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Pay equal attention to your physical and spiritual health—have moderate food and do adequate meditation. This is the way to achieve complete wellbeing
Neglect not thy health… says Pythagoras… Dispense with moderation food to the body and to the mind repose.
Health has two aspects to it. One is the physical, the other is the spiritual. The body is your temple—don’t neglect it. Your foolish, stupid ascetics have been telling you to neglect it—not only to neglect but to destroy your body. Pythagoras is not an ascetic: he is a man of understanding.
He says: Respect, don’t neglect, your body. If your body is neglected, you will not be able to find inner harmony—because if the body is harmonious, it helps to attain inner harmony. Take every care of your health, of your body; love it, respect it, it is a great gift. It is a miracle, a mystery.
What food is for the body, repose is in exactly the same way for the soul: food nourishes the body and repose nourishes the soul. The materialist forgets about repose; that’s why in the West there is so much restlessness—they have forgotten repose, they don’t know how to relax. They don’t know how to be in a state of unoccupiedness; they don’t know how to sit silently doing nothing. They have completely forgotten! The materialist is bound to forget. He goes on eating too much, and he has forgotten that only his body goes on becoming fatter and fatter, and his soul goes on becoming thinner and thinner.
Repose is far more essential even than food. If sometimes you go on a small fast it is good, but repose should never be forgotten—because basically the body is only a temple: the deity is within. The body has to be loved only because it is a temple of the deity. The body is only a means; the end is inside.
Repose is food, meditation is food, for the soul. Repose means silence, rest, relaxation, calmness, coolness, collectedness, meditativeness. A state of unoccupied mind, empty, silent, with no idea of any doing, not going anywhere, not rushing anywhere—just being herenow. That is repose. And to be herenow is tremendously nourishing, because then you are deeply in tune with godliness, then music showers on you.
The past is no more, it is dead; the future is not yet, it is unborn. Only the present is. Only the present is alive. When you are herenow, life flows in you. When you are herenow, you are in godliness. And that is nourishment, that is real food.
In that sense the Upanishads have said: anam brahm—food is God, God is food. In the sense of repose it is really food. As the body will die without food, the soul dies without repose.
The materialist thinks only of the body, and the spiritualist thinks only of repose, and both remain lopsided. One has a very nourished soul but an undernourished body; the temple is in ruins. And one has a beautiful temple, a marble temple, but the deity is dead, or has not come yet. Both are missing something.
We need a music of earth and sky, of body and soul; we need a harmony between the visible and the invisible. The food is visible, repose is invisible. And you need both, and you need a rhythm between the two.
The person who has not known what repose is starts stuffing too much food in himself. Nothing can help him unless he learns repose—no dieting is going to help, no exercises are going to help, no disciplining is going to help. Sooner or later he will start eating again, because his inner being feels so empty and he knows no other way to fill it—he knows only one way: to go on throwing food inside himself.
When people come to me with the problem of too much obsession with food, my only suggestion is: become more meditative. Don’t be worried about food. Become more loving, become more meditative, and the problem will disappear. When you are full of love and meditativeness, you need not stuff yourself with food. The food is only a substitute—because you are missing the inner food, you are trying to substitute it by outer food.
The man of repose always remains very, very alert, aware, of what he is eating, how much he is eating. He cannot eat more than is needed, and he will not eat less than is needed. He is always in the middle, he is a balance.
Don’t hanker for too much attention from people—that is an ego trip. Don’t try to become very famous, well-known, this and that—that is an ego trip. But that does not mean start trying to become a nonentity—that nobody should know you, that you should remain anonymous—that is again the same trip on the other extreme. Avoid both.
All extremes have to be avoided. Excess is evil according to Pythagoras—and it is. And to be in the middle, to be exactly in the middle, is virtue. Never be an ascetic, and never become indulgent. Don’t eat too much food and don’t go on long fasts. Don’t become too much obsessed with luxury, and don’t become too much anti-luxury, anti-comfort.
Excerpted from Philosophia Perennis/courtesy Osho International Foundation/www.osho.com
Fasting helps tremendously, but one needs to be very much aware that one is not destroying the body. No condemnation should be in the mind; and there is the problem because almost all religions have condemned the body. Their original founders were not condemners; they were not poisoners. They loved their bodies. They loved the body so much that they always tried to purify it. Their fasting was a purification.
Then came blind followers, unaware of the deep science of fasting. They started fasting, blindly. They enjoyed, because mind is violent. It enjoys being violent with others, it enjoys a power, because whenever you are violent with others you feel powerful; but to be violent with others is risky because the other will retaliate. Then there is a simple way: to be violent with your own body. Then there is no risk. The body cannot retaliate. The body cannot harm you. You can go on harming your own body; there is nobody to react. This is simple. You can torture and enjoy power—that now you control your body; the body doesn’t control you.
If this fasting is aggressive, violent, if there is anger and destructiveness; then you miss the point. You are not purifying the body; you are in fact destroying it. And to clean a mirror is one thing and to destroy the mirror is another. To clean the mirror is totally different, because when the mirror is clean of all dust, pure, you will be able to look into it—it will reflect you. But if you destroy the mirror, then there is no possibility to look into it. If you destroy the gross body you lose all possibility of contact with the second, the subtle body. Purify it, but don’t be destructive.
And how does fasting purify? Because whenever you are on a fast the body has no more work of digestion. In that period the body can work in throwing out dead cells, toxins. It is just as one day, Sunday or Saturday, you are on a holiday and you come home and you clean the whole day. The whole week you were so engaged and so busy you couldn’t clean the house. When the body has nothing to digest, you have not eaten anything, the body starts a self-cleaning. A process starts spontaneously and the body starts throwing out all that is not needed, which is like a load. Fasting is a method of purification. Once in a while, a fast is beautiful—not doing anything, not eating, just resting. Take as much liquid as possible and just rest, and the body will be cleaned.
Sometimes, if you feel that a longer fast is needed, you can do a longer fast also— but be deep in love with the body. And if you feel the fast is harming the body in any way, stop it. If the fast is helping the body, you will feel more energetic; you will feel more alive; you will feel rejuvenated, vitalised. This should be the criterion: if you start feeling that you are getting weaker, if you start feeling that a subtle trembling is coming into the body, then be aware—now the thing is no longer a purification. It has become destructive. Stop it.
But one should learn the whole science of it. In fact, one should do fasting near somebody who has been fasting for long and who knows the whole path very well, who knows all the symptoms: if it becomes destructive what will start happening; if it is not destructive then what will happen.
After a real, purifying fast you will feel new, younger, cleaner, weightless, happier; and the body will be functioning better because now it is unloaded. But fasting comes only if you have been eating wrongly. If you have not been eating wrongly there is no need for fasting. Fasting is needed only when you have already done the wrong with the body.
Excerpted from Yoga: The Science of the Soul by Osho