FOOD, FAST & FASTING OF MIND
The physically body cannot exist without food. It is necessary for sustenance of human life. Food indirectly controls even one's thoughts and actions.
Food items can be put in two categories vegetarian and non vegetarian. Vegetarian food is good and advantageous but non-veg food is harmful and disadvantageous from spiritual point of view. The reason and explanation on all related aspects are well explained in Baba’s words as below:
According to Baba
To eat meat is detrimental to some extent in controlling one's sexual nature. The main disadvantage is that eating meat increases sexual desires. Consciousness exists in stones, but there is so very little consciousness in stones – almost nothing. It is in vegetation that the evolution of consciousness begins. And consciousness increases as an animal form evolves into another animal form; in man it is complete. With the advance in consciousness, sexuality also increases. The more the consciousness, the more the sexual longing; and the less the consciousness, the less the sexual longing. So, if we eat meat, the degree of sexuality increases in us; but if we remain on vegetarian food then it neither increases nor decreases.(Lord Meher, 1 st. ed., Bhau Kalchuri Vol 2, pp. 624-625)
Baba advised vegetarian food for spiritual reasons, and for the reason of health. Animal food stimulates excitement, lust, passion and evil desires, which are detrimental to spiritual progress. Vegetable food helps one to keep the feelings, emotions and desires balanced and normal, and hence assists the aspirant on the spiritual path. Also it improves health, aids digestion, and is free from certain poisons contained in animal food.Vegetarian food for spiritual reasons
I allow vegetarian to follow their diet and non vegetarian to eat meat, fish etc. I do not interfere with any religion and permit all to follow their own creed unhindered, when faced with love for God; these external ceremonies have no value. Love for God is automatically and naturally result in self-denial, mental control and ego annihilation irrespective of the lover following or renouncing these external adoptions.
Tea and milk
Strong tea provides a very good stimulant to tired nerves. But it causes no real improvement in health. On the contrary, the general health is usually undermined with strong stimulants.
Milk is the best food; it sustains the body and purifies the mind. And the more the mind becomes pure, the more it can be controlled. Desires become less, which is necessary for spiritual aspirants, as there is no progress on the path without the mind being under control. So long as desires and longings persist, the mind cannot be controlled. From that standpoint, therefore, milk is the best food.
Out of all foods consumed, milk is the best, because there is no loss of life in it. It comes from vegetable kingdom, because in it life is not complete. And worst is animal food. By eating flesh, we at once catch the sanskaras of the animal, and our anger and lust are provoked.
Baba also referred merit and demerits different kind of food
There are three things that are good for increasing and purifying the blood: pomegranates, grapes and tomatoes; but grapes have one defect, they create bile. Okra is good for people with backaches. Potatoes give strength, but create gas. Lentils are good; beans, pumpkins, cabbages and cauliflower are not nourishing, but are tasty. Eggplant is the worst possible thing for you. To eat eggplant is to commit suicide because it spoils the blood and turns it to water. Radishes create gas but they are good for the intestines. Spinach is also very good.
Rustom jokingly interjected, "Chicken is good because it has no sanskaras."
"We are not talking of sanskaras, but of the quality of things." corrected Baba. Then he continued:
Among non-vegetarian food, fish is the best for the brain because it contains phosphorus. Eggs are good but are hard to digest. Among all food, milk is the best because nothing is killed in obtaining it. The next best are vegetables because life in them is not fully developed. The worst impressions lie in non vegetarian food. Worst is animal food. By eating flesh, we at once catch the sanskaras of the animal, and our anger and lust are provoked. (Lord Meher, 1st. ed., Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 3, pp. 1106 – 1107)
Baba’s favourite fruit was mango then papaya & ripe figs. (26 Nov, 1927, Meherabad, LM-3-p-982)
An interesting episode on food
Jal Rusi, Goher’s younger brother had stayed at Meherabad for a few days the previous year and was engaged to be married. At the time he was lean and slender, and one day he told Baba, "Make me big, Baba." Baba replied, "Stay here and I will." "But the food here will make me even thinner," said Jal.
So Baba arranged special meals for him and asked Eruch to dress himself like a waiter and serve him. Jal would take his food very pompously, sitting at a special table (not like the other men mandali, who would eat sitting on a thin carpet or mat on the floor), and Eruch would serve him.
But when Jal was eating, Baba would appear and remark, "Oh, you shouldn't eat that; it will make you thinner. Give it to Baidul and Gustadji." So Jal would give the item away. Thus every day, just when Jal was about to eat his meal, Baba would appear and repeat the same thing. Jal was thinking himself something special to be treated with such deference by Baba and the others, but in reality he would go hungry.
For a week Jal kept quiet; then finally he told Baba, "You keep coming in when I am about to take my meals and make me give all the good dishes you've ordered for me to Baidul and Gustadji. Instead of growing bigger, I am losing weight."
"Don't you worry? You will surely start gaining," Baba promised.
Despite the facilities afforded him, Jal Rusi learned how difficult it was to remain with Baba.
Ghani also disliked the vegetarian food. One day he said to Baba, "Meat-eaters such as lions and tigers are very powerful and energetic creatures. Their stomachs are never bloated. But the grass-eating bullock has a big stomach without the strength, power and courage of the carnivores.
"So," Ghani reasoned, "if the mandali become non-vegetarians, we will be strong like lions!"
Baba, however, pointed out, "The elephant is also a vegetarian and just see how strong he is. Why don't you be like an elephant instead?"
"But the elephant carries a big stomach," Ghani argued. "Then let your tummy also grow. Your stomach should be as big as your head," Baba teased, "then you will look fine. So, take plenty of vegetarian food while you are here!"
We are in the habit of eating food at regular intervals. With a few exceptions, when we feel hungry our stomach craves for food, although we may be engrossed in some other work. But when the mind is occupied in some work, the stomach feels satisfied. It is our nature to look at the clock when it is time for food. If we purposely fast, our eyes would constantly be on the clock to see if it is time to break the fast. By such fasting, the bindings become strong. When I ask you to fast, it is something different.
Fast is scientifically is good for health as it helps to improve one’ digestive system and good from spiritual point view to some extent.
According to Baba
Effect of Fasting
The body will survive for ninety-five days if one remains only on water. Just as the body feeds on food, so the mind feeds on desires and indulgence in these desires feeds the mind and the ego. So, by starving the mind of these desires, the ego becomes very thin and weak.
In a physical fast, taking only water, lust is lessened, but anger and hope are increased. During the first three days of a fast, hunger is marked, depression is strong, anger is strengthened and lust is diminished. From the third to the seventh day, there is a fluctuation in feelings: hunger, depression, anger and lust are all lessened, while hope – for everything -is still strong. On the tenth day, the feelings again swing back, and there is increased hunger and anger. This lasts until the fourteenth day, when the feelings again become calm and remain calm. Thus, after the fourteenth day, a fast has no spiritual value.
Food is a direct necessity of life, and its continued denial is bound to be disastrous to health. Therefore, external fasting should be periodical, and only for a short time.
Fasting of mind
Fasting of the mind is to have no thoughts. These in itself are impossible, but remember Me as often as you can and then your mind will not be in a fumble as to what to think of. You leave your mind to Me by having My constant remembrance or taking My name, and there will be no food (thoughts) worth the name for the mind to feed on. Thoughts of Me will supersede all other thoughts in your mind.
Meher Baba also explained the great theme behind Ramjan practiced by Mohammedans. It is meant for more for fasting of mind than food. Fasting of mind means –Let no bad thought enters one’s mind. This requires more concentrated and conscious effort to control of one’s thoughts. If a bad thought enters in one’s mind, it has to be neutralized by counter thought of rejecting it or not doing it.
Fasting of Sadguru and Avatar
Fasting by the Perfect Master who is one of universal Mind and Infinite consciousness amounts to penance or ordeal suffered by the universe itself , resulting in spiritual betterment of humanity. Baba used to keep fast frequently but His fast was divine and for divine purpose.