Immortality seekers among Chinese emperors

Anyone fears death, anyone longs for a boundless life and a boundless youth. Whether you are a high official or a humble lackey;Whether you are a statesman, entrepreneur, artist, or an ordinary person, no one is exception. Only that emperors’ demand for this is more urgent. The reason is also very simple: their life is more worth treasuring than that of the average person. They think that the value of “becoming immortal” is greater and higher than being an emperor.

While longing for longevity, in the face of sad feelings of “When can life return after death?” and “Enjoy wine and song while we can as life is short”, such great persons as First Emperor of Qin Dynasty China, Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty and Second Emperor of Tang Dynasty, showed their superior spirit of “My life lies in me, not in Heaven” and their revolutionary thinking of “Man can conquer nature”, hence, of course, they would not succumb to the fate of “A person seldom lives to be seventy years old”.

Besides First Emperor of Qin Dynasty, Emperor Wu of Han Dynasty and Second Emperor of Tang Dynasty, immortality seekers among the emperors of all ages were uncountable, one stepping into the breach as another fell. Among the emperors of the Tang Dynasty alone, there were five who lost life because of taking the longevity drug! All heroes followed suit in seeking immortality. According to Biography of Liu Xiang in Records of Han Dynasty, the famous Confucianist Liu Xiang was also keen on alchemy, but he did not succeed, and almost lost his life for that. The famous poet Li Bai’s story of trying to become “a god” by taking the cinnabar is well known of course. Of the Four Brilliant Scholars of the beginning of the Tang Dynasty, Wang Bo once studied the classics on “gods”, and Lu Zhaolin almost lost his life because of cinnabar taking. Bai Juyi (great poet in the Tang Dynasty) learned the art of alchemy together with Yuan Zhen, but because the timing was not proper or the vessel was not sealed well enough, all the drug flew away, making the poet feel very sorry.

People were killed by the cinnabar one after another. They learned at last that the mixture of gold, lead and mercury could never be eaten, so, the external art of alchemy failed completely.
 After the fiasco, people turned to the internal art of alchemy, that is, by training the vital essence within the body, to get the spiritual “panacea” for immortality. Actually, it was a qigong exercise. The internal art of alchemy became the mainstream in the science of immortality, and it was greatly developed after the Tang Dynasty of China.

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