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Bao Pu Zi 抱朴子 – Top 100 Books in China

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Established the theoretical system of Taoist immortals


Chinese Name: 抱朴子

English Name: Bao Pu Zi, Baopuzi

Author: Ge Hong葛洪

Originally Published: the Eastern Jin Dynasty东晋时期

Genre: Philosophy

Brief Introduction of Bao Pu Zi

Bao Pu Zi抱朴子 is a Taoist classic compiled by Ge Hong of Jin Dynasty. Baopuzi is divided into Nei Pian内篇 and Wai Pian外篇 with a total of 8 volumes. The Nei Pian内篇 discusses the skill of immortal Rune and seal script; The Wai Pian外篇 discusses the gains and losses of current politics.

The book summarizes the theory of immortal family since Wei and Jin Dynasties, establishes the theoretical system of Taoist immortal, and inherits Wei Boyang’s魏伯阳 Alchemy theory.

Bao Pu Zi抱朴子
Bao Pu Zi抱朴子

Bao Pu Zi Nei Pian抱朴子内篇 mainly talks about immortal prescriptions, changes of ghosts and monsters, health preservation and prolonging life, disasters and diseases. It belongs to Taoism (referring to immortals).

Its content can be summarized as follows: discussing the universe itself, demonstrating the existence of immortals, discussing the production methods and applications of golden elixirs and celestial medicines, discussing the learning and application of various prescriptions, and discussing various bibliographies of Taoist classics, which shows the universality of world cultivation.

Bao Pu Zi Wai Pian抱朴子外篇 mainly talks about all kinds of things in society, which belongs to the category of Confucianism. It also shows the author’s ideological development track of first immortals and then Confucianism.

Its content can be summarized as follows: on the gains and losses of the world, ridicule the secular world, and talk about the law of governing the people; On remonstrating monarchs to be virtuous and capable, loving the people and abstinence, and exercising power alone; On the birth of supervulgarity, self-cultivation and Book Writing.

In short, Bao Puzi integrates metaphysics and theology, alchemy and golden elixir方术与金丹, Dan Ding and Fu丹鼎与符, Confucianism and immortals, thus establishing his immortal theoretical system.


Author of Bao Pu Zi

Ge Hong葛洪 (283-363 A.D.), also named Ge Zhichuan葛稚川 and named Baopuzi抱朴子, was born in Jurong, Danyang county (now Jurong City, Jiangsu Province). He was a Taoist theorist, famous alchemist and medical scientist in the Eastern Jin Dynasty.

Ge Hong葛洪
Ge Hong葛洪

Ge Hong lost his father at the age of 13. His family was poor. He exchanged his firewood for paper and pen. He copied books and studied after work, often late at night. Ge Hong is introverted and not good at making friends. He only studies behind closed doors and covers a wide range of subjects.

Ge Hong worshipped Zheng Yin郑隐 as his teacher when he was about 16 years old. He was deeply valued by Zheng Yin because he devoted himself to learning. Zheng Yin’s thought of immortality and seclusion had a great impact on Ge Hong’s life. Since then, he intended to seclude in the mountains, refine pills, cultivate Taoism and write books.

Ge Hong inherited and reformed the immortal theory of early Taoism. At the same time, he was proficient in medicine and pharmacology and advocated that Taoists should learn medicine. Under the guidance of the thought that refining and taking golden elixir can lead to immortality, Ge Hong has been engaged in alchemy experiments for a long time. In his alchemy practice, he has accumulated rich experience and understood some characteristics of substances and their chemical reactions. This is also the forerunner of modern chemistry.

Ge Hong wrote a lot in his life, and Bao Pu Zi is his representative work.

Excerpts of Bao Pu Zi


If there is a beginning, there will be an end, and if there is survival, there will be death.


What the people above do, the people below will follow suit. What the monarch does, the ministers will take it as the basis to go further.


There will be no harvest when sowing, but farming cannot be abolished.


Firm ambition is the foundation of establishing fame; Not lazy is one of the advantages.

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