Seven Taoist Masters is a manual of Taoist training written in the form of a popular novel. The Taoist sages know that the best way to teach the philosophy and principles of training in Taoism is to present the material in a way that captures the interest of the reader. Storytelling had been used very effectively in China to convey Buddhist and Taoist teachings. As the novel emerged during the Ming dynasty (明朝1368-1644) as a form of literary expression, it became an ideal vehicle for introducing abstract and often esoteric teachings of Taoism and Buddhism to the general populace. Wang Ch'ung-yang(王重陽) Ch'ung-yang translates as [the rebirth of yang.] [Yang] is taken here to mean [life] and [growth.] Together, the name means a rejuvenation of mind and body. Ma Tan-yang(馬丹陽) Tan-yang translates as [the bright.pure pill.] The [pill] is the Golden Pill, the result of the synthesis of the three internal energies (generative, vital, and spiritual energy) in their pure form. "Bright" and "pure" are qualities associated with the Golden Pill. Together, the name refers to the emergence of the Golden Pill. The emergence of the Pill is the prerequisite for the conception and development of the spirit, the vehicle that transports the individual into the immortal plane. Sun Pu-erh(孫不二) Pu-erh translates as [no second way.] The [second way] refers to paths that stray from the Tao. Acknowledging that there is no "second way" means that one has made the resolution to pursue the Tao with singleness of mind. Ch'iu Ch'ang-ch'un(丘長春) Ch'ang-ch'un translates as [eternal spring.] [Eternal spring] refers to a state of continuous growth. A being whose body is like eternal spring is an immortal. Liu Ch'ang-sheng(劉長生) Ch'ang-sheng translates as [longevity] or [eternal life.] For centuries in China, Taoism was referred to as the "art of the cultivation of longevity." T'an Ch'ang-chen(譚長真) Ch'ang-chen translates as [forever enlightened] or [eternal enlightenment.] A Taoist sage is often referred to as one whose enlightenment is real and lasting. Hao T'ai-ku(郝太古) T'ai-ku translates as [theancient.] The Huang-lao philosophy, which emerged in the Han dynasties (206 B.C.E.-219 C.E.) regarded Lao-tzu and the Yellow Emperor (Huang-ti) as cofoun-ders of Taoism. Ruler and people saw the era of the Yellow Emperor as a period in which the teachings of the Tao were practiced. This legendary period of prehistoric China came to be known as "the ancient days," and the teachings of the Yellow Emperor [the ancient ways.] Reference to [Ancient] within Taoism implies following the way of the Yellow Emperor and Lao-tzu. Wang Yu-yang(王玉陽) Yu-yang translates as [bright jade.] In Taoist symbolism, the enlightened consciousness is often described as a piece of pure jade. In Taoist religion, the most enlightened beings dwell in a realm called the Palace of Pure Jade. Its overseer is the Heavenly Lord of Wu-chi, who presided over existence when things were still in the undifferentiated state. Beings who manage to attain this level of enlightenment are said to have merged with the Tao in its original undifferentiated state.