Fasting: Penance, Blessing, Hypocrisy Or Me-ism?

akiva

SPNer
Tejwant Ji

1) I never said all Langar is meaningless -- I was talking about the person giving langar -- and their motivation.

2) Turban Pride movement: see http://apkf.net/turbanpridemovement-new.html

3) A poster objected to fasting because it leads to pride. I pointed out that by that standard -- that things leading to pride are bad -- then Turban Pride Day should be rejected as well.

4) Sri Guru Ganth Sahib Ji is the "toolbox" for Sikhs. Unless you hold that Sikhi is the only valid path for everyone, and every other religion is wrong for everyone, sikh and non-sikh?

5) You know what Simran is.

6) My usage of "meaningful" is a very zen-based usage -- along with "mindful". It relates to the motives and awareness of the person. Doing an act with intention and meaning as opposed to doing it without any intention or awareness.

7) Miri/Piri requires a balance -- if either side is too strong/in control that balance is lost. There are many ways to achieve that balance. For some people fasting is one of those ways. (We're talking non-sikhs -- since you started this thread by bringing non-sikh fasting practices I assume that it's acceptable to continue discussing non-sikh practices here)

8) Re benefits of fasting -- 30 seconds on google will find you all the sources you need.

9) Religion means different things to different members of that religion -- and they practice it differently and experience it differently.

10) It's very easy (and borders on arrogance) to accuse people you don't know of false pride and fake humility and me-ism -- without knowing their motives.

11) fasting and feeding the hungry are two different things. No one claims that fasting somehow feeds the hungry -- the only connection (possibly) is that fasting can lead to greater sensitivity and spiritual awareness -- and such a person will be more motivated to feed the hungry. (Or protest against injustice/help the homeless/etc)

Akiva

There seems to be a lot of rhetoric. The only thing missing is substance in my opinion.

Akiva ji writes:



What is meaningless Langar in your opinion? Is serving 70,000 meals a day at Darbar Sahib 24/7 meaningless? If yes, in what way? And how about thousands of Langars served everyday all around the world?



What is Turban Pride movement of the Akaal Purkh Ki Fauj? Please explain it and why should it be banned if there is such a movement?

What do you understand by the significance of turban as being a non-Sikh?

Lastly, what does that have to do with the topic being discussed?



Sikhi is based on the concept of Miri/Piri, the balancing act between the temporal and the spiritual what I call- The Gurmat Fulcrum. Hence your above comment has nothing to do with Sikhi.



Please elaborate what you mean by Simran/Meditation and what is meaningful fasting?



Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, our only Guru is the tool box which leads us to the ways of truthful living.



Please supply us with documentation with peer review about your above claim.






If it is religious then, the "fruit/end" to the means of religious fasting should be the same to all the people belonging to the religion, otherwise the religion itself becomes meaningless.
It is nothing but fake humility and false pride laced with me-ism.



What kind of tool? What is the purpose of this tool? Does this kind of fasting feed the hungry or chip in the society in any other manner or is it just self serving exercise?



Agreed but we are talking about religious fasting. Let's stick to the topic.



Well, sorry to disappoint you, but that is the whole idea behind socially/religiously fasting.



Please explain the specific reason and goal----and aware of that reason from the religious/spiritual point of view.



Can you please elaborate it? What kind of "honesty" about the reason of fasting one requires?



What good does this bring to one or to others? After all any religion is supposed to help others.



What is the end objective/goal of the above? How can keeping yourself hungry for a day or two is able to fill the tummies that have been empty for a long time?



Please supply with some documentation as far as the original weight, blood sugar level and other data to back your claim.



What is there to learn or grow in it? Or is it mere a rhetorical statement if not backed by some facts?

Regards

Tejwant Singh
 

akiva

SPNer
Tejwant Ji

Yes you did and I pointed that out in my earlier post. My questions were based on this very post which you failed to comment on when asked. Here are you own words.

Regards

Tejwant Singh

You misunderstood what I wrote. I did not claim all langar is mindless/meaningless.

LIke spnadmin noted, the act of giving langar can be mindful or mindless -- the motive can be to feed others or to impress others.

(I specified in my original post that I was talking about the spiritual practice -- and the person -- not the act itself)

the key phrase:

(Specifically asking as a personal spiritual discipline, not in terms of service to others)

In both cases people are fed -- but one case there can be spiritual growth, in the other not.

Akiva
 

Tejwant Singh

Mentor
Writer
SPNer
Akiva ji,

Guru Fateh.

First of all let's be open and honest in our interaction. Let's not try to twist things later on when the original posts show the things themselves.

1) I never said all Langar is meaningless -- I was talking about the person giving langar -- and their motivation.

Which person in you opinion is giving langar to 70,000 people in Darbar Sahib or any other Gurdwaras around the world? Can you name any? You can not because it is a community service, the part you fail to grasp. Many people donate money for it, many do seva in the kitchen and langar halls. Hence your claim is totally false and meaningless and rather insulting to the practice that demonstrates equality among all, irrespective of their hue, creed or faith. Your being an Ex Catholic,as you claimed in one of your earlier posts should know better that a non Catholic or even a divorced Catholic is not even allowed a communion.


What is that to do with the thread? And I asked you if you understood the meaning of Turban for a Sikh. Mixing apples and oranges is totally irrelevant to the thread and you know that. One wonders who is trying to argue here!

3) A poster objected to fasting because it leads to pride. I pointed out that by that standard -- that things leading to pride are bad -- then Turban Pride Day should be rejected as well.

First, Guru Nanak objects to any kind of religious fasting. For a Sikh all kinds of religious fasting is meaningless no matter what the intent of a person may be and he proved that why. And again what does wearing a turban a Sikh's crown which was borne out of defiance has to do with fasting? How does one make the connection unless one wants to start a meaningless argument.

4) Sri Guru Ganth Sahib Ji is the "toolbox" for Sikhs. Unless you hold that Sikhi is the only valid path for everyone, and every other religion is wrong for everyone, sikh and non-sikh?

This shows how little you know about the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and the word Sikh. Please try to learn about them and then if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask. I never said Sikhi is the only way,neither does the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. I wish you knew that. For Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, everyone is a Sikh, a learner, a student, a seeker unless one refuses to learn.

Are you trying to imply that truthful living is not meaningful for all humankind?Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji says it is and that it what I said in my post.

5) You know what Simran is.

Some terms have a different meaning for some. I asked you a question. What do you understand by Simran. It may differ from what I understand. So, if you do not want to answer, it is OK with me but please do not imply that I can read your mind.

6) My usage of "meaningful" is a very zen-based usage -- along with "mindful". It relates to the motives and awareness of the person. Doing an act with intention and meaning as opposed to doing it without any intention or awareness.

This is the exactly what I meant in #5, the part you ignored. Here you are telling me what you understand by the usage of the words "meaningful" and "mindful". Why would that be different for #5?

Having said that, there is nothing zen about these two words for me. They are self explanatory in any usage. So what you said is what they mean in the real sense of the words. Hence, meaniningless langar means what you said above in your zen manner. Langar is the end product that is being served to feed the hungry as part of the seva by many not by just one as you mentioned above. It is served, not thrown at people. Being mindful, and meaningful is only an individual endeavour whereas Langar is a collective one where many partake. Fasting is an individual endeavour unlike Langar.

7) Miri/Piri requires a balance -- if either side is too strong/in control that balance is lost. There are many ways to achieve that balance. For some people fasting is one of those ways. (We're talking non-sikhs -- since you started this thread by bringing non-sikh fasting practices I assume that it's acceptable to continue discussing non-sikh practices here)

Your above claim shows that it is you who have not read what I wrote.

You said:

Quote:
But one's true self can't truly manifest while being mastered by the body/lusts - and while one is attached to the material world.

I responded:
Sikhi is based on the concept of Miri/Piri, the balancing act between the temporal and the spiritual what I call- The Gurmat Fulcrum. Hence your above comment has nothing to do with Sikhi.

Allow me to put in a different way. Are you implying that your parents were not true to themselves when they sowed the seed to conceive you with the help of two bodies and their lust?

The balancing act between the temporal and spiritual is for all to balance whether one is a Sikh or not if one wants to pitch in the society one lives in a fruitful manner. And yes, I am questioning the practices of fasting as a balancing act. You have not given me any solid reason but just feelings.

8) Re benefits of fasting -- 30 seconds on google will find you all the sources you need.

So, you mean Google is your encyclopedia? If it is, please share what you claim to have found as asked earlier.

9) Religion means different things to different members of that religion -- and they practice it differently and experience it differently.

I beg to differ. One religion means the same to all, otherwise one would not adhere to that particular religion. It has its own laws for everyone to follow.

10) It's very easy (and borders on arrogance) to accuse people you don't know of false pride and fake humility and me-ism -- without knowing their motives.

Here we go again. You love to distort what has been said and then one wonders who is being arrogant here!

This is what I said:

If it is religious then, the "fruit/end" to the means of religious fasting should be the same to all the people belonging to the religion, otherwise the religion itself becomes meaningless.
It is nothing but fake humility and false pride laced with me-ism.


Please do not pick and choose some words from the whole thought expressed. Be mindful and meaningful in your Zen way to give yourself a chance to grasp the whole meaning. I wonder why you missed the beginning of the statement which starts with "If"

11) fasting and feeding the hungry are two different things. No one claims that fasting somehow feeds the hungry -- the only connection (possibly) is that fasting can lead to greater sensitivity and spiritual awareness -- and such a person will be more motivated to feed the hungry. (Or protest against injustice/help the homeless/etc)

Still no solid proof of the latter as requested by Spnadmin ji and myself. It is just rhetoric. Any data to back your claim as asked before?

Good interaction. I thank you for that.

Regards

Tejwant Singh
 

Tejwant Singh

Mentor
Writer
SPNer
Tejwant Ji

You misunderstood what I wrote. I did not claim all langar is mindless/meaningless.

LIke spnadmin noted, the act of giving langar can be mindful or mindless -- the motive can be to feed others or to impress others.

(I specified in my original post that I was talking about the spiritual practice -- and the person -- not the act itself)

the key phrase:

(Specifically asking as a personal spiritual discipline, not in terms of service to others)

In both cases people are fed -- but one case there can be spiritual growth, in the other not.

Akiva

Akiva ji,

Guru Fateh.

Please see my detailed answer in the other post. I understood you very well. You did not use "NOT ALL LANGARS" in your original post unlike here and I explained you it is not an individual endeavour as fasting is, hence no connection, just argumentative.

Regards

Tejwant Singh
 

akiva

SPNer
Tejwant Ji

spnadmin wrote:

And of course we can delude ourselves in langar and in Turban Day. Langar practices in recent times have been similarly criticized when they are shows of personal wealth and keeping up with the 'jones'es' which can be the case in congregations that have rotating langar seva. But your question goes off the topic of fasting and puts focus onto the mindless and meaningless aspect of any and many an activity in which we take pride. It is like changing the subject line on an email message from "Fasting" to "Pride and the False Self.

There was no request from spnadmin to bring evidence -- in fact, spnadmin ji brought the negative trend in recent times.

Akiva
 

Tejwant Singh

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Tejwant Ji

spnadmin wrote:

And of course we can delude ourselves in langar and in Turban Day. Langar practices in recent times have been similarly criticized when they are shows of personal wealth and keeping up with the 'jones'es' which can be the case in congregations that have rotating langar seva. But your question goes off the topic of fasting and puts focus onto the mindless and meaningless aspect of any and many an activity in which we take pride. It is like changing the subject line on an email message from "Fasting" to "Pride and the False Self.

There was no request from spnadmin to bring evidence -- in fact, spnadmin ji brought the negative trend in recent times.

Akiva

Akiva ji,

Guru Fateh.

I have no idea why we are running in circles here. It will also help you to read the whole post, especially the lines you did not highlight.

Here is what Spnadmin ji said in another post. It seems you missed it.

An open mind is a good thing. Let's hear how fasting contributes to spiritual well-being. How does that work? So far all one hears is that it does. Maybe some one will explain the process to me and I will be convince.

http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/188313-post26.html

But that is not even the point. Spnadmin ji and I may differ/disagree in many ways about the same thing. This is the beauty of Sikhi. A Sikh learns,unlearns and relearns daily.

The interaction is between yourself and myself and both of us know the subject we are talking about.

Thanks & regards

Tejwant Singh
 

akiva

SPNer
Tejwant Ji

Let's start over (to avoid the off-topic subjects)

We both agree that Guru Nanak Ji was opposed to mindless/meaningless religious fasting

It's understood in Sikhi that Guru Nanak Ji also was opposed to mindful/meaningful religious fasting. (My original question was on that point - I've seen the question raised elsewhere that Guru Ji's objection was only to mindless/ritualistic fasting, and asked about that)

We agree that Sikhi is A religious path.

Do we agree that other religious paths and practices are valid for their followers?

Regards
Akiva
 

spnadmin

1947-2014 (Archived)
SPNer
Did Guru Nanak oppose fasting – emphasis on the word oppose? When I think back to the shabads that speak of fasting, written by Guru Nanak, Guru Arjan Dev and the bhagats, I get a different impression. Guru Nanak is speaking to sadhus and devotees and asking them to reconsider fasting. Is fasting a path to spiritual awareness. More so, is it a path to finding the jyote that will enable us to change our moral stance toward humankind and all of creation? This moral question pervades Gurbani.

Guru Nanak was open-minded; he poses problems and asks questions. He rarely opposes. He considers and reconsiders many spiritual practices. He invites us to do the same.

Hypocrisy: One definition describes hypocrisy as the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one does not in reality conform. That is the narrow meaning of the word. The sadhus and devotees practiced what they preached. They preached the spiritual benefits of fasting and they fasted. Surely Guru Nanak noted that. Guru Nanak takes the larger meaning of hypocrisy to be moral pretense or pretentiousness. He questions whether in fasting any change moral stance occurs. Has fasting changed the actions of the sadhus and devotees toward fellow humans? Or are their sadhanas full of pretense, chasing after a jyote that will always elude them when concern for their own spiritual development is not coupled with concern for those around them? Could that be the message for us when we reconsider the meaning of fasting?

To me talk of Guru Nanak's opposing fasting, mindful or meaningless fasting, mindful or mindless people who fast, and whether Sikhi is only A path – all red herrings. The thread question puts out a moral question too! In so many words, do we fast as a matter of ego, or is a greater good served?
 
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akiva

SPNer
spnadmin Ji

If I become a better, more aware and caring person (through whatever means) then the greater good is served.

Not directly, but indirectly.

There is a saying: Give a man a fish, and he eats today. TEACH a man to fish and he eats every day.

I think that's relevant here.

For example, Bono or Bill Gates could just give someone food, today -- and that person will still need food tomorrow. Instead, they focus their energy and efforts on improving health care, education, distribution of resources -- with the goal of improving the quality of living to a point were that person doesn't need handouts because they can support themselves.

INitially it looks like the person giving food is doing more -- but in the long run the person working to improve society helps more people.
 
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spnadmin

1947-2014 (Archived)
SPNer
spnadmin Ji

If I become a better, more aware and caring person (through whatever means) then the greater good is served.

Not directly, but indirectly.

There is a saying: Give a man a fish, and he eats today. TEACH a man to fish and he eats every day.

I think that's relevant here.

If you can say that from the heart then you are blessed. For me it is internet banter.

By what spiritual processes does one get from fasting to the greater good? I won't elaborate at this point because earlier I did explain my frustration at length. How are we blessed? What good comes from the penance? Are we deluding ourselves? Is it egotism to think that by fasting some greater good is served because we feel better in our innards?

Guru Nanak does not state that fasting serves a greater good if only we be mindful of why we fast. Guru Nanak is asking why do it at all? Reconsider!!! Question !!! Re-evaluate !!! this ancient tradition of depriving yourself to serve the interests of personal spiritual awareness. What good is it if you feel better about yourself, and thousands are suffering from hunger around you?
 
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akiva

SPNer
I don't think that there's a direct "fasting serves the greater good" -- I think it's more "Fasting makes me a better person -- and my being a better person serves the greater good"

"Fasting" can be replaced by many other actions -- meditation, prayer, etc.

The key factor is that it make you a better person.
 

akiva

SPNer
In so many words, do we fast as a matter of ego, or is a greater good served?

There's no one answer -- each person has to look inside, honestly challenge their motives, and decide for themselves.

Just to clarify my personal position: I don't fast anymore. (I have in the past -- over the decades I've fasted within several different religious systems, so I'm familiar with their methods and goals.)


Akiva
 

spnadmin

1947-2014 (Archived)
SPNer
I don't think that there's a direct "fasting serves the greater good" -- I think it's more "Fasting makes me a better person -- and my being a better person serves the greater good"

"Fasting" can be replaced by many other actions -- meditation, prayer, etc.

The key factor is that it make you a better person.

Is that true for you? Or do you see that as a general proposition, true for most? Is it something you would recommend to others thinking they too would become better people if they fast?

Are religions that espouse fasting operating on the same principle: You will be a better person for it and directly or indirectly you will serve the greater good?

Discussions of meditation, prayer, etc. are off topic and will be deleted:whatzpointkudi:
 

akiva

SPNer
Personally? I found Ramadan fasting interesting in that I was definitely in a calmer, more peaceful and aware state of consciousness during the second half of the month. (That's because it's more a lifestyle pattern shift, which psychologically breaks old patterns of behaviour. That's usually good for people to do occasionally)

Most short term fasts are too short term to make any change in behaviour or awareness - quite often their intention is either "penance" or "motivation"

The Native American multi-day fast is intended to cause extreme shifts in consciousness (hallucinations, etc)-- possibly useful for some.

Do I think Fasting makes you a better person? I've met people for whom it is true -- that their fasting made them better people -- but I don't think it's a universal truth.

That's why I said the person has to take a honest look at themselves.

(I'll answer the second part later)
 

akiva

SPNer
Religions espouse fasting either for self-discipline, self-purification, or individual or communal atonement.

Different religions make different connections re fasting and others -- for example, there is a direct call to think about and feed the hungry and poor during Ramadan. That's a direct connection. (Plus the fact that 1/3 of the sacrifice at the end of Ramadan should be given to the poor)

But does it really change the person? will they remember the ramadan lesson 6 months later? Most won't. A few will. There's no way of knowing who those few will be. So the idea is everyone does it -- 99% fall back to old behaviours -- but that 1% that grows is the important thing.

Likewise in other religions. They usually acknowledge that most people don't gain by fasting -- but a few do. And since there's no way of knowing who will grow -- and when -- they teach it for everyone.
 

Tejwant Singh

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Writer
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Akiva ji,

Guru Fateh.

Let's start over (to avoid the off-topic subjects)

I am in total agreement with you.

We both agree that Guru Nanak Ji was opposed to mindless/meaningless religious fasting

Guru Nanak was against religious fasting because he saw them as mindless/meaningless. For him it was a practice of Me-ism, nothing to do with the One that we all seek.

It's understood in Sikhi that Guru Nanak Ji also was opposed to mindful/meaningful religious fasting. (My original question was on that point - I've seen the question raised elsewhere that Guru Ji's objection was only to mindless/ritualistic fasting, and asked about that)

If Guru Nanak had thought fasting was mindful/meaningful, he would have said so, but he did say to the contrary instead. So, pardon my ignorance, I have no idea what you are trying to say by this post.

We agree that Sikhi is A religious path.

No we do not, because Sikhi is not a religion which requires a deity,dogmas, clergy who dictates do's and don'ts to the followers and force them into meaningless rituals like Hajj, fasting, bathing in holy waters, pilgrimages and many more things. Sikhi has neither of them.

Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is full of verses about it. Please read and watch "Why Religion?", posted here which was part of the Interfaith forums. You will get a better idea why Sikhi is not a religion, nor a belief system or a faith. All these 3 require blind faith where Sikhi helps people open their eyes to the stark reality. There is no Hell or Heaven, No Adam and Eve. Sikh doctors recommend eating an apple a day to keep oneself healthy which is known as the forbidden fruit in the Abrahamic religions. One can go on and on.

Do we agree that other religious paths and practices are valid for their followers?

I am afraid I do not. It is for the followers of the respective religions to decide and they should be ready for the challenges when others can prove that these paths and practices lead to naught except to me-ism. Like throwing water to the Sun and many other things.

In fact I posted a Shabad here from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji not too long ago, which shows a Muslim how to be a true Muslim with the help of good deeds rather than performing meaningless rituals daily.

Sikhi is a pragmatic way of life. Gurbani shows us why these rituals are meaningless with reasoning not with mere feelings because someone thinks so.

Thanks & regards

Tejwant Singh
 
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Tejwant Singh

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Writer
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Akiva Ji,

Guru Fateh.
akiva;188394]Personally? I found Ramadan fasting interesting in that I was definitely in a calmer, more peaceful and aware state of consciousness during the second half of the month. (That's because it's more a lifestyle pattern shift, which psychologically breaks old patterns of behaviour. That's usually good for people to do occasionally)

A population based study of Ramadan fasting and acute coronary syndromes.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1768280/

Here is one more for you.

http://www.nutritionj.com/content/11/1/69

The fact is that Muslims with diabetes and other ailments have lots of problems during Ramadam fasting, the one you claim to prefer. So I have no idea what is mindful and meaningful about it.

Most short term fasts are too short term to make any change in behaviour or awareness - quite often their intention is either "penance" or "motivation"

How can it be either, the two opposite poles? Please elaborate because it makes no sense to me.

The Native American multi-day fast is intended to cause extreme shifts in consciousness (hallucinations, etc)-- possibly useful for some.

Akiva ji, it seems you gauge the so called facts with your gut feelings rather than the facts. Here are some facts about the above. It is not useful but deadly for some.

Angel Valley Resort Sweat Lodge Incident: 2 Die, 19 Overcome At Arizona Retreat

Sweat lodges, like that held on the final day of the Angel Valley retreat, are commonly used by American Indian tribes to cleanse the body and prepare for hunts, ceremonies and other events. The structure used Thursday was crudely built and covered with tarps and blankets.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/09/angel-valley-resort-sweat_n_316137.html

Do I think Fasting makes you a better person? I've met people for whom it is true -- that their fasting made them better people -- but I don't think it's a universal truth.

What was your gauging instrument for your above claim?

That's why I said the person has to take a honest look at themselves.

Again what gauging instrument did you use to check his/her honesty?

Thanks & regards

Tejwant Singh
 
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Tejwant Singh

Mentor
Writer
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Akiva ji,

Guru Fateh.

You write:

akiva;188395]Religions espouse fasting either for self-discipline, self-purification, or individual or communal atonement.

Espouse is the most important word. The verb espouse is used to describe the actions of someone who lives according to specific beliefs. It also means to marry in thick and thin- benefits or shortfalls.

Different religions make different connections re fasting and others -- for example, there is a direct call to think about and feed the hungry and poor during Ramadan. That's a direct connection. (Plus the fact that 1/3 of the sacrifice at the end of Ramadan should be given to the poor)

It is a wonderful gesture if it is true.Please post any story preferably with a video to prove your claim. There are one billion Muslims in the world. 1/3 of the food from them can feed all of Africa for a month because the fasting Muslims over eat during Ramadan. How many Muslim refugees are being fed in this month by their Muslim brethren?

But does it really change the person? will they remember the ramadan lesson 6 months later? Most won't. A few will. There's no way of knowing who those few will be. So the idea is everyone does it -- 99% fall back to old behaviours -- but that 1% that grows is the important thing.

Do you have anything to back your claim with?

Likewise in other religions. They usually acknowledge that most people don't gain by fasting -- but a few do. And since there's no way of knowing who will grow -- and when -- they teach it for everyone.

Again please provide concrete proofs about the claim above.

Thanks & regards

Tejwant Singh
 

findingmyway

Writer
SPNer
This is such a fascinating topic!

I don't think that there's a direct "fasting serves the greater good" -- I think it's more "Fasting makes me a better person -- and my being a better person serves the greater good".

The fasting gives us a small taste of what it's like to be hungry, day in and day out -- and that makes it easier for us to relate to them. And the more we can relate to them the more we will want to help them.

The concepts here are great in theory but don't bear out in practice. I would love to see statitics that prove me wrong, i.e. people that fast give more to charity (money and time), but this doesn't happen. Even people carrying out a sponsored fast are no more likely to sustain that behaviour once the fast is over and sponsor money collected.


Personally? I found Ramadan fasting interesting in that I was definitely in a calmer, more peaceful and aware state of consciousness during the second half of the month. (That's because it's more a lifestyle pattern shift, which psychologically breaks old patterns of behaviour. That's usually good for people to do occasionally)

Then why not continue if it had such a positive impact? This shows the transitory nature of the effects.

spnadmin Ji

If I become a better, more aware and caring person (through whatever means) then the greater good is served.

Not directly, but indirectly.

There is a saying: Give a man a fish, and he eats today. TEACH a man to fish and he eats every day.

I think that's relevant here.

For example, Bono or Bill Gates could just give someone food, today -- and that person will still need food tomorrow. Instead, they focus their energy and efforts on improving health care, education, distribution of resources -- with the goal of improving the quality of living to a point were that person doesn't need handouts because they can support themselves.

INitially it looks like the person giving food is doing more -- but in the long run the person working to improve society helps more people.

How is this relevant? Are people who fast more likely to feed, do community work or do nothing? I don't think there is any relationship in reality.

Likewise in other religions. They usually acknowledge that most people don't gain by fasting -- but a few do. And since there's no way of knowing who will grow -- and when -- they teach it for everyone.

This logic can also be reversed. Due to fasting, I have observed some people (of any faith) develop a superiority complex and look down on others around them. This leads to negative behaviour. It is not possible to predict how many and who will have this reaction so should fasting be taught at all?

And the fact is that fasting does change one's state of consciousness -- due in part to the lower blood sugar and fluid levels -- enabling the person fasting to think/perceive in a different way.

This change is not necessarily a positive one. If I miss a meal, I become faint and I can't think straight. That's quite a common reaction, esp in people who are at the lower end of the weight scale! Fasting for them should be avoided, as well as in people with health problems. A Muslim friend of mine wanted to continue fasting when she was pregnant due to notion that it makes her a better person. She came very close to permanently harming her child.

Is Guru Ji's objection to fasting, or mindless, meaningless fasting?

How can mindful, meaningful fasting be worse than mindless, meaningless Langar?

(Specifically asking as a personal spiritual discipline, not in terms of service to others)

Akiva

Spiritual discipline and service to other cannot and must not be separated for a Sikh. It is not possible to progress spirituality without serving others, otherwise it is merely a selfish act. Even if the reasons for funding langar are selfish, many benefit. Even in the UK, many homeless students and pthers (including non Sikhs) are fed by Gurwara langars. Fasting can never achieve such outcomes so the 2 things can never be compared.

3) A poster objected to fasting because it leads to pride. I pointed out that by that standard -- that things leading to pride are bad -- then Turban Pride Day should be rejected as well.

It is important to differentiate between pride in self and pride in identity. Ego is pride in self and can lead to negative behaviours. Pride in turban is encouraging adherence to a set of values which encourages community living and serving others.


 

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