History and legend are interwoven in this folk novel that both entertains and instructs. Written by an unknown author, Seven Taoist Masters is the story of six men and one woman who overcome tremendous hardships on the journey to self-mastery. These characters and their teacher, Wang Ch'ung-yang, are all historical figures who lived in the Southern Sung (11271279) and Yuan (12711368) dynasties. Wang is regarded as the greatest patriarch of the Complete Reality school, a highly purified branch of Taoism having a strong affinity with Zen Buddhism. The novel brings to life the essentials of Taoist philosophy and practice, both through the instructions offered by Wang—on topics such as the cultivation of mind and body, meditation techniques, and overcoming the obstacles to enlightenment—and through the experiences of the characters.