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Switch to Forum Live View Reflecting for the Fast
3 years ago  ::  Mar 01, 2012 - 11:02AM #1
world citizen
Posts: 5,504

We have commanded you to pray and fast from the beginning of maturity; this is ordained by God, your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers. He has exempted from this those who are weak from illness or age... The traveller, the ailing, those who are with child or giving suck, are not bound by the fast. Abstain from food and drink, from sunrise to sundown, and beware lest desire deprive you of this grace that is appointed in the Book.  ~Bahá'u'lláh (Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p.12)


Even though outwardly the Fast is difficult and toilsome, yet inwardly it is bounty and tranquility. Purification and training are conditioned and dependent only on such rigorous exercises as are in accord with the Book of God and sanctioned by Divine law, not those which the deluded have inflicted upon the people. Whatsoever God hath revealed is beloved of the soul. We beseech Him that He may graciously assist us to do that which is pleasing and acceptable unto Him.  ~Bahá'u'lláh (The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting, XVI)


Ye had written of the fasting month. Fortunate are ye to have obeyed the commandment of God, and kept this fast during the holy season. For this material fast is an outer token of the spiritual fast; it is a symbol of self-restraint, the withholding of oneself from all appetites of the self, taking on the characteristics of the spirit, being carried away by the breathings of heaven and catching fire from the love of God.  ~‘Abdu'l-Bahá (Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, p.69)


As regards fasting, it constitutes, together with the obligatory prayers, the two pillars that sustain the revealed Law of God. They act as stimulants to the soul, strengthen, revive and purify it, and thus insure its steady development.  ~Shoghi Effendi (Directives from the Guardian, p.27)


It is often difficult for us to do things because they are so very different from what we are used to, not because the thing itself is particularly difficult. With you, and indeed most Baha’is, who are now, as adults, accepting this glorious Faith, no doubt some of the ordinances, like fasting and daily prayer, are hard to understand and obey at first. But we must always think that these things are given to all men for a thousand years to come. For Baha’i children who see these things practiced in the home, they will be as natural and necessary a thing as going to church on Sunday was to the more pious generation of Christians. Baha’u’llah would not have given us these things if they would not greatly benefit us...  As we obey them we will gradually come to see in ourselves the benefits they confer.  ~Shoghi Effendi (Lights of Guidance, p.342)

Blessed is he who mingleth with all men in a spirit of utmost kindliness and love. ~Baha'u'llah
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3 years ago  ::  Mar 01, 2012 - 9:25PM #2
Cascade
Posts: 11

Though I've been Baha'i for around three years, this is the first year I've planned to observe the Fast, and looked forward to it with eagerness and some small amount of anxiety. My girlfriend, who is my compass in worldly, practical things in the way that the God is in matters of the immaterial, expressed concern at the idea of my going so long without food or drink, saying I would be worried were she to do the same, and so we compromised. Because the fast is a symbol, I figured it would be alright to substitute complete abstinence from three things in place of the sunup-sundown fast. 



Is anyone else out there observing the Fast in an unorthodox way, or have any thoughts to share on the subject?



-Cascade

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3 years ago  ::  Mar 02, 2012 - 3:37AM #3
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,896

Mar 1, 2012 -- 9:25PM, Cascade wrote:


Though I've been Baha'i for around three years, this is the first year I've planned to observe the Fast, and looked forward to it with eagerness and some small amount of anxiety. My girlfriend, who is my compass in worldly, practical things in the way that the God is in matters of the immaterial, expressed concern at the idea of my going so long without food or drink, saying I would be worried were she to do the same, and so we compromised. Because the fast is a symbol, I figured it would be alright to substitute complete abstinence from three things in place of the sunup-sundown fast. 



Is anyone else out there observing the Fast in an unorthodox way, or have any thoughts to share on the subject?



-Cascade




Dear Cascade,


Thanks for your honest post. As a new Bahá'í it is completely normal for you to be struggling with some of the tougher observances as well as commandments that seem strange to a secular and liberal Western mind. But I would still recommend you to observe the fast and use God as your compass in all things, whether immaterial as well as material. Wink God didn't divide His commandments between spiritual and material, nor did He grant authority to your girlfriend Cool to be your compass on the "material" issues. The Bahá'í Faith is holistic. It covers all life, all humanity, and all aspects of life. Bahá'u'lláh is clear on fast, when performed in the right spirit, being extremely beneficial to the spirit. He was also adamant that God's commandments are not to be judged by the standards set by men which change as often as the seasons. Fasting is an ancient tradition in all the world's major religions, and it has never been scientifically proven to be harmful. Sure, opinions may vary, but no conclusive proof exists.


As you know, to be a Bahá'í means to accept all the commandments of God as revealed by Bahá'u'lláh and not cherry-pick those that one can easily accept or explain to others. Bahá'u'lláh says they're all for our own good and cautions us not to follow the promptings of self which cause us to depart from them.


For me the whole point of fasting is twofold: (1) It is a technique to practice self-discipline and detachment from worldly things and hence fasting literally strengthens our will and spirit. It also offers an example on how we should discipline ourselves in other areas of life throughout the coming year that starts at the end of the fast (as you know the Naw-Rúz, or the Bahá'í New Year, marks the end of the Fast). But even more importantly, fasting is (2) an annual proof of our love of God. It is a demonstration of unconditional love since we are willing to undergo a little hardship to obey His will. It is a way for us to show God that we love Him and submit to His Will even when doing so doesn't feel so good. For what is love if it is conditional. Like Jesus says, even the tax-collectors can love that way. ;)


With kind regards,


LilWabbit


P.S. In the spirit of the Fast, detachment also means detachment from the need to appease the worries of one's girlfriend if they run counter to God's Will. She, if she really is good marriage material, would learn to greatly respect a man who lives by a spiritual principle without compromise. And after seeing that you do not drop dead nor fall terribly ill after the 19 days of fast, she will also start to question her initial worries. She will see that God is reasonable.

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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3 years ago  ::  Mar 02, 2012 - 2:23PM #4
Cascade
Posts: 11

LilWabbit:


There's a difference between 'appeasement' and 'consideration'. I actually won her over to the fasting idea, but decided that going through with it, knowing that it would upset and worry her, would not be a kind or righteous thing to do. 'Authority' doesn't enter into it, as I shouldn't think it would in any relationship of equals. Is it not said that were religion to cause disunity, then better there were irreligion?

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3 years ago  ::  Mar 04, 2012 - 12:34PM #5
world citizen
Posts: 5,504

Cascade ~


Is anyone else out there observing the Fast in an unorthodox way, or have any thoughts to share on the subject?


My girlfriend ... expressed concern at the idea of my going so long without food or drink 


Twelve hours each day might be somewhat uncomfortable for people who are healthy and not used to fasting, but it has no adverse effect on the body, and those who are ill or have an ailment requiring regular nourishment (e.g., Diabetes) are exempted from the full Fast.  I think you'll find that the majority of Baha'is make the small sacrifice of rising an hour or so earlier than usual, so they can have a good breakfast and say their devotional before the sun rises.  Both their body and their soul then have the needed nourishment to prepare them for the day.


... so we compromised.


Compromise can be a very good thing between people, but have you considered that you are trying to compromise moreso with God than with your girlfriend?


We have commanded you to pray and fast from the beginning of maturity; this is ordained by God, your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers ... Abstain from food and drink, from sunrise to sundown, and beware lest desire deprive you of this grace that is appointed in the Book.  ~Bahá'u'lláh


Is it not said that were religion to cause disunity, then better there were irreligion?


I believe you're probably referring to the following:


"Each nation has clung to its own imitations, and because these are at variance, warfare, bloodshed and destruction of the foundation of humanity have resulted. True religion is based upon love and agreement. Bahá'u'lláh has said, 'If religion and faith are the causes of enmity and sedition, it is far better to be nonreligious, and the absence of religion would be preferable; for we desire religion to be the cause of amity and fellowship. If enmity and hatred exist, irreligion is preferable.'"  (~Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 232)


I personally don't view this as meaning that if I and another person have a disagreement, I should abandon my religious convictions in order that the disagreement be resolved.  You must decide for yourself whether the above pertains to you individually.  If your girlfriend's anxiety about something as important as the Fast creates "disunity" between you, only you know where your major allegiance lies.  Your soul is eternal whereas relationships you form with others, now or in the future, can only be temporal.


You aren't being judged here, Cascade.  Every Baha'i has something in their life that is a test for them.


In peace, wc

Blessed is he who mingleth with all men in a spirit of utmost kindliness and love. ~Baha'u'llah
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3 years ago  ::  Mar 11, 2012 - 6:47AM #6
in_my_opinion
Posts: 2,864

One thing of interest came from a Hand of the Cause who said that the exemptions to the fast were binding, too. We generally tend to think of them as being optional, but they are just as obligatory.


If, one is under 15 years of age, older than 70, pregnant, breastfeeding, menstruating, travelling, involved in hard labor, ill, or has vowed to do something instead (best if it benefits humanity); then, one shouldn't fast.


Fasting, as with all things from God, is for our own good. So, are the exemptions to it.


Extremes are sort of like thinking a higher dose of medicine would make you even better and ending up overdosing one's way into the emergency room or even graver circumstances.


We should just follow the prescription of the Divine Physician; and not the advice of the foolish, who might want to make a friend into a plaything.

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3 years ago  ::  Mar 11, 2012 - 12:51PM #7
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,896

Very valid points Imo...


Best fasting wishes,


Wabbit

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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3 years ago  ::  Mar 13, 2012 - 11:05PM #8
in_my_opinion
Posts: 2,864

Thank you; feeling the same about your posts and efforts!

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3 years ago  ::  Mar 20, 2012 - 10:37AM #9
Aka_me
Posts: 12,188

this has been the most difficult fast in 16 years as a Baha'i.


and not for the hunger or physical reasons, long ago found a pattern of drinking a big glass of water and powered fiber prior to food breakfast and dinner and cutting the caffeine a week ahead of time.


this was crisis and spiritual growth. crisis fuels spiritual grown, and spiritual growth in turn fuels crisis.


the epiphany hit me this morning... not coincidently the last day of fasting. perhaps I can explain another day when time allows.

not being able to debate is one thing, employing censorship to avoid debate is beyond words.
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3 years ago  ::  Mar 20, 2012 - 10:55AM #10
Seefan
Posts: 3,962

Mar 20, 2012 -- 10:37AM, Aka_me wrote:

  this has been the most difficult fast in 16 years as a Baha'i.


and not for the hunger or physical reasons, long ago found a pattern of drinking a big glass of water and powered fiber prior to food breakfast and dinner and cutting the caffeine a week ahead of time.


this was crisis and spiritual growth. crisis fuels spiritual grown, and spiritual growth in turn fuels crisis.


the epiphany hit me this morning... not coincidently the last day of fasting. perhaps I can explain another day when time allows. 




Aka_me, if I'm reading you right, I'm inclined to say congratulations.  It sounds like what you seem to be explaining is the purpose of the fast, to have an epiphany, to realize growth or potential growth, to see continually adopting Baha'u'llah's teaching is of utmost importance!  I guess the effort is always worth it in whatever degree we participate and to whatever difficulty we experience ...


As for me, I've come to realize, esp this fast, how much more I need to become involved 'on a daily bases' to develop a personal spiritual way of living along the lines Baha'u'llah/Abdul-Baha outlines, and how much more I need to read the writings daily and deeply reflect upon it meaning for me! 


Thanks Aka for posting ...


 


 

Today the one overriding need is unity and harmony among the beloved of the Lord, for they should have among them but one heart and soul and should, so far as in them lieth, unitedly withstand the hostility of all the peoples of the world ... (Baha'i Writings)
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