Cleansing the Soul

Sunday, March 6, 2011

So, I started the annual Bahá'í Fast this last Wednesday, and I am really excited about it this year. I don't know why necessarily, except that I've grown a lot in the last three years and I am more focused on developing spiritually than I've ever been before. And that is what fasting is all about.

All Bahá'ís in good health fast for nineteen days every year, from March 2nd thru March 20th. It starts immediately following the festival of Ayyam-i-Ha and ends right before the Bahá'í New Year(Naw Ruz). During the Fast we refrain from food and drink (including water) from sunrise to sunset. Absolutely nothing is supposed to pass our lips during daylight hours. The purpose is to become re-energized and refocused on what is most important in life - our spirituality and relationship with God.

Bahá'u'lláh says that God "hast endowed every hour of these days with a special virtue" which is "inscrutable to all" but Him, that the Fast is "conducive to preservation and protection from tests" and is "the supreme remedy and the most great healing for the disease of self and passion". Basically, the Fast helps us grow closer to God by becoming detached from worldly desires.

So, every morning during the Fast I get up early and say my prayers and eat and drink enough to get me through the day. Then, after the sun sets, I thank God for helping me get through the day and then eat dinner and replenish my fluids. It can be hard sometimes. The second day of the Fast this year was no picnic (you don't want to know).

But the spiritual benefits FAR outweigh the physical challenges. During the Fast I am reminded how lucky I am to have such easy access to both food and clean drinking water. Did you know that every 20 seconds a child dies from a water related disease? That is 1.4 million every year. When refraining (by choice) from basic necessities that you typically take for granted, you can't help but feel immensely and acutely grateful for all that you have.

And I do grow spiritually, a little more every day. That's why I love the Fast.

What do you think about fasting? Does your spiritual tradition practice fasting? Have you ever done it? Do you have some quotes to share? Tell me all about it then!

"These are the days of the Fast. Blessed is the one who through the heat generated by the Fast increaseth his love, and who, with joy and radiance, ariseth to perform worthy deeds. Verily, He guideth whomsoever He willeth to the straight path." -Bahá'u'lláh

"Fasting and obligatory prayer are as two wings to man's life. Blessed be the one who soareth with their aid in the heaven of the love of God, the Lord of all worlds." -Bahá'u'lláh

"The wisdom of obligatory prayer is this: That it causeth a connection between the servant and the True One, because at that time man with all his heart and soul turneth his face towards the Almighty, seeking His association and desiring His love and companionship. For a lover, there is no greater pleasure than to converse with his beloved, and for a seeker, there is no greater bounty than intimacy with the object of his desire. It is the greatest longing of every soul who is attracted to the Kingdom of God to find time to turn with entire devotion to his Beloved, so as to seek His bounty and blessing and immerse himself in the ocean of communion, entreaty and supplication. Moreover, obligatory prayer and fasting produce awareness and awakening in man, and are conducive to his protection and preservation from tests." -Abdu'l-Baha

"Cling firmly to obligatory prayer and fasting. Verily, the religion of God is like unto heaven; fasting is its sun, and obligatory prayer is its moon" -Bahá'u'lláh

"This Fast leadeth to the cleansing of the soul from all selfish desires, the acquisition of spiritual attributes, attraction to the breezes of the All-Merciful, and enkindlement with the fire of divine love." -Abdu'l-Bahá

"We, verily, have set forth all things in Our Book, as a token of grace unto those who have believed in God, the Almighty, the Protector, the Self-Subsisting. And We have ordained obligatory prayer and fasting so that all may by these means draw nigh unto God, the Most Powerful, the Well-Beloved. We have written down these two laws and expounded every irrevocable decree. We have forbidden men from following whatsoever might cause them to stray from the Truth, and have commanded them to observe that which will draw them nearer unto Him Who is the Almighty, the All-Loving. 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


Anonymous said...

fasting is part of many traditions. I do not physically believe in fasting for lenghts of time personally...but I do understand the intent. I feel my life is full of fasting..."restraint" I feel that is what veganism is --- and I do "fast" from certain foods/drink occasionally...I think it can be a deeply rich experience and I applaud your dedication. Just watch your

Justin Johnson said...

Watch my what? LOL! Thanks Aminda! I am currently on day 12 and going strong! I am really enjoying it a lot this year. Some days are harder than others, but I just keep learning and focusing on becoming more spiritual. Feels good.

Kathy said...

Thanks for this beautiful blog. This Fast has been having an amazing effect on me...a statement I never thought I would be making. I have been witnessing some of the wisdom and power in it.
Happy fasting!

Justin Johnson said...

Thank you for your kind words Kathy and I am glad you joined my blog! And Happy Fasting to you too! ;-)

Anonymous said...

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is a URL contains illegal characters?
There is a problem here which is not very good.

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