Is our body fast becoming an ego feast?
Suppose we fast strictly on sacred days, abstaining even from water. When we see others eating normally, we may look down at them, thinking, “These people are so attached; I am so spiritually advanced.” By such thinking, we give a veritable feast for our ego and lose the fast’s spiritual benefits. Why? Because the purpose of fasting, and indeed of all spiritual practices, is to increase our desire for the supreme spiritual reality, Krishna (Bhagavad-gita 12.09).
Fasting is meant to remove the distraction of food and reinforce our focus on Krishna. But if we use fasting to contemplate not our Lord’s glory, but our own glory as great self-controllers, then such fasting can distract us from spiritual growth.
How, then, can we fast while also holding fast to our Lord? By remembering that our capacity to do austerity doesn’t in itself demonstrate spiritual growth. Why not? Because that capacity may have come from our past karma. Just as some people have a higher IQ than others, just as some people have better looks than others, just as some people are born richer than others, so too may some people be born with greater renunciation than others. Why are some people born smarter, prettier or wealthier than others? Because of their past karma. That cause can apply to renunciation too.
Knowledge, beauty, wealth and renunciation are all among Krishna’s defining attributes. We humans get a fraction of these attributes based on our past karma. Just as the presence of wealth doesn’t necessarily demonstrate spiritual growth, neither does the presence of renunciation. Still, both can be used to pursue such growth.
When our renunciation helps us become more absorbed in Krishna’s glories and less concerned about our own glories, then it nourishes our devotion.
Fast to focus on the Lord, not to give the ego a feast.
Think it over:
- How can our body fast become an ego feast?
- What is the purpose of fasting?
- How can we ensure that our austerities nourish our devotion?
12.09: My dear Arjuna, O winner of wealth, if you cannot fix your mind upon Me without deviation, then follow the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga. In this way develop a desire to attain Me.
To know more about this verse, please click on the image
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