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Writer-poet embarks on a spiritual journey to “find a better self” and clarity within the world’s confusion.

April 5, 2012
Cindy Schumacher , The Maui Weekly

Scriptures and legends tell us that from the beginning of time, man has been determined to discover the meaning of existence. It is said that everyone has the potential for spiritual enlightenment; it is only a matter of the right time.

With all the clamor and unrest in today's world, would it surprise you that a man is willing to go to great lengths to seek an awakened intelligence?

Writer, poet and seeker Neil Crummett, in an attempt to solve a personal crisis of purpose, has traveled to the island of Maui to confront everything he has ever believed about himself and the very nature of his being.

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Writer, poet and seeker Neil Crummett has chosen to embark upon a perilous 49-day fast to find God, a connection to the universe, and a deeper meaning and purpose for his life in the world.

"Desperate for redemption from my dissolute past, I intend to embark upon a 49-day fast to seek a relationship with God that has thus far been absent from my life," said Crummett.

Anxious to change from a life of drinking and drugs in which he came to hate himself, he has agreed to have his experience filmed as a documentary called "Tree" to help himself and inspire others in need.

"I want this to be a path individuals can follow, even though I don't know which way it will turn out," he said, about 23 days into the fast. "'Tree' will be an inquiry into spirituality and consciousness. It is both a cosmological and ontological experiment."

Maui resident Mark Matthews is producing and directing the film.

"Our documentary follows Crummett while he sits under a tree in fasting and contemplation as he earnestly speaks with experts in science, medicine, spirituality and philosophy," said Matthews. "We hope these specialists will share their life lessons to catalyze his transformation."

The film will also document the findings of doctors, psychologists and metabolic scientists to report the physical ramifications of a fast of this length.

Malik Cotter, one of the specialists involved in the project, is a doctor of acupuncture and oriental medicine in Makawao. Cotter is also a certified herbalist and has helped Crummett prepare his body for the 49-day fast.

"I have advised Crummett to let go of some habits that would not be useful for the task that he has undertaken," said Cotter.

Most of the work has been in the area of proper nutrition to prepare for the calorie restrictions and low blood sugar levels.

"We have plans to take his vital signs throughout the 49 days," Cotter said. However, it appears that one of the most important talks that Cotter had with Crummett was about his intention.

"Make sure you know why you are doing this," Cotter told Crummett, while explaining the importance of keeping a joyful and strong mind throughout the journey. "Body follows mind," he explained.

Before the fast, Crummett worked steadily toward a necessary cleansing to create harmony within, allowing his body, mind and spirit to heal together.

"I intend to help Crummett with his experience," said Matthews, who at first thought that Crummett's idea was crazy. "However, I soon realized that his journey belongs to all of us. At some point in our lives, we reach a crossroads; a rite of passage; the hero's myth," Matthews said, adding, "I want to make this film because we all need it and want to know what he finds."

Matthews feels that if you are courageous enough to risk everything to become aware, enlightenment is going to happen.

"Above all, 'Tree' will be a human story filled with triumphs and failures while trying to explore the question of who we might become if we step outside what is comfortable to find a better self," he said.

While following the footsteps of those powerful spiritual icons that went before him, Crummett is determined to see if there is a better person he can be.

"'Tree' will be an intimate portrayal of his trials and tribulations as he journeys into the depths of his psyche, while pushing himself to his breaking point," said Matthews.

Crummett anticipates a new awareness in which he can correctly understand the way to live and find clarity within confusion.

Besides talking with experts of all kinds, he is reading a collection of spiritual books and keeping a daily journal during his fast.

"Tree" remains possible through community support and donations. The film production is reaching out to local artists, teachers, donors and investors to finish documenting Crummett's journey. Matthews invites anyone interested in any level of production to help support the project. If you wish to help this venture, visit

For more information, call Matthews at 773-558-5781 or email

Watch for Crummett's findings in an upcoming issue of the Maui Weekly.



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