We are past mid point in this annual fast. It’s a good time to write; being clear of mind, and open hearted, even though the preceding days have not been so easy. It is interesting for me to see that although I had voluntary been fasting on a daily basis since the first of January, I found the first day difficult. I have been having 1 meal per day, and fasting, but having liquids, from eighths the previous evening to around 6 or 7 the next day. On this first day of ramadan I felt quite awful. It was difficult although nothing had changed, save an intention to fast–the psychospiritual intent to honor each day as a day of remembrance. Alicia even mentioned that I woke up with the breath of fasting person–how charming! All the previous weeks, this was not the case. Obviously the intention is the trick, as it galvanizes, creates purpose, eggs us on to perform the ritual.
So why, in this twenty-first century do we fast? All around me, I see fellow locals not fasting, mostly young but also many of the workers and older men–the women are still somewhat hidden from real view here, but not as overt as in some arab countries. However many do fast, and take it quite seriously. I’m never very sure whether I take it so seriously; I have modified it on occasions, like start and stop times particularly when in Russia; as ramadan started very early in the wee hours, and finished near 11 at night in some locations. This is patently stupid to have such a long fast, although I seem to be doing something similar, but on my own terms. In Saudi Arabia where the practice was pre-Islamic and was simply incorporated into the 5 pillars, the end of the fast is pretty uniform–around 7’ish– all around the year–bearing in mind that as it is governed by a lunar calendar, it loses 11 days as it retreats through the year.
The fast is primarily a time when we lower the internal (life) forces within us, by moderating our passions, or what these lower aspects feed off. So sleep, food, habit, sex, and using our higher (human) perceptions in inappropriate ways.
The aim is to put the animal and vegetal self into a subservient position by denying these two parts of ourselves what both crave for–food and nourishment, social interaction, and sex, play, fun, power and work. Instead we are single minded (integrity or staff). We are open to the Implicate rather than the Explicate (flexibility/snake)–so we involute, go inwards–not outwards with thoughts, stuff to do, social interaction. We place our sights on the target which is both the dove, but also the Remembrance of God. So we are internally present with the Caduceus, in its formal and non-dual characterization. Our lesser selves are subordinated with the material realm–they exist, but less so, and as the Muslims would say, the dunya becomes less real and important; in this way we have a much better opportunity to be single minded in our Remembrance.