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Note: For the complete lessons,
with additions, see the AYP
Easy Lessons for Ecstatic Living Books.
– Must We Become Vegetarians?
Date: Feb 17, 2009
New Members: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous
lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why
It should not be surprising that the formula for good health is not very
different from the formula for good progress with spiritual practices, with
fine-tuning to suit individual inclinations and needs. Overall inner health
of the neurobiology and the cardiovascular system requires the following:
--A balanced diet containing a variety of fruits and vegetables, favoring
reduced fat and salt consumption.
--Regular aerobic exercise – the equivalent of 20 minutes or more of brisk
walking at least four times per week.
--A balanced routine of regular daily activity and rest. Not too much
activity, not too much rest.
There is nothing esoteric in these suggestions, which are straight forward,
and come from both modern medicine and ancient yogic wisdom.
Is it necessary to become a strict vegetarian to achieve good health, and be
suitably prepared for yoga practices such as deep meditation?
No, it isn’t. All of the suggestions given above can be acted upon within a
diet regimen that includes meat and dairy products. It is only a matter of
eating in moderation, and favoring the basic guidelines as best we can
without throwing our personal preferences out the window. There is no black
or white in this. While it seems to be human nature to believe it is so, few
things in life are all or nothing. So, good health can certainly be
maintained by eating a wide range of foods in moderation. For those who have
an aversion to fresh fruits and vegetables, try compromising and eating some
of these – only a little bit on a regular basis. It won’t kill you. If you
are a heavy meat eater, favor eating less meat, and see how much better you
feel. It can be as simple as favoring lighter meats (like fish or fowl) over
heavier meats. These tendencies will come up by themselves if you are
practicing deep meditation. It happens like that. Nothing is all or nothing.
We just favor what we know will be good for our health and well being. It is
On the spiritual side it is just the same. We eat according to our
preferences, favoring what we know will improve our health and well being. A
vegetarian diet may gradually emerge in our life as we move ahead, but only
if we are naturally inclined that way.
Forced diets are not the best diets, because they introduce stress and
self-judgment. The first chance it gets, the body rushes back to the old
diet. This is why regimented diet programs rarely work over the long run. It
has to come from within. The same goes for morality-based diets – avoiding
certain foods for moral reasons. Our rising spiritual instincts will guide
us more harmoniously than rules of conduct or rigid ideologies imposed
If we are meditating regularly, we will find that, in time, we will be drawn
to a lighter, more nutritious diet. Our preferences will change naturally.
And we can trust that. The body knows what it needs to sustain the process
of purification and opening fostered by deep meditation. As inner silence
(pure bliss consciousness) rises, our eating habits will change accordingly.
If it is our choice, it is possible to fulfill all of our dietary needs in a
pure vegetarian (vegan) diet, providing for complete protein needs through
the blending of seeds, nuts and legumes. It is also possible to fulfill our
dietary needs in a healthy way, eating a non-vegetarian diet. There are no
absolutes in this – only the honoring of personal preferences, and favoring
moderation in all things.
Light and nutritious says it all. Light to aid in easy cleansing
of the nervous system through our yoga practices, and nutritious to
support good health of the body. Too light is not usually nutritious, and
too nutritious is not usually light. Balance is the key.
Daily deep meditation will naturally lead us in that direction. A
preoccupation with diet is not an aid to meditation, or to anything else in
life. So we take it easy and meditate twice each day. If we do that, the
diet will take care of itself.
The guru is in you.
Note: For detailed discussion on
yogic diet, see the
Diet, Shatkarmas and Amaroli book.