Back Fasting by Dr. Derek Lamar

The Spiritual Significance of
Fasting
in the 21st Century!
 
by Dr. Derek Lamar
 
The best way to describe fasting in its most significant spiritual role is how it reflects some of the Fourth Way teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff. One of the disciplines in the Gurdjieff school was the "one minute exercise." This sounds very Western, but the concept of the one minute exercise is to "meditate" by doing nothing. Not nothing in an empty sense. God knows there are enough people running around doing nothing. But doing nothing by actively letting go. To sit and relax all one's muscles. It doesn't require the old lotus position, but it doesn't exclude it either. You simply sit relaxed and keep your eyes open (or closed if that helps) and you do not attempt to "do" anything, but rather as thoughts come to you you simply dismiss them without judgment or analysis. This increases its ease over time. In the beginning you will find yourself annoyed by the most mundane of trivialities such as your daily grocery list, or phone calls you need to make, an itch on your arm or calf, or the desire to squirm. In the beginning just go ahead and readjust, squirm, scratch or whatever you need to do and then restart. You will want to sit where a clock is visible so you will know when the minute is up. This will also help on those occasions when you need to start over again. It is actually sort of like life, you can start over anytime you choose, but after awhile you realize that the option is unnecessary because life is ongoing and all of the distractions are really our own way of dealing or not dealing with the reality of this eternal nature of the self.
 
It is "better", and I mean that not in a judgmental sense, but in its positive application to accomplishing the given task you have chosen, so understand that it is "in your interest" on your path and during any discipline designed toward spiritual growth, to accept oneself and let it go than to waste energy by engaging in denial. Denial is just an act of burying something we find unpleasant and eventually it will have to be dug up later and then let go. Why waste time burying it? Simply let it go now.
 
So it boils down to dealing with or not dealing with the self. It doesn't matter if it is the false self or the real Self because it is ultimately the layers of the famous onion which we must peel to get to the sweet essence we find deep within. And each layer is a journey in and of itself. But often these journeys can become distractions and we simply "let them go" and move on. You will learn after a time how to interpret the difference between following a path and the red herring which leads one astray from their destiny.
 
The one minute exercise evolves into a three minute discipline as one does the first minute. Continues with a second minute and on to the third. But each time you will be dealing with your minute as a minute, not as three minutes running together consecutively. 3 minutes is too difficult. It is easier to do 3 one minutes in a row. This isn't a challenge. It is always more spiritual to do the harmonious approach which "ease" expresses. I don't mean the "easy" way, but the simple, as in "uncomplicated", unlike the human ego which tends to take on hard stuff to prove something, whereas in this way one is more able to do the task at hand which is the "letting go".
 
Whether it be the one minute exercise or fasting, it is one's consciousness dealing with "not doing" rather than doing. The spiritual quest is the realization that one receives an understanding of that which is already there... we do not "do anything" to achieve reality or to "become spiritual", but rather we unwrap ourselves and accept the divinity of our selves which has always been there. Thus the emphasis on "not doing".
 
Fasting is a process of "not doing". It has nothing to do with suffering or doing penance. Religion has managed to turn a sacred exercise into an act of "doing". They imply that if you "do" this, you will be a better person, or if you "do" this God will look down on you with pleasure. Or if you "do" this you will earn some reward in heaven later on. But even as Jesus said at the time "do not pray out loud in the public square for they have already received their reward." In other words, these people were actively creating an impression among the onlookers that they were pious individuals and by creating that image for themselves they accomplished their goal. Their goal was merely the image of being "religious" but they missed the mark in attaining anything spiritual within.
 
There is no "suffering" involved here unless you believe you are suffering. Eating is often more of a habit than an expression of spiritual regeneration. Let's go over some of the symbology involved here and you will see how it raises the importance of fasting even as an idea.
 
Without a drastic crash course into Cosmic Reality 101, it would do well to understand that life itself is symbolic. This is because most of what we perceive in our man-state consciousness (human thinking) is altered by that consciousness. This state of mind becomes a filtering system (a veil) which colors what is actual reality. Imagine looking at your world through a lens. This automatically becomes tunnel vision. Add a colored filter to that and you are removed another space away. Continue to add filters and imagine what takes place. Throw in some mirrors for that famous kaleidoscopic effect and suddenly you are truly "looking through a glass darkly." This vision, or version becomes symbolic of reality because you are no longer perceiving reality but an obscured version of it.
 
With that in mind add to it the reality that consciousness is all there is. There is no physical world but rather it is "us" perceiving ourselves through these many layers of our belief systems and pretty soon rather than "heaven" what we've got is "planet earth."
 
So, when you look at another person you are seeing a reflection of yourself. And not even a reflection of who you are but who you think you are. Thus a person is symbolic of the self but it is not the self. Likewise the human body becomes a virtual statue of infinite expression as it reflects attributes of who you really are like diamonds in the night that cut through the darkness.
 
"Eyes" are symbolic of vision. Vision is perceiving. This is a perception of that which is. Ultimately the Self is all there is because there is One Mind. One Infinite Mind. The two eyes reflect the male/female aspect of principle. Male/female are attributes of the one androgynous consciousness relating the out and back of that which is. Thus "eyes" symbolize the looking out and the looking within. they are what you look for as well as what comes to you to be seen. The mouth symbolizes the "Word". The word is the package for an idea. It is a manifestation of the idea expresses. As it was stated, "...in the beginning was the word".
 
Food expresses thought which nourishes us. "Man does not live on bread alone but every word which proceedeth from the mouth of God." So when we eat we are tasting... which comes from "testing". But symbolically when we fast we are refraining from taking in "human food" which has an effect on our consciousness. This more often is combined with inner work which we combine with this process. Generally there is a Higher State of awareness which comes into play during this time. Nothing is taken in but water which symbolizes cleansing. This is both symbolic and literal. Water does cleanse the body. Water is symbolic of emotion and also Spirit. Tears symbolize emotion. Water retention is an outpicturing of the holding in of emotions. Water on the brain, water in the lungs, the body being made up almost entirely of water... all of this expresses the tremendous symbology we live and breath as consciousness. We can drown in water and water can be the most healing life force we have at our disposal.
 
But again, the NOT doing as it relates to food. The NOT taking in of man state (human) thoughts, but to be open to the living Word is the real process of a fast. This is a spiritual moment, a divine experience, not a religious duty to impress other human beings or an anthropomorphic god.
 
To STOP "doing" or eating is to take a time out from an aspect of human expression which has its roots in areas which deeply affect our entire life. Often when deprived of those "comfort" foods we can confront emotions which we have kept covered up with our eating habits. Nervous eating when dealt with can free us of things "eating at us". To STOP "doing" one must be acutely aware of the self, be disciplined in the art of self observation, be on alert to all aspects of the self. This process can be a physical, psychological and spiritual healing experience.
 
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