Misunderstanding “Living on Light” a.k.a. “Breatharianism”  –  Hazards, Opportunities, and Media Stagings

The topic of “Living on Light” offers invaluable opportunities to broaden our frames of thought and to lead a more holistic life without giving up food.

Nevertheless, this subject is often perverted and misunderstood again and again, sometimes tragically, most of the time just in superficial and ignorant ways. Even the term “Living on Light,” coined by esoterics in the 1990s for the ancient phenomenon of Inedia, unfortunately, invites misunderstandings.

This phenomenon only has a limited connection to light in the physical sense of the electromagnetic wave spectrum. Beginning to understand it requires the “inner light” of consciousness or the “light of life.” the life energy, and the largely unexplored realms of subtle energies.

Such concepts are blind spots in the worldviews of convinced materialists. They can either laugh about it, ignore it, or fight it. They can only understand concepts like Breatharianism as “dangerous nonsense” in connection with delusion, stupidity, or even criminality.

And dangerous, sometimes tragic, misunderstandings do indeed occur again and again at the other end of the belief scale. In the esoteric scene everywhere, there is also something like “spiritual materialism,” which sometimes has tragic consequences.

People want to boast about special, supernatural abilities and boost their egos.

While I am very open to the existence of supernatural abilities, I agree with the teachings of the great yoga master Pantajali, who believed that the siddhi (the supernatural abilities) may or may not appear on the yoga path. It has no intrinsic importance to spiritual progress whether these abilities appear or not. They are just as important (or not) as material wealth or fame. The siddhi can even pose a threat. When the yogi seeks gain or self-affirmation from his abilities, the siddhi can corrupt his soul. If he overestimates himself and his abilities, he can also cause physical harm to others or himself.

Living without physical food is also considered one of the siddhi that one should not strive for at any price in the sense of “spiritual ambition.”

If you do it anyway, nature will usually force you to eat again – similar to a person trying to stop breathing. If the spiritual misunderstanding of the idea of “Living on Light” goes hand in hand with a mental and/or physical previous illness and is possibly combined with unfavorable external circumstances, these tragic Breatharian deaths sometimes occur, which repeatedly make the rounds in the media and which are also mentioned in “In The Beginning Was Light”.

Most recently, the case of a 22-year-old man from Hamburg made the headlines in Germany, who allegedly suffered from a drug psychosis and died in the course of a self-experiment with Breatharianism.

A film that the editors of the German Television Show (NDR) “Panorama – Die Reporter” made about the case shows how media makers can misunderstand the topic and stage and inflate it in the media in their interest.

On the positive side of the report, the story once again raises awareness of the unnecessary dangers of extreme self-experimentation with giving up food.

Differentiated reporting on the subject behind it falls by the wayside because the NDR journalists used the sad death for polemics and propaganda. Incidentally, they also imply that my film “In the Beginning Was the Light” is partly to blame for the death.

This is doubly abstruse, all the more so as probably no one in the German-speaking world has warned of the dangers of extreme fasting experiments more often and more urgently than I have, simply because I have been dealing with the topic for so long.

One of the warning sequences from “In the Beginning There Was Light” dedicated to the deaths associated with the so-called 21-day-Breatharian-process.

To experience the phenomenon of “Living on Light” no extreme self-experiments are required, nor is there any need for a special ritual or process.

We all experience “Living on Light,” the non-caloric energy intake (more on that in my article “How Does Breatharianism Work?” or in the article “Can Humans Harvest The Sun’s Energy Directly Like Plants?”), probably all the time; some more, others less (see also “Qi – Why everybody is living on light”).

In any case, the protagonists in “In The Beginning There Was Light” who perhaps experience Breatharianism in its most extreme form, such as Prahlad Jani or Zinaida Baranova, have never heard of the 21-day-process or similar rituals. It seems to have “happened” to them, as a gift, as a side effect of a certain level of development.

And herein lies an important message for all people who carry out a Breatharian process, often in search of self-affirmation and/or out of “spiritual ambition.” Pure Breatharianism, if it should exist, it certainly cannot be forced or “learned” through a ritual.

When the body is starving, when it is constantly losing weight and strength, it needs physical nourishment. It’s the simplest thing in the world and anyone who doesn’t recognize these limits and wants to break them down by force, as it were, sometimes has to pay a very high price for it.

“If you try to force the BiGu (literally ‘no bread’ – the Chinese term for Breatharianism) state by intentionally not eating because you’ve heard that BiGu is beneficial, it can be extremely damaging to the body,” says Taoist Master Yuan Limin in “In the Beginning Was the Light”.

“If you want to force the BiGu (Chinese for Breatharianism) state by intentionally not eating because you have heard that BiGu is beneficial, it can be extremely harmful to the body.” – Kung Fu master Yuan Limin in a scene of “In The Beginning There Was Light”.

My film is full of cautionary tales in this regard.

In the course of the dispute with a newspaper, I recounted it once: “In The Beginning There Was Light” contains 23 explicit and implicit warnings against the so-called Breatharian process and other extreme fasting experiments – pronounced by 17 different protagonists, doctors, and scientists, as well as experts who have a high level of credibility in the spiritual scene.

I also show a failed Breatharian experiment and tell the sad stories of all the deaths related to the so-called 21-day-Breatharian-process that was known worldwide at the time of the film’s release. Without a doubt, every viewer is aware of the mortal danger of such an extreme self-experiment after seeing “In The Beginning There Was Light.” Therefore, if the deceased man from Hamburg saw “In the Beginning There Was Light” as reported by the NDR magazine, he did this self-experiment not because of the film, but despite it. I believe the most important information for understanding the case is the young man’s drug use and its consequences.

The father of the deceased wrote to me in an email that after using drugs such as cannabis and ayahuasca, his son developed psychoses from which he never recovered. The NDR film also reports on a stay in a psychiatric institution. After that, he was looking for spiritual support and became interested in Breatharianism. No one knows what films, articles, or books the young man had seen or what experiences he had until he made his momentous decision.

And although the exact course of death has not even been clarified and the autopsy report was never published, the reporters construct a fictitious causal connection between the death and “In The Beginning There Was Light”—only because the 22-year-old once mentioned the film’s title in a letter to his parents, in a misunderstood context.

We see the grieving and angry father complaining that a film like “In The Beginning There Was Light” was allowed to be shown publicly where there would be “not a word” to say that “Living on Light” was dangerous.

Anyone who has seen my film knows that’s just plain wrong. So instead of simply showing a corresponding excerpt from “In the Beginning There Was Light.” which would prove the opposite, the journalist decides to continue with their mood-making. I offered the NDR editors in advance to be able to use a corresponding excerpt free of charge, which they did not accept.

That would probably have damaged the story they wanted to tell because then the picture of the complicit film drawn in the NDR report would have been destroyed quite immediately and obviously.

In 2012, a Swiss journalist told a similarly constructed story in the newspaper Tagesanzeiger. At the time, however, I demanded a counterstatement since the public prosecutor responsible for the case at the time clearly stated that a causal connection between “In The Beginning There Was Light” and fatal Breatharian experiments could be ruled out with certainty (!).

The corresponding statement was then published in the Tagesanzeiger, but hundreds of media outlets around the world had already quoted the story — and so a false rumor spread and became a “fact.” Unfortunately, the NDR report is again similar.

Why do “quality journalists” do this? In my opinion, it’s a mixture of honest, well-meaning intentions, a bit of self-righteousness and ignorance, and last but not least, a look at the ratings.

A headline in the style of “A film seduces people into starving to death” is, of course, more attractive than a differentiated discussion of the subject behind it.

If we used this form of reasoning more broadly, we could blame car racing for speeding accidents, and we could ban Red Bull TV entirely given the fatality rate in extreme sports.

Why then do these editors, of all things, come up with the idea of ignoring personal responsibility and attributing it to films and books when they are doing extreme fasting experiments?

Especially with a film as profound and differentiated as “In The Beginning There Was Light,” the answer is obvious to me. By claiming that the film could bear some kind of responsibility for “Breatharian deaths,” the critics want to consciously or unconsciously eliminate the film’s uncomfortable questions that shake their materialistic-scientistic worldview.

Because questioning exactly this worldview is the goal of “In The Beginning There Was Light”.

The Swiss journalist mentioned above was a well-known “skeptic” from the network of the scientistic Sceptics Organisation GWUP. And when you know that at least one of the two responsible NDR reporters also comes from the GWUP orbit, even being awarded a GWUP media prize, it becomes clear which way the wind is blowing. In 2011, the GWUP, to put it bluntly, a materialistic and scientistic faith community, awarded me “Das Goldene Brett.” the prize for the “most outstanding nonsense” of the year.

My acceptance speech at the presentation of the “Das Goldene Brett” Award of the German Sceptics Society GWUP for “In The Beginning There Was Light”.


Even if it was certainly intended differently, I see this award as a high distinction because it shows that I question the belief system of the “skeptics” very effectively. I don’t mean their skepticism, which is commendable and important, and I fully agree with their approach to charlatanism. However, owning a hammer doesn’t make everything a nail.

Just because there is no reliable scientific evidence or even an explanation for some phenomena, they are not automatically deception or fraud.

“Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” is a useful saying in this context. Some “skeptics” see things differently, and so they become unconscious followers of a scientistic or materialistic belief. (more on this in my article on the frontiers of science).

No wonder “In The Beginning There Was Light” is a red rag for many supporters of the materialistic-scientistic worldview, which has developed into an unconscious dogma in the “scientific community.”

What better reason to silence the “In The Beginning There Was Light”-counterparts than to imply that the film cost people their lives?

I’ve heard too many times that “In The Beginning There Was Light” should finally be banned or censored. In truth, of course, not because it is dangerous for human life, but because it is dangerous for a certain dogmatic model of thought.

Fortunately, today’s heretics only end up on the digital pyre of the media and social networks, where they are “flamed” with all the greater enthusiasm and outrage. “In The Beginning There Was Light” has helped me to gain much valuable experience in this regard.

I’m already on the same wavelength as the skeptic movement when it comes to raising awareness of the dangers of extreme fasting experiments, and when it comes to charlatanism and abuse in the esoteric scene anyway.

Here we pull together, as in many other matters that the “skeptics” are probably not even aware of. Because the one who misunderstands always gains the greatest profit when he understands it in the end.

Last but not least, this refers to the possibility and magnitude of not knowing and not understanding. We will probably never be able to completely fathom many of the mysteries behind the phenomenon of “Living on Light.”

This humility before the mystery, before the numinous, is perhaps the most important learning process for our Western society of knowledge, which is so convinced that it can know and understand everything.

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