Wisdom of Confucius: Fasting of the Heart

Yen Hui: What is fasting of the heart?

Confucius: The goal of fasting is inner unity. This means hearing, but not with the ear; hearing, but not with the understanding; hearing with the spirit, with your whole being... The hearing of the spirit is not limited to any one faculty, to the ear, or to the mind.

Hence it demands the emptiness of all the faculties. And when the faculties are empty, then the whole being listens. There is then a direct grasp of what is right there before you that can never be heard with the ear or understood with the mind. Fasting of the heart empties the faculties, frees you from limitation and from preoccupation. Fasting of the heart begets unity and freedom.

Yen Hui: I see. What was standing in my way was my own self-awareness. If I can begin this fasting of the heart, self awareness will vanish.

Source: Quotations from Chuang Tzu (4:1, pp. 75-76)

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