Desires, Mood Swings, Overwork = You Won’t Live Long!

Desires, mood swings, overwork are the three killers of human longevity.

Just take a look at trees. Do you ever wonder how they live for hundreds, or thousands of years?!

If you are interested in Daoism, holistic health, or just a normal person who wants to live longer…

The following ancient wisdom will help you.

Desires, Mood Swings, Overwork in Daoist texts

There are three texts that I’m referencing in this post.

The first one is titled Classic of Purity and Tranquility. The Wikipedia page states it is an anonymous work from Tang dynasty; however, according to a source from oriental holistic medicine text it was passed down to a grandnephew of one of the original Daoists, Ge Xuan. He was born in 164 CE and lived for 80 years before “vanishing his body” in the middle of the night, becoming immortal!

In this book he instructs Daoist students to practice the elimination of desire in order to cultivate spiritual purity and stillness.

Let go of our desires and the heart will naturally calm down.
Purify the heart and Spirit will naturally clarify.
Naturally the six lusts (sex, shape, gait, voice, texture, appearance) will not survive.
The three poisons (greed, anger, ignorance) will be eliminated.
Emptying our hearts lead to clarity.
Sitting leads to calmness.
Do less of talking, hoping, and listening
Then our Spirits and lifespans will be preserved.

How well do you control the six lusts?

How often do you taste the three poisons?

The stoics and Daoists alike have been well-versed in calming their desires.

It all starts with clearing our hearts. Setting a proper intention each day to live longer with kindness.

Being content in the present while seeking out knowledge.

In stillness, we receive. The answer is within.

Excessive talking reduces our energy.
Excessive joy scatters our emotions.
Excessive anger affronts our thoughts.
Excessive sadness and over-thinking damages the Spirit.
Overworking to exhaustion out of greed damages the Essence

It’s the trinity of oriental philosophy and medicine: Essence, Energy, Spirit.

Avoid overworking to preserve our vital substance that governs all life activities.

Also, abstaining from the six lusts helps to nurture the Essence, as it is particularly related to reproduction.

Depletion of Essence means deformity of our physical body.

Conserve the energy inside our body by keeping it to ourselves.

Preserve the spiritual energy by being emotionally uncharged.

養性之士, 唾不至遠, 
For those cultivating their characters, do not spit out saliva
行不疾步, 耳不極聽, 
Do not walk fast, do not listen too deeply
And do not look too much.

不欲極飢而食 食不可過飽.
Eat before feeling hungry and do not overeat.
不欲極渴而飮, 飮不欲過多.
Drink before feeling thirsty and do not drink excessively.

Saliva is referred to as a precious (literally jade) spring water that must be swallowed constantly. Not only does it lubricate the food we chew, it also takes care of our oral hygiene.

Much of the wisdom sounds easy and intuitive, but putting it into practice is another story.

Just the other day I was nearly starving myself, so when it was time for a meal I was ravaging through the food without mindfully digesting it. If I were less hungry, I would’ve had more control over it and stopped when I had just enough of the nourishment. That’s the key – just enough!! With everything in life.

I want to improve my vision, which is difficult to do given the nature of my work, but I intend to rest my eyes a lot more hopefully through sleep and avoiding lights at night.

The second work that we will read is titled Discussion on Cultivating Life, written by third century writer, poet, Daoist philosopher, and musician.

There are five difficulties while cultivating one’s character.
Unable to let go of fame and fortune is the first difficulty.
Unable to reduce happiness and anger is the second difficulty.
Unable to let go of sensual pleasures is the third difficulty.
Unable to quit eating delicious food is the fourth difficulty.
Having a hollow Spirit and scattered Essence is the fifth difficulty.
If these five are non-existent in our minds,
Our faithful obedience will rise each day
And our morals will be whole each day.
Without praying to become good, we will receive blessings.

Without striving to live long, it will happen naturally.

What else can I add? LET GO OF THE DESIRES!

The final passage comes from a Daoist doctor from Tang dynasty who argues that having a perfect diet is still not enough to live long:

Even if we keep up a good diet,
Not knowing the art of cultivating character
Will make living long difficult.
Dao of cultivating character
Is to always work less,
Not reaching over-exhaustion or beyond our endurance

This is what I needed to hear.

Overwork which produces over-stress, which injures us physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

So many sages of the past knew the way to “optimize” our health, yet the political and economic structure of societies throughout millennia have designated customs, laws, and order to repress the trinity and cultivate the DEVIANT trinity of desires, mood swings, and overwork.

Ultimately, it is our responsibility to soak in this wisdom and share it with our communities and tribes.

Thank you for reading,


eternal student of life

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