Life in the fast lane

01Mar09

You might think I’m some sort of masochist but, once a year, I carry out a fast. In fact it starts tomorrow.

For a relatively few days, I refrain from eating and drinking between the hours of sunrise and sunset. And, believe it or not, I find that those early mornings give me a wonderful time to reflect and get my life in order – and after a while I feel healthier too. When I am at home, I also get to see the amazing skies over Wellingborough out of my kitchen window. Look at that picture, un-photoshopped, the real thing! Castle Fields at 0610hrs.

I’m not the only one: I just did an online search on the word fasting and it came up with almost 12 million references. There’s: fasting for healing, fasting for weight loss, fasting to look like Carol Vorderman – and fasting as a powerful spiritual discipline. That’s the one I’m interested in.  

A Christian colleague told me that when he and his wife have to make an important decision, such as whether to buy a new house or something to do with their son’s education, they fast for a few days to clear their minds so that they’re inspired to do the right thing. 

Not everyone though is so sympathetic to the idea. When one of my fasting friends told her workmate during our last Fast why she wasn’t going out for lunch, the colleague said, “I would never let my religion make me do that”. 

It struck me as very curious – this notion that somehow a religion would, or even could, make me do something that I didn’t want to do. I was under the impression that I have the freedom to choose how I want to live and what I want to believe. 

I chose to be a Bahá’í because its writings and the friendships I have in its community inspire me, its teachings are attractive and good for the world, and service brings me fulfilment. And I choose to follow its powerful spiritual disciplines, if you like, because I tried them out, tested them and found them to be beneficial to my well-being – and true. 

“Being one, truth cannot be divided,” say the Bahá’í writings, “and the differences that exist only result from attachment to prejudice. If only men would search out truth, they would find themselves united.”

The freedom to search for truth is one of the blessings of living in this society. In some parts of the world, the decision to change one’s faith is a capital offence. We have the freedom to choose a faith or choose not to have one. 

Some months back, I saw an article which said, ‘Freedom from religion in Britain is becoming as important as freedom of religion. Nearly two-thirds of British people do not claim membership of a religion or never attend a religious service.’ 

While I personally think society would be much healthier and happier if everyone lived their life according to powerful spiritual disciplines, the freedom to choose is more important than enforcing someone to do something against their will. 

Mae West summed up choice thus, “Between two evils,” she said, “I always pick the one I never tried before.”

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2 Responses to “Life in the fast lane”

  1. I love this post – it speaks to me here; provides just the balance between attentiveness and reflection, perspectives and direction, with magical touches of beauty and the wordsmith’s art to boot.

    Thank you for your openness, inviting us in. May your Fast be spiritually enriching!

    “Say: True liberty consisteth in man’s submission unto My commandments, little as ye know it. Were men to observe that which We have sent down unto them from the Heaven of Revelation, they would, of a certainty, attain unto perfect liberty. Happy is the man that hath apprehended the Purpose of God in whatever He hath revealed from the Heaven of His Will that pervadeth all created things. Say: The liberty that profiteth you is to be found nowhere except in complete servitude unto God, the Eternal Truth. Whoso hath tasted of its sweetness will refuse to barter it for all the dominion of earth and heaven.”

    –Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas (The Most Holy Book)

    “…the first bestowal of God is the Word, and its discoverer and recipient is the power of understanding.”

    –Bahá’u’lláh, The Tabernacle of Unity

  2. 2 Wayfarer

    The line “I would never let my religion make me do that” really struck me.
    Recently we were doing Ruhi book 6 where we come across a message of the Universal House of Justice dated 13 July 1964 to all NSA where it says:

    “…the members of each and every Assembly should endeavour, by their patience, their love, their tact and wisdom, to nurse, subsequent to his admission, the newcomer into Baha’i maturity, and win him over gradually to the unreserved acceptance of whatever has been ordained in the teachings.”

    My humble understanding of this is that when we accept the Faith/Religion there are some things that we must accept without question or second thought. Its the Spirit of Faith.

    As an analogy, when we enter into university we accept without question that to be able to graduate from the program we will have to give an examination. Similarly its with Religion, when you follow it you have to accept certain things without questions.


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