256 Year Old Man
Li Ching-Yuen was a Chinese herbalist, martial artist and tactical adviser who lived to the ripe old age of 256 and sired 200 descendants during his life span, surviving 23 wives.
Ching-Yuen lived off a diet of herbs and rice wine inculding lingzhi, goji berry, wild ginseng, he shou wu and gotu kola. In a 1930 New York Times article, Professor Wu Chung-chieh of the University of Chengdu discovered Imperial Chinese government records from 1827, congratulating one Li Ching-Yuen on his 150th birthday.
Li Ching-Yuen himself claimed to have been born in 1736, Wu Chung-chieh, a professor of the Chengdu University, asserts that Li was born in 1677 in Qijiang County, Sichuan province.
According to a 1930 New York Times article, Wu discovered Imperial Chinese government records from 1827 congratulating Li on his 150th birthday, and further documents later congratulating him on his 200th birthday in 1877. In 1928, a New York Times correspondent wrote that many of the old men in Li’s neighborhood asserted that their grandfathers knew him when they were boys, and that he at that time was a grown man.
One of Li Ching-Yuen disciples, the Taijiquan Master Da Liu told of his master’s story: when 130 years-old Master Li would have encountered in the mountains an older hermit, over 500 years old, who taught himBaguazhang and a set of Qigong with breathing instructions, movements training coordinated with specific sounds, and dietary recommendations. Da Liu reports that his master said that his longevity “is due to the fact that he performed the exercises every day – regularly, correctly, and with sincerity – for 120 years.”
Returning home, he died a year later, some say of natural causes; others claim that he said to friends: “I have done all I have to do in this world. I will now go home.” After Li’s death, General Yang Sen investigated the truth about his claimed background and age and wrote a report about his findings that was later published.
He worked as a herbalist, selling lingzhi, goji berry, wild ginseng, he shou wu and gotu kola along with other Chinese herbs, and lived off a diet of these herbs and rice wine. Li had also supposedly produced over 200 descendants during his life span, surviving 23 wives.
The article “Tortoise-Pigeon-Dog”, from the May 15, 1933 issue of Time reports on his history, and includes Li Ching-Yuen’s answer to the secret of a long life:
Sit like a tortoise
Walk sprightly like a pigeon
Sleep like a dog
Yang Jwing-Ming, in his book Muscle/Tendon Changing and Marrow/Brain Washing Qigong, says that Li Ching-Yuen was a Chinese herbalist skilled in Qigong who spent most of his life in the mountains. In 1927, the National Revolutionary Army General Yang Sen, invited him to his residence in Wann Hsien, Szechuan province, where the picture shown in this article was taken.
Chinese General Yang Sen wrote a report about him, A Factual Account of the 250 Year-Old Good-Luck Man, in which he described Li Ching Yuen’s appearance: “He has good eyesight and a brisk stride; Li stands seven feet tall, has very long fingernails, and a ruddy complexion.”
Stuart Alve Olson’s 2002 book “Qigong Teachings of a Taoist Immortal: The Eight Essential Exercises of Master Li Ching Yuen” teaches the practice of the “Eight Brocade Qigong” learned with the Taijiquan Master T. T. Liang (Liang Tung Tsai), who learned it from the General Yang Sen.
According to legend, Li Ching Yuen was the creator of Jiulong Baguazhang (or Nine Dragons Baguazhang).
The Taoist Master Liu Pai Lin, who lived in São Paulo, Brazil from 1975 until 2000, had in his classroom another photograph of Master Li Ching Yuen unknown to the West. In this photo his face is clearly visible, as are his long and curled fingernails. Master Liu had met him personally in China, and considered him as one of his Masters. He used to say that Master Li answered to him that the fundamental Taoist practice is to learn to keep the “Emptiness” (Wuji). Master Liu’s son, Master Liu Chih Ming, teaches the 12 Silks Qigong in CEMETRAC, as transmitted by Master Li.
Many cultures around the world, particularly in India, Tibet and China, tell of remarkable longevity achieved by spiritual (yogic and taoist) adepts. Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi with Immortal sage, Babaji and Peter Kelder’s The Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth being examples.
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