Chapter 3: The Navel: Seat of Will
In Russia there was a great psychologist called Pavlov. He did some experiments on animals and reached an amazing conclusion. He experimented on both cats and dogs. He gave food to a cat and he observed the cat through an X-ray machine to see what happened in her stomach after she ate her food. When the food went into the stomach, the stomach immediately released digestive juices. At the same time a dog was brought to the window of the room that the cat was in. When the dog barked the cat became afraid, and the X-ray machine showed that the secretion of digestive juices within her had stopped. The stomach closed; it shrank. Then the dog was taken away, but for six hours her stomach remained in the same condition. The digestive process of the food did not begin again and the food remained undigested in the stomach for six hours. After six hours, when the juices started flowing again, the food was not in a digestible state: it had become solid and difficult to digest. When the cat’s mind became worried about the presence of the dog the stomach stopped its work.
Then what about your situation? - you live in worry for twenty-four hours a day. It is a miracle how the food you eat is digested, how existence manages it in spite of you! You have no wish to digest it. It is an absolute miracle how it is digested. And how you remain alive is also a miracle! Your state of mind should be graceful and blissful.
But in your houses, the dining table is in the most gloomy state. The wife waits the whole day for her husband to come home to eat and all the emotional sickness she has gathered in the last twenty-four hours comes out just when the husband is eating. She does not know that she is doing the work of an enemy. She does not know that she is serving poison on her husband’s plate.
The husband is also afraid and worried after the whole day’s work - he somehow dumps the food into his stomach and leaves. He has no idea that this act which he has finished so quickly and has run away from should have been a prayerful one. It was not an act which should have been done in a hurry. It should have been done in the same way as someone entering a temple, as someone kneeling to pray, as someone sitting to play his veena or as someone singing a song for the beloved. This act is even more important: he is giving food to his body. It should be done in a state of tremendous blissfulness; it should be a loving and prayerful act.
The more happily and joyously and the more relaxed and without worry a person can be when eating, the more his food will start becoming the right food.
A violent diet does not mean only that a man eats nonvegetarian food: it is also a violent diet when a man eats with anger. Both of these things are violent. While eating in anger, in suffering, in worry, man is also eating violently. He does not realize at all that just as he is violent when eating the flesh of something, so is it when his own flesh burns up inside because of anger and worry; then violence is present there too. Then the food which he is eating cannot be nonviolent.
The other part of right-food is that you should eat in a very peaceful, a very joyful state. If you are not in such a state, then it is better to wait until you are and not to eat for a while. When the mind is absolutely ready, only then should you eat your meals. How long will it take for the mind to be ready? If you are aware enough to wait, then at the most it can remain disturbed for only a day. But you have never bothered to listen to it; you have made eating food a completely mechanical pro-cess. You put food into the body and then leave the dining table - it is no longer a psychological process, and that is dangerous.