PART III: Desert
Idealism and Food Fadism
Do not be idealistic about your diet. Balance and simplicity in diet should not be dictated by opinions without theoretical and experiential backing. Neither should we succumb to food fads or fashionable ideas about what we should and should not eat.
For those of us with medical conditions an appropriate diet may fall short of our ideals or even our preferences.
Food of course is also a metaphor. Notice how many food and eating-related phrases we use to indicate some emotional state. We feel consumed, absorbed, fed up; we feel sick of something or someone; we feel it 'in our guts' or we have had a stomaceful. Food is central, food is ubiquitous, and food is a constant source of reference and expression in our lives.
Spiritual Teachers and Inconsistency
Just a brief note to cooks: the most inspiring message about food preparation and cooking, which I have copied into the inside cover of my cook book, is from Dogen Zenji -- the Zen Cook looks after the food as he cares for his own eyesight. In the monastery the chief cook is considered the most important role. She or he is responsible for the psycho-physical well-being of the monks and their attention to this ceremony of divine alchemy is taken profoundly seriously.
However, as in other matters, do not expect consistency in the matter of diet from spiritual teachers. While many have favored a rigorous and disciplined dietary regime, others have seemed to ignore or even contradict their own advice. G I Gurdjieff taught sometimes through overindulgence in food and drink. Anandamayee Ma performed extraordinary feats of ingesting inhuman quantities of food. Nisargadatta was famously (infamously?) chain smoking, even through his satsangs.
Living in This Present Single Eternal Moment
"The whole universe of moving and unmoving creation" that Yashoda sees in Krishna's mouth reminds us: right at the start of our lives we instinctively reached outward to place the breast in our mouths for sustenance. For the entire rest of our lives we sought food and nourishment in all kinds of ways -- tactile, aural, energetic, psychological, social, spiritual, and through eating. At the end of our lives the mouth becomes slack, our lips part and the mouth falls open -- the appetite for food, drink, sex, and any outward stimulation long passed, as we enter the portal of bodily death.
We 'take in' from the world to feed our senses, to stimulate our energetic body, and to nourish the organism. Yet we too are food, just as other forms of creation are food. Our children eat from us as we give them our love, our toil, our caring, and our responsibility and duty to provide for them. Our partners feed from us emotionally, energetically, and spiritually. Our families include us in their cycle of replenishment and nourishment, as do our social circle too. In a very real sense everything is eating everything else!
So, in the final analysis, let us say that the role of eating and food in diet, in spirituality, is simply this: that along with everything else arising or not arising in the relative world, all our activities, all benefits we accrue in this world, and all our relationships, expressions of love, laughter, suffering, pain and joy is consecrated in our awareness and through the Divine consciousness to our ultimate illumination, to our dedicating our lives to the Divine Source, and living as One in the Divine person in this Present single moment of the Eternal.
(With thanks to Sabrina Vromen)
Richard Harvey is a psycho-spiritual psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and author. He is the founder of The Center for Human Awakening and has developed a form of depth-psychotherapy called Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) that proposes a 3-stage model of human awakening. Richard can be reached at [email protected] .
Richard Harvey is a psycho-spiritual psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and author. He is the founder of The Center for Human Awakening and has developed a form of depth-psychotherapy called Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) that proposes a 3-stage model of human awakening. Richard can be reached at [...]