willing abstinence from some, or reduced consumption of, food, drink or both, for a period of time

Fasting consists of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for some period of time. Most of the world's religions promote some sort of fasting on certain occasions.

Fasting - A glass of water in an empty plate
Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, and kindles the true light of chastity. ~ Augustine
The Photo at Left Shows Miss Weinstein at the Completion of Her Thirty-Day Fast: the One on Right, Three Weeks Later
The Fasting Cure by Upton Sinclair, 170 pages (1911) (pdf)
The Master Cleanse ingredients
'Fasting Buddha' statue at Lahore Museum, Pakistan

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  • Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, and kindles the true light of chastity.
  • Fasting is the key which unlocks the Nature's storehouse of Energy.. Fasting rewards you with increased Energy. Each time you fast, you will make your mind stronger, and more positive. you will eliminate fear and worry... Fasting helps you to a higher life. Fasting elevates the soul, the mind, and body... By fasting you can create the person you have always longed to be. That is, if you demand only the best life can offer... When your body is cleansed by fasting and you are living a natural health life, you will discover that you feel wonderful all the time. This is because Nature intended man to be a happy, well-balanced person, free of fears, of frustrations, stresses and strains.
  • The experience of knowing the power of God that comes through the fasting. Fasting and prayer have been a gateway through which God has done supernatural things.
  • Fasting is, without any doubt, the most effective biological method of treatment. It is the operation without surgery.
  • We were with the Prophet while we were young and had no wealth whatever. So Allah's Apostle said, "O young people! Whoever among you can marry, should marry...and whoever is not able to marry, should fast, as fasting diminishes his sexual power.
  • Many people are already deficient as well as toxic. The longer they do without food, the greater becomes the deficiency. The Master Cleanse lemonade diet can more than match all the possible good obtained from fasting and at the same time will rebuild any possible deficiency. Ordinarily with fasting it is necessary to take it easy by resting or staying in bed. On the contrary, with the lemonade diet there is no need to become a useless member of society--you may live an active, normal life. Many workers at hard labor have found they are able to do more and harder work while on the lemonade diet than on their normal diet. After one has attained a clean, healthy body, and then desires to fast for purely spiritual reasons, thirty or even forty days can cause no harm.
  • On the manner of fasting a uniform rule cannot easily be observed, because everybody has not the same strength; nor is it like the rest of the virtues, acquired by steadfastness of mind alone. And therefore, because it does not depend only on mental firmness, since it has to do with the possibilities of the body, we have received this explanation concerning it which has been handed down to us, viz.: that there is a difference of time, manner, and quality of the refreshment in proportion to the difference of condition of the body, the age, and sex: but that there is one and the same rule of restraint to everybody as regards continence of mind, and the virtue of the spirit.
    • John Cassian, Institutes of the Coenobia (c. 420 AD), Book V, Chapter V
  • The belly when filled with all kinds of food gives birth to seeds of wantonness, nor can the mind, when choked with the weight of food, keep the guidance and government of the thoughts. For not only is drunkenness with wine wont to intoxicate the mind, but excess of all kinds of food makes it weak and uncertain, and robs it of all its power of pure and clear contemplation.
    • John Cassian, Institutes of the Coenobia (c. 420 AD), Book V, Chapter VI
  • Bodily weakness is no hindrance to purity of heart, if only so much food is taken as the bodily weakness requires, and not what pleasure asks for.
    • John Cassian, Institutes of the Coenobia (c. 420 AD), Book V, Chapter VII
  • Let us not believe that that external fast from visible food alone can possibly be sufficient for perfection of heart and purity of body unless with it there has also been united a fast of the soul. For the soul also has its foods which are harmful, fattened on which, even without superfluity of meats, it is involved in a downfall of wantonness. Slander is its food, and indeed one that is very dear to it. A burst of anger also is its food, even if it be a very slight one; yet supplying it with miserable food for an hour, and destroying it as well with its deadly savour. Envy is a food of the mind, corrupting it with its poisonous juices and never ceasing to make it wretched and miserable at the prosperity and success of another. Kenodoxia, i.e., vainglory is its food, which gratifies it with a delicious meal for a time; but afterwards strips it clear and bare of all virtue, and dismisses it barren and void of all spiritual fruit, so that it makes it not only lose the rewards of huge labours, but also makes it incur heavier punishments. All lust and shifty wanderings of heart are a sort of food for the soul, nourishing it on harmful meats, but leaving it afterwards without share of the heavenly bread and of really solid food. If then, with all the powers we have, we abstain from these in a most holy fast, our observance of the bodily fast will be both useful and profitable. For labour of the flesh, when joined with contrition of the spirit, will produce a sacrifice that is most acceptable to God, and a worthy shrine of holiness in the pure and undefiled inmost chambers of the heart.
    • John Cassian, Institutes of the Coenobia (c. 420 AD), Book V, Chapter XXI
  • The goal of fasting is inner unity. This means hearing, but not with the ear; hearing, but not with the understanding; it is hearing with the spirit, with your whole being. The hearing that is only in the ears is one thing. The hearing of the understanding is another, but the hearing of the spirit is not limited to any one faculty, to the ear, or to the mind. Hence, it demands the emptiness of the faculties, and when the faculties are empty, then your whole being listens. There is then a direct grasp of what is right before you that can never be heard with the ear or understood with the mind. Fasting of the heart empties the faculties, frees you from limitations and from preoccupations.
  • I can prove to anybody on his own body there can exist one natural remedy, i.e. fasting and fruit-diet.. Fasting is the master key to mental and spiritual unfoldment and evolution.
  • Do not forget that every seventh day is holy and consecrated to God. On six days feed your body with the gifts of the Earthly Mother, but on the seventh day sanctify your body for your Heavenly Father. On the seventh day do not eat any earthly food [...] Renew yourself and fast.. Go by yourself and fast alone and show your fast to no man. The living God shall see it and great shall be your reward. Fast till Beelzebub and all his evils depart from you, and all the angels of our Earthly Mother come and serve you [...] If you will that the living God's word and his power may enter you, defile not your body and your spirit, for the body is the temple of God.
    • Essene Gospel of Peace [1].
  • A feature of all spiritual traditions is the encouragement – sometimes requirement – that their adherents should undergo periods of fasting. Two examples are Ramadan in Islam, and Lent in Christianity. The great eastern religions also have their traditional times of fasting. There are several reasons for this. One of them is that it helps us demonstrate to ourselves that we can control our desires and appetites. Another is that consciously abstaining from food helps to atone for mistakes and sins.
    • Goodwill is Love in Action Newsletter, Issue 3, Nourishment, 2008, Lucis Trust Publishing.
  • When I began to think about the work you commanded
    I guarded my spirit, did not expend it
    On trifles, that were not to the point.
    I fasted in order to set
    My heart at rest.
    After three days fasting,
    I had forgotten gain and success.
    After five days
    I had forgotten praise or criticism.
    After seven days
    I had forgotten my body
    With all its limbs.
  • Nevertheless the children of God were commanded that they should gather themselves together oft, and join in fasting and mighty prayer in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who knew not God.
  • Gluttony would prevent any of us from being interested in philosophy and culture, as a result of being incapable of attending to the most divine part of us.
  • Prescribed for you is the Fast, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may deserve God's protection (against the temptations of your carnal soul) and attain piety.
  • It is much easier to go to extremes and to start exhaustive fasting, to encumber oneself with fetters—in general, to practise austerities—than to achieve vigilance and self-control together with complete preservation of strength. But without self-control nothing is possible.
  • Fasting kills the desire of the self and the appetite of greed, and from it comes purity of the heart, purification of the limbs, cultivation of the inner and the outer being, thankfulness for blessings, charity to the poor, increase of humble supplication, humility, weeping and most of the ways of seeking refuge in Allah.
    • Ja'far al-Sadiq, The Lantern of the Path, Fasting, Translated by: Fadhlallah Haeri. Ansariyan Publications.
  • I have not only found good health, but perfect health; I have found a new state of being, a potentiality of life; a sense of lightness and cleanness and joyfulness, such as I did not know could exist in the human body.
  • Since the days of Jesus Christ, who fasted for 40 days, men and women have abstained from food for many reasons; for health, for political ends, an for spiritual enlightenment. However, the average person, not familiar with fasting, believes he will certainly die if he misses a meal... Most people in fairly good health can go for many days without food but the body must have water. Missing a meal won’t hurt!
  • They took all my drugs and threw them away and put me to bed to start my fast. I never dreamt I would go without food so long, but my fast lasted for 21 days on just distilled water. It is during the fast that conditions a person may have, but is not yet aware of, show up, as the body begins throwing off the poisons.
  • Fasting possesses great power. If practiced with the right intention, it makes one a friend of God.
  • I think that fasting is not only a religious rite, but also a symbol of human rights, as there are many places in the world that are going through rough times, and fasting shows our devotion.
  • ... For the next week-end ... I ordained for myself a fast on Allen lines ; that is, no food of any kind and only water to drink. Realising the probability and also the inadvisability of hoarding my fæces for the prescribed three days, I took a grain of grey powder on the Friday night and a dose of Epsom salts on the following morning. Then I fasted, secundem artem, until Tuesday morning. On Saturday I felt well but I am told that my conversation was terse in matter and staccato in manner. On Sunday I felt very well, and endured my trial in the spirit of a Christian martyr. I was resigned. On Monday I felt very well indeed, and did my work at home and at the hospital with zest and vigour. ...
    Since that time, now many years ago, I have frequently repeated the experience, and always with the same result. The first day, craving ; the second, resignation ; the third, rejoicing and rejuvenescence. The result is that I can cordially recommend the exercise to anyone who is obliged to lead a sedentary life.
  • I found that religious visionaries such as St John of the Cross, St Augustine, Hildegard of Bingen and Julian of Norwich all recommended fasting as a way to clear the head and concentrate. Gandhi fasted in order to focus his mind. Pythagoras refused to accept anyone into his school who did not know how to fast. The Greeks intrigued me. Our religions are imports from the east where ascetic practice is normal, so I would expect to find a tradition of fasting there, but the Greeks were rationalists, the founders of western medicine. But here are Plato and Socrates fasting for mental efficiency, Plutarch advocating a day of fasting for any minor disorder, and Hippocrates saying that “to eat when you are sick is to feed your sickness”.
  • It’s important to say that fasting is not starvation. The anxiety and fear that attend lack of food in critical circumstances of famine or enforced deprivation are not present if you are fasting voluntarily. Nor are you beating up your body to get it in line. You are in control, but this is a partnership – your body and you. When I began reading about fasting, before it was my turn to try it, I found that religious visionaries such as St John of the Cross, St Augustine, Hildegard of Bingen and Julian of Norwich all recommended fasting as a way to clear the head and concentrate. Gandhi fasted in order to focus his mind. Pythagoras refused to accept anyone into his school who did not know how to fast.
  • So what happens when we stop eating? The body first uses up the glycogen stores in the liver. That might take 12 hours, or 24 hours. Afterwards, the body will have to use proteins (muscles) or lipids (fats) to produce the energy (glucose) it needs. The body is programmed to avoid breaking down muscle, and so the liver turns into a factory to manufacture ketones for fuel... But you don’t need to buy anything; just stop eating and your body will do the work for you... Sick cells, old cells, decomposed tissues, are burned away. This is the ultimate spring clean. It allows the body to eliminate toxins and metabolic waste at the same time as turning them into heat and energy... Next, the body will go for its fat reserves. Most of us have plenty of fat for the body to get busy on – and belly fat is an easy target... the process of ketosis is more than the body eating itself. While fasting, the body goes into repair mode... There is an impressive documentary available on YouTube called The Science of Fasting...the problem: fasting is free. Well, it’s not free, because you need to be medically supervised, at least to begin with, but there’s no money in it for Big Pharma.

The Christian Bible

  • So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and He answered our prayer.
    • Ezra 8:23.
  • Even now - declares the LORD - return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments.
    • Joel 2:12-13.
  • Is this the fast I have chosen? A day for a person to afflict the soul, to bow the head like a reed and be covered in sackcloth and ashes—Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Eternal? Is not this the fast I have chosen: To loosen the chains of evil, to undo the bonds of oppression, to free the oppressed, to break every yoke. Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, to bring the homeless poor into your home? When you see the naked, clothe him and from your own flesh never hide. Then shall your light burst out like the dawn...
  • God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men. . .. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
  • Then was Jesus led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He had fasted forty days and forty nights.
    • Matthew 4,1-2.
  • When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
    • Matthew 6:17-18.
  • But this kind (demon) does not go out except by prayer and fasting
    • Matthew 17:21.
  • Unless ye fast from the world, ye shall not find the Sovereignty; unless ye keep the entire week as Sabbath, ye shall not behold the Father.

See also

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