Observations and Notes from a Veteran Sungazer

© 2001 through 2020; permission to copy all sungazing information (with full attribution and 
acknowledgement of source) heartfully granted see copyright page

This site has been created by Vinny Pinto, a mystic, remote spiritual healer and consulting scientist. You may subscribe, as a public subscriber, to Vinny's public Facebook page or Twitter feed by using the buttons below:

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Prefatory Note, as of September 23, 2007

For several years, I have felt that much of the information on this webpage was rather hopelessly outdated and in need of serious updating and revision. However, since this website is, and always has been, a voluntary effort, I simply did not have the time to devote to the rather lengthy revisions which I felt were needed. Finally, in August 2007, I started work on some revisions, and by September 23, 2007, I felt that this newly-revised page, while still not at all perfect, was ready to be uploaded to the web. I am sure that there are still some typos, including misspellings, and also some omissions, and for these I apologize in advance! I will be performing even more work on the webpage as time allows in ensuing months.

For Sungazers: Click Here for Results of the First Sungazer's Survey!

A note on history: This page was first created and placed on the web in February 2001 as a page on the website; it eventually grew into its present form, now located at This page was last updated in July 2011. As time passes, more material will be added and the article(s) will undergo further editing.  

AN IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: According to many experts within the field of Western medicine, sungazing may be harmful to the eyes, possibly even resulting in long-term serious damage. I personally agree with this assessment to at least some extent. This site does NOT recommend sungazing as a practice, and rather, offers some relevant information for those who choose, on their own, to sungaze, or who are interested in the phenomenon. If you feel that you must sungaze, then my suggestion is you do not consider sungazing for even one second without consulting with a qualified and licensed health professional, as well as using your common sense! And, if you must sungaze, I recommend that you may wish to read my suggested guidelines listed on this page under the section entitled Sungazing Methods Most Commonly Used. And, I must note that there are even some people (albeit a minority) who have sungazed for brief times only during the so-called safe time windows and who have still reported that they developed some degree of significant eye damage.


Please note that the information that you find on this page about sungazing may be more balanced and objective than -- and may differ greatly from -- the "hyped" or exaggerated information and claims about the "benefits" of sungazing which are presented on a number of other websites devoted to the topic of sungazing, and will likely also differ radically from the content of some lectures and published articles on sungazing from many other sources. This is due to the fact that a significant number of those other websites, articles and lectures devoted to sungazing have been created and delivered by self-styled sungazing gurus or sungazing teachers or sungazing "advocates", or by some of their devoted students and disciples, many of whom may approach sungazing as a religion, and who may make many rather radical and extreme claims regarding the purported benefits of sungazing. These hyped claims may range from claims that all who sungaze will -- in short order -- experience complete healing of all emotional mental and physical ills, and some sungazing gurus and teachers have even claimed that sungazing will lead to massive and spectacular supernatural powers or even lead to immortality. It is also true that several self-styled teachers of sungazing even claim publicly that anyone who sungazes long enough will become inedian -- that is, they will not longer need to eat any food.  

As you have likely guessed if you have read thus far -- and as you will undoubtedly realize if you read further on this page -- the author of this site makes no such claims and does not subscribe to any such claims. Indeed, while I have heard a modest number of claims of mild to modest healing or improvement in various areas due to sungazing from some people, I have heard first-hand from many hundreds of disappointed and angry people who had been zealous, fanatical and devoted students or disciples of any of several sungazing teachers who have made some of the more extreme promises iterated above, who had reached the requisite and prescribed number of minutes of sungazing (as prescribed by one or more of the fundamentalist systems), and who had experienced no such spectacular effects or healings as had been claimed by their gurus. In fact, some of these people have reported that they suffered mild to moderate eye damage from the practice, as detected in expensive and sophisticated fluoroscopic medical tests. Due to confidentiality and privacy requests, and to the Privacy Act and commonsense civility, no further information is available from this author regarding the identities of those who have claimed to have suffered eye damage from sungazing. However, I have noticed since late 2004 that at least two other sungazing websites, have, at times, addressed this issue and even included actual reports of such mild damage (do not contact me to ask me for these links; you must find them yourself if those pages still exist -- these pages and links move constantly.)

If you have guessed that I have little patience for fundamentalist fanatical zealots who proselytize the practice of sungazing (or anything else, for that matter), you are entirely correct!  I have been sungazing since 1987, and at that time sungazing was a very private practice engaged in only by relatively few persons, and almost all who engaged in the practice did so only because they had strongly guided to so on an inner level by inner guidance. To my dismay, sungazing has, since early 2003, become a "fad" in many Westernized countries (including especially the USA) and in India alike, particularly in the worlds of yoga, the New Age movement (sigh... an addle-brained religion if there ever was one) and the alternative health world. I bemoan the fact that it has become so popular and indeed, turned into the latest "fad" -- due entirely to the proselytizing efforts of a few self-styled sungazing gurus from India -- because I feel strongly that sungazing is not a practice which is suited for most people most of the time, particularly given the diet and lifestyle so prevalent in Westernized countries.

The bottom line is this: in all matters, caveat emptor! While these over-zealous missionary "teachers" cited above who proselytize are simply exercising their rights of free speech, I do feel that these fundamentalist zealots end up misleading many people, and worse (from my point of view), they end up convincing people to sungaze whom I feel were not, and are not, ready for the practice. And what if you are one of those persons who believed all of the fancy promises and claims of one of the fundamentalist zealots about the "benefits" of sungazing? Well, my opinion is that if you have blindly surrendered your wisdom and power and choice to the exaggerated promises of one of the sungazing preacher zealots or to one of their more zealous students or disciples (several of whom have admittedly created "missionary" websites which have made some extreme and hyped claims for the benefits of sungazing, turning it into a religion), yes, you may indeed have reason to feel disappointed, but only in yourself, and not in the self-styled fanatical fundamentalist sungazing gurus. The USA is a free country, and these people are free to say and claim what they wish, and if you fell for their hollow promises, it is/was only your greed and self-delusion which led you to accept the outlandish claims of the fundamentalist sungazing promoters. My only advice to you would be to learn to trust your intuition and your gut sense, to learn to look within for answers and guidance, rather than to fundamentalist gurus in the outside world.

So, before you decide to believe the wild or extreme claims of self-styled sungazing preachers, and before you choose to surrender your power and personal responsibility and wisdom to such self-styled gurus, "teachers and preachers", and before you put such a proselytizer on a pedestal and make them your guru, I ask you this: Why put your faith in the words or promises of others?  (And, more to the point: why believe every claim which you encounter on the Internet?)  Why not run your own life, surrendering only to God / Being / Source / Holy Spirit (whichever label works for you), rather than surrendering your choices and power to the mere words and promises of a mere human who obviously has an agenda, as do the sungazing gurus?  All such words and promises are, as many spiritual teachers have pointedly written, mere baubles and trinkets, mere glitter, with which to distract the restless and those who are driven by fear. 

End of caveat! Okay... now, back to the introduction...

Moving on with the Introduction

The benefits of at least modest regular exposure to sunlight are well-documented even by mainstream Western medical science, as are the detriments and downsides of lack of frequent exposure to sunlight.  The benefits of sunlight exposure and the dark side of lack of sun are so well-known that it is hardly necessary to document them here. While many folks make serious efforts to get regular sun exposure, especially those who pursue higher levels of health and vitality, it seems that a tremendous number of folks who eat raw food or partly-raw Paleolithic diets especially pursue sunlight with a particular ferocity.  It is probably far less well-known that some folks, even in Western countries, and especially some who eat raw foods diets, go a step further and not only regularly sunbathe, but also engage in an ancient practice known as sungazing (aka sun-gazing, solar gazing, sun staring, solar yoga or sun gazing) for the purpose of improving health and vitality.  Yes, sungazing means staring at the sun – precisely the kind of thing which many medical authorities (whether in Western or Eastern countries) would claim should almost instantly result in blindness and long-term eye damage.  And, no, it is NOT the purpose of this article to try to persuade anyone to sungaze. Rather, the author of this article wishes to make perfectly clear that sungazing (particularly if done outside the time windows of the first 1/2 hour after sunrise or last 1/2 hour prior to sunset) can possibly be very risky, and that he is NOT recommending this practice to anyone at any time. Most importantly, never sungaze from 10 AM till 3:30 PM unless you know exactly what you are doing, and never sungaze during an eclipse, as your pupils may be tricked by the apparent lack of light intensity into letting too much light into your eyes.

Vinny is a multi-disciplinary scientist and engineer with extensive experience plus undergraduate-level training in electrical engineering and physics, and with a graduate degree (Master's) in the sciences. However, he is also, first and foremost, a mystic and a spiritual healer and spiritual guide/teacher. He lives his life in surrender to Divinity, and has been given a Divine gift wherein he serves as a window for Divine love and grace into this world. At the request of Divinity, Vinny has created a webpage on his spiritual healing website that gives page visitors a chance to receive, free-of-charge, some of the flow of Divine love and grace. You are welcome to visit this page at

Donations and Support for this Website

This freely-offered educational website has been totally self-supported by the author, Vinny Pinto, since its inception (and many of my websites were started between August 2000 and June 2003). While I offer the content on this website freely, as a gift to all from my heart, it is quite obvious that not only did my research in these realms (and also my training, including formal education, that allowed me to offer this material in the first place) incur costs, but there are also monthly and yearly costs associated with web hosting, domain registration, etc. As you have likely noticed, I have chosen not to accept any advertising on any of my websites. As a result of all of these factors, any funds that you might choose to donate toward supporting my research work and this site will be very much appreciated.

Thus, I am seeking donations to help me to support this site -- even two dollars helps! If you wish to donate, you may do so by using your credit card, ATM card, debit card, or transfer from your bank account, via fully secure means. To make a donation, please go to the Donations and Support page ! All transactions are secure; in all cases, you get to choose the donation amount!

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A Brief Note About My Consulting Services
I offer fee-based consulting services in a number of realms within the sciences and fringe sciences. For a few years, I had offered 20 minutes per person of free consulting, on a donation-only basis, in the realm of sungazing.  Unfortunately, too many folks (many of them alternative health "doctors", for some odd reason) abused that offer, with too-frequent and repeated requests for "free" consulting, while never offering donations to support my work to enable me to continue to offer the services. Thus, while I still offer consulting in the realm of sungazing to those who request it, it is now subject -- as of June 25, 2004 -- to the normal terms for my fee-based consulting services.  Details on my consulting services and fees may be found by clicking here.


Many folks believe that sunlight is very good for the body and are sun-worshippers; most also (myself included) refuse to use sunscreen or wear sunglasses (except perhaps when driving into the sun!). I love the sun, and have practiced sungazing (no, I am not recommending that you do this yourself) since 1987, sometimes, in my early days of practice, gazing at the noonday sun (summertime, Western Pennsylvania, USA) for a half-hour at a time with open eyes and my bare feet planted on the ground.  I continue to sungaze at least a little bit at least once or twice per week, as guided by my intuition. My friend and colleague Patrick, who is also a scientist and researcher, started to sungaze in 1968, and he taught seminars across the country in the late 1970s thru the mid 1980s on sungazing, and he too still sungazes to this day, as do I. 

I personally believe that this practice of sun staring has some significant health and well-being benefits for some persons, but it is certainly not for everyone. Several well-known "gurus" (I am not at liberty to share names!) in the various raw foods diet traditions and the alternative health world advocate sungazing (and also lots of sunbathing), and they engage in both practices themselves; I have, over the years, corresponded with some of them about their own practices in this regard.

I am always extremely cautious about encouraging others to sungaze; indeed, I uniformly try to discourage everyone who asks! Interestingly, anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that some folks do seem to experience some minor (or even moderate) mental and emotional problems for awhile after first starting to sungaze. We speculate that this may be due to the vast increase in energy available in the human system -- it probably breaks thru some defenses and armoring, and allows things which had been suppressed to be released. 

Please note that I am not recommending sungazing, nor claiming that it can be done without harm. I, and a number of other people whom I know personally have definitely sungazed for a long time without any obvious harm to ourselves, but I do not want someone to take our word for it.  The general belief in Western popular culture, Western medicine and consensus reality is that sungazing for even a 2 seconds can irreversibly damage the eye and lead to instant partial or full permanent blindness, and you need only to do a web search to find lots of articles and stories from the Western medical literature on this whole thing!  On the other hand, I have sungazed for at least 16 years in temperate zone latitudes within the USA (east coast) and also at times in Southern California and Florida, and never suffered any detectable eye damage. I turned 52 years old in 2003, have excellent vision and do not wear corrective lenses of any kind; medical doctors and optometrists doctors have never detected any kind of eye damage during my physical exams and eye exams (there was, in 1990, one possible extremely minor and transient exception, which may be detailed later in this page.)

An Email List Group for Sungazers

As a result of discussions with Hira Manek and other sungazers, I decided in October 2003 to start an email list group devoted to sungazing at Yahoo Groups. Due to the drastic downscaling of Yahoo Groups in October, 2019, the group is now hosted at The list name is Sungazing, and the home page for the Sungazing list group is Membership is restricted. To join this group, click the "join" link from the group's home page or send an email to

Overview and Some History

A correspondent in North America sent me an email message in mid-2001 about sungazing:

“… . . . I met someone who has done a little sun gazing...
He says it's based on a Native American tradition, and that the best hours are sunrise and sunset, and it's safest to look through a tiny aperture formed by your own fingers (something to do with filtering it through your own energy.)  He added that one must cover one's eyes afterwards and stare at the afterimage until it disappears (your body has absorbed the energy)...
He claimed to have improved his night vision this way, and that the Native Americans used it to develop hawk-like microscopic vision...
I've certainly enjoyed looking near the sun lately, and at sunset it is not painful, but the afterimage from even a glance makes me nervous... . "
My reply to my correspondent was as follows:
“Well, your friend is technically incorrect in that while it is indeed true that is a Native American tradition, it has appeared across earth in many cultures, going back to ancient Egypt, the ancient Yogis (Hindu and Buddhist in both India and Tibet) and the early Aztecs and Incas (and possibly Mayans) as well.  I, as well as a lot of folks I know, tend to actually favor sungazing when the sun is even higher in the sky than early AM or late afternoon.  I have never tried the aperture/slit thing with the fingers.  Nowadays, I usually sungaze every day for about two minutes at about 10 AM or a bit later. I used to sungaze for 1/2 hour at noon in midsummer, but that was 12 years ago. I still do that for a few minutes at a time, occasionally.”
(end of reply to email)

Several correspondents have mentioned that our modern form of sungazing seems similar to Surya (solar) Yoga, still practiced by yogis in India to this day. You may read more below about modern practitioners from India and elsewhere.

Actually, there have been several folks who have traveled this country (the USA) giving seminars on sungazing, or in one case, written about it in books;  I learned of them only since 1999, well after starting sungazing on my own (I started sungazing in 1987.)  

The Evolution in the Western World of Sungazing

I first started this page in early 2001. I have been advised by several observers that until early 2003, this had been the only page or website on the web offering a somewhat "positive" view of the practice of sungazing, but since mid-2003, a number of other sites on the topic (yes, I provide links to some of them later on this page!) have emerged as well; as of mid-2007 there are many dozens of websites devoted to the topic (and unfortunately, most of them are ones which espouse a fanatical and fundamentalist approach to sungazing. I have also witnessed a large increase in the amount of calls and emails which I receive about sungazing since early 2003. Much of this increase in the popularity of sungazing has been due to the proselytizing efforts of an India-born self-styled sungazing guru named Hira Manek. And, much as I mention early in the introduction, sungazing has recently become far better known and more "mainstream" in the Western world, and has, in fact, become a fad in some circles.

Documentary Films on Sungazing 

The very existence of this section is a perfect example of the trend noted above, wherein there has been, as of mid-2003, a large surge of interest in sungazing in the Western world.  Since early 2003, there have been at least four organizations in the Western world which have produced documentary films on sungazing. Among others, I was contacted in 2004 by a filmmaker named Peter Sorcher in California. Peter runs a small California-based film-making company, he is producing a documentary film on sungazing and has already interviewed Hira Manek, Mason Dwinell (both mentioned below) and even Gene Savoy, along with a number of other sungazers (including myself). I will report more news here and on the Sungazing list group as I learn more about when this documentary film will be released.

Sungazing Practitioners, Advocates, Traditions, Systems and Websites

Unfortunately, resources in the form of written information have been, until recently, incredibly hard to come by on this topic.  Despite arduous searches, until mid 2002, I never found anything on the web on this practice, at least nothing at all positive.  I have, somewhere in a file folder, a few photocopies of not-very-good articles from books and magazines during the period from 1920 to 1980 on various forms of "solar yoga" practiced by various spiritual adepts in cultures (Egyptian, Aztec, Mayan, Inca, India/Yogic/Hindu) in the past, all of which seemed to involve sungazing, but all are very general and kinda vague; all these articles had been kindly culled and copied for me by my friend and fellow researcher Steve Dennis in the late 1980s when he learned that I had taken up sungazing (he was at first a bit shocked, but he went on to offer great supportive research...). Most of these articles came from magazines or books published in the first half of the 20th century. This section and the collection of people, systems, traditions and websites presented below reflect pretty much the sum of what I have encountered in my years in the sungazing world. Here goes:

Raw Foods Diets and Raw Food Teachers and "Gurus"
There are several well-known teachers, authors, advocates, or gurus in the world of raw foods diets who sungaze regularly. However, the few whom I know personally have all asked me not to mention their names in association with the practice too publicly, and so I shall refrain from doing so here. However, as I may have mentioned earlier on this page, there are a number of folks in the Western world from the realms of raw foods diets who sungaze regularly. 

For some reason, sungazing seems to have been popular with the raw vegan gurus of old. The infamous Dr. Herbert Shelton -- who was one of the fathers of the raw vegan diet known as Natural Hygiene, aka NH, and who had a number of credibility problems, among other things -- often advocated sungazing, and one quote which several correspondents have found in one of Shelton's books is this one: 
"Gazing directly into the sun actually improves sight and aids in overcoming disease..." 

Indeed, the somewhat controversial raw vegan chiropractor named Dr. Bernarr Zovluck, D.C. D.D., from Santa Monica, California, who claims to have been a 100% raw vegan for over 50 years, reproduces the above Shelton quote on his website, as well as some other information about sungazing (not a whole lot...) on a webpage at, and Dr. Zovluck has confirmed, in response to email inquiries, that he continues to practice sungazing.

I know many raw vegans (no, I am not one myself), and many of them sungaze, and a lot of them do so because of the recommendations from Shelton and other early raw foods pioneers... some have even claimed that Ann Wigmore, the "Wheatgrass Lady", sungazed, and it is definitely true, at the least, that she sunbathed a lot; there seems to be no hard evidence that she was a sungazer.

The Various "Essene" Religions of the Past Hundred Years
The original Essenes were a religion and essentially a culture which existed largely in the pre-Christian era. However, with the modern discovery of some early Essene scriptures and documents, some of which testified to the rather natural and healthful lifestyle of the Essenes, there has been a resurgence of many "Essene" religions since the early 1900's. One of the more famous from the early 20th century was the Essene religion, often known as the International Biogenic Society, founded by Edmond Bordeaux Szekely, who had a modest band of followers and who published many slim tracts on his philosophy and lifestyle, with names like "Essene Communions with the Infinite" and "The Essene Code of Life". The society still exists today, and still publishes Szekely's books, and his widow, at least until recently, continued to run a partly-raw vegetarian health resort at which several of my friends have stayed over the years. Anyway, much as you have likely already guessed, one of the primary tenets of this new Essene religion was lots of sunbathing, and even (at least for some members, according to correspondents who have been involved with the movement) sungazing. And now, having dispensed with this primer on modern Essene religions, we are ready to move on to discussing one of the most colorful, "larger-than-life" and swashbuckling figures of the past century, Gene Savoy...

Gene Savoy and Project X: Jamilian (aka Jamailian or Jamalian) University
Then, more recently, there has been the fascinating and legendary explorer/mystic named Gene Savoy from Reno, NV, an explorer, adventurer, archeologist, swashbuckler (apparently the inspiration for the Indiana Jones stories; he was named by People magazine as the authentic "original" Indiana Jones), ordained doctor of divinity (DD), and Essene-like religious author -- as well as a bishop in the church which he had founded -- who ran ads for years in the 1980s and early 1990's in various magazines such as East-West Journal and other Eastern-themed or New Age journals for his Essene-themed religion. His religion appears to have borne any of several names, many of them similar to Jamilian University -- Project X or something similar, of which he was apparently President and Head Bishop. This same church, or a very similar one which he founded, also bore the names International Community of Christ, Church of the Second Advent (the name Jamilian University of the Ordained has repeatedly been linked to this church as well.) Some of Gene's related projects were named The Cosmic/Solar Research Center and Project X Program. During the period in which he ran the magazine advertisements, Gene, under the auspices of his church(es), taught sungazing and other esoteric practices to church members and also lectured publicly on the topics of sungazing and immortality.

Gene's personal website may be found at . Incidentally, the Jamilian University of the Ordained has apparently become more active again in recent years, and their primary website may be found at and a related webpage at

Gene and his teachings have been somewhat controversial at times, and he (like many others) has especially been attacked by reactionary right-wing fundamentalist Christian self-styled "watchdog" groups, who tend to bristle and flame not only at Savoy, but also at any organizations or teachers who do not meet their own narrow and very private (and also unique) definition of Christian orthodoxy. I never mind controversy, and I would normally offer, at this point in this narrative, a link to at least one such critical webpage.  However, I do very much dislike untruth, and it has recently come to my attention that some of the afore-mentioned critical webpages about Gene and his church may not simply be harshly critical, but may also contain a number of grossly untrue allegations, and thus I no longer offer a link to any such pages. 

Gene's religion was apparently an amalgam of methods for spiritual growth, practices to achieve immortality, and other exotic practices; the repertoire included lots of sungazing. He and his church were closely linked to claims of the rediscovery of the Essene doctrines and Essene practices of worship during its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s, and Gene related some fascinating tales of improvements in health, intelligence, spiritual opening, intuitive access and body energy from the sungazing, and also claimed that all watches and clocks near his body ran about 35% slower (some articles on Gene at the time reported that timepieces ran faster, not slower; it seems that at different times Gene witnessed both versions of the "altered-time" phenomena) due, he claimed, to the energy which he derived from sungazing.  He claimed that numerous ancient Incan and Aztec high priests/priestesses and shamans had used sungazing for health, regeneration and healing purposes (Gene was certainly not the first nor last to make this particular claim...), and claimed that sungazing was an essential part of the path to immortality.  He claimed in full-page ads and 3-page ads in the old East-West Journal in the 1980’s that he was incredibly healthy and robust (and, much as referenced earlier, also recounted the tale of watches and clocks that ran slow if placed on or near his body), and attributed much of this to his sungazing; these same ads offered his books on the topic and also advanced personalized training in sungazing and similar methods of achieving immortality. By the way, it was very much a relief for me when Gene's ads which mentioned sungazing first started appearing in East West Journal (and, I seem to remember, in a few other magazines as well) in the late 1980s, because then, when friends expressed skepticism or fear about my practice of sungazing (and such criticism emerged only rarely), I could at least point to Gene's 3-page ads on the matter in East West Journal as proof that I was hardly alone in engaging in this foolish-sounding practice!

Gene Savoy's repeated and multiple links to ancient Essene religions as well as to modern resurrections of them is interesting to those who are raw foodists, because many of the resurrected Essene traditions practice and recommend raw foods diets (and sometimes sungazing as well) for physical regeneration.

Gene's ads in East-West Journal and elsewhere always showed a picture of him decked out in a khaki adventurer's outfit and hat, with pistol at belt, somewhere in the Andes mountains of Peru, standing on some ancient Incan ruins or at the site of an archeological excavation. In 1985 Savoy discovered the remains of Gran Vilaya, an ancient Chachapoyan metropolis, now widely considered to be the largest archaeological remnant of past American civilizations, but only one of many of his discoveries.  People magazine published an article on Gene in 1985, chronicling his adventures and discoveries in South and Central America, and calling him "the real Indiana Jones".  He and his work have been featured on many major television networks and in many major documentaries on archeological explorations of the Americas; see an article and links at and at

Gene published a book called Project X: Search for the Secrets of Immortality (Bobbs-Merrill Co.) in 1977; a link for the book may be found at  and the book apparently covered sungazing practices as well as other methods for improving health and vitality. The book is available in a facsimile reprint version for about $50 at the website of Gene's Andean Explorer's Foundation, with full details on the book at

Although he was definitely an eccentric (hmmm ...sounds like me!), I feel that Gene was definitely onto something powerful with his focus on sungazing. I have a friend and colleague named Patrick who sungazes and who taught workshops on sungazing across the southwest and western parts of the USA in the 1970s and early 1980s; Patrick searched out Gene Savoy in Reno about 1988 and spent hours talking with him about sungazing and spiritual growth, and later shared some of his tales of the meeting with me.

Gene Savoy died of natural causes at his home in Reno, Nevada at age 80 on September 11, 2007. His death received rather wide news coverage across the world, largely because of his feats as an adventurer, explorer and archeologist.

Native American Sungazing Practices

I have been advised by several reputable sources that some Native Americans, particularly priests, healers, seers and shamans, also practiced sungazing.  My afore-mentioned friend Patrick was once approached by an elderly Native American medicine man who shared with him his own practice and stories of sungazing in his culture; the medicine man stated that he still sun-gazed to that day (this was apparently in the late 1980’s). He reported that his Native American tradition believed that if you look at the Sun and go to the heart and thank Sun for life and for everything, and then ask for something, your request will be fulfilled (kinda like instant manifesting, a la the New Agers!)

Hira Ratan Manek, a Retired Engineer from India
Hira Manek has, since 2000, become the best-known promoter of sungazing in the Western world, and particularly in the USA and Canada. He has been a relentless proselytizer of and missionary for the practice of sungazing, and he is what I consider to be a fanatic and fundamentalist who regularly engages in gross exaggerations about the safety of sungazing and the various health and well-being benefits which he claims that it will impart to practitioners. Two or three other sungazing promoters from India have also become somewhat well-known in the West since the early 2000s as well; the best-known of them is likely Sunyogi Umasankar, and you will find a section devoted to Umasankar immediately below this section.

The Times of India and other Indian newspapers, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, featured several stories about a retired Indian male engineer and factory owner (more about this later) in his early 60’s named Hira Manek (aka HRM; his last name is sometimes mis-spelled in news reports as Matek or Manak), who was claimed (at the time of the publication of the articles) to have been on a sun-only “dietary fast” – consisting of sungazing for hours per day – for over 7 months, and under strict medical monitoring to ensure that he really was not eating any food.  The Times of India articles --- there are now more than one -- are apparently still available on the Times of India website (link to main page:, but the exact web page addresses for the articles seem to change regularly! Basically, from about 2001 onward, Hira Manek claimed that he had not eaten solid food in three years, and by late 2003, he was claiming to have abstained from eating solid food for over seven years (in fact, when I met him in October 2005, he cited the seven year figure) and by early 2005, he was claiming that he had continually abstained from eating solid food for 10 years. Rather, he claimed that he drank only one to two liters of water per day, plus several cups of tea to which some buttermilk and sugar had been added.

More recently, as of 2003, Hira Manek started spending a good part of each year in the United States and Canada, and, for a while, headquartered for about half of each year at the estate of an India-born Hindu supporter located in Orlando, FL, and he used this as a home base for his lectures on sungazing across the USA and Canada. By 2003, Hira was claiming that he had had abstained from ingesting solid food for seven years. Interestingly, Hira has been studied several times by researchers both in India and in the West; in each case, the studies appeared to have proven Hira's claims about being able to survive for protracted periods of from 200 days to 410 days without eating solid food. Hira Manek has also claimed that he has been studied by scientists performing research for NASA, but there has been some controversy regarding the veracity of this claim. If you are interested in reading the observations made of Hira Manek by a Western-trained neurologist from India who examined him and monitored him closely during a prolonged supervised fasting study, please see an article by Dr. Sudhir V. Shah on this website.

From mid-2003 onward, as Hira Manek spent a good part of each year touring the US and Canada while delivering lectures proselytizing the practice of sungazing, often staying at the homes of local students and disciples, stories started dogging Hira Manek in his wake, with some persons who had hosted him or sponsored his lectures claiming that they had caught him eating food on the sly, often late at night. Hira steadfastly denied all these claims. The volume and frequency of such tales increased steadily, and in fact, when one Texan supporter who had hosted him in 2004 reported also having caught Hira eating (this time at an Indian buffet restaurant), Hira and some of his close supporters not only denied the allegations as fabrications, but they engaged in what -- from my vantage point and that of other observers -- amounted to an attempt at character assassination on the man who had made the claims. In fact, years later, in early 2007, after some scandals had long since broken regarding Hira and his long-denied eating binges, one of his East Coast female disciples who had been instrumental in trying to impugn the reputation of the Texas man who had reported catching Hira binging on food, called me to tell me that she had left his inner circle and that she felt very remorseful about the role she had played in attempting to defend Hira Manek. 

At the same time that Manek was busily denying that he was clandestinely eating solid food, he was also investing considerable energy in attacking another Indian-born sungazing guru, Sunyogi Umasankar, who had been claiming that he (Umasankar, that is) had been inedian (i.e., not eating) for long periods of time; Hira Manek claimed that it was a well known fact that Umasankar ate food regularly and that Umasankar was therefore a fraud. Manek claimed to be quite infuriated by this alleged deception on Umasankar's part.

By early 2005, tales of clandestine eating binges continued to plague Hira Manek and he and his disciples continued to deny these stories vehemently, insisting that Manek had abstained fully from eating all solid food for 10 years. Indeed, by this time, Manek had become somewhat of a joke among insiders in the sungazing world, both for his relentless missionary-like proselytizing of the practice of sungazing and for the trail of rumors that followed him about his imputed eating binges; there were many jokes afloat at the time in the sungazing world in this regard about Manek and Indian buffet restaurants. Finally, in July 2005, while Hira Manek was delivering a series of lectures on sungazing in San Francisco, a well-known professional filmmaker (who had been making a documentary film on sungazing for several years) and his crew followed Hira Manek into an Indian buffet restaurant in San Francisco and filmed him binging on food. When confronted on camera, Manek tried to deny that he had been eating and offered a number of astounding prevarications in an attempt to explain his predicament. He continued to deny eating food clandestinely for a short while longer, as even more reports began to surface of his having been caught eating surreptitiously. Ultimately, within a few weeks of the San Francisco debacle, Manek issued several statements admitting that he had been clandestinely eating for at least a year (many believe that it was far longer than that, given the volume of stories which followed him in his travels) and claiming that he had lied only to protect his cherished cause of sungazing, and maintaining that he had not lied for personal reasons. As of September 2007, Hira Manek and his followers have once again returned to the not-eating theme, claiming that he has not eaten solid food in over one year.

Incidentally, in addition to the mystery and ambiguity which has attended Hira Manek's claims of having been inedian (at least in terms of abstaining from solid food) for many years and his equally-dubious claim of having been studied by NASA scientists, a new area of ambiguity has emerged regarding Manek, as follows: In the late 1990s and the early 2000s, media reports uniformly referenced Manek as being a retired engineer who had been a wealthy owner of an industrial factory until he had reportedly turned over his factory and his wealth to his employees and others so that he could start to promote sungazing around the world. In fact, when I met Hira Manek in October 2005 in Virginia, this is the exact tale which he related to me at that time about his earlier life in India. However, I note that starting in the year 2006, media articles about Manek and press releases from his camp suddenly began to refer to him only as a retired spice trader from India. In fact, I have twice received calls since mid-2006 from close disciples of Manek (who were largely trying to urge me to aid them in promoting Hira Manek's lectures...) who told me that he was, to their knowledge, never a degreed engineer nor an industrialist in India, and that rather, he had been a spice trader.

I was hardly surprised when the well-documented stories started to emerge in July 2005 about Hira Manek's clandestine eating; the rumors had been too plentiful and too substantial -- and too-well corroborated -- for too long for anyone who knew Manek to really believe that he did not eat solid food at least occasionally. In the aftermath of Manek's exposure as a fraud, a number of persons in the sungazing world expressed shock and dismay at his deception, while I continued to point out that the larger and more important problem, from my point of view, was that Manek was a fundamentalist and a fanatic (can you tell that I tend to be allergic to both?) and that he was continuing to proselytize sungazing, making all kinds of grossly untrue claims about its safety (claiming that it was a safe practice for everyone) and for its purported benefits, to the extent that sungazing had become the latest fad in many segments of the New Age world and the yoga world in Western countries. Indeed, I pointed out at the time that it is such fanaticism and fundamentalism which leads to desperate acts such as the deception and denial in which Hira Manek had engaged for years.

Sunyogi Umasankar

Sunyogi Umasankar, aka Sun Yogi Umasankar (and also Sunyogi Umashankar), an Indian Yogi, was born in 1967 in Lachipur, near Calcutta, to a Hindu family. Next to Hira Manek, who has incidentally, often attacked Umasankar in public for being a fraud, Umasankar is the next-best known Indian sungazing advocate in the Western world. For many years, Umasankar reportedly traveled the Indian subcontinent by foot, carrying no possessions and claiming to eat no food, to attempt to demonstrate his ability to live on sunlight alone, and teaching thousands how to practice what he calls Sun Yoga. His tale of the origin of his sungazing practice is simple: he reports that while living at the Aurobindo ashram in southern India, he discovered rather accidentally the benefits of staring at reflected sunlight from the surface of a lake, and this daily practice eventually progressed to direct sungazing. He claimed that after a few months of such practice, he discovered that his body no longer wanted food, and that he was filled with peace and calm. Incidentally, in the few photos that I have seen of Umasankar from this period (2000 through 2005), he looks quite terrible to me, as he looks very gaunt and emaciated and his eyes are bloodshot.

Umasankar, much like Hira Manek, has claimed often to be fully inedian, that is, that he does not eat solid food at all. And, much as has been the case with Manek in the USA, there have been sporadic reports from India that Umasankar really was eating food and was not truly inedian. Perhaps the ultimate public denouement of Umasankar came in late 2004, when his fellow Indian sungazing guru Hira Manek -- in a fit of guru infighting -- publicly denounced Umasankar, claiming that Sunyogi's claim of being inedian was a lie, and also that Umasankar's annual international spiritual and sungazing conferences were largely sham events.

While I feel that Umasankar definitely falls into the category of being a fanatic and fundamentalist, and while his claims -- made largely in India and largely to an Indian audience -- regarding sungazing and related personal feats have often been outlandish and unrealistic, he has, unlike Manek, not traveled to the Western world to act as a zealot and missionary on behalf of the practice of sungazing, nor has he tried to constantly gain the spotlight in order to promote sungazing to the masses with claims that it is safe for everyone and that it will yield unimaginably great benefits for everyone, and thus I feel that his presence in the sungazing world is far more "harmless" than is Manek's. Incidentally, I have corresponded many times with Umasankar, and I must note with respect that even when Hira Manek was publicly denouncing him on a daily basis, he never exhibited any kind of negative reaction toward Manek, and, when asked, simply replied that he loved Manek as he loved all creatures and that he did not blame Manek for his volley of personal attacks.

Incidentally, in early 2007, Umasankar announced to me and to others in the sungazing world that he would be shortly be going into complete silence and seclusion as a hermit for two years in order to further his spiritual development, and, on June 27, 2007, he sent the following email to a number of his acquaintances (including myself) in the sungazing world [some spelling errors corrected]:

Dear Brothers and Sisters of Universe
I am very SORRY Take Off from all of you for TWO YEARS. I will unable answer all of you. SORRY  VERRY  SORRY.
I strong believe all of your LOVE is with me and protecting me.  Please all of you bless me. I would like to offer my last point of blood for Society. I born from this Society, Learn from this Society so I have to survive for this Society as Servents of Society.
Wish all of you very good health and all the best by Divine Sunlight and Divine Love.

Uma Sankar

For a bit of background on the Sunyogi, one good article on Umasankar may be found at

John Ray, Creator of the Body Electronics System
The recently-deceased Dr. John Ray, a naturopath and the founder of the radical alternative healing system Body Electronics (aka BE; more about John Ray and Body Electronics elsewhere on this website!), often claimed in his lectures and discussions in the 1960s and 1970s that he had encountered, in his travels and quests for advanced methods of healing, a number of practitioners of sungazing, and that he felt that it was a very powerful and dramatic method of healing.  I have a 10-tape audio tape set of John Ray lecturing on Body Electronics (the tape set is commercially available till this day via a distributor) in the late 1970s in which John can be heard referring to sun gazing as a method of achieving greater health. John Ray also mentioned on at least one audiotape that he had personally, if only briefly, practiced sungazing.

Dr. Bernard Jensen of Iridology Fame
Several persons have asserted to me that the late Dr. Bernard Jensen, a naturopath and founder of a system of iridology, also advocated sungazing at times. I have not been able to find independent verification of this assertion in any of Dr. Jensen's published writings, and thus this has long remained an allegation and speculation only. I do note that several acquaintances over the years who studied with Dr. John Ray of Body Electronics fame (see above) have reported hearing Dr. Ray assert much the same thing about Dr. Jensen and sungazing during his early (1960's) lectures on Body Electronics and sungazing.

Dr. Bates of the Bates Vision Method

I have encountered several people who have asserted that Dr. Bates, founder of the Bates Vision Method, also advocated a form of gentle (eyes open, not closed, as suggested by some later Bates Method authors) sungazing, at least in his earlier writings. One correspondent wrote to me the following:

"I have a few books on the Bates method, one of my oldest by Bates himself, which is stashed someplace or other.  The book that I keep handy is the classic by Margaret Darst Corbett, who arranged his teachings in a very handy book.  Here's an excerpt from the book about the author:  "A pupil of Dr. Wm. H. Bates, she has carried out his teachings in her own LA School of Eye Education.  Her trained instructors have gone to all parts of the world...Aldous Huxley, John Dos Passos and Harold Heffernan are among the famous people she has helped."

Okay, now to sungazing.  After a couple of pages explaining that the eyes are light receivers, that sunlight is necessary and relaxing, etc., her book, "Help Yourself to Better Sight" states: "Then, raising head and elbow, blink right through and past the sun itamazement, you will suffer no discomfort or shock.  Repeat the sun-blinking the same way with the other eye.  Do not attempt to blink at the sun with both eyes at once although it would not injure the eyes..."

In keeping with my recent bout of laziness, I first tried an online search on the Bates method, hoping to find something I could excerpt with a copy and paste, but found sites purporting to espouse the Bates method instructing the reader to simply lift closed eyes to the sun.  Wrong, wrong, wrong!"

Indeed, there is now available online, at the website, the website of Imagination Blindness, a copy of Chaprter 17 from one of Bates's early books in which he recommends sungazing and even reports that the performance of subjects on vision tests is improved just after a bout of sungazing, and even after an hour of staring at bright sun.  As linked above, the page may be found at

Dr. Lefebure's Phosphenism

I learned in early 2002 of yet another system, this one based in France, which embraces staring at a strong light source for improved physical and mental health.  Phosphenism®, a system developed by the late Dr. Lefebure, who headed the International Institute of Phosphenology in Paris, France, is a system which claims to de-mystify ancient initiatory practices and offer their benefits to modern folks unencumbered by dogma.  They seem to advocate staring at a strong light source for long enough to produce a glowing field in the field of vision -- sometimes called "phosphenes".  While his book (of which I have a copy) does not specifically mention staring at the sun, but rather at bright artificial light sources (light bulbs), I have been advised by a correspondent who claimed to have studied privately in France with Dr. Lefebure that he does also advocate using the sun as well, if only for advanced students.  Incidentally, there exists at least one webpage where advanced students of Dr. LeFebure discuss sungazing and the after-image which sometimes occurs; that page is at  The claims Dr. Lefebure makes seem to be that such practices build greater learning ability, intelligence and intuition.  The website for this system may be found at

Ramon (Ray) Sender

Ramon (nickname Ray) Sender is a famed musician who lives on the West Coast, and has been practicing sungazing since the early 1960s.  In early October 2003, he sent me a wonderfully illustrative and informative letter via email, which I share with you below. Please note his mention, toward the end of his letter, of Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov, a Bulgarina/French mystic from the early part of the 20th century.  There is a very brief section on Aivanhov and sungazing on this page. A copy of Ray's letter, including links to sun-related articles on one of his websites, appears below. Ray may be reached at  His letter, reproduced with permission, follows:

Dear Vinny:
I very much appreciated your sungazing essay, and all the research that went into it. I'll be running down some of the names you mention - and also wouldn't mind having the real names of some of the others.

I've been sungazing quite steadily since 1966, when I broke out of the consensus reality that the majority of people seem to agree to share into an understanding that everything is conscious, and the sun - as the creator source, is of a consciousness much more developed than ours -- actually to the point where we can truthfully consider her a goddess-node in our particular sector of the galaxy. 

In 1974 I co-wrote "Being of the Sun" with Alicia Bay Laurel, and in it we summed up what a homegrown sun-worshipping religion might be like.  Of course all the sungazing paranoia in western civilization required frequent warnings, but frankly I have never experienced anything but positive results from sungazing. A few tidbits I've picked up include:

One definition in Hinduism of the Kali Yuga, the 'darkest' of the cycle of ages, is that human consciousness during that age becomes so 'dense' that most humans cannot look at the sun without experiencing pain. 
Sunstaring was used as a punishment for lying by nuns in Europe in the early 20th century. And a ten-yr-old girl once told me that 'the sun won't hurt you if you don't tell lies.'  Curious, no?

I've also found that my heartbeat changes dramatically when I'm sungazing. In fact I took the old phrase, "Things look brighter when you're in love" and turned it around to "When you look at the Brightest One, your heart melts in love." Also I discovered that sungazing is an excellent way to achieve a state of no thought. All that said, I suggest that at your leisure you check out my website, where if you look around you will find much more info.
You might especially enjoy: and/or my light essay at

I must tell you that sun yoga has been a somewhat lonely path, because like you I've been very hesitant to teach it to anyone due to all the blindness paranoia. So actually I think I've only met two other people in my almost 69 years who were also sungazers!

Actually through the Internet I found the books and teachings of Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov, a sun guru now departed from the planet but with a large following who had devotedly recorded and transcribed every talk he ever gave. Actually I think this does him a disfavor, because much of the written material is not up to his best. But at least one book I very much recommend, and that is The Splendour of Tipharet. You might also check out his Toward a Solar Civilization (Izvor Collection Series Volume 201) 

Aivanhov is very much a teacher in the old patriarchal style, and I probably would not have lasted long in his presence, but I am truly grateful for many of his insights and teachings.

God bless the Internet!

Beams and blessings,
Ramon (Ray) Sender

Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov
Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov, a French mystic, philosopher and teacher of Bulgarian origin (1900-1986), traveled to France in the mid-1930s where he set up shop as a mystical teacher. Many of his methods of attaining physical and spiritual health involved the use of sunlight, either for sunbathing or sungazing, and he named his system Solar Yoga, aka Surya Yoga (yes, there also exist in India and elsewhere a number of other systems also bearing one or both of these names as well!).  He seemed to freely acknowledge that the roots of many of his solar practices lay in ancient traditions he had learned from surviving masters from the Caucasian mountains and perhaps even Tibet and India. There are literally thousands of websites which cover Aivanhov's work on the web, and a quick search on Google will yield many good pages. 

I spent two years in the mid-to-late 1980's in New Paltz, New York as I finished some undergraduate work to prepare for graduate school.  There was a large metaphysical and mystical bookstore called Esoterica on the main street of New Paltz during my years there, and I often frequented its aisles during my tenure in New Paltz and in my subsequent visits to the area to visit friends or to rock-climb in the Shawangunks.  By the way, the bookstore is still there: Esoterica, 81 Main Street, New Paltz, NY 12561 - (845) 255-5777.  Anyway, one notable thing about Esoterica was that they always had a very large section of books on and by Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov, in fact, such an obscenely large quantity of books that I sometimes wondered if they were really some cult-like missionary outpost for Aivanhov! So, I often ended up browsing thru Aivanhov's books as I squatted in the aisles of Esoterica, and thus became quite familiar with his work.

Sun Yoga and Solar Yoga
There have been a number of traditions in India and Tibet over at least the past 400 years, including the past hundred years, which have borne the names Solar yoga or Sun yoga (or the related name, Surya Yoga). Unfortunately, despite numerous tales of the practice of sungazing earlier in the history of many of these traditions, most of the traditions of solar yoga which I investigated in the 1980s and 1990s all seemed to be solar largely in name only, and consisted largely of yoga asanas (poses or postures) done while facing in the general direction of the sun. Sigh! about that for a let-down? (smile!) However, a number of somewhat ambiguous older documents and references exist which do indicate that there existed a number of yogic traditions at one time which involved sungazing. Of course, it is also true that Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov called his sungazing system Solar Yoga, and that Sunyogi Umasankar, a contemporary Indian Yogi, calls his sungazing system Sun Yoga.  Both of these yogis/mystics/teachers are/were true sungazers. 

Native American Traditions

A number of sources have reported that several Native American cultures, particularly tribes in the Southwest and the Rocky Mountain area, engaged in sungazing. Over the years, especially during my stays at yogic ashrams and spiritual centers, I have encountered Native American medicine men and shamans who have told me that their ancestors practiced sungazing (although they admitted that they did not personally do so), and, as I may have recounted elsewhere on this page, my friend Patrick once spent several days with a Native American medicine man in the Southwest who still practiced sungazing. He shared much of his practice with Patrick: it seems that his sungazing was always done in the early morning, at sunrise and for up to a half-hour afterward, and always done with a sense of profound gratitude for the sun and the gifts it offers us.

Aztec, Mayan and Inca Traditions

There is some evidence, according to Gene Savoy and some copies of articles from journals from the early part of the 20th century which a friend sent to me in the 1980s, that the priests and priestesses of the Mayan and Aztec cultures and similar cultural traditions, including the Incas of Peru, in Central and South America engaged in sungazing. It is less clear whether this practice was ever shared with the "masses" by the priests, priestesses and sorcerers. In fact, several correspondents have told me that Gene Savoy has claimed that the high priestesses and priests of these traditions were so eager to keep the power of the sun for themselves that they kept the general populace terrified of the sun, and particularly scared of looking at it, by spreading myths that staring at the sun was extremely dangerous. Of course, some amateur Egyptologists and occultists have made much the same claim about the priestesses and priests of ancient Egypt and their (supposed) sungazing rituals, namely, that they kept the populace terrified of the power of the sun in order to protect their secrets.

The Surya Yoga Tradition of Acharya Jowell K. Gopinath in India
I stumbled one day across another sungazing system on the web -- another Surya Yoga tradition, this one espoused by Acharya Jowell K. Gopinath in India. A quick search on Google using the keywords [surya yoga Gopinath sun] will pull up about a dozen articles on him.  One of the best is the one at Deccan Herald (a newspaper in India), but their website does not seem very reliable, and sometimes the page cannot be found. The link is:
A brief excerpt from the article, with attribution:

    Deccan Herald, Thursday, October 30, 2003
    Sun Worship 
    by Nina Benjamin

    “SURYA Yoga is above religion. Many Christians and Muslims are practising it,” says Acharya Jowell K Gopinath, popularly known as Surya Swami, a spiritual leader who teaches the technique of tapping the radiant energy of the Sun. Surya Yoga is said to revitalise energy and negate illnesses of the mind and body. 

    That sunlight has great therapeutic value is accepted the world over. The importance of Sun was realised very early by the ancient civilisations. It was given the status of a god and worshipped from time immemorial. Today, the worship of Sun has been redefined with a new spiritual system developed by Surya Swami.

    Hailing from the picturesque Idukki district of Kerala, Jowell Gopinath dropped out of college in 1989, after which he set out in search of truth. “I used to constantly gaze at the sun, and wondered how it kept burning bright day in and day out and what would happen to life if it were to suddenly disappear one day,” he says.

    After years of wandering in the Himalayas and meeting innumerable enlightened souls, Gopinath took up the mission to educate the masses about the importance of the Sun as an instrument of God-realisation. Surya Yoga, according to him, is done in nine steps, and when perfected can activate the body chakras or power points, opening up the path to self-realisation.

    “The photons from the sun can help smoothen and enlighten the body, prana, mind and soul to come together in a straight line. The omnipotent Surya’s presence can change, arrange, reduce, remove imbalances and organise the chemical, bio-chemical, bio-electrical and bio-magnetic powers in living beings,” claims the Swami.

    Surya yoga is a blend of yoga, nada (sound), rishi gyan and Buddha stage (silence). It is an advanced form of yoga that helps an individual merge with nature. The best time to practice Surya yoga is at sunrise or sunset when the harmful ultra-violet rays are not present. Ten minutes of daily sun-gazing is sufficient for a beginner. 

    The followers of Surya yoga do not believe in ceremonies and rituals. The Swami says, “The reality is within ourselves, the inner struggle as it is called. To meditate you need a powerful technique. We cannot imagine a life without Surya. The sun controls the day, the night and the seasons and the earth revolves around the sun. Only the sun can germinate the seed inside you. And this is most natural. People are moving away from nature. Here we are calling, come to nature.”

    According to Acharya Gopinath there is no need to believe in human Gods. “A spiritual aspirant does not need a guru. I have never had a guru. My only guru is Mother Nature. The sun is my guide and my source of energy. It is a tax-free source of knowledge, and we needn’t look to any other source for guidance.” He claims that through Surya Yoga “it is even possible to resolve the problem of terrorism as it brings clarity to mind.” He considers Surya Yoga as nothing but the worship of Nature.

    Nina Benjamin

Swami Sivananda of the Divine Life Society

A book written by Swami Sivananda of the Divine Life Society, a well-known Indian guru in the early 20th century, entitled "How to Live Hundred Years" contains mentions of the practice of sungazing. A complete Table of Contents, along with the full text for the Preface and Introduction, may be found at

Dimbeswar Basumatary, an Indian sungazer

Dimbeswar Basumatary was featured in the Indian press a number of times in the early 2000s as a sungazing yogi. He is a young man in India who was been described in the popular Indian press in 2002 as being a 24-year old college dropout who was guided on an inner level to start sungazing several years earlier. Among other things, he has apparently been observed to have stared at the sun nonstop during its course across the sky for entire days at a time, without any apparent damage to his eyes. One of my correspondents sent me a kind note about Dimbeswar Basumatary in November 2003, in which he wrote: "I especially like the part where he says that the sun is to him like a big yellow pudding"

Here is an excerpt of a news article which appeared in India in 2002, released by IANS / :

    I am ready to marry any girl with HIV-AIDS, says sun gazer from Assam
    IANS /;  12/17/2002

    GUWAHATI: He has his eyes fixed, unblinking, on the radiant sun, and for hours together. Sounds incredible, isn’t it? But it is true.  For 24-year-old Dimbeswar Basumatary, a Bodo tribal youth in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, sun gazing is a passion. “It all started by chance when I realized I could stare at the sun without any irritation to my eyes although my family thought I was crazy,” Basumatary told IANS. “I love watching the bright sun as it journeys across the sky.”

    The college dropout, from Balimari village in western Assam’s Kokrajhar district, 290 km from here, has been a sun gazer since 1998 - at times looking directly at the blazing sun from dawn until sundown. Naturally, everyone is surprised. 
    “It is indeed a very surprising feat. We have carried out extensive tests on Basumatary a number of times and so far he has a good colour vision with no significant problems detected in his eyes,” said Biraj Jyoti Goswami, a senior ophthalmologist at the Sankardev Netralaya, an eye hospital in Guwahati.

    According to experts, a person gazing at the blazing sun for a maximum of 90 seconds runs the risk of having a solar burn or retina damage.  Basumatary has demonstrated his bizarre skill before curious onlookers in various parts of India, besides being filmed by television crews in Guwahati. “I was at India Gate in New Delhi before an army of photographers some time back when police prevented me from seeing the sun on medical grounds,” Basumatary said. “But I know nothing would happen to me as I have been doing this without any problems for the past five years.”

    He says looking at the sun provides him solar energy. “The sun for me is a pudding in itself and I have tried not eating a morsel of food for four days in a row and still not shown signs of hunger or thirst,” the man claimed.  But his bid to find a place in the Guinness Book of World Records has failed.  “A letter from Guinness authorities said they cannot entertain my claims as this is a dangerous practice, having the potential of impairing my eyesight,” he said.

    He asserted that he does not suffer from any ailment as the solar energy prevents his body mechanism from contracting any diseases.  “I am ready to marry any girl with HIV-AIDS or offer myself to any AIDS research institutes -- inject the virus on me and see if I ever contract the disease,” Basumatary said.  

Dimbeswar Basumatary contacted me in August 2007 after having discovered my sungazing website and having read my mention of his practice, and we corresponded briefly. Among other things, he told me that he had actually started sungazing sporadically as a child, during his early years of schooling, and that he had only become very serious about the practice while he was in college, and this led to his leaving his college studies so that he could pursue a yogic path centered about the practice of sungazing.

Sungazing in the Early Days of Hinduism, Jainism and Yoga

There is ample and substantial evidence in numerous ancient scriptures from early Hinduism, Jainism and the Yoga traditions (the latter usually, but not always, within the fold of Hinduism) that many early practitioners engaged in sungazing both for health reasons and for spiritual reasons. Many readers will have already deduced this from the sections above on Hira Manek and SunYogi Umasankar, both of whom make ample reference to early Hindu and Yogic scriptures about sungazing.

Sungazing in Ancient Egypt
It has been repeatedly asserted in many forms and places that the ancient Egyptians engaged in sungazing, and I was sent a photocopy in the mid-1980's of a page or two from an early 20th century book on ancient on Egypt which also made this assertion, but I hardly consider any of these sources to be highly reputable and reliable. After doing a bit of research, I was able to discover that there existed, in the 18th dynasty of Egypt, a relatively short-lived religion often known as the cult of Aton, also known as Atonism, which was reputedly involved in sun worship and sun gazing. Incidentally, this religion was monotheistic, and the one god was Aton, the solar orb. It is of course, also true that many religious and spiritual traditions scattered throughout Egypt's past worshipped the sun in some way or the other, or used the sun in religious rituals, but this does not necessarily imply that they were sungazers.

Sungazing in Qi Gong (aka Chi Kung or Qi Gung) Traditions
A number of traditions within the broad realm of inner Qi Gong (aka Chi Kung), often called Taoist Internal Martial Arts, which encompasses numerous lineages/schools such as Tai Chi, Ba Kua (aka Ba Kua, Ba Ge, Ba Qua), Hsing I and other systems, as well as more mainstream (e.g., more external) Qi Gong practices, have espoused sungazing over the years, primarily as a means of attaining greater physical and emotional health. It also seems that a tremendous amount of ancient knowledge may have been lost in some of these Chi Kung (aka Qi Gong) systems such as Tai Chi and Ba Kuaover the years, and that they may not offer the same "potency" anymore, and that sungazing may have been one of the components lost. As noted above, however, there are still some schools of Ba Kua  in China and the West which do teach sungazing as part of the discipline, and Hira Manek has told me that he has been in contact with teachers and masters in the Ba Kua system who employ sungazing.  Incidentally, I studied Ba Kua for about two years with a Chinese Taoist master in the late 1970's at the William C. C Chen school in New York City, but he never mentioned sungazing as a component of Ba Gua.

Sun Staring: The Ahmadiyah Sect of Islam
Members of the Ahmadiyah sect, an Islamic sect, reportedly sungaze, often at high noon. Much of this practice is said to date to practices of the Islamic saint Ahmad al-Badawi, who predated the Ähmadiyah Sect by some six hundred and fifty years. Somewhat unfortunately, although there are a number of webpages to be found which talk about Ahmadiyah sect to some extent, the only real mentions of their sungazing practices are to be found on the pages of the God-u-Like website site, "an irreverent look at the faith industry", or " Everything You Wanted To Know About The Faith Business But Were Too Confused To Ask", a website which offers as somewhat cynical view of numerous religions and sects. In any case, the two pages which give the most details about this practice may be found at faiths.php?chapter=2&subject=comment  and

Other Mentions of Sungazing

While on the topic of other sungazing systems and other mentions/articles about sungazing, here are some mentions of sungazing which I have encountered.
An Interesting Article on the Web
Here is an interesting mention of sungazing which I came across on the web in 2003, and which I found kinda interesting; from
An article entitled Sol: Our Transentient Meta-progenitor. And, here, an excerpt on solar gazing from that article:

    Sol: Our Transentient Meta-progenitor
    quote:  ©2002 Organelle, permission for credited copying heartfully granted.
    I believe this for a startling reason: around here the Sun is the single most significant object in many domains (almost all) of organismal reality. This has some truly unexpected repercussions, and most of them are best revealed by following questions rather than positing answers or becoming skeptical.

    I remember the strange calm and fervency with which a young female friend of mine related to me what at first appeared a self-destructive response to the enforced isolation that her unique and heartful creativity often forced upon her. Having written a fantasy novel and invented a universe, she found herself alone amongst peers and companions, and could find no garden in which it nurture the songs that were rising almost unbidden in her. She confided in me one day, that ‘there’s something wrong with people’s ideas about the Sun, or there’s something wrong with my eyes — or there should be.’ Here’s what she meant:

For long periods of time over a period of three years, out of something like total despair, she would gaze directly into the sun, eyes open and unshaded. She expected to be blinded by this behavior, and modern understandings of optics would support this supposition in the large. She said, however, that she could detect no damage to her eyes from what must have been 100s of hours of direct sungazing without obvious deleterious effect. Congruently, in a recent conversation with my mother, who underwent a period of classically schizophrenic breakdown, she told that, while she wouldn’t want anyone, especially me, to get the wrong idea and damage their eyes — she had spent long hours gazing into the Sun during the primary phase of her event.

A Note from Hira Manek on Other Systems

Hira Manek wrote a note to me in late 2003 on some other mentions of sungazing in Indian Yoga and elsewhere:
    thanks and if you go through books on life style of Mahavir you will find a word Aatap or Aatapna and this means "receiving sun energy". Gayatri mantra suggests one to receive sun energy, store it and this resulting in activating the dormant human brain. Similarly, sungazing dances of Native Americans, writings of Aurobindo, Egyptian sun practises, Inca civilization of South America  sun practices and so on... Mere reading will not give the desired result but one has to understand deeply and interpret it by discussions and than you will know lot about ancient sun practises. thanks hrm

An Email List Group for Sungazers

As a result of discussions with Hira Manek and other sungazers, I decided in October 2003 to start an email list group devoted to sungazing at Yahoo Groups. Due to the drastic downscaling of Yahoo Groups in October, 2019, the group is now hosted at The list name is Sungazing, and the home page for the Sungazing list group is Membership is restricted. To join this group, click the "join" link from the group's home page or send an email to

Sungazing Schools, Clinics, Retreats

Several students of Hira Manek opened a sungazing school in Hong Kong in early 2003. They first approached him and asked his permission to teach "HRM phenomena" in their school, and he agreed readily, as he felt that he did not own any of the information he spreads about sungazing, but rather gives it to the world.  Some more details, including the name of the school and contact information, to follow shortly, as I receive them!

Clinics and Retreats

Raw Foods and Fasting Clinics/Retreat Centers
It is a loosely-kept secret that several raw vegan and fasting retreat centers and clinics in the USA encourage some of their students/clients to both sunbathe and sungaze, usually under individual and personalized instruction from staffers.

Health Retreat Centers in Sedona, AZ
Hira Manek and one other person have reported to me that there are now at least two health retreat centers in Sedona, Arizona which offer partly-raw and usually vegetarian menus and nutritional counseling to their clients, each of whom is housed in a small cottage.  The clients are also encouraged to engage in moderate sungazing and sunbathing, and personalized instruction is offered by staffers to each client in attendance. Someone has promised to send me the names and contact information for at least two of the retreat centers, and if I receive it, I will try to report it here.

The Folk Stories of Sungazing

This section will deal with the positive or at least relatively benign folklore and folk figures in the world of sungazing. Yes, there is negative folklore and urban legend as well, largely to the effect that staring at the sun for even one second will permanently blind you... However, such "negative"' folklore is covered amply in some later sections, including the subsection entitled But What About the Stories of the Hippies on LSD Who Went Blind from Staring at the Sun? in the section below titled Is this Practice Safe?  

Gene Savoy

In my estimation, the best and largest folk stories of sungazing in the Western World came from Gene Savoy, who is mentioned above, and who is, and was, definitely a larger-than-life character. He also apparently made a lot of claims about sungazing, one of which was that sungazing, either alone, or in combination with other exercises (his magazine ads were never really quite clear on this major point...) could lead to one becoming immortal. I encounter people weekly, mostly relative strangers or complete strangers, calling on the phone, and asking me seriously if I and a number of other long-term sungazers whom I have met have experienced a massive reversal of our biological age and if we had become immortal. To me, such questions are really not far from the type of fun and trick questions such as "Have you stopped drinking your bathwater yet?" However, I usually manage to bite my tongue, and explain patiently that while many of us, including myself, do feel that we have achieved many improvements in health and well-being, and even increased spiritual connectedness from our sungazing, none of us had ever experienced a major age reversal nor immortality. When I then ask my callers where they ever got the idea which caused them to so firmly associate sungazing with immortality and eternal youth, the invariable answer is that they read too many of Gene Savoy's magazine ads in the 1970s and 1980s, and a few had even purchased his books or enrolled in his courses, which endeavors only deepened this assumption that sungazing automatically leads to immortality!  So, if you have not yet read it, you may wish to scroll up and read the rather lengthy section on Gene Savoy.

The Sun Man of Santa Cruz, aka the Sungazer of Santa Cruz

I am still in the process of fleshing out this section, but briefly, for now: The Sun Man of Santa Cruz, who was also known as the Sungazer of Santa Cruz was an benign and friendly ex-marine in his 60s -- his real name was Raul Lopez -- who was a well-known figure on the streets of Santa Cruz; among other things, he would stare at the sun, in public, for hours per day, often while waving his arms.  Essentially homeless and living on the streets, he became a favorite of many Santa Cruz residents, due to his kindness and warmth, and unfortunately, he was murdered by two muggers in 1984. Some have said that his sungazing softened his personality and made him even kinder than he had been originally.  His obituary and the story of the heart-felt funeral held for him appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle for Friday, April 27, 1984, entitled Beloved Vagrant's Unusual Funeral.

A Related Topic: A Report of a Supervised Medical Observation of Prahallad Jani

Well, I know that this is a sungazing website, but I found the recently-reported case of Prahallad Jani, a mystical devotee in India who claims never to drink water nor eat food, to be interesting enough that when I was offered the letter referenced below, I decided to post it on this website, even though Prahallad Jani is not a sungazer.

A Letter from a Supervising Medical Doctor about the Fasting Claims of Prahallad Jani
Via a number of news reports during November 2003, many of us have heard by now of the 76 year-old ascetic in India who is a member of a small goddess-worshipping sect who lives in caves in Ambajee near Gabbar, India, who is a devotee of the goddess Matajee, and who claims not only not to eat at all, but also not to drink any water, nor to ever urinate nor defecate.  He claims that he receives nourishment only via drops of amber nectar which drip from a small hole in the roof of his mouth; this nectar is mentioned in many Yogic and Qi Gong traditions under many names.  Prahallad Jani claims that they were visited by, and blessed by, the goddess Mataji (whom his sect worships) at age eight, and that this produced his abilities. In late November 2003, a medical doctor in India who was involved in the supervised observation of Prahallad Jani emailed a rather detailed report on the recent medically-supervised observation of Mr. Jani to Hira Manek.  Hira Manek and the author have given me permission to post the letter to this website; you may find it by clicking here.

Is this Practice Safe? 

As you likely already know from having read my introduction to this page, I am not a promoter or proselytizer of sungazing, and I never recommend it to anyone. Rather, I operate this site and my sungazing list group as a service for those who feel that they have been guided on an inner level to sungaze. From all that I have witnessed and heard, it appears that a great majority of folks who sungaze never seem to suffer any noticeable or measurable damage or injury to their eyes. However, there have been a small number of reports of measurable damage to the eyes suffered by a few sungazers, and a number of these reports were verified by opthalmologists. None of the reports seem to have involved major damage, and several of the persons involved later reported that the damage had healed over the ensuing year or two.

Our culture is full of stories, always third-person, about folks who have damaged their eyes and vision irreparably from looking directly at the sun, often for only one or two seconds.  Interestingly, more than one of the web sites devoted to urban legend and folklore have tackled this well-traveled piece of lore about eye damage caused by sungazing, and two such sites claim to have never been able to find an opthalmologist or optometrist who has ever seen such damage.  One typical article which appeared repeatedly in the mainstream press in the late 60's came from a western Pennsylvania-based opthalmologist who was also a state official; the articles, which usually bore titles along the lines of "Hippies on Acid Look at Sun and Go Blind; ...Doctors Cannot Help!" seemed to be rather factual. His claims were eventually debunked by mainstream opthalmologists and the debunking was duly reported in turn by the media (which had originally swallowed his tale hook, line and sinker...), and the good doctor lost his job and temporarily ended up in a mental hospital. Under pressure, he revealed that the entire story had been a total hoax; he claimed that it was a last-ditch fabrication he had come up with, designed to keep folks from experimenting with LSD. You will find further details on this bizarre episode in modern American urban legend below.

Some Possible Negative Views about Sungazing
If you do a web search on sun gazing and solar gazing, you will likely find, as I did in a recent search, about 350 articles, largely from within the Western medical traditions, which seem to claim that sungazing can be harmful, at least if done recklessly, and only about two dozen few "popular" (e.g., not within the scientific literature) webpages and articles claiming that sungazing (or solar gazing) is harmless or even healthful.

A Few Unverified, Unverifiable or Anecdotal Tales of Damage from Sun Gazing
To give some coverage to a possible downside: Since I have operated this webpage on sungazing since at least April 2001, I have been rather well-known in the sungazing world, and thus a natural person for folks to contact if they have an interest in, or complaints about, sungazing. Among the many communications (mostly phone calls and emails) which I have received over the years on sungazing, two would fall into the category of possible negative experiences. Here are more details: I have received two rather anonymous emails in the past few years via the web from or about folks web who claimed that they had been blinded or suffered irreparable brain damage from their own efforts at sun-gazing, but neither person saw fit to supply me with their full name or contact information.  One such letter was from a young man who forwarded a letter about sungazing from a "friend of a friend" of his, in which the author claimed to have suffered some eye and brain damage years earlier as a result of sungazing which he practiced under the tutelage of a sungazing teacher. The sungazing teacher to which the author referred was one of several American sungazing teachers who were quite popular in the Western world a number of years ago; the author claimed that the practices which this teacher encouraged him to do were very dangerous and ended up damaging him severely. At the time I first received this letter, I was never able to get any further information or verification from the person who forwarded me the email, nor was I able to contact the author of the letter directly. However, I was eventually contacted personally by the author, and did learn his identity. Essentially, he reported that he is still slowly healing from what he terms as massive damage from sungazing some years ago  He did state that modern Western medicine and medical tests have never been able to find any physical damage or physical problems with his vision or in his eyes, optic nerves or brain, but he maintained that he subjectively continues to experience some problems. However, he did assure me that the sungazing which he had done years ago was only at sunrise or sunset (the safest times), and only for a few minutes at a time. Nonetheless, he is sure that he suffered massive damage, although Western medical tests over the years have reported no abnormalities.

An Excellent and Balanced Webpage Presenting a Myth-Free View from Western Science on Sungazing and its Potential for Harm
So, one good bottom-line question is: what do the balanced people in modern Western medicine and Western science think about reasonable sungazing and the potential of possible harm from it?  The very best reasonable and balanced overview and debunking article reflecting the views of modern Western medicine and science on this whole matter which I have ever found is one authored by a PhD astronomer who is also a university professor. You see, astronomers and astronomy students, at least those who are interested in the sun or solar phenomena (solar flares, storms, sunspots, etc.) are very interested in staring at the sun, but, largely because of centuries of lore about the possible harm, have normally solar gazed only thru thick darkened welding filter lenses, which remove all of the UV and even a lot of intensity in the visible spectra from the sunlight. In any case, astronomers are always quite curious as to how dangerous it really would be to stare at the sun for brief periods of time without a filter. Well, there is now a great webpage entitled "Galileo, Solar Observing, and Eye Safety", by astronomer Dr. Andrew T. Young, a professor in the Astronomy Department at San Diego State University, at  I strongly recommend this article, it is a very balanced view of the consensus among mainstream modern opthalmologists and scientists on this topic. This article by Young also debunks a number of  myths and folktales stories about Newton and other many other early scientists having been blinded by the sun. You will find sections below dealing with some of these particular myths from the history of science and medicine. I exchanged a few cordial emails with Dr. Young after I first was alerted to the existence of his webpage in early October 2003; he was already aware that there are folks who sungaze for health and spiritual reasons; he had received an email many months ago from a sungazer in Croatia introducing the practice to him. 

The bottom line conclusions reached in Young's webpage article: about the only really serious damage that can happen to the eyes would be from staring at a solar eclipse for even a short time, or from sun staring for too long at high noon or while the sun was high in the sky (more intense) while your pupils were dilated by some kind of drug (prescription or entertainment or street drugs.)

An Interesting Tale from a Former Sungazing Teacher
My afore-mentioned friend and colleague Patrick, a scientist and inventor who once taught sungazing seminars across the country reported to me that once in the early 1980s he was teaching such a 2-day seminar in the West.  At one point early in the first day, a man in the audience arose, identified himself as a medical doctor, and soundly assailed Patrick for recommending such a “dangerous” practice. Before the seminar leader could respond, an elderly man in the audience arose and asked speak, identifying himself as a veteran of the Korean war. He had, he said, worn glasses for much of his life, and had been held as a POW by the Koreans for about 9 months near the end of the Korean war. At some point early in his imprisonment, an apparently sadistic but curious medical doctor at the prison camp had selected 10 men – this man was one of the ten – and forced them to stare at the sun for 10 hours per day, including high noon, every single day. If a prisoner resisted or looked away, or closed their eyes, guards would beat them, and thus prisoners risked death if they refused to stare at the sun. While the former POW reported that it was decidedly unpleasant sitting and staring at the sun for 10 hours a day, almost non-stop, and that he and the other prisoners all developed massive headaches and neckaches at times, none apparently experienced any long-term negative effect upon their vision or their eyes. Further, he reported that each man in the group who had previously worn glasses (the elderly ex-POW relating the tale was among them) shortly discovered that their vision had drastically improved and that they no longer needed to wear glasses. The ex-POW narrating the tale told the class that he had never since needed glasses, and that he was now in his seventies and his eyesight was still perfect.

Patrick reported that after hearing the tale, the medical doctor who had been railing against the premise of the class sat down thoughtfully. A few hours later, a relatively long sungazing session engaged in by the entire class yielded none of the much-feared specters of blindness or eye damage, much to the apparent chagrin of the doctor who had earlier spoken out.

Incidentally, I have had my eyes checked medically (I do not mean vision, which is fine; I mean examination of the actual retina) several times over the past years for any possible damage, and, other than the docs going rather psycho over my perfectly clean arteries and very thin clean blood (both visible via the eye), they have reported that my retina is fine. My eyes, macula and iris appear fine upon medical examination, with no holes and no burns.  My vision, at age 52, is very good, and is at least as good as it was when I was in my teens; I do not wear corrective lenses of any kind.  Indeed, my right eye has better than 20/20 vision.

But How About Galileo, Issac Newton, and Other Early Scientists, Whom it is Claimed Were Blinded by the Sun?
There is a sucker born every minute. This story about Galileo going blind from his hours of looking at or near the sun is a myth, and unfortunately, the myth has been promulgated by many scientists, medical doctors and websites who should know better. This "Galileo went blind" myth has been debunked many times on the web, in scientific journals and in medical journals, but for the very best overview and debunking on the whole silly topic, please see the webpage mentioned earlier which was authored by astronomer Andrew T. Young, a professor in the Astronomy Department at San Diego State University, at  Among other things, this article by Young debunks the related myths about Newton and other early scientists having been blinded by the sun.

But How About the German Scientist/Eccentric Gustav Fechner, Who Went Blind and Mad From Staring at the Sun?
There is apparently some truth to this story that the German medical doctor/scientist and mystic Gustav Fechner (1801-1887), recognized as one of the founders of modern quantitative psychology (some of my old psychology textbooks alternatively claimed that the was the father of physiological psychology or alternatively, psychophysics) went blind from staring at the sun in 1840 or 1841, and did not recover for 3 years (or 4 years or 6 years, depending upon which textbook you read; see footnote 1, below), but the case is fully reasonable and understandable upon closer examination. Incidentally, some textbooks on the history of psychology claim that Fechner also went mad (as in "insane"...) as well as blind from the sunstaring (see footnote 1, below). Some more detail:

In either 1840 or 1841 (depending upon which textbook you read!), Fechner undertook a series of studies of visual persistence (well, this is the official story; several textbooks in the field of the history of psychology claim that Fechner stared at the sun because he was crazy or suicidal) which involved looking at the noonday sun for an extended length of time through a blue colored filter. Now, most of you have already said "Aha!" with a big smile of relief as you figured this one out, but for those who do not have the necessary scientific background, here is the explanation: a colored filter such as a blue filter will stop much of the intense light from the sun which would have otherwise warned the pupil and other systems in the eye that the eye was being exposed to very strong light, but unfortunately, the blue filter will still allow much of the potentially harmful UV rays to pass through. Thus, the eye has no warning that it being exposed to harmful amounts of visible light or UV light, and thus can more easily suffer damage, much as may happen when staring at a solar eclipse through a lens or filter. This story is explored closely, with complete citations to textbooks and articles, in the excellent article referenced in an earlier section, entitled "Galileo, solar observing, and eye safety", by astronomer Andrew T. Young, a professor in the Astronomy Department at San Diego State University, at

Incidentally, Fechner was a strong critic of the (philosophical, scientific and cultural) materialism of his day, and he also considered himself a Panpsychic -- he considered that all the Universe is conscious.  Unbeknownst to many of his colleagues, Fechner also wrote satirical tomes and pamphlets using the pseudonym "Dr. Mises" to push Panpsychism and to illustrate the shallowness and absurdity of materialism. 

[footnote 1: How is it that I seem to know so much detail about all the varied -- and often contradictory -- versions of the stories about Fechner, his blindness, his supposed madness and his Dr. Mises alter ego? Well, in the mid and late 1980's, I spend a couple of years taking additional undergraduate classes on psychology in order to make myself marketable in my quest to apply to doctoral programs in clinical psychology (it worked, I guess; I got accepted at three of the 13 programs I applied to, and ended up at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, or IUP, in a doctoral program in psychology.)  Well, some of those undergrad psych courses, along with one of my subsequent graduate-level courses, were devoted to the history of modern psychology, and in each textbook there was always a chapter, or at least a sub-section, on Gustav Fechner. Indeed, a question about Fechner and his blindness (which I managed to answer correctly!) appeared on the pages of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) in Psychology which I took as part of the process of applying to grad school... ]

But What About the Stories of the Hippies on LSD Who Went Blind from Staring at the Sun?

There is a sucker born every minute. The multiple stories in the USA about acid-tripping hippies who stared at the sun and went blind were, and are, pure and unadulterated urban folklore (aka urban legend), and worse, one of the seminal news "stories" which led to much of that folklore has been traced to Dr. Norman M. Yoder, commissioner of the Office of the Blind in the Pennsylvania State Welfare Department, and, according to some reports, a part-time professor at a university in Western Pennsylvania, who, in 1968, invented the story to -- in his words when his hoax was later discovered -- help discourage young people from taking street drugs. Incidentally, after being confronted about his deception, Dr. Yoder was suspended from his position as Commissioner, and checked himself into a psychiatric ward for a month, after which he permanently resigned his position. Interestingly, despite unwavering and unquestioning acceptance of the hoax story by the media for many months after its first "release", the challenges which debunked the story and discredited Dr. Yoder were made by mainstream opthalmologists (medical doctors with additional training in care and diseases of the eye), who simply realized that such a severe degree of damage (such as the blindness cited in the news release) was literally impossible from mere sun-staring, even prolonged sun-staring.  This urban legend about the acid-tripping hippies has been debunked many times on reputable urban legend and urban folklore websites and even in a few urban legend and folklore journals over the years -- try running a Google search on the topic... One of a number of webpages from urban legend sites which debunks these stories may be found on the Urban Legends Reference Pages website, at

Bottom line: there is definitely some potential danger to staring at the sun for any significant length of time anytime after a couple of hours after sunrise or a couple of hours before sunset, and particularly at high noon and during early afternoon, but even then the harm would likely be minor or temporary. There is also some significant danger from staring at an eclipse for even a short length of time, since the pupil may be tricked by the apparent low light intensity into allowing too great an influx of solar radiation at harmful wavelengths into the eye.

Sungazing Methods Most Commonly Used 

I do not recommend sungazing, and I am not recommending it here. Yes, I have done it with some apparent benefit and without apparent harm, as have a number of persons within my acquaintance. Nonetheless, it is not my purpose to proselytize sungazing, nor to be a missionary for the practice (I am not a fanatic about anything, much less sungazing...!), but rather it is simply to provide some information and background for those who wish to learn more about this practice in history and in our culture, and to share my own experiences with sungazing as well as those of some folks I know who also sungaze.

I am often asked for information on how I actually do sungazing.  I share the following information for academic and research purposes only. I do not recommend sungazing, but, if you must sungaze, then I would encourage the following precautions:

  • I strongly recommend that you do not sungaze unless you receive strong and consistent guidance from your inner guidance to do so, and even then, I would suggest that you proceed cautiously.
  • if you must sungaze, I suggest that you sungaze only during the first half-hour after official sunrise or the last half-hour before official sunset, as the UV component of sunlight is greatly attenuated at these times.
  • start by letting the full sun hit your closed eyelids for many minutes at a time first - you get some of the same benefits, but it is far less intense! Then, after a week or so of doing this practice only, you may feel ready to move into looking at the sun with open eyes during the early day or late day time windows recommended above (and below.)
  • make sure, whenever you are sungazing, that your back is straight and that your bare feet are planted firmly on the ground, on soil, sand, or gravel, or even grass (I feel that the latter is less preferable than soil, but acceptable.) This seems to be very important, in both my own experience and according to a number of traditions. 
  • again, feet firmly on the ground... Barefoot (even in winter) is by far the best, socks or stocking feet is next best, and even shoes are far better than not having the feet on the ground at all. Personally, I never sungaze unless I am standing barefoot on soil or sand.
  • especially when first starting, try to sungaze only within the time windows of the first 1/2 hour after sunrise or the last 1/2 hour prior to sunset, or, even the first and last hour of each day. (For a number of reasons, I never followed these time-of-day guidelines during my first ten years of sungazing, and even today almost never do so; rather, I started by sungazing only between 10 AM and 3 PM in summertime in Western Pennsylvania while in graduate school; rather amazingly, I still have excellent vision.)
  • start slowly, perhaps sungazing during the early day or late day time windows for only 30 to 60 seconds at a time in the beginning, and increasing the time slowly over ensuing weeks if you wish. Unlike the recommendations of the Indian-born sungazing gurus such as Hira Manek, I see no need to continually increase the length of sungazing sessions, and suggest that once you have built to a session length of two, three or four minutes, you may wish to stay at this level.
  • when your sungazing session has ended, I suggest strongly that you face away from the sun and stare at the horizon or at the sky above the horizon for at least a few minutes, and then close your eyes and palm them with your hands for another few minutes until all afterimages, if any, have disappeared.
  • when finished your sungazing session, stay outside with your feet on the ground, either standing or walking, for at least 10 to 20 minutes. Hira Manek's system recommends walking barefoot for at least 45 minutes after each sungazing session.  I personally have found that barefoot standing seems to be as efficacious as barefoot walking, and I also feel that even 5 or 10 minutes of barefoot standing or walking outdoors after sungazing is far better than no "post-sungazing" time at all.
  • sungazing outside the two early and late 1/2 hour time windows listed above can possibly be very risky due to higher UV levels, and I am NOT recommending that practice to anyone at any time. 
  • most importantly, never sungaze between the hours of 10 AM thru 3:30 PM unless you know exactly what you are doing. See note below regarding eclipses...
  • it is true that one organized system of sungazing, namely, the so-called HRM Method, recommends that you start with sungazing sessions that are ten seconds in length and that you increase the length of sessions by 10 seconds each day until you reach a magical endpoint time of 44 minutes. I do not agree with the recommendation that it is necessary and useful to always increase the length of sungazing sessions and I do not agree with the suggestion that one should keep increasing the length of sungazing sessions until they reach 44 minutes. It is only the HRM Method system which makes such recommendations, and I am not aware of any other sungazing systems which advise such practices. 
  • the HRM Method also recommends that you sungaze every day, or at least that you sungaze as often as possible. I do not agree with this recommendation; the HRM method is about the only sungazing system which makes this extreme recommendation. Speaking for myself and for most long-term sungazers, I feel that it is not necessary to sungaze every day, and I feel that occasional sungazing is often all that is needed.
  • lastly, never sungaze during an eclipse, as your pupils may be tricked by the apparent lack of light intensity into letting too far much light into your eyes. 
  • lastly, and most importantly, listen to your body and intuition.

Incidentally, if you ever plan to sungaze, it does help if the following conditions -- in addition to those basic considerations listed in a section above --  are observed while sungazing:

  • do only sungazing while sungazing -- no distractions such as walking the dog, minding the kids, talking to spouse, listening to music, listening to motivational tapes. Just sungaze, nothing else.
  • face the sun squarely with entire body and face
  • bare feet flat on ground
  • be either standing with knees slightly bent, or, second-best, sitting in a chair with feet squarely on ground.
  • start slowly, and build gradually if you must increase time... starting with only a half-minute per day, and slowly building...
  • gently, for the first few seconds, "pull" the light energy from sun first to heart and then to belly (solar plexus) and then to lower belly (navel chakra).  From here, especially on the exhale, you can allow the energy to flow throughout the body.
  • when your sungazing session has ended, I suggest strongly that you face away from the sun and stare at the horizon or at the sky above the horizon for at least a few minutes, and then close your eyes and palm them with your hands for another few minutes until all afterimages, if any, have disappeared.
  • be aware that you may experience a strong "negative" sun image in yellow or blue afterwards for up to an hour, particularly if you neglect to perform the above-suggested procedures, or if you fail to stand or walk on the earth for at least 10 to 20 minutes after sungazing.
  • be aware that you may feel some slight visual impairment for up to an hour afterwards 
  • fully consider that you may have old repressed emotional material come up
  • while looking at sun, go to heart center and thank sun for all it gives us and express gratitude and appreciation for life it gives
  • some Native American traditions claim that if you look at the sun with gratitude, anything you sincerely ask for at that time will be granted or will manifest
  • it is true that one organized system of sungazing, namely, the so-called HRM Method, recommends that you start with sungazing sessions that are ten seconds in length and that you increase the length of sessions by 10 seconds each day until you reach a magical endpoint time of 44 minutes. I do not agree with the recommendation that it is necessary and useful to always increase the length of sungazing sessions and I do not agree with the suggestion that one should keep increasing the length of sungazing sessions until they reach 44 minutes. It is only the HRM Method system which makes such recommendations, and I am not aware of any other sungazing systems which advise such practices. 
  • the HRM Method also recommends that you sungaze every day, or at least that you sungaze as often as possible. I do not agree with this recommendation; the HRM method is about the only sungazing system which makes this extreme recommendation. Speaking for myself and for most long-term sungazers, I feel that it is not necessary to sungaze every day, and I feel that occasional sungazing is often all that is needed.
  • learn to listen to your body and intuition
  • my own feeling is that if heart center is relatively closed and one sungazes, one may experience heart "problems" (pain, angina-type stuff, spasms, weakness) in the days, weeks and months afterward, till the blocks are cleared. 
  • many claim that if you sungaze regularly, it changes your aura and the spirit in your eyes incredibly.  Folks on the street may sometimes notice.  However, many of these same people (who make the claims about changes in aura and spirit in the eyes) claim that if you are sexually active and have frequent orgasms, this can easily dissipate the added sun/spirit energy.  Some sungazers practice Tantric methods to prevent orgasm in order to hold the energy

My own experience with sungazing is that one should do it while standing (most preferable) or sitting with feet firmly on the ground, and first very briefly visualize (for only a few seconds) a tube running up and down the entire length of the spine, very clear and open (I believe this helps to open the 3 spinal energy channels [central channel, ida and pingala] to the energy flow.)  Alternatively, or additionally, one can also briefly focus on, and  relax, the throat and jaw areas. This seems to help the energies flow and reduce untoward symptoms or after-effects. Most beginners seem to start slowly, perhaps looking only at the sun with eyes closed for a few weeks, and then progressing to looking at a spot near the sun with eyes open for a few weeks, and then progressing finally to direct sungazing for very short periods at first, at times before 10:00 AM and after 3:30 PM. Some die-hard sungazers in temperate latitudes then seem to sometimes eventually progress to sungazing in midday even in summertime. 

When I look at the sun, I draw the energy first to the heart center and then to the solar plexus and navel centers, and then, on exhale, out to the rest of the body. I do this only for the first few seconds of sungazing, and do not attempt to perform any such exercises during the remainder of the sungazing session. In the beginning, particularly if you fail to follow the recommended post-sungazing procedures, you may notice that you have some loss of vision in the center of the visual field  for about 10 minutes following a session, and some folks report really nasty headaches and sinus pains which may last for days afterward, especially when first starting.

For those who have been practicing for some time and who are serious adherents, sungazing often may involve staring directly at the sun, often between 10 AM and 3 PM, when it is brightest (even in summer!), with eyes wide open, for many minutes at a time. Again, as noted before, most practitioners feel that one must also consciously circulate the energy received by the eyes through certain energy centers of the body as well.  As noted earlier, I  have sungazed occasionally for years. The practice can lead to very heavy cleansing symptoms in the beginning if one has lots of toxins on an energy level or the physical level. Again, please note that I am not advising this technique for anyone else. 

Sungazing: to stare directly at the sun, eyes open, usually while standing with the feet on the ground, for anywhere from a minute to a half-hour, with appreciation and gratitude in the heart for all the sun gives us. 

If you are seriously contemplating sungazing, especially just outside the times just after sunrise or just before sunset, then you are likely a bit crazy.  If you are considering it, then I would urge you to research the matter thoroughly and to consult deeply and sincerely with your intuition and heart intelligence before doing any sungazing, and do not push yourself if you do not feel ready! Please remember that I do NOT recommend trying sungazing!

A Few Sungazing Resources

Here are a few resources and links to some resources associated with sungazing:

Ed's Report and His Webpages from the Netherlands on Sungazing
Ed, a young man who is a raw foodist in the Netherlands, has recently started a webpage devoted to sungazing, including a log of his experiences with following Hira Manek's method of sungazing, on his website, at Website

Mason Dwinell, a young man located in Berkeley, California, is a sungazer who follows the methods espoused by Hira Manek, and he has recently started a webpage on sungazing at
Mason's website contains some of the guidelines for sungazing offered by Hira Manek (aka HRM), as well as his own experiences with sungazing.

Ramon Sender's RaySender Website

Ramon Sender, mentioned above, discusses some of his sungazing experiences and methods on his sungazing webpages at 

Petre's Sungazing Website

An engineer in Romania named Petre has created a detailed website on sungazing and his researches in this field at  The website is particularly comprehensive in its coverage of historical practices and various Eastern systems which have embraced sungazing.

Sunrise/Sunset Time
Here are two websites which allow you to compute time of official sunrise and sunset for a location: 

Latitude and Longitude of Your Location
Most such sites, unless you live in a well-known large city which appears on their "quick find" lists, will also require you to enter the latitude and longitude of your city or town. You can easily figure out the latitude and longitude for your location using a calculator or list at one of the following websites:

By the way, most sunrise and sunset calculator sites will usually also ask you about your time zone, often in terms of hours West or East of the Greenwich Observatory.  For example, the Eastern (standard) time zone in the USA is 4 hours West of Greenwich Observatory, while the Pacific time zone in the USA is 7 hours West of Greenwich.

Lastly, in the temperate zone where I live, in the Appalachian Mountains on the East Coast of the US, the time of sunrise and sunset each change at the rate of about one minute per day.  So, for example, during a season of waning sunlight (shortening days), as in October, sunrise occurs approximately one minute later each day, while sunset occurs approximately one minute earlier each day, yielding a daylight period which is about two minutes shorter each day. Of course, this trend of shortening days reverses itself on the day of Winter Solstice, December 21, when days start becoming longer, and the trend again reverses itself on the Summer Solstice 6 months later, on June 21.

The Daily UV Index for Your City, Area or Zip Code
Hira Manek and a few other folks in our sungazing world have stated that during the winter months, or more exactly, those months when the days are shorter and the sun is at the lowest angle in the sky, sungazing is possible and permissible at any time of day, so long as the UV index is at or below 2 that day.  I personally feel that this UV index limit of 2 or less is a very reasonable and sane one, particularly for those folks starting out in sungazing.

Just one note on UVI, the UV index. If the UV index for an area is 5, for example, this largely reflects the average UV index during the peak hours of sun, within the window of 10 AM thru about 3:00 PM (or thereabouts...). So, if the UVI for your area is 5 for today, that is for the midday time window, and the UV index is even lower within the first couple of hours after sunrise and last few hours before sunset, and even far lower, or almost non-existent, in the first half-hour after sunrise and last half-hour before sunset. In temperate zones, such as much of the USA, even the first full hour after sunrise and last hour before sunset are usually extremely low in far blue and UV.

Here is a handy website at which you can quickly and easily get the daily UV index for your city, town or zip code within the USA from the EPA (USA):

Another site offers a quick-view map of the USA for a snapshot view of the UV index, and this site may be found at:



North America, South America, Europe, Asia, etc.
This last linked page seems is a bit odd in its behavior. Although it is claimed that the pages will display UVI from across the world, this page (and any other UV index pages I can find on their site) seems to only show a UVI map for the continent from which you are currently accessing the Internet, and it does not seem possible, for example, to easily view the UVI map for India, while sitting in the USA, or vice versa. Further, this page may not load in some parts of the world, and in that case, please go to their main page at and follow the onsite links for Health or UVI (UV Index.)

For various reasons, I seem to have often violated those very safe UV limit guidelines while sungazing, sometimes rather drastically, and continue to do so (no, at age 52, I do not wear glasses nor have any vision problems), but that is my own personal choice, based upon inner guidance, and, if I should turn into a piece of crisp bacon tomorrow, well, that will be fun too, and I can practice being a piece of crisp bacon with love!

In Closing

I love the sun, and I almost never avoid the sun. I sunbathe regularly (no, no sunscreen...), although I do listen carefully to my body’s signals as to when I have had “enough” sun exposure.  I never use sunscreen (except for a tad on the bridge of my nose and tops of my ears when in really hot bright sun all day, such as at the beach.)  I never use sunglasses.  I am hardly alone in either practice.  Even mainstream Western medicine seems to be rapidly approaching the point of realizing the potential harm of using sunscreen and sunglasses, except in very specific circumstances, as well as the benefits of at least moderate sun exposure. I have been sungazing since 1987, and I continue to practice sungazing at times nowadays.  However, sungazing, while having been practiced in a number of traditional cultures, remains very controversial in our culture. On the other hand, largely due to the efforts of Hira Manek, sungazing is rapidly gaining far greater acceptance within mainsteram Western medicine, and he has told me that he has encountered many Western physicians and psychiatrists who now recommend moderate sungazing for their patients. 

I am not encouraging you to give sungazing a try. I feel that the decision to do so, if one does it, must come from the person contemplating it after reviewing the available data from both the medical world and the "alternative" world.  I feel that I have had some definite and strong benefits from sungazing over the years - the reason I did it at first was due to terrible sinus headaches and migraines (in 1987, over 16 years ago; I was on a cooked diet at the time) as well as some food allergies. The practice of sungazing helped a lot with this and some chronic fatigues stuff within a few months, and had the side effect that people would stop me on the street (I was attending graduate school at a university at the time) and tell me that I had a glow of incredible health and vitality to my skin, much like a glowing aura.  For some odd reason, the sungazing also seemed to increase my sex appeal, and a number of my female classmates (even though I was somewhat older than them) in grad school started showing great interest in me.  I have heard similar stories from two other persons as well, one from my friend Patrick (a long term sungazer who at one time taught seminars on sungazing) whom I mentioned above, and have heard that Gene Savoy (mentioned above) has reported similar experiences. Gene has also reported in print numerous times that clocks and watches anywhere near him or on his body would run very slow (or, at times, fast), due to what he called his "increased energy".

A Footnote from October 2003 

I noted, while reviewing my webpage statistics in late October 2003 that this my sungazing page had suddenly started getting several hundred additional hits per day for a few days, none of which could be accounted for by the normal and steady streams of traffic from the sungazing community and merely curious newcomers... I investigated and found out that the page had been mentioned on a forum at a website named, which apparently exists to point out what they believe to be astronomy "errors of fact" in both popular media (newspapers, TV, etc.) and also in the scientific journals devoted to astronomy. As you might imagine, this sungazing site and its contents were viewed with some skepticism and a bit of derision.... and, in my mind, they are fully entitled to their own opinions. God bless them!  Interestingly, the folks on that same forum were also rather skeptical and critical of the page on the relative safety of sungazing which was created/maintained by astronomer and astronomy professor Dr. Andy Young (which is mentioned and linked above).

An Email List Group for Sungazers

As a result of discussions with Hira Manek and other sungazers, I decided in October 2003 to start an email list group devoted to sungazing at Yahoo Groups. Due to the drastic downscaling of Yahoo Groups in October, 2019, the group is now hosted at The list name is Sungazing, and the home page for the Sungazing list group is Membership is restricted. To join this group, click the "join" link from the group's home page or send an email to


Notice: sun™ is a registered trademark belonging to God/Being/Spirit (smile!)

This page was authored by Vinny Pinto, a scientist, mystic and spiritual healer. 

I charge for my consulting services in the realms of raw foods nutrition, antioxidants, and the sciences. I offer spiritual healing as per my website.
For the past few years, I had offered 20 minutes (per person) of  free consulting, on a donation-only basis, in the realm of sungazing. Unfortunately, too many folks abused that offer, with frequent and repeated requests for "free" consulting, while never offering donations. Thus, while I still offer consultng or coaching on sungazing to those who request it, it is now subject -- as of June 25, 2004 -- to the normal terms, conditions and fees for my consulting services. Details on my consulting services and fees may be found by clicking here.

Thank you very much!

Vinny Pinto

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