Osho on Food
Our wrong attitudes towards food are becoming dangerous for us. They are proving to be very costly. They have taken us to a point where we are somehow just alive. Our food does not seem to create health in us, it seems to create sickness. It is a surprising situation when food starts making us sick. It is as if the sun rising in the morning creates darkness. This would be an equally surprising and strange thing to happen. But all the physicians in the world are of the opinion that most of the diseases of man are because of his wrong diet.
So the first thing is that every person should be very aware and conscious about his eating. And I am saying this especially for the meditator. It is necessary for a meditator to remain aware what he eats, how much he eats, and what its effects are on his body. If a man experiments for a few months with awareness, he will certainly find out which is the right food for him, which food gives him tranquility, peace and health. There are no real difficulties but because we do not pay any attention to food, we are never able to discover the right food.
The second thing about food is that the state of our mind when we eat is much more important than what we eat. Food will affect you differently if you eat joyously, happily, or if you eat when you are filled with sadness and worry. If you are eating in a worried state, then even the best food will have a poisonous effect. And if you are eating with joy then it is possible that sometimes even poison may not be able to have its total effect on you. It is very possible. So what state of mind you eat in is important.
In Russia there was a great psychologist called Pavlov. He did some experiments on animals and he reached an amazing conclusion. He experimented on some dogs and some cats. He gave food to a cat and he observed the cat through an X-ray machine to see what happened in her stomach after she ate her food. When the food went into the stomach the stomach immediately released digestive juices. At the same time a dog was brought to the window of the room the cat was in. When the dog barked, the cat became afraid and the X-ray machine showed that the secretion of digestive juices within her stopped. The stomach closed. It shrunk. Then the dog was taken away, but for six hours the stomach remained in the same condition. The digestive process of the food did not begin again and the food remained undigested in the stomach for six hours. After six hours, when the juices started flowing again, the food was not in a digestible state, it had become solid and had become difficult to digest. When the cat’s mind became worried about the presence of the dog the stomach stopped its work.
Then what about our situation? We live in worry for twenty-four hours a day. It is a miracle how the food we eat gets digested, how existence manages it in spite of us! We have no wish to digest it. It is absolutely a miracle how it gets digested. And how we remain alive! This is also a miracle! Our state of mind should be graceful and blissful. But in our houses the dining table is in the most gloomy state. The wife waits the whole day for her husband to come home to eat and all the emotional sickness she has gathered in twenty-four hours comes out just when the husband is eating. She does not know that she is doing the work of an enemy. She does not know that she is serving poison on her husband’s plate.
The husband is also afraid and worried after the whole day’s work — he somehow dumps the food into his stomach and leaves. He has no idea that the act which he has finished so quickly and has run away from should have been a prayerful one. It was not an act which should have been done in a hurry. It should have been done in the same way as someone entering a temple, or as someone kneeling to pray, or as someone sitting to play his veena, or as somebody singing a song for the beloved. This act is even more important: he is giving food to his body. It should be done in a state of tremendous blissfulness. It should be a loving and prayerful act. The more happily and joyously and the more relaxed and without worry a person can take his meal, the more his food starts becoming the right food.
A violent diet does not only mean that a man eats non-vegetarian food. It is also a violent diet when a man eats with anger. Both of these things are violent. While eating in anger, in suffering, in worry, man is also eating violently. He does not realize at all that just as he is violent when eating the flesh of something else, so when his own flesh burns up inside due to anger and worry, violence is present there too. Then the food which he is eating cannot be non-violent.
The other part of right food is that you should eat in a very peaceful, a very joyful state. If you are not in such a state, then it is better to wait until you are and not to eat for a while. When the mind is absolutely ready, only then should one take his meals. For how long will the mind not be ready? If you are aware enough to wait then at the most it can remain hungry for only one day — but we have never bothered to listen to it. We have made eating food a completely mechanical process. One has to put food into the body and then leave the dining table. It is no longer a psychological process — that is dangerous.
On the body level, the right food should be healthy, non-stimulating and non-violent; on the psychological level the mind should be in a blissful state, graceful and joyous; and on the level of the soul there should be a feeling of gratefulness, of thankfulness. These three things make food the right food.
We should have a feeling that “Because today food is available to me, I am grateful. I have been given one more day to live — I am tremendously grateful. This morning I have woken up alive again, today the sun has given its light to me again, today I will be able to see the moon again, I am alive again today! It was not necessary that I should have been alive today, today I could have been in a grave — but life has again been given to me. I have not earned it; it has been given to me free.” For this at least, a feeling of thankfulness, of gratitude, should be there in one’s heart. We are eating food, we are drinking water, we are breathing — we should have a sense of gratefulness about all this. Towards the whole life, towards the whole world, towards the whole universe, towards the whole nature, towards the divine, there should be a feeling of gratefulness — “I have received one more day to live. Once more I have received food to eat. For one more day I am seeing the sun, seeing the flowers blossoming. I am again alive today.”
Two days before death came to Rabindranath, he said, “Lord, how grateful I am! Oh God, how shall I express my gratitude? You gave this life to me when I was not in any way worthy of receiving it. You gave breathing to me when I had no right to breathe. You gave me experiences of beauty and bliss which I had not earned at all. I am grateful. I am overpowered by your grace. And if in this life given by you, I may have received any pain, any suffering, any worry, it must have been my fault; because this life of yours is very blissful. It must have been my fault. So I do not ask you to give me liberation from life. If you feel me worthy, then send me into this life again and again. This life of yours is very blissful and I am utterly grateful for it.”
This feeling, this feeling of gratitude, should be there in all aspects of life — and very particularly with diet. Only then can diet become the right diet.
Listen to complete discourse at mentioned below link.
Chapter title: The Journey towards the Navel: Right Diet — Labour — Sleep
3 February 1968 pm in Ajol Meditation Camp
Osho has spoken on ‘Right Food’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourse titles:
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha
- The Discipline of Transcendence
- The Empty Boat
- From Bondage to Freedom
- From Personality to Individuality
- The Tantra Vision