To set the correct perspective for this lesson it is wise, at the outset, to point out there really is no elixir of life except by comparing normality with the low standards of life prevailing. There is no such thing as long life—that is, no one can outlive the human potential. There is the human potential and anything short of that potential must properly be called shortened life. This potential is better called the natural or normal human life span and anything less than the realization of the normal human life span is premature death. Mature death is a natural death, a death resulting from the simultaneous cessation of life activities by the body’s major organs. It is painless and free of suffering.
This lesson concerns itself with the touchstones that assure health, the necessary conditions of a normal life span. The lesson also examines the abuses heaped upon the human body that cause loss of health and thus shorten life.
1.1 The Idea of an Elixir Vitae
Legends of elixirs come down to us from prehistoric times. Undoubtedly the idea of elixirs was spawned by shamanism. Shamanism was a generalized practice of ministering unto human aspiration and credulity. Shamen were medicine men and theologists rolled into one. Their craft and livelihood depended upon exploiting the human propensity to believe and trust. They thrived by foisting upon those they “served” magic healing potions which find their counterparts today in Pharmaceuticals (magic weeds) and herbalism. They allayed inquiries into human origins and destinies by fabricating new belief systems based upon legends and rituals that commanded homage of the times. This arm of shamanism evolved into the priesthood while the other arm evolved into what is called medicine.
Stories of long-lived peoples circulated for there were, indeed, peoples who lived long, relatively, in certain areas of the world. Shamen, who were really extraordinary confidence men, took advantage of this wish to believe, this hope for long life, by attributing long life to substances which had curative powers. Hence anything that, in reality, drugged the human constitution was credited with curative virtues and could have been a candidate for use as an elixir vitae.
Water with toxic minerals early came to be regarded as an elixir vitae. Drinking of these waters and bathing in them were supposed to furnish the curative powers the body needed for good health and long life. To this day, many waters are regarded as curative of human ills and possessed with the power of conferring long life.
Many shamen promoted their brews and concoctions as curative and capable of conferring long life. These brews were generally concocted from herbs which the shamen jealously guarded as trade secrets. Somewhere in murky prehistoric times came the idea that rejuvenation could come from eating analogous parts of animals. If sexual powers were to be resuscitated, the eating of animal testicles were thought to restore male, sexual prowess. Eating of brains was thought to restore mental powers, and so on. Today these voodooistic ideas have their counterparts in so-called glandulars.
In early history, alcoholic spirits came to be regarded as elixirs. Anything containing alcohol was a curative agent and also a substance that conferred long life. The idea that alcohol was a curative agent survived well into the 19th century and the belief’s vestiges remain today.
In the middles ages, alchemists, sought philosopher’s stones and new chemicals with which to transform base metals into gold or silver and with which to restore health and perpetual youth.
In the age of exploration, courageous men blazed new pathways in uncharted lands in search of the fountain of youth and fabulous foods with curative powers that would confer long life. Ponce de Leon was such an explorer who discovered Florida in search of a fabled fountain of water in Florida that would cure ailments and confer perpetual life in a youthful state.
Today we have many laboratories searching for an elixir vitae to give humans long life. Many concoctions have been hailed as elixirs. One of the foremost is procaine (same as novocaine), popularly called Gerovital, meaning, literally, long life. That long life can proceed from the employment of any substance while the causes of shortened life are indulged is, of course, impossible. No substance can confer long life in the first place.
The priesthood arose when a certain class of shamen assumed the role of intermediaries (favored or privileged representatives) between the gods and beleaguered humans. Their role was to curry favor with the gods by direct intercession on behalf of ailing clients. At least that is what they had the sufferer or long life seeker believing. They performed rituals and incantations in behalf of those who subscribed to their services. Those who stuck with administrations of “magic weeds,” brews and concoctions were the precursors of today’s medical practitioners.
Simply stated the idea of an elixir of life springs from hopes for long life. The wish is father of the belief.
1.2 Examples of “long-lived” peoples
For the past two thousand years the Bible has spoken of very long-lived people, including Adam and Eve. Methuselah is said to have lived 969 years. But these ages become immediately suspect when we learn that women were said to have had their firstborn at ages ranging from 120 to 200 years. In those times, as today, many centenarians lived quiet, frugal lives in certain areas of Eastern Europe and in Western Asia. Travelers brought news of these people and many legends arose about their existence. Just as we have one-track minds today, then, answers were sought for this remarkable longevity in Some food, substance, ritual or other single practice.
1.3 Examples of possibilities for “long” life
In most countries of the world there are those who have surpassed a hundred years of age. Their longevity has excited much curiosity and inquiry as to their “secret.” Even to this day an outstanding practice of a centenarian is searched for to account for extraordinary longevity. If the oldster is a wine drinker, the wine is likely to be characterized as responsible for the longer life. The fact the oldster breathes, sleeps, is active, eats frugally, etc. is likely to be ignored. Why shouldn’t geriatric personnel emphasize as elements of longevity those life factors that everyone possesses? There must be some “secret” factor.
1.4 A Correct Perspective on Longevity
That humans have a natural life span potential of 140 years to 160 years is rarely taken into consideration. The yearnings of most for long life are becalmed by the promise of eternal life—not here but in the hereafter. Long life does not become important here if it is but the prelude to eternal bliss in another paradise.
Biologically, humans have inherent faculties that will carry them well past the century mark. The weakest organs of the human body are the’ kidneys and they have a life potential of 300 years or more according to geriatric specialists. Some long-life specialists feel the human organism is so perfect there’s no reason it should ever die. Of course, the view does not take into account the limits of cell regeneration.
In view of the fact that there are societies in which oldsters reach well past 100 years of age and that authenticated life spans well past 150 years of age exist, there is no denying that humans can live past 100 years of age. Inasmuch as most creatures in nature live five to eight times the age of maturity which is, in humans, about 22 to 25 years of age, and inasmuch as humans have lived longer than 150 years, then it is quite logical and scientific to conclude that humans are normally endowed with a life potential of about 150 years.
Thus it becomes apparent that those who live their life potential are not long-lived but that, on the contrary, those who do not achieve their life potential are short-lived! The inquiry thus takes on a new perspective. The search then comes to embrace not only those factors that assure achievement of life potential but those factors that are destructive and, as a result, shorten life.
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Achieving Natural Life Potential
- 3. Food And Short Or Long Life
- 4. Factors That Shorten Life
- 5. Exercise And Vigorous Purposeful Activity As Life Essentials
- 6. Mental And Emotional Factors In Living A Natural Life Span
- 7. Happiness, Enjoyment And Pleasure As Factors In Realizing Life Potential
- 8. Questions & Answers