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Copyright 1912 by H. W. PERCIVAL


How do the hibernating animals live without food and apparently without air during their long periods of hibernation?

No animal organism can live without food. The need and functions of the organism determine the kind of food required. Hibernating animals do not live without food nor usually without air, though it is not necessary for them to take food into their digestive organs to keep alive during the period of their hibernation. Hibernating animals with lungs usually breathe, but their respirations are no more than enough to keep their bodies in contact with their life currents which are at so low an ebb that the animals seem not to breathe at all.

Types of animals and their habits are arranged according to certain economic laws of nature for the preservation of creatures of nature. Food is necessary for the maintenance of every bodily structure, and man’s civilization has made it necessary that as to him the intervals at which food is taken should be of short duration. Man accustomed to his three or more meals a day does not understand or appreciate how it is that animals can go days or weeks without food, and that some can live through the winter without eating. Animals in their wild state require proportionately less food than man. The food eaten by natural animals is to supply their needs and so must the food man eats supply his bodily needs.

But man’s food must also supply the energy required for the activity of his brain and his wants. According to the economy of nature the food man eats would increase his store of energy and add to his power. Usually he drains his energies into excesses of pleasures. What more than enough the animal eats to supply its present needs is stored in its body as so much surplus energy, and on that it draws when the supply of food is not sufficient for its needs.

As winter approaches, the animals which hibernate increase in fat and are ready to begin their winter’s sleep. The cold cuts off their food supply, freezes the ground and drives them into their dens. Then they coil or fold themselves into the position which best conserves their heat and protects from cold. Breathing slows down, the number and lengths of respirations are regulated to the amount of fuel necessary to keep active the flame of life. The food used is not now for muscular activities, but to supply the organism with the energy needed to keep it intact, through its long period of dormancy and sleep. This food or fuel is the surplus energy which it had stored up in its body in the form of fat and which is drawn on during its hibernating according to the body’s needs.

As the earth inclines to the sun, the sun’s rays, instead of glancing off the earth’s surface as in winter, now strike more directly into the earth, increase the magnetic currents and start the sap and flow of life in trees. The sun’s influence also awakens the hibernating animals from their sleep, each according to its nature, and as its food supply is made ready by the sun.

Circulation of the blood makes respiration necessary on account of the oxygen which the blood needs and which it gets through the lungs. Increased respiration causes increased circulation. The circulation is as active as the respiration is rapid and deep. Bodily activity makes the blood active and the active circulation increases the number of respirations, all of which uses up the energy supplied by food. Inactivity of the animal decreases its circulation. In the hibernating animal the circulation slows down to the minimum and its respiration is hardly if at all perceptible. But there are animals in whom the circulation and respiration stop and in whom the functions of the organs are suspended.


Can an animal with lungs live without breathing? If so, how does it live?

Some animals with lungs do live without breathing. Such animals keep alive by suspending the functions of the organs requiring a food supply and by keeping in touch the animating principle within with the life principle of nature, the invisible and intangible ocean of life, through the magnetic co-ordinating formative principle of its physical body. Seldom if ever a year goes by that the newspapers do not give some facts connected with the discovery of an animal which has lived for an immense period without the possibility of its breathing. Frequently the writer of the article is one who has for the first time heard of a fact such as that of which he writes, and he is likely to describe it as being the first case of its kind on record. As a matter of fact, there are numerous well authenticated cases on record, in reputable scientific journals. Not many months ago one of the morning papers gave an account of such a remarkable discovery. A party of explorers were in search of certain specimens in the interest of science. They had occasion to cut through a section of rock. In one of their cuts the solid rock opened and disclosed a toad which had been embedded in that solid mass. Immediately the toad became the chief object of interest. While looking at it as it lay flattened into its little stone chamber where it had been entombed for centuries, one of the party poked it to see if it was petrified, and the toad surprised them all by hopping out of his tomb. The member who reported his discovery said that he had heard and read of such cases, but had always doubted their possibility until he had witnessed the phenomenon. At the time of the report the toad was alive and well. On another occasion it was reported by persons of repute that while cutting through certain strata of rock in the side of an old watercourse, as the rock parted a lizard rolled out, and was captured when it began to crawl lazily away.

Animals which are found alive fastened between ledges of rocks, or entombed in solid rock, or which have grown into trees, or been buried in the ground, are animals which hibernate, but which can also suspend all organic functions by cutting off the air supply and at the same time cut off the physical connection with certain nerve centers and put them into etheric contact. This is done by rolling the tongue back into the throat and filling the air passage with the tongue. The tongue so rolled back presses into the larynx and stops the windpipe or trachea at its upper end. The tongue thus serves two purposes. It plugs the windpipe, and so prevents the passage of air into the lungs, and, thus placed, it makes a battery through which the life current flows into the body as long as the circuit is kept closed. When the air supply is shut off from the lungs, the blood cannot be aerated; oxygenation of the blood ceases; without blood supply the organs cannot perform their functions. Ordinarily under these conditions death follows, because the current of the breath is broken, whereas the breath must be kept swinging for the physical machinery of life to keep running. But if when the air supply is cut off from the lungs a more subtle connection than the breath is made between the physical body and the life ocean, the physical body can be kept alive as long as the connection with life is made and the body remains quiet.

As long as the tongue is kept in the position described, the animal will live; but it cannot move, because air breathing is necessary for physical activity, and it cannot breathe while its tongue stops its air passage. When the tongue is removed the connection with the subtle life flow is broken, but the physical life current begins with the swing of the breath.

Aside from the fact that toads and lizards have been found alive in solid stone, much speculation has been indulged in, as to how, unhurt, they got there. As to how a toad or a lizard could have been entombed in stone, the following may suggest two of the several possible ways.

When a creature is found in stone of aqueous formation by a river bank, it is possible that, during a period of its physical inactivity, the water rose and covered it and that there were deposits from the water which settled around the creature’s body and so imprisoned it. When an animal is found in stone of igneous origin, it is possible that while in its physically quiescent state, it stood in the way of and was covered over by a cooling stream of molten rock flowing from a volcano. Objections might be made that no toad or lizard would remain in the water long enough and suffer deposits to accumulate into a mass of stone about it, nor could they stand the heat and weight of molten rock. These objections will lose much of their importance to one who has been observant of the habits of toads and lizards, when he recalls the intense heat which they seem to enjoy, and when it is understood that while physically dormant and in contact with the subtler current of life, they are insensible to physical conditions and sensation.


Does science recognize any law by which man can live without food and air; if so, have men so lived, and what is the law?

According to modern science there is no such law, because no such law is known to modern science. That a man can live for a long period without food and air is not admitted by official science. There cannot, according to science, be any law which allows a man to live without food and air, all evidence notwithstanding, until science has formulated the law and officially approved it. Nevertheless, men have lived for long periods, without food and cut off from air, according to trustworthy witnesses, and as chronicled in public records. In India there are numerous records in modern times, and accounts and legends going back many centuries, of yogis who because of certain practices were able to and did suspend bodily functions and remain without air for long periods of time. Almost any Hindu has either heard of or witnessed such a performance. One such account will serve to illustrate.

In order to prove that man could acquire extraordinary powers usually considered impossible, a certain Hindu yogi offered to demonstrate to some English officers that he could live for a long period without food or air. The Englishmen proposed test conditions, which were accepted, it being understood however that no other than the yogi’s chelas, disciples, prepare him for the ordeal and care for him after it. At the time appointed a large gathering of people assembled to witness the wonder about to be performed. Surrounded by his large audience, the yogi sat in meditation until his disciples attending him saw a certain change come over him. Then they placed him at length in a coffin which was covered and in turn placed in a leaden casket. The cover of the casket was put on and hermetically sealed and was lowered over six feet into the ground. The earth was then thrown on the casket, and grass seed was sown over it. Soldiers kept constant guard around the spot, which was also a place of attraction to visitors. Months passed, the grass grew into a heavy sod. At the time agreed upon all parties concerned were present, and the audience was large, as the news of the wonder had spread far. The grass was carefully examined with satisfaction. The sod was cut into and removed, the ground opened, the leaden casket raised, the seals broken and cover removed, and the Yogi was seen lying as he had been placed. He was reverently removed. His disciples rubbed his limbs, manipulated his eyes and temples, pulled out and washed his tongue. Soon respiration began, the pulse beat, a sound issued from the Yogi’s throat, his eyes rolled and opened and he sat up and spoke. The only difference in the Yogi was that he appeared to be more emaciated than at the time of interment and burial. This case is recorded in one of the government reports.

Those who claim to be acquainted with the practices necessary to go into such trance conditions, state that Yogis prepare themselves by certain breathing exercises and by certain treatment of the tongue and throat. It is said by them and also stated in books dealing with the subject of “Yoga,” that by meditation and exercises in the exhalation, inhalation and retention of the breath, the operation of the physical organs may be suspended and the body still kept alive. It is said to be necessary for one who would go into a long trance to be able to roll his tongue back into his throat. To make this physically possible, it is claimed that the connection between the lower jaw and the tongue must be cut or worn away. Then the would be Yogi is supposed to pull—or what is called “milk”—his tongue in order to stretch it to the required length necessary for the operation. His teacher shows him how.

Whether or not those kind of Yogis have learned to imitate hibernating animals and patterned the natural trance conditions of certain animals, nevertheless the conditions and processes are similar, though what the Yogi lacks in the natural endowment he acquires by practice, or artificial means. The tongue of the toad or lizard requires no operation to give it length, nor do these animals require breathing exercises to connect them with an inner flow of life. Season and place will determine when they shall become entranced. What an animal can do by natural endowment, man may also learn to do. The difference is that man has to supply with mind, what he lacks by nature.

For man to keep alive without breathing he must make connection with his psychic breath. When his psychic breath flows his physical breath stops. The psychic breath is sometimes induced unintentionally by a mental attitude or disturbance, or it may be induced by the magnetism or the mind of another, as in deep magnetic or hypnotic trance. When a man, of his own will, passes into a state where he lives without breathing he does so by some such physical and breathing exercise as described or, except for natural breathing, without any physical movement whatever. In the first case he makes contact with his psychic breath from his physical body below. In the second case he relates his psychic breath to his physical from his mind above. The first method is by means of the senses, the second is by means of the mind. The first method requires the development of the inner senses, the second method is accomplished when one learns how to use his mind intelligently, independently of his senses.

Many grades of matter and more than one body enter into the construction of man. Each of his bodies or grade of matter is supplied from the world to which it belongs. But the main life supply is through one of the bodies which transfers life to the others. When the life supply is taken through the physical it is used and transferred to the psychic. When the main supply comes through the psychic it transfers to and keeps alive the physical. The law is that man can keep his body alive by the breath he is able to give it.

A Friend [H. W. Percival]