Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera
Significance of Fasting
Many people in the world face
untimely death owing to over-eating.
Buddhism, fasting is recognized as one of the methods for practising
self-control. The Buddha advised monks not to take solid food after noon.
Lay people who observe the eight Precepts on full moon days also abstain
from taking any solid food after noon.
Critics sometimes regard
these practices as religious fads. They are not religious fads but
practices based on a moral and psychological insight.
In Buddhism, fasting is an
initial stage of self-discipline to acquire self-control. In every
religion, there is a system of fasting. By fasting and sacrificing a meal
once a day or for any period, we can contribute our food to those who are
starving or who do not have even a proper meal each day.
'A man who eats
too much', writes Leo Tolstoy, 'cannot strive against laziness, while a
gluttonous and idle man will never be able to contend with sexual lust.
Therefore, according to all moral teachings, the effort towards
self-control commences with a struggle against the lust of
gluttony?commences with fasting just as the first condition of a good life
is self-control, so the first condition of a life of self-control is
Sages in various countries
who practised self-control began with a system of regulated fasting and
succeeded in attaining unbelievable heights of spirituality. An ascetic
was kicked and tortured, and then his hands and feet were severed on the
orders of a rakish king. But the ascetic, according to the Buddhist story,
endured the torture with equanimity and without the slightest anger or
hatred. Such religious people have developed their mental power through
restraining from sensual indulgence.
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