top of page

The power of "fasting the mind"

Updated: Jan 29, 2022


You can also listen to the podcast version via Apple, Spotify, or this audio player:


"This is what the fasting the mind is. You have to get rid of this ability to constantly dissect the world up into this and that based on your own opinion."

Curt Mercadante interviews Jason Gregory, an author and philosopher specializing in Eastern and Western philosophy, comparative religion, psychology, cognitive science, metaphysics, and ancient cultures.

In this clip from their full interview, Gregory draws on the wisdom shared in his book, Fasting the Mind: Spiritual Exercises for Psychic Detox, to explain the power of the "fasting the mind" exercise.

As Gregory explains, "fasting of the mind" is a concept/practice taken from the writings of Taoist sage Chuang-tzu, who lived during China's Warring States period is considered the second-most famous Taoist writer (behind Lao-Tzu, author of the Tao Te Ching).

His translation of Chuang-tzu's writings, Thomas Merton writes:

“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 that is only in the ears is one thing. The hearing of the understanding is another. But 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.”

"So now why he says that is because it's all well and good to discern between "this-and-that, but usually what happens is we overlay that with an artificial linguistic framework that we've been taught with, which creates "right and wrong," "good and bad," all based on how we see the world personally," said Gregory, who explains that Chuang-tzu is proposing that we "have to get rid of this ability to constantly dissect the world up into this and that based on your own opinion."

"And the lifestyle approach to that is, which I explain in my book, is about not allowing, for example, the news, the media are a big influence on people's lives in this modern day," he continued. "And so if we block that energy from coming into our mind, this begins to work deeper on this ability of "this and that", where obviously, to couple with this, you want to go onto start practicing a form of meditation as well, and make it a daily habit."

Gregory is also the author of Emotional Intuition for Peak Performance, Effortless Living, Enlightenment Now, The Science and Practice of Humility and also the documentary filmmaker of The Art of Effortless Living, its sequel Effortless Action: The Art of Spontaneity and The Yugas: The Great Time Cycles of the Universe.

For many years he has lived in Asia studying the spiritual traditions and meditative practices of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism, visiting some of the most remote places in the world. His new book, entitled, Spiritual Freedom in the Digital Age, is due in Spring 2022.

You can learn more about Jason here.

You can also check out Curt's full discussion here:

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page