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Arts of Necromancy, Astrology, and Medicine, etc.

Among the several main religions in China, Taoism pays the greatest attention to the practice of its theories. Since its main goal is to seek immortality, many methods are practiced to realize this goal, which are called as Fangshu (arts of necromancy, astrology and medicine, etc.) in the Chinese culture. Fangshu has various contents, mainly including the following:

Bigu (live without eating grain)

Bigu is a Taoist method of cultivating vital energy, i.e. person does not eat grains, including the five cereals, coarse cereals, meats, eggs, vegetables, etc. According to this method, the daily foods can keep the life, but they may leave deleterious residua in the human body. As a result people may suffer from excessive internal heat and then illness comes and the lifespan is reduced. Taoists mainly eat some medicines or the things so-called qi (air) when they live without eating grain.

Fushi (take medicines)

It is one of the cultivation methods of vital energy and also called as Fu'er (take medicines). Taoists deem that they can enjoy longevity as long as they take the medicines, which are the drugs that enable them to live forever. In fact, these medicines are the mixtures of some minerals, including cinnabar, gold, silver and jade, etc. Sometimes these medicines are made into pills or liquid.

Daoyin (exercise of gym and qigong)

It is a method to preserve and improve the health. Daoyin has been popular even in the 5th to 3rd century BC. It is regarded as the method for Taoists to seek immortality. In fact, it is analogous to the exercise of current gym and qigong. Taoism deems that Daoyin can cure diseases, improve health and eliminate tiredness, but also discharge evil influence in the body and preserve the vital qi (energy). There are special diagrams and manuals to guide the exercise of Daoyin.

Xingqi (expiration and inspiration)

In fact, Xingqi is a way of breathing. Taoism attaches great importance to the so-called qi (air), which is reflected not only in its religious theory, but also in the daily practice. It is also called as Fuqi (taking qi), Shiqi (eating qi), Tunqi (swallowing qi) and Lianqi (training qi), etc. There are many methods Xingqi and many Taoist sects practice Xingqi. The main points are as follows: Breathing shall be uniform, slow and threadlike. More air shall be inbreathed while less air shall be breathed out. Xingqi also refers to Tuna (breathe out stagnant air and inbreathe fresh air).

Fangzhongshu (sex arts)

Among the Taoist methods of seeking immortality, Fangzhongshu is a very important one, which means the arts of sex. It is a general term of Taoism on the sex hygiene, sex psychology and sex technologies. It is regarded as one of the methods of seeking immortality in ancient China, and its contents are very abundant. For the past several thousand years, Confucianism has been the dominant thought in China, therefore Fangzhongshu is always regarded as the carnal, ungraceful and erotic thing. In fact, the essential aspects of Fangzhongshu are healthful. Of course, people cannot really rely on this method to become immortal or never die. But its many contents are useful to improve human health and the happiness of marriage, and it is also consistent with modern medical science. Therefore Fangzhongshu should be a healthful sexology.

Cunxiang (concentration of mind on something)

It is also called as Cunsi. It means that a person closes the eyes, calm down and think about a specific object until he/she can see the object without opening the eyes. Taoism deems that Cunsi can make people predict the good or ill luck, live forever and become immortal. It even deems that a person can clearly see his/her internal organs if he/she can get outstanding achievements on the cultivation.

Liandan (make pills of immortality)

So-called Dan (pills of immortality) means those things on which people can rely to live forever and become immortal according to the doctrines of Taoism. Dan falls into two types, Neidan (internal pills of immortality) and Waidan (external pills of immortality). In fact, Waidan is the extracts of some minerals, including cinnabar, mercury, lead, gold and silver, etc. To make the bills of immortality, a few of Taoists usually carried out the work together at a very secret place. This method was very popular in the 4th   9th century AD, and became prevalent at that time. However, Waidan was made of poisonous chemical materials, and many people died because of those bills. The technology of Waidan is the forerunner of modern chemistry, and it made great contributions to the subsequent medical science and the invention of gunpowder.

Since people gradually came to realize the harm of Waidan, Neidan (internal pills of immortality) became the main Dan pills. In making Neidan, a Taoist visualizes his/her body as an oven used to make the bills of immortality, regarding his/her vital qi as the materials. This method is similar to the modern qigong, but not the same.

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