Fasting Diet & Buddhism
Meditation in the bath in the mornings, rather than listening to a ‘lifestyle guru’ I like to play a ‘Dhamma Talk’ by one of the Buddhist Ajahn’s from the informative website of Amaravati Monastery.
This morning it was Ajahn Metta and just labelled ‘Dhamma Talk’. Her voice was very quiet and was difficult to hear above my abolutery splashing sounds, but I laid still to listen to see whether to change it – and am I glad that I didn’t!
She was discussing fasting and diet and how the ‘switch off’ for religous fasting was easier than a controlled diet and being a meditator and Buddhist, the process of watching her mind on a diet was important. I am currently doing the same thing with both intermittent fasting and a ketogenic diet so this was ‘gold dust’ for me.
I will summarise her points and add my own notes in my own way:
Pooh Bear said ‘the most delicious taste whilst eating honey is the moments before you put it in your mouth’. This is the rising of desire (our anticipatory mind).
If you recognise this arising, don’t push it away, investigate it fully. Ajahn Metta received the food, smelled it and put it on her shrine to examine her mind. The desire was to eat, it appeared that her body craved nourishment, when denied it eventually eased, but after a while would come back again. When denied again, it would appear with a different face, like sexual desire or ‘wanting’ something.
Her point was that desire had many faces but in fact was the same thing. Many lifestyle gurus would want us to use that desire to energise us to work for other things we may want in life, but Ajahn Metta was saying that if you just observe it, eventually it calms down, leaving you with an incredible sense of peace. I like that.
The problem is that if you don’t deal with the desire, it will inevitably control you and allow others to use it to suit them all of your life.
I realised that when I fasted and controlled my food the diet worked well, but when my mind fell foul of the different faces of desire I could get confused. When a diet guru says you can eat as much as you like of….. what happens? Gluttony means you overeat whatever you are allowed, it’s crazy but you’re being driven by a demon without realising it, thinking you are still doing good. I remember friends on the Atkin’s diet eating masses of meat and cream because it was ‘okay’ and failing because they didn’t realise that they were not addressing their real problem and desire was simply wearing another face!
Buddhism teaches you to watch your mind. Mindfulness and self examination are the key to success. A greedy person can be chasing ‘success’, food, wealth, sex and be allowing it to control their life from the outside in and their are many guru’s, businesses and politicians happy to exploit those weaknesses.
Diet is about being disciplined, not punishing yourself, but become your more ‘natural’ self by examining your thoughts, wants and desires and their results, that way wisdom can arise and the balancing is permanent.