In a circus there was a man whose sole qualification was that he could fast continuously for forty days, fifty days – and that was the longest time the circus would remain in one town. So for the whole time the circus was in the town, he would be on a fast. Doctors were checking, people were watching, but he would not eat.
The circus moved from one town to another town, and then it came to the capital, where it remained longer than forty days. And what is there in a man who is fasting? You can go to see him one time – after that there is nothing intriguing, nothing interesting about it. So after a few days people forgot all about him. There were many stalls, but because nobody was coming to visit his stall, it was placed at the end. Finally, people completely forgot about him. Even the circus management forgot about him, because there was no need. And after forty days, he continued his fasting, because he had forgotten to count the days. He knew only that when the circus moved from one town to another town, on the way they would give him food.
He was dying. And then somebody remembered: what happened to the great fasting man? The manager rushed. The man was almost dead; it had been ninety days. Ninety days is the limit for how long a man can fast if he is healthy.
They asked him, “Are you mad or something? After forty days you should have reported, you should have called somebody.”
He said, “There were two reasons: one, I have never counted the days; second, I slowly became aware that the time seemed to be longer this time, but fasting has become a habit. Now, eating is troublesome. So whenever you change towns, it is very hard for me. Forty days I am hungry. For seven days while you are changing towns, for me to put the whole mechanism back into eating and digesting is such a torture. I felt relieved that the time had become longer.”
And with hunger there are a few points to remember. If you fast, you will feel hunger for only three days. After the third day, hunger will start disappearing because the body has an emergency arrangement; for three days it waits for food, it cannot wait longer. After the third day it starts eating itself. That’s why you start losing weight. Have you ever wondered where that weight disappears to? Fasting is a kind of cannibalism: eating yourself. The worst kind of cannibalism – eating somebody else one can understand, but eating yourself…
But these were your saints. Their qualities were all in the service of death, not in the service of life. I want my sannyasins to be saints with a new quality: the quality that serves life, the quality that nourishes life, affirms life, that makes life a little more beautiful, brings a few more flowers to it.
Meditation in the past has been life negative: renounce life and everything that makes life worth living. To me, meditation is just the opposite of what it has been up to now. Meditation is a silent heart, a peaceful mind which can make life more lovable, more livable, which can make life richer in every dimension.