14. Fasting

1. Why do you think most people fast?
2. Why do you think we should fast?

3. Why do you fast?

  • Assignments
  • 4. Read. Choose among the following:
    The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting: Selection of Extracts and Prayers from the Bahá’í Writings. Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice http://bahai-library.com/compilations/obligatory.prayer.html

    Living a Spiritual Life: 14. Fasting in rtf

    Rodney H. Clarken , Copyright © 2011

    Module objective

    You will know what fasting is and be committed to fasting as a vital spiritual practice.

    Fasting Module: Introduction

    Beyond the six essential requisites for spiritual growth discussed in earlier modules in the course on living a spiritual life, there are other practices that are vital to spiritual development. Among them the most important is fasting.

    Fasting Module Overview

    This module will answer the questions what, why, how and when of fasting. Use the exercises throughout as you see fit to help you remember and apply what you learn. There is a series of questions at the end to review and help you assess how much you learned.

    What is fasting?

    Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. A fast may be total or partial concerning that from which one fasts, and may be prolonged or intermittent as to the period of fasting.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fasting

    What is the Bahai fast?

    lasts nineteen days, March 2 to 20 inclusive, and involves complete abstinence from food and drink from sunrise till sunset. March 21 is the Bahai new year and a holy day.

    What is the purpose of fasting?

    “It essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. (Shoghi Effendi, Directives of the Guardian, pp. 27-28.)

    Fasting is essentially a period of

    ____________________

    ____________________

    _____________________

    _____________________

    Fasting is essentially a period of

    meditation and prayer

    spiritual recuperation

    striving to readjust inner life

    refreshing and reinvigorating the spiritual forces latent in the soul

    Briefly pause to reflect.

    Which of the above four things do you do regularly? During fasting?

    How do you do them? How does the fast help you do them?

    Why do you think the fast is essentially a time for these activities?

    How can/might/will you do better?

    What is the significance and purpose of fasting?

    “Its significance and purpose are, fundamentally spiritual in character. Fasting is symbolic, and a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desired.” (Shoghi Effendi, Directives of the Guardian, pp. 27-28.)

    Fill in the blanks

    “Its significance and ______ are,

    fundamentally _________in character. Fasting is _________, and a reminder of abstinence from _____and _____ desires.” (Shoghi Effendi, Directives of the Guardian, pp. 27-28.)

    “Its significance and purposeare,

    fundamentally spiritualin character. Fasting is symbolic, and a reminder of abstinence from selfishand carnaldesires.” (Shoghi Effendi, Directives of the Guardian, pp. 27-28.)

    What are as two wings to life?

    III. One who performethneither good deeds nor acts of worship is like unto a tree which bearethno fruit, and an action which leavethno trace. Whosoever experienceththe holy ecstasy of worship will refuse to barter such an act or any praise of God for all that existethin the world. Fasting and obligatory prayer are as two wings to man’s life. (Bahá’u’lláh in The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)

    What is fasting’s role in religion?

    IV. …Verily, the religion of God is like unto heaven; fasting is its sun, and obligatory prayer is its moon. In truth, they are the pillars of religion whereby the righteous are distinguished from those who transgress His commandments. (Bahá’u’lláh in The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)

    Answer the following questions from the previous quote.

    Answer the following questions from the previous quote.

    What does it mean to fast?

    XII. … observe the most great and exalted Fast, which is to protect one’s eye from beholding whatever is forbidden and to withhold one’s self from food, drink and whatever is not of Him. (Bahá’u’lláh in The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)

    Why fast? Questions

    Why do you think most people fast?

    Why do you think we should fast?

    Why do you fast?

    Why do you think most people fast?

    (To lose weight, get healthy, religion, for a cause, etc.)

    Why do you think we should fast?

    (cultivate spirituality, draw nearer to God, obedience, detachment, protection, overcome self and passion, love of God, experience hunger/suffering, ecstasy, wisdom, profit, cleansing of soul, awareness, awakening, etc.)

    Why do you fast?

    ???

    What disease does fasting remedy?

    XVII. Verily, I say, fasting is the supreme remedy and the most great healing for the disease of self and passion. (Bahá’u’lláh in The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)

    Why is fasting ordained? Why observe it?

    I. And We have ordained obligatory prayer and fasting so that all may by these means draw nigh unto God….Say: Observe ye the commandments of God for love of His beauty, and be not of those who follow in the ways of the abject and foolish. (Bahá’u’lláh in The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)

    Of what does fasting apprise you?

    II. …that those possessed of means may become apprised of the woes and sufferings of the destitute. (Bahá’u’lláh in The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)

    Why should we not neglect fasting?

    VI. Be not neglectful of obligatory prayer and fasting. He who failethto observe them hath not been nor will ever be acceptable in the sight of God. Follow ye wisdom under all conditions. He, verily, hath bidden all to observe that which hath been and will be of profit to them. (Bahá’u’lláh in The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)

    What does the fast lead to?

    XXVI. “This Fast leadethto the cleansing of the soul from all selfish desires, the acquisition of spiritual attributes, attraction to the breezes of the All-Merciful, and enkindlementwith the fire of divine love. (Abdul-Bahain The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)

    What does fasting produce and is conducive to?

    VII. Obligatory prayer and fasting produce awareness and awakening in man, and are conducive to his protection and preservation from tests. (Abdul-Bahain The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)

    What does fasting effect?

    “…Fasting has a very salutary effect both physically and spiritually….“ (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 21, 1946)

    List as many reasons as you can.why we should fast?

    Review the above quotes for answers.

    Why do you think you should fast?

    Possible answers: cultivate spirituality, draw nearer to God, obedience, detachment, protection, overcome self and passion, love of God, experience hunger/suffering, ecstasy, wisdom, profit, cleansing of soul, awareness, awakening, enkindlement, physical & spiritual well being, etc.

    How should the fast produce?

    XV. …Blessed is the one who through the heat generated by the Fast increasethhis love, and who, with joy and radiance, arisethto perform worthy deeds. (Bahá’u’lláh in The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)

    Who assist us?

    XVIII. All praise be to the one true God Who hath assisted His loved ones to observe the Fast and hath aided them to fulfill that which hath been decreed in the Book. (Bahá’u’lláh in The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)

    How does the fast differ outwardly and inwardly?

    XVI. Even though outwardly the Fast is difficult and toilsome, yet inwardly it is bounty and tranquility. Purification and training are conditioned and dependent only on such rigorous exercises as are in accord with the Book of God and sanctioned by Divine law, not those which the deluded have inflicted upon the people.

    When and for what purpose to fast?

    XIII. …Fasting hath been decreed for you in the month of ‘Ala [March 2-20]. Fast ye for the sake of your Lord, the Mighty, the Most High. Restrain yourselves from sunrise to sunset. …It is not for anyone to exceed the limits laid down by God and His law, nor should anyone follow his own idle imaginings. (Bahá’u’lláh in The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)

    Who should fast?

    …generally speaking most people cankeep it, anywhere in the world, with no detriment to their health. It is very good for the health and, once one forms the habit, each year it becomes easier to keep, unless one is rundown. No one is obliged to keep it if it really harms them.“ (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 14, 1947)

    Who are exempted from fasting?

    a. Travelers in certain circumstances.

    b. Ill.

    c. Under 15 and over 70.

    d. Women with child, nursing or menstruating.

    g. Those doing heavy labor are to use wisdom.

    What are the stages and stations for the Fast?

    XIX. There are various stages and stations for the Fast and innumerable effects and benefits are concealed therein. (Bahá’u’lláh in The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)

    XXVII. Fasting is the cause of the elevation of one’s spiritual station. (Abdul-Bahain The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)

    What does fasting cause?

    Fasting is the cause of awakening man. The heart becomes tender and the spirituality of man increases. This is produced by the fact that man’s thoughts will be confined to the commemoration of God, and through this awakening and stimulation surely ideal advancements follow. (cont.)

    How do material and spiritual fasting differ?

    Fasting is of two kinds, material and spiritual. The material fasting is abstaining from food or drink, that is, from the appetites of the body. But spiritual, ideal fasting is this, that man abstain from selfish passions, from negligence and from satanic animal traits. Therefore, material fasting is a token of the spiritual fasting. (cont.)

    That is: `O God! As I am fasting from the appetites of the body and not occupied with eating and drinking, even so purify and make holy my heart and my life from aught else save Thy Love, and protect and preserve my soul from self-passions… Thus may the spirit associate with the Fragrances of Holiness and fast from everything else save Thy mention. (`Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, vol. 3, p. 305.)

    Of what is fasting a symbol?

    Fasting signifies abstinence from lust. Physical fasting is a symbol of that abstinence, and is a reminder; that is, just as a person abstains from physical appetites, he is to abstain from self-appetites and self-desires. But mere abstention from food has no effect on the spirit. It is only a symbol, a reminder. (cont.)

    What is the golden rule of food?

    Otherwise it is of no importance. Fasting for this purpose does not mean entire abstinence from food. The golden rule as to food is, do not take too much or too little. Moderation is necessary. …A man is not fit to do service for God with brain or body if he is weakened by lack of food. He cannot see clearly.”(Abdu’l-Bahá, quoted in Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, 79.)

    What are the two pillars of the Law of God?

    As regards fasting, it constitutes, together with the obligatory prayers, the two pillars that sustain the revealed Law of God. They act as stimulants to the soul, strengthen, revive and purify it, and thus insure its steady development.” (Shoghi Effendi, Directives of the Guardian, pp. 27.)

    Why fast?45

    Why fast?

    To increase our love for, knowledge of  and nearness to God.

    To achieve greater understanding, meaning, fulfillment, purpose, happiness, joy, power, love, purity, radiance and efficiency of character.

    Abiding by spiritual laws and principles, like physical laws, is essential for well-being and happiness.

    Assignment: Read and meditate

    The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting: Selection of Extracts and Prayers from the Bahá’í Writings. Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice. (http://bahai-library.com/compilations/obligatory.prayer.html)

    Some additional links for study

    Nineteen Day Fast Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Day_Fast

    Bahai International Community article: http://info.bahai.org/article-1-4-7-2.html

    Bahai  Library writings on the fast: http://www.bcca.org/bahaivision/fast.html

    You may proceed to the next module

    15.

One Response to 14. Fasting

  1. Pingback: Fasting: A Time of Spiritual Renewal | The Clarken Chronicles

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s