A user’s guide to living – part 9
HAPPINESS, FOOD AND RESOURCES
DAAJI continues his series on everyday living, introducing the eighth universal principle of the User’s Guide, which explores our relationship with the material resources we use every day, especially the food we eat and the money we earn. He explains the importance of being happy to eat whatever we receive, and the importance of the integrity by which the food has come to us. For example, has the money used to grow the food and buy the food come from honest and pious earnings?
As a starting point, this eighth principle helps us to redefine our relationship with food: how to eat it and how it has come to our table. DAAJI explores the integrity of the process, and many other concepts that bring awareness of our relationship with the material world and nature. When we go deeper into this principle, we delve into the interplay of matter, energy and the Absolute state, and how food can be divinized to a higher vibration so that it can also cure both physical and spiritual ailments. In fact, this principle addresses the network in which our three bodies are enmeshed with the natural world.
Our current state
This century, we have been forced into a crisis management approach to resources, having woken up to the destruction of our environment and the inequality in the circumstances of various peoples on Earth. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations are an attempt to address these problems, and help us work together to turn the tide.
The first three of the 17 SDGs directly address issues around money and food:
1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere.
2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
More than 71 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty in 2020, and lack of money is one major aspect of this. Food security issues were on the rise before COVID, with 26.4% of people affected in 2018; in 2020 they are getting significantly worse. While one large section of the world population is suffering from malnourishment, almost 40% are succumbing to the chronic lifestyle diseases associated with being overweight. All-in-all, we have not managed the resources of food and money wisely, and now, as a global community, we are attempting to address the problems we have created.
The yogic approach to food and money
Let’s compare this current situation with the yogic approach to resources, which is also shared by wise sages across other cultures. For thousands of years, yogis have given special regard to food, how to tread lightly on the Earth, and how to take minimum input and give maximum output. In fact, they define morality as the wise conservation and use of all the resources we have been given, such as food, water, money, land, sexual energy, forests, the ocean etc.
Yogis have also explored this concept beyond its physical impact: for example, food is valued as a form of prana, and the effect of eating percolates through the three bodies of the human system, not just the physical body. When the Divinity at the center of every atom in our food resonates with the Divinity within us, food becomes a potent source of goodness.
Yogis treat all resources with respect and gratitude, according to the Yamas and Niyamas of Ashtanga Yoga, because this is our energetic relationship with the environment in which we live. In fact, a yogi of caliber will not disturb even one atom of this universe unless it is necessary to do so, there is so much respect for life. It is the lightest human footprint, and an incredibly sacred attitude to living every moment of every day in tune with Nature.
When the Divinity at the center of every atom
in our food resonates with the Divinity within us,
food becomes a potent source of goodness.
Thus, a yogi will be happy to eat whatever food is available locally, seasonally, without the need to have exotic foods shipped in from other parts of the world or foods chosen for their desire-based delectable taste. For example, will a yogi feel, “My lunch is incomplete unless and until I have my favorite sweet”? No. That desire-based feeling of incompleteness has a similar consequence to eating tamasic food. They are content with Nature’s bounty in whatever form it is available.
A yogi will always recycle and reuse rather than succumbing to the throw-away culture of our age. Greed and carelessness are replaced by an existence of being in the world but not of the world, like a lotus. This wisdom has been there throughout human history, and in the modern era it is encapsulated in Babuji’s Principle 8.
Be happy to eat in constant divine thought whatever you get,
with due regard to honest and pious earnings.
Superficially, this looks like the simplest principle to adopt. Who doesn’t enjoy good food? Happiness seems to be what most of us hope for in life. Philosophers and mystics have recognized the prime place of happiness. For example, Aristotle proposed happiness as the ultimate purpose of human life; the Buddha taught that the path to happiness starts with an understanding of suffering, and recommended the eightfold path, the core of which is acceptance; and the Vedas hold that the nature of the pure personality is sat-chit-anand, where anand means bliss, the transcendent state of happiness. In the last sixty years, with the development of positive psychology and the emergence of the science of happiness, billions of dollars have been spent in the search for happiness. Yet, can we say that we are happy as a result? It is probably the opposite: our focus on happiness highlights our lack of it, just as more hospitals are an indication that the population is sicker. Otherwise, why would we speak so much about happiness?
According to Babuji, however, happiness, joy and bliss are qualities of the soul, and emanate from “a state which may aptly be taken as that next to the Divine.” This pure vibration emanates from near the Center of our being, which then percolates outward through the layers of our system, also purifying the physical levels of existence.
This principle is intriguing, involving the flow of prana through all three states of existence – the Absolute, energy, and matter. In us, these three states are associated with our three bodies – the causal body (soul), the subtle body (consciousness), and the physical body.
The current flows out from the Absolute, and it also flows back from matter to energy and ends in the Absolute state. And in Principle 8, it is the story of how food, when received with the right understanding and eaten with the correct attitude, can nourish and purify all three of our bodies, and support us to reach the final state.
The role of food
Food is an important part of daily life. As well as contributing to our happiness and well-being, food also provides an opportunity to spread happiness – think of family dinners, special restaurant dinners, holidays like Christmas, Diwali, Eid and Hannukah. Food is a way of sharing and bonding. There is much more to eating than simply adding chemical nutrients to our bodies.
In Principle 8, we are invited to be happy to eat “in constant divine thought,” whatever we receive. In many cultures, such a practice is done before starting a meal – we pray or say Grace, offering gratitude for the food we eat. This act of gratitude connects us with the Divine at the beginning of the meal, so that we can continue to hold that subtle connection while we are eating. We activate the current from the Source that is woven into the fabric of Nature, including every atom of the food we eat.
The effect of the subtlest vibrations filters down into the food itself, and when it enters our body these vibrations spread throughout our system via the veins and arteries. We are utilizing the food we take in from outside in the best possible way, and the atoms of the body are purified. Our prayerful thought combines with the food to promote physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. In the partaking of food, the channels of prana open up, allowing the happiness with which the food is charged to enter and purify the whole system.
As a result, eating benefits our physical well-being and our spiritual progress. This is a very potent concept, which has huge implications for health, well-being and happiness.
Our prayerful thought combines with the food to promote
physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
The power of prana
In his commentary on this principle, Babuji reveals a secret known to very few: When we apply our thought to prana it generates a force that can lead us toward our goal. When the prana in the food comes into contact with our thought, which is imbued with happiness, it becomes supercharged. It purifies all the layers of the system. In Babuji’s words, “That which springs up by our contact with Reality leads us towards the Supreme … This paves our way to the Infinite. Thus so much distance is covered so very easily.”
This observation of Babuji – that our expansion of consciousness can be accelerated with the help of the prana in food being in contact with Reality – is one of the most amazing gems that he shares. When we fix our thought on the Ultimate while eating, we take in its effect.
Honest and pious earnings
Now we come to the final part of this principle: the importance of honest and pious earnings. I receive questions from many people around the world about this part of Principle 8. Let’s start with pious earnings.
What I understand by pious earnings is all the acts that we perform in earning our day-to-day wages. Moment by moment, we interact with customers, with nature, and with so many other people. At some level, we are all involved in some sort of serving; it’s an exchange. No matter what type of exchange, how can we make such acts pious, whether they are physical, mental, emotional or intellectual? How can we be so absorbed in the purity that is prevailing in our hearts, the piety that is prevailing? It happens only when we are connected with Divinity, drowned in Divinity. The solution is there.
Piousness means to serve from the highest, and that means to go down to our deepest level. The deepest level is overflowing with love when we are interacting with everyone. In our interactions with our subordinates, with superiors, and with colleagues, love will be there, respect will be there.
Also, think about what kind of occupation you are in: Is it an occupation that brings harm to people? Take an extreme example, the case of someone who is making a living as a drug dealer or arms smuggler. Without doubt, both these professions bring harm. The money earned from these is blood money. Knowing this, would you be happy? Various professions bring harm to others in varying degrees, but it is for each of us to decide whether the way we work brings benefit or harm to people. It is the first test that determines whether our occupation is pious or not.
The second test is whether we like what we do or hate it. When we enjoy what we do to make a living, we are happy. When we hate what we do, we are not happy.
The third test is whether our occupation enables us to lead a balanced life. If we work sixteen to eighteen hours a day, as many people do, do we have time for other important aspects of life, such as family, health and spirituality? We will not be happy in such a situation.
Now, we come to honesty. Does your profession involve any sort of dishonesty, whether it is cheating your customer or the government? If your profession involves giving or taking bribes, falsifying information, or any other dishonest, immoral, anti-social or illegal activity, you are not earning an honest living. I am also tempted to say, if you are not giving your best in your job, you are also being dishonest.
This list does not cover all the scenarios, but I am sure you get the idea. Many of you might think, “I agree with this, but I have no choice.” So ask yourself: “What are my intentions? Are they pure? Are they in line with the Yamas and Niyamas, and with these 10 Principles?” You may need faith and courage to change your life around if the answer is “No,” or “Not fully.”
So, we have to be very careful about what we consume. Even the most sattvik vegetables bought with dishonest earnings will have a vibration of a different nature. The moment we consume anything that has been bought with wrong earnings, the vibrations become heavier and more complex.
The core theme that permeates all Heartfulness teachings is “purity.” We originated from purity, the center of our Being is purity, and it is purity that weaves our destiny to the final state. But our thoughts, feelings and actions add impurities and complexities to our system, and they come in various levels of heaviness. For example, if we engage in dishonest activities or corruption, a lot of impurity is added to the system, and it doesn’t only affect us.
You may think that you are doing a wonderful job, giving a lot of good things to your family, whereas actually you may be ruining them when you earn by dishonest means. It is what we call the side effect. Your wife and children may have nothing to do with your earnings, but the vibratory level of your being will affect them. Vibrations are caught like that. If you earn a living through pure and pious means, your conscience is clear, and everyone in the family benefits.
Things in Nature are pure because the basis is purity. Things earned by man can also be pure when they come through pure and pious means. It maintains the pristine nature of our human web. That is why sages have put so much importance upon honest and pious earnings.
Principle 8 in action
This principle awakens us to the fact that even apparently mundane activities like taking food and making money can either contribute to the purity of our system and expand our consciousness when done correctly, or pull us down.
As discussed earlier, much has been said about happiness, which is a central goal for human kind. In fact, the pursuit of happiness has been written into the constitution of some countries. After spending so much time and so many resources on decoding happiness, and getting nowhere, the world may be ready to hear the truth.
Things in Nature are pure because the basis is purity.
Things earned by man can also be pure
when they come through pure and pious means.
It maintains the pristine nature of our human web.
That is why sages have put so much importance
upon honest and pious earnings.
I have spoken and written about this many times. Lasting happiness does not come from external sources. Happiness is a state next to the Divine, the center of our being, and the effects percolate to the outer layers and purify them. If we look upon ourselves as fields of energy with a series of layers of varying vibratory levels, the state of happiness exists in close proximity to the Divine.
Happiness in its subtlest form is our soul’s nature. To see this in action, we only have to look at a little child, naturally joyful and happy. The primary misunderstanding that seems to have taken us off course is that happiness will come from external things. We look outside, despite the fact that both spiritual wisdom and modern science agree that happiness is to be found within.
One reason that we are not able to feel happy is due to our perception of separation, of “I”-ness, and our identification with extraneous objects such as wealth, power and status. In other words, instead of identifying with the soul, we identify with the ego and experience separation from others. In this perception, our attention and efforts are focused on fulfilling our desires. Objects of desire may give us pleasure, but it is short-lived. In order to continue to fill the gap we acquire more and more objects of desire, thinking that they will continue to give us happiness. Sound familiar?
There is also another reason we don’t feel happy, even when we have everything we want. It is because we numb ourselves to the pain that comes from past traumas and memories laden with guilt, shame, anger, fear, jealousy, resentment or worry. When we disable our ability to feel pain, we disable our ability to feel everything else, including joy and happiness – we lose contact with the feeling level of existence.
Many of the emotions we experience on a day-to-day basis are triggered by our subconscious reactions and responses, which are a result of the samskaric load we carry from the past. We label them as positive or negative, based on whether they feel pleasurable or painful. We may go through multiple emotions in any given day, but a happy, contended person is someone who accepts these emotions as part of the ups and downs of the human experience. Per contra, if we have shut down our feeling apparatus so as to shut down pain, we may need some simple practices to help us reconnect with our feelings.
The Heartfulness practices do just that. In Meditation, we dive deeper from thinking into the realm of feeling, in a safe supported environment because of the love that is transmitted from the Source. In the Heartfulness Cleaning, we remove the layers of samskaras from the past that keep us stuck in subconsciously programmed patterns. And in the Heartfulness Prayer, we connect with the Source and experience the nurturing and rejuvenating effects of that connection.
Meditation is the foundation of spirituality; without meditation it is not possible to have even a minor spiritual state or condition, let alone touch the states of purity. And we sense this – at the end of a Heartfulness meditation session, we experience the shift in our inner condition or state. It is caused by an expansion in our consciousness. We then follow a method to assimilate this inner condition throughout our whole being, just as we assimilate food through the metabolic process after eating. This process of spiritual assimilation I have called AEIOU. It enables us to feel expansion in all layers of our being.
When we don’t take the time to assimilate, we lose the new condition. The sustained practice of AEIOU after meditation has the effect of transforming all layers of our being, from the spiritual to the energetic to the physical. I would call this a top down approach. The method revealed in Principle 8 is the bottom up approach, where the assimilation starts from the material and spreads to the energetic and to the spiritual, ending in the final state. These two approaches complement each other in our journey to the goal.
Isn’t it amazing that we are able to bring the highest form of happiness through the power of thought and sanctify the food we take in! This process has the power to purify every particle of the body, leading to physical and spiritual health. It supercharges the prana, thereby leading us to the final state. In another book, Efficacy of Raja Yoga, Babuji confirms this:
There are external forces too helping us to the destination if properly guided. The Eastern thinkers have taken special regard of the question of food. It should be cooked neatly and cleanly in a proper manner. That is the hygienic point, but if it is sattvik and is cooked in constant remembrance of God, its effect will be surprising. And if it is taken meditating all the while on God, it will cure all kinds of spiritual diseases and remove things which hinder our progress.
This concept sheds a whole new light on our relationship with food.
Eating as something sacred
Until the middle of last century, there was a scarcity of food, and that is still the case today in many parts of the world. With the invention of processed food, however, that scarcity was removed in the economically prosperous nations. But there is a downside: Instead of nourishing us, food has become one of our main causes of disease. Based on data by the WHO, close to 40% of adults in the world were overweight in 2016, and the percentage of children was not far behind. Obesity has become an epidemic, and three of the main causes are overeating, poor nutritional quality of the food, and the way we eat, including our general attitude. All of these, in conjunction with inadequate exercise and high stress, lead to what are called lifestyle diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary heart disease and certain forms of cancer.
It is said that emotional eating is one of the root causes of overeating. We eat to compensate for feelings of inadequacy and lack. We eat because of stress and anxiety. Sometimes we deliberately put on weight because of childhood trauma. Craving for food is one of the strongest desires. All these are addressed through this principle.
I also want to touch upon the types of food we eat. Many people have turned vegetarian or vegan after understanding how the type of food impacts our health and well-being. Yogis also consider another perspective here: Animals have a different level of consciousness than plants, and this consciousness is present in the energy field of the food. The yogic science of the three bodies of various forms of life – minerals, plants, animals and humans – helps us to understand why we eat lighter sattvik foods for spiritual evolution. It is also easier to digest plant food than meat from an energetic perspective, and meat has a heaviness associated with the samskaras of the animal, so spiritual practitioners are generally vegetarian in order to maintain the lightness of their system.
Happiness is purity
As you read these pages, you may be wondering whether this principle is about happiness, purity, or our relationship with resources like food and money. Let me share with you how I see it: It is our impurities and complexities that prevent us from experiencing bliss and happiness. So if you really want to experience happiness, this principle will help you to download it, so as to purify your entire system, which will in turn lead you to the experience real happiness. Do you see the invertendo?
Then, your relationship with all resources will be simple, pure and in tune with Nature; that is, you will only take whatever is needed at any point in time, and you will utilize everything you are given for maximum benefit for all. There will be no need to squander or waste food or money, or to be greedy; and no need for dishonest dealings with anyone.
Principle 8 is all about lifestyle – how we earn, how that money is utilized in buying food, how the food is cooked, how it is consumed, and what we do after eating the food. Many of us pray before eating, but what about our thoughts during the meal, and after the meal? How are we assimilating the food? Don’t think that having offered prayer the job is over! Just as meditation in the morning is the beginning of assimilating the meditative state for the day, so eating a meal is the beginning of assimilating the food given in that meal.
So here is a simple suggestion: When you have finished your meal, close your eyes for half a minute and connect with your Center. Truly be grateful from the bottom of your heart for the meal, and for all those who served you. If you are in a restaurant be thankful to the waiters. It is easy to give a tip, but it is rare to give such blessings from the heart. It will touch them at some level. It is a very powerful moment once you have finished eating in divine remembrance, grateful for everything that has happened. With practice, you will soon see that Principle 8 is working at many levels.
Article by KAMLESH PATEL (DAAJI)
Illustrations by JASMEE RATHOD
September 30, 2020
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