Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Role of Ancient Wisdom in Aging

The human body has built-in body wisdom that keeps it young and healthy, that is, an innate awareness of its basic needs, as well as its warning signs and signals of internal disharmony that may lead to imminent disease and disorder. Therefore, wisdom is required to enhance this human consciousness to create a new environment in which the biochemistry of the body becomes the substance of awareness of beliefs, emotions, and thoughts, thereby instrumental in maintaining and sustaining the overall wellness of an individual to remain disease-free as much as and as long as possible.

Body wisdom is no more than everyday eating and living habits. Eating is a science, and living is an art; they complement each other, just as "yin" and "yang" do. Human wisdom is, essentially, the capability in creating and managing this art and science to live a better and a longer life.

Ancient wisdom plays a pivotal role in aging. Ancient wisdom, however, is not the same as contemporary wisdom. The former has more to ays do with the mind -- how it thinks and perceives; the latter focuses more on knowledge acquisition, and its practical applications in life.

To illustrate, Lao Tzu, an ancient sage in China some 2,600 years ago, was the author of the immortal Chinese classic "Tao Te Ching," which is one of the most translated and extensively read books of all time. According to legend, Lao Tzu wanted to leave China for Tibet, but he was stopped at the city gate, where he was forced to put down his wisdom in writing before he could leave. Reluctantly, he expressed his profound and eternal wisdom in only 5,000 words, and that was how "Tao Te Ching" came into being..

How is the role of Tao wisdom in living a better and a longer life?

Lao Tzu's wisdom is unique in that it emphasizes "reverse" thinking of the human mind, instead of the "conditioned" contemporary mindset. In other words, one must, first and foremost, have an empty mind before one can even think out of the box, not to mention creating one's own box in thinking. To illustrate, Lao Tzu's focus on "under-doing" (as opposed to "over-doing" or "the more, the better" contemporary mindset), "living in the present" (as opposed to "multi-tasking" modern lifestyle), and "no expectation of result" (as opposed to "goal-oriented" or "goal-setting" attitude of this day and age) is conducive to creating internal peace and harmony, which is the essence of living a stress-free life. The essentials of Tao wisdom are fundamental to the art of living well and the science of healthy living without stress.

In addition, Lao Tzu believed that true wisdom lies in internalizing and self-intuiting eternal truths. Unlike contemporary wisdom, Tao wisdom has no blueprint for all -- just as the health of an individual is based on the unique body chemistry of that individual; true wisdom, therefore, is acute awareness of the needs of the body, which is known exclusively only to that individual.

Another example of ancient wisdom is that of Hippocrates (377-460 BC), the "Father of Medicine." His basic principles of health and wellness are profound. For example, Hippocrates said: "Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food." His wisdom is quite contrary to the conventional wisdom of modern medicine, which overtly emphasizes the use of drugs. The United States is the riches but also the sickest country in the world, and our healthcare costs have skyrocketed in recent decades.

Hippocrates also expressed his wisdom in the art of living: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." The wisdom of modern medicine focuses on cure through drugs and procedures, rather than prevention through a holistic approach to health and wellness of the body, the mind, and the spirit. The wisdom of modern medicine is simply on quick fixing the symptoms, instead of preventing their occurrence in the first place.

The wisdom of Hippocrates echoed that of Lao Tzu's "non-doing" or "under-doing" when he said: "To do nothing is sometimes a good remedy." According to Hippocrates, "everything in excess is opposed to nature" because of the presence of the innate body wisdom in self-healing. Unfortunately, modern medicine chooses to do just the opposite, and thus opening the Pandora's box, creating many more human diseases and disorders through toxic drugs and procedures.

To conclude, wisdom is about acute awareness and profound perception through the human eye to see things as they really are, without looking at them through colored spectacles. 

Stephen Lau
Copyright©2018 by Stephen Lau

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