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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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I have been pretty busy the last few days.

I will be writing a more meaningful entry very shortly but thought I’d give a little insight into what i’m up to  this week, aside from dental school in the day:

Monday evening: Studying the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh in a study group facilitated by American film director, Mark Bamford.

The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh is a collection of letters and messages from Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, first published in 1938.

Here is an excerpt:

Leaders of religion, exponents of political theories, governors of human institutions, who at present are witnessing with perplexity and dismay the bankruptcy of their ideas, and the disintegration of their handiwork, would do well to turn their gaze to the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, and to meditate upon the World Order which, lying enshrined in His teachings, is slowly and imperceptibly rising amid the welter and chaos of present-day civilization. They need have no doubt or anxiety regarding the nature, the origin or validity of the institutions which the adherents of the Faith are building up throughout the world. For these lie embedded in the teachings themselves, unadulterated and unobscured by unwarrantable inferences, or unauthorized interpretations of His Word.

Tuesday evening: Taking photographs for a launch at the Foreign Policy Centre at the British Government’s Houses of Parliament . This is for the launch of a pamphlet entitled ‘A revolution without rights? Women, Kurds and Baha’is searching for equality in Iran’

Wednesday evening: Watching Waltz with Bashir with some friends in central London.

Waltz with Bashir is an award winning animated documentary of the Israeli-Lebannon war. The trailer can be seen here

Dental School has recently upped the ante in terms of stress, exams and requirements to graduate….

Apart from prayers, I like play my guitar/bass and read poetry to unwind.

Here is a quatrain (Rubaiyat) of poetry by Rumi that I found inspiring and peaceful:

It’s good to leave each day behind,

like flowing water, free of sadness.

Yesterday is gone and its tale told.

Today new seeds are growing.

Rumi

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At the moment, I’m in between locations. And that means at times, *shock horror*, no internet.

However, I did write a blog entry for another site (in my links) called Baha’i Perspectives.

Its called ‘The Matrix-Why I Chose The Red Pill’

Click here to read it.

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Fast food

So day 5 of the Baha’i fast ends…..

I think the fast is a wonderful thing and like many things, I feel it is only understood properly by those who have the bounty to participate…..

What always amuses me is the ‘tried and tested’ things people begin their day with. A range of ‘sure-shot’ methods to keep hunger pangs away, but I think the answer to controlling hunger lies in the mind.

Some of the friends tell me they what eat before sunrise. It includes:

Bread: brown or white, seeded, unseeded, rye organic gluten free soya encrusted with seeds of a magic elderberry tree, or without crust [my brother’s preference]

Cereal especially muesli or shredded wheat types..

Porridge

Full English (Eggs, Toast, Baked Beans) [not advisable, plus baked beans cause extra problems other than ‘fast’ breath]

Fruit, usually Bananas

Tea- Green/White, English Breakfast or Earl Grey for those classy clientèle

Coffee (dehydrant-not a wise choice)

Water (2 glasses, but upto 6!)

Eggs-scrambled, fried, but never fertilised.

Typical Breakie

On the other hand, some of the things people break the fast with, after sunset, and usually after praying:

Big Mac

Pizza

Fried Chicken

Subway with EVERYTHING in it.

Indian food/Chinese food (but about 2 extra dishes than normal)

Nandos 1/2 Chicken plus 2 side orders (usually fries being one of them) and a ‘bottom less drink’

Kebab

Kabob

Potato Chips/Crisps

Salad

Figs

Nandos [again]

I think its very interesting that the morning starts off so well, but by the time its breaking the fast time, once the sun goes down, the werewolf comes out and we’re ready to devour any beast in our focus….. those who break the fast with a salad are certainly in the minority.

Sometimes we are so eager to eat we don’t let our food digest. Or we have many courses to satisfy our lustful appetites…but Baha’u’llah tells us that a one course meal is more pleasing in the sight of God!

” In all circumstances they should conduct themselves with moderation; if the meal be only one course this is more pleasing in the sight of God; however, according to their means, they should seek to have this single dish be of good quality.”(Bahá’u’lláh: Kitáb-i-Badi, Ibid-Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 294)

I wonder how many of us break the fast with a drink of water first? Baha’u’llah says in the Lawh-i-Tibb, the Tablet of Medicine, in a provisional translation:

“Begin first with liquid food before partaking of solid food. The taking of food before what you have (already eaten) is digested, is dangerous–avoid this.”

also:

“He who over-eats, his illness becomes more severe. “”When you begin to eat, begin with My Name El Abhá, and finish with the Name of God the Possessor of the Throne and the earth. When you have eaten walk a little that the food may settle. What is difficult to masticate is forbidden by the Wise. –Thus the Supreme Pen Commands you. “

All very interesting…. something to ponder next time we break the fast perhaps, or start it…….

Ronster signing out!

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