The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Daoist Immortality

As philosophical Daoism changes into alchemy, the search for an Elixir of Immortality became the Holy Grail. Perhaps modern science isn't that far away. Below is an excerpt from a recent new article. The whole thing may be read here.

Who wants to live forever? Scientist sees aging cured
Mon, Jul 04 14:39 PM EDT
By Health and Science Correspondent Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) - If Aubrey de Grey's predictions are right, the first person who will live to see their 150th birthday has already been born. And the first person to live for 1,000 years could be less than 20 years younger.

A biomedical gerontologist and chief scientist of a foundation dedicated to longevity research, de Grey reckons that within his own lifetime doctors could have all the tools they need to "cure" aging -- banishing diseases that come with it and extending life indefinitely.

"I'd say we have a 50/50 chance of bringing aging under what I'd call a decisive level of medical control within the next 25 years or so," de Grey said in an interview before delivering a lecture at Britain's Royal Institution academy of science.

"And what I mean by decisive is the same sort of medical control that we have over most infectious diseases today."

De Grey sees a time when people will go to their doctors for regular "maintenance," which by then will include gene therapies, stem cell therapies, immune stimulation and a range of other advanced medical techniques to keep them in good shape.

De Grey lives near Cambridge University where he won his doctorate in 2000 and is chief scientific officer of the non-profit California-based SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) Foundation, which he co-founded in 2009.

He describes aging as the lifelong accumulation of various types of molecular and cellular damage throughout the body.

"The idea is to engage in what you might call preventative geriatrics, where you go in to periodically repair that molecular and cellular damage before it gets to the level of abundance that is pathogenic," he explained.

9 comments:

walt said...

"...medical techniques to keep them in good shape."

Longevity is an intriguing subject -- the more so as I age! And if one gets involved with Daoism, some of the historical interest in the subject is bound to rub off.

Still, there are factors in long life beyond "medical techniques," among them environment and behavior. Of the two, environment almost always will trump behavior, even if the behavior is skillful. And the behavior of many folks is self-destructive to begin with. Such things are usually described as "outside the realm of science, or medicine."

Also, there's the inherent uncertainty in all things, i.e., "hazard."

And the so-called Law of Unintended Consequences, which adds a certain "stickiness" to the best laid plans.

Oh, and the Law of Famous Last Words, otherwise known as "be careful what ya ask for."

Nonetheless, the hope for more life is very heady stuff. Thanks for the article!

Rick said...

There are a couple of websites that I’ve found useful.

One is http://RealAge.com

They have a long questionnaire about your health status, your history and behaviors. They apply the input to statistics to studies and actuarial tables. A habit like smoking, for example makes your body about 10 years older than your biological age.

The result of the evaluation is your “Real Age” as opposed to your biological age. I update my profile after every physical. At 54, I have a Real Age of 45. That is, I have the health of an average 45 year old male as opposed to a 54 year old.

Another website is http://Livingto100.com

Again a questionnaire about you habits and history, but the output of this one is your expected longevity. After my most recent physical, this life expectancy calculator came up with a value of 90 years of age!

Then there is always the Death Clock calculator at http://www.death-clock.org

The Strongest Karate said...

"And what I mean by decisive is the same sort of medical control that we have over most infectious diseases today."

Soooo...This means that to stop aging there will be a pill I can take that has 20 separate side effects, one of which might be "death"?

Rick said...

"Side effect may include but not limited to ..."

I think Walt's warning about unintended consequences should not be overlooked.

Kerry Brian Davidson said...

Just because we can do something doesn't mean we always should. Certainly alleivating alzheimers , dementia etc. not a bad thing. But aging all together, not my cup of tea. Ask me again in 20 years.

Rick said...

Thanks for visiting.

Yes, it SOUNDS good, but ...

Drew said...

I forgot where I heard it from but it was a saying:

"When people find a way cheat death, that when problems happen."

Without death, there can not be life. I'm too young to think about death - because I am too busy trying to live.

Rick said...

A friend of mine lost his wife to cancer about a month ago. She had been dealing with one form of cancer after another for the last 4 or 5 years.

She was probably the bravest person that I've ever known.

When she came home from the hospital under hospice care, she had a list of people that she wanted to see and say goodbye to. She planned her own funeral. She wrote a letter to be read at the funeral to her friends and family thanking them for their support and encouragement during her illness and expressing her love for them all.

She was only 52.

Drew said...

Correction: "When people find a way TO cheat death, that when problems happen."

Forgive the typo.

I'm sorry to hear about that. What you said now actually reminded me of what someone had said to me when I went to a Systema training group. He was an ex-Army Ranger, served for a number of years, now is busying supporting his wife, son (and others?) and working. He said to me:

"You have never truly lived until you have faced death".

Thanks for the reminder.