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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.

Fasting mentioned in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (The Most Holy Book)

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.

Slim Fast

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)

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Right now, I am in the middle of my exam period.

However that doesn’t mean that I am completely neglecting my blog (despite the apparent lack of entries)

This will all change after the 22nd Nov, when they’re done!.

Revision is stressful but there are ways to calm yourself down;

  1. Praying
  2. Reading classical Persian poetry (Attar’s The Conference of Birds)
  3. Playing my acoustic guitar-recently learnt Purple Rain by Prince and ‘My Friends’ by RHCP.
  4. Drinking copious amounts of white tea and Persian tea.
  5. Writing, in this case a new blog entry

Whilst I could easily digress at this point about the health merits of tea (and I will in a future blog post), the association of tea with positive social experiences has been well documented, especially in the Baha’i Faith.

Orginally posted on Nylon Parla

Orginally posted on Nylon Parla

Just search for ‘tea’ on Ocean-The World Religious Library and you will see search results littered with numerous references to tea drinking, especially in the history of the Baha’i Faith.

In fact the act of drinking tea socially, was associated with one of most fundamentally significant moments in Bahá’í history  i.e. when Mulla Husayn, first met the Bab, one of the twin Manifestations and Founders of the Baha’i Faith.

It was on this evening in Shiraz, on the 22nd May, that the Báb announced to Mulla Husayn that He was the Promised One, and that night is known as the Declaration of the Báb.

Mulla Husayn recounts the events of that fateful night to Nabil, in his famous historical document, referring to the Báb’s hospitality to him:

He then gave me to drink of a refreshing beverage, after which He asked for the samovar and Himself prepared the tea which He offered me.

(Nabil-The Dawn-Breakers, p. 52)

So it comes as no surprise that I recently came across an article on my second favourite website after Facebook, BBC News, that says that warm drinks promote warm feelings…

According to US researchers, ‘people are more likely to judge strangers as welcoming and trustworthy when they are holding a hot cup of coffee, experiments show.’

The study (click to read) used coffee, but the variable being investigated was the temperature.

So time you meet somebody new for the first time, offer them a nice hot beverage.

Personally I recommend tea rather than coffee, because coffee is a greater stimulant and will only make those nervous, jittery feelings worse.

so, ’till next time….. make tea……not war! 😀

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