Many of us in the modern world consider food to be either a pleasurable or frustrating aspect of our lives…sometimes both. We are bombarded with diet options and the choices we have which are, especially in the Western World, endless, overwhelmingly so. We have so many options that we have forgotten how simple food is and should be. Except for those who regularly pray before meals or maintain a deep spiritual practice, and even for some of them, the spiritual connection to food seems to be lost. If you missed the first post in this series, please click this link: It all Begins with You. Then follow the link at the end to come back here!
“A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.” Aesop
It is okay to look at our emotions and hidden pain: to face it in order to find what we are trying to fill with the fake and unnatural foods. But it is so much bigger than that. Even if we do just that, which is important, we find ourselves lacking and stuffing again…or finding something else to fill the void like excessive exercise, drugs or alcohol, constant socializing, etc. But it will always come back to our spiritual connection beginning with our food. If we put the wrong stuff in our bodies, it does not matter what else we do. We are off to a bad start. Think of it this way: if we put the wrong kind of fuel in our car it does not matter how tuned up and squeaky clean it is. Depending on what we put in the tank, there are varying degrees of inefficiency to being broken (sick.)
Believing in the spirituality of our food and our soul can really bring about amazing results, as we are wired for it.
An example of a spiritual precept:
The Four Noble Truths
One of Buddha’s first philosophies in Buddhism is the Four Noble Truths: Dukkha, Tanha, Nirvana, and The Eight Fold Path. These truths show his view towards human life and human suffering.
The first noble truth explains that suffering exists. This suffering can be in the form of pain, sickness, loss, separation, or even unsatisfied feelings.
The second noble truth tells us that there is a cause for suffering. The origin of
suffering is the attachment to desires or cravings. These desires may take the form of such things such as sexual pleasures, fame, or fortune.
The third noble truth informs you that there is an end to suffering. If you can let go of your desires and free yourself from attachment, you can end suffering.
The Eight Fold Path
The fourth noble truth shows you the way to end suffering. To stop suffering one must follow the Eight Fold Path which is a guideline for living everyday life. These values are Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.
You will find that the values Right Action and Right Livelihood have a particular significance to food. Here is a link if you are interested learning more about this.
There are also many passages in the Bible that speak to the importance of thoughtful and clean eating.
“He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.” (Proverbs 28:19)
“You must distinguish between the unclean and the clean, between living creatures that may be eaten and those that may not be eaten.” (Leviticus 11:47)
“It is because you must do everything for the glory of God, even your eating and drinking.” I Corinthians 10:31
“Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.” Proverbs 23:20-21
My spiritual connection with food began with removing animal foods from my childrens’ and my diet. I am at a stage where I will make an occasional exception which is very rare but will most likely progress into having none. I am not suggesting you do the same. My spiritual path is different from yours. It is my desire to share my inspiration with you. It has been a progression so if you have an interest in this spiritual and environmental healing start where you feel comfortable but stay determined.
One of the most famous vegetarians ever was Mahatma Ghandhi. Here are some of his beautiful words:
- I hold flesh-food to be unsuited to our species. We err in copying the lower animal world if we are superior to it.
- I do feel that spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants.
- The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
If you are interested in how to get involved in stewarding the health and well being of animals check out this quick and simple post.
It is important to note that spirituality means different things to different people and so does religion. I am trying to provide an overall scope of how important food is to any spiritual movement so you might be able to find your own guidance. If we open ourselves up to the spiritual space that surrounds us and allow spirit to flow through us, along with studying spirituality, the right choices and answers come to us unfiltered and unhindered by our mental and material blocks.
Fasting and detoxing, which are things I greatly support as long as you know what you are doing. Remember you are in charge of your health. Study. Teach yourself. Be patient and learn. I am here as a resource and support system but you are responsible for your well being. Here are a couple of excerpts from Spiritual Fasting by Arash Vafa Fazil.
“We must ask ourselves why God wants us to abstain from food and drink. Obviously, as the all-loving creator, He would derive no pleasure from the mere act of making his creatures endure hunger and thirst for a specified period. We may as well go a little further and ask ourselves why we have spiritual laws at all.”
“Similarly, man has a spiritual nature, a soul which corresponds to the spiritual order of God. These laws are to be found in the world’s major religions. Their purpose is to help man avoid behaviour that is hazardous to his spiritual health, and to develop virtues instead. The observance of these spiritual laws contribute to man’s material well being. As Baha’u’llah said, spiritual laws are ‘the highest means for the maintenance of order in the world and the security of its peoples’.”
“Prayer, meditation, deep introspection of one’s “inner life” and the will to make the necessary readjustments are the means by which this ‘spiritual recuperation” would occur. What about the abstention from food and drink? The Baha’i scriptures say that its significance is purely symbolic – it is meant to be “a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desires”. In other words, merely not eating or drinking can do nothing to rejuvenate the soul. We merely need to control our basal appetites and clear the way for undistracted inner development.”
Not only is there plenty of spiritual reference to the importance of fasting, there is a sufficient embrace by the scientific and professional community. Sure there are those who oppose it but there is always an argument, decide for yourself.
In a review of The Science and Fine Art of Fasting by Herbert Shelton, Joanne from Open Mind Required asserts:
“One of the key tenets of natural hygiene is toxemia + enervation = disease and that symptoms of disease are remedial efforts by the body to return to balance. For example, a fever is instituted by the body to speed metabolic action and kill germs. It is a healing event that should be allowed to run its course, not a dreaded enemy to be suppressed.
The best action to take when first becoming ill is to stop eating and rest, which goes contrary to the prevailing advice to take a drug, eat to keep up your strength, and keep on going. When you fast, you are not starving your body of nutrition, because it obtains all the nutrition it needs from its own tissues. But in doing so, the not inconsiderable amount of energy that would have been spent in digestion is now spent in repair of tissues and elimination of toxins.”
This is pretty heavy material and I would like to leave you all today with a bit of timely humor.
“Avoid eating fruits and nuts. You are what you eat.” Jim Davis
Love and light,
Let me know what you think!
References and Notes:
1. http://www.chinaorbit.com/china-culture/chinese-philosophy/buddhism-buddist-buddha-china.html (The Four Noble Truths.)