical medicines were valued for two main reasons. First, they granted transcendence and immortality; second, they made it possible — even with no need of ingesting them — to summon benevolent gods and expel demons and other causes of various disturbances, including illness and death.

Trascendence and Immortality

All those who want to live a long life, but do not obtain the Divine Elixirs (shendan) and the Golden Liquor (jinye), merely bring suffering upon themselves. Practising breathing and daoyin, exhaling the old and inhaling the new breath, and ingesting medicines of herbs and plants can extend the length of one's life, but does not allow one to escape death. When a man ingests the Divine Elixirs, he becomes a divine immortal and transcends the generations [of mortals].

Book Icon Book of the Nine Elixirs (Huangdi jiuding shendan jingjue, chapter 1). Translation published in Pregadio, Great Clarity, 159-60.

 

If you take one ounce each of Gold Water (i.e., Golden Liquor) and Mercury Water, and drink them facing the sun, you immediately will become a Golden Man (jinren). Your body will be radiant and will grow feathers and wings. On high you will put in motion the Original Essence (yuanjing) on behalf of [the God of] the Central Yellow (Zhonghuang) and of the Great One (Taiyi). (1) If you drink half an ounce each of Gold Water [and Mercury Water], you will live a long life without end.

(1) The commentary explains this saying that one becomes a "celestial spirit" (tianshen) and helps to regulate the Celestial Breath (tianqi) smoothly according to the sequence of the four seasons.

Book Icon Scripture of the Golden Liquor (Baopu zi shenxian jinzhuo jing, chapter 1). Translation published in Pregadio, Great Clarity, 191.

 

Two ounces form one dose. Ingest it at dawn with fereshly drawn pure water, facing the sun. You will be able to dissolve your form becoming invisible and to fly soaring to the Great Void (taixu). An envoy of the Great Ultimate will welcome you with the Golden Elixir and the Winged-wheel [Chariot] (yulun). You will multiply your form and transform your shadow, making them into thousands of white cranes. You will rise to [the heaven] of Great Tenuity (Taiwei) and will receive the rank of a True Immortal (zhenxian). Your longevity will equal that of the Three Luminaries (i.e., the sun, the moon, and the planets); you will revert to youth and move away from old age. Your complexion will shine like jade, and in one instant you will obtain a radiant spiritual force (yaoling). Such indeed is the power of the Reverted Elixir in Nine Cycles.

Book Icon Book of the Reverted Elixirs in Nine Cycles (Jiuzhuan huandan jing yaojue). Translation published in Pregadio, Great Clarity, 197.

 

You will travel through the air in any direction, and enter and exit the world without interruption. Nobody will be able to hold or restrain you: one moment you will be sitting, and then you will rise up and disappear. Lightly you will ascend riding the clouds, and rise to heaven.

Book Icon Book of the Nine Elixirs (Huangdi jiuding shendan jingjue, chapter 1). Translation published in Pregadio, Great Clarity, 187.

Summoning the Gods

After you ingest this elixir for one hundred days, the divine immortals will give you their welcome. Jade Men, Jade Women, Jade Lads, the Ministers of the Mountains and the Officers of the Moorlands will become your attendants, appearing in human form.

Book Icon Book of the Nine Elixirs (Huangdi jiuding shendan jingjue, chapter 1). Translation published in Pregadio, Great Clarity, 179.

 

In two hundred days you will rise to heaven and enter the earth, and the immortals will become your attendants. In one year the Great One (Taiyi) will welcome you in a chariot of clouds pulled by dragons and horses.

Book Icon Book of the Nine Elixirs (Huangdi jiuding shendan jingjue, chapter 1). Translation published in Pregadio, Great Clarity, 181.

 

The ten thousand gods will become your attendants and offer protection, and the Jade Women will be at your service. The divine immortals will welcome you, and you will rise to heaven. The hundred demons, the Gods of Soil and Grain (Sheji), the Count of the Wind (Fengbo), and the Master of Rain (Yushi) will welcome you, and you will have them at your service.

Book Icon Book of the Nine Elixirs (Huangdi jiuding shendan jingjue, chapter 1). Translation published in Pregadio, Great Clarity, 182.

 

Gods and demons will become your attendants and offer protection, and you will have them at your service.

Book Icon Book of the Nine Elixirs (Huangdi jiuding shendan jingjue, chapter 1). Translation published in Pregadio, Great Clarity, 184.

 

The Jade Women will become your attendants. The Director of Destinies (Siming) will delete your name from the records of the dead (siji) and enter it in the registers of immortality (xianlu).

Book Icon Book of the Nine Elixirs (Huangdi jiuding shendan jingjue, chapter 1). Translation published in Pregadio, Great Clarity, 187.

Expelling Demons and Averting Evil

Ingesting this Medicine for one hundred days, the Three Corpses (sanshi) and the Nine Worms (jiuchong) will be destroyed, and you will live a long life free from death.

Book Icon Book of the Nine Elixirs (Huangdi jiuding shendan jingjue, chapter 1). Translation published in Pregadio, Great Clarity, 177.

 

If you want to keep away the five sorts of weapons, you should carry [the Divine Elixir] at your belt. Divine beings will offer their protection and keep the weapons away.

Book Icon Book of the Nine Elixirs (Huangdi jiuding shendan jingjue, chapter 1). Translation published in Pregadio, Great Clarity, 179.

 

If you smear the eyes of a person or the walls of a city with the Reverted Elixir, the hundred demons will flee.

Book Icon Book of the Nine Elixirs (Huangdi jiuding shendan jingjue, chapter 1). Translation published in Pregadio, Great Clarity, 181.

 

If you walk keeping in your hand one pill [of the Fixed Elixir] of the size of a date stone, the hundred demons will be exterminated. . . . . This elixir will also keep off thieves and robbers, and even tigers and wolves will run away. If a woman who lives alone keeps one pill the size of a large bean in her hand, the hundred demons, thieves, and robbers will flee and dare not come near her.

Book Icon Book of the Nine Elixirs (Huangdi jiuding shendan jingjue, chapter 1). Translation published in Pregadio, Great Clarity, 186.

 

Marking the doors with the Fixed Elixir, the hundred calamities, the myriad sprites, and the chimei and wangliang demons will dare not come before you.

Book Icon Book of the Nine Elixirs (Huangdi jiuding shendan jingjue, chapter 1). Translation published in Pregadio, Great Clarity, 186.

Healing Properties

Take the residue of the elixir from the crucible, mix it, and pound it fifty thousand times. Add some sugar or honey to it, and make it into pills the size of kola nuts. These are the Divine Pills of the Great Ultimate for Reverting to Life. If you place two of these pills in the mouth of those who have died no more than three days earlier, and make them ingest those pills with freshly drawn water, they will come back to life. If the Divine Pills are given to those who suffer loss or injury, or who have become blind or deaf, they will revert to their previous condition. If you have an internal ailment, ingest a couple of pills; if the ailment is an outer one, pulverize two pills and apply the powder by rubbing. You will heal in a short time. One can easily heal any illness in this way.

Book Icon Book of the Reverted Elixirs in Nine Cycles (Jiuzhuan huandan jing yaojue). Translation published in Pregadio, Great Clarity, 198.

 

To prepare [the Elixirs of the Nine Radiances], heat together and transmute the Five Minerals: cinnabar, realgar, alum, laminar malachite, and magnetite. Each mineral is submitted to five transmutations, and each transmutation produces five colors. There are five minerals and therefore twenty-five colors.

Take one ounce of each color and place it in a separate vessel. To revive a dead person, provided that no more than three days have passed since his or her death, take a speck of the green elixir, mix it with water, and wash the dead person with it, also placing a speck in his or her mouth; that person will immediately return to life. If you want to summon the Traveling Cuisine (xingchu), (1) take a speck of the black elixir, mix it with water, and spread your left hand with it. Just name what you wish and it will appear of itself; thus you will be able to summon anything in the world. If you want to make yourself invisible, or to know beforehand what has yet to happen, or to stop the years without getting old, ingest a speck of the yellow elixir and you will obtain a long life without death. You will see one thousand miles away while sitting, and will know good and bad luck as if everything is before your eyes; you will know the fate of other people with their well-being or failures, their longevity or early death, their riches and honors or their poverty and privation. The method for compounding [the Elixirs of the Nine Radiances] is in the second of the three scrolls of the Book of Great Clarity.

(1) "Traveling Cuisine" denotes a banquet of supernatural foods offered to the adept by the gods.

Book Icon Baopu zi, chapter 4. Translation published in Pregadio, Great Clarity, 132-33.