Even with John the Baptist and his disciples there was trouble. John the Baptist was an old, traditional prophet. His disciples were ascetics: fasting, praying. They were anti-life. There was conflict between Jesus and the disciples of John the Baptist. These sutras are about that conflict.
Then came to him
the disciples of John, saying,
”Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft,
but thy disciples fast not?”
Why has fasting become so important? Why has brahmacharya, celibacy, become so important?
There are two things on which life depends: food and sex. If you are anti-life you will be against both food and sex, because they are the very basis of life. Through food, you live. Through sex, the coming generations will live. If you fast, you will die. If you become a celibate, you cut the passage for the future generations to come. If celibacy and fasting become absolute, life will disappear from the earth. Those who are against life have praised fasting as a method, celibacy as a goal.
The question is relevant: “Why do we, the disciples of the Baptist, often fast, and the rabbis and the Pharisees do the same, but your disciples fast not?”
People come to me too and they say, “Why don’t you teach people to fast?” I am always surprised. Why are people so much concerned with food? If you study Gandhi’s life, his whole life he is concerned with food: food and the stomach. Eating and enema: these are continuously the two basic problems. Why is he so afraid of food?
With food, a fear arises. The fear is of sex. If you eat well, sex energy will be created. And if you don’t know how this energy can move upwards in your being, it will start moving downwards. If you don’t know how this energy can move like fire, it will move like water. So with food, the fear of sex arises.
Go and see. In India there are many saints, particularly Jainas. Jainas have a great number of saints who are continuously fasting. The fear is of sex – because if they eat well, energy is created. And if energy is there, what will you do with it? You cannot laugh, you cannot dance, you cannot love. What will you do with this energy? This energy will become a heavy load on you. It is better not to create it.
Fasting is trying not to create energy. So you live at starvation level so that a minimum of energy is created – and that is used by your day-to-day work. You never have any to spare. Even for a good laugh you will need energy, for dancing you will need energy. So live at the minimum, because if energy is at the maximum then joy will burst forth.