Self-denial opens the door to self-fulfillment ()

by November 10, 2011

Whenever spiritual wisdom-traditions encourage us to perform any act of self-denial like fasting on certain holy days, the purpose is not self-torture, but self-fulfillment. Fulfilling our bodily demands is necessary for survival, but not sufficient for satisfaction. Satisfaction comes only by the fulfillment of our spiritual necessity of a loving connection with the reservoir of all satisfaction, God. However, as long as we are caught up in catering to bodily demands– as we normally are, we neglect our spiritual necessity and miss out on the lasting fulfillment thereof.

The scriptures recommend acts of self-denial to gently compel us to relish what we have been unnecessarily missing. Self-denial checks our bodily preoccupation and forces us to look at the spiritual level for fulfillment. If we look by the right process under the right guidance, then we get so much spiritual fulfillment that we don’t even miss the bodily needs that we normally consider indispensable. That’s why, in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (10.1.13), the emperor Parikshit, despite fasting for a prolonged period, declares that he is not missing food or water because he is relishing the nectar of remembrance of Krishna.

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