All my life I have been looking for it, and now at last I have it!" He bowed his head twice, stood up, took his leave, and went away. Burton Watson 192-3) The true sage is a quail at rest, a little fledgling at its meal, a bird in flight who leaves no trail behind.
In Chinese art, xian are often pictured with symbols of immortality including the dragon, crane, fox, white deer, pine tree, peach, and mushroom. "You have only to rest in inaction and things will transform themselves.Since, "to live for a long time" has no etymological relation to xian, it may be a later accretion." The 121 CE Shuowen Jiezi, the first important dictionary of Chinese characters, does not enter 仙 except in the definition for 偓佺 (Wò Quán "name of an ancient immortal").It defines 僊 as "live long and move away" and 仚 as "appearance of a person on a mountaintop".And after a thousand years, should he weary of the world, he will leave it and [上] ascend to [僊] the immortals, riding on those white clouds all the way up to the village of God. Watson 190) Without using the word xian, several Zhuangzi passages employ xian imagery, like flying in the clouds, to describe individuals with superhuman powers.For example, Chapter 1, within the circa 3rd century BCE "Inner Chapters", has two portrayals. Lieh Tzu could ride the wind and go soaring around with cool and breezy skill, but after fifteen days he came back to earth.On one the hand, neidan (內丹 "internal alchemy") techniques included taixi (胎息 "embryo respiration") breath control, meditation, visualization, sexual training, and Tao Yin exercises (which later evolved into Qigong and T'ai chi ch'uan).
On the other hand, waidan (外丹 "external alchemy") techniques for immortality included alchemical recipes, magic plants, rare minerals, herbal medicines, drugs, and dietetic techniques like inedia.
For a character analysis, Schipper (194) interprets "'the human being of the mountain,' or alternatively, 'human mountain.' The two explanations are appropriate to these beings: they haunt the holy mountains, while also embodying nature." The Classic of Poetry (220/3) contains the oldest occurrence of the character 僊, reduplicated as xiānxiān (僊僊 "dance lightly; hop about; jump around"), and rhymed with qiān (遷).
"But when they have drunk too much, Their deportment becomes light and frivolous—They leave their seats, and [遷] go elsewhere, They keep [僊僊] dancing and capering." (tr.
If he had only mounted on the truth of Heaven and Earth, ridden the changes of the six breaths, and thus wandered through the boundless, then what would he have had to depend on?
Therefore, I say, the Perfect Man has no self; the Holy Man has no merit; the Sage has no fame. Watson 19) He said that there is a Holy Man living on faraway [姑射] Ku-she Mountain, with skin like ice or snow, and gentle and shy like a young girl.
"The marvelous powers of the Hsien are so like those of the jinni of the Arabian Nights that one wonders whether the Arabic word, jinn, may not be derived from the Chinese Hsien." Axel Schuessler's etymological dictionary (207) suggests a Sino-Tibetan connection between xiān (Old Chinese *san or *sen) "'An immortal' ...