Discussion: Some Questions About Diet

Discussion in 'Eastern Religions and Philosophies' started by Pathless, Feb 15, 2004.

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Is diet important to spiritual development?

  1. Absolutely.

    4 vote(s)
    50.0%
  2. Heck no.

    1 vote(s)
    12.5%
  3. Depends on the person.

    1 vote(s)
    12.5%
  4. Depends on the religion or spiritual path.

    1 vote(s)
    12.5%
  5. You talkin' 'bout the Atkins Diet or the South Beach Diet?

    1 vote(s)
    12.5%
  1. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    Buddhism and also Hinduism reccomend vegetarian diet. What are people's opinions about this; i.e. is this recommendation dogmatic or does it have practical value? Also, both Buddhism and Hinduism discourage consumption of garlic, onion, and mushrooms. What is your understanding of the reasons behind this? If you are practicing Buddhism or Hinduism, do you follow these recommendations? Why or why not? And, finally, are there other religions that I am overlooking which advocate vegetarianism for spiritual reasons? Discounting Jainism, that is. (On a side note, has anyone ever met a Jainist??)
    :confused: :eek: :p :D
     
  2. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste pathless,


    thank you for the post.

    yes, i am a vegetarian and am quite happy to be one. i must admit that it's much easier to be a vegatarian now than it was in the past.. especially for an individual like myself that used to be "meat and potatoes" sort of person.

    as an aside.. if you've not tried the Quron line of vegetarian products, you don't know what you are missing! they are the best.. and, funnily enough (given the reputation) they are an English company ;)

    i did some investigation about the onions, garlic and leeks and have found that, pretty much, that is a speical diet that is encouraged in the Krishna sects. in my particular school, owing to it's northern origins, these aren't an issue. from what i've read of the Krishna dietary restrictions, these three are singled out because they make a person "spicy". they don't really say what that means :) but they do go on to talk about how it can cause indegestion and will interfere with their meditational practice.

    my understanding of the mushroom thing is it is because it's a living creature, although a fungi. in my experience, i've not seen this one much observed... i would tend to suspect that this was simply to prevent people from eating bad 'shrooms and dropping dead.

    we do have to sustain ourselves and, even a strict vegan diet, will cause other beings to die. the insects living in the ground or on the plant etc... so, we need to keep these things in a bit of perspective, in my opinion.

    do i think it's absolutely reuquired? no, not at all. it is recommended for most but is not required for all.
     
  3. Avinash

    Avinash New Member

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    Namaskar,

    One of the spiritual reasons to avoid certain foods and drinks is that they can affect your mind in a similar fashion as drugs do. The easier way to introvert the mind is to do so from a tranquil and clear starting position for reaching concentration and subtle ideations. So you want to do everything that will create such a desired starting position and want to avoid everything that will spoil it.

    Diet is one way to do this, but parallel to diet can be keeping your body and clothes clean, keeping your surroundings clean and tidy and controlling your daily thoughts and intentions in such a way that its subtlety is not disturbed. This approach is called shaoca in Yoga. So shaoca is concerned with keeping the mind (also indirectly through the external personal world) clean and pure.

    In most religions the reasons for the religious diet are not properly understood and the diet is proscribed as a dogma. Hopefully in the future it will be possible to measure the effects of certain foods on the mind in an objective way.

    Another spiritual reason to avoid certain foods is that using them can (indirectly) cause pain and suffering in other creatures. In Yoga this comes under ahimsa. In some religions this aspect of the spiritual diet is ignored. I'm curious to know if there are any dietary proscriptions in Sikhism.
     
  4. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    Of course, as a point of note, I'm sure I've heard reference to modern "cult" movements enforcing a "spiritual" low-protein diet, specifically because it supposedly makes adherents more open to suggestion. I really don't know what the supposed mechanism for that might be, but I thought to throw that one into discussion anyway. :)
     
  5. Avinash

    Avinash New Member

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    Namaskar,

    Isn't the whole idea of "cult" movements a thing from the nineteen seventies? I've never heard of low-protein diets before, do you have some examples of movements that use such an enforced diet? In India the people on a spiritual vegetarian diet eat plenty of dahl (a soup of beans with spices) and usually also milk and yoghurt.
     
  6. Avinash

    Avinash New Member

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    Namaskar,

    Actually, the diet that is followed in ISKCON is the same diet that is followed in Yoga and is the preferred diet of many Indian Brahmins. The onion family (including garlic, leeks etc.) with its pungent smells and the mushrooms (that live off rotting material) have a crudifying effect on the mind. It's no coincidence that many mushrooms are used as a drug. The same goes for cafeine (in black coffee, tea and chocolate) and a handfull of other products like e.g. red lentils. The onion family is also said to work as an aphrodisiac which is of course less desireable in most spiritual practices.
     
  7. Vapour

    Vapour New Member

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    :confused: hey, your statement "Buddhism ..... recomend vegetarian diet" is very wrong. Among Buddhism, only Chinese Buddhism enforce vegetarianism. I do grant that there are lot of Chinese buddhists due to their huge population, However, from the perspective of denomination, they are in minority. The rest of Buddhist tradition don't practice vegetarianism and there are very good thelogical justification for it.

    Buddah wasn't a vegetarian. He died from eating what in pali is wrtten as pork-soft. Some interpret this as a type of fungus, however, there are other parts which mention Buddah eathing "pork's fresh" and no one would claim that the meaning of the words is anything other than literal.

    This doesn't mean Buddhist *have to* eat meat. Just that what you put in your mouth means very little compare to what come out from your mouth.
     
  8. Vapour

    Vapour New Member

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    My above post probably need to be explained bit further.

    Firstly, you do meet some buddhist who claim that if you are buddhist, you have to be a vegetarian. And they do quote buddhist scriptures to back it up. So obviously, my above claim is not as clear cut as it is.

    Basically, there are two main branch of Buddhism, Mahayana and Theravada and two major collection of sutras(scripture), Theravada sutras based on Pali language and Mahayana sutras based on sanskrit language. Theravadan buddhism follow only pali cannons while Mahayanan buddhism follow both Pali and Sanskrit sutras.

    Pali cannons were comprise much earlier and remain intact. On the other hand large part of sanskrit sutras have been lost and survive only in Chinese and Tibettan. To add further, especially in chinese sutras, availability of different version of sutras make it quite clear that addition and edition of sutras went on for quite sometimes, making authenticity of part of chinese sutras problematic.

    The part dealing with vegetarianism in Mahayanan sutras are considered as very weak, especially in light of Pali sutras which shows that

    *buddah wasn't a vegetarians
    *his monks and lays followers weren't vegetarians
    *buddah even went as far as setting condition in which one can eat meat which include permission to eat meat which was purchased from someone else.
    *Buddah explicity rejected vegetarianism when it was suggested
    *He repeatedly state in one sutta that simply eating meat doesn't make one impure.

    So type of *food* is very minor issue in Buddhism. this doesn't mean diet is not an issue in buddhism nontheless.
     

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