July 28, 2012 at 2:49 am #66522
Fasting is not a requirement in Christian Science, and I love that, because I absolutely LOVE that Christian Science has no material rituals but instead that we are daily and consistently performing spiritual “rituals” and “cleansings” within. However does CS frown upon fasting? Because I think that in many ways it can also be a very spiritual thing! I think that it can sometimes enable one to more easily look away from matter and into Spirit, and to focus on the happiness and fulfillment of others rather than of oneself. What do you all think about this? I’m currently thinking about it!July 28, 2012 at 8:38 am #66528
If you are led to try fasting, I think you should! There’s certainly nothing wrong with it, as John the Baptist frequently did that, and even Jesus did that once (while in the wilderness). I can’t say I’ve ever done so all that intentionally, though every now and again I’ll skip a meal and not think too much of it. My own conclusion is that the less thought we give to food and material things, the better. But that’s the more important point, I think — not whether you eat more or less frequently — but how much thought you give to food. The only risk with fasting is that even though you aren’t eating food while fasting, you might (ironically) actually give more thought to it, by thinking about how long it’s been since you last ate, what sort of food you’re looking forward to after, etc.
I want to share two passages with you — things that Mary Baker Eddy had to say about fasting. Maybe they can help you draw your own conclusions. The first is from Science and Health, page 220:
A clergyman once adopted a diet of bread and water to increase his spirituality. Finding his health failing, he gave up his abstinence, and advised others never to try dietetics for growth in grace. The belief that either fasting or feasting makes men better morally or physically is one of the fruits of "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil," concerning which God said, "Thou shalt not eat of it."
So here, you see, she clearly points out that fasting does not make anyone “more spiritual,” and actually goes as far to say that the idea that eating (or not eating) has any impact on your spiritual development — your closeness to God — is a lie from the beginning.
She also has this to say, on page 339 of Miscellany (the last book in Prose Works):
Jesus said to his disciples, "This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting," but he did not appoint a fast. Merely to abstain from eating was not sufficient to meet his demand. The animus of his saying was: Silence appetites, passion, and all that wars against Spirit and spiritual power. The fact that he healed the sick man without the observance of a material fast confirms this conclusion. Jesus attended feasts, but we have no record of his observing appointed fasts.
I hope that helps you!July 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm #66530
yes, those are both great, and very helpful! thanks for the quotes by MBE Gordon. and also wow Manuel, 17 days of nothing but prayer and water – that’s awesome!July 28, 2012 at 5:06 pm #66536
Gordon thanks for your input, I could not agree more with the ideas presented I do believe that when Jesus Fasted he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to do this, it was not an empty ritual, but an act of obedience. Both of my parents fasted with good results to their material bodies, however they never seemed to connect to any concious spiritual insights or developments in relation to God.To not fear in relationship to food and trust our natural lifeforce to correct any ills if given the opportunity is a sort of faith in the original design of our maker. I have thought about this and decided in a way this had an aspect of applied faith to an Unknown God and therefore of some benefit. In my youth 5 siblings and I were taught that we “were what we ate” and that we should be mindful of what we take as sustainance. To do this gave us power over our health rather than to have blind trust in a medical system that was logically conflicted with it’s pharmaceutical influences (commercial); I have found this to be an incomplete truth. after many years of thought in christian science I decided that in the interest of “prayer unceasing” that we would consider our meals and their content. This expression of Love,considers all things,including, our stewardship of our environment, dominion over animals and our social conscience. It is amazing when considering these things how natural food and organic produce have a head start over commercialised and refined food products. Much of the developments of factory farming and fast food offerings were not happening in Mary Baker Eddy’s Lifetime and therefore not directly commented on. I do believe that if she was to view many of todays practices in food and farming she would encourage gentle consideration and prayer in regard to these matters. The bible says that we should have no anxiety over what we eat or drink, but it doesn’t suggest to give no consideration to our planetary dominion and the effects of our individual and social practices.
ManuelJuly 29, 2012 at 12:33 am #66537
I have been thinking a lot about your question, and I’m ending up coming at it from a somewhat different perspective. I like your motives for considering fasting. Christian Science certainly teaches us to look away from matter and into Spirit, to be unselfish, kind, and generous, and to find our own in another’s good. But I’m not sure that purposefully refraining from eating food is a way to help us do those things and take on those characteristics. And from looking at what Mrs. Eddy says, I get the feeling that she thinks it wouldn’t help at all. In the first quote that Gordon shared, Mrs. Eddy is saying pretty strongly that restricting your food intake is NOT a path to spirituality – and that believing it is, is actually a step away from spirituality (that’s what I get, anyway, when she says it “is one of the fruits of ‘the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’”). She also seems to be suggesting in other places that purposefully depriving yourself of food is not a necessary nor justified practice for Christian Scientists. On p254 of Science and Health she says, for example, that “God requires perfection, but not until the battle between Spirit and flesh is fought and the victory won,” “To stop eating, drinking, or being clothed materially before the spiritual facts of existence are gained step by step is not legitimate,” and “During the sensual ages, absolute Christian Science may not be achieved prior to the change called death, for we have not the power to demonstrate what we do not understand.” Also, on p 388 she says, “Because sin and sickness are not qualities of Soul, or Life, we have hope in immortality; but it would be foolish to venture beyond our present understanding, foolish to stop eating until we gain perfection and a clear comprehension of the living Spirit.”
I realize in these quotes Mrs. Eddy is advising us not to think we can give up food altogether while we still seem to be living in a material world, but to think that giving it up even temporarily makes us more spiritual doesn’t seem to me to jibe with what she’s telling us either. If not eating food gives us the power to feel more spiritual, then doesn’t that mean eating food has the power to make us feel less spiritual? But if we want to acknowledge God as the only power (and we do!), then it seems to me we can’t accept that fasting (or eating any amount, large or small) has the power to affect our relationship to God one way or the other.
There is a kind of fasting that Mrs. Eddy talks about as beneficial to our spiritual growth, but it’s about abstaining from material thoughts, not avoiding actions that are considered a normal part of human experience. So I guess I think that if you’re going for a greater expression of purity and freedom from material limits, you’re more likely to achieve good results if you focus on fasting as a mental, rather than a physical, activity.July 30, 2012 at 11:24 am #66582
I just wanted to point to a verse that was in the lesson two weeks ago that stood out to me as the spiritual definition of “fasting”
Isaiah 58:6 “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?”
In other words…
“Is not this the fast [as Christian Science defines it, and] that I have chosen [to partake in as a Christian Scientist]? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke [of material bondage]?”
I enjoyed looking at this verse as a definition, it gives perspective to the “prayer and fasting” of Jesus’ statement.
August 24, 2012 at 5:23 pm #67510
- This reply was modified 9 months, 3 weeks ago by Mike.
I love that, Mike! Thank you so much for that insight :-)
I also love to consider fasting as simply committing to the refusal to give in to the evidence of the senses. Quite literally, that is most often taken with refusing to give in to the ‘power’ of hunger. But, for instance, depending on one’s lifestyle, a fast from Facebook could be MUCH more spiritually refreshing than a fast from pizza. What if that refusal to give in to the evidence of the senses – or any attractive, sensual power – was a fast we could all explore?
I really enjoy fasting in this way, because it’s how we see healing – by refusing to be impressed with the evidence of the senses. ”This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9)September 5, 2012 at 2:14 am #67777
I love you guys! :)
You all so wonderfully painted the picture of the importance of gaining the spiritual sense of the Scriptures. As Mary Baker Eddy states, without this spiritual sense “[the Bible] can do no more for mortals than can moonbeams to melt a river of ice” (see Science and Health, p. 241)
So without a spiritual sense of fasting, I suppose fasting is as worthless as moonbeams to melt a river of ice.
November 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm #71233
- This reply was modified 8 months, 2 weeks ago by Ian.
I realize this thread is pretty much over and out now, but I was reading Matthew this morning and came across the following. This is Matthew 9:14-15:
Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?
And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.
The part that was most interesting to me was Jesus’ certainty that his followers shall fast. They weren’t appointed any fasts while he was abiding with them, but he assured John’s disciples that fasting was, indeed, necessary. A passage from Science and Health also came to mind. The following is from page 221, and by the way, this part is where Mrs. Eddy is actually talking about herself, even though she uses the words “he” and “his,” in order to try to be somewhat anonymous:
These truths, opening his eyes, relieved his stomach, and he ate without suffering, "giving God thanks;" but he never enjoyed his food as he had imagined he would when, still the slave of matter, he thought of the fleshpots of Egypt, feeling childhood's hunger and undisciplined by self-denial and divine Science.
The part that stood out to me was the last part of that, where she focuses on the necessity of discipline through both self-denial and divine Science.
I also don’t happen to think that this must refer directly to food, necessarily, though it could. I think it could refer to a whole host of things, whether that’s overeating, counting calories, alcohol, tobacco, sex, the stock market, political opinions, Internet obsessions, and so on. Anything that would take away our focus from being our full, joyful, radiating, loving selves, there will come a time where we have to fast from that and learn discipline, aka gain dominion over that.
At least that’s how I read it. I would like to hear how others might respond.November 13, 2012 at 5:13 pm #71234
Yes, I think fasting means a whole lot more than just not eating. I didn’t go back and read through all the posts on this thread, so this may be a repeat. When Gordon mentioned Jesus and his disciples I was reminded of this passage from p 222 of Miscellany. She’s speaking in regard to the boy that the disciples couldn’t heal. When they asked Jesus why they couldn’t heal the boy, he said that “this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” In regard to that phrase MBE says, “(refraining from admitting the claims of the senses.)” That’s really a broad statement. The senses make many claims–the least of which is about food! :)
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.