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Ge Hong - An Early Distinguished Taoist and Scholar

Ge Hong (283-363) was born into an eminent noble family with generations of high posts. But when he was 13, his father's death brought his family into difficulties, and thereafter, he lived an ordinary life.

When Ge Hong was young, he read some Taoist works, and great interest was aroused in him in the Taoist arts for longevity. At the age of 18, he formally became a pupil of an outstanding Taoist, from whom he learned a great deal of Taoist knowledge. When he was 21, a rebellion broke out. After his master went to live in seclusion in a big mountain and had never been seen again ever since, Ge Hong was conferred the title of general for leading the troops in quelling the insurrection. After that, he went to Guangzhou to be an officer there. As he increasingly felt the dark side of the human society at the officialdom, he decided to resign from office and specially practice Taoism. Finally he wrote a book Baopuzi. Later, he was repeatedly invited by the imperial government to be an official, but he declined.

Ge Hong developed Laozhuang (Lao Zi and Zhuang Zi) thought into the immortal's alchemy. He believed that everything in the world could be transformed, and so long as one had sincerity, together with adequate conditions, he could definitely produce elixir and gold. Based on this belief, as he collected and studied all kinds of prescriptions to cure people's illness, he also did a lot of alchemic experiments. And in the course, he got acquainted with the composition of many substances as well as some simple chemical reactions. It can be seen from Baopuzi: Inner Section that Ge Hong had grasped considerable chemical knowledge. Meanwhile, the book Baopuzi had a deep influence on the final formation and the later prosperity of Taoism.

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