Saturday, November 2, 2013
Food and physical diet
I'd like to address a few points on food, physical diet and its relationship to spiritual practice and life in general.
Some esoteric systems delineate "food" into three categories, being physical foodstuffs (ie. plants, meat etc.), air or breath, and impressions or vibrations. For the purposes of this article, we will consider just physical food for now.
For most people in Western society, and now increasingly in the East, it seems that diet, foodstuffs, and "how to eat" has become a big deal. This is even more so for those trying to engage in a spiritual practice, or generally increase their health in order to perform whatever aims they've decided for in life.
In regards to one's aims in life, this will depend almost fully on one's prior conditioning, current situation, and automatic factors being played out in one's life. By very small chance though, it may be that an individual catches a glimpse of something "else" in life, or the idea that perhaps not everything is truly as it appears, and thus the inclination to awaken from deep hypnosis arises. This can also be caused by suffering, and a general feeling of dissatisfaction with life, but not always. Some individuals just feel that "something isn't right here", and that there may be another way to exist besides following the automatic processes one finds oneself involved in from sunrise to sunset each day.
However, returning to diet. Compounding the confusion around diet, besides centuries of writings about what is "good", and what is "bad" in terms of health in mind and body, is also the fact that our modern day foodstuffs are being altered drastically, in comparison to just a century ago.
In terms of physical health, there's no hiding the fact that the less processed, more natural, and closer to nature the foodstuff is (ie. actual plants, vegetables, fruits, and non-modified animal products), then the better assimilated it will be for our physical bodies and state of health. Continuing from this idea then, it may seem logical that diets such as the paleo diet, SCD, 'caveman diet', and other such diets which our ancestors in physical form ate prior to a few thousand years ago, would best match the body's biological needs. I say logic, since the human body has been around for more than a few thousand years, likely through evolution of around 100,000 years. In contrast, the agricultural revolution took place only a few thousand years ago via the Middle East through Asia, whereby grains, farming and mass production of specific foods for the masses began to be utilized.
It is thus that my own experiences regarding diet have weighed heavily in favour of the paleo/caveman diet in terms of physical (body and mental) health and even in terms of performing psycho-spiritual activities. I also noticed some interesting occurrences such as the natural extinction of certain cravings for sugar, caffeine, energy-boosters, and processed foods, which had been a large part of my eating before, and which diminished without any effort on my part while on such a diet or way of eating.
This is in contrast to so much writing in the spiritual area however, that recommends vegetarianism, veganism, grains, fruits, dairy products and other such "sattvic" or calming type foods. The aim here being that the primary activity for a spiritual seeker being contemplation, meditation and calm, tranquil living giving rise to insight (and eventual freedom) can be aided by dietary considerations such as these. There is also the issue of ethics that rates high on most spiritual seekers' lists. Further, this line of thinking originated in India under certain religious/cultural conditions. It most definitely suits a very specific type of individual in terms of time and place.
I set aside ethics and morality for the moment, since an artificially imposed ethical system is yet another trap for the spiritual seeker, attempting to add more strength to an identity already overloaded with features. Further, most imposed ethical systems in human society have dismally failed over the centuries, resulting in little more than a set of "good"/"bad" actions that people miserably attempt to adhere to, or possibly on a few days throughout the year. This is in contrast to a naturally arising and authentic sense of ethics that may come about through no effort on the individual's part, once alignment has been attained with basic Nature.
Provided that an individual then, is on a natural evolutionary-fit diet, it would seem that the considerations of diet are then put on a secondary level of importance.
In summary, I'd like to propose that diet, which is important for maintaining the food-body, should be taken care of as an initial step on any spiritual path. Without the physical body/mind functioning at workable levels, little progress can be made in the higher arenas of psycho-spiritual development. Experiences and results may easily be distorted coming from a malfunctioning machine. However, once this has been attended to, diet should be a secondary consideration at best, and the primary focus of one's intention to awaken, and for self-inquiry should then take a front-seat necessary for the importance and urgency of the work. Externals such as diet, environmental considerations, clothes, physical aids (e.g. amulets, objects etc.), all should be relegated to the "minimal consideration" table. The practices of intention, concentration, insight, and self-inquiry vastly eclipse any benefits or results coming from secondary external objects or considerations. In other words, don't become a vegetarian in order to become spiritual- start with your intention, begin the practice, and see what happens.