The Philosophy of Fasting: A Message for Sufferers and Sinners - Edward Earle Purinton - ebook

After ten years of experience and observation, the author would re-affirm his belief in the efficacy and the desirability of sane fasting. He knows of hundreds of cases where a partial or complete fast, of one to thirty days, cleansed and renewed the body and mind to a most gratifying extent.Table of ContentsA PERSONAL PROLOGUEChapter I.--Fasting for HealthChapter II.--FastingChapter III.--Fasting for FreedomChapter IV.--Fasting for PowerChapter V.--Fasting for BeautyChapter VI.--Fasting for FaithChapter VII.--Fasting for CourageChapter VIII.--Fasting for PoiseChapter IX.--Fasting for VirtueChapter X.--Fasting for SpiritualityChapter XI.--Fasting for InstinctChapter XII.--Fasting for InspirationChapter XIII.--Fasting for LoveTWENTY RULES FOR SANE FASTINGAN INDIVIDUAL EPILOGUEA DECLARATION OF FAITH

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Table of Contents
Chapter I.--Fasting for Health
Chapter II.--Fasting
Chapter III.--Fasting for Freedom
Chapter IV.--Fasting for Power
Chapter V.--Fasting for Beauty
Chapter VI.--Fasting for Faith
Chapter VII.--Fasting for Courage
Chapter VIII.--Fasting for Poise
Chapter IX.--Fasting for Virtue
Chapter X.--Fasting for Spirituality
Chapter XI.--Fasting for Instinct
Chapter XII.--Fasting for Inspiration
Chapter XIII.--Fasting for Love


   Time is the only sure test for a truth. If our actions, based on our convictions, bring results that satisfy us and our neighbors, then we may know that our convictions were right.

   After ten years of experience and observation, the author would re-affirm his belief in the efficacy and the desirability of sane fasting. He knows of hundreds of cases where a partial or complete fast, of one to thirty days, cleansed and renewed the body and mind to a most gratifying extent.

   He would urge, however, the need of caution--it is safer not to fast than to do it wrong. As regards a theory of health, most people are of two classes, progressives or conservatives. The progressives are apt to swallow a new theory blindly, rashly, prematurely--and they acquire mental and moral indigestion. The conservatives are apt to refuse to sample a new theory at all--and they die of mental and moral paralysis. While indigestion is notsofatal as paralysis, neither is wholesome. And the radical needs always to be on his guard, lest he act unwisely.

   A fast longer than three days should be taken only under expert supervision and direction. Certain readers of this book, following some of the rules here given, and wholly neglecting others, have fasted and come to grief. Then they blamed the book. Other readers, doing exactly as the book suggests, took their long fast and were literally made over--in body, mind and spirit. Therefore the advice to have expert supervision of a protracted fast is due not to the incompleteness of this book, but to the inability or unwillingness of the average reader to follow directions as given.

   The writer acknowledges herein a boyish exuberance and semblance of conceit, of which he trusts he would not now be guilty. But he feels that the truth is here, in spite of excrescences or peculiarities. The individual who has found himself always appears odd, simply because the natural is so unusual in civilization.

   When a bird escapes from an iron cage, after a long imprisonment, it does not pause to choose the manner of its flight or to measure the passage. It only knows it is free; and, being free, it must dare the upper world.

   The first two prose books by the author of this volume were his crude but sincere attempts at mental and spiritual flight, when he had just broken away from the confines of disease, worry, fear, tradition, convention, fashion, pedantry, prudery, and ecclesiasticism.

   He was so glad to be out of the dungeon, so eager to mount theheights, thathe sped in his mind on the first words that came. He had no time to think how they would sound. Hence these two books, "The Philosophy of Fasting" and "Lords of Ourselves", were not finished products, in a literary sense. But they were honest efforts, and the writer still believes that honesty is the highest faculty of speech.

   If you read these books with a preconceived notion of literary style, you may he disappointed. If you read them with an earnest desire to understand the human soul, and to find better ways of thinking, working and living, you will experience a new courage, hope, and strength of mind and body.

   The writer is not an anarchist, an atheist, or any other abnormal type--as a few non-thinking persons have concluded. He is a staunch defender of marriage, the home, the church, and all other bulwarks of human integrity. But he is an ardent foe of the littleness, the selfishness, the formalism, artificiality and compromise which attend most homes, colleges, and houses of worship.

   He cannot believe that health resides in drugs, nor education in books, nor truth in rituals, nor love in ceremonials, nor peace in prohibitions, nor virtue in legal enactments. Regulations are impositions. All expectations of us are restrictions about us. Only as we come, through long endeavor, high purpose, hard and painful struggle, to know, revere, trust, empower and express our own divine, natural selves, can we ensure a permanence of the verities of life.

   May this book serve in some little way to clarify your thought, strengthen your faith, deepen your convictions, broaden your opportunities, and quicken your highestaspirations.


Woolworth Building, New York City

   September first, nineteen hundred fifteen

This book is the record of a soul's emancipation.

   Only sufferers and sinners will understand it.

Because only sinners and sufferers are on the highway to Freedom.

   The sinneractswithout thinking--and is thereby made bold for better things.

   The suffererfeelswithout thinking--and is thereby made receptive for finer things.

   The reasonerthinkswithout either feeling or acting--and is thereby made too numb to suffer, too fearful to be aught but impotently virtuous.

   Not to the brain of the worldly-wise, that dusty storehouse of race rubbish, will my message appeal.But to the heart of the sufferer softened through anguish, to the soul of the sinner strengthened through abandon, and to the spirit of the child quickened from its nearness to fairies and angels.

   Such as are pitied, despised or condemned I call my brothers and sisters. Borne from the stagnant surface of being into the wild engulfment of its whirlpool soul, these have sounded the misery of the depths, havelainhalf-dead amid the wreckage on the shore, and are now able to appreciate and determined to attain the glory of the heights illumed by Truth.

   Come, let us mount together. I have explored both the valley and the summit. And I promise you the way is plain.

   Don't be needlessly apprehensive at the start--this isn't a missionary tract. Missionary literature is distributed by persons too good to touch the folks next-door. You see Asiatic heathen don't need fumigating so long as we proselyte them by post.

   Now there are thousands of worthy people who honestly believe that their mission on earth is to reform, convert and reconstruct this world before sun-up to-morrow morning. Naturally they must write a book this afternoon, address at least one mass meeting this evening, and devote the feverishly fugitive midnight hours to personal exhortation. Even then a new dawn overtakes them. And the sun shamelessly smiles on a race still unredeemed.

   These self-appointed leaders require devotees. Nothing but their following justifies their faith. And if their book isn't read, or their discourse applauded, they bemoan to themselves how signally they have failed.

   How incomprehensible. Has not Truth all eternity wherein to speak to the souls of men? And if the messagebetrue, it may die on the lips that gave it--yet some soul, somewhere, shall catch the refrain and echo it down the ages.

   The success of this book will be proportional to the numbers that do not read it--now. And its failure may be measured by the amount of applause it calls forth. Give me a hearing--but spare me an audience. Open your ears and your hearts to me--but close your eyes and your lips. Take what little good there may be here for you, and leave the rest. Do not question me. Do not praise me. Above all, do not detain me. This is but a glimpse of Truth. And I cannot pause while still the horizon widens and the sun gains in glory.


   Words in themselves are as futile as stray bricks.

   They endure only when cemented by feeling and aligned by purpose. The field of literature is mostly a dreary brick-yard, with chipped and broken bits scattered about to mark what might have been had the builder known.

   Life is the only literature that lives. And if I had not first lived this book, it would never be worth the writing.To write for any other reason than that one must is to insultoneselfand to martyr one's friends. If you write only when you must, you may not always be considerate to your friends. But you will at least be true to yourself. And the perusal of your writings can never be too hard a price to pay for knowing some one who is sincere. Sincere humans are about as common as brave gazelles or compassionate tigers.

"The Philosophy of Fasting"is a plea for human sincerity and a treatise on human wholeness. The first twenty-five years of my life I was anything but whole.Because I was anything but sincere.I did not dare be true to myself, or with my fellows. Civilization, classicism and orthodoxy had combined to make me appear what I was not and crucify what I was. Body, brain and soul, I was burdened with a mass of externals that weighed heavier and sunk deeper day by day, until the life was almost crushed out of me.

   Born a weakling, I was a semi-invalid and chronic sufferer during most of my boyhood and youth. Some fifteen forms of constitutional disease took turns troubling me; until family.friendsand physicians began to despair of the outcome. At one time I was taking six kinds of medicine, weighed 110 pounds instead of 150, spent most of the time beside the fire, or on the couch, and threatened to become useless to myself and everybody else. The ailments were chiefly nervous and digestive, and were caused by inequalities of make-up. Inheriting from my father a brain incessantly active, from my mother a soul supersensitive and a physique small and tremulous, from both an insatiable ambition; I seemed unable to balance myself at all. Wearing a man's hat at twelve, I had the body of a boy of eight, with a soul older than any I had ever met. Naturally no one understood me. And the greatest puzzle to me in the Universe was I to myself.

   I could not ride in a carriage, sit in a hammock, or climb a tree without growing dizzy, sick and faint. The slightest physical jar or mental irritation brought on headaches that lasted for days. Public gatherings oppressed and stifled me--it was the poisonous insincerity of social usage, though I did not know it then.

   The routine of existence was eternally maddening me--every clock, calendar and school-bell in town seemed to shriek the cruelty of law and order. The claim of senseless customs, the grasp of useless habits, the sway of rule and rote, the clutter of superfluous possessions, the onus of fictitious duties, the miasma of popular opinion, the rut of precedent, the chain of environment, the blindfold of superstition--from all these barriers to human progress I was struggling to be free. The doctors meanwhile declared with oracular accent they could find no physiological basis for disease--it must be all in my imagination!

   Of course it was. Everything is that counts.And especially a doctor's diagnosis--which counts financially.

   Let us abridge this recital of symptoms, and pass on to the cure.

   As a last recourse, I tried Physical Culture. Studied and applied to myself various systems of Dietetics, Hydrotherapy, Dynamic Breathing, Movement Methods Active and Passive, Sun, Air and Earth Cure, and other modes of Naturopathy.

   These all helped. Fully half of my ailments presently disappeared. But the mind and soul were not so easily satisfied. So I took up Suggestion, Mental Science, New Thought, Oriental Philosophy, and kindred quasi-religious faiths. But they were all more or less man-made. And I had to have God.

   Thencamethe Thirty-Day Fast. I found God through this Fast. Which is equivalent to saying I foundMyself. ForWeare One and the Same. During this month I ate nothing at all, drank nothing but water and occasionally acid fruit-juice. There were four objects to be achieved by means of this rather heroic measure:--Renovation, Delectation, Domination,Illumination.Every one was realized. Physically, I was healthier than for ten years before. Sensuously, I enjoyed everything as I had done when a child. Mentally, I got a grip on myself that nothing had ever given and that nothing now can ever shake. Spiritually, I saw the heavens opened and the ultimate truths of the Infinite revealed in glorious array beyond the span of the sunrise or the gleam of the farthest star.

   You can do the same.Or more.All you need is supreme faith in yourself, exact knowledge of the method, and steadfast purpose, to realize the highest prophecy stored for you in the archives of the Almighty. I will give you the knowledge, Omnipotence will give you the faith, so all you must supply is the purpose.Which comes of itself--with a vision of the possibilities.

   Fasting is not a panacea.

   Only Nature grants panaceas. And she makes hers fresh for each case. Nor does she employ human dispensaries.

   But Fasting,rightly conducted and completed,is nearest a panacea for all mortal ills of any drugless remedy I know, whether physiological, metaphysical, or inspirational. Fasting, resting, airing, bathing, breathing, exercising and hoping--these seven simple measures, if sanely proportioned and administered, will cure any case of acute disease. And almost any case of chronic.

   It is not however with the therapeutic side we are chiefly concerned in this book. The healing phase is unquestionably the most vital. But its importance has caused it to be discussed already in a variety of convincing ways by specialist pioneers, preceding me in the field."The Philosophy of Fasting"considers rather the mental, psychic and spiritual components which are themselves based on the physiological.

This work therefore should be deemed supplementaryto the following five books in particular:

"RETURN TO NATURE." By Adolf Just. Paradise regained The True Natural Method of Healing and Living. Price $2.00; Cloth $3.00. Translated from the German by Dr. Benedict Lust.

"RATIONAL FASTING." By A. Ehret. Regeneration, Diet and Rational Cure for all Diseases.

Price $0.50.

"LORDS OF OURSELVES." By E. E. Purinton. A Chart of Life on Earth for Souls that Dare.

Price $1.50; Cloth $2.00.


"THE MEDICAL QUESTION." By A. A. Erz, N.D., D.C. The Truth about Official Medicine and what Constitutes the True Science and Art of Healing.

Price $2.00; Cloth $3.00.

   These Books are published by Benedict Lust, Butler, New Jersey.

   There are several reasons why these other authors should be read first. In this book of mine I have given almost no biological facts, experimental data, or scientific proofs. I appeal to the heart, the soul, and the consciousness more than to the brain.

   It is a pathetic truism however that the only part of most people anywhere near alive is this same brain I would subordinate. Their axiomatic perceptions are hopelessly dulled. And they can't be convinced of the most overwhelming truth save by some such roundabout route as an affidavit or syllogism.

   Now these treaties aforementioned abound in substantial facts--facts physical, logical and historical. A. Ehret, A. A. Erz, and Dr. Lernanto in particular have devoted much time, thought, energy, altruism and persistence to demonstrating their own beautiful theories of life, health and happiness.

   I have proved to myself everything I put in print. But I'm not desirous of converting anybody else. And I haven't time to retrace the line of travel in order to describe it. So, to satisfy your brain as well as your soul--and it's just as necessary-- you will be wise to take first the facts offered you by more patient investigators.

Another thing.Progress is best when it's gradual. You don't knock out all the underpinning of a house you're moving--you gently abstract one prop after another. One drawback to this book is it doesn't leave you any props at all--props medicinal, metaphysical, social, conventional, moral, theological, or otherwise respectable. And it'll be easier for you to feel them fall by degrees, with a nicety more mercifully adjusted.

   One more statement, and then this very tedious prologue is at an end. It's about the little essays which comprise the greater part of the book. They have two reasons for being.

   In the first place, this matter of Fasting bears directly on every one of the thirteen themes presented. It doesn't take long to show the connection. But to define the author's understanding of terms is a lengthier and more difficult problem.Because it is not the common conception at all, in the majority of cases.

   Secondly, the man who publishes this book is the only one I have yet found with sufficient courage to print the things I believe. We don't think altogether alike. And he isn't responsible for anything I say. But we both esteem sincerity first ofall,come what may as a consequence. Mr. Lust, moreover, as sponsor of theNaturopathic Idea,offers the broadest basis yet presented for the upbuilding of Human Wholeness.

   This therefore seems a good opportunity to express certain beliefs that demand to be expressed for the sake of the expressing.

   In conclusion, I commend to you very earnestly not the author--not the theory--not the book; solely, utterly and everlastingly, Truth. Only when Truth and a mortal coincide, does the mortal become immortal. I would not have it otherwise if I could. And my one hope is that enough of the splendor of immortality may shine through this message to light you a little farther up the steeps of attainment.


New York City, December first, nineteen hundred and five.



   "To be healthy is to be half-animal and half-god; to be sickly is to be circumscribedly human; but to be sane is to be triunely god-man-animal."

   In clarification whereof is this book written.

A whole book to explain a whole sentence?And why not?Libraries have been evolved upon a foundation of three short words, namely "Life is protoplasm." Yet who can define Life, or analyze protoplasm?

   In this opening sentence of mine there is blended all the subtlety of metaphysics with all the simplicity of childhood. By a little effort you may perhaps penetrate the realm of Mind; but ah!who, tell me who, can fathom a child?

The last place to look for sanity is in a sanitarium; the next to the last in a health resort.

   To be sanitary is not necessarily to besane--Sanenessbeing the one word that sums this book. If we had always lived sanely, we should never need sanitation. In the Reformers' Stiff-legged Race for Popularity, hygienic hobbies are at present in the lead. Their name is legion, and each ridden more recklessly than all the rest. You'd think surely they must collide--until you remember thathobbies never advance.In this respect are hygienic hobbies as docile as their lay brethren who haven't any "mission" but just to be wood painted red.

   Far be it from me to ridicule any man who believes he has a mission. Such are the world's saviors. I myself have a mission--a part of it being to deliver the world from health cranks. I was a health crank once. Some of you may doubt the past tense--but you should have seen me then! I am haunted yet by the look of dread on the faces of my friends as they saw me approaching from afar. Whereas now, you can at least interpolate a wan smile occasionally.

   I assume at the outset that you have read the books suggested in the Prologue; that you are more or less at home in various branches of Naturism--Dietetics, Hydrotherapy, Lung and Muscle Culture, Suggestion, and the like; that, having read the Prologue, you are prepared to he patient with the author; and that, having learned through suffering to be sincere, you will be able to recognize sincerity of motive--however faulty be the method.

   First a few incoherent remarks on Health in general.

   Pill-time is only pallor-time. And the puzzle is to remove the pallor, yet leave the pill in the box. The druggist never solves it--he makes the patient swallow the pill. The Naturist almost never solves it--he summarily smashes the pill-box but forgets to look at the face of the patient. I did that once--threw the patient's pill-box out of the car-window. He was kind of new to Naturism, just coming to take treatment. When he saw all his concentrated hopes of health vanished forever, he rushed to a telegraph office before I could stop him; wired a friend three hundred miles off to come quick--he was dying; then collapsed into a comatose of despair. He didn't die. He got completely well, went home and cured his whole family connection of whatever ailed them. He cured me of something, too--of throwing away a patient's pill-box. That's a lesson every Naturist must learn in order to succeed. Most of them haven't learned it--and most of them don't succeed.Understand, drugs can't cure.Drugs kill--always.But.

   Drugs are useful so long as theyhelp a man's mind morethan theyharmhisbody. This the best physicians recognize, being Naturists in belief--but wise enough to keep still about it. If the patient believes in drugs and his doctor doesn't, the patient lives; if the patient doesn't and his doctor does, the patient dies.The virtue of any medicine being directly proportional to its faith and inversely proportional to its substance.

   Here again is the eternal paradox of Truth verified, sincedrug-cureisfaith-cure.Peoplebelievethey must "take something" so long as theybelievethey can "catch something." Nature-cure requires no faith--only sincerity; a Kneipp douche or Kuhne sitzbath will clear out disease whether the sick man believes or not.

A momentary digression.

   You may have observed I begin certain impersonal words with capitals. I always begin Nature, Truth and Love with large letters. Because Nature is my mother, Truth is my teacher, and Love is my God.

   Disease is a godsend.Never to be dreaded, always to be esteemed beneficent.How microbes are maligned, to be sure. A microbe is a sort of somatic undertaker, his business being to dispose of the dead among the cells. The trouble is we all array ourselves in black and join the mourners at the funeral. Away with funerals! Away with mourning! Away with the earthiness of superstition!For superstition is always earthy, instead of religious as men suppose.

The danger in all disease lies in the remedy, and not in the ailment.