Day of Fasting

posted Feb 28, 2011, 6:26 AM by Jundo Cohen   [ updated Mar 20, 2011, 7:34 PM ]
To commemorate Shakyamuni's period of denial and fasting in the time prior to his enlightenment, one Day of Fasting may be a moving practice. Fasting is an old and powerful practice in many religions, and may service as a door to the Way of Moderation that became the Buddha's path following Liberation. For children or the elderly, a modified or half-day fast may be appropriate. The fast can be held on the first day of the Rohatsu Season (December 1st if celebrating Bodhi Day on December 8th), stretching from Sunrise to Sunset, or midnight to midnight. Following the practice of monks in many Buddhist countries, perhaps no meal may be taken after noon until the following day. 

Please be sure to check with a physician before engaging in any such practice if there are any health concerns at all. One may also engage in a token fast, a giving up of one plate, if there are health concerns that prevent a full fast. Liquids and light juices may be freely taken. For other tips on fasting for a day, there are plentiful websites, and here are some simple instructions:

The Night Before:

  • 1 Eat a healthy, balanced dinner. Don't overeat.
  • 2 Avoid caffeine, overly salty foods or overly sweet foods that might cause thirst.
  • 3 Get a good night of sleep.

  • On Fast Day:

  • 1 When you wake up,move slowly throughout the day, conserving energy and taking life slow.
  • 2 Schedule several periods of Zazen during the day, as well as Buddhist readings and chanting. When hungry, engage in such practices in lieu of eating.
  • 3 Teach the children the meaning of a fast, and press upon them that there are poor children in the world who are hungry for lack of food. Teach them that they should not be attached to food, should eat simply and healthily, and appreciate what they have.
  • 4 After the fast is broken, celebrate with a light, healthy and moderate family meal featuring "Ricemilk" or the like (see discussion here). During the meal, talk with your family about the meaning of the fast time, desire and moderation.

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