Pillars of Longevity
By James Shyun, O.M.D. and Mark Cole
Copyright 1993, Pacific Rim Publishing, Inc.
Reprinted with permission.


Today, the world is a rapidly changing place. It is a time of monumental and great advances in the world of science and health technologies. Health, how to get it and how to keep it, is just as important to a person who lives in today's fast-paced urban and cosmopolitan world as it was for the Chinese nobleman or farmer a thousand years ago. Throughout the passing of centuries, certain truths remain constant regardless of space and time. Many of these truths deal with Man and his relationship to the Cosmos. The Taoists of old learned many things through experimentation and observation. The majority of the time, they concerned themselves with the inner workings of the Tao and the all pervading energy or "chi" that permeated and animated both them and the Cosmos. They sought to find ways to increase the amount of energy within themselves, and thus attain longevity and a heightened sense of oneness with the universe. Long ago, the concept of Chi Cultivation was established and used by Taoist Masters and novices alike to enhance health and overall well-being.

The Taoists of old found that the health and continued well-being of the individual rested upon what became known as the Three Pillars of Longevity. These Pillars are: Proper Diet, Proper Sexual Behavior, and Proper Exercise. The strength and maintenance of these three decides the vitality of an individual and the length of his/her years. These three Pillars shall be the focus of this article.

1. Diet:

Food and the kinds that you eat are of the utmost importance. The old adage: "You are what you eat" is truer than most people realize.

The topic of one's diet, and what it is composed of, is of great importance today. All one needs do is look at the current list of best selling books. Most times, there is at least one book concerning Diet or Weight Loss. This is understandable, considering that by some statistics, one out of every four Americans has a weight problem or is obese. With statistics like this, it is not surprising that

Fruit & Vegetables
heart disease is the number one killer of people in most industrialized countries.

The folly of an unbalanced and unhealthy diet is only now being fully understood and emphasized as the leading cause of disease in the West. The cause and effect relationship of one's diet has been acknowledged by Taoist Masters and practitioners of Chinese Medicine for several thousand years.

It was noted in the 7th century by the renowned medical writer Sze-Miao Sun (A.D. 590-682) that those who are ignorant of food cannot survive. He believed, as did many before and after him, that the best way to treat illness was through a proper diet and the balancing of its components so that they complement each other.

The Taoist outlook is, of course, one of balance. When choosing food stuff for consumption the following considerations should be kept in mind: season, personality and body type, as well as the concepts of Yin and Yang and the theory of the Five Elements and their interactions.

A. Seasons:
Time of year and geographic location are important to take into consideration when choosing food. For example, in winter, one should endeavor to consume foods that bolster one's "Wei Chi" or Guardian Chi, in order to insure that no evil outside influences are able to penetrate the body, and thus cause illness within the organism. Foods that fall under this category are meat, whole grains, etc., even moderate amounts of alcohol. In summer, foods that are cooling or Yin in nature should be consumed. In the spring, foods should be both stimulating and neutral in nature, equal portions of meat and vegetables should be included. In fall, the weather is becomes cooler, therefore, more foods that are "Yang" in nature should be added to the diet.

B. Personality and Body Type:
People or individuals who manifest or demonstrate certain personality traits or body types may seek to modify or balance these traits by adjusting or changing certain facets of their diet. Example: a large and introverted person who seeks to become more active and outgoing, should change his diet by adding more stimulating or Yang type foods. An extroverted individual may choose more cooling or Yin type foods to help him or her to "mellow out" or to be more balanced.

C. Yin and Yang:
We have, by now, heard of this philosophical concept as the law of Universal Opposites. When dealing with foods, this concept comes into play when trying to decide the

Personality & Body Type
individual nature of a particular food and the way it effects the flow of Chi within the body and its individual Meridians. Example: Yang foods tend to cause the energy within the body to rise, while Yin foods tend to cool the body and draw the energy down.

D. Five Elements:
The philosophical view of the Five Elements (i.e., Water, Wood, Fire, Metal, and Earth) corresponds with five different flavors which correspond with specific organs within the body (i.e., Salty - Kidneys, Sourness - Liver, Bitter - Heart, Sweetness - Stomach, and Pungent - Lungs). Each one of these flavors and their corresponding organs should be taken into consideration when planning one's diet to insure that there is proper balance. I would also like to add that the amount or intake of food is just as important as its type and quality. The ideal amount of food taken in should only amount to 75%. of the contents of the stomach and should not overload the digestive tract and cause the body and its other corresponding systems distress.

2. Proper Sexuality:
Sexual Energy and the concept of "Jing" or essence plays an extremely vital role in the world of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Jing is one of the Three Treasures that are known as Jing Essence, Chi - Energy, and Shen - Spirit.

To better understand the concept of Jing, let's start at the beginning. At birth, we receive our original essence from our parents at the time of conception. The joining of the sperm and the ovum forms us and decides our level of energy, as well as our overall health and vitality. After birth, this essence takes up its residence at the kidney point (Ming-Men).

Proper Sexuality

Both male and female possess this essence. However, it is the male who has the least. Throughout one's life, the health of the kidneys dictates the overall health and vitality of the human organism.

Throughout one's life, this Jing is depleted through stress, overwork, and especially sexual dissipation. The Taoists knew, long ago, that men being of the Yang element were weaker and finite when it came to energy. They also knew that overindulgence in improper sexual practices could prove catastrophic to the health and overall well-being of a man.

The Taoist Master Lui Ching wrote several hundred years ago: "The business of the Bedroom can give life to a man or it can kill him." This system shows that the Taoists realizes what Western medicine has only come to understand just recently, that there is a substantial correlation between hormones (or lack of them) and the aging process. The Taoists felt, however, that the union of man and woman in sexual intercourse was the highest ideal or example of the harmonizing of the universe and the principle of Yin and Yang. They came to realize that if a man had extended and prolonged intercourse without emission, his health would not be damaged, but in fact it would enhance the Jing and his vital Chi would be compounded. But, the question was, how to accomplish this.

There are two different schools of thought when it comes to how to nurture one's Jing in the realm of bedroom arts. The first school believed that one could emit semen, but only at particular intervals depending on one's age, health, and season of the year. This philosophy is best exemplified in the writings of the Taoist Master Lui Ching, which states; "In Spring one may shed Jing once in these days, in the Summer and Autumn twice a month, but in the Winter lock the Jing and do not emit. The Tao of Heaven is to store up Yang in the Winter. If one can emulate this, he will live a long time."

The second school, on the other hand, recommended complete restraint, with no emission of semen at all. This could either be accomplished through celibacy, which has been known to cause some disorders of the prostate gland, or by the diversion of the seminal flow back into the body, in the form of an "implosion."

This last method is used to increase the Chi flow of the practitioner. This method at the same time allows him to enjoy the "Pleasures of the Flesh" without any detrimental effects and at the same time serving as a vehicle for spiritual enlightenment.

Also, the Taoists developed Chi Kung and meditative practices that give women the ability to nurture their essence and totally stop their monthly menstrual flow, thus insuring that the vast amount of energy that is being lost each month is stopped and is used for health and more spiritually-oriented purposes.

Currently, there are a vast array of books and assorted texts on the market that address the topics of "Nurturing the Essence" for both men and women.

3. Proper Exercise:
When one speaks of exercise, most people think of exercises that promote external growth (i.e., weigh/lifting, aerobics, running, boxing, etc...). While these forms of physical activity may stimulate visible growth of muscle tissue and increase cardio-vascular endurance, most times these gains are at the expense of the health of the internal organs.

I like to think of the human body as something akin to an automobile, and the internal organs as the engine to this automobile. If the auto is consistently run at its highest levels or "maxed out," without proper care or maintenance given to the engine and its individual parts, it will begin to deteriorate and cease to function. One must build the body internally and externally in order to promote the proper functioning of the organism at its

Exercise
highest level. Through the use of Chi Kung and the use of Taoist meditative practices, one has the ability to recharge his otherwise depleted and neglected organs.

Through the use of proper breathing methods, posturing and internal visualization, substantial things can be accomplished to promote and sustain radiant health. The use and practice of Chi Kung is very simple, but with time and persistent practice, the effects are profound and long-lasting.

With the practice of Chi Kung and the mating of it with your own individual sport you will, in time, see a marked increase in overall energy and endurance. Studies have also shown that those who practice Chi Kung and its different breathing patterns have a better ability to utilize oxygen.

Competitive athletes can and have benefited from Chi Kung. Many have found that it helps them eliminate precompetition jitters and bring focus during competition. This article was as attempt to give readers an overall view of chi cultivation.

By James Shyun, O.M.D. with Mark Cole
Copyright 1993, Pacific Rim Publishing, Inc.
Reprinted with permission.