A Half a Century Experiment.
How to live without diseases? Generation after generation dreamt about it. But we must recognize with deep concern that even now, despite the tremendous achievements of medicine, mankind does not suffer from diseases less than formerly. We shall not talk about serious diseases, let us take a common cold. According to statistics, more than half of all diseases falls into this category.
There are many various methods that help man to stay healthy, and the tempering stands first among them.
Unfortunately, the influence of cold upon man has not been studied enough. But the healing qualities of icy water were known millenniums ago, and now the wisdom of folk medicine is successfully adopted by doctors. For instance, in Kaluga City No. 1 Hospital, the cold is used in treatment of neuroses and bronchial asthma or, in the Kirov Sanatorium in Yalta, hypertension and neurasthenia are treated with the help of winter swimming.
The healthy influence of cold upon the organism was explained by I. P. Pavlov as a result of the “shock of the nerve cells” from the sudden effect on the nervous system. But there are many questions about the influence of cold upon man that still remain open.
This is why, in our opinion, the experiment of Porphyry Korneyevich Ivanov is so valuable. This citizen of the Voroshilovgrad region has been testing himself for almost fifty years. He has so inured himself to cold that he can spend many hours outdoors only in shorts—and barefoot!—in the winter.
He will be eighty-five years old, and during half a century of his friendship with the frost he never caught cold nor was sick with respiratory disease or flu. But before he began to temper himself he was often sick like to anyone else...
I found out about Porphyry Korneyevich from the writer V. G. Cherkasov, a zealous follower of the simple system of superior health, developed by this man. And he is not alone: at the moment, only in Moscow I know more than several dozen engineers, doctors, scientists who became the followers of Porphyry Ivanov. Following the example of the Teacher, as every one calls him, they run barefoot upon the snow; and though in the past they were frequently sick, now they forgot about diseases, and thank their lucky stars for bringing them to Porphyry Korneyevich.
Before visiting him in Verkhny Kondryuchy village, where he lives now, I read about him in the book “The Reserves of Our Organism” written by two doctors, N. Agadjanyan and A. Katkov:
“In any frost he walks barefoot upon the snow... and without feeling any cold.”
It sounded strange—does not he really feel cold? That was the first question I asked Porphyry Korneyevich.
“I don’t feel cold?!” He exclaimed. “I feel it, even more than ye. Only ye are afraid of it, I am not. I made a friend of the eternal human enemy.”1
“And ye indeed have never been sick?”
“Why on earth? I am sick all the time. I am sick from the thought that I am capable, but prohibited to transmit my ability to people.”
“Some say that ye believe in God.”
“They tell a lie2. I believed until I realized that God dwells not in heaven, but on earth—in the people who were able to gain a victory over themselves.”
This uncommon man has an interesting fate. He was born in a poor family, and like to his father, became a coal miner. He descended into the mine for the first time at the age of fifteen, and did there a variety of jobs. In 1917 he was conscripted into the army.
“I wasn’t in time for the war,” Porphyry Korneyevich narrates, “the Czar was thrown off from the way.”
However, he warred as a partisan. He derailed the interventionists’ trains, once burned an English airplane, and was rewarded for that by the command. After the war he restored mines in Donbass, participated in the collective farm movement, led a forest crew.
Now, when Porphyry Korneyevich is in his eighties, he amazes people with the boldness of his reasoning. He was ever such a man—daring, courageous, thoughtful. One day (it was in the Caucasus, he stood over the sea, upon a high rock) a thought occurred to him, “Why has it been arranged so that man spends in well-being only half of his life—while he is young; but when he reaches maturity, and it seems that he should live and live for the others’ good, it doesn’t happen—diseases fall upon him, making him unfit, forcing to think not about the business for which he came to the Earth, but about himself? Diseases make a man an egoist. Don’t many of human troubles happen because of man doesn’t know how to conquer his powerlessness? No matter how much thou wilt bundle up, it won’t save thee from diseases. Why not to do the opposite—not hide from Nature, but walk toward her, become close to her and merge with her?”
And Porphyry Korneyevich decided to prove—at first to himself—that it is possible to tame the “unkind forces of Nature” (his expression), and turn them to man’s own advantage. He began to walk without clothes in the frost, at first for a few seconds, then up to half a minute. Increasing the time more and more, he became able to go outdoors in the snowstorm, dressed only in shorts, and spend hours in a field when there were the strong wind and hard frost. He used to return all covered with snow and ice, in the wreaths of steam, and the villagers were perplexed whether he would be in bed with cold (or maybe with something more serious) tomorrow.
But that is in the past. Now, having retired, Porphyry Ivanov is set upon transmitting his unique (unique undoubtedly!) experience of tempering to the people, scientists. And what about the scientists? They are not in a hurry yet. Maybe they do not know about Porphyry Ivanov?..
“I address to people,” Porphyry Korneyevich says, “My dears, all your diseases stem from your indulging yourselves: from the warmth, the tasty food, the rest. Do not be afraid of cold, it mobilizes, as it is in to speak now, the body defense forces. The cold throws into the body a hormone of health. Let every one think what is more important for him—the business or small enjoyments. For everything there must be a victory. A man must live in victory; if thou dostn’t get it, thou wiltn’t be worth a doit... What for get treatment if it is possible and necessary not to let disease into the body?!”
Marx said that a civilized man must be able to withstand Nature as the ancients did it. Porphyry Ivanov is able to withstand Nature. The basis for that is his system. He had been developing it for almost half a century, and has strictly followed it. The system is very simple at a glance, consists of mere seven rules, and some of them seem to be irrelevant to health. Judge it yourselves.
The first rule. Live with the constant wish to do good to people, and if thou hast done that, newer recollect of, and hurry to do more.
The second rule. Try to do everything with pleasure and joy. And until thou hast learned to get joyfulness of doing a job, consider that thou dost not know how to do it.
It would seem that the hoary old man talks not about health, but in essence he talks about the most important health—the health of soul3. Verily, is it possible to cure of the body without it? Here are his other rules:
Drink neither wine nor vodka.
One day a week, go without food and water. At other times, try to eat less meat, and eat less in general. (“Now people simply suffer from gluttony, they eat twice more than their nature requires. Excess food prevents clear thinking.”)
Walk barefoot all the year round upon the grass and snow, at least a few minutes each day.
Every morning and evening, bathe in cold water.
The photo correspondent Edward Ettinger and I experimented with this. At first we declined it point-black. I was afraid to think about it, moreover, I was suffering from a sore throat and cold. Only when we saw how disappointed Porphyry Korneyevich became (“So ye also don’t believe me?”), we decided to risk it—for the sake of mankind healing. But when he poured upon each of us a bucket of icy-cold water (it was about ten degrees4 outdoors), we realized what the unearthly feelings are. By the way, after half an hour my sickness was completely gone. We took the cold-water procedures every day, but only at the end of the fifth day of our visitation in the house of Porphyry Korneyevich did we get a taste for it. Of course, by no means we appeal to anyone to follow our example right now. We are only telling the facts.
And the last rule. Frequently be outdoors with the skin exposed to the air, in summer and in winter. (“Let the body breathe and learn to take warmth from the cold.”)
This thought of Porphyry Ivanov may seem strange to someone. But let us hear one of his followers, I. Khvoschevsky, Ph.D., a specialist in the area of thermodynamics:
“By his unprecedented experience, P. K. Ivanov was able to show that under the cold conditions, the human organism begins to constantly produce internal energy. It may be that this experience echoes with the genial, perhaps, but not well founded hypothesis of K. E. Tsiolkovsky about the gradual and gratuitous absorption of energy from the surrounding cold bodies. Indeed, we know very little about man, about his potentialities. It is possible that in unusual, extreme situations the organism shows unknown capabilities; for the present we can only guess about them. This is why the experiment that Porphyry Korneyevich Ivanov has been realizing upon himself for over half a century is so important. It is difficult to find the similar example of such a perseverance...”
In the village, Porphyry Ivanov has many followers, and the first among them is his wife Valentina Leontievna. Some time ago she was very ill, but now, in her seventy years old, she considers herself perfectly healthy.
“I am afraid,” she says, “to miss even one day in winter of going to the frost undressed and pouring icy water upon myself. What if diseases come again, as it was twenty-five years ago.”
Just as Porphyry Korneyevich, Valentina Leontievna eats very little. Working the whole day (like to any other peasant woman), now she tires much less than it was before she became a friend of the cold and began fasting. It is very likely that these two factors are related, and one helps to bear the other.
Verily, the mysteries of the human organism are endless!
On our way to the airport, we stopped in the district center Sverdlovsk, to talk about Porphyry Ivanov in the District Party Committee. The secretary of the District Committee Nadezhda Konstantinovna Kovalyova said,
“Unfortunately, we aren’t able to estimate this unique man at his true worth. Here are no specialists for that. And honestly speaking, we have no time to occupy ourselves with him. The district is big and complicated, and we mine the earth for coal. But if you would help to attract to Porphyry Ivanov attention of the community, scientists...”
This is what we were trying to do here.
1Porphyry Ivanov, peace be upon him, said that Nature—it is the people, and in the light of these words there is an interpretation that “making a friend of the cold” means walking in truth—the truth has no honor in this world, and he who walks in truth lives under trying conditions, in other words in the cold.
The Holy Qur’an says, “Let those fight in the cause of Allah who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter. To him who fighteth in the cause of Allah—whether he is slain or gets victory—soon shall We give him a reward of great (value).” (Surah “The Women”, ayah 74.)
2This article could come out only with such an answer.
3It is known the words of Porphyry Ivanov, peace be upon him, “Do ye good deeds, and Nature won’t go for you.”
The Holy Qur’an says, “Those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness, and establish regular prayers and regular charity, will have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Surah “The Heifer”, ayah 277.)
4It is equal to fourteen degrees Fahrenheit.