Jumat, 07 Februari 2014

What Is the Purpose of Fasting?

What Is the Purpose of Fasting?

Fasting has been a tradition among various religious and spiritual traditions since before recorded history. It is used to honor gods, to atone for sins, to show gratitude and even to promote political awareness. While every culture and individual has its own rules, fasting usually involves giving up food, drink, tobacco, sex or some combination thereof.


    Fasting has been mentioned in almost every major religious text, including the Bible, the Upanishads, the Mahabharata, as well as the Qur'an. The Catholic Church most commonly observes Lent, which encompasses the 40 days before Easter and involves giving up meat or animal products on Fridays. Notable days of fasting for Judaism include Yom Kippur and Tisha B'Av, which involves giving up food, drink and even water. The Islamic and Hindu religions are also known for their devotion to fasting.


    The most prominent function of fasting is for revering and showing devotion to a specific religion. Others fast in order to suffer on a physical level for sins that they have committed. Mourning is also another reason to fast, as seen among Jews while grieving for the loss of the Temple of Jerusalem during Tisha B'Av. Hunger strikes and peaceful protests are common political reasons to fast, which ultimately leads to raising awareness.


    While fasting is a literal, outward show of devotion, it is believed that it physically activates a real spiritual connection to whatever god, gods or ideals that the individual is fasting in the name of. This could have something to do with the weakening of the body and mental faculties, which then makes more room within the individual's consciousness for the spirit and its doings.


    During ancient and medieval times, fasting was a very serious tradition that was held extremely sacred among most members of any given religion. However, as time goes by these rules and growing less and less stringent. Depending on the religion, the level of involvement in a place of worship and one's own personal philosophy, fasting can fall anywhere between strict, flexible or nonexistent.


    Fasting has real, physical effects on human bodies that could be either healthy or unhealthy depending upon how the act is executed. After going several hours without food, the body no longer has any stores of glucose to run itself of. The body will run off of protein, muscle and fat before it finally breaks down and resorts to tapping into its own organs. Usually starvation sets in before this happens. While extreme fasting can lead to death, many studies have shown that moderate fasting can lower the risk of cancer and even slow the aging process.

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