FASTING CENTER INTERNATIONAL
Spiritual Benefits Of
Prolonged Scientific Fasting!
"Your body is precious. It is your vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care. The sufferings which overtake beings are the fruit of their desires."--Gautama Buddha, 563?-483? B.C.
"When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that you do not appear to others to be fasting, but to your Father, who is in the secret place; and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you openly."--Jesus Christ, c. 8-4 B.C.-29? A.D.
"She or he who does good of her or his own accord shall be rewarded, but to fast is better for you, if you but knew it."--Mohammed, 570?-632 A.D.
"Fasting will bring spiritual rebirth to those of you who cleanse and purify your bodies. The light of the world will illuminate within you when you fast and purify yourself. What the eyes are for the outer world, fasts are for the inner."--Mahatma Gandhi, 1869-1948
"The biggest problem facing the world today is not people dying in the streets of Calcutta, and not inflation, but spiritual deprivation. . .this feeling of emptiness associated with feeling separate from God, and from all our sisters and brothers on planet Earth."--Mother Teresa, 1979 Nobel Peace laureate
"In past centuries, there have been many learned teachers who have laid down various paths to the realization of Truth. Among them, Lord Buddha is one, and my study of Buddhism has led me to form the opinion that, despite the differences in the names and forms used by the various religions, the ultimate truth to which they point is the same."--His Holiness the Dalai Lama, 1989 Nobel Peace laureate
"I think that we have now reached a stage of religious maturity where it may be possible for someone to remain perfectly faithful to a Christian and Western monastic commitment and yet learn in depth from, say, a Buddhist or Hindu discipline or experience." --Fr. Thomas Merton, one of the two greatest Christian theologians of the 20th Century (along with Paul Tillich), from The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton
[See in more detail on our Compassion page, if curious.]
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Spiritual Benefits Of
Prolonged Scientific Fasting!
WHEN YOU FAST FOR SPIRIT or fast for spirituality, you're following in the sacred footsteps of all of humanity's greatest spiritual teachers who practiced and taught prolonged fasting as part of their wisdom legacy to us all.
That said, however, four points must preface this discussion. One, sacred teachings are, and always have been, separate from human commercial interactions (despite the fact that you and I have chosen to meet here on Earth's World Wide Web, the presumptive heart of our emerging Knowledge Society's commercial world). Two, fasting is obviously contraindicated for some. Three, there are many pathways to one's spiritual unfoldment, of which fasting is merely one which all great religions have used, historically, albeit an incremental aspect. And four, presently on our Earth, this long-term, global religious war resulting from extreme fundamentalism on both sides, has ignited a conflict that is just beginning between good religion and bad religion, that will last a generation, and that is pushing fundamentalists closer to the use of weapons of mass destruction, with time running out.
As His Holiness the Dalai Lama noted in Bangalor, India, in December of 2004: "Humanity has made religion a source of conflict. In order to serve humanity, which is our common responsibility, we should have closer relationships based on mutual understanding. All religious thoughts carry the same message with different philosophical approaches, yet even if we believe ourselves religious, at very critical times, we allow power and money to take precedence. The time has come to concentrate on spiritual studies, feeling inner values like compassion and warm-heartedness. I call these secular ethics."
At this critical juncture in human evolution, those who truly are interested in scientific, therapeutic fasting's superb spiritual benefits--from all major religious creeds and philosophies--have been asking me for 35 years about these potential benefits, as well as about spiritual teachers who have fasted. Thus, as one who, like both Pope John XXIII and His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama, believes that individuals have to be seen first as human beings, and only then as members of religious groups, my answers here are respectfully provided for you and all our sisters and brothers, in hopes you can make a more intelligent decision about whether or not you wish to use scientific fasting to increase your own faith, as well as to accomplish great things in the lives of others.
As Father Tom Ryan, a Catholic priest and certified Kripala Yoga teacher who coordinates ecumenical and inter-religious relations for the Paulist community in the U.S. and Canada, has written: "Fasting as a religious act increases our sensitivity to that mystery always and everywhere present to us. It is an invitation to awareness, a call to compassion for the needy, a cry of distress, and a song of joy. It is a discipline of self-restraint, a ritual of purification, and a sanctuary for offerings of atonement. It is a wellspring for the spiritually dry, a compass for the spiritually lost, and inner nourishment for the spiritually hungry."
Just to demonstrate how deeply the reading of Fasting Center International's (FCI) website can effect some among the tens of thousands of your sisters and brothers, globally, reading it each month of every year, the following, representative comments perfectly capture today's endemic spiritual angst or existential anxiety, resulting from 'saying' what we spiritually believe in, while 'acting' in ways clearly detrimental to our connection to the God of our belief. What follows is from an American everywoman, 39, having just signed on to do FCI's 66-day Total Detoxification Program, speaking honestly and eloquently from her heart:
"I have a long history of abuse, both as a victim in childhood, and also as a recipient in adulthood, of my own making. I have been clean and sober for over 2.5 yrs., but have never detoxed all the drugs and alcohol out of my system. I am a successful business owner and proud mother of two wonderful children, but still suffer from bouts of bulimia and vicious sugar and caffeine addictions. I have been on prescription anti-depressants for over 6 yrs., and have chronically used prescription diet drugs to maintain a 'healthy' size 4. Nobody knows of my 'inner demons' that I battle on a daily basis. For all intents and purposes, most think that I 'have it all together,' but maintaining the facade is a full-time job that is driving me insane.
"I had gotten as close as I could in my relationship with God, but there seemed to be a barrier of sorts that I couldn't pass and didn't know why. . .until I came across your website, and then it all fell into place. The Spirit of God cannot fully function in the temple I have been building. He drops in occasionally for 'visits,' but He doesn't want to live there; it's too diseased with lies, abuse, anger, toxic chemicals, and just plain old 'junk.' So, this fast has many purposes for me.
"I want to detoxify my body, liver, kidneys and heart from years of chemical and alcohol abuse; heal my body's scar tissue from years of forced vomiting after binge-eating; heal my heart from painful childhood memories; cleanse my bowls and GI system so I can function in optimal health; lose 5-to-10 lbs. of unwanted fat stores; rid myself of any dependence on prescription, mind-/mood-altering substances; develop a new appreciation for feeding and nourishing my body; teach myself how to 'tune in' to a higher spiritual plane of existence, and live, love, laugh, breathe, pray, etc., all to my fullest potential!!!!!
"I am currently 5' 3" and weigh 129 lbs. I'm looking forward to starting the 5-day transitioning-in phase soon. Thank you for all the wisdom you share in your letters from others and yourself. Warmest regards." [Name withheld by FCI for her privacy].
German Dr. Arnold Ehret (1866-1922), considered to be the Father of Naturopathy (also known as Naturopathic Medicine), was one of the West's foremost proponents of rational fasting for physical, mental and spiritual rejuvenation. Professor Ehret diagnosed fasting as "the master key to mental and spiritual unfoldment and evolution," especially during these degenerate times.
|THE 'MASTER KEY'
TO SPIRITUAL UNFOLDMENT
As fasting's spiritual benefits are its greatest gift--those which make life truly stable, meaningful and meritorious--you may wish to get a glass of juice (organic, whenever available), tune out the rest of the world for a few minutes, relax into an alert-yet-comfortable position behind your screen, and know that allowing your mindstream or mental continuum to expand as your intuitive wisdom arises, has the effect of making it more difficult for your illusory ego--the hallucinated, negative aspect which is the cause of all suffering--to kick in with self-sabotaging messages about why you'd fail at fasting, or why the rest of our 6.6 billion kindred souls will likewise never rise up out of the clouded consciousness most spend their entire lives in (wittingly or un-), in order to wisely follow in the footsteps of every great spiritual teacher, as well as nearly all of the greatest thinkers our species has produced, not to mention all three Fathers of Western Medicine--Hippocrates, Galen and Paracelsus (who diagnosed fasting as "the greatest remedy, the physician within")--into our birthright potential of optimum health, happiness and healing power.
Know that all human hearts are welcome here, regardless of one's color, creed, condition or philosophy, because everyone is just like you and me--wanting happiness, and disliking suffering. In other words, seeking joy and freedom from suffering is the birthright of all living beings (not just us humans).
The word 'spiritual' has many connotations, but all of us who've done prolonged, skillful fasting know our mind is clearer, sharper and more efficient--a greater clarity of consciousness. By using this fasting-enhanced clarity, our journey into the human interior can reward us with many essential correctives to the extreme materialism of our external culture and its dominant sciences. Also, just as our own inner-mind becomes clearer, our own extrasensory instinct becomes keener. Thus, we find ourselves more in tune with the gentle voice of Nature and its Natural Laws. And so, the increase in energy prolonged fasting confers is our own reward for getting back in touch with these so-called Laws of Nature.
Five-hundred years before Jesus Christ, the first words Gautama Buddha taught (accepted by Buddhists as infallible Truth. . . for the welfare and happiness of the world) were these: "We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world. Speak or act with an impure mind, and trouble will follow you as the wheel follows the ox that draws the carriage." Today, more than any previous time in human history, the same holds true for the human body. Realizing that the vast majority of our human suffering is caused by wrong, unnatural eating, combined with the failure to periodically remove accumulated toxins, intelligent fasters become nine times as conscious about what they put into their bodies, post-fast, for solid reasons: they enjoy what it feels like being closer to optimum health, happiness and healing power, plus they've worked hard to clean their temple. (Professor Ehret, whose longest fast was 49 days, estimated that: "The average person has as much as 10 pounds of uneliminated feces in their bowels, continuously poisoning her/his bloodstream and the entire system.")
Siddhartha Gautama, at 36, fasted 49 days under that now-famous tree in Bodhgaya, India, achieving Enlightenment, or the Awakened state, during the process. "Buddha" is Sanskrit for "Awake"--a state free from all obstructions to knowledge and to disturbing emotions. . .a state in which one's mind is fully evolved, capable of seeing the nature of things as they truly are, as well as perceiving all that exists, past, present and future. As Academy Award-winning director Bernardo Bertolucci scripturally portrayed in his excellent film, "Little Buddha," Prince Siddhartha--like the Chinese founder of Taoism before him, Lao-tzu (604? B.C.-?), plus the Christian Messiah who would follow--was born by 'miraculous' birth (from Queen Mayadevi's side while she stood, without causing her pain or injury), standing immediately in full awareness, walking seven steps in surveying the four cardinal directions (symbolizing what would become, 36 years later, the Buddha's first teaching--the "Four Noble Truths") and proclaiming: "For Enlightenment, I was born, and for the good of all that lives."
Thus, the achievement of Enlightenment by this one all Buddhists call "Lord," was a teaching of what is possible for all sentient beings--the achievement of what Buddhists call "Clear Light Mind" or 'Omniscient Mind.' Christ, about whom our current "Bible" reveals nothing concerning his most formative years--13 to 30, when he emerged from God knows where, asked John to baptize him, fasted 40 days and proclaimed: "The Father and I are One!"--inferred that we can be, also, by seeking the "Kingdom within". . .within all beings, equally). . ."One" with what Christians and Jews call 'God'; Muslims, 'Allah'; Hindus, 'Brahma'; native Americans, 'Great Spirit', etc. . . .all equally valid metaphors for this mysterious, formless, genderless, supreme and eternal essence of the Universe--of which we're all equal parts--unlimited by anyone's merely human concepts. . .what Dr. Albert Einstein acknowledged in concluding: "Everyone who is seriously interested in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a Spirit is manifest in the law of the Universe."
|ENLIGHTENMENT, OR ONENESS
WITH THE KINGDOM WITHIN
Years ago during a teaching in San Francisco, a young woman asked the Dalai Lama: "If you could have dinner with Christ, what would you ask him?" His Holiness replied: "The first thing I'd ask is: 'What is your concept of the Father?'" Even those who believe the "Bible" to be God-breathed and infallible must at least ask themselves these questions, out of intellectual honesty.
Also, there may be other 'holes' in our "Bible," some of which may or may not be the result of it having been controlled by the Catholic Church for so many centuries--perhaps from the formal recognition of the 27 books of its "New Testament" in the 4th Century, until the Protestant Reformation arose in the 16th Century, followed by publicataion of the "King James Version" in 1611 by the Church of England. For example, the concept of reincarnation (scroll down 7/8ths on this lengthy teaching by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, to the section entitled "Death, Intermediate State and Rebirth")
was very much in vogue during Christ's day, yet we only see it slipping from the "Bible's" pages several times, such as when a disciple asked Christ (perhaps with the "As ye sow, so shall ye reap" injunction in mind. . ."John 9:1-7"): "Why was this man born blind? Was it a result of his own sins, or those of his parents?" Or earlier, when God stated in the "Old Testament" ("Malachi 4:5-6"): "I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes." Elijah, as we know, was dead when "Malachi 4:5-6" was written.
Further, we simply don't know what may or may not have been removed from or added to our "Bible" during those major Catholic Church Ecumenical Councils such as those of Nicaea (A.D. 325), Constantinople (381, 553, 680-681, 869), Constance (1414-1418), Trent (lasted 18 years--1545-1563), et. al., either by dogmatic decrees, Papal edicts, or whatever supposedly infallible, irreformable, doctrinal pronouncements, remembering that there were even three Popes at one time in Church history (1378-1417), each claiming to be the only legitimate leader of the Catholic Church. . .for God's sake.
You're probably aware that nothing was actually written down about the life of Christ until 40 years after his passing. . .quite a stretch, vis a vis searching one's memory for details. (Think not? Try it, searching your memory right now for even one sentence spoken to you 40 years ago. . .let alone word-for-word recall? As for having God on speed-dial or telepathic-messaging, I think we modern-day humans have seen enough of self-styled 'Prophets of God' to question that--from televangelist Rev. Pat Robertson calling for the assassination of the President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela; to the sexual disgracings of Rev. Ted Haggard, Rev. Jimmy Swaggart and Rev. Jim Bakker; to Rev. Jerry Falwell stating "If you're not a born again Christian, you're a failure as a human being," to George Bush's claim that God called him to be President, or to invade Iraq.
Interestingly, the "Buddhist Canon," which is several hundred times larger than the "Christian Bible" (as Shakyamuni Buddha taught for 45 years; Christ, for only three), lists all 1000 Buddhas who'll appear in this particular "Fortunate Eon." Shakyamuni Buddha, the fourth, was preceded by Krakucchanda Buddha, Kanakamuni Buddha, and Kashyapa Buddha. The fifth will be Maitreya Buddha, due in just under 25 centuries after, it's taught, "the teachings of Shakyamuni have totally disappeared from the memory of humankind." Presently, he's still a Bodhisattva, residing in Heaven ('Tushita' in Sanskrit)--the same Heaven where the Bodhisattva Åšvetaketu resided before being reborn on Earth as Shakyamuni Buddha. Once the teachings of Maitreya Buddha fade, the 6th Buddha, known as Simha Buddha, will appear, etc.
Iin Edward Conze's translation of "Buddhist Scriptures," Conze writes: "Shakyamuni Buddha predicted that due to the inevitable degeneration of the times, his own teachings would last just 5000 years before disappearing from this world. People will grow more and more immoral, and their lifespan will gradually decrease, as will their health, stature and fortune. While such delusions as miserliness, hatred and jealousy gain strength, the world will go through prolonged periods of famine, disease and continuous warfare."
Just as "Christian Scriptures" teach that Christ miraculously reappeared three days after His apparent death on the Cross, whereupon his Apostle Thomas, doubting the resurrection of Jesus, demanded to touch His wounds before being convinced, "Buddhist Scriptures" teach that Shakyamuni Buddha, whose mother died shortly after His birth, left His body for three months, ascending to Heaven where He paid her His respect and gratitude by teaching there, before returning to Earth to teach. Lord Buddha, whose message of love, compassion, equality and nonviolence was for all sentient beings, without exception, also similarly performed many miraculous activities throughout the 45 years of His own teachings, particularly at Shravasti, where He spent each rainy season in retreat for some 25 years. Eventually, at 81, He announced the date of His mahaparinirvana (Sanskrit for the passing away of a Buddha, into Heaven--again, where the future Buddha, Maitreya, is presently residing).
Those with the open-minded intellectual curiosity and cognitive energy to investigate just what Christ MAY have been up to during the most formative years of his life--so inexplicably missing from our current "Bible" (which records Jesus at age 12 in the temple, and then not again until age 30 at the river Jordan)--may wish to use this mightiest research tool ever invented to school yourself, perhaps beginning by Googling 'Christ's Lost Years,' or pulling up Amazon.com and typing 'The Lost Years of Jesus' into their search facility, which will introduced you, for example, to Nicolas Notovitch's "The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ"; Elizabeth Clare Prophet's "The Lost Years of Jesus: Documentary Evidence of Jesus's 17-Year Journey to the East"; Fida Hassnain and Dahan Levi's "The Fifth Gospel: New Evidence from the Tibetan, Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian and Urdu Sources About the Historical Life of Jesus Christ After the Crucifixion"; the DVD by William Marshall et. al., "The Lost Years of Jesus" ; Jean-Pierre Isbouts' "Young Jesus: Restoring the 'Lost Years' of a Social Activist and Religious Dissident"; Charles F. Potter's "Lost Years of Jesus Revealed", and Alex Jack's "A Visit to the Land of the Gods: Searching For the Modern Philosopher's Stone, Tracing Jesus's Lost Years In the East, and Exploring the Common Roots of the Jews and the Japanese."
You don't have to be a card-carrying Christian theologian to at least read the efforts of those who've spent far more time and energy than you researching this 18-year black hole in our Bible. For example, in Elizabeth Claire Prophet's "The Lost Years of Jesus," she presents original translations of ancient documents, together with the testimony of four eyewitnesses who examined those secret scrolls revealing that Jesus spent 17 years in the Orient two millennia ago, where He was known and loved throughout the East as Saint Issa. She also covers the international controversy which arose when these ancient manuscripts were first discovered in 1887 in Tibet, and how so-called experts "proved" they did not exist, only to have them rediscovered in the 20th century by Professor Nicholas Roerich, Mme. Elisabeth Caspari, and originally-skeptical Swami Abhedananda.
These chronicles, oral traditions and legends of what Jesus reportedly did and said in India, Nepal, Ladakh and Tibet, prior to his Palestinian mission, are fascinating and well documented. Included are the personal accounts of those who actually trekked the Himalayas to bring us firsthand accounts of historic events long documented, concerning those 17 most formative and dynamic years of Christ's life. . .far more interesting, for example, than focusing merely on the final 12 HOURS of Christ's life, as Mel Gibson chose to do in his 2004 film, "The Passion of the Christ." Wouldn't it be nice if Mel would use the $600 million he enriched himself with on that blood-soaked docudrama he created--choosing, unfortunately, not to focus on any of Christ's totally positive Teachings for humanity--and make a documentary film on the actual evidence that's been found in Asia regarding those enigmatic 17 years. . .for Christ's sake?!
There will always be self-anointed Christians, unfortunately, demanding that no one be allowed to even consider what might have happened during those 18 lost years of Christ's life, but the Catholic Church, which controlled our "Bible" over most of the past 2000 years, already proved the absurdity of that approach several centuries ago (1616) when it claimed that the Italian physicist and astronomer Galileo had breached the conditions laid down by the Inquisition, in holding that the Sun is the center of our universe and that the Earth, in fact, revolves around it. Claiming Galileo's beliefs were absurd in philosophy, erroneous in theology, and formally a heresy, he was examined by the Inquisition, forced to recant, and sentenced to life imprisonment and religious penances. God help us from such closed and wicked minds pretending to speak in Christ's name, in any century! For if they are not the Antichrist, corrupting truth while masquerading in His name, such beings will do until the real thing comes along?
We humans are notorious quibblers, especially about our religious concepts and beliefs, which, when analyzed, have far more in common than those few aspects which have so often divided us. Interestingly, however, prolonged fasting seems to help overcome our human differences, making fasters more like these great religious reformers so many admire. . .more "universal" or "all-inclusive," which are Webster's definitions of "catholic." For example, anyone who has taken the time to place the "Ten Precepts of Buddhism" alongside the "Ten Commandments of Christianity" has at least a small insight into why one of the 20th Century's two greatest Christian theologians (along with Paul Tillich)--the Cambridge-and Columbia-educated Trappist monk, scholar, and translator, Fr. Thomas Merton, following nearly three monastic decades of studying both religions, brilliantly concluded with stunning candor in the final days of his noble life: "There are absolutely no contradictions between Christianity and Buddhism; therefore, I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I know how."
|FASTING HELPS US SEE
WE'RE ALL ONE FAMILY
The Catholic aspect of the Christian-Buddhist dialogue began after Vatican II, when Pope John XXIII proclaimed for the first time in the history of the Church that truth is to be found in other religions. After this, Christian monks and nuns were invited to develop mutual comprehension between Christians and people of other faiths. That took Father Merton to Asia, where he died in l968 during one such gathering, shortly after his good heart had beautifully expressed the Pope's insight: "My dear brothers and sisters, we are already one, but we imagine that we are not. And what we have to now recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are."
Likewise, this same wisdom-energy would later take His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Merton's Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky, USA, July 22 to 27, l996, for a monastic, interreligious dialogue. There, His Holiness reiterated that the very differences between religions are very good, for each religion serves the unique needs of a group of people. But, He added, at the same time, it's important that the people of different faiths should recognize our common ground, and from this place, mutually serve humanity: "The world is growing smaller and smaller, and thus, humanity has become one big family; we are heavily dependent on one another." He also expressed how impressed He was with all of the work that Christians have done in the fields of education and health, and He has urged the Buddhist monastics to follow suit, by spending half of their time in work that directly benefits humanity.
Another faster, Thich Nhat Hanh, is a contemporary Vietnamese Zen master whom Merton called a "brother" he felt closer to than many of his own faith and country. Hanh, nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by still another Christian faster, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., has authored 25 books as a blessed peacemaker between religions, including Living Buddha, Living Christ, in which he concludes: "When you are a truly happy Christian, you are also a Buddhist, and vica versa." (For example, exactly as the Ten Precepts implore Buddhists to refrain from destroying life, sexual misconduct, taking what is not given, false speech, and covetousness, the Ten Commandments implore Christians: You shalt not murder, commit adultry, steal, bear false witness, or covet.)
Christ's challenge to us all-- "Whoever would be the greatest among you, let her or him be the servant of all!"--has been taken completely to heart by many over the past 2000 years. Two among those are fellow Nobel Peace laureates of Dr. King, as well as veteran fasters. Mother Teresa, rather than checking religious IDs at her door, simply lived Christ's unprejudiced, egalitarian example by selflessly dedicating herself to serving the poorest of the poor in Calcutta (almost exclusively Hindu and Muslim Indians). His Holiness the Dalai Lama has published what University of California at Berkeley religious historian Dr. Houston Smith calls "arguably the best book to date on interreligious dialogue."
|HOW MANY AMONG US ACTUALLY ACCEPT
CHRIST'S CHALLENGE TO US ALL?
Inside "The Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus," the Dalai Lama offers His own Buddhist perspective of the "Sermon on the Mount," of the "Beatitudes," of the "Parable of the Mustard Seed," of the "Resurrection," and other selections, providing a new model of enlightened dialogue, respecting both the parallels and the differences between Christianity and Buddhism. ["The Good Heart" is from Wisdom Publications, 800-272-4050, or email@example.com. To read some of the Dalai Lama's (or other Tibetan Wise Ones') shorter teachings, pull up Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive, and open the "Other Teachers" pull-down menu. This Archive also publishes FREE wisdom books--yours for the price of shipping, or a donation; same URL--open the "LYWA Publications" pull-down menu.]
To demonstrate the type of compassionate magnanimity FCI continuously sees in Christians among its global clientele who've fasted as long or longer than Christ did, the following is from a Fairfield, IA, graduate student, 29, an African-born Christian on fasting day 46 of his 56-day Total Detox. Program:
"Dear Dennis: The "Essene Gospel" letter was quite awesome, especially for me, being one inclined to Christianity. Please feel free to send any similarly interesting letters if you have them. It is quite a pity that so many in the Church--with all the good intentions to follow God, be holy, and in fact dedicate their entire lives to God---have to suffer less than optimal health because a piece of their own Master's teaching is missing (hidden or suppressed from their doctrine, despite the 74 remaining "Biblical" references to fasting). With our world view as Africans and Christians, we Africans know that our greatest good is communal harmony, and through doing FCI's Fasting Program, I have become painfully aware that if all those inclined to Christianity would actually follow Christ's example and fast, their improved health might inspire them to focus on the real issues the Church should focus on--bringing their loving kindness, compassion and the Good News to the poor.
"As Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said: 'We have made our differences a cause for conflict. All human beings are fundamentally good. That is why you and I thrill not in the presence of the highly aggressive or the rich or the macho, but in the presence of Mother Teresa, someone so small you could put her in your back pocket and forget about her. However, what Mother Teresa meant when she once said she was '60 percent Attila the Hun,' is that compassion is not just feeling with someone, but is seeking to change their situation. Frequently, people think compassion and love are merely sentiment. No! They are very demanding. If you are going to be compassionate, be prepared for action!'
"As noted in Isaiah 61:1-5, for those trying to actually emulate Christ's example, rather than merely memorize his words: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn, to give unto them beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and the garment of praise instead of the spirit of heaviness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified. And they shall build the old wastes; they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolation of many generations. And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.'
"Dennis, I'm finally beginning to see and appreciate the extent of your/FCI's decades of work in globally addressing 'suffering,' seeing all these 'problems' in the world for which many merely pray to God, but for which we've had perfect solutions for millennia. For me, today is my 46th and final fasting day, although I'll wait till my night enema to see if I'll extend or not. It's been pretty clean these last days, but I don't want to decide in advance (a step at a time). Everything is going very well. The other day, I woke up with pain in my intestine and, of course, that made doing my morning enema more urgent. Everything was clear, except for one pea-sized pellet and a deceased, floating critter which horrified me, even though I've also learnt to celebrate their evictions. It was a flat-worm sort of thing, only a 4-to-5-inch segment and quite disintegrated. It must have checked out of the planet a while ago, but only came out on that day. I suspect that was the cause of my intestinal pain, as that was gone, afterward.
"This is another reason why FCI's Program is exceptionally unique, because it really gets rid of these intestinal parasites, physically starving and evicting them out of the human body. Having grown up in Africa, I can appreciate this more than most, believe me. It makes me cringe to think of what happens when people take allopathic, anthelminthic/antiparasite medication, but because of lack of proper elimination or bad elimination--which is the case with so many people on terrible diets--these dead parasites remain in the body for months!!! Thanks, Dennis, for being the custodian of the real Good News! Bye for now, (confidential)."
Our response: "From, (confidential), the beginning of Christianity, prolonged fasting was practiced by all the great Christian saints, with Christ teaching: 'Renew yourselves and fast, for I tell you truly, except you fast, you shall never be freed from the power of Satan, and from all diseases that come from Satan' (from His "Essene Gospel of Peace" teaching, very similar to His 'this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting' teaching in Matthew 17:21). Once we've actually done the prolonged fasting Christ and all great Christian teachers did and implored us to--not to mention every other great spiritual teacher our species' has produced--we're ushered into an entirely new level of compassionate possibilities, limited only by our imagination.
"In my own life, for example, beyond being blessed over the past 35 years to help end unnecessary suffering with FCI clients representing 220 nations--from all religious and philosophical beliefs--I was also blessed, back in the early '80s when the U.S. and S.U. were each building three nuclear weapons every day, marching humanity toward species annihilation, to chair a global polylogue among more than 4,000 of our world's most celebrated leaders and thinkers, asking them all four questions about what was then threatening all life on Earth, as the untimate issue of all time. Again, I was blessed to join with far more compassionate beings than I'd ever dreamed possible, eventually publishing the responses of 120, in the U.S. and abroad, in a book we all felt helped turn our species away from it's suicidal impluse toward mutually-assured destruction (M.A.D.). [Note: The book's cover can be seen near the bottom of FCI's home page--Fasting.com--next to the photo of me with my longtime friend and teacher the Dalai Lama, just above the letters from President Clinton regarding my continuing effort to help stop China's 60-year cultural-genocide attempt in neighboring Tibet, during which 1.2 million have been killed or starved to death.]
"The book, entitled "Voices of Survival In the Nuclear Age," as had been my dream in putting over $100,000 of my children's education fund and a good part of four years of my life into this project--inspired by my children and, by extrapolation, our world's--was read at the highest levels of power in every nuclearized nation, simply because of the positions of its contributors. Among those addressing my questions there were: Pope John Paul II and the XIVth Dalai Lama; then-Presidents George H. Bush, India's Indira Gandhi and East Germany's Erich Honecker; 17 Nobel laureates, including 7 Nobel physicists; the fathers of both the S.U and U.S. H-bombs (Sakharov, Garwin and Teller); many of the world's top psychiatrists and psychologists, plus representatives from most major fields, including Dr. Carl Sagan's contribution of the book's Introduction. As always, we do what we're able, wherever we find ourselves, and I've been more blessed than most in that regard, in my great good fortune."
|MANY FASTERS NOW FOLLOW
CHRIST'S AND BUDDHA'S EXAMPLES
Likewise, fasting has built impressive pedigrees in most other religions and cultures. Ancient Egyptians, Syrians and Mongolians believed fasting preserved their health and prolonged both youthfulness and life, itself. Mayans employed elaborate fasting rituals, just as Native Americans have always fasted while on vision quests, and often before hunts--even the 18 million tragically slaughtered by European Christians wanting their land, ironically fleeing religious persecution in their own nations. From the beginning of Christianity, prolonged fasting was practiced by the Old Testament saints, Ahab, Anna, Esther, Hannah, Ezra, John the Baptist, the Apostles, and the New Testament church. Christ, Daniel, David, Elijah and Moses all did 40-day fasts. To repeat, Christ taught: "Renew yourselves and fast, for I tell you truly, except you fast, you shall never be freed from the power of Satan, and from all diseases that come from Satan."
The above quote, however, is not from the New Testament, which was not written until 40 years after His passing, or part of the ferocious debate over Jesus around the year A.D. 140, which resulted in the division of the Biblical Canon into the Old and New Testaments, both of which Christians believe to be God-breathed and infallible. Rather, its source is in the first of what modern, theological archeologists consider the greatest Scriptural finds since--the Essene Gospels and Scrolls, the latter hidden nearly 2000 years before being found in cave crevices and clay jars near the Dead Sea, in 1947. (The earliest teachers of Jesus were Essenes--members of an ancient Jewish sect of ascetics and mystics which existed from the 2nd century B.C. to the 2nd century A.D.) Written in Hebrew and Aramaic--the language spoken by Jesus and His disciples--this latter, rapidly deteriorating discovery, presently belonging to the Israeli Antiquity Society, is now being systematically photographed with infrared technology, scanned, and finally digitized for enlargement and electronic enhancement. Using ultraviolet imaging techniques, all these priceless Scriptures and fragments are now being formed into a CD archive in a global databank, which religious scholars can eventually tap into for real-time discussions over this very same Internet we're all blessed to enjoy.
Extended fasting was also practiced by Martin Luther, 1483-1546, Ger. theologian, translator and leader of the Protestant Reformation in Germany; John Knox, 1505?-72, Scot. Protestant clergyman and religious reformer; John Calvin, 1509-64 (born Jean Caulvin or Cauvin or Chauvin), Fr. Protestant reformer; John Wesley, 1703-91, Eng. clergyman, evangelist and founder of Methodism, and countless others. Francis of Assisi, (born Giovanni Bernardone, 1181?-1226), Italian preacher and founder of Catholicism's Franciscan Order, reportedly did 40-day "epiphany" fasts every year prior to Lent (a practice more and more among our world's 2 billion Christians, of every persuasion, annually follow on FCI's professionally supervised 50-day Scientific Fasting Program, following Christ's 40-day example between the 46 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, recognizing they need five transition days on each end of that to skillfully enter and intelligently break their fast). Likewise, others among Earth's 360 million Buddhists do similar Programs, inspired by Siddhartha's 49-day example, culminating on the celebration of the birth, enlightenment and parinirvana of Lord Buddha (all of which took place on the same day of the year)--Saka Dawa.
In 1996, Bill Bright, who founded Campus Crusade For Christ in l951 at the University of California at Los Angeles, was awarded the Templeton Prize For Progress In Religion (which Mother Teresa won in 1973; Dr. Billy Graham, l982). Two years earlier, at 72, Bright had done his first 40-day fast (he'd live 10 more years, 1921-2003). In accepting the $l million prize, he promised to use it--in its entirety--in promoting the combined power of fasting and prayer among Christians, nondenominationally, explaining: "I strongly believe that America and much of the world will experience a great spiritual awakening. During my 40-day fast, I was impressed to pray that God will call at least 2 million Christians to fast-and-pray for 40 days, for the coming great revival."
Presently, in Western cultures everywhere enshrined with 'Golden Arches' and 'Pizza Temples,' the vast majority of all active Christians --including 1,058,069,000 Catholics; 391,143,000 Protestants; 174,184,000 Orthodox; 78,038,000 Anglicans, and 199,701,000 'other' Christians--still disregard Christ's fasting teachings and example, as well as those of Moses the Lawgiver, David the King, Elijah the Prophet, Esther the Queen, Daniel the Seer, Anna the Prophetess, Paul the Apostle, and myriad others. This, despite the fact that there is more teaching in the New Testament on fasting than on either repentance or confession. Jesus, in fact, taught more on fasting than on baptism and the Lord's Supper!
|NEVER DO PROLONGED FASTING
WITHOUT SUPERVISION, INITIALLY
Unfortunately, despite the instructive examples of Christ and so many great Christians throughout the Bible, the vast majority who today call themselves Christians pay no more than lip service to the 74 Old and New Testament references and teachings on fasting--not intended, of course, for achieving selfish interests, temporal pursuits, or impressing others with one's spirituality, but rather for what most Christian FCI clients, worldwide, refer to first in stating their fasting goals: "I just want to become a better Christian. . .achieve a personal awakening. . .get my heart and mind right with God. . .seek a closer walk with my Lord!"--humbling themselves before their God, overcoming temptations, seeking God's face, discerning God's will, increasing their spiritual growth, identifying genuine love, conquering moral impurity, and repenting of sin. . .all in the spirit of Two Chronicles 7:14.
All realize that one, single fast is not a spiritual cure-all, which is why FCI teaches those who wisely feel more comfortable doing prolonged fasting under skilled, veteran, professional supervision, initially, how to scientifically employ this magnificently-healing, spiritually-enhancing discipline--which has very different physiological, psychological, and spiritual experiences arising for every individual following Christ's example in undertaking it, because no two body-mind-spirit complexes are the same--for life!
Again, FCI takes seriously its responsibility to warn all prospective clients that of the hundreds of fasting books in print, every one warns against anyone doing a prolonged fast without skilled supervision, initially. For a good explanation of this, Fr. Martin Wolter, a Franciscan Catholic priest who did his initial prolonged fast with FCI at age 71--just a year earlier than Dr. Bright did his very first 40-day fast--put it in these words afterwards: "I had previously fasted, according to church rules and for religious reasons, but never had I undertaken a scientifically designed Program with supervision. Now, I understand how and why to fast sensibly, for whatever reasons. My body lost 15 pounds permanently, and my mind and spirit gained immeasurably!"
Nearly 14 million religious Jews similarly fast during their Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur, in Hebrew), as well as on other 'virtuous' days. Nearly 900,000,000 religious Hindus, just as Gandhi did, fast on the Ekadashi Day, as well as on Janmashtami and on similar holidays, and some fast daily during the entire month of Shravan. Likewise, 1.3 billion religious Muslims (only 20% of whom are Arabs) fast part of each day--sunrise to sunset--during the month of Ramadan. The Koran, universally accepted by Muslims to be God-breathed (Allah in Arabic) and infallible, was revealed to Mohammed by the Angel Gabriel in the month of Ramadan, nearly 1400 years ago. . .c. 610 A.D.
Unknown to most, Gandhi was once a heavy eater, encountering many difficulties in trying to control both passion, as well as taste. Initially undertaking fasting as a means of self-restraint, he quickly realized its far greater benefits from detoxification, heightened clarity of consciousness, and spiritual enhancement, all of which increased his ability to lead India's successful, nonviolent movement for both justice and freedom from Colonial England. Following a 1930 fast he described as "21 days of uninterrupted prayer," during which he felt "an indescribable peace within," he concluded: "There is no prayer without fasting!" Obviously using overstatement to emphasize his respect for the same combined power of fasting and prayer Dr. Bill Bright and all spiritual fasters have discovered, Gandhi, in similar fashion, used fasting to transform his thinking on food, itself (as do most all FCI clients, worldwide):
"Experience has taught me that it was wrong to have dwelt upon the relish of food. One should eat not in order to please the palate, but just to keep the body going. When each organ of sense subserves the body and, through the body, the soul, its special relish disappears, and then alone does it begin to function in the way Nature intended it to do."
The Bhagavad Gita, a text Hindus believe to be God-breathed (Brahma in Hindi) and infallible, explains this progression and where it eventually leads: "For one who is fasting the senses outwardly, the sense-objects disappear, leaving the yearning behind; but when one has seen the Highest, even the yearning disappears."
FCI's Founder/Director Dennis Paulson with his friend and teacher since 1982, the Dalai Lama, reviewing the manuscript of a book His Holiness requested he write on the Tibetan Crisis--with a Foreword by His Holiness--in hopes of awakening our world before China's 60-year attempt at genocide in neighboring Tibet finally succeeds--"Tibet: The Final Solution."
FOUR WAYS YOU CAN HELP TIBET are: 1) Express yourself in postcards or in letters to Chinese President Hu Jintao and U.S. President Barack Obama; to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as well as to your elected officials--U.S. Senator and Congressperson, State Governor and Legislator; 2) Join the International Campaign For Tibet (ICT) now--the principle voice for Tibet in Washington--which works worldwide to advocate for Tibetan human rights, self-determination, and cultural survival. Membership donations are $35, $60 or $120, and you'll receive Tibet Press Watch, a newsletter covering important events and activities worldwide. Send your check today to: ICT, 1825 Jefferson Place NW, Washington, D.C. 20036. 3) Join the Tibet Support Group in your community; call ICT (202-785-1515) for the one nearest you. 4) Visit the Save Tibet website, where you'll find the very latest news, email action alerts, etc. Be proactive now! Join the ICT's Action Alert Network immediately. Or. . .perhaps your good heart is more inclined to helping feed starving children?
Speaking of children, Catherine Bertini, head of the U.N. World Food Program, estimates that hunger currently affects 830 million of our 6.6 billion sisters and brothers, worldwide. The Global Energy Network Institute (GENI) estimates that 35,000 children die every single day from hunger and related illnesses, adding that these 13 million annual deaths can end if society initiates existing solutions to end hunger.
FASTING INSPIRES COMPASSION, through heightening one's clarity of consciousness while enhancing our innate spirituality. Thus, if reading this far has inspired your own good heart and fine mind to want to help save Tibet from cultural genocide, or help feed starving children, or help AIDS victims, or help eliminate poverty or, if you have only a nanosecond to click on a website button we'll direct you to, to save 7.4 acres of our precious Amazonian rain forests (free to you, as magnanimous donors fund your request), please click here to be hyperlinked to our Compassion page. Thank you so much for your infinite kindness in doing so, and lending a hand to those among us less fortunate, especially our most destitute sisters and brothers throughout our global village.
Beyond that, please enjoy this life with a good heart, and by putting your own spiritual beliefs into practice in your daily life, may you, too, contribute toward creating a happier, more peaceful world for every sentient being, remembering these words from my friend and teacher since 1982, His Holiness the Dalai Lama: "The key to a happier and more successful world is the growth of compassion." Your friend, Dennis Paulson, Founder and Director, FCI, Inc.
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