Sometimes you discover a belief that challenges your faith in humanity. Sungazing is a difficult subject to write about because it makes such little sense that constructing an argument against it is absurd.
Children are taught from an early age not to stare at the sun. Sometimes that message gets drowned out by new-age nonsense combined with old-world mysticism.
Sungazing is the act of staring into the sun to either replace eating and drinking or to gain spiritual awakening. Let's look at some history then some science and follow it up with some good ol' fashioned debunking.
Ancient religions often incorporated the sun into their religious practices. The most famous example is arguably the ancient Egyptian god Ra. Sharing his domain was the god Atum which was later merged into Atum-Ra. The Hindu religion has Surya. Lesser known is the Tiv god Awondo. Even the Romans had Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun), most famous for the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti birth festival. This would later be called "Christmas."
The sun figures so prominently in our cultures that we celebrate dies Solis, the day of the Sun, at the end of every week. You know, Sunday.
Some people take it too far. There is a belief system called Breatharianism. This belief system typically takes the form of living entirely off of sunlight.
No food. No water.
The idea is that you spend the first ten seconds of every sunrise staring at the sun. Every day you add ten seconds to your time. Eventually, you cap out at around 45 minutes. This is a very bad idea. I'll cover why in a moment. Breatharians also believe that you may or may not have to walk barefoot on the earth to forge some deep connection with nature or something. I guess it's part of a spell or ritual? No evidence of anything like that ever working. Moving on.
It's very easy to see why staring at the sun is a bad idea, but I'll explain why.
The sun emits all sorts of electromagnetic and particle radiation. Most notable to us here on Earth is infrared (heat), visible light (light you see), ultraviolet (gives you a tan), and ionizing radiation. Most ionizing radiation is filtered out in the Earth's magnetosphere. Think of it as a shield generated by the Earth's magnetic field. Without it, we'd all die very painful, agonizing deaths. Oh, and the atmosphere would get stripped away. Cool, right? Speaking of the atmosphere, the ozone layer protects us from most harmful UV radiation. However, a very significant amount still gets through.
During sunrises and sunsets, the amount of UV radiation getting through the atmosphere is relatively small. This is because the incident angle of the sun causes a greater diffusion of shorter wavelength photons through the atmosphere. Because shorter wavelength photons carry more energy, you take the most biological damage from them.
Simply put, the worst stuff gets filtered the most. That's how sungazers can look at the sun in the mornings and evenings with minimal damage to their eyes. If you did the same thing in the afternoon, you'd go blind much quicker. Please note that you're still damaging your eyes by looking at the sun. The damage is just much less severe in the mornings and evenings.
The remainder of UV radiation that gets through can cause cataracts, macular degeneration, pingueculae, pterygia, and photokeratitis from prolonged exposure. None of those are particularly pleasant things. That's why we wear sunglasses and don't stare at the sun.
Alright, we've talked about the negative impacts of sungazing. Let's look at this positively. This is where you hear crickets chirping.
I feel like I wouldn't be telling anyone anything that they don't already know by stating that people need food and water to survive.
Your body needs water to lubricate joints, provide for brain chemistry, temperature regulation through perspiration, a mechanism for bowel movements, nutrient delivery through the blood, and dozens if not hundreds of other reasons.
Food is used as a source of chemicals for pretty much everything our body does. We need food to break down so that our cellular mitochondria can convert it to adenosine triphosphate via glycolysis to have energy to live. We need proteins to break down to assist in cellular reproduction. Remember hearing that every 7 years, every cell in your body will be replaced? It has to come from somewhere.
What about anecdotes of someone having lived off of sunshine? Those are all lies.
Wiley Brooks, noted Breatharian, was caught sneaking food into his hotel room. Jasmuheen, aka Ellen Greve, was rendered unconscious during a controlled clinical test. Hira Ratan Manek is another famous sungazer that has been caught numerous times sneaking food into his retreats.
Are there any other reasons that people do it?
Well, there's one reason that I haven't talked about yet. Some people believe that staring into the sun somehow causes either your pineal gland to start to grow spiritually to open your Third Eye to unleash your Sixth Chakra. All that is so deep in the woo that there's nothing to say about it. There's just no evidence to show that any of that is real.
In summary: Yes, you need food and water to survive. No, staring at the sun is a really bad idea.
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