Li Ching-Yuen or Li Ching-Yun was a man of Huijiang County, Sichuan Province, said to be a Chinese herbal medicine expert, martial artist and tactical advisor. He once claimed to have been born in 1736 during the period of Qianlong―the sixth Emperor of the Qing dynasty. But there are also conflicting records that Lee was born in 1677 during the reign of Kangxi―the fourth Emperor of the Qing dynasty. However, it has not been yet confirmed.
Li Ching-Yuen is widely known for his supposed extreme longevity, living an age at death of 197 or 256 years. Both far exceed the highest record of verified ages in this world.
The secret of Longevity
On May 15, 1933, a “Time Magazine” article called “Tortoise Pigeon Dog” reported on his strange life story and history, and Li Ching-Yuen left the secret of longer life: “Retain a calm heart, sit like a turtle, walk swiftly like a pigeon, and sleep like a dog.” According to some reports, he lived long because he exercised regularly, properly and sincerely every day for 120 years.
In 1928, Li Ching-Yuen authored the book “The Old Recipe of Growing Up.” Though, he doesn’t mention his age in this book, the key to his self-adulation longevity is in Qigong fitness―a centuries-old system of coordinated body posture and movement, breathing, and meditation. Li Ching-Yuen proposed to exercise the body with the “lite, yin and yang reconcile” method. There are three reasons for his healthy longevity: the first one is being a pure long-term vegetarian, the second one is being calm and cheerful, and the third one is taking Goji tea which made from boiling Goji berries.
Life of Li Ching-Yuen
Many believe that Li Ching-Yuen was born on February 26th of 1677 in Huijiang County, Sichuan Province―in the present day, Huijiang District, Chongqing City. He allegedly spent an entire lifetime collecting Chinese herbs and collecting tips for longevity. In 1749, at the age of 72, Li Ching-Yuen went to Kai County to join the army and became a martial arts teacher and tactical advisor of the army.
In 1927, Li Ching-Yuen was invited by General Yang Sen to work as a guest in Wan County, Sichuan. Yang Sen was deeply attracted to the old man’s ancient and masterful herbal collection skills. After six years, the old man Li Ching-Yuen died in 1933. Some believe that he died naturally, others claim that he once told friends, “I’ve done what I need to do and now I’ll go home”―then he dies immediately.
After Li Ching-Yuen’s death on May 6th of 1933, Yang Sen sent someone specifically to investigate his true age and background and published a report. In the same year, some Sichuan people, when they were interviewed, said they already knew Li Ching-Yuen when they were young children, and that Li did not become very old when they were finally old. Others said Li was once a friend of their grandpas. Li Ching-Yuen was buried at the Xicunxian Village Cemetery Luoyang, Henan, China.
About the real age of Li Ching-Yuen
According to a 1933 obituary published in “Time Magazine” and “The New York Times,” Li Ching-Yuen, at his age of 256, was already married to 24 wives from different time segments who raised total of 180 children, over 11 generations. There’s a version of Li Ching-Yuen’s married life in which he had buried 23 wives and lived with his 24th wife, who was 60 at the time.
According to “The New York Times“: Wu Chung-Chieh, head of the education department at Chengdu University in 1930, discovered Li Ching-Yuen’s “birth certificate” that suggests he should have been born on February 26th of 1677. Another report conveys that the Qing government also held a 150-year-old celebration for him in 1827.
However, such kinds of reportings are hard to prove because the demographics of China in the 17th century were mostly inaccurate and unverified. The Time Magazine had also described, Li Ching-Yuen has six-inch-long fingernails in his right hand.
Today, there are thousands of best quality martial artists all around the world who now claim that their predecessors had learned the Qigong techniques and various other secret knowledge of martial arts from master Li Ching-Yuen. According to legend, Li Ching-Yuen was the creator of Jiulong Baguazhang or Nine Dragons Baguazhang.
Stuart Alve Olson has written a book in 2002, “The Qigong Teaching Methods of a Taoist Immortal: The Eight Essential Exercises of Master Li Ching-Yun.” In the book, he teaches the practice method of “Hachia Kam.” Stuart Alve Olson has been a practicing Taoist for over 30 years and has studied with the famous Taoist master Tung Tsai Liang who died in 2002 after living for 102 years.
Liu Pai Lin, a Taoist master who lived in São Paulo, Brazil from 1975 to 2000, got a portrait of Li Ching-Yuen. Pai Lin said he once saw Li Ching-Yuen first hand in China and considered him one of his own masters and when he had asked Master Li, “What is the most basic Taoist practice?” Master Li replied, “The most basic Taoist practice is learning to not stay undone.”
Other oldest supercentenarians
A supercentenarian is someone who has reached the age of 110. This age is achieved by about one in 1,000 centenarians.
Luo Meizhen was a Chinese claimant for the world’s oldest person. She was born on July 9th of 1885 and died on June 4th of 2013. In 2010, the Gerontological Society of China announced that 125-year-old Luo Meizhen was the oldest living person in China. This also made her a likely claimant to be the oldest living person in the world. However, the lack of official birth records meant that Guinness World Records was unable to accept the claim of longevity.
Jeanne Louise Calment was a French supercentenarian from Arles, and the oldest human whose age was well-documented, with a lifespan of 122 years and 164 days. She was born on February 21st of 1875 and died on August 4th of 1997.
From a number of reliable sources, it’s confirmed that an old man named Li Ching-Yuen or Li Ching Yun did really live in China who devoted his life to studying Chinese herbs and the secret of longevity. Li had travelled to Gansu, Shaanxi, Tibet, Annan, Siam, Manchuria, and other parts of the country to collect or sell his herbs. And it is also true that he lived a longer life, but exactly how many years―it’s still not so clear or verified.
A lot of the world’s cultures, especially Indian and Chinese cultures, talk about achieving significant longevity through spiritual refinements such as Yoga and Taoism. All these practices basically help to increase self-awareness, reduce the influence of ego and keep the physical body active through daily exercises, which definitely work for living longer with peace of mind.