Thought Archive

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Fasting is an old practice

Fasting is as old as the human race. All the major religions in the world, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, expect their followers to fast in some form or another, whether with complete denial of food or partial sacrifice.

Religion demands sacrifices, like any other endeavor that appears beneficial for people in the long term. In a religious fasting practice there are three primary purposes: self-control over the body andits appetites; focusing the mind on God or prayer; and purifying all thought from offensive ideas.

It is interesting to observe that frequency and intensity of fasting , or for that matter any other personal sacrifice, tended to diminish in Western society with a rise of secularism. In fact modern society urges people to to consume more of everything including food – which leads to excesses such as gluttony, at least amongst poorer classes.

Of course, for one who does not believe in rules of Islam, for example, the idea of a required fast during periods of the year sounds repugnant. It may not need to be so, if one thinks about sacrifices made in the name of good looks, sporting achievements, health benefits or simply out of peer pressure. Thus for a dubious gain, one would go to extreme measures to achieve something useful to him. For non-believers therefore, other concepts compel them to make sacrifices, such as refusal to eat meat on animal welfare grounds and the like. These concepts, not dissimilar to religious fast out of conviction exist even in a modern western man.


Paradox said...


You make a good point.

Paradox said...

thxs for stopping by.