Questioner: I am curious actually, your perception on water fasting, or fasting and taking prolonged…
Sadhguru: See, she went to food directly…. ok, fasting, not food – good!
Questioner: It’s the opposite of food. It’s time away from food. And the benefits, if you believe there are any benefits from allowing ourselves to take a reset. And, to renegotiate our relationship with food.
Sadhguru: See – this happened in Los Angeles. A cardiac surgeon drove his – he was a little fascinated with his Ford Mustang – that was his car, and he was a little excited about it. And, one day it started coughing a little bit. So, he took it to the local mechanic – he said – some problem, please fix it. He said, yeah doc, come tomorrow morning it will be ready. The doctor before going to work tomorrow morning, he went there, and it was not ready. So, he said, come in the evening, it will be ready. He came in the evening – it was not ready. Said, what’s the matter? You said morning, I came. You said evening, I came. What is the issue? And, the mechanic was in that kind of mood, he said – see, you are a heart surgeon. You also fix engines. I also fix engines. How come you are paid 10 times more than me. So, the doctor looked at him and said – try to fix the engine when it’s running, let me see.
So, human life and human body needs to be fixed when it is running
So, human life and human body needs to be fixed when it is running. Otherwise it is meaningless. Alright, you are going to post mortem. What’s the point of that? We need to fix this body when it is running. If you want to fix this body when it is running, you must understand – because we are talking about something related to digestive process – these are the stages of this. Ingestion – putting something inside. Digestion, assimilation, excretion. These are 4 dimensions of food and the whole process. Ingestion – Digestion – Assimilation -Excretion.
Ingestion is happening, in today’s world, just about anytime, wherever they are, sitting, standing, anytime of the day or night – people just eat, because there is so much food. It was not like this ever in the history of humanity. But unfortunately – fortunately there is lot of food – unfortunately people don’t know when to eat, when not to eat.
These are 4 dimensions of food and the whole process. Ingestion – Digestion – Assimilation -Excretion.
As there are cycles in time – see, we know time only by cycles. If the planet spins, one like this, one spin – we say it’s a day. Otherwise you wouldn’t know. If the moon goes around we say one month. If we go around the Sun, then we say one year. So, our idea of time is essentially cycles. Our birth and death is also question of cycles. Only because our mother’s bodies were in sync with the cycles of the moon, we are even born. Otherwise we wouldn’t be born. So, our whole physical existence is cyclical. The entire spiritual process – we could go into that if you wish – essentially is significant because it is not cyclical. Because cyclical means, you are going around in circles. If I say you are going in circles, what does it imply?
Questioner: In a loop.
Sadhguru: You are not getting anywhere. Usually if I leave you in desert where – here there are some mountains, if there are no features, it’s just sand – then people end up going in circles. That means you are not getting anywhere. That means you are lost. So, the moment, you are completely identified with your body and your psychological structure, you will start going in cycles. So, in India, in the yogic culture it’s very very clear – this is called as ‘Samsara’. That means, cyclical life. Cyclical life, as good a merry go round it may be – you know, if you arrange it well, it’s a good merry go round – but you are not getting anywhere. Children can enjoy your merry go round. If all the adults are sitting in a merry go round, and going round and round thinking they are travelling – very tragic, isn’t it? So, that’s what happens.
So, the body is a cycle. Lunar cycles, Solar cycles and the Earth cycles, are very important for the body.
So, the body is a cycle. These cycles are very connected with the planetary cycles, with the Moon cycle, with the Sun cycle, everything. Lunar cycles, Solar cycles and the Earth cycles, are very important for the body. If one has the necessary awareness, they could observe on which day your body doesn’t need food. Every other creature knows this. Unfortunately human beings have forgotten. Because, there thought process, or their silly mind has superimposed every other sense that they have in their system. If you observe your system, you will see, on a particular day you don’t feel like eating. That day you should not eat. But no, you are at your friend’s house – there is a party – you stuff yourself. Even if your body says no, you stuff yourself.
See all the animals. Even if you have a dog at home, on a certain day, he refuses to eat. Both dogs and cats. Have you noticed this? He will go and eat some blades of grass if it’s available, and puke, and cleanses himself. Because he is conscious that ingestion is continuously happening, but digestion and excretion is not as efficient as ingestion. Ingestion is happening compulsively. But other parts need to work. Other dimensions of digestive process need to work.
When we say digestion – digestion happens in the whole elementary canal, not just in the stomach. And, assimilation also happens across the entire elementary canal. Now, excretion doesn’t happen only through the elementary canal. Excretion needs to happen on the cellular level also. Impurities gather over a period of time, and you become dense, both in body and head. If you don’t cleanse yourself, then it will pile up over a period of time. We call this ‘Karma’. Because when it piles up, it determines the way you think, feel, understand and experience life. People may not realise this. But, they will think – this is how I am, this is my nature. This is not your nature. This is the way you messed yourself, alright.
So, this cleansing process – one important thing is – to give a break for ingestion. Because other systems are largely involuntary – you can stimulate them, but they are involuntary, they are functioning. Ingestion is a voluntary process. Though unfortunately for most people it has become compulsive. It should be a voluntary process. That is, I eat when I want to eat. When I decide I want to eat, I will eat. My hand doesn’t decide when to eat. If there is anything [gestures eating]… anything [gestures eating]… You know, people are doing this all the time. I think if we leave a bunch of good chocolates around you, your hand will eat, not you.
So, ingestion should be a conscious process. To bring this consciousness, there are many methods. One is fasting.
So, ingestion should be a conscious process. To bring this consciousness, there are many methods. One is fasting. Simply denying yourself food and water could cause damage to the system. You must support it with the necessary practices. If you have the necessary practices, the need for food will come down. See, our energies are not coming only from the food that we eat. The sunlight, the air, the water – actually, if you, in the yogic sciences we say – if you really keep your system well, 60%-70% of your energy should come from these 3 factors – sunlight, air, water. Another 40% should come from the food that you eat. So, naturally food amount, the volume of food that you eat will compress.
I must tell you about myself – when I was young, I am a big eater. I never became big, because my activity was immense. But, today what I eat is actually 1/10th, or less than 1/10th of what I used to eat at that time. From the age of 19 till now, I am still the same weight. Same weight, what I was at 19. Only thing is at that time, all the weight was on my shoulders. Now because of this gravity continuously working on me, kind of pulled it down a little bit. But I kept myself up.
So, fasting as a process must be done with necessary understanding. If people don’t have that awareness – in India, we fixed the 11th day of the Moon cycle, you must fast. If you are not able to fast, you go on something very light. It’s called ‘phalahar’. That means, you go on fruit diet. Because fruit is a substance which is over 90% water. And, you must eat water, not drink water. This is the yogic science. As far as possible, you eat water. You always be conscious about the food that you are eating – what is the water content. Like, a South Indian meal if you eat – a cooked meal, I’m talking about – very easily 60%-70% water. In fact more, in some of the foods it’s much more.
And, you must eat water, not drink water.
But now the food that you are eating here [USA] – you are eating bread which was baked a month ago, probably. Is that minimum? Even in so called organic shops – it’s at least a month, or at least a week. Nobody is going and getting fresh bread. And anyway, the way the bread is baked, it doesn’t have water in it. Very very little water. So, of course you are compensating that with a bucket of coca-cola – something like that. Alright! I said, a bucket! But that doesn’t work like that. If you drink any liquid along with your food, the acids that are necessary for digestive process will get diluted. Your while digestive process gets inefficient. Because food when it goes in, if it contains water, it assists. But, if you put any liquid on top of it, you will see the food will remain in the stomach bag for too long.
We are very concerned about this, always – in the yogic culture and life, that we don’t want food to remain in our stomach bag for more than 2.5 hours maximum. In 2.5 hours time, it doesn’t matter what I have eaten, how much I have eaten, it must go into other parts. If it remains there, it makes you dull. It makes you lose your sense of perception. The level of perception, the keenness of perception is lost. Which you notice, if you eat food without coke, or coffee, or tea, or anything, you feel dull. It kind of pulls you down. A whole lot of people have developed a culture around it – after lunch, they have to sleep. It’s like – you went to the gas station, you fuelled up, then you can’t start the engine. Because there is a gas in the tank. So, that’s what it means.
So, to ensure that the digestive system is in full process – because for most of the chronic ailments that people are suffering in the world, the headquarters is in the stomach. Yes. For a lot of people it is shifting to their head. But largely the headquarters is in the stomach. What they eat, and the way they eat. So, in this way they eat – one simple thing to bring discipline is – maybe 1 or 2 days in a month, you go on a much lighter food, which are very simple and easy on the body. If you can just thrive on water, or just a little bit of lemon and water, or little lightly honey laced water – it will help. But if it is not possible for you, maybe a fruit or something, which is very very light on the system. The idea is to give digestive process, and assimilation process a break, so that rest of the body begins to excrete on the cellular level. It must throw out all the impurities.