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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 sinner acts without thinking--and is thereby made bold for better things.
The sufferer feels without thinking--and is thereby made receptive for finer things.
The reasoner thinks without 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, have lain half-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 message be true, 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 insult oneself and 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. friends and 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.
Then came the Thirty-Day Fast. I found God through this Fast. Which is equivalent to saying I found Myself. For We are 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 supplementary to the following five books in particular:
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 of all, come what may as a consequence. Mr. Lust, moreover, as sponsor of the Naturopathic 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.
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