Within the corpus of Daoism, the Eight Immortals are applied as eight representative archetypes of the experience of Immortality. The Eight Immortals are noted as humans who have attained immortality. As humans, they faced challenges in life and have their imperfections that the common person can relate to. Further and perhaps more important reason is the egalitarian nature of Taoism. The Eight Immortals represents a cross section of human society; the scholar (Lu Dong Bin), royalty and social elites (Cao Guo Jiu & Han Xiang Zi), the elderly (Zhang Guo Lao & Han Zong Li), handicapped (Tie Guai Li)), women (He Xian Gu) and sexual minority (Lan Cai He). Since in Daoism, individuals, as seen in the case of these eight immortals, achieve immortality through individual cultivation and virtues.  The Eight Immortals reflects the egalitarianism that anyone regardless of background, age, gender identity can attain immortality.While there are deities and immortals that can help, bulk of the responsibility rests on the individual. It is not dependent on the acknowledgment of a supreme god who needs to be praised or worshiped in exchange for immortality.

The Eight Immortals Longevity methods were developed by Daoists as an advanced form of Neigong/Qigong practice based on the foundation of Baduanjin (Eight pieces of brocade). To be able to practice the Baxian Changshou Gong correctly requires all of the foundation established through prior stages. The methods are advanced in their absorption of the spirtual and physical practice in conjunction with the navigation of energy and breathing. Much of the Eight Immortals practice relies on fairly challenging lower basin (xia pan) practice and also a lot of one legged stance work, which ensure an excellent level of physical and mental health.

This practice derived from the teachings of Daoist Master Song Xueyu (Quanzhen Longmen Pai) is the final practice of the Yangsheng (Nourishing Life) Cultivation and in itself enables practitioners to achieve ongoing health and longevity whilst preparing them for the further stages of cultivation. 

The Eight Immortals

He Xian Gu is the only female immortal, and is often depicted holding the peach of immortality- the divine fruit of Gods or a magical lotus blossom, which is the flower of open-heartedness. She is often shown playing a reed-organ, or holding a ladle, which represent wisdom, meditation and purity. 

Zhongli Quan is the official leader of the Eight Immortals, and is commonly depicted with his bare belly showing. He is known to have many powers, including transmutation and the knowledge of the elixir of life. He is able to resurrect the dead by using the fan which he carries. 

Zhang Guo Lao was highly talented in alchemy and was known to carry a drum (made of bamboo and fish or snake skin) along with two rods used to strike it- and had the ability to cure life. He often traveled incredible distances on a white donkey, which could be folded up into paper and stored in a wallet. When Zhang Guo Lao wanted to ride it again, he only had to sprinkle water or saliva to reconstitute it back to its normal form. 

Lu Dongbin is the most famous of the Eight Immortals. He is always dressed as a scholar, carrying a sword on his back and a fly brush in his hand. The sword gives the power of invisibility, and is also said to be able to rid evil spirits. 

Cao Guo Jiu was the brother of Empress Cao Hou, a 10th century song Empress, as well as an Uncle to the Emperor of the Song Dynasty. He is the most well-dressed of the Immortals, and is portrayed wearing his official's court dress. He is often holding castanets, which illustrate his rank, as they enable him access to palace audiences, as well as an imperial jade tablet, which has the ability to purify the air. 

Li Tai Guai is the most ancient of the Immortals. He is depicted as a lame beggar carrying an iron crutch and a double gourd. The gourd has the ability to ward off evil and is the symbol of longevity, as well as helping those who are needy or distressed. It has a misty cloud coming out from it, which represents Immortal Li's soul. Occasionally, he is shown riding on a qilin (dog-of-foe). 

Lan Cai He is often illustrated as a beggar, carrying a basket of flowers, which is associated with longevity. Immortal Lan is portrayed as a young girl, or a young boy, or as an old man, and is often wearing a tattered blue gown with only one shoe. 

Han Xiang Zi was the nephew of a famous 9th century scholar, Han Yu. He carries a flute, which can cause growth and give life, and he has the power to soothe wild animals and to instantly cause flowers to bloom. 

 

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