Man is the only species whose diet is not predictable. The diet of all other animals is certain. Their basic physical needs and their nature decides what they should eat and what they should not; how much they should eat, how much they should not; when they should eat and when they should stop. But man is absolutely unpredictable, he is absolutely uncertain. Neither his nature tells him what he should eat, nor his awareness tells him how much he should eat, nor his understanding decides when he should stop eating.
As none of these qualities of man are predictable the life of man has gone in some very uncertain directions. But if there is even a little understanding — if man starts living with even a little intelligence, with even a little thoughtfulness, opening his eyes even a little, then it is not at all difficult to change to a right diet. It is very easy; there can be nothing more easy. To understand right diet we can divide it into two parts.
The first thing: what should a man eat and what should he not eat? Man’s body is made of chemical elements. The whole process of the body is very much chemical. If alcohol is put into a man, then his body will be affected by the chemical — it will become intoxicated, unconscious. Howsoever healthy, howsoever peaceful the man may be, the chemistry of the intoxication will affect his body. Howsoever saintly a man may be, if he is given poison then he will die.
Any food which takes man into any kind of unconsciousness, any kind of excitement, any kind of extremity, any kind of disturbance, is harmful. And the deepest, ultimate harm is when these things start reaching the navel…
For a right diet the first thing to remember is that it should not create excitement, it should not be intoxicating, it should not be heavy. After eating rightly you should not feel heaviness and drowsiness. But perhaps all of us feel heaviness and drowsiness after our meals — then we should know that we are eating wrongly.
A very great doctor, Kenneth Walker, has said in his autobiography that according to his life-long experiences he can say that of whatever people eat, half of it fills their stomach and half of it fills the stomachs of the doctors. If they would eat only half of what they usually eat then they would not get sick at all, and there would be no need of doctors…
Our wrong attitudes towards food are becoming dangerous for us. They are proving to be very costly. They have taken us to a point where we are somehow just alive. Our food does not seem to create health in us, it seems to create sickness. It is a surprising situation when food starts making us sick. It is as if the sun rising in the morning creates darkness. This would be an equally surprising and strange thing to happen. But all the physicians in the world are of the opinion that most of the diseases of man are because of his wrong diet. So the first thing is that every person should be very aware and conscious about his eating. And I am saying this especially for the meditator. It is necessary for a meditator to remain aware what he eats, how much he eats, and what its effects are on his body.
If a man experiments for a few months with awareness, he will certainly find out which is the right food for him, which food gives him tranquility, peace and health. There are no real difficulties but because we do not pay any attention to food, we are never able to discover the right food.
The second thing about food is that the state of our mind when we eat is much more important than what we eat. Food will affect you differently if you eat joyously, happily, or if you eat when you are filled with sadness and worry. If you are eating in a worried state, then even the best food will have a poisonous effect. And if you are eating with joy then it is possible that sometimes even poison may not be able to have its total effect on you. It is very possible. So what state of mind you eat in is important.
What about our situation? We live in worry for twenty-four hours a day. It is a miracle how the food we eat gets digested, how existence manages it in spite of us! We have no wish to digest it. It is absolutely a miracle how it gets digested. And how we remain alive! This is also a miracle! Our state of mind should be graceful and blissful. But in our houses the dining table is in the most gloomy state. The wife waits the whole day for her husband to come home to eat and all the emotional sickness she has gathered in twenty-four hours comes out just when the husband is eating. She does not know that she is doing the work of an enemy. She does not know that she is serving poison on her husband’s plate.
The husband is also afraid and worried after the whole day’s work — he somehow dumps the food into his stomach and leaves. He has no idea that the act which he has finished so quickly and has run away from should have been a prayerful one. It was not an act which should have been done in a hurry. It should have been done in the same way as someone entering a temple, or as someone kneeling to pray, or as someone sitting to play his veena, or as somebody singing a song for the beloved.
This act is even more important: he is giving food to his body. It should be done in a state of tremendous blissfulness. It should be a loving and prayerful act. The more happily and joyously and the more relaxed and without worry a person can take his meal, the more his food starts becoming the right food.
A violent diet does not only mean that a man eats non-vegetarian food. It is also a violent diet when a man eats with anger. Both of these things are violent. While eating in anger, in suffering, in worry, man is also eating violently. He does not realize at all that just as he is violent when eating the flesh of something else, so when his own flesh burns up inside due to anger and worry, violence is present there too. Then the food which he is eating cannot be non-violent.
The other part of right food is that you should eat in a very peaceful, a very joyful state. If you are not in such a state, then it is better to wait until you are and not to eat for a while. When the mind is absolutely ready, only then should one take his meals. For how long will the mind not be ready? If you are aware enough to wait then at the most it can remain hungry for only one day — but we have never bothered to listen to it. We have made eating food a completely mechanical process. One has to put food into the body and then leave the dining table. It is no longer a psychological process — that is dangerous.
On the body level, the right food should be healthy, non-stimulating and non-violent; on the psychological level the mind should be in a blissful state, graceful and joyous; and on the level of the soul there should be a feeling of gratefulness, of thankfulness. These three things make food the right food.
We are eating food, we are drinking water, we are breathing — we should have a sense of gratefulness about all this. Towards the whole life, towards the whole world, towards the whole universe, towards the whole nature, towards the divine, there should be a feeling of gratefulness – “I have received one more day to live. Once more I have received food to eat. For one more day I am seeing the sun, seeing the flowers blossoming. I am again alive today.”
Two days before death came to Rabindranath, he said,
“Lord, how grateful I am! Oh God, how shall I express my gratitude? You gave this life to me when I was not in any way worthy of receiving it. You gave breathing to me when I had no right to breathe. You gave me experiences of beauty and bliss which I had not earned at all. I am grateful. I am overpowered by your grace. And if in this life given by you, I may have received any pain, any suffering, any worry, it must have been my fault; because this life of yours is very blissful. It must have been my fault. So I do not ask you to give me liberation from life. If you feel me worthy, then send me into this life again and again. This life of yours is very blissful and I am utterly grateful for it.”
This feeling, this feeling of gratitude, should be there in all aspects of life — and very particularly with diet. Only then can diet become the right diet.
Osho: The Inner Journey: Chapter title: The journey towards the navel: Right diet — labour — sleep
Sant Kabir emphasis the importance of food and its interrelation with our thoughts in his doha –
“जैसा भोजन खाइये, तैसा ही मन होय।
जैसा पानी पीजिये, तैसी बानी सोय।”
‘आहारशुध्दी:’ जैसे खाय अन्न, वैसे बने मन्न लोक प्रचलित कहावत है और मनुष्य जैसी संगत करके जैसे उपदेश पायेगा, वैसे ही स्वयं बात करेगा। अतएव आहाविहार एवं संगत ठीक रखो।
Jaisa Bhojan Khaiye, taisa hi ma^n hoy
jaisa paani pijiye, taisi Baani Soy.