The seven Immortals are pictured above. Qiu Chuji 邱处机 is seated in the middle. On the west side (the left side of the picture) are Wang Chuyi 王处一, Hao Datong 郝大通 and the female Immortal, Sun Bu'er 孙不二. On the east side of Qiu Chuji (the right side of the picture) the statues of Liu Chuxuan 刘处玄, Tan Chuduan 谭处端 and Ma Yu 马钰 can be seen.
The seven Immortals were all disciples of Wang Chongyang 王重阳 (Wáng Chóngyáng, 1113 - 1170). Wang Chongyang was one of the founders of Quanzhen Daoism. As the story goes, Wang Chongyang was a quite militant guy. He was on his way to join a revolution to overthrow the Jin government when he met two Daoist monks. They taught him the secrets of Daoism and then later gave him sacred writings.
He never made it to the revolution. Instead, he went to the mountains and built himself a tomb and moved in. He lived there three years contemplating mortality and life. At the end of the three years he got up one day, filled in the tomb and built himself a hut which he called the "Complete Perfection" hut and moved in. He began to teach and discuss with anyone who came to see him and finally found two followers who became his disciples. With them, he began to travel and teach around the country, eventually gathering the seven followers who remained his constant companions. In Shandong, he met Sun Bu'er 孙不二 and her husband, Ma Yu 马钰. Sun Bu'er 孙不二 would take his place as head upon his death.
The Daoist interpretation that he was teaching was called "Complete Perfection" Daoism, or Quanzhen Daoism. Each of his seven followers would go on to establish a form of Quanzhen Daoism and build a following for themselves through teaching and example. Each would become Immortals of Quanzhen Daoism. Qiu Chuji 邱处机 has a special place in the White Cloud Temple because he founded the Longmen subsect of Quanzhen Daoism, the foundation of the White Cloud Temple's teaching.
During the Qing Dynasty, it became the custom to hold ceremonies and to teach in the rather spacious hall. Gradually, it became known as Lao Lü and was finally renamed Lao Lü Temple 老律堂 (Lǎolǖ Táng) which might be translated as "Traditional Principles Hall."
Last update: October 2009
© Marilyn Shea, 2009