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Chʾang-sheng Pu-ssu

Chʾang-sheng Pu-ssu (Chin., ‘long-lasting’, ‘immortal’). The goal of Taoism in many of its practices. Initially, Taoism was concerned with literal and physical immortality (see ALCHEMY), which involved the quest for substances and exercises which might produce this (e.g. tao-yin (see GYMNASTICS), fang-chung shu). The attainer of immortality (hsien) ascends to heaven (fei-sheng) visibly, or else seems to die and is buried, but when the coffin is opened, it is found to be empty.

The more reflective Taoism of Lao-tzu or of Chuang-tzu regarded spiritual immortality as more important—and indeed as alone attainable.

Many symbols of immortality appear in Chinese art under Taoist influence. Particularly frequent are peaches (cultivated by Hsi Wang mu), the herb or mushroom of immortality (ling-chih), a crane (often holding the ling-chih), pine trees, a gnarled stick of wood.

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