You may have heard of Li Ching-Yuen by now. He was a Dao master, who practiced the art of immortality. Many confuse Daoism with Dao practice. Daoism is a belief system and Dao practice is a science and art of perfecting the body and mind so the body continues to heal itself and remains young for hundreds of years.

Who Was He?

Li Ching-Yuen was born at an uncertain date (see Longevity below) in Qijiang Xian, Sichuan, Qing Empire.

He spent most of his life in the mountains and was skilled in Qigong.[7] He worked as an herbalist, selling lingzhi, goji berry, wild ginseng, he shou wu and gotu kola along with other Chinese herbs, and lived off a diet of these herbs and rice wine.

It was generally accepted in Sichuan, that Li was fully literate as a child, and that by his tenth birthday had travelled to Gansu, Shanxi, Tibet, Vietnam, Thailand and Manchuria with the purpose of gathering herbs, continuing with this occupation for a century, before beginning to purvey instead herbs gathered by others.

It was after this he relocated to Kai Xian and there Li supposedly, at 72 years of age, in 1749, joined the army of provincial Commander-in-Chief Yeuh Jong Chyi, as a teacher of martial arts and as a tactical advisor.

In 1927, the National Revolutionary Army General Yang Sen invited him to his residence in Wan Xian, Sichuan, where the picture shown in this article was taken.

The Chinese Warlord Wu Peifu took him into his home in an attempt to discover the secret of living 250 years.[9]

He supposedly died from natural causes on 6 May 1933 in Kai Xian, Sichuan, Republic of China and was survived by his 24th wife, a woman of 60 years.
Li produced over 200 descendants during his life span, surviving 23 wives.Other sources credit him with 180 descendants, over 11 generations, living at the time of his death and 14 marriages.

After his death, the aforementioned Yang Sen wrote a report about him, A Factual Account of the 250 Year-Old Good-Luck Man , in which he described Li’s appearance: “He has good eyesight and a brisk stride; Li stands seven feet tall, has very long fingernails, and a ruddy complexion.”

His Secrets to Immortality

The article “Tortoise-Pigeon-Dog”, from the 15 May 1933 issue of Time reports on his history, and includes Li’s answer to the secret of a long life:

Keep a quiet heart
Sit like a tortoise
Walk sprightly like a pigeon
Sleep like a dog

An article in the Evening Independent claims that Li’s supposed longevity is due to his experimentation with medicinal herbs in his capacity as a druggist, his discovery in the Yunnan mountains of herbs which “prevent the ravages of old age” and which he continued to use throughout his life.