“Fasting is the first principle of medicine; fast and see the strength of the spirit reveal itself.”Rumi
Why Did We Stop Fasting?
What do Socrates, Jesus, Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin, Plato, Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi all have in common? They all practised fasting. The question shouldn’t be ‘Why fast?’ but ‘Why did people stop fasting?’
Ever since I became a Christian in my teenage years, I was fascinated by the passages in the Bible that mention spiritual fasting, especially the cryptic passage in the Gospel of Matthew about the demon possessed boy whom the disciples were unable to free from his demon. Jesus tells them:
“But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
Who was supposed to fast? The boy? The disciples? Everybody? And why would the demon leave willingly once people fasted…?
Either way, it is clear that fasting unlocks some type of spiritual power in addition to the kind of mental clarity that comes with the faster’s high. What kind of spiritual power though? A clue is found in the preceding verse, Matthew 17:20. It’s more than the power of faith….
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
“But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
Fasting purifies the mind, body and spirit when used as a spiritual discipline. Demons (or negative mind projections) love filth of any kind because like attracts like. If we simply fast and abstain from food and/or drink, the demon will not leave. We also have to pray and purify the mind from anger, jealousy, envy, greed, licentiousness etc.
Today’s society is virtually void of virtue, which has been dethroned by the greed of the machine that is the power structure currently in place. The message of the machine is clear: You must keep growing the economy (and your bellies) or we are all going to perish! (a lie, of course). What we really need is to start being more compassionate and caring…
Ramadan is to remind everyone of the poor and less fortunate, a time of charity, compassion, abstinence, and forgiveness.Diana Abu-Jaber
We are all captive to the illusion because we are fed it and willingly consume it with our eyes and ears on a daily basis. Our ‘reality’ is the wet dream of any ‘demons’/selfish/fear-fuelled thoughts. God is dead according to the machine (or the machine offers up a false WARMONGERING idol to replace God). When we keep feeding our flesh mindlessly, we effortlessly stay attuned to this reality. Many of us consume in this spirit of greed and eat way more than we ought to, knowing full well that others – including children – are starving to death.
What We Feed
Thus, what we feed when we eat mindlessly and in the spirit of the current power structure is the ego/separate self, rather than the Self. But is there a better way…? Can we begin to let go of the illusion of separation and ensure that everyone on this planet is properly fed and cared for?
“After getting the body to fast, We [as the Self] should remain in Our upayog (applied awareness of the Self). The purpose of fasting is so that We [as the Self] remain in the applied awareness of the Self; fasting is not meant for starving oneself.”
It seems that an inward, contemplative focus emerges with greater ease when we empty ourselves on more than one level of our being. It seems we get a chance to purify ourselves from false mind filters when we fast, let go and let God…
Can we even feed our spirit if the mind is constantly occupied by cravings born from greed? The truth is that we are simple creatures leading unnatural lives, far removed from the wisdom of the ancients who all knew that to succeed on any spiritual path, we must practise spiritual fasting, pray and meditate.
Freeing Ourselves from the Zombie State of Sleepwalking Through Life
In my own experience, fasting has been a way of becoming both more serene while feeling more fully alive. Indeed, the Tarot card I pulled to answer the question what the main spiritual benefit to my fasting might be, I got The Tower. It was illuminating to see that Buddhists also consider fasting a ‘shaking up’ practice:
Fasting in the monastic community is considered an ascetic practice, a “dhutanga” practice. (Dhutanga means “to shake up” or “invigoration.”) Dhutangas are a specific list of thirteen practices, four of which pertain to food: eating once a day, eating at one sitting, reducing the amount you eat, on alms-round, eating only the food that you receive at the first seven houses.Rev. Heng Sure
In Buddhism, it is always about avoiding extremes. Fasting is not seen as in any way punishing the body or harming the flesh in favour of the spirit. Fasts are moderated and undertaken for a certain period of time.
Modern Day Intermittent Fasting
It looks like science is finally catching up with what the ancients knew all along: Fasting is good for the body as well as the soul.
“A little starvation can really do more for the average sick man than can the best medicines and the best doctors.”~ Mark Twain
My own experiments with fasting started in my early 30’s. I wasn’t brave enough to try a water fast but I did a three-day juice cleanse. Then nothing for many years until three years ago (2016) when I was in my 40’s and wanted to try intermittent fasting to lose weight. I stumbled upon Dr Michael Mosley’s 5:2 method and lost about a stone and half.
However, even then, when my main goal was weight loss, I still had an interest in the spiritual benefits… I did some research but nobody who wasn’t a monk seemed to discuss it, so I dropped and used the Tarot the help with a daily spiritual focus during my fasting journey.
This time, trying a different method of intermittent fasting, I decided from the start that my main goal wasn’t going to be the weight loss (that tends to happen anyway) but spiritual and personal development. I am well aware that I need to develop patience and perseverance and nothing fosters those qualities like fasting. And yeah, I’m not going to lie, I’m also interested in tapping any other spiritual power that may be available only through fasting.
OMAD is my preferred method of fasting. It’s referenced in the Buddhist quote above about eating only one meal a day as one of the monastic fasting practices. I love OMAD because you can sustain it for a very long time. You can check out a video on the physical and mental benefits of OMAD here.
What I have noticed about this practice of eating only one meal a day so far from a spiritual perspective is that it clears my schedule as well as my mind, so that I have more time for my inner life, spiritual studies and contemplation. The hunger, once you get used to eating only one meal a day, is not disruptive and I have more energy in general. I also don’t get pulled into the drama that media is trying to feed me as easily. I’m developing greater inner and outer resistance to the great illusion of being separate from Source and other people. My Tarot readings are also clearer. I’m stepping up to lead rather than just follow along with what everybody else is doing.
I got up at 5.20 AM this morning, wide awake after a blissful night’s sleep (impossible before I started this practice). I am full of creative ideas, as well as gratitude about how this way of simplifying and purifying my life is affecting all levels of my being. And yes, the weight is coming off too (nice bonus!). I started intermittent fasting on the 13th of January and four weeks down the line, I have lost 6.2 kg / 13.6 lbs.
How to Get Started with Spiritual Fasting
My passion now is to create a community of like-minded people who want to give fasting a go, at least as much for the spiritual benefits as for weight loss and how fasting helps the body heal itself through autophagy.