The more frequently one fasts the more crucial it is to prepare for it. That is why the celebration together just preceding the fast like last evening is most important. It prepares us to go on the fast together. But one must personally prepare himself. This means something like doing a homily for one's self before beginning the fast or early in it.

It is a glory to me that this fast comes during the emphasis on the Mountain of Care. In the River of Consciousness the bridegroom was with us. Not so in the Mountain of Care. He has gone away that we may learn that he is with us always. When you go to the mountain you are left all alone. This enables the detachment necessary to lift the mountain. The fast is the detachment for Golgotha, for the Mountain of Care.

The detachment from food is a sign of my detachment from temporality. The desire for food is probably the most basic, foundational propensity of man. Fasting from food is a symbol of detachment from everything else, that is every other propensity of man. In our day it is hard for us to grasp just how basic the propensity for food is, when we live in a culture of such affluence. There have been moments in history when this propensity has driven men to the eating of one another in the midst of tragic circumstances, when a group would have to decide which in their midst would die so that the others might live.

There are other deep tendencies in man which deeply attach him to the temporal. 1) The propensity to be honored: We spend a great deal of spiritual energy in our relationship to being somebody, our struggle with detachment from bein~ somebody. 2) The propensity to know: We are all intellectual beings and want to know every thing. We want to get our minds around all that is going on. 3) The propensity for community: This comes for us deeper than wanting to be liked. Deeper than wanting to be concerned over. We reach out for it all the time. Psychology has never pushed this propensity in us deep enough. 4) The propensity for harmony: This is the propensity for peace and quiet. We all want things to come together into one picture. We feel pain and unease when there is friction or chaos. We particularly hate ourselves when we have been the one who has injected the disharmony into a situation.

There are of course, other propensities, like having a good conscience and so on but these at this moment in history are mine. These are all like spiritual gravity. They are God's awful gifts that keep us concrete; hold us in our temporality. Now in the fast these gods have taken flight. In the fast, you levitate. You suspend gravity like Joshua the day he made the sun stand still. You levitate into the other world, onto the mountain of care, the world of agape. To live in this world is to be self centered. In the other world the indicative is authentic love of your neighbor.

This is my preparation for my fast. It is the battle with Satan beforehand. I name my fast: The Fast of the Mount. The naming of the fast is the symbol that you have put your sword through the heart of Satan. It's like raising the flag over a city that declares the city has been taken. The naming comes through such reflective preparation. When you have done that you really don't need to go on the fast. it is done. God bless the Past of the Mount and your fast too and most especially our common fast for the Church of Christ and the 20 year March.

SUMMER '72                      JULY 19, 1972
                                Wednesdy Context
                      SOLITARY            AN IMPRACTICAL   CONTENT    FORMAT*
                    CORPORATENESS       TASK        DESIGN*

THLI:   Yesterday we said that feasting and fasting go on Feasting      all the time. TWLI is that all the time we are
        and     feasting or fasting. Three times a day we feast. Fasting        The rest of the time we are fasting. That's just
                the way life is.

Radical Now we want to bring radical self­consciousness to Self these. On Thursday morning at 7:00 a.m. we will Consciousness begin with the Fast with an opening meal. On 
to      Sunday morning at 7:00 a.m. we will end the
Feasting        Fast with a Feast. (More about that later.) Only as we 
and     feast can we understand what it means to fast, and only
Fasting as we fast can we understand what it means to feast.

        Description     Let's do talk about the Feast for a moment! The beginning 
        of Feast        meal will be at breakfast and the kitchen is prepared to fix            us a fine meal. The Feast ­­will be simply fantastic. Each                      team is going to bring enough food for 25­30 people. (We'll             go out and buy it, or maybe send representatives to the                         kitchen and fix it.  (Will we have to take shifts at the                         stove?) When I think about      all the things we could have to                         eat ­­Tacos and tortillas; chocolate cake and ice cream,                        turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce; fried chicken and                         potato salad; cashew nuts, fried shrimp, and orange
                sherbet. Anyway ­­should be a great time.

        Solitary/       About the Fasting. Fasting is a Solitary/Corporate decision 
        Corporate       and exercise. A person never fasts by himself although he                       can. And he has to make the decision as a Solitary                              individual, yet he participates in a Corporate Structure and             there finds his power. Under the gaze of his neighbor and                       with a group with which to bounce over against (that is, his            decisions, conversations, etc.), the dangers of turning in on           the self are minimized.
        Not     Remember: The Fast is not practical. (We are so geared to
        Practical       efficiency and getting things done and well that it's hard                      for us to cut over against that). Let us keep open to                   experimenting, remembering that we are the guinea pigs on                       behalf of the world. What does it mean to symbolize our                         concern on behalf of the globe? What does it mean to be a                       radical demonstration of our concern for the world?
        * See attached sheet                    

An Exercise in             FASTING                 On Behalf of Spiritual Poverty                                         All Men

  1. Fasting is an experiment in the experience of spiritual poverty, designed as a corporate rehearsal of the state of detachment. We have attempted to recover the monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, taking the traditional practice of fasting as the mark of those who self­consciously participate in that promise. In the church, it is "reaped solely as a missional index of those who have decided to corporately be the People of God in history.
  1. Fasting is the intentional, symbolic withdrawal of a people for the purpose of total engagement. But man is both fascinated by the call of complete expenditure and fearful of losing himself in that same process. He seeks security, therefore, by attaching himself to instinctual behavior. To the degree one is attached to anything other than that which is unsynononous with any other thing, one reduces that part of life into an un­living, a dead, object. Fasting, however, has nothing to do with reality; but, rather, is symbolic, not of whether you possess much or little, but of the stance of nonchalance relative to "abounding or abasing."
  1. In the fast, one is confronted with one's own personal contingency. The frailty of human existence seems ever close and real. In fact, the drive to posit oneself in time seems to be itself a Herculean struggle. In one's mind, all images pass away. One has to muster every sensation to "reap his awareness of life at all. This is the human experience of bottomless concern for life. It is this driving care for life that undergirds the spirit for building societies.
  1. To dramatize this basic posture, fasting becomes a literal sign of concern for men. It is a ritual act that points beyond itself in the representational sense. Fasting becomes a means of grace whereby all men participate in and through the fast.
  1. Primitive man fasted when, with fire and tools, he was able to break the 24­hour search for food. His preoccupation with things was broken as fewer hours were needed for actual procurement. This breakthrough itself signified the dawn of consciousness which separated man from beast.
  1. The ancient church tradition of fasting has its roots in just such a recollection. She has used the calendar to remind both herself and all of civilization in an intentional way that consciousness of consciousness is fought for. And the great Feast Days always followed the fast, in which the break­fast was as important as the fasting. In fact all of one's conscious life can be understood in terms of a rhythm of fasting and feasting.
  1. Fasting as a community practice has its precedent in most world religions. These serve as times of deep reflection when a whole group steps back from the frenzy of life and reappropriates its own uniqueness and significance. This is experienced as a healing time for the community. Without the pause of detachment, our engagement lacks intentionality and creativity.
  1. The feast is the exodus from the fast. But it has within it the paradox of the desert. While it is a return to the bounties of life, it is a return to feast on the spirit. It is a celebration of the journey from unconsciousness to consciousness of consciousness. The fast has given us the possibility to feast forever in grace.
  1. The fast is built on a human dynamic. Take, for example, the experience around noontide, when during a day the tedium results in lassitude and indifference. Yet the craving for food grinds away. When we pull back, we see that our body drives on in spite of our indifference.
  1. The spirit within is really what is slothful and vacant. The growling within is symbolic of the inner perturbation that is constantly going on in our spirit. We are driven to seek others but fall back on our own disquietude. We continue to work with this strange rumbling within.
  1. Amid this double occurence we find ourselves able to stand outside of ourselves and observe with penetrating lucidity our own life action. Perhaps it is more like levitating the body as it seems to float around the room looking at what is going on. It is as if whatever happens, one can perceive it intently. There is sheer delight in apprehending and having the event apprehending you in every sense as you live the occasion.
  1. Fasting is always relative to a temporal concern as it comes out of a concrete situation. But the purpose of fasting is to discern the actual situation and not just the superfinal manifestations. One sees the situation as if through it, in order to expose or "smoke out" the real nature of the contradiction. One takes a second look and calls out or names the one block or points to that which requires his total effort.
  1. Directly after his baptism, Jesus went into the desert for a forty­day fast. The images he had of himself on high places, turning rocks into bread or seated on Caesar's throne were fantasies with which he had to struggle. These three temptations were personified in the one image of Satan. Over against these contentions, he remained loyal to his calling to be the Son of God.
  1. Jesus' disciples were chided for not fasting enough. Jesus replied that the bridegroom is always present, therefore the fast must be decisional, not mechanically religious. One always fasts within the Word and feasts on it continually, thereby has permission to take into himself all of the suffering of mankind.
  1. The intense awareness of one's own contingency prefigures the deathly encounter with Satan. As one's sense of time fades, the present hour intensifies one's own sensitivity. All of one's struggle and guilt relative to his own life becomes focused. And one realizes his only tempter is the rebellion Satanic force itself. The only decision one must struggle with, is the struggle to be faithful to one's own calling.
  2. Jesus left the fast in the desert full of the Holy Spirit. He now went forth to preach the message of the good news that the kingdom of God is at hand and is available to all. The realization of the other world was his one session. It was here in our midst, and now there is only one temptation. That is the temptation not to embody the posture of both worlds.