Question: Please tell me if we are in better contact with the Divine when we are fasting, drinking only juice and water. Does fasting help us to realise God?

Sri Chinmoy: When you drink juice you are not fasting. Many people say, “Early in the morning I drink a cup of coffee, and at noon I have a glass of juice, and in the evening only a glass of milk.” This is their idea of fasting. But to me that is not fasting. In true fasting, you can have only pure water and nothing else.

If you decide to fast, you have to know why you are doing it. If you feel that by fasting you will realise God, it is foolishness. The real name of God is Delight and Joy. If your Father is all Joy, will He ask you to torture yourself in order to come to Him? God is the possessor of boundless Joy, and we know that He is also infinitely compassionate. He gave you the body — it is His body — and if you start torturing His body, will He be pleased? Never! If you start fasting for God-realisation, God will say that you are walking on the wrong path.

But fasting can help us reduce weight, cure some of our physical ailments and purify our nerves and mind. Very often we eat unwholesome food, and the poor body needs some rest and purification. Also, when we look at undivine people and things, their vibrations enter into us from the atmosphere and affect our physical body — the skin, the muscles, the nerves. If we want to fast one day a month to purify our system, it is advisable. We need purity to appreciate God’s existence on earth. It is in purity — pure thoughts, pure deeds, pure consciousness — that God abides. Fasting can help us to a great extent in self-purification. And when purity enters into us, we go faster towards our God-realisation. But this is only the first step; fasting alone will not give us God-realisation.

So for purification you can try fasting — drinking only water — once a month. Now, I am only speaking from the spiritual point of view. I know nothing about your physical constitution. If you are strong and healthy you can fast; otherwise it is not advisable. But even if you don’t fast, if you are a sincere seeker you can, once a week, reduce the amount of food you take. This can be done especially on Sundays, when you do not have to be very active. On Sunday most people get up late in the morning, so they can easily forget about breakfast. At lunch time they can say, “Every day I eat. If just today I eat a little less, it will not hurt me at all.” Then in the evening, at dinner, they can say, “At lunch time I did not eat the usual amount, and it did me no harm. I am still quite energetic. Why not do the same now?” So once a week, on Sundays especially, if you can lighten your meals it will help you enormously. And you need not undergo a severe, torturing fast, which real spiritual figures do not recommend.