Tortoise-Pigeon-Dog: The Legendary Li Ching-Yuen

FROM : taoism By Elizabeth Reninger

Li Ching-Yuen — a Chinese herbalist and martial artist — boasted a lifespan of, by some accounts, 250 or even 256 years; and by more modest reckonings, 199 years. Either way, that’s a lot of candles for a birthday cake! When questioned publicly about his secret for long life, he apparently responded with this four-part strategy:

1. Tranquil mind;
2. Sit like a tortoise;
3. Walk sprightly like a pigeon; and
4. Sleep like a dog.

One suspects that there may have been some internal alchemical and herbal components to it, as well …

In his book Muscle/Tendon Changing & Marrow/Brain Washing Chi Kung, Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming offers this short biography of Li Ching-Yuen:

Li Ching Yuen was born in 1678 A.D. in Chyi Jiang Hsien, Szechuan province. Later he immigrated to Kai Hsien, Chen’s family field. He died in 1928 A.D., at the age of 250 years. When he was 71 years old, he joined the army of provincial Commander-in-Chief Yeuh Jong-Chyi. Most of his wives died early, so during the course of his life he married fourteen times.

Li was an herbalist, and skilled in Chi Kung and spent much of his life in the mountain ranges. In 1927 General Yang Sen invited Li to his residence in Wann Hsien, Szechuan province, where a picture was taken of him. Li died the next year when he returned from this trip.

After he died, General Yang investigated Li’s background to determine the truth of his story, and later wrote a report about him entitled: “A Factual Account of the 250 Year-Old Good-Luck Man,” which was published by the Chinese and Foreign Literature Storehouse, Taipei, Taiwan.

All of the information available indicates that the story is true. Li Ching-Yuen’s legacy to us is the fact that it is possible for a human being to live more that 200 years if he or she knows how. Because of this we deeply believe that, if we humbly study and research, the day will come when everyone will live at least 200 years.

I’ve had the great pleasure of spending time with several qigong teachers who — in their 70’s or 80’s — are as physically vital as most 20 year-old’s. This is of course greatly inspiring, and a source of confidence in the effectiveness of the practice, in terms of supporting physical health and vitality.

In each of these cases, however, what was even more apparent was the vitality of their spirit, and the expansive quality of their mind. This energetic Presence, as much or even more than their physical vitality, allowed them to emanate a kind of “eternal youthfulness.”

Off now to practice walking sprightly like a pigeon …