A scientist friend asked me, “If you could choose five people to live forever, who would they be?” He said geneticists studying sequences in our chromosomes aren’t too far from unlocking the key to deathlessness. I had some questions. For example, can my people decide to terminate if they choose to at some point? Or do they have to keep on living, even after Armageddon hits and the world is populated by cockroaches and wolves? And in what physical state will they live? Frozen as they are now? Or can they rewind to, say, a healthy 32? Or would they continue to age and decay, doomed to drag their carcasses around for time eternal?

Once we agreed on the stipulations (ideal age, can choose to terminate, must be living now), the answer to this question was easy. I chose five Buddhist lineage holders who are, in my eyes, today’s most effective guides on the path to enlightenment. He, in turn, chose Nelson Mandela (this was just before his death so it was still something to wish for) and three lineage holders of his profession—Richard Dawkins, the geographer Tony Allan, and experimental cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker. Plus himself, and, to be nice, me.

I told him that he’d reached his limit and he could leave me off the list. We are supposed to live every day as if it were our last; what happens if there isn’t any “last”? I’m not sure I want to find out. I would, however, like to spend the few decades that I (might) have left fit enough to bend my knees, to open a jar of pickles, and to enjoy the pleasures of precious human birth a bit. So I’m not past a little scientific fiddling.

It’s not just geneticists—there are a lot of people out there on this planet devoting their lives to the chemistry of living better, longer. What we eat seems to be the key factor under discussion, and longevity enthusiasts can become quite fanatical about it. Researching, I fell into a rabbit hole of theories on micronutrients, açai berries and algae powders, ancient grains, and starvation. I became mesmerized by golden-hued, bright-eyed, age-defying entrepreneurs hawking their ideologies. When I came across a video of the self-proclaimed “rock star of the superfoods and longevity world” and “renegade superfoodist” David Wolfe, who in a state of rapture talked about antelope horns and channeling androgenic and estrogenic forces, I was about to switch screens. But then he said the magic word.

The magic word is chocolate, and, Wolfe claims, the use of its main ingredient, raw cacao, may go back as far as 15,000 years. Wolfe says chocolate, particularly raw cacao, is the number one longevity food in the world. This is something I could get behind. Luckily, science supports many claims about the health benefits of cacao, which is higher in antioxidants than blueberries or green tea or red wine and is a natural source of iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, and copper. Raw cacao also contains high levels of tryptophan, phenylethylamine (the natural “love drug”), and anandamide, a neurotransmitter known for promoting the feeling of bliss.

Making your own chocolates is very easy. They take about 10 minutes to prepare. As always, quality ingredients make all the difference. You need good-quality raw cocoa powder, the price of which varies wildly. I’m all for supporting local businesses, but the health food store in my new town seems to price its goods based on the economic reality of a distant god realm. So I went online and found one-pound bags for $15. This recipe will make about 15 bonbon-sized chocolates.

  • 1/3 cup virgin coconut oil or pure cocoa butter
  • 3/4 cup cacao powder (give or take)
  • 3 tablespoons sweetener
  • Sea salt to taste (or pink Himalayan salt if you have it)

Gently melt the butter or oil, but don’t let it get too hot. Whisk in the cacao and sweetener. You can use agave, maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, whatever you like. If using stevia, add just 6 drops. With more cacao, the consistency will be soft and pliable so you can roll the mixture into balls. Let cool and serve like that. With less cacao it will be pourable. Spread the mixture out on wax paper, or use a candy mold. Let harden in the refrigerator for one hour.

You can add all kinds of other superfoods and superfood extracts to the mix: dried blueberries, bee pollen, maca (a Peruvian root that balances hormones), goji berries. You can roll your chocolates into balls and dust them with shredded coconut, cacao, or nut powders. Add chili pepper, tumeric, or cayenne for taste, and chia seeds for crunch. Add essences of raspberry or orange, or grated orange peel, or mint. You can even make ruby chocolates. My friend Claire uses homeopathic tinctures of gems like rubies and pearls. If you don’t have spare rubies, she recommends soaking rose crystals in purified water and sprinkling that into your batter. And into the rabbit hole we go.

I’m not saying chocolate will make you live longer, but it will make the living you do a little more pleasurable. As for deathlessness—this is a big subject for Vajrayana practitioners, and one that interests me a great deal. The idea is not so much about physical longevity but rather about the deathlessness of the natural wisdom mind, the longevity of our awakened state of mind. Maybe chocolate is good for that, too.

In the meantime, we can wish not only for our long lives but also for the long lives of those who came as warriors to protect the doctrine and all beings in this dark age. May they remain forever as the unchanging vajra essence.

Temple
Get Daily Dharma in your email

Start your day with a fresh perspective

Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.

Liberate this article!

You’ve read all of your free articles for the month. Subscribe now for immediate access to the magazine plus films, video dharma talks, e-books, and more.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Log in.