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Fasting or Depriving? A Reflection on Self Restriction As A Response To The Pandemic & As A Deeper Stance

By | Ahmed Karim

I was wondering, if some things are best said and held, only in containers of the mind, in alcoves of the heart, in the palms of the generous, who can choose to keep their palms somewhat empty, so that they can receive things with grace.

I sense that grace (and perhaps Grace too) has a lot to do with emptiness; not a dry, deprived, state of lack sort of emptiness, but a pregnant sort of emptiness; a being relatively empty of social world objects and introjects kind of emptiness; an emptiness of the sort of thinking (I like to call it object-oriented thinking) whose nature seems to be a feverish clinging, to states, memory, ideas and notions of self and images of self, that have got cathected with social world objects or a sense of security. To me, the experience of self that this sort of thinking creates, has the disembodied quality, of a ‘story’ , drama that is playing and in which I seem to be the actor, but its an illusion-I am not, I am closer to a ‘Hungry Ghost ‘- ever insecure, ever grasping. The more the ‘I’ ghost clings, the stronger the desire for objects, the deeper this pattern and object-oriented thinking, the more un-substantive becomes my life, the more distanced from any real humanness, then more disembodied and less removed from the sensuousness of the human experience, especially feeling, warmth, emotions and vulnerability. I become one of the many objects in the world of social world objects, even as I strive, desire , acquire and so on. Inside, I feel ironically, even more deprived or fear ridden and insecure.

I attended a group dialogue yesterday with Ritambhara and it became clear to me that the way out was fasting. Not depriving, but fasting. Not starving, but fasting. Not only the ‘food for body’ sort of fasting, but ‘food for thought’ sort of fasting. Fasting, I realized is not momentary denying, and then gorging. It is not a one off thing, but a stance. I realized that I have held such a stance, off and on, over many many years, even though, it seemed to most people that I hadn’t fasted for more than a few days in my life.

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