Food cannot make you spiritual, but if you are spiritual your food habits will change…
Q: YOU WERE JUST TALKING ABOUT FOOD, AND NOW IN THE WEST FOOD IS A BIG CULT. IT’S ONE OF THE THINGS COMING IN AS A BASIS OF SPIRITUALITY.
YOU SAID IF WE’RE NATURAL, WE’LL KNOW WHAT TO EAT AND WHEN TO EAT, BUT NOW WE ARE OUT OF TOUCH WITH OUR CHILDLIKE NATURE.
ALSO, MANY RELIGIONS SAY THAT THE FOOD YOU EAT DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO ONE’S SPIRITUAL PATH.
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN TELL US ABOUT FOOD AS A GUIDE FOR THE WEST?
It is the other way round: food cannot make you spiritual, but if you are spiritual your food habits will change.
Eating anything will not make much difference. You can be a vegetarian and cruel to the extreme, and violent; you can be a non-vegetarian and kind and loving. Food will not make much difference.
In India there are communities who have lived totally with vegetarian food; many Brahmins have lived totally with vegetarian food. They are non-violent but they are not spiritual.
And Jains are the most materialistic community in India, the most attracted by possessions, accumulation; that’s why they have become the wealthiest. They are the Jews in India. But a non-vegetarian world in the West is not in any way different from these vegetarian communities in India.
Rather, on the contrary, a very important thing has to be remembered: if you are violent and your food is vegetarian, then your violence will have to find some other way of expression. It is natural, because eating non-vegetarian food gives release to your violence.
So if you know some hunters you may have come to realize that hunters are the most loving people. Their whole violence is released in hunting, they are most friendly, loving. But a businessman vegetarian has no way for his violence to be released so his whole violence becomes a search for wealth and power; it becomes narrowed down.
But it happens the other way round. It happened to Mahavira. Mahavira came from a warrior family, he was a Kshatriya. Violence must have been easy for him, and then a deep meditative effort, a twelve-year-long silence changed his inner essence. When the essence changed the expression changed; when the innermost being changed, his character changed. But that character change was not basic, it was a consequence. So I say to you, if you become more meditative you will become more and more vegetarian automatically. You need not bother about it.
And only if this happens, that through meditation vegetarian food comes into you not through mind manipulation, it is good.But manipulating by the mind, argument, reasoning that vegetarian food is good, that it will help you to gain spirituality, is not going to help anything. Your clothes, your food, your habits of life, your style, everything will change; but this change is not basic. The basic change is going to be in you and then everything else follows.
If you meditate long enough, deep enough, it is impossible for you to hurt anybody for food; it is impossible. It is not a question of argument, it is not a question of scriptures, it is not who says what, it is not a question of calculating that if you take vegetarian food you will become spiritual; it is automatic. It is not a question of cunningness, you simply become spiritual. The whole thing seems so absurd. Just for food, killing animals, birds, seems so absurd, it falls down.
Your clothes change automatically; by and by you like looser and looser clothes. The more relaxed you are inside — loose clothes. Automatically I say; there will be no decision on your part. By and by, if you use tight clothes you will feel uneasy. Tight clothes belong to a tense mind, loose clothes belong to a relaxed mind.
But the inner change is the first thing and everything else is just a consequence. If you reverse the order you will miss then you will become a food addict.
One man came to me. He was just lean and thin and pale, and any moment he could die, and he said, “I want to live only on water because everything else is a hindrance to spirituality. Now I want to live on pure water.”
This man is going to die. There have been a few people who have lived on pure water but that happened to them naturally, it cannot be practised. They were freaks, accidents; their body mechanism and chemistry worked differently. It has happened — somebody can survive on water but nobody can practise it.
Someday science may be able to find the basic chemical change and then everybody will be able to survive on water; then science will change your body chemistry and you will survive just on air. It is possible but you cannot practise it. And the whole effort is meaningless and the whole suffering is unnecessary, but there are mad people who try things like that. It has never happened by effort.
There was one woman in Bengal — she lived forty years without food, but it simply happened. Her husband died and she couldn’t eat for a few days.just out of misery, out of sorrow, she couldn’t eat. But suddenly she realized that without eating she was feeling better than ever. Then she realized that in the past whenever she was eating, she was always ill, and suddenly she became healthy as she never was. Then she lived for forty years without eating anything, just the air was the food. And this has happened in many cases.
There was one woman in Europe — for thirty years she lived without eating. She became a saint because Christians thought it a miracle. They examined her with every scientific instrument to see what was happening and they couldn’t find out anything; then it seemed a miracle. It was not a miracle.
Yoga says there is a possibility of a body change, of a body chemistry change. Right now you are doing the same just by an intermediary. You cannot eat sunrays directly because your body chemistry is not in such a state; the mechanism is not such that it can absorb sunrays directly. So first the fruit of the tree absorbs the sunrays, it becomes vitamin B in the fruit, then you eat the fruit, then the vitamin B goes into your body. The fruit is just an intermediary; the fruit is working just as your agent to absorb the sunrays and then give them to you. You can absorb them through the fruit, not directly.
But if the fruit can absorb directly, why not you? So someday there is going to be a scientific discovery that some body changes will help you to absorb directly, and then fruit will not be needed. In the future — and I think not very long, fifty years — science is bound to discover it.It has to be discovered, otherwise humanity is going to die because food will not be possible. And birth control is not helping, nothing is helping; the population goes on growing. Some way has to be found so food can be dropped and direct absorption of cosmic rays becomes possible. It has happened in individual cases but it was by accident. If it can happen to one individual, it can happen to every individual but not as an accident; it will happen as a scientific change.
But don’t try such things, they are not spiritual. Even if you eat sunrays directly there is nothing spiritual. What is spiritual? Just by dropping the intermediary of fruit you become spiritual? If you live only on water, nothing is spiritual.
What you eat makes no difference; what you are is a totally different phenomenon. And when that changes, everything will change; but that change will not be from the mind, it will be from the innermost being. Then things will change automatically.
Sex will disappear by and by. So I don’t say be a brahamachari, be a celibate. That is foolish, because if you force celibacy you will become more and more sexual in the mind and your whole mind will become ugly and dirty; you will think only of sex and nothing else. That is not the way. you will go crazy and insane. Freud says that ninety percent of madmen are mad because of repressed sexuality.
I don’t say change sex, I don’t say change food; I say change your being and then things will start changing.
Why is so much sex needed? Because you are tense, sex becomes a release. Your tensions are released through it — you feel relaxed, you can go to sleep; if you repress it, you remain tense. And if you repress sex — the only release, the only possibility of release — what will happen? You will go mad. Where will you release your tensions then?
You eat food; it is needed by the body, and the body rejects only things which are not needed. Whatsoever you are eating is somehow needed by the body. If you are taking animal food, if you are taking non-vegetarian food, your mind, your body, your whole being is violent. And it is needed. don’t change it otherwise your violence will have to find another channel.
Change yourself and food will change, clothes will change, sex will change. But change should come from the innermost core, it should not come from the periphery. And all turmoil is on the periphery; deep down there is no turmoil. You are just like the sea — go and watch the sea. All the turmoil, all the waves clashing, is just on the surface; deep, the deeper you go, there is more and more calm. At the deepest part in the sea there is no turmoil, not a single wave.
First go deeper into your sea so you achieve a calm crystallization, so you achieve the point where no disturbance ever reaches. Stand there. From there every change comes, every transformation comes. Once you are there you have become a master; Now whatsoever is unnecessary can be dropped, and can be dropped without any struggle and fight.
Whenever you drop something by fight, it is never dropped. You can drop smoking by fighting, and then you will start doing something else which will become a substitute. You may start chewing gum, it is the same; You may start chewing pan, it is the same, there is no difference. You need something to do with your mouth — smoking, chewing, anything. When your mouth goes on working, you feel at ease because through the mouth tensions are released. So whenever a man feels tense he starts smoking. Why is it that through smoking or chewing gum or tobacco tensions are released?
Just look at a small child. Whenever he feels tense he will put his hand in his mouth, he will start chewing his own hand. This is his substitute for smoking. And why does he feel good when his thumb is in his mouth? Why does the child feel good and go to sleep? This is the way of almost all children. Whenever they feel sleep is not coming they will put the thumb inside the mouth, feel at ease, and fall asleep. Why? The thumb becomes a substitute for the mother’s breast, and food is relaxing. You cannot go to sleep on a hungry stomach, it is difficult to get sleep. When the stomach is full you feel sleepy, the body needs rest. So whenever the child takes the breast in his mouth, food is flowing, warmth, love. He is relaxed, he need not worry; tensions are relaxed. The thumb is just a substitute for the breast; it is not giving milk, it is a false thing, but still it gives the feeling.
When this child grows, if he takes his thumb in public you will think he is foolish, so he takes a cigarette. A cigarette is not foolish, it is accepted. It is just the thumb, and more harmful than the thumb. It is better if you smoke your thumb, go on smoking to your grave; it is not harmful, it is better. No harm is done but then people think you are childish, juvenile, then people think what you are doing is stupid. But there is a need so it has to be substituted.
And in countries where breast-feeding has stopped, more smoking will automatically be there. That’s why the West smokes more than the East — because no mother is ready to give her breast to the child because the shape is lost. So in the West smoking is increasing more and more; even small children are smoking.
I have heard that one mother said to her child, “I don’t want neighbors to tell me that you have started smoking. Be truthful and whenever you start smoking, tell me.” The child said, “Don’t bother Mom, I have already stopped. It is one year now, that I have stopped smoking. It is one year now so don’t you bother, don’t you get worried about it.”
Small children smoking, and the mother is not aware that it is because the breast has been taken away.
In all primitive communities a seven-year-old child, or even an eight or nine-year-old child, will continue breast-feeding. Then there is a satisfaction and smoking will not be so necessary. That’s why in primitive communities men are not so much interested in women’s breasts; there is no problem that somebody will attack them. Nobody looks at the breasts.
If you had been given the breast for ten years continuously, you would get fed up and bored, you would say, “Stop now!” But every child has been taken away from the breast prematurely, and that remains a wound. So all civilized countries are obsessed with breasts. Even an old man, dying, is obsessed with breasts, goes on searching for breasts.
This seems mad, and it is, but the basic cause is there — children should be given the breast otherwise they will become addicted to it, the whole life they will be in search of it.
You cannot stop smoking directly because it has many related things, implications. You are tense, and if you stop smoking you will start something else and the other may be more harmful. Don’t go on escaping problems, face them. The problem is that you are tense, so the goal should be how to be non-tense, not, smoking or not smoking.
Meditate. Relax your tensions without any object into the sky, allow catharsis to happen. When you are non-tense these things will become absurd, foolish, and they will drop. Food will change, your styles of living will change.
But my insistence is on you. Character is secondary, behavior is secondary, the essential you is the primary thing. Don’t pay too much attention to what you do, pay much attention to what you are; being should become the focus, and doing should be left to itself. When being changes, doing follows.