Dao Dan Pai, The Daoist Elixir School, a history of a Daoist Lineage
The Li Family had been the Imperial Family of the great Tang Dynasty, from 618 to 907 CE.
In the discord following the Tang collapse, five different families/dynasties each held the Imperial Throne for a few years before the era ended in 960 with the ascension of the Song Dynasty.
During this Five Dynasties period, the second of these five dynasties was again (briefly) the Li family. Five Li emperors ruled from 923 – 936 CE, and the fourth of these five was Li CongHu, known as the Compassion Emperor.
His son, Li ShaoYang, was a sickly young man, deemed too frail to become Emperor. The imperial throne passed to the adopted brother of the Compassion Emperor, Li CongKe, who had only ruled two years when the Li Family fell from power in 936 CE.
Li ShaoYang, the frail young prince, was allowed nearly free rein to amuse himself with rides in the countryside while his adopted uncle was groomed for the throne. It was on such an excursion that Li ShaoYang met Lu DongPin. Prince Li was intrigued by the exercises that he saw the old man performing, and asked if he could become his pupil.
Lu DongPin was a Daoist Immortal, the pupil of JungLi Chuan (sometimes called Han JungLi, having been a general in Han Dynasty times). Lu DongPin is the Founder of the Complete Reality (Quan Zhen) School of Daoism, and remains highly revered today.
Lu DongPin trained Prince Li for three years, so improving the Prince’s vitality that the Compassion Emperor insisted on meeting with his son’s teacher. Following his formerly frail son (in secret) to observe the man & training that had so empowered him, the Compassion Emperor interrupted the training and Lu DongPin vanished.
When the Li Family again fell from power in 936, Prince Li ShaoYang went into hiding in a Daoist Monastery. The exercises that he had learned from Lu DongPin became the Cloud Hand (the 31), the Shen, the Six Sections (6 Stars), the Nine Pieces Lotus Flowers (9 Flowers), the Tendon Change (Shake-hands), the Five Dragons and other internal & external practices of the Dao Dan Pai (Daoist Elixir School). This sect is one of the many of Ancestor Lu DongPin’s sects, such as the Dragon’s Gate Sect (Lung Men Pai), still practiced in modern times.
The transmission of Dao Dan Pai from one teacher to the next is documented by the Lineage Poem (bei fen shi). Each teacher’s generation is represented by one word of the poem, and each teacher takes his/her Daoist surname from the word that corresponds to that generation’s level of transmission. In this tradition, the first word/name of the Dao Dan Pai Lineage Poem is Xuan, meaning the dark or the hidden. It makes sense to assign such a name to Prince Li, as he had to remain in hiding from the next Imperial family. His students cultivated the practices that Ancestor Lu had taught Li ShaoYan, transmitting them from one generation to the next over the next ten centuries.
The Dao Dan Pai remained in active practice at GuiLin Guan (Acacia Grove Temple). The location is not known to this writer. It is possibly located in the region of GuangXi Province known as Gui Lin. A 24th generation master, Chen Poi (Daoist name: Jing Feng) left GuiLin Guan for a Dragon’s Gate (Lung Men) temple on Mt LoFa in GuangDong Province in the 1920’s. Residing in Yellow Dragon Temple (Huang Lung Guan) as the Vice-Abbot, Chen Poi took several students from the region to train in Dao Dan Pai. His fifth student was from Dragon Virtue Village (LongDe Li in TaiShan, LiAo region) in Guang Dong Province: Share K. Lew. Lew trained with Chen Poi for 13 years; learning the practices, and living the rituals of Daoist monastic life with the Dragon’s Gate monks in residence. Master Lew left the temple in 1946, and China in 1948. Chen Poi remained at Huang Lung Guan and was imprisoned by the new communist government in 1949.
The 25th generation of Dao Dan Pai is represented in the USA by Grand Master Share Kimyuen Lew (Daoist name: Yi Feng). He trained with Chen Poi at Huang Lung Guan from the early 1930’s to the mid 1940’s. After leaving the temple in 1946, Master Lew trained in the TaiJi Ruler system under Chao JungWa. In addition to the Dao Dan Pai system, Grandmaster Lew’s heritage includes the first three exercises of Tai Ji Ruler (Chih, Shen and Two-person Chih), as well as Iron-hand technique & Choi Li Fut gongfu from his uncle, Lau (Lew) Ben “Bun” of San Francisco. The Dao Dan Pai heritage includes the Internal (qigong) alchemical practices listed above, the external (boxing) skills, animal forms (Tiger, Crane, Dragon Palm, Snake), weapons skills & forms (double daggers, spear, staff, cane/umbrella, bench & hoe), external qi healing, manipulative medicine (tui-na), and a herbal formulary with three liniments: dit da jow, dit da shang and hand-practice, and ten internal recipes: seasonal change, bone/sinew, eye brightener, anemia, cold feet & week knees, itching & damp, high blood pressure, uterine bleeding, and internal injury.
Teacher, Warrior, Healer (herbalist, bonesetter and external qi), Alchemist, Sage & Priest: many ancient masteries were embodied in this tradition.
Master Lew taught non-Chinese beginning in the 1970’s, and has been a honored teacher at the Taoist Sanctuary of Los Angeles (later the Taoist Institute), and the Taoist Sanctuary of San Diego. He has students across the USA, in Europe and Japan.
Master Lew is a profoundly skilled and culturally unique individual. His skills are broad and his attainment is deep. It is an honor to have trained in these traditions under him and with my school siblings, his students.
Thomas McCombs DO
He Feng Dao Shi
Abbot, Jin Dan Guan (1993 – 2001, Issaquah, WA)