My childhood summers were spent camping with my family. My grandparents, parents, aunts. uncles and cousins on my mom’s side of the family all had trailers at a campground by the South Nation River. The best days of my life were spent growing up there. Something that was never apparent to me when I was growing up was that this was a Christian fundamentalist-owned campground. It just never crossed my mind, I was having so much fun. This isn’t to say my family are fundamentalists. In fact, my father has denounced religion and my mother openly questions it. We were all raised Roman Catholic. My grandfather owned the construction company that cleared the area for the campground and laid the roads. So, no charge to camp.
Weird things went on at the campground and still do. People look for Jesus under rocks and in trees and exorcisms are performed. When I was about 11 or 12 there was a group of people gathering in the park looking into the sunset. We had an amazing view of the sunset there at the park by the pool. People were in tears but they looked overjoyed. I was young so I went over and asked one of the ladies there what was going on. She told me to look at the sun, that it was dancing. That it was a sign from God that he was watching over us. I tried, but couldn’t for more than just a few seconds, it was just too bright. It hurt my eyes.
I always wondered about that. Knowing then what I know now I’m glad I didn’t force myself to keep staring at the sun.
It turns out that there are people out there who stare at the sun for spiritual purposes. Some even claim that staring at the sun gives them enough energy that they don’t even require food or liquids to survive. That certainly sounds implausible. Breatharians anyone?
I found this interview with Hira Ratan Manek. The very first question will make long-time listeners of the SGU laugh.
MK: Hira, you stopped eating solid food in 1995 and have baffled the doctors and scientists who have studied you during water fasts of 211 and 411 days. How do you manage it?
HRM: This is an ancient practice based on logic and modern biological science that relys on water and sunlight for energy. This is really photosynthesis taking place in the human body.
Scientists are baffled! Manek goes on to claim that people are “fed up with modern medicines to cure their illnesses”. Yep.
So read the entire interview if you’re brave enough. I did. And it hurt.
So what are the real benefits of staring at the sun? Well, aside from getting some Vitamin D, and maybe helping with seasonal affective disorder, there are none. In fact, staring at the sun can damage your eyes, even cause blindness. Also, there’s Solar Retinopathy. Basically, damage to your retina. This is why they tell you that you shouldn’t stare directly at a solar eclipse.
So was the sun really dancing that day? No, it wasn’t. But to be honest, when I looked at it I could swear it was vibrating up and down once every second or two. I rationalized it away when I was a kid and came up with a few explanations. It might just be what happens when you look at the sun too long, or it’s what I was looking for, so I saw it. I even told myself it might be the pressure from the blood going through my eyes when my heart beats that causes my eyes to slightly bob up and down every time my heart beats and that I only notice it when I stare at a very very bright spot. I just didn’t believe this “sign from God” stuff. If God was real and wanted to give us a sign through the sun. It would be a little more apparent than it bobbing up and down about a millimeter every second.
So don’t stare at the sun. There are much better ways to take in the beauty of our star.
Here’s what He-Man has to say about Sungazing.