Cultivating the Mind and Nurturing the Body
With the advancements of recent medical technology, many hope advance technologies can be utilized to bring people whom passed away back to life, or for eternal rejuvenation. Numerous people since the history has been recorded are seeking ways to stay or gain eternal youth. Some had sought practices through martial arts; however, this is a Taoist practice and not proclaimed by Confucianism and Buddhism.
Taoism places special emphasis on seeking harmony of body and worldly materials. People expect spousal relations to be enduring, and their bodies to live forever. According to the Taoist practices, there was the "boiling-pellet faction" whose members practiced in remote mountains refraining from interactions with the society. Other Taoist sects such as the "charm faction," whom prayed and practiced "magical spells" to extend their lives, and the !§lower-abdomen faction,!‥ which espoused the use of magical pills, including those made of metals and herbs. However, none was able to live forever by above practices. In fact, there were people who lost their lives by taking the so-called "magical pills." What these Tao practices can do, at best, are strengthen the health and reduce pain, but they cannot achieve what they really are looking for.
From the Buddhism's perspective, our bodies are composed by elements of earth, water, fire and wind. These four components change continuously, without a pattern. Therefore, we call them impermanent or empty in nature. In addition, according to Buddhist Sutra, human beings are able to live till the age of 84,000. From a scientific viewpoint, if we could fly at light speed, the progress of time would be reduced. Chan (Zen) also says that if we could reach the stage of "four Chan," our concept of time and space would no longer exist.
In fact, we can frequently discover in life that if we have fewer worries on our minds, we will not only look younger on the appearance, but also tend to live longer than others. On the other hand, if we are always troubled, dispirited and pessimistic, we tend to look older and have worse health conditions. Therefore, while talking about "nurturing the body," we should rather start with "cultivating the mind." The crisscrossing of the "mind" and "body" is inseparable. Though Buddhist followers do not emphasize good health particularly, however, the byproduct of those "mind practices" is also "nurturing the body."
For the average person, the simplest way to cultivate the mind is to maintain an open mind and adopt an optimistic and positive way of thinking, to allow him or her to be happy. At the same time, people around us can also feel and share our happiness or stage of bliss. Even during the worst of times, we can remind ourselves that this is already the lowest it can get and the environment could not be worse. This way, in the darkest moments, we could feel as if a new dawn were approaching. If you are willing to go deeper, you can start with meditation. You can observe your inner mind on the one hand, and adjust your body on the other. Those unable to meditate can engage in light exercises and/or running. People who have time should also volunteer to donate their time at hospitals and charity events more often.
Finally, we should be careful not to eat and drink excessively. The majority of modern people are over nourished, over-fortified. If we could adjust to diets of lighter foods or adopt vegetarian diets, reduce our desires and live simpler life, we will then be able to lead a healthier and happier life.