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Man is the only species whose diet is not predictable. The diet of all other animals is certain. Their basic physical needs and their nature decides what they should eat and what they should not; how much they should eat, how much they should not; when they should eat and when they should stop. But man is absolutely unpredictable, he is absolutely uncertain. Neither his nature tells him what he should eat, nor his awareness tells him how much he should eat, nor his understanding decides when he should stop eating.
As none of these qualities of man are predictable the life of man has gone in some very uncertain directions. But if there is even a little understanding – if man starts living with even a little intelligence, with even a little thoughtfulness, opening his eyes even a little – then it is not at all difficult to change to a right diet. It is very easy; there can be nothing more easy. To understand right diet we can divide it into two parts.
The first thing: what should a man eat and what should he not eat?
Man’s body is made of chemical elements. The whole process of the body is very chemical. If alcohol is put into a man, then his body will be affected by the chemical – it will become intoxicated, unconscious. Howsoever healthy, howsoever peaceful the man may be, the chemistry of the intoxication will affect his body. Howsoever saintly a man may be, if he is given poison then he will die.
Any food which takes man into any kind of unconsciousness, any kind of excitement, any kind of extremity, any kind of disturbance, is harmful. And the deepest, ultimate harm is when these things start reaching the navel.
Perhaps you are not aware that in naturopathy all over the world, mud packs, vegetarian food, light food, water-soaked cloth strips and tub baths are used to heal the body. But no naturopath has yet understood the point that the effects of water-soaked cloth strips, mud packs, or tub baths, on the body are not so much because of their special qualities but because of how they affect the navel center. And the navel center then affects the rest of the body. All these things – the mud, the water, the tub bath – affect the dormant energy in the navel center and when this energy arises, health starts arising in the person’s life.
But naturopathy is still not aware of this. Naturopathy thinks that perhaps these beneficial effects are coming from the mud packs or the tub baths or the wet strips on the stomach! They do have benefits, but the real benefits are coming from the awakening of energy in the dormant centers of the navel.
If the navel center is mistreated, if a wrong diet, wrong food is used, then slowly, slowly the navel center becomes dormant and its energy becomes weaker. Slowly, slowly that center starts falling asleep. Finally it almost goes to sleep. Then we don’t even notice it as any center.
Then we notice only two centers: one is the brain where thoughts are constantly moving, and the other is a little bit of the heart where emotions are moving. Deeper than this we have no contact with anything. So, the lighter the food is, the less it creates heaviness on the body, the more valuable and significant it will be for the beginning of your inner journey.
For a right diet the first thing to remember is that it should not create excitement, it should not be intoxicating, it should not be heavy. After eating rightly you should not feel heaviness and drowsiness. But perhaps all of us feel heaviness and drowsiness after our meals – then we should know that we are eating wrongly.
Some people get sick because they do not get enough food and some people get sick because they get too much food. Some people die of hunger and some people die of overeating. And the number of people dying of overeating has always been more than the people dying of hunger. Very few people die of hunger. Even if a man wants to remain hungry there is no possibility of him dying for at least three months. Any person can live without food for three months. But if a man overeats for three months then there is no possibility of his survival.
Our wrong attitudes towards food are becoming dangerous for us. They are proving to be very costly. They have taken us to a point where we are somehow just alive. Our food does not seem to create health in us, it seems to create sickness. It is a surprising situation when food starts making us sick. It is as if the sun rising in the morning creates darkness. This would be an equally surprising and strange thing to happen. But all the physicians in the world are of the opinion that most of the diseases of man are because of his wrong diet.
So the first thing is that every person should be very aware and conscious about his eating. And I am saying this especially for the meditator. It is necessary for a meditator to remain aware what he eats, how much he eats, and what its effects are on his body. If a man experiments for a few months with awareness, he will certainly find out which is the right food for him, which food gives him tranquility, peace and health. There are no real difficulties but because we do not pay any attention to food, we are never able to discover the right food.