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Should we use fasting as a way to be more spiritual?

  • By Paul West
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Should we use fasting as a way to be more spiritual?

Jeff asked:

"Probably the most often heard (for years) and least often obeyed is the admonition to fast, as in ’don’t eat’. I understand it clears the mind and undercuts the ego s supply lines as it were but so far I’ve compromised – eaten less, lighter, infrequently. And it works – the universe bends to help and miracles sprout up, but still I haven’t found the sweet spot of compliance and insight, and comfort with an alarming (to me) weight loss and skinniness. What does HS have to say about this? I’d like another opinion that includes eating, I reckon….."

Fasting is magic. It is your attempt to change yourself by having something real and external from you do something different to you, or cause you to change in some way, to become more spiritual.

It can indeed seem to produce "effects" which you may or may not see as beneficial. To the world, it may seem that it makes the body healthier, or gives it a recovery period to detoxify and cleanse, or various other benefits. It may even seem to affect your mind, given that the absence of food removes certain processes of stimulation and energy interactions from your immediate awareness.

This can pass for a "spiritual benefit", and imply that if you do more of it you will become even more spiritual. The obvious conclusion would be that you would end up not eating anything at all, ever again. And most likely, for most people, that will result in death. And as you've seen, it produces alarming "skinniness" and may even make your body believe that you're starving it, causing it to shift into alternative modes of operation for survival.

The fact is that even if you change your intake like this, it cannot CAUSE you to be awake. It cannot make you drop your belief in sin being real. You still are perceiving that something outside of you has causal power over you, and may even be emphasizing that and increasing the sense of being at the effect of the world.

To try to make the world affect you "less" by eating less food, only makes food more important as an idea of something which threatens you or damages you or can cause you to be suppressed. Really this is a form of denial of the body, an unworthy form which pretends or creates the illusion of spiritual growth but simultaneously keeps your belief in the body being real.

If you are not going to change your mind FIRST, and then be inspired whether to naturally change your intake, you're going to be sacrificing and it's going to lead to death. To believe that food has the magical power to affect you negatively, and to then reason that you should avoid that food, is only going to keep and increase your belief that food is dangerous.

The more you prove to yourself that its withdrawal is "better for you", the more you will actually make food a "worse threat". To go back to the food then will seem even more threatening and upsetting because you've turned it into a monster.

There are many practices in this world which focus around what you do to the body, in an effort to make yourself more spiritual. This can include special diets of all kinds, fasting, certain kinds of meditation, rituals, exercise, and so on.

To some degree, you have organized the world with your ego to set things up to SEEM as though there are laws and that these laws are consistent. You think therefore that since the laws are firm you can rely on them, and therefore you can play with or manipulate how the laws apply to you based on making changes to your behavior. To change your behavior to try to be more truthful is level confusion.

It seems to be true for MOST people, that if you fast or eat a "healthier diet" or have less toxins or artificial chemicals coming into your body, that your body will be less sick or in a better state of health. But ACIM would tell us this is all bullshit, really. We are using these "props" to make it seem as though they are deciding for us whether we are in health or not, when in fact our own mind is the ONLY source of decision as to whether we are in health.

If health seems to result after changing your interaction with certain forms, it is only because the mind seems to have pre-chosen that effect. And it is not consistent. There are some people who eat shitty food and have no ill effects from it, their bodies are somehow free of diseases and they seem not to suffer as a result. And there are people who eat the same food and suffer dearly for it, certain that it has the power to upset them.

I for example have a fairly long-standing allergy to dairy products, mainly to the "cream" portion of them. But I love them. So ice-cream and heavy cream and yogurt etc tend to produce symptoms in me. But this is only because my mind believes in it. For example, with coffee I often use a "non-dairy creamer", and in spite of this, for a while I would experience headaches and drowsiness and congestion after drinking the coffee.

I noticed that when I would reach into the cupboard to get the creamer, I would have a noticeable sense of anxiety or threat, as though it had some kind of power and was going to cause something. This was a belief in my mind. I had to look at that and forgive it, and I noticed that it stopped causing symptoms. Now, if I had just pretended that my mind was healed and forced myself to use more of the product, I would've had more symptoms, because my mind already had formed a previous belief about how what my relationship to it would be.

Similarly with fasting, the ego has set things up so that most likely, in most cases, fasting is going to seem to be helpful, but for some people, it is not going to work, and for some people, it may be dangerous. It depends on their mind. And if you're doing the fasting in an attempt to become spiritual, you're really going about it the wrong way, starting with the effects and not real cause.

For you to be spiritual you need to forgive fasting and your belief that it has the power to change who you are or do something to you. Then you should not NEED it in order to maintain or gain access to certain states of mind. It is a prop for the mind that is unconscious and unaware of its own power. You've given it power over you to decide for you whether you would be spiritual or not, based on its influence over you. That's a state of victim consciousness.

Clearly you do not fully, deeply believe in your own innate spirituality otherwise you wouldn't be needing to use this magic in order to try to induce it. And because you are letting yourself be at the effect of external causes, they will just seem to do to you what they do without you being able to stop the consequences.

It is logically faulty to believe that this fasting is going to cause you to be spiritual, because spirituality means not being a body, and you can't achieve not being a body by doing some thing to the body. This is also why certain practices that address changes to the "brain" are short-sighted, because as soon as this particular brain dies all of the apparently brain-associated benefits will be lost. The mind is not the body and the attempt to fix the body directly is a belief that the body IS the mind, so you're trying to change your mind through physical means. This is just making the body real and will limit you.

Now, not to say that you can't choose to keep doing this, or have a so-called healthier diet, or do exercise, or whatever other practice, but be honest with yourself and don't kid yourself that it is the cause of awakening. Doing more of it will not produce more spirituality. It will just implement magical processes onto your body and make your body wither away to nothing. All ego magic has its limits and you're finding out that to make yourself spiritual "in form" WILL result in death eventually.

This I think is part of what you see in India etc where people flog their body or starve themselves or undergo pain or physical suffering in an attempt to wake up. It's a very painful path because it's a level confusion and they're trying to learn some deep spiritual lesson through suffering unnecessarily. Someone give them a burger! I can't say there is zero benefit to it, if it can be used for awakening properly, but if it's just a belief that body-sacrifice will lead to awareness of spirit, it's a pretty painful way to go about it.

You don't have to suffer. Seek to change your mind more than to think that your body changes will bring you to God. You can't take your body to meet God. It's really just a part of the spiritualization of the ego and an attempt to keep the body being special by treating it in a special way.

You need to see that you put the effects of food in place, you are the one who makes food attack you, you are the one who believes you are wholly dependent on the external instead of God, and you are the one who is trying to essentially keep all that in place while trying to wake yourself up.

It's also to do with your identity. You see yourself as a body, and you're trying to become more spiritual, so naturally that means to "change your self". If your self is your body, that means to change your body. But a body is just an illusion of a self, whether it seems healthy or not.

You can maybe play the system a bit and work off the fact that you set up fasting as an apparent illusory way to become more aware or have a heightened energy or whatever other benefits seem to come from it. Nothing wrong with doing what you prefer and making your life experience the best pick from the various "effects" on offer. But ultimately it's not going to take you to a spiritual awakening and all things of the ego should be used in moderation. They are founded in duality and sooner or later turn into their opposite.

There is a sort of "sweet spot" in this world of duality where a certain amount of something seems to be just the right amount, and too much is bad, and too little is bad also. This is because the ego has created this sort of state of "balance" where it's attempted to make a world which "hangs in the balance" and seems to be plausible and desirable and acceptable ONLY so long as the EXTREMES of separation are kept hidden.

Thus a certain amount of pleasure is enjoyable but too much leads to pain. Or a certain kind of food tastes great until you eat 10 pounds of it and end up shitting your brains out. The ego has set this world up so that if you get near to this sort of middle-ground, you get into this moderated zone where things seem to be tolerable. A little bit of pain seems like pleasure, a little bit of food doesn't seem to destroy you, etc. But if you push it to its natural conclusion, and you go extreme with it, you soon find out that the illusion breaks down and it was not really founded in truth.

This means that everything here is LIMITED in its ability to be meaningful or helpful or useful, because as soon as you push those boundaries and go to the extreme it all breaks down and the ego's system of delusion and fantasy is revealed to be a big hoax. Eating 10 tubs of ice-cream will probably do very nasty things to your body. And in the ego's system, a little bit of poison sometimes seems to be a cure.

It is the mind that wakes up FROM having a body and from being subject to the ego's laws and the ego's systems of cause and effect. You need to set yourself free from dependency on being a body as much as dependency on food. You can't fake it. You can't pretend you don't believe in the ego's law or that you've completely transcended it and gained total mastery over all food, you will just prove that you're not there yet and end up hurting yourself. Once you ARE genuinely there, THEN you will be able to go without food and rely 100% on God for your supply. But not before.

If your magic seems helpful to you in some way, easing your burden while in this world, then by all means continue. But admit to what it is, and don't be fooling yourself that it is capable of something it is not. There are no causes in this world which produce God, because God is the cause. There is no truth in this world that replaces or defines the truth, because the truth is of God. It is a confusion of the order of cause and effect to depend on the world as the way that you will find salvation.

Salvation comes from within as you surrender the world and stop believing in the body and stop believing in the effect or counter-effects of food or avoidance of food. All food is an illusion and all food is an attack. And fasting is also just as much an attack if the belief in food remains while you do it. Salvation comes from recognizing what it is that saves - freedom from the ego thought system, through forgiveness and accepting of the Atonement. Less ego would be better for you in the long-run than less food of any kind. How about fasting the ego instead of food?

While I'm here I guess I'll just say a quick thing about diets since it's related. When you are seeking for the perfect diet or the exact right kind of food, you make yourself sick. Seeking for external perfection produces a complete absence of perfection.

You can tell yourself that there are certain very very special foods which will do some kind of ideal thing to you, giving you a sacred blessing that will sustain you. You can also talk yourself into believing that only a very, very strict diet of the most carefully screened foods will give you the MAXIMUM pureness of input to your body and result in the most optimal life.

However, you will also find that as you come to believe this, you have also come to believe that you NEED to have the most ideal food OTHERWISE you will die. The scope of which foods are acceptable, tolerable, perfect-enough, non-threatening, least harmful, most beneficial etc, narrows and narrows and narrows. And you will then find that you end up with hardly any food choices whatsoever.

You will then become afraid of food and what food could do to you. You will tentatively trust only a very narrow range of foods such as the most organic or the more wholesome or non-toxic versions of things, which you pay through the nose for, and you will believe that these foods will SAVE YOU. Apparently they save you from the certain death that you now believe all OTHER foods are going to be powerful enough to cause if you were to choose them.

This is the ego's persona at play, because it is expert at identifying all the ways that food (or yourself) are faulty, even in tiny amounts, and it is never satisfied or intent on actually accepting that you or food are good enough or acceptable enough in your entirety. So instead you will keep chipping away at foods and narrowing down what is acceptable, trying to create this ILLUSION of a perfect diet, which is like the cream of the crop, or the only censored items that made it through your very strict filtering system.

Simultaneously, the result is that the persona "keeps" only the very most perfect-seeming illusions about yourself or food, and subsequently tries to get rid of the REST (which is considerable) by attacking it, judging it, condemning it and describing it as sinful. It projects all of the guilt onto this vast body of otherness and retains only a shred of innocence for the tiny amount left over that it has deemed worthy of acceptability, for now. But the ego's torturous belief in SACRIFICE is never-ending and it will continue to pick and pick and pick at what remains in your diet until there is practically NOTHING that you will eat that you believe is safe for you.

This puts you in such a state of mind where you feel thoroughly threatened by food, afraid of food, at risk by food, affected by food, except for the "chosen ones". And even those you don't quite trust, because your trust has then worn very thin and you don't even know if you can trust food AT ALL any more. And all of this is in the name of finding the perfect diet or the food which will hurt you the least. You thus turn 99% of foods into an enemy and make them attack you. This need not be.

You are meant to be immortal. You are meant to be invulnerable. You are meant to be whole and fully accepting of everything. How will that express in your choice of foods? How will food have any power whatsoever to do ANYTHING to you if you fully believe that you are not at the effect of food?

Perfect diets are a complete ego myth and are an attack which results in people becoming MORE affected by food than ever. As soon as you believe that a certain food will save you and others will harm you, you increase your belief in being attacked by food and therefore food does seem to cause symptoms in your body (which your belief put there in your use of food to attack you), and thus you will become MORE sick as a result of trying to become LESS sick through perfect dieting.

What we need to do is to learn to deprogram our belief that food is so powerful and special that it can harm us if we don't choose wisely. We need to unlearn the idea that we are at the effect of the world and that it can hurt us unless we are very careful. We need to become more open to allow ourselves the possibility of believing that WE have power over food, and not the other way around. This is the end of all diets and fads and the end of all fictional stories about how only the "best" foods will not kill you.

News for you.... all foods are an attack, all foods have side-effects if you believe in them being real, and all foods cause death eventually. There is no neutral food, there is no such thing as perfection of food, and there is no such thing as being immune to all foods UNLESS you thoroughly believe that you are the CAUSE of this world, not its effect. That takes a lot of spiritual growth and awareness and honesty and willingness.

There are people, therefore, who are very spiritually aware, who can eat practically anything and not be affected negatively. They can even sometimes demonstrate the consumption of poisons, with zero side effects. But realize, I am not condoning that whatsoever and it is only something that might even work if you are very spiritually advanced. For most people, doing this will be very damaging indeed because of the presence of the ego thought system in our minds still.

But this whole idea of a perfect food or diet really is ultimately a myth, and so many people fall for this ego trap of believing they can find salvation if they choose very selectively what THEY decide is "safe". They have given food all the meaning it has for them, and are living in denial. They are not really safe from food, they are in an ILLUSION of safety from food, because they've made food even MORE of a threat than it needed to be.

Believing in food having power over you leads to victimhood and a compulsion to narrow down the selection. It is nothing more than a state of insanity. The ultimate truth is that you are not at the effect of foods whatsoever, it doesn't really matter what you eat because it's an illusion, you don't really need food because God is your only supply, and very few people have been able to demonstrate this genuinely without any form of sacrifice thus far.

You are immortal Spirit. You feed from the Love of God. God sustains you and fulfills your every need and supplies your "spiritual nutrition". You really need nothing else. But to pretend that you're in that place right now, if you're not, that's just going to confuse you and hurt you. And to pretend that you're getting into that place (e.g by fasting) when in fact you're still keeping or compounding your belief in food's power to attack you, is similarly just going to end up hurting you as well.

 

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