In many cultures and religions fast and fasting is obligation of the people, even if its not strictly observed, it`s recommended from the religious person (priest, imams and others). What is the essence of fast and why it is prescribed as “obligatory” in religion? Fast generally is a form of cleansing the body and soul through restrictions of body from food (or specific kind of foods), restrictions and prohibitions of some actions and deeds (sexual activity, drinking alcohol, shouting and aggressive behavior). Fast is always related to the purity and cleanness of body which is directly related to the cleanness of soul and mind. Bad thoughts and any bad feelings are also prohibited, as much as our abilities for that. During fast we not only restrain our body from material things (which is only part of the fast), but also we strive to be more and more connected with God and our thoughts should be also related to the divine universe. For this reason, during all fast, we need to observe the following rituals:
1) Prayer (every cleansing of heart is related with devoted prayer)
2) Meditation (as we said about the difference between meditation and prayer)
3) Physical cleanness (we have to observe it always, and specially in this period, opposite of some understanding in Middle ages, that body should be left without any care.)
4) Reading of Sacred texts and literature;
5) Helping people in need and people who suffer;
So these are the 5 basic points connected with any fast. In different religions of course kind of fasting differ, but the idea is the same. Orthodox Christians have many fasts during the year. Usually their fasts are connected with major religious holidays (like Christmas and Easter), before that Christians prepare” their body and soul for the event. They restrain from milk products and some “delicious” foods, like –milk, yogurt, chocolate, ice cream, and during fast they don’t eat any kind of meat or cheese. They accept only products of nature, grains and vegetables and fruits. They can`t drink alcohol, nor to behave aggressively. There is always prohibitions on sexual activity, or even desire itself. For this reason the good believer should pray every day, visit church and light up candles for health and for close people. He also is expected to read the Holy Bible and “meditate” (deeply think) on some statement in it. To help people, specially children and elder people, and to leave the “egoistic” existence of his own body. During any fast we learn how to be more patient, more devoted, more “light”, and out of our “material body”. Thats why fast is much more than just a diet for the material body. We are simply expected to be devoted and turn to our inner self, to our soul, and auras, to make connection with our angels.
Another kind of fast, is that of Muslim societies “Ramadan”. During this holy month, before the major festival “Eid Al Fitr”, all Muslims regardless of their age except very little children and ill, and pregnant), observe strict fast. Unlike Christians, their fast is related to total restrain from any food or water and liquids during the daylight. Then they are allowed to take any kind of foods, which are usually allowed in Islam, as they normally start their “suhur” with dates. Many of young people nowadays connect Ramadan only and extremely with food restrictions in the day and with the higher amount of food and cooked dishes in the later hours (after sunset). This is completely wrong. Ramadan, as every fast itself, is related with cleansing of body and soul together, so during this period any Muslim should obligatory make all the prayers, (even more as they are many additional), should attend collective prayers at the mosque, and also restrain from sexual life, not only during the daylight. All the thoughts and deeds should be related to God, and also help to poor people with open heart. Thats why it`s not real fast, if someone just “don’t eat food” during the day light, but do all other things like: watching not proper movies, shouting, aggressive behavior, doesn’t pray, doesn’t care for his purity of body, doesn’t care for others, doesn’t read from Holy Quran.
Of course many could say: How to do all that ,if he is usual person, he is not a priest. From the usual person is expected only this, and from priest much and much more. Meaning of fast is “restriction”, so you to train your will and your patience. If it was a pleasure, it wont be “fast” at all. So this is period of thinking about God and prayer.
Until now we observed this short examples about fast in Christianity and Islam. We wont make long analysis about all kind of fasting, as this is not our aim. There are fasts before holidays, but also other very important fasts, which are in the column “personal”. They are related usually with lose of someone dear to us, dead of our beloved, or close family member. This fast is not obligatory, but it is very good for the soul, as it brings relief. This we make to remind ourselves that we are in the world for the reason, and that we cant control all in our life, but higher force can. This fast is giving tribute to the people we lost, as well as includes prayers for their soul and rituals. Because of the dynamic way of life in this century, this fast almost disappeared and is little observed.
One other fast, which is also obligatory, concerns “collective consciousness”. This fast I want to underline here specially, as almost never we discuss it, or think about it. This is the fast everyone “should” make after very big natural disaster happened in any point of the world (regardless if in our country or other). And this fast is very important for our soul and for connected prayers for the souls of all victims of the disaster (like hurricane, earthquake, bomb, mass killing of people). Yes, wars are everywhere now and we listen about it every day. But for the natural disaster which is out of our control, is very important our mind to be connected. That`s why we need to observe 10 days fast for the souls who died. This fast include first day total restrain from any food (only water and tea are allowed), prayers in the holy place depending on religion of any person, lighting candles for victims, and thoughts for them. Remember that whatever happens in world, has an invisible echo to every point of world...and could come anywhere anytime in different form. Pray and make strong connection with your soul. After the 10 days of fast you will feel relieved. The more people realize that and practice that, the better will be.
In conclusion I want to say, act of fast and fasting is not just a momentary or just religious “obligation”. It is related to very important spiritual levels of every being, and any time we fast (make restrictions) we allow cleaning of the energy inside and outside of us, so we keep the bad way in this way. Accept and understand the importance of fast, specially fast after big tragedies and natural disasters. Then you`ll be one level higher.
For the fast of the victims of the earthquake in Nepal: I start my fast from now: 28. April 2015, more than 4000 people are reported dead. I have to observe strict fast and prayer, 3 times during day.