From ancient times to the present, monks, hermits, spiritual teachers, ancient philosophers and healers have used the power of retreat and fasting to get closer to the essence of Life. Depending on the historical period or cultural and personal background, people have associated this with different meanings - "encounter with God", "merging with Dao", "recognising Buddha nature", "Detoxification", "Energy purification". However, regardless of the chosen path, interpretation or meaning, the ultimate goal is always the same - one returns to stillness.
To nourish the body, we eat, to nourish the spirit, we fast.
All people, regardless of religion or culture, occasionally feel the need to withdraw from the noise that life brings with. The longing for silence draws them into the solitude of a mountain, a forest, a desert or a monastery cell, which seemingly offer relief from worldly noise. However, when the external noise subsides, the internal noise is revealed, and people suddenly encounter the source of their own restlessness. When that is realised, the true fasting and the immersion in noble silence begins. To succeed in it, it is important to refrain not only from socialising and conversations, but also from internal chatter, daydreaming, overthinking and stimulation that arises from modern media (such as newspapers, social media and television).
Such abstinence differs from fasting as it is most commonly perceived today - as restricting only a certain type or amount of food with the aim of losing weight, promoting physical health, or following religious traditions. In fact, although abstaining from solid food can have intense effects on the body and mind, only if one fasts with the right intention and with awareness of all internal processes, the full effect of fasting will unfold.
During right fasting, everything fasts: our eyes, ears, tongue, mouth, body, mind. As a result, the body is purified, our senses are sharpened, the mind is cleared up and emotions are balanced. All this intensifies the effects of introspection, contemplation and reflection, which is why we seemingly reunite with the Source, Consciousness, Dao or God. But in fact, only the boundaries that usually prevent us from perceiving our original nature, breaks down and with that, the feeling of separation from the whole of existence also disappears.
If the conditions are right and the fast is long enough, a quantum leap in spiritual development can occur regardless of whether the fast was started for religious or secular reasons. Namely, spiritual evolution has nothing to do with concepts, definitions and names, so it does not matter whether the person who start fasting is burdened with concepts such as religion, tradition, theism, atheism, dualism or anything else. In fact, if fasting is approached in the right way, all of the concepts a person begins to fast with will burn out along the way.
After 40 days and nights of fasting, the greenery is greener, the smells smell stronger, the wind blows louder, the earth and the sky leave traces on the skin, food ceases to be food, words are no longer words. The silence of emptiness enfolds everything.