December 13, 2016

Eat to Live, Not Live to Eat

Swami Sarvapriyananda enjoying Jalebi dessert 
at the Santa Barbara Vedanta Society Temple.
He's just been reassigned to head the New York West Side Vedanta Society. 
We will miss you Swami !!!

Sri Ramakrishna used to say: 
“Eat as much as you like during the day, 
but eat sparingly at night.” 

Swami Brahmananda, the eminent disciple of the Master, explains the meaning of these words: The idea is that the full meal taken at noon will be easily digested, and if you eat lightly at night, your body will remain light and you can easily concentrate the mind. A heavy meal at night produces laziness and sleep. How do you want to spend the night - in sleep or in meditation? People are generally busy during the day, so it is difficult to still the restless mind at that time. But at night nature becomes calm and all creatures go to sleep. This, therefore, is the best time for meditation. Concentration becomes easily intensified in the quiet hours of the night.

The glutton who has no restraint over his palate injures his body and mind. Whenever he gets some choice food, he overeats and then suffers from breathing difficulty. His whole energy is spent in digesting that food, and if he cannot digest it, he falls ill. Foods like onion, garlic, and chili excite the body and mind so much that later one finds it extremely difficult to bring the system under control. I think that those who want to lead a spiritual life should pay special attention to what they eat and drink. Don’t overeat. Eat that food which is nutritious, easily digested and not exciting. Avoid stimulating food because it is injurious, and also avoid that food which increases lethargy (tamas). What is the purpose of food? To maintain good health and one needs good health for God-realization. Discrimination with regard to food and moderation in eating are very much connected with mastery over the senses. 

“A man who has controlled all other senses except the palate is not to be considered a master of his senses. When the desires of the palate are controlled, everything else is controlled” 
(Bhagavata, 11.8.21).   From the book ‘Meditation & Its Practices’ by Swami Adiswarananda