The way to health lies in maintenance; how to maintain good health is something to do with our daily life, like keeping our rooms and beds clean, cleaning the floor every day, washing all the dishes and tools clean so that they can be used for a long time. When we go outside, stay at home, sit down, or lie in bed, we should be watching carefully and mindful of everything. Our physical body is like some of the articles for daily living; we shall take good care of it daily so that it lasts long and lives healthily.
When we have too many wants and desires, we must always be on the go. Human is always pursuing something; he wanders around for more things. Most people do not know the reason for following the natural notes; therefore most people do not have a peaceful mind. When we are going out too much, we have more chances to have accidents or to get hurt. A wise man only goes out when it is necessary; he stays at home most of the time. A wise man has many visitors; a stupid man goes out most of his time as a visitor. Dear friends, we shall understand this；I am not telling you to be lazy, but telling you to have a quiet life. To be quiet and to be lazy are two different things. Modern technology brings us much convenience: we have lifts going up the stairs; we have cars going out for shopping. We seem to have more developed brains, but our arms and legs deteriorate; this is degradation. A man who knows the way to good health lives a simple and easy life. Ancient Chinese people knelt to sit; this is good for both physical and mental health. We are doing the wrong thing now, sitting on chairs and sofas. The soft sofa is really good and comfortable, but the hard wooden board is much better for health. We seem to live a better life, in a larger house, but we have more to worry about. In my opinion, to have a simple room for ourselves where we can sometimes sit or lie down in quietness on the floor is a good lifestyle to nourish our mind.
Whether men or women shall suffer some kinds of sicknesses: Among the middle ages, 80% to 90% shall have liver or stomach problems; among the forties and fifties, 80% to 90% shall have heart problems or high blood pressure; and most shall have some kinds of mental problems. Among the elders, more than half will have heart diseases or paralysis of parts of the body. Among the young people, six or seven people in a hundred will have weakness of the liver or kidney. Among the children, 70% to 80% shall have symptoms of digestive problems, especially in wealthy families. Some people become weak when they should be strong; some people look old when they are young. If we rely too much on the hands of a doctor, or on sports, we are too naïve.
As to eating and drinking, many experts have given us enough suggestions: our main diet shall be grains; we shall eat more fresh fruit and vegetables; we shall drink more water; we shall eat slowly; we shall avoid too much roast/ smoked food; we shall avoid too salty food; we shall avoid too oily food; we shall not have too much deep-fried food; we shall not overeat. Many people think that milk is a good source of calcium, but modern medicine also reveals that milk is the source of osteoporosis. More people think that chicken eggs are a good source of energy, but chicken eggs are the source of many long-lasting diseases. It is strange enough that only human being likes so much to eat other animals’ eggs or drink their milk. If every one of us has the chance to visit a modern chicken farm or abattoir and see with our own eyes how the chickens are raised and how they are slaughtered, I think most people would consider giving up the lifestyle of eating meats.
We can live for three days without food but only water. We can live without water for one day but not a moment without air. Our life relies on the circulation of blood and breaths; the block of breaths cause blood stagnation; blood stagnation can cause agglomeration, tumor, or cancer. Many illnesses are caused by problems of blood and breath. When there are problems with blood and breath, the liver suffers first. The way for recovery lies in the mind; with an empty mind, everything seems empty. If we take things too seriously; if we care too much about our own ideas; if we are not open-minded; if we have too many doubts about anything; if we request perfection for everything, we are giving ourselves more trouble, not only to our blood and breaths.
Health comes from three important things: good sleep, good poopoo and weewee, and good diet. Others like living conditions are associates. Among the three things, sleep shall come first. Without good digestion, we will feel uneasy sleeping at night. Second, comes a regular poopoo and weewee. Eating and drinking too much or too little will harm our stomach and digestive system that supports us with energy. With a peaceful mind, it is easier for us to have better sleep. Normally we need 7-8 hours sleep a day. If we sleep too much, we will have a dizzy head; or our eyes shall go reddish, our limbs weaker. A child may need 8-9 hours sleep; while an elder may only need 5-6 hours. We must know that we shall go to bed before 10:30 pm, or even earlier for elders. We shall not sleep in a bed and think all the time planning for tomorrow. Taking sleeping pills is never a good habit.
Let’s say some more about sleep. We should go to bed earlier, no later than eleven at night, because eleven o’clock is when Yang replaces the Yin, and it is the time for the kidney. If we have a lack of sleep this time, our kidney will dry up. When there is not enough water there, our heart will have more fire; and this causes trouble to our mind. When we are sleeping in bed, we shall avoid thinking about too many things. Let the breaths go in and out of the nose naturally, while listening to them going from rough to gentle, from long to short. As we mentioned before, like sugar melting in water. This way, it is easier for us to go to sleep. When we think too much, we may roll about on the bed and this consumes much of our energy. If we feel uneasy, we can sit for a while first, in meditation. At noon, from 11 am to 1 pm, this is the time for the Yin and it relates to our heart. If we cannot take a nap, we can sit for a while in meditation; this helps build a stronger mind. Those who have heart diseases shall pay special attention to these two time periods. When we become stronger with vitality, we shall not have problems with speedy heartbeats, diarrhea, or irregular urine. According to Huangdi Neijing, or the Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor, in spring, we shall go to bed late and get up early; we do the same in summer; in autumn, we shall go to bed early and get up early; in winter, we shall go to bed early and get up late. It is a common reason that we get up early in summer and late in winter. In the northern part of China, we need to protect ourselves from morning freeze; in the southern part, we need to avoid malaria air from mountains. We shall not sleep on our back right after meals. When we take about getting up early in the morning, we mean about three to five o’clock.
Our energy is limited and shall be distributed equally. We sleep for eight hours, work for eight hours, and rest for eight hours. Buddha says, greed for wealth, sex, good name, food, and sleep, is the five causes of hell. When we are too greedy for money, sex, reputation, good food, and sleep, we are planting seeds of hell. As a Buddhist, we shall not force ourselves to do something. We do things naturally; when we have practiced meditation for a long time, we will gain a much peaceful mind; and we shall need less sleep. When we have a regular time like this, there is no reason that we will have a serious illness.