Digital Fasting

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

Let me tell you a story. A man, Mr X, calls his friend, Mr Y, early one morning by phone and there is no answer. So Mr X keeps trying to contact Mr Y by calling him many times for the next few hours, but still the phone remains unanswered.

Mr X begins to worry thinking some thing bad has happened. So he sends messages — no answer. WhatsApp — no answer. E mail — no answer. Twitter — no answer. Instagram — no answer. Now Mr X really be comes worried. He begins to dread that something awful has happened.

So in the evening he decides to go to his friend's house to find out what happened. Around four o'clock, he walks into his friend's house, and there he sees his friend sitting in the garden in his lawn chair with a nice cup of steaming tea, reading a book, totally relaxed and happy.

Now Mr X, who has been sending messages and making phone calls is really furious. He says, 'I have been trying to contact you since morning, and you have not answered anything. None of my calls have been answered, none of my messages have been answered. Are you ill? Are you sick?' Mr Y says, 'No. I'm perfectly healthy. I'm just enjoying my life. Today I'm fasting.' Mr X becomes quite irritated. He says, 'Fasting is related with food. You may not have eaten, I can understand that, but you can at least answer the phone.'

Mr Y smiles and says, 'Listen, today is my fasting day. It means fasting from digital consumption. Today I don't touch my phone. Today I don't look at my messages. Today I don't look at the social media. Today I don't look at my account. Today I just put the phone aside and become myself. I take up a book which I want to read, and read it. I spend time with my family, laughing, playing, going out to places with them; I am not just caught up looking at my phone.'

We have become so dependent and weak that we cannot live without a digital input for more than a few minutes to couple of hours. Can we break that pattern and become contained in ourselves? Instead of dissipating the energies outside, can we retain the energy and go through a process of self-awareness, self-discovery? Can we connect with the sense of happiness that is our internal feeling?

—1 January 2018, Ganga Darshan, Munger