Namaskar dear friends. Today I am very happy to introduce my colleague. His name is Dada Shiilabhadránanda. And he is a yoga teacher and monk and sannyasi and he is a practitioner for how many Dadaji? I’ve practiced for 43 years now. 43 years of meditation. He is an inspiring figure. I always look up to him for advice and inspiration and today he has agreed that he will introduce in our platform of meditation steps. He will introduce the concept of yogic diet. In general you can say that yogis, meditators, we try to follow vegetarian diet. But vegetarianism is a very vague term. There are many kinds of vegetarianism and we follow sattvic diet or sentient diet. Which means the diet most suitable for development of consciousness, for spiritual elevation, for sharpness of the mind and for physical fitness. So I would like him to introduce step by step, all the ideas regarding food regarding the preparation of food consumption of food. And the effect of food order on the body and mind. By the way he has written a book It is a very clear scientific presentation of this sattvic diet. That book is called Diet for health and a higher consciousness. So I think he is a very good figure to present these ideas. I will give the stage to him and yes welcome to this new level of food for higher consciousness. Namaskar Today I’d like to talk about food or more specifically diet, as related to how it can help us for our meditation practice. According to yogic philosophy, this entire creation is the result of the interplay between that Cosmic being or Consciousness and its own intrinsic creative principles. These three creative principles for easier to remember, three forces of nature, can be described according to their effect of their qualification on everything in nature. Let me try to give concrete examples. The first energy expression of this principle is what we call sentient energy. Sentient means that which brings lightness, joy, peace to the mind. The [second] energy principle or creative principle is mutative. Restlessness, activity, constant movement. And the third of these three forces is static. As the word implies static is bringing decay, darkness and ignorance. So these three energies exist in everything. In ourselves, in nature and also of course in the food that we eat. So Yogis who have experimented, you know, in those ancient days. There were no cell phones to send text messages, no jet travel. They didn’t have so many time bound activities. They experimented on their bodies and minds. And also on the food that they ate. And so they were able to categorize foods according to the predominance of one of these three energies within that particular food item. And so this is how the yoga concept of diet has evolved. In our body we have 73 trillion cells. Some of them last for as long as one year and some as short as four hours. An average a cell will last for 21 days. And cells are actually composed of the food which we eat. That’s why you’ve heard the common
phrase, “You are what you eat”. So every single biochemical activity of the body is performed by cells having different functions in different places of our body. So it is very important when we talk about holistic well-being, mental development, that the food which we eat is carefully selected. And so this is why in the yogic system, the diet is based upon its effect. Primarily mentally and secondarily physically. So let us come to some examples of these three food categories. The first category is sentient. Examples of this food; (they are foods which are good for body and for mind). Grains, all of our grains such as rice, wheat, corn, milk products, nuts, seeds, legumes, all of our beans, spices, most spices and natural sweeteners, honey, raw sugar etc. The second category we call mutatative, that brings restlessness. May be good for body, may or may not be good for mind. Carbonated drinks, coffee, tea, chocolate and certain strong spices. Third category of food – static, which is not good for mind, may or may not be good for body, but not for mind. Brings that static flow in the mind, laziness. And it actually may activate lower instincts of mind. So meat, fish, eggs. And because of their heating qualities in the lower levels of the of the body; onions garlic and mushrooms. So these three principle, these energy principles. You may understand them more easily with the analogy of a flower. When a flower is growing, the plant is growing, it’s in the process of developing. It’s dominated by that movement, that activity, we say the mutative energy. And when the plant manifests its beauty in the form of the fruit or the flower, then it is dominated by this sentient, that brings joy or happiness or relief to those who who see that beautiful flower. And with time the flower decay sets in the petals wither, the flower loses its’ luster, its beauty. And that is the predominance of the static principle in that plant. So in this way we may understand even ourselves. For example when we are trying to wake up from the bed. We want to sleep longer, we’re very
much dominated by static energy at that moment. In the middle of the day, we’re moving so fast, we can early sit down and compose ourselves, because that time of the day our energy levels are very high. Evening comes, the beautiful sunset, twilight and go for a walk on the beach, we’re dominated by that sentient energy that brings joy and peace in the mind. So these are the three categories of food. But as the yogic science is very practical, there are certain other modifications to these categories. For example, in a cold climate, where the weather is extremely cold. Then the category of rajasika, the mutative category, second category. Those foods would not be considered anymore affecting restlessness in the mind, because they give a warmth to the body at that time. Also the quantity of food, even a so-called sentient categorised
food; if we eat too much of it, it will not have good effect on mind and body. And third is the preparation. The person who prepares the food, they’re leaving their own mental imprint in the food which they are preparing. So it’s best. You know the the famous phrase of olden days that the best food is mothers food. Because of the love that she put into the food feeding her family. So when we are able to take that kind of food which is from pure minded people, it definitely has a very beneficial effect on the mind. It reminds me of a story when I was a new monk, new yoga teacher and I had been invited to dinner at the home of one of our members. He wanted to learn meditation, so I arrived and I started to teach him some of the meditation practice and the yoga exercises. And the wife immediately went into the kitchen. She was so much eager to serve me some delicious food. So after two hours of our practices we came to the dinner and she sat us down and I mean it was like an ambrosial heaven. Seeing that the scents coming from the from the dishes and she began to serve me with so much love and affection and the food was so beautifully assimilated in my body. Next morning, early morning, the brother whom I taught meditation was so keen to meditate with me, we got up early, but I had such a nice feeling in my stomach and in my mind from the previous evenings dinner. So this is a very wonderful example I had about the effect of how food can affect our mind by someone who cooks it with love and sincerity. Another benefit of the vegetarian diet, the sentient vegetarian diet as I mentioned earlier the effect of food on the cells of the body. Each cell is made up of food from which we eat. So when we’re eating this type of sentient food, the cells emanate their own radiance, thier only effulgence. That’s why you’ve seen halos around the pictures of saints or great spiritual teachers. Because their food and also their minds, through meditation, creates this holy orders this subtle vibration, which we see in the form of those photos or sketches of great teachers. So throughout history if we look at the examples of vegetarians. we may find the greatest intellectual, moral, spiritual teachers followed vegetarian diet. Whether it was Sir Isaac Newton, Einstein, Gandhi, Buddha, Plato, Socrates, Benjamin Franklin. There’s a whole list of famous people not only famous but renowned for either of these three qualities; moral, intellectual or spiritual. That can give some credence to the value of the vegetarian diet when it comes to its effect mentally and spiritually. So not many studies have been done so far about the effects of vegetarian diet. But one out of Arizona State University showed that there’s a general perception that vegetarians are more gentle, more compassionate, more considerate than meat-eaters. It’s such a subjective thing but somehow the perceptions are there with rating vegetarians with non vegetarians. And through practice you will
see that the diet, the sattvic or the sentient diet of the the yogic way of life, will increase your desire to meditate. And it will open your appreciation for subtle music, subtle art and subtle dance. And you will slowly and gradually begin to feel the joy of how food, properly selected, will enhance every aspect of your outlook on life. and make you more mentally and spiritually developed. Thank you very much.