Through much of his life, Philip was misunderstood. He was an exceptional human being, seldom recognized or accepted, holding views that were unconventional, baffling, somehow threatening to others. One of the many things neither family nor friends could understand was his consistent search for healing through unorthodox means. His health became increasingly precarious as far back as his mid-30s. Conventional doctors found no name for odd and debilitating symptoms. Alternative healers diagnosed candida, toxins, and liver problems but offered no effective cure. Discouraged and disheartened, Philip began his own research and eventually found his way to a simple and holistic philosophy of well-being called Natural Hygiene dating back to the 1830’s, renewed by Dr. Herbert Shelton in the middle of the 20th century, and currently embraced by The Natural Health Association.
Having been vegetarians for twenty+ years, it was easy for us to carry on with Natural Hygiene’s plant-based diet. It was this movement’s belief in the natural healing powers of the body that especially appealed to Philip. The philosophy is based on the belief that health depends on providing the body with an optimal healing opportunity via fasting, rest, clean water and air, organic raw fruits and vegetables, meditation, and gentle movement. Medicine and medical procedures, on the other hand, are considered unnecessary if not damaging, a violation of both the natural and spiritual integrity of the human being. This attracted Philip philosophically, and once he was in … there was no turning back.
It is a lonely uphill effort to trust in that which is largely distrusted. To refuse medical attention, to seek simplicity of diet and lifestyle while being confronted with the fear, disparagement, and incredulity of others takes a courage that many see only as folly. In his final months of life, almost everyone advised tests, doctors, and hospitals; and still, Philip held to the conviction that either he would heal with integrity or die with it. Believing that the state of his soul was what most influenced and affected the state of his body, he explained that there could be no cure for him in approaches he could not believe in. Much as I was frightened for his life … and the prospect of life without him, I respected his chosen path.
When confronted with the doubts of others – “If this way of eating and living is so healthy, why are you still so debilitated?” – he would shrug and counter with his own questions.
“Too much abuse in the form of a terrible diet in early years?” he pondered. “A weakened system due to the medications taken by my mother during pregnancy? Karma?”
Despairing as he was throughout his final health crisis, he never stopped referring to all who had succeeded via Natural Hygiene and never stopped believing that the conventional path would certainly kill him – both physically and spiritually. Right or wrong, brave or foolish, principled or stubborn – he held true to his beliefs to the very end.
“So many people doubt this natural path,” I once said. “Can they all be wrong?”
“Can everyone be wrong?” he said. “Yes, everyone can be wrong. You must do what you believe in; follow what seems right even when you’re the only one.”