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Thread: Fasting and Buddhism

  1. #1

    Fasting and Buddhism

    Personally I have had some success this year using intermittent fasting / calorie restriction for weight loss, I've lost 30lbs this year and kept it off even after returning to normal eating many monthes ago.

    I'm also a bit interested in the spiritual side of fasting and know many religions use it in a variety of ways.

    I am familiar with the tradition among Theravadan monastics to fast every day after noon until the next morning . . from my understanding this is part of their precepts and stems from ancient tradition perhaps as far back as the time of Buddha's.

    Any one familiar of any information on this topic and how it relates to Buddhism or Zen ?

  2. #2

    Re: Fasting and Buddhism

    Quote Originally Posted by Gregor
    Personally I have had some success this year using intermittent fasting / calorie restriction for weight loss, I've lost 30lbs this year and kept it off even after returning to normal eating many monthes ago.

    I'm also a bit interested in the spiritual side of fasting and know many religions use it in a variety of ways.

    I am familiar with the tradition among Theravadan monastics to fast every day after noon until the next morning . . from my understanding this is part of their precepts and stems from ancient tradition perhaps as far back as the time of Buddha's.

    Any one familiar of any information on this topic and how it relates to Buddhism or Zen ?
    Hi Greg,

    I think a bit of healthful fasting is an excellent practice from time to time ... and certainly we can all do with less even in the day to day (the Japanese have a lovely expression for this: "Hara Hachi-bu", which means eating only until one is 80% sated). Looking at my wasteline, I such give that more of a try (Zazen does not burn a lot of calories!)

    In cold, northern Buddhist countries such as China and Japan ... where a monk's physical labors during the day came to be more central than the warm, mendicant's life of India and southern countries ... an "exception" was made to the Buddha's rule. There was an evening meal, but it was not called a "meal" ...

    The Zen term for the evening meal—yakuseki—literally means “medicine stone.” Originally Buddhist monks in india ate only once a day, and the meal was required to be finished before noon. This rule was enforced with surprising strictness: past noon, monks were forbidden even to swallow bits of food stuck between their teeth or oil left on their tongue or lips. Eventually, in Chinese Chan monasteries the number of meals per day was increased to two, one in the morning and one at noon. In the evening it was the practice to place a heated stone on the belly to soothe pangs of hunger. This stone was called the “medicine stone.” Only the name survived to later ages, eventually becoming the accepted term for the evening meal.

    In a Zen monastery the evening meal is not a formal meal, and so does not involve the sacred Buddha bowl.
    But in any case ... all things in moderation, seeking the healthy and avoiding the harmful.

    And a bit of healthy fasting as a lesson in dropping attachments and desires ... excellent practice.

    Gassho, Jundo

  3. #3

    Re: Fasting and Buddhism

    Thanks for the information, very interesting and helpful.

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