There is a saying that ‘you are what you eat’. It is true; the food we eat determines to a great percentage, our caliber, character and attitude. Some people eat to live while some others live to eat; some are vegetarians while some others are non-vegetarians. If Cambodians eat Tarantulas (a kind of spider), raw Herring (fish) is eaten in Holland, Stink Bugs in Indonesia, Tuna eyeball in Japan, raw Octopus in China, Duck fetus egg (Balut) in Southeast Asia, Mopane caterpillars in Botswana and grasshoppers in Mexico…….the list of weary items never cease.
Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. Just as physical body needs energy, subtle body (mind) also needs to be nourished regularly. While physical body can accept only the gross elements in the food we eat, mind is attuned only to the subtle energy content in what we eat. Any food invariably contains subtle and gross energy within, but is different in content ratio. Food in India is classified into sattvic (pure), rajasic (moderate) and tamasic (harmful), depending upon the quality and quantity of pure energy it contains. Non-vegetarian items generally come under the tamasic category. Just like gross and subtle energy are extracted from solid food, some quantity of gross residue is extracted from subtle energy fields to which our energy body is always in contact. This is why spiritually elevated humans ask for less solid food. They generally have a powerful aura that is connected to the Source Energy. There are even stories of non-eaters. An ideal food in this sense should positively nourish both body and mind. An animal knowing that it is going to be killed fills all its body with deadly hormones, which does not die out even while cooking the meat. Much of the body energy is wasted in resisting these hormones from creating havoc in the body, but tamasic food might give a physical uplifting experience for a while. In ancient Tibet people ate only the meat of animals killed by accidents like falling down from a cliff.
Right spiritual growth and optimum energy accumulation are related closely and require strict eating disciplines, like being a vegetarian, following definite sitting posture, eating pattern, eating frequency, nature of cooking the items and finally the percentage of awareness within. The more we eat with awareness the more subtle energy is transferred. Everything is life and we need to approach food as if it is willingly sacrificing itself with satisfaction and joy. Our attitude should be that of gratitude to the things we eat and the Power that provides.
Eating food well crushed and ground helps early digestion and loss of energy. It increases efficient breakdown of the food at enzyme level. The more we chew and grind any food, it is made softer and warmer and the enzymes in saliva easily break down carbohydrates in the food. Even liquid food is advised to be taken well masticated. Mastication is primarily an unconscious act, but can be mediated by higher conscious input, if silence is observed. Digestion requires much body energy; this is systematically saved by eating food only during day time, when solar energy is available for digestion. At noon, when the sun is maximum radiant, Indians still take the heaviest of day foods. Indians also knew the relevance of periodical fasting. Usually people eat three times more than the actual requirement. The more one eats, the more diseased one becomes; the more irregular the eating habits are the more closer we are to a physical breakdown. Right eating saves body and spirit.