If this man eats even once in his mind, the whole thing is finished, it becomes totally useless. Not eating means not only abstaining from eating physically, but even mentally. If a man could mindfully stay without eating food for twelve hours, he would have gone a long way in maintaining his resolve. Not eating is not significant by itself – it simply works as a peg for the man to hang his will on. After twelve hours the quality of his being is sure to change.
When I see a man has fasted for years and yet the quality of his being has not changed, I know he must have been eating in his mind, otherwise the quality would have changed. He has been fasting all through his life – going through this fast and that fast – and yet nowhere does he show any change of quality. The man has remained the same. He is like one who sets a lock and then comes back again to check whether it is locked or not.
I know such a man. He lives across from my house. He fasts, worships regularly, but he is a man of such poor will. I have watched him many times. He will lock his door, walk ten steps, then come back and shake the lock to be sure. I asked him, “Why do you do this? You locked the door yourself!”
He said, “Often I am not sure whether I locked it or not, so I come back to double check. And what’s the harm in checking at least once?”
I said, “Having already checked once, doesn’t it occur to you the second time whether or not you have indeed gone back once and seen to the lock?”
He said, “How did you know? It does occur to me indeed. Not only once but twice, even three times I feel like going back and checking the lock – but I feel embarrassed to do it.”
Here is a man who fasts, but he does not know what fasting means. The purpose of fasting is to bring decisiveness, to bring a decision-making power. Having made the decision once, a man should not turn back. And whosoever makes such a decision – which proves to be a point of no return – in the life of such a man nothing remains asleep, everything is awakened.