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Lent/Abstinence/Fasting

Some of my Christian friends are giving up bad and not so bad habits for Lent and I was wondering if there was a Buddhist equivalent. One way I could offer my support with signing into the God business and the whole sackcloth and ashes malarkey.

Comments

  • Abstinence, such as it is in Buddhism, is a life-long commitment, not a seasonal exercise. If you take the 5th precept, for example, you abstain from intoxicating substances. Some make a commitment to vegetarianism as a way of life. If you're not already a vegetarian, OP, you could do it for Lent, if you want to be supportive of your friends' discipline for the season.

    dhammachicklobster
  • Already veggie, I've been following the 5 since before I became a Buddhist apart from wine so I suppose that's going to be my 'thing'. I always took it as 'train to abstain' so 40/40 will do me good.

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    Buddhism has Vassa which some Buddhists use as a time to give something up for a three month period.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vassa

    Dakinidhammachicklobster
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    edited February 28

    You might also consider taking the 8 precepts as well if you are feeling confident in the 5 and have been practicing them regularly (within how they fit into your practice, of course).

    I think giving up something can be good. But I think it should take some reflection and in Christianity it's suppose to be a sacrifice. I've always found it less-than-sacrificial to give up meat on Friday (only to go to the church to have Friday Fish Fry). For most I know, it is simply a practice they do because they church encourages them to. When I've always understood that they should reflect on things they are attached to and give it up in sacrifice in vague comparison to the sacrifice Christ made with his life. So, to give up meat and then eat fish doesn't seem like much of a sacrifice, OR an opportunity to broaden one's practice.

    So for me, when I do it, that is what I am looking at. I try to take a harder look at the things I am attached to and give them up for a time. Because i'm not just looking to do it because someone says to, but because I want to learn from the experience of my attachment to that "thing" and then from giving it up.

    I always thought it would be nice for women to give up their makeup for lent. Or for someone to give up their smart phone. Or tv. Or extra time to oneself in order to devote that time in service to others. The things you cherish the most. What if you gave up one of those for 40 days?

    lobsterdhammachick
  • Applying a 'Buddhist take' on Christian practices makes them palatable and far more effective as @karasti intimates. There is a difference between going through the motions of a practice and understanding and benefiting from and widening their potential.
    https://www.urbandharma.org/udharma9/fasting.html

    dhammachick
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited February 28

    I applaud the Times for publishing such an article, but Dr Michael Mosely amply illustrated this apparent sensation over 6 years ago. His innovative "diet" became known as the 5:2, or 'fast' diet. Recent research has merely extended the period but Mosely himself opined then, that a more prolonged reduction of calories could bring more rewarding results... Seems someone listened....

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited February 28

    The thing is fasting for a long time has not been fashionable. Doctors as a group have been advocating a "healthy", regular food supply, and have even frowned on things such as the Paleo natural diet. So it's interesting to see them come around to acknowledging the benefits of a regular fast.

    Food is one of my weaknesses, so I've not yet tried a fast myself, but I'm very tempted. It would be good for me to shed a few kilo's, and this would fit into the program.

  • I have been a student of Natural Hygiene for quite a while. In the US fasting has a long and interesting history. When I was growing up I had the advantage of meeting those who had turned to fasting when allopathic medicine had failed to help them. Their stories were inspiring. One thing to keep in mind is this. To preserve the benefits of weight loss via fasting you have to change your ways of eating. Health is wealth.

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @FairyFeller said:
    Some of my Christian friends are giving up bad and not so bad habits for Lent and I was wondering if there was a Buddhist equivalent. One way I could offer my support with signing into the God business and the whole sackcloth and ashes malarkey.

    Maybe less time on the internet? :p

    Shoshin
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    The idea that we need 2000 calories a day is absurd and way too much for most people. My overnight-morning fast is typically about 15 hours. I usually only eat 2 meals a day. I've never done an extended fast because I get hangry and while I'm sure it passes, I have kids and family to manage, so being dizzy and cranky from hunger initially is not something I am willing to put everyone through, lol. I don't worry about following a "diet" whether for weight loss or to have a schedule to follow. I eat when my body needs, which differs by season. I eat around 85% plants, usually the ones in season (though in MN nothing is in season from Oct to May). We keep a garden and we forage from Spring to Fall.

    Whether one chooses to go vegetarian or not, almost all Americans would benefit from significantly increasing the variety and amount of veggies they eat, which mostly always reduces your calories. I find that fasting from particular foods works well for me, whether I do a month of a vegan diet, give up alcohol for months, or whatever.

    BunkslobsterLinc
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    Jews have a few fast days during the year. I can only fast for 5-8 hours due to my illness and low blood sugar. But if people fast for health issues or for important reasons for them, kudos to them.

    BunkslobsterTigger
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Bravo @Tosh however there is also active fasting. For example I take up more eating fruit and non sweetened drinks. At the moment I am into pears. So more fruit just means a junk snack fast.

    The longest I have done a water only, no food fast is five days. You want to appreciate food or know how sweet water is? Fast! B)

    Another example: meditation is a 'mind fast' but we can also consume more helpful mind nutrition (yep all dukkha but a healthy ego is a good working base). As well as a daily sit I have been using positive affirmation hypnosis videos fromYoutube ... led meditations are similar in content ...

    This sort of thing:

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    The Dairy Lama has given up ice-cream for Lent, which is quite impressive given that he works in the freezer section at Tesco. :p

    Tiggerdhammachicksilver
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    @FairyFeller said:
    Some of my Christian friends are giving up bad and not so bad habits for Lent and I was wondering if there was a Buddhist equivalent. One way I could offer my support with signing into the God business and the whole sackcloth and ashes malarkey.

    In a way, yes. Every full moon day in Theravada, for example, some lay people observe the eight precepts as an extra means of practice, abstaining from certain things while intensifying their meditation practice in order to help 'cleanse the defiled mind' (AN 3.70).

    kerance
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