Shenxian zhuan - Fàn - 饭—“Diet”
Type of Spiritual Experience
The Shenxian zhuan (神仙傳 Biographies of Spirit Immortals") is traditionally attributed to Ge Hong (283–343 CE). According to the Shenxian zhuan, there are four activities needed to become a xian – a god:
- Qì (气—“Pneumas”): Breath control and meditation.
- Fàn (饭—“Diet”): Ingestion of herbal compounds and abstention from the Sān Shī Fàn (三尸饭—“Three-Corpses food”)—Meats (raw fish, pork, dog), (leeks, and scallions) and grains.
- Fángzhōng Zhī Shù (房中之术—“Arts of the Bedchamber”)
- Dān (丹—"Alchemy", literally "Cinnabar"): Elixir of Immortality – this is the process of inducing a kundalini experience
A description of the experience
In To Live As Long As Heaven and Earth: Ge Hong’s Traditions of Divine Transcendents, the importance of 'grain avoidance' was told in a story by Ge Hong:
During the reign of Emperor Cheng of the Han, hunters in the Zhongnan Mountains saw a person who wore no clothes, his body covered with black hair. Upon seeing this person, the hunters wanted to pursue and capture him, but the person leapt over gullies and valleys as if in flight, and so could not be overtaken.
After being surrounded and captured, it was discovered this person was a 200 plus year old woman, who had once been a concubine of Qin Emperor Ziying. When he had surrendered to the 'invaders of the east', she fled into the mountains where she learned to subside on 'the resin and nuts of pines' from an old man. Afterwards, this diet 'enabled [her] to feel neither hunger nor thirst; in winter [she] was not cold, in summer [she] was not hot.'
The hunters took the woman back in. They offered her grain to eat. When she first smelled the stink of grain, she vomited, and only after several days could she tolerate it. After little more than two years of this [diet], her body hair fell out; she turned old and died. Had she not been caught by men, she would have become a transcendent." (Campany 2002:22–23)
The source of the experienceTaoism
Concepts, symbols and science items
Activities and commonsteps
SuppressionsContemplation and detachment