The Bare Essentials

by Christopher Lovejoy on July 31, 2011

The ultimate in personal fulfillment.

Vision-wise, what would this look like for everyone on the planet at this time?

I mentioned recently, at the end of my post, Ultimate Fulfillment?, that I’d like to be the one who articulates the nature, meaning, and realization of ultimate fulfillment.

And do it in a way that satisfies everyone.

While this is true, I’d also like to see others make the attempt. I trust that my writings on this subject will serve as a catalyst for others, to stimulate further inquiry, and to encourage more study.

I’d be delighted to know that someone else had done the articulating.

Where would I start?

Perhaps here: is personal fulfillment worthy of my attention? If so, why?

My sense of what a reasonable answer would look like goes something like this:

It is, but only if the necessary infrastructure is in place for everyone to have it.

Supposing this is true (and that a supporting case can be made for it), what would this infrastructure actually look like, knowing that structure determines behavior?

Could we update existing infrastructure or would a new infrastructure be required?

Suppose that a new infrastructure is required.

Since purpose unifies destiny, what would be the primary motive power for a collective push to put this infrastructure into place and keep it operating at peak efficiency?

And while this infrastructure is put in place and kept in place, how might we fulfill ourselves in the meantime? More to the point, how might we satisfy our most basic needs?

A Picture of Extreme Minimalism

Do we actually need food and water, clothing and shelter, money and sex?

I ask this question, not to be perverse, but to explore the very basis of what humans need (or think they need) based on my extensive reading of same.

1. Do we need food and water?

The living example of Prahlad Jani suggests that we need neither food nor water. He claims to have been living without them since he was eight years old, for 74 years, as of 2010.

The research done on this man is questionable yet intriguing, and the jury is still out on whether he can present a solid case, but it does serve to galvanize interest in this question.

So far, established opinion places upper limits on ‘no food’ at 74 days and ‘no water’ at 18 days.

Experienced water fasters can go without food for up to 40 days, while some can go as long as 60 days or more. They typically do this to purify and heal their bodies, minds, hearts, souls, and spirits.

The anatomy and physiology of the human body, however, indicates that we’re frugivorous.

We’re not carnivores, herbivores, granivores, or omnivores. We’re frugivores.

What this means is that although we can eat meat, fish, dairy, grains, tubers, legumes, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and herbs, we’re not optimally designed to eat them. The human body is not optimally designed to consume blended, juiced, steamed, cooked, processed, or embellished food.

We are, however, optimally designed to eat whole, fresh, ripe, raw, organic fruit in a state of pure nature (or in a state where the fruit is properly mineralized with ideal growth practices).

Vegetables and leafy greens are generally tasteless.

Frugivores will only eat fresh, ripe, raw, organic vegetables and leafy greens to get enough minerals, even as they juice or blend them to add variety or to facilitate detoxing and healing.

Many nuts and seeds are tasty but difficult to digest.

Frugivores might eat small amounts of fresh, ripe, raw, organic, soaked nuts and seeds to ensure they get enough amino acids and essential fatty acids, to build muscle or to sustain them in cold weather.

For added calories and nutrition, they’ll eat sprouted grains, steamed tubers and vegetables, and to assist detoxification, they’ll ingest herbs in blended or juiced form, or as part of a salad.

In a pure state of nature, an intelligent, frugivorous species eats a variety of whole, fresh, ripe, raw, organic fruits that are properly mineralized for optimum health, fitness, and vitality.

Juicy fruit for breakfast (e.g., melons, grapes, cherries), dense fruit for lunch (e.g., bananas, dates, berries, mangos), and acidic fruit for dinner (e.g., oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, kiwi). Or, if you’re advanced with this way of eating, two daily meals of juicy fruit, dense fruit, or acidic fruit.

A weight-loss program might emphasize a combination of green juices and mono meals of juicy fruit, and a long-term detox program might emphasize the consumption of mono meals of juicy fruit.

In the absence of detox symptoms, benefits of this way of eating include clear, soft, smooth skin; sound sleep and an abundance of energy; sensitivity to feeling (your own and others); a light mood and crystal clear thinking; robust health flush with vitality; and rapid weight loss, if desired.

You smell nice, your eyes are bright, your hair shines, your skin glows. You stay cool in hot, humid weather. You can walk, swim, and jog faster, farther, longer. What’s not to like?

Incidentally, all of this fruit, with the structured water that it contains, will hydrate you and keep you hydrated, even under a hot sun, making it unnecessary for you to drink water. Unless you’re detoxing or engaged in high-performance athletics, drinking water remains optional.

(Fair warning: a myriad of issues can arise in making a transition to this diet way of eating (Where do I get my protein? How do I get my B12? Can I handle this much sugar? What if I start detoxing and become tired, weak, or sickly? How do I handle cravings for cooked food? What if I lose too much weight? Do I need a blender, a juicer, or a food processor? Should I do colonics? How much exercise do I need?). If you’re interested in pursuing such a transition, here’s a link to help you get started. This is not the only resource, but in my opinion, it’s one of the best.)

2. Do We Need Clothing and Shelter?

In my post, In Praise of Ecstasy, I did a quick review of a film from 1961 called Diary of a Nudist.

As I watched this film, it became apparent to me that we don’t need clothing in a climate where temperatures are warm, in an environment where the sun shines much of the time.

In my post, Beautiful Evergreen, I did a quick review of a film from 1996 called La Belle Verte.

As I watched this film, it became apparent to me that we don’t need shelter in a climate where temperatures are warm, in an environment where the sun shines much of the time, with landscapes that are conducive for getting protection from the harsher elements.

If natural conditions are ripe, we don’t need clothing and artificially constructed shelters.

If natural conditions are not ripe, we could engineer them into existence to make them look and feel as natural as possible to obviate any need for clothing and shelter.

3. Do We Need Money and Sex?

Imagine living alone on a virgin island in a tropical setting where the fruit, flora, and fauna are benign and plentiful. There’s even a cave that protects you from the elements.

What more would you need?

The obvious answer: something to do.

And not just something to do, but something that keeps you occupied for as long as you desire.

Would you need money to do it?

You already have everything you need. Why would you need money?

Would you need money to make a home for yourself? To set a daily routine for yourself? To run and jump and laugh? To swim, and then lounge in the shade? To explore the island at your leisure?

Would you need the filthy lucre to embrace your island environment like a playground, to treat the fruit with immense gratitude, the flora with reverence, and the fauna with profound respect?

Would you need it to meditate in peace on top of a hill overlooking the ocean? To watch the sun rise along a crisp, clear horizon? To dance a dance of ecstasy in the pouring rain?

No. No, you wouldn’t.

You would adapt to your environment and you would make the island your home by exploring every nook and cranny of it until you knew it like the back of your hand.

You would take a leisurely pace, be content with what you have, and make the most of what little you do have. Without a care in the world, you would have the time of your life.

Would you need sex to enjoy this island lifestyle?

That is, would it harm you if you didn’t have someone to ride or hump every night?

Obviously not.

And would it harm you if you lost your need for it?

Of course not.

Certainly, you wouldn’t want to suppress or repress your sexual urges and impulses.

But you could, with an attitude of mindfulness, lift your sexy urges and impulses out of the realm of unconsious need into the realm of conscious desire so that you would have a felt choice.

Needs are Satisfied, Desires are Fulfilled

In reality, under certain conditions, we need so little to survive and be content.

So little.

So little compared to what we’re accustomed to having.

Many of us, however, are not satisfied with merely surviving and being content with what we already have and with making the most of what we do have.

So many of us want more, better, faster, stronger, smarter.

If the mainstream media is anything to go by, many of us want more stimulating food, even if that means compromising our health, fitness, and vitality over the long-term.

More of us want better quality water (structured water, in fact) than what is provided by mere tap water or bottled spring water or distilled water.

Many of us want to wear clothes out of modesty, or to wear more attractive clothes, or to wear clothes with more sex appeal – or at least clothes that are comfortable and familiar.

Many of us want a place to call home – not merely a place to live. We wouldn’t be satisfied living in a cardboard box, a virgin island cave, or a carefully constructed lean-to.

Truth be told, most of us want as much money as possible to fulfill our every desire.

It is the most obvious thing in the world to see that many of us want to be more attractive, better equipped, to do things faster, to be stronger, smarter, more fit and more vital.

In this chronic, theatrical stimulus struggle we call life, every desire feels like a need, and yet, as we have seen, in reality, under certain conditions, we need so little to survive and be content.

The Benefits of Community

I fully realize that the scenario I painted above of extreme minimalism is best applied to those who actually know themselves, who have realized themselves fully in relation to others.

I also realize that complications arise and increase the more people you add to a tropical island. Obvious benefits can be had by adding someone you love, a close-knit family or tribe, or even a thriving community.

With the question of money and sex, I raised the example of living on a tropical island, but whether we live in a community of like-minded people or not, we don’t need sex. Nor do we need money.

Take the example of Heidemarie Schwermer.

In 1996, she made the biggest decision of her life: to live without money.

About 22 years ago, in response to seeing so many homeless people, she leveraged her authority and skills as a school teacher to open a swap shop called Gib und Nimm (Give and Take), where people (mostly retirees and the unemployed, as it turned out) could exchange products, skills, and services.

She evolved to a point where she realized she could tap into the good will that she had garnered with her swap shop, performing menial jobs or professional services in exchange for board and lodging.

She has since appeared on talk shows to share her experience of living without money.

She wrote two books about it, directing her publisher to channel all proceeds from sales to charity, and she was the subject of a documentary, Living Without Money, that examines how she does it.

Although she keeps an emergency fund of 200 euros, she rarely needs to use money (and only when an essential service provider, like a train service, refuses to barter with her).

With virtually no money to her name, this resourceful lady has gone beyond mere survival to live an active and flourishing life filled with joy and contentment.

Which Desires are Legitimate?

For too many, these are trying times.

As the ranks of the unemployed continue to swell, as more and more people lose their homes, as food prices continue to inflate, and as the ability and willingness of governments to provide social services shrinks in the face of mounting debts, what we actually need is coming into focus.

What (really, truly) matters?

As I suggested above, the fulfillment of desire goes beyond the satisfaction of need. As we satisfy what little we need, we are free to contemplate, cultivate, and celebrate the fulfillment of our desires.

But which desires are legitimate?

In a world where so many are living on so little, is any desire legitimate? Could a case be made for the legitimacy of some desires? For the legitimacy of any and all desires?

There are those whose every action contributes in some way to the welfare of others and there are those whose every action is geared towards ensuring their own welfare exclusively.

Everyone, I think, can sense their place on this continuum with respect to everyone else.

As far as I can see, a better balance between contribution and exclusion seems called for.

If, with perspicuity, we can rise above our collective complacency, perhaps we’ll realize we have a ways to go before we’ve struck this balance, with a new infrastructure for living with less, where less is more.

Previous post:

Next post: