As I write this entry from my iPhone I sit on an overland train, traversing the urban jungle that is South London.
I am currently fasting.
The Bahá’í fast is a period of prayer and detachment. This means no food or drink (including water) from sunrise to sunset for 19 days, ending on sunset of the 20th March, the beginning of Naw-Rúz (Bahá’í new year) and Spring.
I have fasted every year since 1996, when I was 15. I’m now 28.
This fast, however,I have observed new things about its effect on me.
One is that I feel my senses to be heightened, and I don’t just mean my 5 senses, but even my 6th sense, my inner eye, the power of ‘spiritual perception.’
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…
(`Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, vol. 3, p. 305. )
Why is this the case? I believe fasting systematizes detachment and a prayerful attitude, which I think go hand in hand. By fasting, you are detaching yourself of 2 out of 3 things you cannot live without; food and water. Air, the 3rd, is not something we could detach ourselves from on this plane of existence. Nonetheless, I am sure if a lustful appetite for air was possible, that too would be on the list of no nos.
If we can detach ourselves from our desire for food and drink, something which is hard-wired into our D.N.A.,
then we can theoretically detach ourselves much easier from things not hard-wired into our D.N.A. like a desire for money, material objects, people, drugs etc.
I call this post ‘Slim Fast’ because like the slimming product, by sticking to its regime for a short part of your year, you will lose weight. In this case however, I am referring to the weight of attachment, what Baha’u'llah calls the ‘fetters of this world.’
O MY SERVANT!
Free thyself from the fetters of this world, and loose thy soul from the prison of self. Seize thy chance, for it will come to thee no more.
(Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words)