Shang Yangzi (上阳子), originally named Chen Zhixu 陈致虚(1290-?), is a famous master of internal alchemy and scholar in the late Yuan Dynasty (1271 –1368 AD). He was born in the place now belonging to Ji’An area Jiangxi Province. In and around 1329 AD he met Zhao Youqin, an accomplished inner alchemy practitioner, at Hengyang of Hunan Province and was apprenticed to him to learn the internal alchemy practice. Later afterwards he learnt with another alchemy master who once practiced at Mount Qingcheng. He spent most of his time in the practice and propagating the knowledge in succeeding time and he wrote many books. He thus became famous due to his internal alchemy theory and study.
His main works include Generality of Golden Elixir Pill, Illustrated Generality of Golden Elixir Pill, Annotation to Each Chapter of Zou Yi Can Tong Qi, Annotation to Understanding the Reality。
Shang Yangzi tended to attribute Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism to one sect Taoism, a point featuring his theory and study. As he claimed, Lai Tzu should be acclaimed as the ancestral founder of Buddhism, Confucianism as well as Taoism. He also attributed Lao Tzu’s learning to internal alchemy study and practice. He raised the following example from Tao The Ching and hinted at their hidden meaning in connection to internal alchemy practice:
All the contents of Te are in conformity with nothing but Tao.
The thing that is called Tao seems to be elusive and obscure.
So elusive and vague is it,
Yet in it the magic image may appear.
So vague and elusive is it,
Yet in it something real may exist.
So profound and obscure is it,
Yet in it the subtle essence abides there.
The essence is very concrete, and in it some sign may arise.
He also raised lots of terms used in Tao The Ching and attributed them to the origin of internal alchemy practice.
Shang Yangzi’s internal alchemy theory was supposed to originate from both Zhang Poduan – the author of Understanding the Reality – and Bai Yuchan. He emphasized the function of Jing, Qi and Shen in real internal alchemy practice. He held that when to follow the life course it is the sequence of One generates Two, Two generates Three and Three generates all myriads of things. Such sequence can be interpreted as voidness gives rise to Shen, Shen to Qi, Qi to Jing, Jing to physical form. On the contrary, the internal alchemy practice is to reverse the course—all myriads of things reserve the Three, Three returns to Two, Two returns to One. When people know the sequence and procedure in detail under correct direction, they should make the Shen adhere to physical form which will eventually lead to the reservation of Jing, then Jing transforms into Qi, Qi to Shen, Shen to voidness – the final formation of golden Elixir Pill.
Shang Yangzi also advocated the double cultivation of male and female practitioners, which caused lots of misunderstanding and controversy.
Shang Yangzi had lots of disciples. Among them the most famous include Neng Yanghao, Lee Tianlai, Yu Guangu, Zhao Poyong, Ce Gulan, Pan Taichu, Ming Shuchan, Zhao Renqing. Many of them were famous internal alchemy practitioners and Taoists in Yuan Dynasty.
For more information please download the Generality of Golden Elixir Pill (in Chinese) attached below: