Dick Gregory on “Fasting”
from chapter two; page 18
My Career involves my work as a comedian, lecturer, author, recording artist, television and film personality. My vocation involves my participation in the stuggle for human dignity-the human rights movement. The increased knowledge of proper diet has accompanied my deeper understanding of my vocation. My vocation, which began in the civil rights movement, has now been expanded to include the human rights and peace movements. Thus, my expanded vocation led to my next change in diet.
In talking with Dr. Fulton, I kept hearing of the benefical aspects of fasting. Like most people, I was afraid to go on a long fast. All my life I had been told, “If you don’t eat, you’ll die.” I had read about Gandhi’s fasts, and I greatly admired the man, but his dedication and commitment was a lesson from history rather than a shared experience.
I wanted to do something dramatic and personal to protest the continued slaughter in Vietnam. Dr. Fulton had fasted many times, and she had prescribed fasts for her patients. I became more and more convinced I, too, should go on a long fast, at least thirty days. So I decided, in the latter days of 1967, to take only distilled water for nourishment, beginning Thanksgiving Day and continuing until New Years Day, 1968. My fast was for moral reasons, as a social protest.
Dr. Fulton must have sensed my uneasiness with the decision. She told me, “If you’re really serious about this fast, I’ll go on it with you.” She did. Not only did she fast right along with me, but she guided and counseled me every step of the way. She told me how to prepare for the fast by cleaning out my body. She put me on a diet of fruit juice seven days prior to Thanksgiving, and she told me to cleanse my colon with enemas and to continue the enemas after the fast began. Under the direction of Dr. Fulton, what started out as a kind of “hunger strike” became a “scientific fast.”
The first fast was the experience of my life! I started out weighing 280 pounds and on New Year’s Day I was under a hundred pounds. I had become that “97-pound weakling,” but felt stronger and healthier than ever before. I maintained my usual hectic schedule throughout the fast, traveling to fifty-seven cities in forty days. I gave 63 lectures.
My first forty-day fast was more of a protest against the Vietnam war than most people realized . I really thought I was going to die! I would come back to the hotel room somewhere after giving a lecture, flop down on the bed and fall asleep. Then I’d wake up in the middle of the night and pinch myself to see if I’d died in my sleep. I’d never died before, so I began to think, “Wow! Maybe this is what death feels like! One everlasting pinch!”
So I would call Dr. Fulton in Chicago, and she would reassure me. More Important, she would tell me exactly what was going to happen on each day of the fast! When Dr. Fulton told me that at the end of the third week of fasting I would feel a resurgence of energy like I had never felt before, well, I won’t say I disbelieved her; I’ll just say I didn’t believe it at the time! But of course it was true, because at that period of the fast the body begins consuming itself, riding the system of stored-up poisons and waste that have been there for years.
On January 9, 1968, I broke my first fast, with fruit juice, at the Fultonia Health Food Center in Chicago. After a long fast, Dr. Fulton says, it is necessary to take a day of fruit juice for every five days you have been fasting, so I needed eight days of juice before I could begin eating again.
What began as an act of social protest-a political act-became in the process of living it a “purifying act”-in mind, body and spirit. As my body was cleansed of years of accumulated impurites, my mind and spiritual awareness were lifted to a new level. I felt closer to Mother Nature and all her children. I was now aware of the meaning of the words I uesd to hear in church: “The body is the temple of the spirit.” Just as Jesus drove the moneychangers out of the temple, fasting had driven the “devils of my former diet” from my own “temple,” and my life changed completely.
About three months after my first fast, I had asip of Scotch and soda and the taste was repugnant. That old favorite devil of mine was gone forever. I remembered how bad liquor tatses to most people the first time they try it. Folks say you have to “cultivate a taste” for booze . Even though the body is saying “No!” people repeat alcohol until they get used to it.
With my body cleansed from fasting, I had a new hunger. I hungered to know more about nutrition and proper food so that my “temple” would remain clean. I visited health food stores everywhere I traveled. I would head straight for the book rack and buy every book on health and nutrition I could get my hands on. I found more wisdom there than I’ve found on any college campus I’ve ever visited-and I lecture in three hundred colleges a year.
The more I read, the more I talked to Dr. Fulton and the more I experimented with my own diet, the closer I came to the fruitarian point of view concerning nutrition. After my first fast, I adopted a diet that included only raw foods. I became convinced I should leave my “cookin’” to Mother Nature!
The Result of Fasting
The long fast puts the entire body through a cleansing. That also includes toxic accumulations in the brain. And as the brain is cleansed the mind is released. During a long fast you will notice a heightening of ethical and spiritual awareness.
One of the things that happen during a long, cleansing fast is that you lose the six basic fears which plague humankind:
Fear of poverty
Fear of death
Fear of sickness
Fear of getting old
Fear of being criticized
Fear of losing your love
All six, or some combination of these fears, haunt everyone who is captive to the usual nervous imbalances accompanying toxic diet. But when those fears disappear you are really at home with Mother Nature and happily at peace with life in Mother Nature’s world. You can shout the words of the familiar freedom phrase and they will have a meaning only you will truly realize: “Free at last!”