I don’t want to make any judgement about this right now but breatharianism is intriguing, not just because going without food is remarkable in itself but because of what it implies about the nature of reality.
I met someone who claims to be a breatharian about a year ago but she didn’t talk too much about it. She didn’t want to be defined by it, it was just part of her life.
I have blogged about bretharianism, also called ‘inedia’ before; what seems a bit different about this guy, Kirby De Lanerolle. He , is that he claims to be able to teach breatharianism and he is young, handsome and more accessible to western sensibilities than people like Prahlad Jani. Kirby gave an interesting TED talk:
TED is a pretty mainstream media vehicle but it does allow non-mainstream speakers with disclaimers:
Note from TED: We’ve flagged this talk, which was filmed at an independent TEDx event, because it falls outside TED’s curatorial guidelines, by virtue of its questionable health advice. For example, it implies humans can gain adequate energy from air and sunlight instead of food, a claim which is not scientifically credible. Indeed it could cause harm if taken seriously.
What Kirby claims is beyond remarkable. He is saying that we can solve the food crisis by learning to live on air and love. There is a sense in which this is obscene; if it is possible to live without food why are people in parts of Africa starving to death? Surely something in them would have been triggered by the crisis of starvation. Kirby is either a liar, or he is one of a group of physiologically different humans who can go without food for extended amounts of time or he is telling the truth and we all have this hidden capability.
I have received notification .. that my recent 18-minute TEDx video presentation, “The War on Consciousness” (YouTube) which has at time of writing received more than 132,000 views, is to be deleted from the TEDx website because what I say in that presentation allegedly “strays well beyond the realm of reasonable science”, and because I allegedly make “non-scientific and reckless” statements about psychotropic drugs. I am fighting these charges from TED’s Science Board which in my opinion are untrue and amount to nothing more than an ideologically driven attempt to censor my work. All the indications, however, are that my presentation will be deleted some time today…
…I don’t intend to allow this bizarre transgression of my freedom of speech on the part of an institution – TED – for which I once had the highest respect, to pass without a fight…” (paraphrased)
There is more to consciousness than we suppose and the failure to investigate it means that, as individuals, we confine ourselves to the surface levels of our reality, that we don’t live fully. Collectively we see each other superficially and at this level fear each other and become cruel to each other. I don’t advocate drugs but meditation, regular and deep can help. I understand this from experience though my meditation is patchy. What I find intriguing about the video is the thought that non-material, non-human entities exist within a realm of human consciousness beyond the physical brain.
Another video I saw today and uploaded to YouTube is about Chi. It presents evidence for the reality of Chi and also points to humans being more than is alleged by the materialist reductionist world view:
What links these two videos, on chi and on consciousness, is the pointing to a spiritual vastness or depth of us all. Modern life insulates us from the profound and technology increasing pulls us into a sort of digital dream where we disconnect from each other and ourselves:
For many of us work has long been that part of our lives where we feel alienated, disconnected from meaning:
Now we voluntarily disconnect from meaning or maybe accept the artificial, vicarious experiences of meaning provided by the digital media. These media vie with our real connections to friends, family and our environment for our attention and they have the advantage of being pain free. It’s a lot easier to play a computer game where I’m a conquering hero than to get up before dawn for a morning run. It’s easier to browse through Facebook than to attempt to learn a new still or do some chores or talk about how I feel with my partner or about how she feels. As we run away from reality we become less and less connected to the spiritual and more and more connected to the machine, whether this is the machine of the corporate state or the actual digital machines.
Sometimes it feels as though someone or something wants to keep us disconnected from our higher potentials. The health activist in the following video identifies the pineal gland as the part of the brain that is responsible for us having spiritual or metaphysical experiences and she argues that contaminants such as flouride suppress its functioning:
If we were all functioning at a higher level then the world would change. There are people, institutions that would not want that kind of change and maybe they work to suppress rising consciousness. What if we accepted this as a reality or as a metaphor? What if we saw meaning in raising our level, maybe achieving just a little but aiming high, and encouraging others, everyone, to do the same? Could we, perhaps, change the world? For Good?
Prahlad Jani is a hermit who claims not to have consumed food or water since he was eight. His claims are disputed by rationalists such as Sanal Edamaruku whose Guardian article suggests that the doctors studying this phenomenon are either not very bright or are colluding in a hoax. Edamaruku has been involved in exposing hoaxes by prominent gurus but the existence of fakes does not prove the non-existence of the authentic.
Ram Bahadur Bomjan (“Buddha Boy”) is another example of this ‘extreme fasting’ phenemenon.
The documentary showing him being continuously recorded sitting in meditation without food or water for 96 hours is evidence that Ram Bomjan is doing something that contradicts what is known by medical science. The sceptical position seems to be that because it is scientifically impossible it must be a fraud.
After his initial disappearance Ram Bomjam re-emerged and now runs a successful guru practice dispensing wisdom (and scarves) as Dharma Sangha aka Palden Dorje:
Perhaps the extreme fasting abilities of Prahlad Jani and Dharma Sangha are clues (rather big clues) that meditation works and that it is possible to transcend the limits of physical laws. Sceptics and ‘realists’ will insist that since physical laws cannot be transcended the inedia phenemenon must be a scam but I am prepared to provisionally accept its authenticity on the basis of this evidence. Whether the phenomenon, these psychic accomplishments, point to spiritual enlightenment is a different matter. There is a problem with gurus but it is not the one that the sceptics are concerned about. The problem for me concerns the incongruities between the teachings and the practice of the gurus. As I read more about Dharma Sangha I found references to a scandal alleging violence, kidnapping and sexual abuse. There is an extremely interesting discussion, following an article referencing the allegations, on the Irregular Times blog.
I watched this video of a lecture by Ingo Swann. Interesting despite the limited attention span I seem to have these days. I remember reading about Swann and ‘remote viewing’ many years ago; he is one of the world’s most famous psychics. Here he reminds us that science cannot tell us how consciousness arises and cites Roger Penrose.
Penrose says that consciousness is not (only) ‘computational’ but arises from the physics of the world. I don’t understand what that means but what Penrose is saying is that science does not understand consciousness because it is looking in the wrong place; that it is a problem for physicists not biologists and computer scientists. Swann is saying science cannot understand consciousness in general and psychic phenomena in particular because they are outside the physical realm that science deals with. Mind is ‘experiential’ and is intuitively understood. Swann points us to Patanjali’s sutras and makes the point that Sanskrit is a more appropriate language in which to discuss mind because it is more experiential while English is more material. The Patanjali connection is really interesting and I need to reread the sutras.
Although Swann says that science or the scientific method cannot comprehend the mind so mind science cannot be approached by science alone he references research which he sees as indicative of psychic phenomena and predicts that defence agencies will be looking into telepathy as they looked into remote viewing in the 1970’s.