February 5, 2008 at 8:20 am #27388
Ok, I’ve just been Mr. Skeptical lately. And i’ve got soem questions about immortality and longevity.
Last time i was at Wudang the sifu told me that Daoism was not concerned with immortality but rather longevity. He went on to say that the oldest living Daoist is Zhang San Feng at something over 800 years.
Now here’s my issue: How do we KNOW this? As far as I’m concerned, this is one of those “I know a guy who knows a guy” stories.
The two oldest people I know are my my grandparents who are both in their 90s. Neither one ever heard of qigong or even any kind of Western alchemy and one was a heavy smoker for years before quitting in his 60s.
In the West there are numerous tales of immortals such as Cagliostro and St. Germain, Babaji, and so forth. In the East there is a whole litany of immortals from the 8 immortals of legend to a host of others.
The oldest confirmed people on record are over 100 years old, and there are unconfirmed ages into the 130s that don’t make the record book on account of poor documentation.
But 800 years? Physical Immortality?
I know what you’re thinking: “There’s this guy.” “I heard of this woman once who…” “I know a guy who knows a guy that….” and so forth.
I do know alchemists, Eastern and Western, even Native American, all of who died younger than my grandparents. Some of them were considered among the top teachers and practitioners in their circles. I mean absolutely no disrespect to them. I’m merely offering an observation. I have witnessed their powers as healers, seen some very remarkable things, and been moved by their wisdom. I just don’t see immortality or longevity in any of this.
The oldest one i can think of that i know indirectly is an Apache who “died” in his 80s possibly early 90s. Or did he just merge with the Void? Enter the immutable upon achieving his purpose here? who can say for sure?
I used to hold to the Physical Immortality school, but I don’t think I do anymore. The oldest reliable age for any alchemist I’ve met is 60+, referring to Mantak Chia. I met a guy in China, who is allegedly in his 80s and quite spry. I might have to see his birth certificate though since the legends, myths and exaggerations fly rampant in this part of the world. Even if his age is authentic, I wouldn’t be very impressed as i had an uncle equally spry in his 80s. I know other people in their 60s as lively and young-minded as Chia.
So what’s the deal? For myself i have decided to value wisdom above longevity, not that I have much of it, but it’s a continuous journey. If i achieve some remarkable age or meet someone who can prove it, I will be a believer.
I don’t think the path of the Dao requires any “belief” in anything anyway. It only requires an approach, a journey. Still the issue is of enormous academic and theoretical importance to Daoist practice. Indeed any school of esoteric development.February 5, 2008 at 4:34 pm #27389
Except for maybe “calorie restriction”, which the jury is still
out on, I don’t think *anything* lengthens or shortens your life.
I also know plenty of “health nuts” that get a lot of exercise, eat
right, and have spiritual well-being that die early! It doesn’t
seem to hold true that doing the right things make you live longer.
Similarly, the oldest (recorded) woman, Jeanne Calment of 122, smoked
heavily until just a few years before her death; the oldest man,
Shigechiyo Izumi *started* smoking at 70 and died at 120. So if
smoking is supposed to shorten your lifespan, why were the oldest
documented people smokers–and not vegans who did nothing but
longevity practices? The reason should be clear: lifestyle
doesn’t do anything to affect lifespan.
This might seem a bitter pill to swallow, because we all
commonly believe differently–but there is no reason to think so
other than “everyone believes it”. The actual evidence doesn’t
back up the “my actions affect my lifespan” theory.
It’s almost as if our lifespan is encoded into our genes, and not
much (except for accidental death) is going to change that.
Healthy lifestyles and longevity practices I believe really only
give you good health and vitality *while you’re here*, but really
do nothing to change your actual lifespan. So in other words,
if your genetic makeup is for you to die at 80, then a healthy
lifestyle means being spry until 80 when you drop as opposed to
being sickly from 50-60 onward, medicated, and miserable until the end
at 80–or whatever. If your genes say you are going to get cancer
and die at 50, then it sucks for you.
Part of the lifespan issue also I think may have to do with when
“you think you should die”. Meaning: if you feel young, and don’t
think you are going to die for awhile, then you’ll live long; if due
to eating fast food all the time, you think you’re going to have a
heart attack and die early, then you will. In other words, if there
is any component to lifespan that is not genetic, then in my opinion
what remains is what you program into yourself based on your beliefs.
Of course this last bit is just my intuitive feeling–and I can’t
give any formal proof.
StevenFebruary 5, 2008 at 4:37 pm #27391
Of course alchemical practices and the like aren’t
really designed to give you physical immortality
anyway. They are really only designed to give
you a kind of “spiritual immortality”, so that
all aspects of your being are so well-integrated
that you can continue to live on after death–rather
than having all of your energy just disperse into
the cosmos ending your existence.
That’s the hope anyway. 🙂
StevenFebruary 6, 2008 at 1:06 am #27393
My own take on it is that you want a long life, one because of fear and after that you might have the wisdom that living here gets things done faster then in the other aspects of your self possibly by millions of years. The perseption of linear time, a finite life span, and the amount of negativity lights a proverbial fire under the ass of the soul. It is the pay off of the sacrafice we payed to be here. Thats all Alchemy is, it is a speeding up of a natural process. I think spiritual scientist will rediscover a way to rejuvenize the body but the spiritual aspects have to be involved, or they will hit a wall.
I find you have to realy lvoe life not just be afraid to die to live a long life. Some do not spend the time to realy sit and accept this life, accept the wars, the gravity, the taxes. I feel even in nice spiritual types, healers especialy deep down you will find some that might be tired of this life they feel they have hug in the trenchs healing the sick and its time to go home. Death is easy and living is the ruff adventure. YOu ever seen the wisdom and beauty of a young kid thats lived a hard life but has been able to aceppt and forgive, all that is left is this shining beautiful being, that is humanity, place us in the ruff spots in the universe and we will shine, take away our knowing of our very souls and we will still come back and shine. We are the smile in the face of adversity, thats what we do.
Too sum this up I think this points to a differnce between the xing and the ming. Often I feel that if you follow our ming you will mainly be a puppet very little free will but still serving the greater good, and moving the process along, this may mean being aprt of a horrible tragity that creates an out pooring of compassion from around the world. This fulfilled your ming but your xing is not yet fulfilled. You(loosly I say “you” because I donot think you would reconize the glowing ball of a self as you) will go back and try it again still having another ming but always the hope is you will ultimately fufill our xing but if not you still have contributed to the process on the whole. I believe ming basicaly helps create an enviroment that helps humanity fulfill there xing. The preperation of Humanity preperation h as the the angels call it, on the whole is felt as a good thing.
I wish you a long, blessed life, with strong daughters, and beautiful sons.February 6, 2008 at 8:30 am #27395
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