Eating To Nourish Love
Thousands of years ago the Hindu seers taught that what grows on the earth—plant and mineral life—is annam, is the perfect and only food suitable for nourishing the human body. In my tradition we choose vegetarian lifestyles in order to live a life of ahimsa. We choose this path out of a compelling love for life, love for Mother Earth, love for her creatures, love for her food, and love for our families, our communities, and ourselves. Truly, the practice of vegetarianism demonstrates that we are on the path to cultivating the mind of ahimsa. It is not a religion or a practice observed only by Hindus and Jains—the oldest cultures to promote vegetarianism—but a lifestyle choice with many benefits. The first pillar of health and harmony stands on the commitment to a sattvic lifestyle—in other words, Living Ahimsa, the universal principle of peace. As I see it, a personal exploration of vegetarianism is a necessary commitment in support of inner harmony and world peace.
As it stands, the most compelling reason why millions of people have converted to vegetarian diets is for better health because they fear disease, but as human beings we have a far greater responsibility to the self and to the Mother Consciousness than to respond to fears and desires: Even when these emotions are anchored in our ancestral and cultural habits. One of the divine gifts of being human in the present era is that we have a choice: we can choose to open our hearts to compassion. Health, happiness, and prosperity do not exist independently of nature; they depend entirely on the divine source within our consciousness. As our consciousness grows our choices shift to meet our awareness. We begin to see that the personal karma and collective dharma of all must be served if we are to eradicate hurting, violence, anguish, pain, and despair. It is time that we awaken to our conscience.
For many years, I have been doing a personal practice around congested areas that sell fast foods, unhealthy foods, and unwholesome fodder. Airports and tourism spots are, indeed, ideal places to perform this rite. I would offer up my prayers for the betterment of our food source, Mother Nature, and all of her creatures and on the rare occasion take to imbibing a small amount of the unwholesome fodder. While digesting it, I observe certain mantras that would allow the food’s toxicity to be lessened. In this way, the toxicity of all foods in that vicinity is somewhat energetically mitigated. Obviously, this action is not for everyone to do, and I am not advocating it as a practice for or to the general population. I am simply providing a cultural example of small sacrifices we make to help our fellow family on Mother Earth.
In the Hindu culture, the principle of yajna implies making a sacrifice for the welfare of the world at large. As we know, prayers have great and immediate effect. But as we are continually unfolding lessons, we have to be supremely mindful each and every step of the way (especially when we take for granted how aware we already are!) We must be careful how and for what purpose we engage our actions, however well projected they may be. It is especially important to be even more mindful during vulnerable stages of healing or in a state of recovery. The power of yajna acts do not yield positive result if performed while we are unclear or disoriented.
My Vedic ancestors understood love and harmony as foundational nature. They recognized that harmony is produced only by cooperation with all of nature, and her creatures. They did not involve themselves in the barbarity of today’s animal annihilation in the name of food! As sentient beings, the ancients safeguarded harmony by extending reverence and gratitude to all creatures, to the forest, the mountains, and to nature as a whole. They were intelligent people who understood the remarkable set of inter-connections we bear with Mother Earth. They learnt from nature how to sustain happy and prosperous communal living. For this reason, it stands to logical reason that they were largely vegetarians and not meat-eaters. They would not kill the very life force that supported the well-being of their families and communities. Instead, they worked very hard at keeping love and harmony alive. In any event, they did not take to viciously slaughtering the animals to satisfy an insatiable appetite! They were expert foragers who knew the cadence of nature and what to harvest and reap as the seasons cycled onward. They harvested, herbs, roots, and fruits, and legumes without bludgeoning the forest or animal members of their community. They did not see their everyday tasks as punishing arduous work, but as the necessary humane duty they were put on the earth to do- that is, to keep love and harmony thriving in their lives. They recognized the indelible cosmic qualities of love and harmony to be the bedrock of an intelligent life that sustains our humanness and humanity. Love was not about sexual affairs! Health was not about shopping in Gourmet Health Food Stores! Harmony was not about goal-oriented successes!
We have much to learn from our ancient forebears and much more for which to be grateful to them. They invested love. And their investment is eternally paying dividends. They patiently spent time to teach the animals to serve them better. They cared for them as an indispensible part of their community. Highly responsive to love and care, the animals lived up to their greatest instinct; they basked in the kindness and joy of the family by bonding with their care-tenders and, especially with the children whose innocence they shared. Our forebears taught the great big animals to harvest the land, uproot dead trees, clear pathways, and carry loads, transporting their families and goods from one place to the next. They sheared their fur to make beddings and other items to keep the family warm. They used their vegetarian feces to make fuel for the fire; their urine as antiseptic for various cleansings. In return, these consciously domesticated creatures provided on-going sustenance of peaceful foods- milk, and honey…………..
(Copyright © 2011 –Maya Tiwari – Excerpt from my new book, Living Ahimsa Diet: Nourishing Love & Life, scheduled to be released March 2011 www.mothermaya.com)