Breatharians Eat Burgers in the 5th Dimension

Can you live on air and sunlight alone? Are cows 5th Dimensional beings? Is Pepsi the official cola of the Breatharian movement? Let's dive in...
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jolie is about 90% caffeine, always up for watching supernatural or psychological horror movies, and she's a little overambitious when it comes to learning.
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Inedia (Latin for 'fasting') or breatharianism /brɛθˈɛəriənɪzəm/ is the delusion that it is possible for a person to live without consuming food, and in some cases water.

Inedia Wiki

Religious Asceticism

Fasting is a common element of a lot of religions and practices range from giving up food for a period of time during the day and eating at night to complete deprivation of specific comforts. Beyond what we consider “normal” religious fasting practice, there are practicing ascetics in most religious systems (ascetics are people who maintain long periods of deprivation from various creature comforts, whether it be food, clothes, socialization, or living in a home).

The vast majority of religious fasting practices are safe for a healthy adult and are not considered related to any mental illness. There is also no solid psychological proof of these practices negatively impacting the emotional or mental health of practitioners who haven’t experienced previous disordered eating or issues with negative self-worth. Like all things, it can be done in a healthy, positive, and spiritually impactful way or it can be done dangerously. My goal here isn’t to suggest that all asceticism and fasting is ignorant or risky, but that it certainly can invite neuroses and disordered health practices in people who may already be struggling with their social and spiritual identity, value system, or body image.

The religious asceticism we’ll focus on are primarily of Indian and Abrahamic traditions as those seem to form the primary (albeit misinformed) inspiration for current New Age Breatharian practices.

Gallery of Ascetic Practices

History of Disordered Eating

Victorian Fasting Girls

The 19th century saw a phenomenon of young teenagers girls abstaining from food and often claiming religious powers associated with a gift for not having to eat to survive. Several notable cases include obvious fraud, but the vast majority of historians and psychologists believe this was an early incarnation of what we now consider anorexia nervosa.

Cornell Professor Emerita Joan Jacob Brumberg says food and eating were loaded with negative meanings in the Victorian era, especially for girls of upper and middle classes. Food symbolized sexuality and lack of self-restraint. The fasting girls took pride of their control of the body and its processes – even boasting of infrequency of bowel movements or the absense of menstruation. Meat in particular was thought to be a carnal food, so much so that if girls menstruation hadn’t occurred by 16 or 17, a doctor would instruct the girl’s mother to add meat to the diet. Furthermore, a slim body meant distance from the working class; to be called robust was an insult. Greater affluence and and enmeshment with parents was considered characteristic of anorexic families. Anger, marital pressure, lack of control is believed to have instigated the fasting. Girls who didn’t eat had the power to interrupt and disrupt family with their increased need for attention, so the fasting was used as a social and emotional instrument.

Moving into Modern Times

The earliest boon to anorexia nervosa was the invention of the private bathroom and the increased accessibility of lights, mirrors, and scales. Previously, it would be difficult to hide an eating disorder if you had to, lets say, puke in a chamberpot, it would be difficult to hide that you weren’t eating if your meals were all had at a dinner table with your family, but a private bathroom added the luxury of hiding your methods. Furthermore, scales were previously only available at gymnasiums, pharmacies, and feed stores. You can see old pictures of women in line to weigh themselves on commercial scales next to big bags of grain. Even up to the 1960s, most doctors had never even heard of Anorexia Nervosa, let alone diagnosed anyone with it.

 

Appetite and control disorders became more and more rampant with the invention of the moving pictures. Magazines began focusing less on good works and more on good looks, stressing the importance of an “ideal” body, whatever that happened to be at the time. As movies and television became more accessible to the masses, that body ideal increasingly leaned more towards waifish. The 70s and 80s saw fad diets and ritualized exercise added to disordered eating. If a Victorian woman was seen running through a park for an hour for absolutely no reason, she would likely be locked away, but now people were being encouraged to try new exercise routines, to get slimmer, “healthier”…to be happier with themselves through what one might consider ascetic rituals. 

Michelle Pfeiffer's Breatharian Moment

Michelle Pfeiffer has admitted to being a member of the Breatharians for a brief time in the late 70s after it was pitched as a solution to keeping a thin figure. Anorexia and drug abuse is known as a common practice for becoming or staying skinny in Hollywood’s demanding, shallow, and abusive circuit. The Breatharians were ‘sort of personal trainers’ who put her ‘on a diet that nobody can adhere to’ and ‘thoroughly brainwashed’ her, she said. Pfeiffer, then a struggling actress in her 20s, had yet to get her big break and was looking for ways to stay competitive.  She began helping her then-husband Peter Horton do research for a film on the notorious cult The Moonies. ‘I was helping him to do research on this cult and I realized I was in one!’

Instead, convinced that their regime of hardcore fasting and mysticism would keep her slim and expand her spiritual horizons, she would visit them three times a week — as they gradually emptied her bank account with their incessant demands for fees. They persuaded her to become a vegetarian via ‘fruitarianism’ (eating only fruit) as a first step towards the goal of full Breatharianism — living on the supposed nutrients in air and light. The actress wanted to leave the group, but they convinced her that she wouldn’t be able to survive without them.

She would later go on to lose a frightening amount of weight during the filming of 1983’s Scarface, where she played the role of Elvira Hancock, the cocaine-addicted wife of mob-boss Tony Montana. Of-FUCKING-course, a movie where she lost so much weight the film crew would constantly try to feed her (for fear that she would die on set) was her big break.  Hollywood. 

(Source)

Karen Carpenter:
First Celebrity Death Due to Anorexia

Karen Carpenter - Died from Complications of Anorexia

It’s not shocking that I’m going to talk about the very publicized death of Karen Carpenter in 1983. Karen was half of the duo The Carpenters along with her brother, Richard. Her battle with eating disorders and subsequent death due to complications from anorexia and long-term ipecac* use put a spotlight on anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and disordered eating in general.

*Ipecac is a medication once used to rapidly induce forceful vomiting in cases of poisoning, also known to weaken the muscles of the heart in long term use – no longer in use by medical professionals due to the risks involved and that it is less effective than activated charcoal.

Karen Carpenter has been hailed as a master of her craft.  An accomplished percussionist with a dulcet contralto voice, she and her brother were poster children for the soft-rock movement.  While most think of her songs as uplifting and charming, I honestly think every song she sang sounds tinged with unfathomable sadness. 

Her history with eating disorders started where most people start when they want to feel better about themselves…diet and exercise.  Shortly out of high school, she felt like she needed to lose weight so she started eating healthier, doing more exercise, and just paying attention to how she was treating her body. For a while, she was doing really well, and you can see in images from that time that, while she was naturally lithe and petite in frame, she looked healthy and fit.  (I also think she looked healthy when she was, as she put it, “chubby”, but that’s besides the point.)  

Her career started taking off which meant long months of touring, late nights, and limited options for healthy foods.  She started to notice weight gain in videos and pictures in magazines, noting her “paunch” and her “double chin” (again, literally doesn’t exist in those photos, but that’s what body dysmorphia and a career in an image-driven industry does to you). She began working out and stopped eating late at night and found that she was losing weight and people were congratulating her for it.  This quickly became an obsession with workouts getting more intense and food intake steadily decreasing. 

By the late 70s her audiences would audibly gasp when she walked on stage in her slinky dresses that showed off her weight loss.  There were rumours that she had cancer or any number of other illnesses.  In the interview below, the journalist directly asks about her “slimmers” disease and you can see Karen and Richard brusque at it, immediately saying it’s an inappropriate question and stating that she never had an eating disorder and just was exhausted from constant touring.  She also mentioned in other interviews that her weight loss was a result of not liking to eat right before performances (due to the feeling of bloat affecting her singing) and also not liking to eat late at night (typically when shows were finished).

Her death would lead to many actresses in the entertainment business admitting to engaging in similar practices to maintain an “ideal” physique, some of them even doing PSAs and made-for-tv movies about struggling with this secretive and dangerous illness. The movies would often include scenes showcasing the different methods of hiding the practices common in these disorders, which included everything from obsessively exercising and counting caloric intake to eating “normally” with the family only to purge into plastic bags and hide them under the bed. Anorexia and Bulimia are now known as the most deadly of all mental illnesses,  with an incredibly horrific mortality rate of 10%.  Death can be caused by extreme malnutrition, dehydration, weakening of the internal organs, or, in the case of bulimia, esophageal tearing or rupturing of the stomach during a binge.  

lead large
90s waif icon Kate Moss poses for Calvin Klein and the fashion industry sets an impossible standard of beauty for many girls and women.

The 90s saw a continued production of PSAs and Lifetime style movies directed at educating people on how to recognize if someone close to you was struggling with disordered eating. While it’s good for laypeople to be able to spot signs and act on them, the other side of the coin was that young girls were getting the “best practices” of hiding their illnesses. Some would even attend support groups to learn how to approach anorexia without getting caught. According to Professor Brumberg, who I mentioned with the Victorian Fasting Girls, we have inadvertently created information environment among very young girls, providing information on the practice of the illness – almost like a how to.

Social and Cultural Influences

10-20% of American college women report eating disorders. The illness is spread across class and ethnic groups with the majority of sufferers being white. Additionally, social class and affluence trumps race and family history with anorexia. Previously, if people of color were diagnosed with eating disorders, they were in a higher tax bracket, as the further you move up the ladder, the more pressure to fit into an ideal, the more your risk of developing a disordered eating illness increases. Due to the pressure of maintaining status being a trigger, it should surprise no one that there are more eating disorders in ivy league schools.

The age range is getting both earlier and later in life (adult onset, young girls), more young men are becoming affected (bodily perfection ideals, appears to be more in gay community – that being said, patriarchal aversion to appearing “weak” would make it difficult for men to seek help so these statistics are tricky to nail down), there is also more globalization with Eastern cultures seeing more cases of Anorexia and Bulimia. According to studies, if you know someone with eating disorder you are more likely to develop one yourself.

Widespread internet availability has offered pro-ana (pro anorexia) and pro-mia (pro bulimia) sites a private space – offering ideology and support among fellow sufferers, existing as a kind of supportive social environment, even if that support is dangerous and destructive. Furthermore, the changing experience of recovery treatment has also incentivized anorexia for some sufferers. Instead of the previous methods of force feeding and isolation, current treatment is more collectivized and social – providing opportunities to forge new solidarity, collectivity, and identity for better or worse. 

A lot of researchers are now more interested in studying the social, cultural, and class triggers for eating disorders instead of the idea of Anorexia being purely internal and all about being thin.

Psychology of
Asceticism & Anorexia

Religious Fasting as a Warmup for Anorexia

There are many studies about religious beliefs as an influencing factor in mental health, and, to be fair, none of the professionals seem to have any concrete answers. While religious fasting can be deemed as aiding in the mental health of individuals who are already quite comfortable with themselves and don’t perceive their religion as guilt-inducing, the opposite can be true as well. One thing I did learn is that religious fasting such as Ramadan has been known to trigger disordered eating especially in young girls. The thought process is, oh, I survived this fasting period, I can totally keep doing it. 

Some patients’ religious beliefs have a detrimental effect, as they talk about their disease in moral language, deeming that they have sinned against God and must punish themselves by starvation in order to atone. Often patients may show a disordered grasp of Christian theology twisting it to fit to their own feeling of inadequacy and guilt and giving them an excuse to fast; one paper even noted that as BMI decreased, religious fervor and asceticism increased.
-Research by Dr. Alexandra Pittock

OCD & Eating Disorders

There is a commonly held belief among professionals that if a person is not fasting in the hopes of being skinny then it doesn’t qualify as anorexia nervosa, which kind of floors me, to be honest. Disordered eating doesn’t always include a desire to be thin, in fact, for some, the body is just a representation of how well you’re limiting your food. The obsession with being thin can be thought of as a symptom, not always the root cause.

“Ever since 1939 researchers have speculated on the parallels between OCD and eating disorders. Numerous studies have now shown that those with eating disorders have statistically higher rates of OCD (11% – 69%), and vice versa (10% – 17%). As recently as 2004, Kaye, et al., reported that 64% of individuals with eating disorders also possess at least one anxiety disorder, and 41% of these individuals have OCD in particular.

 

In the cases of both anorexia and bulimia, obsessions lead to levels of anxiety that can only be reduced by ritualistic compulsions. The compulsive behaviors of anorexics can often be seen in their careful procedures of selecting, buying, preparing, cooking, ornamenting, and eventually consuming food. Just as with OCD, compulsions are commonly strengthened by many other personality traits, such as uncertainty, meticulousness rigidity, and perfectionism (Yaryura-Tobiast al. 2001). Anorexics also often exhibit overvalued ideation, cognitive distortions, such as all-or-none thinking, and attempts to gain control of their environment.”

The Relationship Between Eating Disorders and OCD

The Rise of "Healthy" Eating Disorders

Orthorexia is a fairly new eating disorder centered upon the neurotic obsession with “healthy” eating, exercise, and ritualistic approach to food. While doctors are not currently terribly worried about the potential for mortality with orthorexia, it can almost be considered the “gateway” to more dangerous disordered eating behaviors.  Furthermore, the obsession with “healthy” or “clean” eating can create restrictions that do cause similar effects as anorexia, with malnutrition and extreme weight loss. 

Signs of orthorexia include:

  • A fixation over the quality of food: This is really at the core of orthorexia. Individuals living with orthorexia are extremely focused – and often obsessive – over the quality and purity of their food. The quantity of food is typically less important than that quality.
  • Inflexible eating patterns: Someone with orthorexia is likely incredibly rigid with their food consumption. Anything considered by the individual to be “bad” or “unhealthy” will likely be avoided.
  • Severe emotional turmoil if “rules” are broken: If someone strays from their rigid eating patterns, or from their strict self-prescribed exercise regimen, severe anxiety, distress, shame, guilt and/or depression typically follow.
  • Cutting out entire food groups: Elimination of entire food groups is a common occurrence for this population of people, commonly including processed foods, sugar, meat, dairy products, carbohydrates and/or gluten.
  • Constant worry about sickness or disease: Back to the whole “good” versus “bad” foods – many individuals with orthorexia believe they will fall ill if they consume foods that are not “whole” or “clean” often considering these foods to be “poison.” To them, the risk of these foods causing sickness or diseases – although mostly unfounded – far outweighs eating that specific food.
  • Anxiety simply being around certain foods: Someone with orthorexia might feel an intense need to separate themselves from their forbidden foods. Unfortunately, isolating is a common avoidance technique for those with orthorexia–skipping social events that will have “fear foods”—often leading to depression and intensified thought disturbances and behaviors.
  • This condition isn’t typically driven by poor body image: While individuals with anorexia might exhibit similar patterns of restriction, orthorexia isn’t necessarily rooted in obsessions over appearance or efforts to lose weight. orthorexia is entrenched in the need to eat or be “healthy.”
  • Loss of weight: Although weight is not necessarily a clinical marker of orthorexia, some cases do involve weight loss. An orthorexia diet is an unintentionally unbalanced diet that often results in malnutrition.
Related  Family Vloggers & Instagrammable Child Labor

8 Warning Signs of Orthorexia

The Purity Obsession

Observing the great changes over time and the differentiation in cleaning customs in the different social classes, Vigarello affirms that the history of cleanliness is primarily a social history. Similarly, Camporesi considered that both personal and public hygiene are culturally influenced. The sociologist Norbert Elias (1978) argues that the 'threshold of repugnance' is variable through historic periods and cultures; that is, what is accepted at a certain time or in a certain culture can be repulsive in another time and in another culture. ... Within the same culture and in the same historical period, the sensitivity to smell and dirt can be different for specific social classes. ... The historian Corbin pointed out that the olfactory sensibility—strongly linked to disgust—changed over time and that during the 18th and 19th centuries a sort of deodorization arose, i.e. the tendency to fight bad smells. That 'olfactory silence’ of life environment marked social classes’ differences: the poor would stink while the elites sought spaces cleansed of smells (e.g. they aerated the room after the permanence of servants, farmers, or factory workers). Similarly, the social stratification in modern societies differentiates practices of hygiene and anxieties concerning health.

-Guiseppina Speltini and Stefano Passini

There is a strong link in asceticism and anorexia in “becoming pure”.

For religious asceticism, food is often considered “carnal”, and cleansing the body of food during a fast would also cleanse the spirit of sins and weaknesses. In religious context, purity can mean a lot of things, but it tends to derive from the desire to avoid carnal pleasures in a way that would make the eternal spirit of an individual impure. Gluttony is as common a concern as lust when it comes to Christians. In Hindi and Buddhist ascetic traditions, it is thought that by avoiding sensual pleasures either moderately, as in Hindi traditions of minimalism of possessions with an emphasis on ethical living, or in extremes, as in some Buddhist traditions, you could reach a higher state of spiritual enlightenment. Extreme asceticism in the early Mahayana traditions of Chinese Buddhists included the practice of voluntary starvation and self-mummification of monks in the thought that by releasing their body they would ascend to a higher form of enlightenment. One of the most intense practices of asceticism is found in Jainism, where ascetic life may include nakedness symbolizing non-possession of even clothes, fasting, body mortification, penance and other austerities, in order to burn away past karma and stop producing new karma, both of which are believed in Jainism to be essential for reaching siddha and moksha (liberation from rebirths, salvation).

There is a lot to be said also about the “Pro-Ana” communities co-opting religious ideology and sayings, even so much as thinking of Ana as a separate, god-like entity that must be respected and obeyed. Ana communities have their own 10 Commandments which include statements like “thou shalt not eat without feeling guilty” and “being thin and not eating are signs of true will power and success.” There is a particular emphasis on punishment, guilt, and food is seen almost as a type of sin or temptation to avoid at all cost. They also have a version of the Apostle’s Creed.

I believe in God,
the Father Almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
He descended into hell;
on the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from there He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Holy Catholic Church,
the communion of Saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.

I believe in control, the only force mighty enough to bring order in the chaos that is my world.
I believe that I am the most vile, worthless and useless person ever to have existed on this planet, and that I am totally unworthy of anyone’s time and attention.
I believe that other people who tell me differently are idiots.
If they could see how I really am, then they would hate me almost as much as I do.
I believe in oughts, musts and shoulds as unbreakable laws to determine my daily behavior.
I believe in perfection and strive to attain it.
I believe in salvation through starvation.
I believe in calorie counters as the as the inspired word of God, and memorize them accordingly.
I believe in bathroom scales as an indicator of my daily successes and failures.
I believe in hell, ‘cause sometimes I think I live in it.
I believe in a wholly black and white world, the losing of weight, recrimination for sins, the abnegation of the body and a life ever fasting.

bfd
Nivea...I mean, who the fuck approved this.

“Concerns about purity could have to do with physical purity, like disgust or cleansing, but also a kind of spiritual purity — things like treating the body like a temple instead of a playground, resisting our lower carnal desires in favor of a higher, divine nature,” Graham says. “It has a spiritual-moral dimension to it, but it’s not necessarily explicitly religious.”

235 participants engaged in a behavioral study wherein they were asked to rate the morality or immorality of several actions. After rating the actions, they were told they either matched closely or didn’t match another participant and then asked how near to the participant they would be comfortable sitting. They were also asked how willing they would be to accept the participant into their community on a scale of 1 (“I would be happy to have them marry into my family”) to 6 (“I would want them to leave the country.”)

Participants were randomly assigned to hear that another person scored similarly to them except on the issue of one of the five moral concerns (care, fairness, loyalty, authority, purity). Of the five, purity provoked the strongest divisions: Those in the purity condition wanted to keep as much physical and social distance from the offending person as possible.

-Purity Homophily in Social Networks

Man cannot live on air alone...right?

A 1999 Guardian article about the five deaths related to the teachings of Jasmuheen had this to say:

Experts differ as to the absolute maximum length of time that human life can continue without water, but the broad consensus rests at somewhere between seven and 10 days – though severe dehydration and confusion (due to the build-up of sodium and potassium in the brain) would set in sooner. In the desert, of course, lack of water can kill in a matter of hours.

“It depends on the climate, and how much exercise you’re taking, but if you’re lying in bed you would probably be just about all right for a week,” says Dr Charles Clarke, who specialises in high-altitude survival medicine and has accompanied the climber Chris Bonington on expeditions to Mount Everest. “But towards the end of the first week, you’d become pretty gravely ill. Your blood would become thicker, your kidneys can’t cope; multiple organ failure follows, you get hypothermic and eventually you die.”

As a personal aside, on his deathbed, my grandfather lived about two weeks with no food or water, as he consistently refused both, even fighting us off when we tried to give him hydration. He was frail at that point and still managed to live well past the accepted notion of 4 days before potential death. He was also in and out of some state of consciousness until around day 12, so I can imagine that a healthy adult might still be able to be present with that level of dehydration.

Some examples of living past predictions with severe starvation and dehydration:

  • Andreas Mihavecz, an 18-year-old Austrian man, may have survived the longest without drinking water: Police accidentally left him in a holding cell for 18 days in 1979. It’s a fuzzy record, though, since he allegedly licked condensation off the walls of the prison.
  • Survival without food is also difficult to pin down, perhaps even more so because of the range of body types. If you are large, you are likely to live longer on your fat reserves. Mahatma Gandhi lived 21 days during his fast for Indian liberation from British Colonial Forces. But the longest-lasting hunger strike in recorded history was undertaken by an Irish political prisoner, Terence MacSwiney, whose 74-day strike ended with his death in 1920.
After the starvation period ends, it’s dangerous to eat without carefully monitoring intake as the starved body can retain too much sodium, causing rapid fluid accumulation and heart failure. Breaking a period of no fluids is similarly dangerous, the most common issue being cerebral edema. There are many cases of people doing intentional or unintentional dry fasts, breaking the fast with a lot of water, and immediately suffering a stroke and death.

The Breatharian Movement

New Age Spirituality:
Cannibalistic & Capitalistic

New Age Nonsense
Man, this has been depressing. Let's cleanse the palate with some white people whitin' around like they own every religion in the world.

New Agers are, as one might expect, overwhelmingly white, educated, and female, but surprisingly, the majority of them make less than 30k per year. That being said, New Age belief systems are gaining traction with people of color choosing witchcraft and pagan practices that intermingle with New Age woo more and more. I don’t have much to add that hasn’t been said by smarter people with bigger word stuffs than me is having, so have a bunch of quote-things. (Source)

Cosmological hybridization, a process in which spiritual paradises are bound together, is highly active in American religious culture. Beginning with an early Christianized version of the Buddha, this religious Creolization gathered speed after WWII and peaked during the Vietnam War, leading to a complex spiritual revolution in which transcendence became an all important orientation. This revolution set the scene for the emergence of a non-relational transpersonal psychology in which Americanized nondualism gained ascendency. It is argued here that popular New Age transpersonalism traps the spirit, breeding a self-serving, Self -as- everything form of spiritual narcissism. Some are calling the New Age the religion of global capitalism.
-Gregg Lahood

One of the most contentious aspects of the New Age has been its adoption of spiritual ideas and practises from… how do I put this, various brown and black peoples. New agers are basically walking around the religion store and pocketing practices with absolutely no consideration of the culture they are misappropriating.  The argument is that “knowledge is free and spirituality is for everyone” but they don’t much care to steal white and western practices, they mostly keep to the “exotic” practices of other races. It’s not surprising that practitioners have been accused of cultural imperialism and abuse of sacred traditions. These have included “Hawaiian Kahuna magic, Australian Aboriginal dream-working, South American Amerindian ayahuasca and San Pedro ceremony, Hindu Ayurveda and yoga, and Chinese Feng Shui, Qi Gong, and Tai Chi.

(Meme) White New Agers - Tai Chi, Buddhism, Hinduism, Native American Practices - "Is this my culture?"

Indigenous leaders have spoken out against individuals from within their own communities who may go out into the world to become a “white man’s shaman,” and any “who are prostituting our spiritual ways for their own selfish gain, with no regard for the spiritual well-being of the people as a whole”. The term “plastic shaman” or “plastic medicine people” has been applied to outsiders who identify themselves as shamans, holy people, or other traditional spiritual leaders, but who have no genuine connection to the traditions or cultures they claim to represent.

Practices of New Age spiritual thinkers align themselves with consumptive behaviour by secularising, homogenising and over‐simplifying scientific, social scientific and traditional religious discourse and practices into “social products” for consumption. New Age spiritual thinkers are engaged in a process that could be described as the “consumption of the self”. Consumer society requires New Age “technologies of the self” to be continually redefined, restructured and repackaged in new and different forms.
-Consuming the Self: New Age Spirituality as “Social Product” in Consumer Society, by Jennifer Rindfleish

Modern Inedia Practices

Breatharianism

Breatharian Instagrammer Audra Bear in a Sunlit Field
Breatharian Audra Bear - pictured here enjoying her lunch, I presume.
  • Belief popularized in the early 80s that a human can live without food or drink, surviving only on “pranic light”, a Hindu concept of universal life force that permeates all things including inanimate objects. Sometimes prana is described as originating from the sun and connecting the elements. (Source)
  • Pranayama in yoga is the practice of breath control through specific breathing patterns, usually in combination with yoga poses and meditations.
  • Similar concepts exist in various cultures, including the Latin anima (“breath”, “vital force”, “animating principle”), Islamic and Sufic ruh, the Greek pneuma, the Chinese qi, the Polynesian mana, the Amerindian orenda, the German od, and the Hebrew ruah. Prana is also described as subtle energy or life force.
  • Pranic light in the Breatharian belief system is believed to be channeled information from the universe. The “science” primarily involves a fundamental misunderstanding of photosynthesis, the belief that “energy” can be harnessed to fuel the body, and that you can “ascend” to a higher state of consciousness the less food you eat.
  • Plants are typically used as an example of how energy can be harvested from the environment around you. What they don’t seem to understand is that plants don’t even subside only on light, but have to have soil with vital nutrients and moisture. Even air plants need to be fertilized and watered to live.
  • Frequently but not always involves sungazing, a similar practice and belief system.
  • Workshops and retreats are commonly held to “initiate” people into the practice, costing literally thousands of dollars for a 10-day retreat where very little to no real food is provided.
  • Many leaders in the movement have been caught purchasing food and eating in restaurants despite claims of subsisting only on air and universal energy for years. When confronting, the excuse seems to be “but I don’t need to eat, I just want to.”
  • One scientist stated “they are either lying or dying.”

Sungazing

US President Donald Trump Looking Directly at the Eclipse
President Donald Trump becoming "enlightened" during the 2017 full eclipse.
  • Sungazing is the practice of forgoing food and relying on staring directly at the sun in the expectation of receiving all the energy you need.
  • Obviously, this is horrifically dangerous for your eyes, not to mention your skin. The practitioners of “sun eating” often experience retinopathy, pterygium, cataracts, and blindness.
  • Even staring at a solar eclipse, which is a much shorter experience, causes the eye to be exposed to dangerous levels of Ultraviolet Radiation.
  • William Horatio Bates introduced it to western audiences in 1920 as a treatment for myopia which is near-sidedness (…ummm…wot.) Regardless, people continued practicing to some degree and sungazing has recently seen a resurgence in practitioners due to Breatharianism’s resurgence in the 90s by charlatan and noted liar Jasmuheen.
  • Leaders in the movement have proposed sungazing as a solution to world hunger, which, I guess if you die you’re not hungry anymore…so they have us on a technicality.

I’m mainly focused on Breatharians for this episode, so I’m going to list some random tidbits here about Sungazers and their claims instead of tying it in with the Breatharians. 

Also, I hate that I have to say this, but maybe don’t listen to people who tell you to stare at the sun.  They are spoon people. They shouldn’t be trusted with forks and knives, so I guess it’s a risk mitigation to not eat.

Sungazer Group
...spoon people.

Here are some common claims about the benefits of sungazing. 

  • Enhanced production of melatonin and serotonin. This happens when you are exposed to light regardless of whether your eyes are directed at the sun or not. Circadian rhythms are controlled by light and they determine how much hormonal stimulation you receive in regards to melatonin and cortisol. In the morning, your brain produces cortisol to get you up and moving and in the evening it produces melatonin to make you sleep.
  • Increased pineal size. A direct quote “Bombarded by fluoride, toxins and electromagnetic pollution, the pineal gland shrinks and calcifies as we age – compromising melatonin and serotonin production. Sungazing has been shown to enlarge the gland. Brain scans of a long-term, 70-year-old practitioner revealed a pineal gland three times the size of an average man.” From what I can tell with absolutely no medical training and no direct link to where they are getting that example, the study they are referencing was in regard to a man with a pineal mass that caused hydrocephalus and was related to metastatic prostatic adenocarcinoma (a type of prostate cancer typically requiring radical prostatectomy). The mass largely replaced his actual pineal gland and his pineal gland showed extensive necrosis. This was fascinating not because OMG HE GREW HIS PINEAL GLAND (cuz, ya know, he didn’t, he grew a cancerous tumour where his pineal gland should be) but because it proved that cancer from the prostate could travel and end up in the brain (which rarely happens). Basically, the man wasn’t healthy and this shouldn’t be something to shoot for. Also, there’s literally no mention of sungazing, just radiation therapy, which I guess could be considered the same thing but it’s a reach. (Source)
  • Sungazers report heightened vitality. Dr. Group believes this is due to the release of melatonin and serotonin. Sungazing also curbs the appetite and aids in weight reduction. When we don’t receive enough sunlight, vitamin D levels drop which leads to weight gain. Cravings for carbohydrates and sugar also increase due to low serotonin, triggering false hunger signals.” You receive vitamin d through sunlight exposure of skin, not your eyeballs. Furthermore, it’s a type of vitamin d synthesis, meaning you are processing the food you eat that has vit-d2 in it (typically) and making that into bioavailable vit-d3…you have to eat for this shit to happen, it’s not magic. This is what you do for lots of species of reptile, too. They need to be under UV to be able to process the nutrients in their food, not to create nutrition from radiation, you daft fuckers.
  • Some folks like to point to humans bioluminescence and use of biophotons, optical or uv photons emitted by living cells, as an explanation for how we could harness the sun as a source of energy…which is stupid as shit, to be honest. Our body’s use of biophotons is not the same as photosynthesis and seems to be more related to our neurons communication with each other as, based on my understanding which is admittedly limited, biophotons help carry energy across cell surfaces…they don’t create energy in and of themselves. Furthermore, plants and animals that harness photosynthesis can’t get by on just light…they have a method of ingesting nutrients called FUCKING ROOTS I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M PUTTING THIS IN A BLOG ENTRY FOR ADULTS. There is a type of sea-snail (could be a river snail, I can’t remember) that is able to use photosynthesis…because it eats algae.  These people are so dumb I can’t even. (Source)
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Meet the Players

Wiley Brooks

It was challenging for me to find any definitive word on whether Wiley Brooks is still alive or not, but if he’s alive, he would be around 83 or 84.  To be honest, Wiley is sort of low hanging fruit, but because he originated the Breatharian movement in the west and seems to still have a loyal following, to some degree, I’m going to talk about him. I will include some of his personal statements and writing which, in my unprofessional opinion, shows he’s clearly suffering from some sort of mental illness and quite paranoid, which is a hallmark for pretty much all cult leaders. He even goes so far as to say the Illuminati are after him because he is telling people the truth. It’s actually just very sad, if you think about it compassionately, considering that he was a successful sound engineer and quite charismatic, attractive, and passionate before these delusions started taking over. He could have done any number of things with his life and talents, but he ended up spending the last part of his years renting a small bedroom of a house otherwise in pretty complete isolation and fear for his safety and begging strangers on the internet for money.

So, anyway, he said he used to own recording studios and was a sound engineer for acts such as Jimi Hendrix, Iron Maiden, and Led Zepplin. When Jimi overdosed and passed away in 1970, Wiley became obsessed with avoiding death and illness. He says “most of the people who knew about this sort of thing (ie. the meaning of life, why death exists, where we go after) always fasted,” which led him to try fasting for himself. After fasting for ten days, he found he had more energy and clarity of mind. He tells a story of going to muscle beach shortly after the fast and, after seeing the body-builders working out, he decided he wanted to see how much he could lift and as he put on the plates, he says they felt lighter and lighter. Despite claiming to not be able to lift more than 50 pounds before the fast, he quickly began training as a power-lifter with a personal record of lifting 1100 pounds.

He claimed in a 1981 interview that he hadn’t eaten in 17 years, only taking in the occasional fruit juice and water. In the interview, which is truly embarrassing as the journalist is just constantly low-key mocking him, he states that if a mother was a breatharian, she could avoid feeding her child any food because she had changed her DNA which had transferred to the child in utero. He makes the statement that belief creates reality; people think they must get old so they age and they say they need food or they will die and they make it so. “The human body was created in perfection by the creator, all that we have done to it is take it from the perfect state to a lower point of consciousness.” Around the time of this interview, ten Irish Republican nationalists who were imprisoned for waging a “low level war” against the tyranny of British rule and who later participated in a hunger strike in protest of the inhumane treatment they received in prison died after 74 days of starvation. When asked why, if it was possible to live without food and water, these prisoners died, he said “they died because they wanted to die.” You can watch the interview in full below. 

To be fair, he makes it a point to warn that he doesn’t think people should just stop eating, nor does he think Breatharianism is a good fit for all people.  The problem is that it’s suggested that a Breatharian exists in a state of superior physicality and spirituality.  A Breatharian is evolved, no longer fully relying on food to exist, becoming a more perfect example of existing as a spiritual being in harmony with the vibrations of the universe. It doesn’t matter to me when someone says “it isn’t for everyone” if they also suggest a higher level of consciousness in practitioners of whatever nonsense they are peddling, they are placating to a level of narcissism and ego and people will absolutely try anything if they think it will make them better, more enlightened, a purer being than the rest of the humans around them.   

Now, we’ll take a look at how his beliefs have morphed over the years and, frankly, just become more insane (if that’s possible). 

  • ‘My DNA came to Humanity by the means ofTHE ARK OF THE COVENANT and THE HOLY GRAIL and all of you in the World now hold this DNA in your blood. My DNA runs in your veins and I come now to enliven it.’
  • Claims to have past lives as: ADAM, ZEUS, ENOCH, JESHUA (JESUS THE CHRIST), JOSHUA, ELIJAH, JOHN THE BAPTIST, ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI, KUTHUMI, BALTHAZAR (KING OF SYRIA), MUGHAL EMPEROR SHAH JAHAN (Builder of the TaJ Mahal in Agra, India), JOSEPH SMITH AND WILLIAM MULHOLLAND. Some of those historical figures are contemporaneous, so it is kind of confusing that he could have past lives that intersect, but whatever. 
  • All McDonalds are constructed on properties that are protected by 5th Dimensional high energy/spiritual portals. As you continue to use his meditation/diet program you will start to feel the difference in the atmosphere when eating inside of a McDonalds and outside.
  • Cows are 5d beings or higher. They incarnated on the 3d Earth to provide 5d food (beef) for humans. They provide 5d food for humans by converting 3d foods into 5d flesh. Their main mission is to serve mankind by feeding you, thus helping you to return home.
  • The flesh is 5d or higher but the milk and its by-products are its 3d waste. This includes the tons of methane gas they produce every day. But when you are anchored to the 5d world even the methane gas becomes your best friend. It helps to clean up the air for you by converting free oxygen to nitrogen-dioxide. Oxygen is a very deadly substance for 5d beings. So your pollutions have really aided you in surviving to this time, while the 5d grids were being reconstructed. These grids are referred to in some religious text as “the firmament”.
  • (His training on how to live in the 5th Dimension is described as) a $200,000 gift to you from the Universe; don’t let it go to waste because of your “ANALYTICAL MIND. If you can’t get through this first level of the initiations at $200,000 what makes you think you’ll do it at the next level which is $400,000 cash. And the price keeps rising as your power progresses.”

Ellen Greves AKA Jasmuheen

Jasmuheen and her influential book “Pranic Nourishment: Living on Light”, released in 1996, rejuvenated and set the more accepted practices of the Breatharian movement as we know it today. She began in the finance industry where she learned her (admittedly impressive) business, management, and marketing skillset that would make her a successful entity in the bourgeoning New Age self-help industry. Born Ellen Greeves in New South Wales to immigrant Norwegian parents, she changed her name to Jasmuheen in 1992.

She has been in numerous woo “documentaries,” television shows, and proper exposes, but she is mostly known for a 60 Minutes episode where she was challenged to prove she could live without food and water. During the experiment, she had 24 hour supervision in a small hotel room and there were lots of precautions to make sure she couldn’t sneak food or water. After 48 hours she was displaying dangerous signs of dehydration, including spiked blood pressure, dizziness, and stress, to which she claimed she was ingesting dirty air being so close to a major road. The third day of the experiment, she was moved to a remote area but by day four it was decided that it was too dangerous, and not worth the insurance hike, I would assume, to continue the experiment. She was disoriented, her cognitive abilities were impaired, her blood pressure was dangerously high as well as her heart rate, and she lost over 14 pounds. She assured everyone she could continue the experiment but doctors doubted she would survive if they continued, as she had already lost over 10% of her body’s water content. It must also be mentioned that a house tour found her refrigerator packed with food which she claimed was for her husband, a man previously convicted of fraud. On that same trip she was caught in a lie when an airline clerk wanted to confirm her request for a vegetarian meal on her flight. While she initially said she didn’t order it, she then admitted she did but that she wasn’t planning on eating it.

The massive public humiliation didn’t seem to sway her dedication. Jasmuheen continued her workshops and retreats and her books have been linked to the deaths of five people. Her net worth is reported to be 1.2 million dollars, which is not the most ever, but also a healthy sum for a scam artist.

The Cult Information Center has mentioned numerous contact of concerned family members, stating “although Breatharianism is not strictly a cult, the centre has been monitoring its activities”. She added, “We are particularly concerned about any implication that if it doesn’t work, it is the person’s fault. That implies there is nothing wrong with the Breatharians’ teachings.”

She currently claims to live on 300 calories a day and now states that she can’t yet live without water for more than a short period of time. She states that her DNA expanded from 2 to 12 strands to take up more hydrogen. When offered $30,000 to prove her claim with a blood test, Jasmuheen stated “you cannot view spiritual energy under a microscope”. She claimed that such a challenge would be a deliberate attack on her beliefs, and that she refuses to act as an example of her alleged paranormal attributes.

Side note: the Oxford Dictionary website mentions her name as an example under the definition of ‘starve’ which made me laugh so hard I snorted.

Ray Moar

Ray Maor was born in Israel. Following a normal Israeli life, he joined the military service when he was 18 for a five year service followed by a long trip abroad that opened up his eyes to the world of spiritual development. At the age of thirty one Ray decided to take a huge leap of faith by going through a 21 day fast \ pranic initiation that changed his life forever. Now Ray is a spiritual Breatharian guide that is committed to bringing the self-empowering and spiritual development knowledge to all that is in search for a higher understanding of our reality and our divine selves.
From his self-written biography

To be honest, I can see why people follow him even if I don’t agree. He’s got a buttery voice, lots of charisma, and if you don’t know anything about science or biology, his double speak must be quite convincing. Aesthetically he’s a total poster-boy for the movement; he’s physically very attractive with a broad smile that seems genuine, long and lustrous curly hair, and his body is crazy good. Like, to be that fit he has to live in the gym and eat a lot of protein; it’s not normal fit dude good. You do not look like that on just juice and air.

He is a leader in the current Breatharian movement and appears to extensively travel, hold workshops, and host group support meetings online. Typical cost for a ten-day retreat with lodging (I would say food and lodging, but, ya know…not much of that happening here) is $2361 and, in the past, the limit of attendance was 28 people. 28 people paying $2361 comes out to around $66k. Regardless of overhead from booking, his own travel costs, and paying a fee to the local event coordinator, he still walks away with more than enough money to live a lavish lifestyle, if he so chooses. Private consultations are $450 for three sessions post initiation (not specified is the length). During initiation, clients are led on a 4 day dry fast, which, coincidentally, is just long enough to start showing some extreme symptoms of dehydration and just short enough to not cause a more dangerous response in the average healthy adult. I suspect that’s the whole point. He also shills online workshops, guided meditations, and his own book for what I assume is a nice little cushion to his overall high income. He also runs a successful YouTube channel which can provide good income through ad-revenue, but, to be fair, I have a paid account so I don’t have to see ads and can’t determine how many of his videos have ad placement or even if his videos qualify with YouTube’s weird algorithm.

He is most known for a highly publicized experiment that aired on Israeli national television (linked above with English subtitles).

A journalist documented an eight-day water/food fast in (what I consider to be) an uncontrolled environment. Ray was encouraged to participate in it because a business man invested 100k as a reward for if he made it through the 8 days. He gave the crew a tour of his home before the experiment and he showed his basically empty fridge (except for some mango and juice that he eats every day in the form of smoothies) but noticeably he didn’t show any of his cabinets…you know…where most people store food. During the tour he showed his display of crystals and other woo paraphernalia, including a type of staff he claimed was a “selfica” from Atlantean designs, because of course he believes in Atlantis. The staff was a crudely made thing with a crystal at the end and his own “copper wire work” designs around it. Looks super off-the-rack RenFaire.

The experiment was held in a small villa with a pool area and had one camera in every room. It was unclear if he was truly unable to hide in any portion of the house, but even assuming he wasn’t and he went without food or drink for that long, it’s not impossible to do and with how weak and sick he was by the end, he would have surely had some sort of intense reaction such as a stroke or heart attack shortly after the full 8 days. The doctor that checked him every day said “it has to be his body’s natural reserves and sheer willpower keeping him alive.” He later said he believed he could survive 14 days without food or water…ummm, you have claimed that you survived a full year as a breatharian, you fucking hack, so if you can get everything you need from the air, why would you only survive 14 days? Toward day five he was becoming incredibly weak and his blood pressure would go through the roof upon standing or sitting up, a normal response to that kind of starvation / dehydration. By day six his behavior was erratic, he seemed manic, and he was walking around naked. By the end, he had lost 9 kilos, and gained $100k.

His videos are challenging for me to watch and pay attention to because of the sheer level of nonsense they contain, but here are a few of the things he has said:

  • Humans are obsessed with food to the point of regularly overeating. (Which, yeah, fair. We know that’s a problem and I’m not here to argue with it.) He then says, and I’m paraphrasing, “think about it, from the time you’re born if you cry you get milk.” Here’s the thing, I know he’s not saying directly “starve your kids” but it’s super irresponsible to link feeding your children to being unhealthily obsessed with food. Children need food to grow not just physically, but for their brain to properly develop, and there is a history of people starving their kids due to their unhealthy belief systems around food, one in particular related to Breatharianism…but we’ll get to that.
  • He states that there are four levels to Breatharianism and he chose to stay on the third level because “fourth level Breatharians (no food or water ever) are typically less attractive” and he wants to be accessible. So much for ascension and ego reduction.
  • Again we see the Ghost in the Machine philosophy in action. He states, “you are a spirit in a very small human existence and as a spirit made of light you can live on light itself.”
  • He suggests that the reason we need so much water is as a result of the food we eat not being good quality, thus we need water to cleanse our bodies of toxins. He then says when we eat less (and eventually nothing at all) we don’t need as much water.
  • He states that the initiation procedure that he leads people on will teach their bodies how to live on air alone and that they will never need to repeat it once they successfully go through initiation. This, to me, signals the danger of people seeing their failure as a failure to ascend and master their spirit, not a natural reaction of their body’s need for nourishment…also seems like a good excuse to get people to do more than one retreat. Ka-ching.
  • He states that most Breatharians eat, but it’s different because it’s for fun. “DON’T JUDGE MY EATING, I DON’T NEED IT I JUST WANT IT.”
  • Oh, he says he knows another practitioner who had a really hard time during initiation, even losing his teeth in the process (common with starvation) but that after his body learned to take in air as food, HE GREW HIS TEETH BACK. I wonder if Ray knows about dentures.
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Lesser Influencers

Prahlad Jani

Indian Ascetic Monk Prahlad Jani

Prahlad Jani is an Indian monk who claims to have lived without food since 1940. Jani believes that the goddess Amba provides him a liquid sustenance or water which drops down through a hole in his palate, allowing him to live without food or drink. 

There have been two investigations of questionable methodology that “prove” he is able to survive without food and water. Independent researchers have strong doubts about the studies and no outside sources have been allowed to confirm. 

A few years ago a rash of articles came out about a “breatharian couple that lived on nothing but “universal energy” for 9 years. They also claimed that, while pregnant, Camila only ate five meals. It was later found out that they sold their story to a company called News Dog Media who packaged and sold it to news outlets. This couple also hosted initiation programs and workshops. Their video course cost around $200, and the 8 day retreat in San Francisco was $1700.

Akahi Ricardo &
Camila Castello

the feast breatharians

The Human Barbie

Valeria Lukyanova aka Human Barbie, Espoused Breatharian Ideas.

Valeria Lukyanova, more commonly referred to as “The Human Barbie,” became famous for her doll-like proportions, style, and makeup.  She has claimed to be in contact with transdimensional beings, to be an alien, and in 2014 claimed to be in the final stages of becoming a full Breatharian.  She stated that people can exist on “cosmic micro-food.”

Audra Bear is an Instafamous model, the type that will take a million photos in a bikini and likes to show off that she has a variety of workout clothes. She has gained some notoriety by peddling her ability to “live only on air” to national media sources such as ABC, HuffPo, etc. I guess she didn’t learn from the Breatharian couple. She hosts workshops and has a variety of merchandise for purchase… obviously.

Audra Bear

Instagram Model Audra Bear, Breatharian

Commonly Cited "Proof"

So, at the peak of my rage in this research, I stumbled upon a documentary and an associated website that mentioned a Chinese philosopher by the name of Ge Hong writing about a king that imprisoned a man who claimed to not need food and that man living for some insane amount of time, thus proving the theory that people don’t need food. Well, Ge Hong himself is fascinating, inspiring, and incredible to research. He invented what we call first aid methods for emergency medical treatment and he was essentially a brilliant individual. He was into a lot of different fields and seems to have been adept at all of them. This was a breath of fresh air to research…pun intended. The story they are referencing came from a compendium of Chinese characters from history, as Ge Hong called it. It was not a story of a contemporaneous king and there is no reference of it in any confirmed Chinese history, as far as I could find. In fact, the book itself hasn’t survived to any great extent, we only have bits and pieces. He’s worth researching, but this “proof” doesn’t stand up, from what I can tell.

The 1670 Rosicrucian text Comte de Gabalis attributed the practice to the physician and occultist Paracelsus (1493–1541) who was described as having lived “several years by taking only one half scrupule of Solar Quintessence”. In this book, it is also stated that “Paracelsus affirms that He has seen many of the Sages fast twenty years without eating anything whatsoever.” I think it’s kind of clear that you can’t prove this by any stretch of the imagination and the Rosicrucians weren’t working off of direct evidence.

Saint Catherine is another absolutely fascinating character that shouldn’t be considered proof of anything other than either anorexia mirabilis or an extreme stomach disorder, but is occassionally referenced by Breatharians. She was the first nun that became a doctor of the church, extremely influential and charismatic and often sent on duties of great political importance, and seems (based on my limited knowledge) to have been a genuinely giving and loving person. Her peers and parish priest were deeply concerned about her eating habits, her priest even going so far as to order her to eat properly (that’s a big deal), but she excused her inability to eat as an illness. I found no evidence that she said she didn’t need to or that she never ate. In fact, most anorexics eat to some degree, just not enough to be healthy or live for any length of time without severe injury to their internal organs. She lost the ability to swallow, lost the use of her legs, and died after suffering a major stroke at the age of 33. Not a success story, to be honest.

Louise Lateau was a mystic in the 19th century who claimed to receive the stigmata, to not need food or sleep, and went through boughts of “ecstasy” following communion. Upon investigation, a cache of food was found in a cabinet in her bedroom. She then admitted that while she didn’t sleep, she did suffer from “bouts of forgetfulness” in the night. Physicians of the time said she exhibited signs of what we now call Dissociative Identity Disorder. She was known to have several traumas in early childhood so this actually makes a lot of sense.

So, by now you might have heard a story about Nikola Tesla patenting a machine that would generate a battery powered by the natural polarity of electric energy between the sun and the earth by way of ambient electricity in the atmosphere. That is, in fact, a real thing. The problem lies in the fact that his original invention, while fucking awesome, only produces a small amount of power – one person stated it was enough to run a light bulb, a ceiling fan, and a computer. For large scale and practical use in our modern world, the antennas would have to be the size of a radio tower and probably would need a few. SOOOOO, regardless of all that, and I cannot stress this enough, just because a battery could be charged this way does not mean the human body could.

Ram Bahadur Bomjon, commonly referred to as “Buddha Boy”, is a controversial ascetic from Ratanapuri, Bara district, Nepal who gained widespread attention and media-popularity because of perceived semblances to Gautama Buddha, leading to allegations that he is a reincarnation of Gautama Buddha, which he and other monks fully deny, citing that he doesn’t have Buddha’s qualities. Bomjon has also been accused of violent attacks, rape and false imprisonment by multiple victims and witnesses. He is currently under investigation for rape, and separately for the disappearance of four of his ashram members. After his brutal assault on three villagers who claimed to be looking for food, he is reported as saying “Do you think a meditating sage will go to the court to hear a case? I took action against them as per the divine law”. He is currently under investigation for the alleged brutal rape of an 18-year-old nun that is reported to have lasted two hours. He has also been accused by his siblings of physical abuse. Western journalists are fascinated by him as he has been recorded meditating without moving for long periods of time (96 hours, one time). While his feats are an impressive show of willpower, they aren’t impossible in the least and his personality traits along with the fact that it’s not physically impossible for a healthy young man to not take food or drink for 4 days should make it clear to Breatharians that he is not a good example of their beliefs.

The Casualties

There have been five reported deaths linked specifically to Jasmuheen’s teachings and literature, but it’s really hard to say what the casualty or permanent damage rate is as Breatharianism is still socially mocked so people are less likely to admit it to loved ones. Also, a lot of “starvation” diets look like anorexia nervosa if you aren’t familiar with the differences.

One that I really want to talk about to express that this isn’t just a stupid thing an adult might do to themselves is an example of a toddler being starved to the point of almost dying by Breatharian parents. At 1.5 years old she weighed the same as an average six-month-old and was gravely ill. The parents were attempting to wean her off of food and she was on a low calorie vegan diet. Children who are old enough to not rely on breast-milk or formula are absolutely able to thrive on a vegan diet if proper education on nutrition is acquired by the parents and supplements are given, so that’s not the issue here.

The parents claimed they did not harm her intentionally and were acting in accordance to their beliefs on what was best for their child. “For example, during her interrogation, the mother has explained her view that after long-term mental and physical exercise one can achieve a stage where one can live without food or water, that one is then a so-called breatharian.”

Furthermore, Wiley Brooks has repeatedly stated that a Breatharian mother will give birth to a child that will not need food. It’s one thing for an adult to do this to themselves, it’s another thing for an adult to inflict this upon their child.

(Source)

Co-morbid Madness

Doomsday Preppers

The most surprising co-occurring belief for me was the preppers/doomsdayers that believe a breatharian lifestyle could make their end of days experiences more bearable. I mean, it makes sense. If you’re worried about not being able to feed yourself and someone says “you don’t need food”, you might latch onto that one. A quote: “How on Earth am I ever going to establish an off-grid and self-sustaining setup if I have to manage maintaining a caloric intake of at least 2000 per day?”

Planet X Townhall: breatharianism [or better: “inedia”]

Anti-Vaxx/GMO/"Toxins"

It’s not surprising that anti-vaxx and anti-GMO sentiments are high in folks who truly believe that eating food isn’t necessary, as it’s a common way to justify a distrust of food. Similarly, people who attempt a full or partial breatharian lifestyle seem to all have a history of “cleanses” and worrying about “toxins” in their food and water. Furthermore, it is claimed that to successfully become Breatharian, you must adhere to a strict “detox” regimen. People who have failed in the practice are thought to have not properly taught their bodies not to rely on the toxins in food, so, you know, its their fault.

Atlantis - Indigo Children - Aliens

Atlanteans used light as a source of energy (no way to prove that a fictional community of people did that, but whatever) and, when they left their homelands due to its destruction, they brought this light technology to humanity but it has since been lost. One of the other benefits of using light as energy was that they figured out they could subside off of nothing but light…which I don’t understand how they believe this considering that Plato’s tale of Atlantis was described as being known for it’s technologically advanced approach to agriculture. Thus, Breatharians believe that their individual consciousness is shifting and bringing about a higher global consciousness, becoming perfectly in tune with divine energies. They call themselves “lightworkers” and consider themselves “warriors of a suppressed truth.” This allows the believers to feel arrogant and bolstered in their knowledge, in my opinion, because the more people are like “ummm, no dude,” the more they feel they are in the right and acting as a warrior for a truth the masses can’t handle. Similarly, a lot of folks who prescribe to the Atlantean bullshit also believe in Indigo Children…because of course they do.

White Supremacy

I can’t help but remind people that “advanced beings” (Atlanteans, aliens, gods, etc) are depicted in New Age art as white or occasionally vaguely East Asian if they aren’t depicted as humanoid aliens. Nary a black or Mexican in sight. In fact, in The Legend of Atlantis: Return of the Lightmasters which features our girl Jasmuheen, shows an interview of Howard Menger, with the impressive job title of UFO Scientist, who says “they were golden haired people with light blue eyes, and they were 5’6″ to 6″ tall. All our bibles are directly interpreted from the original documents they brought us.” There seems to be a delineation between men who are hybrids of these advanced beings mating with Earthly women and the animalistic men native to Earth…pictured as what westerners would label “tribal” people. Furthermore, a “Christ Consciousness” is referenced often and, as we all know from Renaissance paintings, Christ was a pastey-pale, cut and six-packed, hot, white boy with rock-n-roll hair. Oh, the caucasity.

original

Multiverse

Wiley Brookes has repeatedly stated that the Breatharian’s natural home is in the 5th dimension. He believes there is the Earth that we inhabit in the 3rd dimension, but directly on top of our current dimension there are other versions of earth, one in the 4th dimension and one in the 5th. Each dimension resonates at a higher level. The Breatharians have incarnated in our world to bring us to higher levels of consciousness. He also says that everyone incarnated on the planet right now is a Breatharian, as everyone breathes…I’m so fucking confused. He then says he realized people didn’t need to avoid food to move up in frequency, he decided he needed to figure out another way to get people back to their real homes. He claims that he can teach people to move into the 5th dimensional world for the low low price of $20 million dollars. SOLD.

Sources

We do our best to give credit where it’s due, so if you see that I’ve missed an article or there’s another resource that you think would be of benefit to this list, please share in the comments! I’ve tried to put sources where I’ve actually used them in content, so these are additional sources that were used in consideration of the material but not directly quoted.

  1. The Autism of Asceticism and the Genius of the Monasteries

  2. Asceticism in the Modern World: The Religion of Self-Deprivation

  3. The Influence of Eastern Systems – Applied Jung

  4. The Dark Side of Oxytocin

  5. A Case Study of Anorexia Nervosa Driven by Religious Sacrifice

  6. Clean Eating Can Trigger Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorder

  7. Cultural Phenomena Believed to Be Associated With Orthorexia Nervosa – Opinion Study in Dutch Health Professionals

  8. Minnesota Starvation Experiment

  9. Psychology Today – Anorexia Nervosa 

  10. Reasons to Increase Food Variety in Eating Disorder Recovery

  11. Eating the Sun: Can Humans Be Hacked to Do Photosynthesis?

  12. Psychology of Asceticism
  13. Narcissism and Spiritual Materialism: The New Age Legacy

  14. Relational Spirituality, Part 1 Paradise Unbound: Cosmic Hybridity and Spiritual Narcissism in the “One Truth” of New Age Transpersonalism

  15. New Age – Psychology Wikia

  16. Ge Hong | Chinese alchemist

  17. Ge Hong – Ancestor of First Aid

  18. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy – Ge Hong 

  19. To Live as Long as Heaven and Earth: A Translation and Study of Ge Hong’s Traditions of Divine Transcendents (Taoist Classics, 2) – PDF Free Download

  20. Ascension Culture – A Temple Wild

  21. The New Age and Ascension Deception

  22. The Guardian – Let them eat air… 

  23. Parents Sentenced to 3 Months After Ideological Diet Leaves Starved Toddler Hours From Death

  24. ‘Breatharians’ Aren’t Enlightened-They’re Pushing Disordered Eating

  25. Please Do Not Attempt The Breatharian Diet, You Need Food To Live

  26. Quest for inner peace led Lani to a cruel death

  27. Three deaths linked to ‘living on air’ cult

  28. Can humans survive on air alone?

  29. Woman starves to death in spiritual quest to live on sunlight alone

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about jolie

mom, ex-dancer, jack of all trades and master of none, lover of educational pursuits

jolie has had an obsessive approach to research since she was old enough to read. recently diagnosed with add, a learning disorder commonly thought to mean you couldn’t focus on anything, she learned that her hyperfocus on topics of interest is a dead-giveaway for the disorder. while she can’t pay attention to someone talking about things that bore her, she cannot step away from things that make her brain light up even if it means other necessities are neglected (who needs water, anyway).

favorites

sushi, all animals ever (even the ones that look scary or gross), children of all ages, and every artform.

pet peeves

disrespectful people, messes, both permissive and controlling parents,  and self-absorption.

her podcast episodes
emma, co-host of the i read a thing podcast

emma

a trench coat
full of puppies
pretending to be
a person

about emma

Emma is the kind of person who googles the type of sandwich she is eating. “Cottage cheese and tomato toast” is currently in her search history. Needless to say, she is a fantastic party guest. She finds joy in the little things, like when people zoom past her for “driving too slow” only to be stopped at the same light up ahead. Grocery shopping is in her top 10 favorite things to do. She’s usually spaced out, but when she isn’t you can find her binge watching 90 day fiancé, listening to children’s music long after her children have left the room or lusting over donuts.

favorites

peach haribo, burgers, arts and crafts, & funny typos.

pet peeves

when people write “just breath” trying to sound insightful but they actually sound stupid because it’s breathE, cream cheese in sushi

her podcast episodes

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