Today, the ekādaśī, is the first time I was able to withdraw from eating again since I stopped “fasting” last Saturday. These past four days have been challenging and exhausting.
First thing I noticed when I resumed eating was that it’s a very time and energy consuming business. What to eat? When? How much? How often? How to match foods? When to cook? When to go shopping? What to cook?
That’s just the first stage of attack. Second stage comes with actual eating and digesting. It’s a big strain on one’s body, by the end of the day I was exhausted. My stomach was working fine but it felt like my entire day was dedicated to processing food. Now, four days later, I got used to it but it still feels like heavy lifting.
Today’s ekādaśī, as I said, and it gave me a legitimate opportunity to take a break from that aggravation. What a relief! I had a couple of glasses of juice and nighttime milk still awaits but that doesn’t count as eating, does it? Juice, or even water, kills approaching feeling of hunger and my body hasn’t accumulated enough toxins yet to trigger a headache so life is good. I feel light and peaceful. Not much energy to run around but that’s not what I do everyday anyway so there’s no loss there. I should seriously reconsider my relationships with food and eating.
This is where I run into a problem – I don’t know what the proper relationship should be. Eating as usual is too stressing, eating nothing is unsustainable in the long run. Eating less is tricky – once you start it’s difficult to stop.
I don’t consider cutting myself half way through a meal as control of the senses, if I feel like I want to eat I should eat, renunciation is non-devotional, it’s an artificial tool that one day will backfire and unfulfilled senses will eventually find their counterparts, sense objects. Fasting or restraining oneself from eating hardens one’s heart, too – devotees should not be forcing their bodies to reject Kṛṣṇa’s energy and mercy in the form of prasāda, we should be embracing it instead.
Renunciation also stresses one’s mind and intelligence into fighting hunger instead of thinking of Kṛṣṇa. These resources are limited, mind is strongly attracted to lots of things as it is, we should try to reduce its distractions, not add some more in the form of jonesing for food.
So, if I want to eat I should eat. Problem is that eating leads to wanting to eat more, just like sex or any other addiction. This is another manifestation of māyā’s force – prakṣepātmikā-śakti, the one that drags us down. It’s like a quicksand or a bog – you step into it and immediately you start to sink. The more you try to escape the deeper you sink, staying completely still is your best option to slow it down and you’ll need external help and support if you want to survive.
I wonder if it at all possible – finding the proper diet by gradually reducing one’s food intake. I wonder if approach from opposite direction would be faster – total fasting and eating only when it feels absolutely necessary.
This approach establishes a baseline – no sense indulgence at all, and then adds only what is unavoidable. The correct amount of food is determined not only by what the body really needs to sustain itself but also by how it feels against the baseline.
This sensitivity to how much is too much is there though it does not develop if we overeat everyday. It’s like an alcoholic who can describe himself only as being more or less drunk vs a sober person who feels effect of even very little alcohol right away. Another example is sex – a brahmacārī can sense even the tiniest sexual desire while a person addicted to women’s company becomes less and less sensitive to the grossest pornography. Similarly, after not eating for some time one becomes very sensitive to pleasure derived from indulging one’s tongue.
It feels like an external force acting one one’s mind or like a cloud affecting one’s judgment. The trouble, though, is not only in how it feels but in that it distracts our mind from its natural attraction to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Mind is an element governed by the mode of goodness, remember, left on its own it will learn to appreciate Kṛṣṇa more than anything else. Influenced by hunger or lust it will become contaminated and will become our greatest enemy.
We can’t appreciate Kṛṣṇa if we don’t learn to keep our minds clean.
By Kṛṣṇa I mean our local manifestations – books, orders of the guru, lectures, association with devotees etc. Discovering Kṛṣṇa’s actual form is not on the list yet.
Yesterday’s post covered exactly the same topic – indulgence in materialistic affairs cuts us off from Lord Caitanya’s mercy. It’s still there, sort of, but more in a form of non-liquid assets – we can’t use it for our spiritual advancement right away, we have to wait until we die or until we are relieved from our material obligations. While at it we are also bound to make mistakes and get ourselves in troubles for which the Lord doesn’t want to take any responsibility, we are on our own.
Lord Caitanya might have given us the easiest method of self-realization but it’s still self-realization, it still has to take us through the same steps as other, more difficult forms of yoga. Mind has to be withdrawn from the senses all the same. We are supposed to achieve this through eating prasāda but that still means that we are supposed to learn how to stop eating for own pleasure.
What I propose here is not eating anything at all and then learning to sustain ourselves on only minimum necessary quantities of the said prasāda. This we can’t do artificially, however, most of the time eating nothing is not an option but I posit that eventually, perhaps after consuming a mountain of prasāda equal to the size of Govardhana, it will come naturally. This pig like lifestyle is NOT natural, our bodies do not require food, not in these quantities anyway, desire to eat is the external force, it comes from the modes of nature and from our karma, not from our soul and not from our bodies themselves which are inanimate objects after all. Interaction between senses and sense objects does not arise by itself but only under the influence of the Lord through presiding demigods. It’s external to our pure consciousness.
I don’t know when or if I’ll have a chance to test this theory on myself, for now I’m prepared to wait for the opportunity. I’ve got a taste and I know what I want, eventually the Lord or His material energy WILL provide for it, hopefully in not too distant future.