Inspired
by the
Baha’i Faith
The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith. The official website of the Baha'i Faith is: Bahai.org. The official website of the Baha'is of the United States can be found here: Bahai.us.
GOT IT
The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.
How do I become Baha’i?
Spirituality

A Not-Quite Fasting Baha’i Thinks about Detachment

Kathryn Janene Adams | Mar 17, 2015

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

Interested in Other Topics?

We’ve got something for everyone.
Kathryn Janene Adams | Mar 17, 2015

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

I awoke at 5:30 AM, precisely 37 minutes before the official sunrise time in Haiti. I had 37 minutes to prepare and to eat breakfast in order to begin a sunrise-to-sunset fast–but that didn’t quite happen. Yes, my breakfast took longer to prepare than I had anticipated when I began. Yes, the puppy needed to go outside so that the kitchen floor didn’t become a latrine. Yes, I have hyperglycemia and have been traveling and suddenly have been hit with horrible edema as a result of that travel. But these are excuses and I know it (Twelve-Step friends, please roll your eyes at that “yes, but…”). Simply put, my fears of feeling physically weak and symbolically powerless won, and my will (or my surrender?) lost.

Baha’is shouldn’t fast, according to the Baha’i teachings, when they’re sick or traveling. I know that, but as a new Baha’i I still want to partake of this devotional practice I’ve heard so much about.

Woman-prayingI have this idealistic vision of fasting from the stories told to me by friends. “It is so beautiful. I pray and meditate instead of eating lunch.” And another, “It’s as if all the material things of life become less important and you focus on God.” Fasting is detachment from material things, a detachment from conventions of time and culture that distract us from reflecting on matters of the spirit. It is meant to carry us out of the “things” man has created in this world and into a place where we seek connection to a higher power. Thus, I imagined an aura of bliss surrounding me, taking me into the depths of my soul where everything would be clear and simple. But again, that didn’t quite happen.

“It is a duty,” one friend said, and that, in sum was the beginning and end of why he fasted. Fasting reminds us of the struggles in life, the preciousness of every breath, the sacrifices others have made. But, I hear my inner adolescent say, life is already hard! (and it would like to add an expletive 4-letter-word to that exclamation). I am already struggling. The news carries stories of yet another murder that occurred just about 3 miles from where I slept as this fasting period began. I watch precious, young lives ended too early as a result of treatable illnesses. I bounce over dirt roads beyond the reach of the UN Peacekeeping forces that, yes, from time to time, we realize still have a purpose here, in order to arrive in remote areas to work. I have 200+ people relying on my work, so they can have a safe place to go. But really? Are they relying on me? “Park that ego at the door,” the voice of my older self says. “You,” it reminds me, “are serving the work you do, not the other way around. It is not about you.”

Fasting. Could it be that it is about “not about you”?

Attach not thyself to anything unless in it thou seest the reality of God. – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 135

Fasting is the cause of awakening man. The heart becomes tender and the spirituality of man increases. This is produced by the fact that man’s thoughts will be confined to the commemoration of God, and through this awakening and stimulation surely ideal advancements follow. – Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 3, p. 305.

Could letting go of eating and drinking during daylight hours (it sounds so simple when I write it like that) free me to look to God instead of to myself? Could it open me to seeing “the reality of God” within humanity? Could it maybe even allow me to see within the spiritual being tucked away somewhere inside of me?

The fast didn’t quite happen for me this morning, and didn’t quite means that I still can make it happen–or simply surrender to welcoming it into my life.

You May Also Like

Spirituality

Why Do We Have Good and Bad Dreams?

Spirituality

The Role That Dreams Play in our Lives

Spirituality

Body and Soul: How the Physical Becomes the Spiritual


Comments

characters remaining
  • Sarah Bloss
    Mar 5, 2019
    -
    Thanks. Needed that today. ;)
  • Mar 18, 2015
    -
    Such a refreshingly honest approach to the Fast. Thank you! I learnt a lot by reading your writing on the Fast, especially that it's 'not about me'!
  • Mar 18, 2015
    -
    I have fasted for over 30 years, and I too have have my ups and downs maintaining it strictly, but what I have come to realize is that it is about doing your best in all things, God understands us better than we understand ourselves (where have I heard that!). I have read and recited every one of the 'fast prayers' for 30+years but I learn something new and uplifting each and every year. Do your best and God will make you victorious!
  • Mar 18, 2015
    -
    Wow! Thanks Kathryn! Fast reminds me of so many hungry people so close to me who have any hope of eating something neither for breakfast not for dinner!
  • Mar 17, 2015
    -
    The struggle is so real. Last year was my first attempt at the fast. Not a single day did I make it from sunrise to sunset. This year proved to be a little better, but there are still days when I can't quite make it. This will get better with time. =) We must simply exert the effort. That's what I keep telling myself. Our capacities will increase, rest assured.
  • Mar 17, 2015
    -
    Thank you, Dr. Adams, for posting this narrative of your experience with the fast. Surely it will be as uplifting for those who are fasting for the first of many times as it is for those who have observed the fast for many times, but for whom it seems, at times, to be the first.
x
x
Connect with Baha’is in your area
Welcome!
What's your name?
Thanks my friend ! We want to connect you with a Baha’i in your area, where would that be?
Thank you so much! How can they best reach you?
To put you in touch with a Baha’i in your area who can answer your questions, we would like to kindly ask for a few details about yourself.
Connect with Baha’is in your area
Connect with Baha’is in your area
Get in touch with the Baha’is in your community.