Speech by the Nobel laureate and long-time Buchinger patient Mario Vargas Llosa at the first Metromeeting of both clinics in Madrid (Spain)
For over twenty years, we have stayed at Buchinger every year. We first came at the suggestion of a good friend. I have to admit that I only had a vague idea of fasting and thought I would find it difficult to abstain from eating. We stayed for two weeks and the experience was extraordinary. Of course, we both lost a few kilos, which was a good thing no doubt, but is probably the least important aspect of the treatment.
Fasting has an extraordinary impact on many aspects of our life. Perhaps the most important is discovering one’s own body. We are bogged down in an extremely demanding and hectic routine, plagued by inner restlessness, worry and anxiety, and it leaves us very little time to think of something that is exceedingly important – our body. Speaking for myself, I can say that in Marbella, I discovered that I had a body, that it was extremely important, and that I had to get to know it and treat it respectfully. Because this body is nothing less than the key to our happiness or unhappiness. I believe this is one of the greatest lessons we can learn at Buchinger.
Every time I go to Buchinger, I am worn out following a very intensive period packed with travels and work in keeping with that famous disease of the 21st century, stress. And then something happens to me, something related to my psyche, which many of you will certainly have experienced too: Almost before I cross the threshold of the clinic, I am suffused with a feeling of serenity. The sensation that time has stopped being that annoying, thundering locomotive and instead has started to move at a more humane, relaxed and pleasant pace. And it is as though the organism takes in profound calmness that makes it easier for us to discover what is important in that during fasting, we also learn to meditate, to contemplate our lives, to take stock and that during this intensive period that gives us an overwhelming sense of inner peace, we are able to recognise what we are doing wrong, or in vain, what we should to more and better. I believe that this lesson has a lasting effect on us even after we stop fasting.
On the other hand, the clinic is a world of its own, a reality separate from the one we are bound to, above all through our obligations. In the clinic, we can rest even though the hours are filled with activity. The meaning of physical exercise is also a lesson to us. How important this daily routine of walking, gymnastics, swimming, and massages is for the organism! How good it feels in the evening when we have stuck it out!
And how well we sleep after all the exertion! During fasting, a phenomenon occurs at night, which I am not sure whether all patients experience and value as I do: Because my sleep is so shallow, I often have the impression of not having slept, of being in an awake state. But that is not so: we rest. We rest with a kind of alertness that enables us to stand back from the images that our minds create or that enter our minds, images of an exceptional richness, both aesthetic and spiritual. We find ourselves in a state that members of religious communities might call a “mystic trance”, and that laypeople would term “extremely clear consciousness and high spiritual creativity”. I believe that we discover something about ourselves that comes from deep down, from those images we perceived in that semi-awake state that is sleep for those who fast.
In the clinic I have made close friends. Those I treasure most include people with whom I have shared that wonderful experience that Buchinger allows us: of relaxation, of cleansing and of peace.
That’s why we come back year after year. I think I can say without exaggeration that we leave the clinic younger, slimmer, more optimistic and with more drive to face the challenges of returning to the century, to the world, to our daily lives full of worry and temptation, in which we all experience moments of despondency, and at times desperation. It helps me to think that there is a house in Marbella to which we will return sooner or later and where we can regain our optimism and that wonderful sense of inner peace that is so difficult to achieve in our daily lives. That’s why I say that enriched it beyond measure and that is an exceptional defence against despondency.
And Buchinger has taught me something else: How important and how tasty food is, and what an immense pleasure it is to eat after one has stopped eating. I don’t know any place where more inspiring recipes are swapped and useful culinary advice given. I think the clinic teaches us to transform eating into a creative process, into a true work of art. Buchinger and fasting show us how important, delicious and good it is to eat when you know how: intelligently, deliberately, and with the intention of making the process a pleasure.
And so I come to a close, with that wonderful word “pleasure”. Nobody would believe it who has not experienced it, but we who have experienced it at Buchinger clinic know: Fasting is a pleasure!”