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Diet And Spirituality

Jan 6, 2007
DIET AND SPIRITUALITY By "Davinder Singh" slok mÚ 1 ] kil hoeI kuqy muhI Kwju hoAw murdwru ] kUVu boil boil Baukxw cUkw Drmu bIcwru ] ijn jIvMidAw piq nhI muieAw mMdI soie ] iliKAw hovY nwnkw krqw kry su hoie ] In this Dark Age of Kali Yuga, people have faces like dogs; they eat dead animals for food. They bark and speak, telling only lies; Dharma and Vichaar have left them. Those who have no honor while alive, will have an evil reputation after they die (sggs 1242). You kill living beings, and call it a righteous action. Tell me, brother, what would you call an unrighteous action? You call yourself the most excellent sage; then who would you call a butcher? (sggs 1103) By drinking, one's intelligence departs, and madness enters his mind; he cannot distinguish between his own and others’ — he is struck down by his Lord. By drinking, he forgets his Lord, and he is punished in the Court of the Lord (sggs 554). The truest of the true burn away the bonds of the world, and eat a simple diet of grain and water (sggs 467). A mind that is attached to sense pleasures can never stay firm on spiritual heights. Out of all physical senses of man's body, the sense of taste (i.e., tongue!) is the most difficult to control. This is why people go out of their way to justify their heinous habits or Vaasnaa of indulgence in gratification of this sense. However, one of the most important disciplines necessary for linking with God is the control of the tongue exercised both in the areas of food and speech. The edict of the Gurbani (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS) is that without its control it is impossible to follow the path of devotion and become one with Waheguru, God. • ] ijhvw suAwd loB mid mwqo aupjy Aink ibkwrw ] Jihvaa suaad lobh mad maato upjai anik bikaar - You are intoxicated with the tastes of the tongue, with greed and pride; countless sins spring from these (sggs 616). • Ye rasnaa too anras laag rahee teree piyaas na jaayi. Piyaas na jaayehorat kitaai jichar Hari raas payi - O my tongue, you are engrossed in other tastes, but your thirsty desire is not quenched. Your thirst shall not be quenched by any means, until you attain the subtle essence of the Lord (sggs 921). • Jitnee bhookh an ras saad hai titnee bhookh phir laagai - The more one feels hunger for other tastes and pleasures, the more this hunger persists (sggs 167). • Mithiyaa rasna bhojan an swaad - False is the tongue which enjoys delicacies and tastes (sggs 269). Material researchers (modern scientists) study and analyze the foods according to their physical properties and how they react on the physical body. However the spiritual scientists, who from ancient times delved in the spiritual science of foodstuff, consider the vibratory nature of food in determining what is uplifting, stimulating, stultifying or harmful when consumed. Hence, the aim of the true devotee is to purify himself of material contamination by nurturing his mode of goodness through pure and spiritually uplifting means. He knows that even the food he consumes, and also the manner in which he partakes of it, has its effect on the body and consciousness according to its vibratory quality. Therefore, regulation of diet, company, sleep, etc., is recommended in the scriptures for the sincere seekers of Truth. Which is, for example, eat light and less. For that reason, a true Giani always eats light and less (Saatvic), as well as sleep less! Thus, he neither tortures his body, nor pampers it with sense gratification. Overeating or wrong eating is the enemy of meditative mind; eating insufficiently, on the other hand, leads to physical and mental weakness. Similarly, oversleep dulls the nervous system; not enough sleep produces a tendency to sleep against one's will. All of this is undesirable to the seeker of Truth. Baabaa Nanak Says: • Kali hoyee kutte muhee khaaj hoyaa murdaar: In this Dark Age of Kali Yuga, people have faces like dogs; they eat dead animals for food (sggs 1242). • Seel sanjam such bhannee khaanaa khaaj ahaaj - Humility, self-control and purity have run away; people eat the uneatable, forbidden food (sggs 1242). • Saad sahaj kari mann khelaaiaa. Tai sahi paasahu kahan kaaiaa. Mithaa kari kai kaurhaa khaaiaa - In relishes and pleasure, people play their mind games. When they approach You, O Lord, they will receive admonitions. They think it is sweet, so they eat the bitter (sggs 1243). Overeating, fasting, eating dead-animals, drinking, smoking, sleeping too much or too little, etc., is for those who are in the mode of ignorance or passion. Simply put: Give the body its due, neither pampering nor abusing or torturing it, and then forget the body! In a natural way (Sahaj), thus, as the inner consciousness becomes spiritualized through progress in devotion, selfless work, study of scriptures, and meditation on the Naam the body also becomes spiritualized; then its material demands gradually diminish, spontaneously. • Bin naavai mann tek na tiakaee Nanak bhookh na jaaee... - Without the Name, the mind has no firm support; O Nanak, its hunger never departs. The Guru has revealed the shop and the city within the home of my own heart, where I intuitively carry on the true trade. Sleep little, and eat little; O Nanak, this is the essence of wisdom (sggs 939). • Alap ahaar sulbh see nidraa daya ke maakhan cheet - Eat less, sleep less, and keep your mind soft like butter with compassion (Paatshaahee 10). • Naaty-ashnatas tu yogo sti na caikaantam anashnatah..... - There is no possibility of one's becoming a Yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much or eats too little, sleeps too much or too little (Gita 6:16). • Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God (Bible, Methew 4:4). Undesirable diet and Naam Simran do not go hand-in-hand. Therefore, for a sincere devotee, it's not even worth thinking much about foods, let alone eating much! Because, if one subjects his body to overeating, not eating enough, or consuming undesirable diet (dead-animals, alcohol, smoking, etc.), he cannot meditate! Thinking of relishes and pleasures is indicative of bondage, sense-slavery, body-consciousness, or "I-am-the-body" idea. The only reason we are placed on earth is to transcend the sense-slavery! • Jag mahi aaiaa so parvaan. Gurmukhi apnaa khasam pashaan - By becoming Gurmukh if you realize your Lord, then your coming into this world is approved (sggs 867). However, in order to transcend material consciousness or sense-slavery so that our coming into this world is approved, we are urged to become Gurmukh (spiritual being). And to become Gurmukh we need every help we can get — we need to regulate everything in life including diet, company we keep, and so on. Until we become Self-realized, everything we do is in sense gratification. Why pour more fuel on blazing fire! Therefore, if we want to ascend ourselves to the more uplifting mode of goodness and beyond, we have to get into the habit of eating good, thinking good, speaking good and doing good. Otherwise body and mind will end up becoming a depository of sensual trash! This is why the Gurbani compares all sensual pleasures with a "mirage", an illusion. Why? Because the cause of Jeeva's bondage is enjoyment of sense gratification. Accordingly, we are warned throughout the Gurbani not to indulge in sense pleasures. Instead, we are urged to use the tongue in repeating the Naam. • Harichandauree chit bhram sakheeye mrig trisnaa dram chhaayaa. Chanchan saath na chaaltee sakheeye ant taji jaavat maya. Ras bhogan ati roop ras mate in sang sookh na paayaa - Maya is a mirage, which deludes the mind, O my companion, like the scent-crazed deer, or the transitory shade of a tree. Maya is fickle, and does not go with you, O my companion; in the end, it will leave you. One may enjoy pleasures and sensual delights with supremely beautiful women, but no one finds peace in this way (sggs 803). Our needs are few, while our wants are almost limitless. However, instead of ministering only to our needs, in spiritual ignorance we create limitless wants and then spend rest of our life pursuing the false pleasures. Slowly but surely, we then become slave of our senses. In this context, this article will attempt to reflect on the following: • Deep-Rooted Habits • Material Nature • 'Bhakh' And 'Abhakh' • "Kill Your Ego, Not Other Beings": Says The Gurbani • Effects Of Diet On Human Behavior • Claiming To Be Equal To The Master • On Vedas And Animal Sacrifice • The Higher Taste: Moving From Animal To Divine Consciousness Deep-Rooted Subconscious Habits Instinctive mind is a bundle of habits or Vaasnaas. It is nothing but a collection of ever changing desires, notions or feelings arising from contact with gross objects. New habits are built into us from childhood. Some remain conscious and others enter our subconscious. Due to our habitual identifications with different objects, deep-rooted subconscious habits are most difficult to overcome. A great one has said: "The power of habit is all supreme in the life of man. Many people go through life mentally making good resolutions, without ever succeeding in following what is wholesome. We usually do not do what we wish to do, what only what we are accustomed to do. That is why materially minded persons find it difficult to be spiritually minded even when they try hard. So also spiritual persons find it difficult to be materialistic even when they associate with materially minded people. It is not easy for vicious men to be good and it is hard for noble men to be mean." Thus, the man is ruled by his deep-rooted subconscious habits. These habits, in turn, form tendencies, moods, and desires. Early habits formed in the childhood create significant influence on our growing up. These habits are generally formed watching parents, other family members, teachers, friends, etc. At early stage, if we are not taught to form spiritual habits, we are sure to form evil habits. Later on, the other factors that influence shaping our habits include environment and association. For example, undiscriminating association with the world creates bad habits in us. • Jih karnee hovahi sarmindaa ih kamaanee reeti - You have made it your habit to practice those deeds which will bring you shame (sggs 673, ln 10). • Kabir Ram na dhiyaayiyo motee laagee khor - Kabeer, I have not meditated on the Lord; such is the bad habit I have developed (sggs 1368). Mind is slave to routine, customs, and habits. Once mind becomes accustomed to a habit, it then likes to go on doing it. Eventually, habits become like "grooves" in which actions run. More a habit is indulged in, it becomes much easier for the mind to run in that groove. After more repetitions, it begins to enjoy it. After that, the mind never wants to leave these beaten grooves or path. Some of these grooves are the results of impressions of our past lives, and some are the results of actions of this life. Once a desire comes up, the mind becomes agitated and finds no peace till the desire is fulfilled. In order to fulfill a desire, the first thing mind does is it brings itself into the action and establishes a groove or habit. Once a groove is established, like a locomotive, it does not want to leave the track (or groove ) on which it is set. All this is because man feels that he can gain everlasting happiness from never-lasting material objects! Material contamination of our mind begins with bad habits such as taste for intoxicants, craving for foods not conducive to spiritual progress (dead animals, egg, fish, etc.), illicit sex, gambling, stealing, and so on. In fact bad habits such as illicit sex, gambling, and stealing are all linked to consumption of intoxicants and undesirable foods. As the saying goes: "We are what we eat"! Hence, what we eat and drink has tremendous effect on an ordinary person's mind and body. For example, consumption of food such as meat (dead animals) and intoxicants are generally very pleasing to an out-going mind indulged in material life. Conversely, such a diet has certainly no appeal to a sincere spiritual aspirant. Thus, diet is a function of an individual's choice based upon his goal in his life, that is, does one want to become God conscious and go back to his Source, or, does he want to live merely a nonsensical life? God has given us the free will to choose between these two. By the way, there is no mid-way! Material Nature Why does a man prefer a specific type of diet over the other? Why do people perform certain actions, or act in certain ways? Why do mortals cater to certain habits, tendencies and desires? The answers to these questions and more lie in the proper understanding of the three modes of material nature, also known as three qualities of Maya. • Trai gun aap sirjian Maya moh vadhaayaa - God Himself created the three qualities and increased our love for worldly valuables (sggs 1237). The material nature (including all matter) is composed of three ingredients called Gunas or "quality". The three qualities are Saatav (Sat or Sato), Raajas (Raj or Rajo), and Taamas (Tam or Tamo). In english, these three modes can be called goodness, passion and ignorance, respectively. • Raj gun tam gun sat gun kaheeai ih teri sabh maya - The quality of passion, the quality of ignorance, and the quality of goodness; all these are called the creation of Your power (sggs 1123). All beings or Jeevas belong to the Lord's spiritual energy. The true nature of Jeeva or soul is pure consciousness (i.e., it is Eternal, full of Knowledge and Bliss Absolute). However, due to contact with the three modes of material nature, the soul becomes contaminated. The example of rain water may help one to understand it better. A drop of rain water is pure in nature until it hits the ground. Upon coming in contact with the mud or soil, it becomes contaminated and conditioned. Similarly, when soul comes in contact with the three modes of material nature, it becomes conditioned. The three qualities of material nature are like intertwined strands of the winding cord or rope of Nature. Through this medium, Nature holds in bondage all embodied beings. These three qualities are part of Maya or delusive force inherent in the creation. The Saatav is symptified by purity, goodness, calmness, enlightenment, etc. The Raajas is symptified by passion, selfish activities, impulse, restlessness, etc. And the Taamas is symptified by inertia, ignorance, dullness, negligence, forgetfulness, darkness, inactivity, lethargicness, etc. The Gurbani examines and analyses Maya as well as diagnoses its maladies. Majority of the people in this world belong to the latter two qualities (i.e., Raajas and Taamas). • Trai gun bikhia andh hai maya moh gubar - Man is blinded by the wickedness of three qualities of nature and darkness of attachment (sggs 30). • Doojai bhai pare nahin boojhai. Tribidhi maya kaaran lojhai - Man entangled in the love of duality does not understand Lord. He (then) longs for the three-qualitied mammon (sggs 127). These three qualities or modes of material nature indicate an individual's stage of spiritual development. This is also very important in regard to the fact that Scriptures reveal different meanings to different people, depending on the stage of their spiritual development - that is, Saatav (stage of goodness), Raajas (stage of passion), Taamas (stage of ignorance). Within these three stages or modes of spiritual development, there are numerous sub-stages. An individual's actions (Karama), as well as his dietary habits depends on his stage of spiritual development. Those in the mode of passion and ignorance, owing to their spiritual development, identify with body or flesh. On the other hand, those in the mode of goodness, identify with the Soul or the Spirit. contd

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