We’re Living Longer, Right? Think Again!

A few times while giving a lecture or just speaking to others about following the laws of nature to live a longer and healthier life, someone has challenged me with the common belief that we are living longer today. Well, to those who subscribe to this belief, hopefully the following information will persuade you to reconsider.

According to popular belief, we are living about 24 years longer on average than we did in 1900. However, if you consider…

1) the public health movement this century to clean up the food and water leading to better hygiene and sanitation, housing and living standards, which greatly decreased the number of childhood illnesses and deaths;

2) simple fractures or injuries that may have led to death due to infections that are now easily treated; and

3) war killing our young men;

and take these “young deaths” out of the calculations of average life span,then we have gained only 3.7 years in life expectancy since 1900!

Remember, however, that these figures are ours, based on the lifestyle of a Westerner.

Here, though anecdotal, are some interesting additional insights to contradict this modern belief:

A passage from the book, “Touch the Earth” compiled by T.C. McLuhan, a Native American Indian Chief (specifically, Gaspesian) was recorded in 1676 criticizing a group of French captains for the great esteem in which they held French civilization. In the passage, the chief compares the two civilizations and within these comparisons he mentions how his people did not have bread and wine prior to their encounters with the French. The chief goes on to say,

“in fact, before the arrival of the French in these parts did not the Gaspesians live much longer than now? And if we have not any longer among us any of those old men of a hundred and thirty to forty years, it is only because we are gradually adopting your manner of living, for experience is making it very plain that those of us live longest who, despising your bread, your wine, and your brandy, are content with their natural food of beaver, of moose, of waterfowl, and fish, in accord with the custom of our ancestors and of all the Gaspesian nation.”

130 to 140 years old! And this statement was made in 1676! But here’s more:

In Maoshing Ni’s translation of the “Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine” with the attributed author Huang Di living during the Third Millennium BCE, the author recalls a discussion he had as a child with one of his ministers, Qi Bo, about longevity. Huang Di inquires,

“I’ve heard in the days of old everyone lived one hundred years without showing the usual signs of aging. In our time, however, people age prematurely, living only fifty years.” To this Qi Bo replied, “In the past, people practiced the Tao, the Way of Life. They understood the principle of balance, of yin and yang…”

He goes on to say, “Thus, they formulated practices that included stretching, massaging, and breathing to promote energy flow, and meditation to help maintain and harmonize themselves with the universe. They ate a balanced diet at regular times, arose and retired at regular hours, avoided overstressing their bodies and minds, and refrained from overindulgence of all kinds. They maintained well-being of body and mind; thus, it is not surprising that they lived over one hundred years.”

These days, people have changed their way of life. They drink wine as though it were water, indulge excessively in destructive activities, drain their jing—the body’s essence that is stored in the kidneys—and deplete their qi.” and he continues, “so it is not surprising that they look old at fifty and die soon after.”

So there you have a discussion that took place over 4000 years ago about “the days of old” and people known to have lived, with their health, to over one hundred years! That passage goes on to discuss even fathering a child at that age!

There currently are five known groups of people that still live “the old way”. These are: the Tibetans of Western China; the Hunzas of Eastern Pakistan; a group of Armenians between Iran and Turkey; the Titicacas in the high Andes on the Peru-Bolivian border; the Vilkabaumba Indians in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador. Studies show that the population of each of these groups lives an average of 120-140 years! They still live the ways of their ancestors, complete with a pollution free environment. This includes clean air and water and a lack of pesticides and artificial fertilizers. They get plenty of exercise from their natural lifestyle. Cancer and heart disease are virtually unknown among them as they live out their lives in seclusion.

The skeptical “Western mind” of North America looks at information like this and scoffs, believing that there is no proof in the accuracies of these supposed ages. Imagine the arrogance of actually believing that these people are not smart enough to figure out what qualifies as “a year”, and to accurately count them!

So, are we living longer? …we are actually dying prematurely.

Originally published  in August, 2000

Author:

Shifu Ahles
Shifu Raymond Ahles, the owner and Chief Instructor of the Blue Dragon School, is a certified instructor of Ba Gua Zhang Kung Fu & Chi Kung and a 7th Generation Lineage Disciple in the Ch’iang Shan Pa Kua Chang Association. In addition to his 30 years plus teaching experience in the martial arts, Shifu Ahles also holds a B.S. degree in Exercise Physiology, he’s a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and has an extensive background in the healing arts of Oriental Medicine including certifications in Advanced Amma Therapy, Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture. He is a licensed Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist in NJ.