Ge Hong

Ge Hong

Chinese Taoist scholar and alchemist, famous for his encyclopedic treatises
Country: China

  1. Biography of Ge Hong
  2. Early Life and Education
  3. Service and Marriage
  4. Success and Contributions
  5. Legacy and Achievements
  6. Later Life and Legacy

Biography of Ge Hong

Ge Hong, also known as Baopuzi, was a Chinese Daoist scholar and alchemist. He is famous for his encyclopedic treatises, which laid the foundation for the concepts and practical methods of Daoism.

Early Life and Education

Ge Hong, or Zhichuan, was born in 283 in the city of Danyan in southern China. His family had a tradition of military service and a strong commitment to the teachings of Daoism. His great-granduncle was a well-known representative of the Sanhuangwen school, leaving a large library to the family. Despite being orphaned at an early age, Ge Hong diligently pursued his education and studied the theory and practice of the Dao.

Service and Marriage

In 304, during the rebellion of Shi Bin, Ge Hong joined the military and received a small aristocratic title after suppressing the rebels. After his military service, Ge Hong attempted to study the Daoist texts of the northern schools. However, the north of China was engulfed in turmoil and unrest, making the journey unsafe. Ge Hong returned to Guangzhou and with the help of his friend Ji Hanya, secured a position in the governor's office of Dan Yue. He soon married Bao Gu, the daughter of the official Bao Jin. In this family, the traditions of Daoism were also cultivated, and Bao Gu had a good understanding of moxibustion therapy.

Success and Contributions

Ge Hong's career flourished, and he eventually became an advisor to the future Emperor Wang Dao. Despite his success, he maintained modesty and simplicity, earning him the nickname "the Sage Embracing Emptiness" or Baopuzishi. Ge Hong, together with his father-in-law, organized a Daoist community and conducted extensive research on alchemical experiments and practices of Daoism. The result of his research was a treatise called "Baopuzi," which served as an encyclopedia of knowledge gathered from all the Daoist texts of that period, presented in a way accessible to anyone with a good education.

Legacy and Achievements

In the "Baopuzi," Ge Hong analyzed philosophical questions, but its main content focused on the exploration of achieving immortality. This required the combination of meditations, breathing exercises, gymnastics, and the use of alchemical substances. According to Ge Hong, the alchemical pill of immortality could be external, prepared from certain substances, or internal, created by combining Qi (energy) and Jing (essence). Ge Hong's surviving works also include the medical reference "Recipes for Emergencies," which emphasizes moxibustion therapy, biographies of Daoist sages, and the collection of stories "Notes from the Western Capital."

Later Life and Legacy

In 333, Ge Hong requested Emperor Chen Di's permission to transfer to the southern provinces, where he could find the cinnabar needed for his experiments. Although he received permission, the governor of Guangzhou, Dan Yue, interrupted his journey and settled Ge Hong on Mount Lofushan, where a Daoist community was organized. Ten years later, sensing his impending death, Ge Hong sent for Dan Yue, but the governor arrived too late to meet the sage. After his death, Ge Hong's body remained flexible and showed no signs of decomposition. During his funeral, his disciples discovered that the closed coffin became very light, and upon opening it, they found that the body had disappeared. As a result, Ge Hong was recognized as one of the immortal Daoist saints.