This was first published in the December 2002 edition of The North Texas Skeptic. I’m reposting it here for your amusement.
Finished with Thanksgiving dinner? Good. Now take a deep breath.
If you are a Breatharian you know you could have skipped the dinner and gotten by on the deep breath. You know eating and drinking is a cultural addiction passed down from generation to generation. Your parents got you hooked on food and drink early on by force feeding you until you have no choice but to continue this absurd ritual just to keep the rotting foodstuffs moving on through your body.
American Wiley Brooks seems to be leading the Breatharian cult in this country, but the idea of forsaking food and drink for life and health is not a new one. A search of the Internet turned up several notable instances of the practice:1
- Judah Mehler, Grand Rabbi, 1660-1751, ate and drank sparingly one day a week (Ripley’s Believe It or Not).
- In the 19th century Marie Frutner, a Bavarian girl, lived on water without food for 40 years (Hilton Hotema of Health Research).
- Teresa Avila, a Bavarian peasant, born 1898, took no food or water and did not sleep since 1926 (described by “Aberee 1960”).
- Caribala Dassi lived for 40 years without taking any food or water (India’s Message, 1932).
- Yand Mel, age 20, did not eat for nine years (Dr. T.Y. Gan, according to Jones H. B. et al, Am. J. Cancer, 40:243-50, 1940).
- Therese Neumann, a German nun, who passed away in 1952, did not eat for 40 years, no food, no water.
- Danalak Shumi of Marcara, India, age 18, for over one year took no food or water (the Bombay Press August 1953).
- Balayogini Sarasvati of Amma, India, lived on water only for a period of more than three years (Rosicrucian Digest, June 1959)
- A woman named Giri Bala of Bahar, West Bengal took no food nor fluid since she was 12 (described by Paramhansa Yogananda, in his book “Autobiography of a Yogi”)
Before we get on to Wiley Brooks we need to talk about Ellen Greve. Greve is a former Australian business woman who now calls herself Jasmuheen. She is a New Age guru promoting avoidance of food. Her cult is said to have a following of 5000 world wide. At least one wiseacre has conjectured these may not be the same followers from one year to the next. Her followers tend to be claimants of the famous Darwin Awards.2
Australian follower Verity Linn succumbed while attempting to follow Jasmuheen’s guidelines near Cam Loch in Scotland in September 1999. Prior to that in the summer of 1998 Lani Morris of Melbourne breathed herself to death, and Timo Degen, a German kindergarten teacher, did the same in 1997.3
Jasmuheen spells out her recipe for everlasting life in her book “Living on Light.” As described on Amazon:4
The book “Living on Light” offers the possibility and maintained by the Universal Life Force also called Prana. Some saints and sages have done this before, but now the time has come, when everyone can do this for themselves. The Australian author Jasmuheen has not eaten any food for 5 years. This book describes how this came to her and a special 21-day process to convert the body to the new way of being sustained. It explains in details from a metaphysical view, how the body works and methods for self healing, regeneration and rejuvenation. Breatharians get nourished from the purest source, the Universal Life Force which contains all bodily needs. It is not necessary to have a certain religion or belief system to do the process. The process is at least a way to listen and connect with the inner voice.
Prior to her death Verity Linn had announced her intent to follow the Breatharian quest, and a copy of Jasmuheen’s book was found near her body. However, it is not apparent the notorious demise of Jasmuheen’s followers resulted in major hit on her popularity. Besides “Living on Light,” she has two other books, “In Resonance” and “Our Camelot,” listed on Amazon.
More publicly Jasmuheen has been debunked on Australia’s version of 60 Minutes. She agreed to be tested for the program, and the producers put her in a hotel room with a 24-hour guard to prevent any possibility of cheating. They stopped the debacle after four days when Jasmuheen began to exhibit symptoms of malnutrition and dehydration.5
Anyhow, there are more where Jasmuheen came from.
“Internet health-consultant” Ahmen Heaven promotes his “Jesus Diet.” “Stop Eating” is the name of his Web site promoting his tax-deductible “Christian Health Research” in Keaau, Hawaii.6
Stop Eating is the name of this web site, to convey its main point, which is quite literal, but it doesn’t mean to stop eating for good. It just means that we should be more aware of how eating is in many ways more harmful rather than beneficial to health. The food industry is one of the largest industries in the world, and the barrage of advertisements advocating the “good” things in food, is testimony to its power. However, eating food, quite plainly, is often the route to ill-health, sickness, or pain, yet there are few, like myself, who are suggesting that food may not be that good for you, and that we need to be really careful, because eating food is like playing with poison.
He also hawks his various publications: “Jesus’ Diet: For your Sins! ($10), Urine: The Fountain of Youth! ($7), Breatharianism: The Secret You’ve Been Looking For! ($3), Stop eating: Fasting and Elimination More Important! ($12).”
Then there is Stephen Arlin who only advocates eating less and places more emphasis on his “Raw Food” philosophy.7
Some people consider The Raw-Food Diet the next step past a vegetarian or vegan diet, but it really transcends all diets. It is simply the natural way to nourish your body. A raw-foodist is not something one becomes; a raw-foodist is something that all living creatures on earth already are. We are designed to eat raw foods. Food in its raw, natural state cannot be nutritionally improved upon, especially not by cooking it. Raw-foodists take all their nourishment from raw, fresh, natural foods — unadulterated by cooking.
Back to Wiley Brooks. He heads up the Breatharian Institute of America in Santa Cruz, California. Brooks claims priority to Breatharianism over Jasmuheen, having called himself a Breatharian for more than 20 years. He now finds himself upstaged by Jasmuheen, but is quick to defend her.8
Brooks offers an ingenious explanation for the death of Jasmuheen follower Verity Linn and for Jasmuheen’s own embarrassment on 60 Minutes. If you’re relying on air for your nourishment, he points out, you’re going to have to depend on the quality of that air — a risky proposition in modern times.”The less food you have in the body, the more air is circulated through the body, which replaces the food,” he says. “Which means a Breatharian, instead of taking in 110 lbs. of air a day, is probably taking in 1,000 lbs. a day. Now in that 1,000 lbs. of air is a percentage of pollutants. So you see that for a Breatharian the air is so deadly that we have to take something not to increase energy but to decrease the sensitivity to the air. We take food as you would take a drug or a medicine — to reduce the sensitivity.”
Brooks is more like a regular guy than you would expect from a Breatharian. He explains his Breatharian philosophy in an interview on the Breatharian Institute Web site.9
Breatharianism is philosophy based on the exploits and knowledge gain by God experiencing itself in the flesh as the personality, Wiley Brooks, A Breatharian, on a planet that is on a fast track to annihilation. My job or purpose for the past 30 years has been to seek out the causes of this destructive phenomenon or system and re-direct its forces to manifest more positive and constructive effects in the world. A Breatharian is just another way of saying “God in the flesh.” A Breatharian is also another way of saying any Human Being who breathes. A Spiritual Being sustained by the breath of life. As you can see from my perspective all people are Breatharians or God in the flesh.For 30 years I have known the truth about who I am and what I am. I have also known the truth about who everybody else is as well. The truth is that “I am God, You are God,” so get to used to it. Until people experience themselves as the God they truly are, they will not able to comprehend the fact that “we really are all One.” From and of the same Source.
The information I have gathered during the past 30 years, as a Breatharian, is vital to the survival of this planet and my intent and priority is to get this information to the masses as soon as possible by whatever means available and appropriate. I have definite plans and knowledge that will be needed to help the world prepare itself for much higher levels of consciousness. These rapidly increasing levels of consciousness and spirituality reacting with the many poisonous gases polluting our environment and the deadly effects caused by electro-magnetic fields from electric power cables, Radio, TV and telephone transmitting towers are creating dangerous levels of heat that could end life on this planet as know it. The prevention of this kind of thing from happening has been the sole purpose of Breatharianism.
For a cult leader Brooks displays an uncommon touch of candor, as when he was asked when he last ate.10
Wiley: 2 hours ago.Bruno: What kind of food did you eat?
Wiley: A Double Quarter Pounder with cheese and a Diet Coke from McDonald’s. Some people would call this junk food.
Bruno: Why did you eat it?
Wiley: It is the perfect food that has the necessary poisons and pollutants to harmonized my blood stream with the frequencies of a poisonous and polluted environment…
Brooks may be on to something there.
Besides the references already cited, a number of other interesting URLs turned up in the Web search for this article. Here are a few:
“Breatharianism” on the Apologetics Index Web site at http://www.gospelcom.net/apologeticsindex/b12.html
” A Light Lunch” on the Internet Infidels Web Scan. A delightfully comprehensive treatment of Breatharianism with numerous links. http://www.infidels.org/infidels/web.scan/1999/scan11.html
“Wiley Brooks,” he gives his explanation of Breatharianism. http://www.fruitnut.net/html/FamousB/Wiley.htm
1 Historical Breatharians at http://seasilver.threadnet.com/Preventorium/others.htm
2 1999 Darwin Awards at http://www.darwinawards.com/darwin/darwin1999-58.html
3 Etelka Lehoczky, “Living On (Hot) Air, Recent deaths contradict Breatharians’ claims” Published November 17, 1999 in Whoa! and on the Internet at http://www.gettingit.com/article/344. See also Rick Ross’ “Sect Madness: Disciples starve themselves to death,” http://www.rickross.com/reference/breat/breat11.html
5 Lehoczky 1999
6 Ahmen Heaven’s Web site at http://www.sabon.org/prana/stop1.html
7 “Questions and Answers with Stephen Arlin,” http://www.rawfood.com/interviewrp.html
8 Lehoczky 1999
9 “Letter to Color Magazine in Italy,” from The Breatharian Institute of America Web site at http://www.breatharian.com/secret.html