Li Ching-Yuen, a Chinese herbalist, martial artist and tactical advisor lived to the ripe old age of 256 and sired 200 descendants during his life span, surviving 23 wives.
Hoax or Fact:
The message talks about a Chinese herbalist Li Ching-Yuen who is claimed to have lived for 256 years, surviving 23 wives and having 200 descendants during his life span. Although it is a fact that Li Ching Yuen lived through a long life, the exact details of his birth could not be determined.
The story of Li Ching-Yuen (also spelled as Li Ching-Yun) came into light after his death on May 6, 1933, when newspapers around the world reported his death. According to the obituary as printed in the New York Times on May 6, 1933, Li Ching-Yun, a resident of Kaihsien, located in the Chinese Province of Szechwan, said that he was born in 1736 - which makes him 197 years old. But in 1930 it was said that Professor Wu Chung-chien, the dean of department of Education in Minkuo University, had found records showing Li Ching was born in 1677, and that the Imperial Chinese Government has also congratulated him on his 150th and 200th birthdays. He claimed that Li has forgotten his actual year of birth because of his very old age. If this were true - it indeed makes him 256 years old. It is to be noted that in 1928, a correspondent of The New York Times wrote that many of the oldest men in Li Ching’s neighborhood claimed that their grandfathers knew him as boys and that he was then a grown man. Regarding Li’s married life, one version says that he had buried away 23 wives producing over 200 descendants and was living with his twenty-fourth wife, a woman of ’60’. Another version in 1928 credited Li with only only fourteen marriages and 180 living descendents, comprising eleven generations.
Considering the insufficient and inconsistent records, it would be difficult to estimate the exact age of Li Ching Yuen. But all these reports suggest that he surely is one of the oldest people in the world, possibly more than the oldest documented woman - Jeanne Calment of France who died at the age 122 years, 164 days (1875–1997).
About Li Ching Yuen's Life
During his lifespan Li was reported to be a herbalist, martial artist, and a tactical advisor to Chinese generals. At the age of 10, he started gathering and later selling Chinese herbs in the mountain ranges, which included lingzhi, goji berry, wild ginseng, he shou wu and gotu kola. Li lived this way for the first 40 years of his life. When he was in his 70s, Li moved to Kai Xian and joined the Chinese army as a teacher of the martial arts and tactical advisor. One of his disciples, the Taijiquan Master Da Liu claimed that when Li Ching was 130 years old, he met a 500 years old hermit in the mountains who has taught him Baguazhang (a form of Chinese martial arts) and Qigong (practice of aligning breath and movement, involving healing and meditation), along with dietary recommendations. Da Liu reported that his master could live long because he performed these exercises every day - for 120 years. It is to be noted that most of his life Li survived on a diet of herbs and rice wine. It was also reported that when asked about the secret of his long life, Li Ching Yuen suggested the following:
- Tranquil mind
- Sit like a tortoise
- Walk sprightly like a pigeon
- Sleep like a dog
Possibility of Living Long
Many cultures and legends in the past, particularly in India, Tibet and China, do talk about hermits living for hundreds of years. The remarkable longevity is attributed to spiritual practices, meditation and very positive lifestyles that keep them youthful and active for hundreds of years. A related example to show the capabilities of these is Rambhau Swami from India, who is able to sleep in fire without getting burnt or hurt. Then there is this Holy Man in India who did not eat or drink anything for 70 years.
What we can learn from all these is the necessity of healthy, natural diet, along with regular exercise and a stress-free positive life. It will give us a happy, long life.