Anti-aging According to Buddhism and Taoism ... And
Did you know that Shakyamuni Buddha spoke about 10 processes for anti-aging?
One day I should write a book on this (I already have a 3-4 hour presentation on this topic which you can download in a set of presentations on the website), but basically, to achieve anti-aging you have to combine all sorts of techniques WITH MEDITATION.
The same result holds for beautiful skin -- you can achieve beautiful skin through herbs and supplements, but you only maximize your results if you meditate at the same time. Meditation is key to either beauty or anti-aging because it directly cultivates the life force (chi) of your body.
You can read our Meditation for Beautiful Skin book for details, so that can fill you in in a very big way. Right now I want to give you a lesson on anti-aging.
I want you to realize that almost all the long lived people of historical note (ex. Methuselah in the Bible) were all strongly connected with a spiritual tradition, namely the spiritual practice of meditation. Thats what actually enabled them to achieve longevity.
Their longevity wasnt just achieved because they ate some secret herb but because they used various techniques, in conjunction with meditation, to transform their bodies. Without the practice of meditation, they could never have achieved the requisite transformations.
In short, meditation is the key to anti-aging! Cultivating samadhi can enable you to extend your life span for a LOOOONG time.
In the Surangama Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha even spoke of this, and discussed ten categories of Indian Immortals who had cultivated their chi and learned how to solidify their false thoughts. They basically cultivated a state of one-pointed samadhi in holding onto thoughts, and used the subsequent chi cultivation to extend their lives for hundreds or even thousands of years. Shakyamuni said:
'There are people who do not cultivate samadhi correctly, but cultivate in some special way that is based on strongly holding onto false thoughts. As a result, they can perpetuate their physical bodies and roam in the mountains, forests and in other places where people do not go. There are ten kinds of such immortals:
Some of these practitioners with unflagging resolution cultivate through eating special foods and perfecting the diet of what they eat. When they have perfected this method of cultivation, they are known as earth-bound immortals.
Some of these practitioners with unflagging resolution ingest special grasses and medicinal herbs to preserve their bodies and live a long life. When they have perfected this method of cultivation, they are known as flying immortals.
Some of these practitioners with unflagging resolution ingest special minerals and stones to preserve their bodies and live long lives. When they have perfected this method of alchemy, they are known as roaming immortals.
Some of these practitioners with unflagging resolution cultivate themselves by mastering their breath [they master certain pranayama techniques]. When they have perfected their chi and jing, they are known as immaterial [space] immortals.
Some of these practitioners with unflagging resolution cultivate their saliva [the amrita sweet dew pituitary hormones which descend from the brain] and perfect the way of internal lubrication. When they have perfected this method, they are known as heavenly immortals.
Some of these practitioners with unflagging resolution make themselves strong by absorbing the essence of the sun and moon. When they have perfected the inhalation of this purity, they are known as [unimpeded] penetrating immortals.
Some of these practitioners with unflagging resolution use mantras and special dharma techniques to preserve their bodies. When they have perfected this means of cultivation, they are known as immortals of the lesser way.
Some of these practitioners with unflagging resolution master mental concentration and perfect the way of meditation to preserve their bodies. When they have perfected their method of mental concentration, they are known as illuminating immortals.
Some of these practitioners with unflagging resolution cultivate through sexual union to preserve their bodies and live a long life. When they have perfected this method of cultivation to achieve harmonization, they are known as jing [sexual energy] immortals.
Some of these practitioners with unflagging resolution cultivate the understanding of heavenly and earthly transformations which they apply to their bodies. When they have perfected their spiritual cultivation, they are known as immortals of the highest order [absolute immortals].
These people all regulate their minds, but do not cultivate the right bodhi [the enlightenment mind]. They cultivate some special principle of life and can live for thousands, or tens of thousands of years. They retire deep into the mountains, or live on deserted islands in the sea and cut themselves off from the human realm. However, their states of attainment still belong to the realm of false thinking rather than to genuine samadhi. When the longevity of life which is their reward is finished, they are condemned to return again to the lower planes of existence.'
What did these people do to become able to live extremely long lives?
Naturally they cultivated so as to open all their chi channels, especially the energy channels leading to the bottom of the feet. If you dont open the chi channels leading to the bottom of the feet then Taoism maintains it is impossible to extend your life span by much at all.
Furthermore, Taoism says you cant reach this stage of earthly immortality unless you cleanse your intestines, and so its absolutely essential that you keep them clean and free of putrefying wastes. Thats a natural result that falls out of meditation when you reach a certain stage of practice, for the chi will push all these sticky poisons out, but its also a reason people do modern practices like high enemas and colonics.
Lastly, Taoism says you need to cultivate merit and samadhi, without which this task of extending the life to such a great extent would be impossible. Not only must you cultivate samadhi, but you have to do lots of good deeds and accumulate the merit (as I explain in White Fat Cow) to deserve the results as well.
Now Shakyamuni Buddha said these ten classes of Indian seers had all cultivated one-pointed concentration and samadhi, but he also said that they had gone wrong in their practice of the true cultivation path. They went wrong because they cultivated false thoughts rather than true emptiness of mind. They cultivated samadhi incorrectly because of clinging, and so their spiritual practice was incorrect.
Whatever you do, the spiritual path is always one of cultivating emptiness rather than holding on to any mental states you attain. Thats how youll also achieve physical transformations.
Whether from India, China, Persia or from the Judeao-Christian tradition, the formula for reaching this sort of extended earth life has always been the same, and follows the generalized Tao school teachings which specify the scientific principles behind this sort of accomplishment:
'Using form to attain the formless, we can transmute the body into vapor [chi]. In this way the mundane body is transformed into the sacred body. First we use the body to retain the vapor [chi]; then we use the vapor [chi] to nourish it. Even if we manage to reap only small benefits from our cultivation, we will be able to live a healthy and long life. However, if we can reap large benefits, we will be able to retain our bodily form forever in the earthly realm. The old will become young and the young can maintain their youth and live a long life.'
In one of my lectures I actually go over these 10 types of cultivation practices Shakyamuni identified and match them with modern science and nutritional findings. The big idea on anti-aging nowadays is life extension through food deprivation -- eating fewer calories. Well, that does indeed work, and Taoism does insist you should NOT eat till you are full but keep the stomach a bit empty. However, I hardly see that as a remedy most people will follow.
Sorry, in practical terms people just wont do it.
Science is now also turning to hormone modulation for anti-aging, yet that approach will also fail. Why? Because the doctors and scientists dont know what theyre doing. You cannot just intervene by injecting people with 1-2 hormones and think you got the whole thing right. The idea is ludicrous because your bodys hormone system is so complicated.
As stated in The Story of Chinese Taoism, (which is available on the website) this and most of the current anti-aging ideas came from Taoism, but Taoism states you should meditate and then your hormones will optimally change accordingly. You dont have to worry about altering them using external sources, but just cultivate your jing-chi-shen complex and the hormones in your body will adjust as they should. Youll naturally get anti-aging and healing benefits including beautiful skin.
So what else is modern science finding?
The big breakthrough for anti-aging is the recognition that it all hinges on INSULIN modulation, and you keep insulin levels low by not eating too many sugars or high glycemic foods (like grains) which quickly turn into sugar in the body. In other words, many different strands of research are coming together to suggest the key to anti-aging is insulin modulation.
If you want to stay young, stay away from sugars, refined carbohydrates, and wheat/gluten products that quickly turn into sugars. These high glycemic foods set insulin levels going haywire!
This is not the place to go into using vanadium, chromium, lipoic acid and other supplements to modulate insulin and blood sugar. Just look up diabetes prevention and youll hit the jackpot for tips. But I do want to mention two supplements that may play a role in anti-aging: the amino acid carnosine and resveratrol, which comes from red wine. You can find them at iherb.com, which is where I buy mine (I use the Jarrow brand):
There is so much damage done to the bodys arteries (which is why I like nattokinase to keep them clean) that resveratrol helps counter. Its also an anti-cancer agent. Check the web for information on resveratrol, which may play a big role in anti-aging and keeping you healthy. As to carnosine, its probably the only other direct anti-aging supplement I know of as well.
Most of all, however, is the importance of meditation. If you dont meditate you cannot transmute the effects of these supplements on your body and they simply irritate it or increase your vitality, and that sends men down the road of sexual excess and ruin.
Once again, go see the website page on The Story of Chinese Taoism to read how the ancients used all sorts of supplements to transform their bodies, BUT ONLY IF they also cut down on their desires, including the desires for meat and sex. Shakyamuni mentioned minerals, herbs, special foods, sexual practices, and all sorts of techniques that must be transmuted through the process of spiritual cultivation. Without that, all these methods are worthless.
Otherwise, you better invest in some long term care insurance!
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