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Fasting? See What Happens

Published: 09.03.2009
Updated: 02.07.2015

The Times Of India

Begin fasting and see what happens

To overcome passion is the chief purpose of spirituality. Non-possession, non-violence, truth, chastity, forgiveness, contentment, charity and piety all these are prescribed so as to mitigate the force of passions. Self-control is required to mitigate the passions, and practice is necessary.

Mahavira listed 12 kinds of penance. He said: "Start the practice of self-control with some penance; begin with fasting!" The sadhak, who wants to achieve self-realisation, does not adopt two different paths; nor does he pursue two different objectives. Sectarian thought may wander in two contrary directions, but the movement of spirituality is singularly unitary to arrive at one and the same point.

Mahavira said: "Eating constitutes the greatest obstacle to self-control; it gives rise to indolence." We have some primary urges. If we cannot control them, how can we ever do away with other complex urges based upon and proceeding from the primary ones? The urge to live, to consume food, the sexual urge and the urge to fight these are the fundamental urges. These are found in all living beings. If we cannot regulate them, how can we control other complex urges founded upon these?

In The Principles Of Psychology, William James says: "In order to lead a good life, it is necessary to develop good habits, and good habits can be developed only through practice. If we think that we can develop good habits without any practice, we are in for disappointment."

An occasion arises and we have a longing for sweets, because the tongue is accustomed to a particular taste. The nerves and muscles come to demand something, which they are accustomed to having on a particular occasion. In the matter of eating, thinking or doing any other work, our sinews habitually function in the manner we have accustomed them to function.

Those who live in a high-rise building, are at first extremely careful while descending the stairs. Gradually, they become accustomed to the act and do it mechanically, with no special attention. To begin with, the novice-typists look at each letter before they type, but with practice, their fingers move freely and they type matter without looking at the keyboard since the fingers have grown accustomed to it. Similarly, in any undertaking, our sinews start working in the manner we have accustomed them to function, and the task stands fulfilled without any conscious effort on our part.

Mahavira said: "If one undertakes retrospection of the day's events, one must do it regularly at the appointed hour, not fitfully, not doing it today, neglecting to do it tomorrow and the day after and then taking it up again on the fourth day. Such irregular practice is not conducive to the confirmation of the habit of retrospection. You practise forgiveness today, show tolerance, but quarrel and fight the next day, forgive again and yet again quarrel and fight ^ this will not confirm in you the habit of forgiveness. If you want to cultivate a habit, do it without any reservation, till it is firmly established. Until it is so confirmed, until it becomes a part of your character, let there be no exception, no relaxation of effort. That is the second principle of body training, of accustoming the body to bear discomfort.

The state of indifference is achieved through the practice of asanas and pranayama. The body is so trained as to perform any task you command. Thus, the second principle of self-control is the training of the body.

The third principle of self-control is living in seclusion. It means not to allow the present movement to continue but to reverse it. There are the order of nature and the order of sadhana. By living in seclusion, we can change nature. That belongs to the order of sadhana.

The Times Of India, by the efforts of Mr. Lalit Garg
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  1. Asanas
  2. Body
  3. Fasting
  4. Lalit Garg
  5. Non-violence
  6. Pranayama
  7. Sadhak
  8. Sadhana
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