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Tsing Hua Journal of Chinese Studies
ISSN 0577-9170; DOI 10.6503/THJCS


Li Po’s life as a Taoist Recluse

Vol. 19 No. 2   12/1989    


Li Po’s life as a Taoist Recluse


Feng-yu Shih 









Key words



    Among the Taoist beliefs, what attracted Li Po most was the existence of the immortals. The very possibility of immense appeal for the poet. The rosy and misty lives of the immortals were another.

    In the poet’s imagination, the immortals were often associated with mountains. There may have been two reasons for this. First, being mysterious, mountains were very like the world of the immortals. Seconds, there was in Li Po’s times a widespread Taoist belief that many immortals resided in the so-called grotto-heavens and blessed lands, which were all located in famous mountains. 

    Li Po’s actual efforts to attain immortality did not match his fervent worship of the 

immortals. In this respect, his serious practices only include d producing elixirs 

occasionally and receiving a talisman. These practices took place largely after his 

well-known political failure of 744. Before that year, he seems to have been too poor 

and too much occupied with political pursuits to be fully engaged in such demanding 

religious doing as these. 

    Though a fervent Taoist, Li Po often uttered words or did things at will which were 

totally incompatible with Taoist doctrines. In him, we find an extremely ardent and 

yet at the same time extremely carefree attitude towards the Taoist religion. 



Author: Feng-yu Shih
Genre: Article
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