Sharing a meal cooked with love is an ageless experience universal to all humans. We have all felt the immediate transformation of consciousness followed by a reciprocation of love for the person that prepared the meal. The fact is, food prepared with loving intention translates perfectly across all languages. Such food has the ability to break down barriers, turning anger into love, fear into trust, and ignorance into enlightenment.
Living consciously begins with eating consciously, which will help you do so in all your thoughts and actions. Your life will be consistent and in harmony with your environment. You will complement your environment instead of disrupting it.
Along with water and air, food is the most basic necessity of life. Its only purpose is to nourish the body, mind, and soul. Food, therefore, should give us life, cleanse our body and uplift our spirit. Eating food should never be just about fueling the physical body.
According to all Yoga traditions, food that is old, decomposed and consisting of dead flesh will pollute the body and consciousness, while food that is fresh, alive and nutritious will enrich the body, cleanse the mind and satisfy the spirit.
When you recognize the equality of all beings, you will naturally want to share Earth’s bounty with others. World hunger is not from lack of food, but from lack of equal distribution. Out of all the grain production on earth, 35.5% is grown to feed livestock, not humans, more than enough to fill the bowls of hungry millions.
The issue of world hunger is vast, varied and complicated – and there is no simple solution for a complex problem – but without a doubt, if humans learned to look past racial, religious and ethnic differences, there would be no scarcity anywhere in the world. What one village lacked in its ability to be sustainable, another village could contribute through free knowledge, labor exchange, or bartering. Unfortunately, the modern capitalist system breeds greed and dishonesty, and thus stands in the way of a conscious, sustainable society.
The truly conscious person does not disrespect other living beings; rather, if you are truly conscious, you honor the environment, respect all and love your own body, which you treat as if it were a blessing or “temple of God.” If you are truly conscious, you live your life in full awareness of your connection to your surroundings. Such a spiritual perspective is the foundation of India’s Vedic culture of hospitality. The conscious person fully embraces a socially responsible and environmentally respectful lifestyle. By becoming aware of your human responsibility to maintain and protect the environment and other forms of life, you will learn to love your brethren and not exploit them by eating them. The same applies to your choice of clothing, cosmetics, cleaning materials and habitat. All should be chosen carefully so that the least amount of harm is inflicted upon our environment.
This journey in raising our consciousness begins with and ends with the tongue. Never underestimate the power of the plate or the power of the spoken word. What you put on your plate is as much a political statement to the world as it is a mirror of who you really are. You can tell much about a person by what comes out of his mouth when he speaks and what he consumes as food.
Food for Life founder Swami Prabhupāda often gave the example of a dog on a throne. “If you throw a shoe, then the dog will leave his throne to chew the shoe,” he would chuckle. Similarly, although an individual may claim to be enlightened or a great moralist, actions speak louder than words, and soon enough those actions will always reveal their true nature. The tongue will always lead the other senses either to purity (and thus liberation) or to debauchery and entanglement in samsara (the cycle of birth and death).
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