What is the difference between gods and immortals? How did the first immortal appear in history?

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For those who are interested in the book of mountains and seas, the editor of China story network brings detailed articles for your reference.

The book of mountains and seas has shaped the ancient Chinese mythological system. It records not only the natural gods such as emperor Jun, candle dragon and Changxi, but also the gods such as the Yellow Emperor, Chiyou and Xing Tian, as well as the divine animals such as Phoenix, Yinglong and sanzuwu. However, there is no record in the book of mountains and seas about the immortal with lofty status in Taoist mythology. In other words, the book of mountains and seas is a mythical world with gods but no immortals.

In addition to the ancient classic of mountains and seas, Zhuangzi, Liezi, Chu Ci and Tianwen in the pre-Qin period did not record the legends of immortals. It can be seen that in the world view of the ancient people, there were only natural gods and heroic gods, as well as deities, wizards and animals, and there were no immortals. So, how did the immortal appear? Who was the first immortal in history?

As we all know, immortal is the product of Taoist mythology. From the pictographic meaning of the word “immortal”, we can understand that the immortal is hidden in the mountains and forests and engaged in the mysterious activities of cultivation, with the purpose of attaining the Tao and ascending to heaven. Therefore, the immortals in Taoist mythology have three basic characteristics: first, they have mysterious abilities such as magic, witchcraft and divination. Second, the life span is far longer than that of ordinary people, even immortal. Third, he is good at refining magic pills.

Taoism divides immortals into five levels: Celestial immortals, immortals, earth immortals, human immortals and ghost immortals. The ancient gods and men recorded in the book of mountains and seas have been classified as the second-class immortals. In other words, in Taoist mythology, immortals have a higher status than gods. This concept subverts and integrates the basic framework of ancient mythology.


So, how did the immortal in Taoist mythology appear? Here I would like to mention a mythical story of Zhuanxu’s Jedi Tiantong, which perfectly combines the Taoist mythology with the ancient mythology in the book of mountains and seas.

It is said that in the ancient times recorded in the book of mountains and seas, heaven and earth were connected with each other. There were three Heaven ladders in Kunlun Mountain, Lingshan mountain and duguanzhiye. Heroes, wizards, strange birds and animals can become gods through the ladder of heaven. The gods of heaven, such as emperor Jun, Jiutian Xuannv and Fuxi, can also descend to earth through the ladder of heaven. Because of the abundant aura, gods and men were mixed in ancient times and could be intermarried. Strange birds and animals look strange and have the ability to fight God.


When Zhuan Xu came to power, in order to reorganize the order between heaven and earth, he sent two great gods to lift the sky and cut off the passage between heaven and earth. From then on, God and man were completely separated from each other and could not come and go at will. The spirit on the earth is getting thinner and thinner, and it is becoming more and more difficult to become a God. Therefore, there are a group of people who live in seclusion in the mountains with a lot of aura, practice ancient secret methods, refine aura elixirs, and take them. They are immortals.

So, who was the first immortal in history? Many people will think of the ancestors of the Sanqing Taoism – the Yuanshi Tianzun, the moral Tianzun and the Lingbao Tianzun. Some people also say they think of the Hongjun Taoist in the romance of gods. But after all, they are mythical figures. If we say that the ancient books recorded the names and the process of becoming immortals, the first one should be Ji Jin in the spring and Autumn period.


Ji Jin is the prince of King Ling of Zhou. He is intelligent, knowledgeable and virtuous. He is also an art master who is good at playing Sheng. There are records of Ji Jin’s deeds in Guoyu, Zuo Zhuan and Chu Ci, and even Confucius praised him. However, Ji Jin was demoted as a commoner because he opposed the water control strategy of King Ling of Zhou, and became the first abandoned prince in history.

The biography of immortals in the Han Dynasty records the fairy tale of Ji Jincheng. It is said that after Ji Jin was abolished, he lived in seclusion in Songshan mountain to practice Taoism. He blew the Sheng every day to attract the Phoenix to sing harmoniously. Thirty years later, a man named Huan Liang met Ji Jin. Ji Jin said that he was about to become an immortal and asked Huan Liang to tell his family. On July 7, Ji Jin drove a white crane to the sky in Goushi mountain, and finally became an immortal.


In fact, whether it is the ancient gods and men in the book of mountains and seas or the celestial beings in Taoist mythology, they only reflect the ancient people’s admiration for heroes and their yearning for a better life. Influenced by religion, Western mythology has formed a clear immortal pedigree. However, there has never been an accurate immortal pedigree in Chinese mythology. Whether or not you are qualified to become an immortal depends not on how you cultivate yourself, but on the people. Disclaimer: the above content is from the Internet, and the copyright belongs to the original author. If your original copyright is infringed, please inform us, and we will delete the relevant content as soon as possible.

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