Vanity thought #1323. Fast and furious

I’m not talking about a move that just came out, though somebody probably should. I remember when they first started this franchise there were reports in the media worrying about the danger of promoting illegal street races. The answer was that there was no answer, the movie made a lot of money and that was the end of it. Now it’s Fast and Furious 7 and, while they were making it, one of their main stars died in a car crash because they were driving too fast in a fancy car and didn’t make a corner. One would think they’ve learned the lesson but no, the pathos of daredevil driving apparently lives on.

That’s what mode of passion does to you, it makes you feel that life is cheap and millions in profits justify everything. Can’t argue with them, they just don’t see the value of human life when there’s so much adrenalin and excitement around. Their latest slogan was YOLO – you only live once. That’s what atheism does to you. Passion and atheism is a very dangerous mix.

But I wasn’t talking about the movie, I was talking about fast, as in abstention from eating. This week I decided to hold my second annual fast and this time it wasn’t a big deal. Last year I wrote several posts about it, detailing every experience, but now I just didn’t care that much. This time I also did a complete fast, taking only water.

Why five days and not ten or at least a week? Family birthday is coming up and it would be inconvenient to fast through that, I also don’t want people talking about it: “Why, what for? How much weight did you lose?”

By asking these questions people establish certain standards and values that I have to comply with but I don’t subscribe to them. It could be said that I had a cleanse, that shuts everyone up without going into details, but what was my own reason?

Nothing, I just wanted to see what it’s like to live without food. The way I eat I don’t really need a cleanse, thought, perhaps, I was taking too much soya protein lately, and it’s not good for our Kṛṣṇa conscious diet, some lentils should be off the menu altogether because of their high protein content. Meat eaters and vegans don’t get it and I don’t know how to explain it. There are no scientific arguments for that rule, afaik, and that’s the only reason they would accept, not what is said in our ancient texts.

Speaking of science, there’s an article in our local paper that says salt might be useful in fighting infections. Usually salt is considered bad for you and one should try to reduce his salt intake but a new study just came out and found salt benefits in areas no one looked before. That’s what always happens with science, especially dietary science. I’m tired of chasing organic and healthy food shops for best deals on chia seeds or quinoa, of that teff thing, their latest craze. It just never ends.

A friend of mine follows some health food nut on Instagram and his feed is always filled with pictures of various combinations of fruit and chia seeds. Don’t people get tired of being excited over the same thing again and again? Apparently not.

What these shifting diets actually achieve is ruining the body balance. A month of eating this thing, then a month of eating that other thing, then a month of not eating carbs, then a month of something else, and they always feel guilty about taking normal food. I once read that one of the main reasons for obesity is living under constant stress and there’s an actual disease caused by obsessing with one’s diet, affect mostly supermodels, I heard, and its nasty.

All of this made me appreciate our diet as prescribed by Śrīla Prabhupāda. It has everything and nothing in excess. The body learns to produce everything it needs and to hell with those objecting to butter (ghee) or even milk. When devotees start talking about food supplements I don’t get it either – don’t they have basic faith in the Vedic way of life and the prescriptions of our ācāryas? Raghunātha Dāsa Gosvāmī liven on a few sips of buttermilk and he lived until ninety.

That was one of the reasons why I decided to go on this fast – I just wanted to see, once again, what living without food actually feels like. It was okay. I didn’t take any fruit or milk, like last time, because I wanted my stomach to know right from the start that it should not expect anything. The body quickly switched to drawing nutrients from muscles and fat and feeling of hunger never really presented itself.

The body didn’t have a lot toxins in it so headache associated with the first few days of cleansing was negligible. Last time it was barely tolerable by comparison. Otoh, the sense of lightness and clearheadedness didn’t come either, and I was waiting for it. I mostly felt weakness.

Fasting made me realize how stressful life is for the body. First it needs to digest food, not to mention all the things one must do to earn and find it first, but when there’s no food around it can’t do anything. Chanting rounds had become too tiring, imagine that. It’s not as easy as it feels on a full stomach. Pacing around the room while chanting was out of the question – two rounds max and I needed a rest. Even reading was tiring. There was one day when I had four-five hours to read and I just couldn’t do it. Fifteen-twenty minutes and I needed a nap. I also slept a lot, up to ten hours in aggregate each day.

All in all, if you want to do any kind of devotional service then fasting is out of the question. Or maybe I wasn’t doing it right and my service wasn’t as spiritually uplifting as it should have been. Six Gosvāmīs didn’t need neither food nor sleep because they lived practically in the spiritual world. I can’t do that, no one would let me there, and there were no spiritual energies powering my body up.

I still learned that food is overrated, in a sense that hunger is a matter of expectation, not a physical necessity. If thoughts of food came into my mind it was still attracted to them but it was relatively easy to control. It was just like in Bhagavad Gīta – contemplating sense objects creates attachments. Not contemplating them keeps the mind at peace.

There was another aspect of it – quick temper. I noticed it on the very first day. While generally I was prepared to deal with everything, as soon as something unexpected happened I had very strong reactions to it, hence fast and furious. I tried to keep in under control and I don’t think anyone noticed but, from my experience, I’m pretty sure that renunciation really hardens one’s heart, and this is why devotees shouldn’t go into it. It’s the practice for impersonalists who are driven by the hatred of the world.

So, that’s about all. I wouldn’t give much value to my thoughts about yogis who are able to suspend all bodily functions for hundreds of thousands of years, when perfect. I’m nowhere near that and I can’t claim to understand how it feels. I do have appreciation for it but it’s clearly not the practice for this age. Saṅkīrtana is, and it turns out one must eat enough to engage in it. And so I will, until I decide to experiment once again – I still want to understand what control of the tongue is. Stuffing yourself with prasādam isn’t it, that much I know.


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