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Sunday, January 3, 2010

About Fasting

Eating and drinking is part of the survival need which is also a basic craving in us. It is a necessity for us to eat and drink for survival. But other than those who have not enough food and are starving in daily life, for most of us who live in a well developed nation where food and drinks are easily available, eating and drinking is no longer just for survival, but as an enjoyment in life under the influence of likes and dislikes, or desire of craving and aversion. It is not just a necessity, but a “want” towards lots of diversities and choices. 
There is nothing wrong at all for anyone who wants to enjoy life indulging in food and drinks, and feel happy by eating and drinking for pleasure or to chase away boredom and the sense of emptiness in life. It is better than doing something that will hurt others for fun and enjoyment, and to chase away boredom and the sense of emptiness in life by getting involved in harmful activities. We enjoy food and drinks with gratitude and appreciation, to appreciate this life existence of this body and mind, to do something meaningful and good for humanity and other beings, especially engaging in the path towards enlightenment, or liberation from ignorance.

If we do not know how to be free from the craving for certain tastes that we like and the aversion towards certain tastes that we don’t like, then we will be experiencing dissatisfaction, irritation, frustration, and some kind of impurities in us. If we are being over-powered by our greed and desire towards the enjoyment of food and drinks, being led by our desire of craving and aversion, then we won’t have peace as our mind will always be agitated or disturbed by the greed and
ungratified desire of craving and aversion.

Fasting for a day or a few days once in a while under great care and correct methods is an effective purification process for the body and the mind. It is one of the ways to control our greed and desire of craving and aversion, and developing strong willpower and determination. It's not so much about 'starving' the body, but it's more about starving the restless modification of the mind.

When a person reduce the food intake (energy), the entire body system is actually having a break from unceasing overload work. It is an overhaul for the entire body system. At the same time, the mind will slow down as well. And this is a good time for us to learn and to know about ourselves or to recognize what is the mind, the ego and the intellect?; How does the mind work?; How does food and drinks affect our mentality and emotion?; How much food and drinks had taken our time and effort in life?; How strong is our craving over-powering our mind?; How do we behave when the desire of craving and aversion is not being gratified?; And how strong is our willpower and determination?

Fasting is also allowing us to experience the suffering of those people who are starving without food; and to develop appreciation, gratitude, detachment and contentment in us; as well as compassion towards other beings that are not as lucky as we are.

But most important is whether the motive behind fasting is having the correct attitude or not. Whether it is for self-development and spiritual growth; or it is for enhancing the ego and attachment towards the physical body because we want to slim down our body to have a desirable body image. Some people are fanatic about the body image and starve themselves – Anorexia.

Fasting without correct understanding and correct methods will not bring any spiritual growth but will be harming the condition of the body and the mind as well. Some people will get into depressing mood if not eating correctly or fast for too long. Some people get too low energy and the mind is dulled and can’t function properly (can’t think or memorize or work efficiently).

Eating healthy food and less amount in every meal is better than not eating at all for a long period of time. It is not so good for the body system especially when after the fast finished, we tend to eat a lot more than usual to replace the loss of our food intake or to gratify the body craving for food after many days not eating enough.

When we eat without the attachment towards the body and the ego, we are offering the food to the deity of fire which governs the digestive system in the body to maintain the life of this physical body for us to evolve spiritually and to attain enlightenment.

There are many reasons why people fast. For religion practices; for protesting something; for purification; for health; for penance; for developing divine qualities; for body image; for detoxification; for self-control, and etc. No matters what is the reason for fasting, may all be happy and appreciate this body and this life to do good and be kind to ourselves and to others.

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About Yoga

Know thyself. Everything is impermanent and selfless. There is no 'I'. There is no 'I am selfless'/'I am not selfless'. There is no 'I am hurt'/'I need to be healed from hurt'. Non-blind believing, non-blind following, non-blind practicing and non-blind propagating, but be open-minded to inquire the truth of everything. Be free. Be peaceful. Be happy.

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