Immortality and the Art of Strategic Impurity

Legends say the the ancient Taoist masters discovered the secrets of physical immortality.

Now, interestingly enough, immortality is achieved through ultra-clean living. You sit on a mountaintop, eliminate meat, grains and alcohol from your diet, don’t have sex, meditate for 18 hours a day and there you go. You’re immortal.

I’m assuming the dichotomy is obvious. To become immortal, you give up living. The Taoist masters will say that you only truly live when you become one with the Tao and forsake the world but they were also a pack of realists, these masters, and they acknowledged the fact that we can’t all sit on the mountain top and eat bean sprouts and contemplate the navel lint of the universe. Some of us have to work and live in cities and breed or else the cycle would not cycle and the universe would not be the universe.

Hence, the concept of strategic impurity.

It goes like this: Living in a modern society, we can not avoid all the bad stuff. But we can be strategic about what we let in. We can pay attention to what goes in and acknowledge what it may do to us.

I gave up sugar once and I’m here to tell you that quitting smoking was easier. Take a walk through the grocery store and read each label of the foods you normally buy. I guarantee that at least 95% will have sugar or corn syrup as an ingredient. So to say you will give up sugar means that you may possible need to replace 95% of what you normally eat with something else.

And as I said, I gave up sugar. Once.

Giving up nicotine means a few days of irritability, stress and nervousness. Giving up sugar can mean laying in the floor in a fetal position begging for a cookie.

Ok, I didn’t lay on the floor but I wanted to. It was sheer hell. And the aftermath wasn’t much better. If I got caught out and stopped at a convenience store for a quick snack, I was doomed. Your friend, Corporate America, knows the addictive powers of sugar and freely packs it into anything they produce. So if you want to avoid it completly, don’t stray far from the produce section of your favorite mega-mart.

Don’t get me wrong. You can live sugar free but it takes optimum planning and a good bit of cash and some, with way more time and money than me, could do it successfully. Hell, I lasted a good six months before the stress of every day living and time constraints led to the purchase of a candy bar and a soft drink.

The concept of strategic impurity is simple. You can’t live a modern life and avoid all the bad stuff. But as long as you are consciouse of what you consume then chances are it’s ok. Just be conscious of it. Avoid the impulse for the sake of impulse and pay attention to the effect certain foods have on your body.

Be responsible for your choices.

Dan Millman made several good points about many of these concepts in Way of the Peaceful Warror. I highly recommend it. It makes a beautiful point about halfway through the book on conscious choice and being responsible for your decisions.

Oh, and for the “corn syrup isn’t bad” crowd: If it has the same effect and dietary results as sugar, then it’s sugar. Sorry, logic wins.

Convert your corn to biofuel and be happy.