Section 6

Good Health is Essential for the Path of Atma

People who want to develop themselves along the path of the Atma must have good health and, for this purpose, the control of food is essential. By eating clean food, we can get a clean mind and through a clean mind, we can get a clear idea of the goal. Through such a clean concept of the Atma, we will be able to get rid of the illusion of maya. Through this method, the knot that is present in our heart will open up, and this is the basis for getting a divine vision. We should not think that the importance that is being given to the aspect of food is unnecessary. For all types of Yoga—Pranayama, Niyama, Pratyahara, Samadhi, etc.—correct type of food is the most important basis.

Food & Mind (Sadhana)

Without having purity of mind, we cannot achieve even a small thing. By the unclean food that we take in, we expose our body to unnecessary ills. In creation, there are 84 lakhs of different kinds of jivas. Amongst those 84 lakhs of living things, man alone cooks his food and eats it. All the other types of living beings take their food in the natural uncooked form. By taking to natural food, these jivas promote their longevity. Because man cooks his food before he eats, the life force that is contained in the food is partly destroyed. This means that by frying or cooking, the sathwik life force that is present in the seeds is destroyed. By eating such food, man makes himself liable to several types of diseases. Because man eats such cooked food, he also becomes distant from sadhana. It is because of this that in ancient times, rishis and devotees of God were eating only uncooked food in its natural form.

When we take our food, we are taking it through our tongue; but we have five different sense organs. In spite of this, we think that we are consuming food only through the palate. Many people wonder why they are getting bad thoughts, although they are consuming only pure and sathwik food. There is something here to which you have to give a great deal of thought. Sabda, sparsa, rupa, rasa and gandha are the five senses in us. Whatever we take in can enter our body by way of any of the sensory organs, namely, ear, skin, eye, tongue or nose. In a superficial manner, we think we are taking the food only through the palate, and we are not giving any thought to the kind of food that we are taking through the other organs. When we say that we should accept only sathwik food, it refers to food that we accept through all the organs.

We should use our eyes to see only the sacred creation of the Lord. Just because we have eyes, we should not use them to see everything without any control. Sometimes when we look at certain things, the organs within us may become uncontrollable. This is why, the sadhakas have laid down that men and women should not look at each other too much, as it will promote rajo guna. We should use our eyes only to look at sacred things.

The next is the process of listening or the food that we take through our ears. We should not indulge in blaming others, criticising others and listening to unnecessary things. All this constitutes unsacred food. We should also not listen to things intended to ridicule others. We should be prepared to listen only to sacred thoughts of the Lord. We should not be prepared to listen to the blame heaped on others.

Then comes the process of smell, the food we take in through the nose. You should take only sacred smell which is associated with divine aspects. Good smell does not mean scent or perfume. Good smell connotes sacred smell associated with the divine. Thus, through all the organs, we should try to take in only sacred and pure things.

Next one is the sense of touch. Our ancients have prescribed that contact should be only with divine aspects. When we sit down for dhyana, we use a small plank and sit on that so that there is no contact with the earth. It is not possible for us to realise what happens by contact that exists between us and the earth.

The creation that we see around us has the strength of sound, strength of movement, strength of being permanent and prosperous, the strength of maya and many other different types of strength. This is why it is said that, when you are in dhyana, your body should not be in contact with anyone else. There are also other meanings for this. Wherever there is dirt and unclean atmosphere, there would be bad and filthy bacteria, while in a clean place where the atmosphere is good and clean, there will be clean bacteria. When we touch an unclean body, there is a possibility of the disease causing germs flowing into us. Further, that unclean and unsacred body may communicate a part of the uncleanness to us. One body and another are like magnets in this case. This is the reason why individuals who take the path of sadhana, should keep away from unclean surroundings and objects.

It is only when you restrict the intake through all your organs to sacred things that you will really be taking only sathwik food. If you take sathwik food through your mouth in the form of fruits and milk and use your eyes to see all bad things, there is no use of such a partial restriction.

Our ancients considered the coconut as a sacred food. Gradually, when we look at the coconut, it reminds us of our head. It also has two eyes and one mouth. It also has a patch of hair. Some people think that it is a form of Shiva because it has three eyes. In fact, in certain festivals, a coconut is decorated and people perform puja to it. What is the reason for our giving so much importance to a coconut? It is useful to examine this, even in a worldly sense. Doctors have examined this fruit and come to the conclusion that it has very valuable constituents. It is believed that this fruit has nearly 57% of fat, 15% of powdery material, another 15% of watery substance, seven or eight percent of solid matter. The remaining eight percent is pulp. The rishis believed this to be a very sacred fruit. An unripe coconut is also a sacred fruit.

Many of our scriptures have taught us that good type of food is essential. Just to relieve your hunger or fill the basket of your stomach, you should not eat whatever you see and wherever your feet drag you. Even if it is some trouble, you must search for good and clean food. But young people of today do not have such patience. We need not go so far. If the coffee to which you are habituated is delayed even by a few minutes, you get very irritated and excited. You should make an attempt to get rid of such weakness. If you cannot control your actions when you are young, you cannot do so when you grow old. While one is young and strong, he must try to control the organs. This is the right path which you must adopt. Your actions must be undertaken in the thought of God. I hope that you will be able to take such a sacred path and lead a good life.

Moreover, because of the perversions of the Kali Age, the five basic elements–ether, air, fire, water and earth–are polluted. The water we drink is impure. The air we breathe is polluted. The food we consume is polluted. As a consequence the mind gets polluted.

If we change our vision, we will experience peace. When people view the world with the vision of love, they will have peace. All diseases will be cured. Most diseases have their origin in the mind. Everything has a psychological basis. When a person feels that something is wrong with him, he develops an illness. A healthy mind is needed for a healthy body. But it is not enough to be physically healthy. Man needs Dhaiva-anugraham (God’s grace) also. To acquire God’s grace you have to cultivate the love of God. Love has become today a kind of show. Genuine love should emanate from the heart. Start the day with love, spend the day with love, end the day with love, that is the way to God. If you develop love, disease will not come near you.

For every man two things are essential: Arogya (good health) and Aanandha (Happiness). Health for the body and bliss for the spirit. With these two wings you can soar to any height. You need both the things, for which you must secure God’s grace. To get God’s grace, you have to engage yourself in sacred action. Bear in mind the three P’s–Purity, Patience and Perseverance. With these three you are bound to acquire good health and bliss.

The doctors of this hospital are rendering service with such purity and broad feelings. Dr. Rajeswari used to work day and night in this hospital. I often used to tell her not to exert herself too much. I would tell her, “Rajeswari, it is possible for you to serve others more and more only when you have good health. So, you should take proper rest.” She would say that serving others was her way of taking rest. Her only wish was to leave her mortal coil while serving in the hospital. That is what happened ultimately. She breathed her last in this hospital itself while doing some work sitting in a chair.

HEALTH is an essential requisite of man. The man afflicted with ill-health is powerless to execute even the least burdensome assignment. The scriptures proclaim that health is the very root of all endeavour in the four fields of human achievement—Dharma, Artha, Kaama and Moksha (righteousness, wealth, desire and liberation). Without health man cannot brave temptations, earn a decent living, fulfil his basic needs or succeed in spiritual saadhana. Man can engage himself in obligatory and optional functions only if he is healthy.

It is only recently, after India fell under the impact of alien cultures which highlighted material comfort, physical luxury, sensual liberty and exterior display, that Indians have trodden the wrong path of exploitation and violence, idleness and pompousness. With the spread of alien cultures and alien ways of thought and life, diseases too have multiplied and mental imbalances have Increased. But when simplicity, humility and the idea of social service (having root In the worship of the God in man) are restored, the nation will again be happy and healthy, full of peace, prosperity and Joy.

Food and recreational habits are the two main causes for ill-health. Great care has to be bestowed to ensure that injurious tendencies do not affect these two. At present, though drugs have multiplied and hospitals have been established in every nook and corner, ill-health is also widespread. This situation is attributable to the spread of deleterious food habits and pastimes.

Physical and mental activities are closely interrelated. To improve and maintain the health of the people, continuous education on the principles and practice of hygiene and environmental cleanliness is essential. Education is the most effective safeguard against physical and mental ill-health. So these two activities are closely inter-related. The body is a temporary habitation; it is subject to all kinds of disease and injury. Yet the body is the boat on which alone we can cross the ocean of samsaara (birth and death cycle). The boat has to be kept trim and serviceable. It should not distract our attention more than the minimum necessary for its upkeep. It has to be used for reducing the burden of others, and should not itself become a burden on us. It should serve others, not demand service from them.

“Sareeramadyam khalu dharma sadhanam (the body is gifted to man to undertake righteous actions.)” So, it has to be sanctified by performing sacred deeds. Health is very essential in order to do so. In fact, health is the very foundation on which human life rests. If health is lost, you have to suffer in many ways. There is no greater wealth than health.

Excessive activity in any field is harmful to health We have to investigate why we lose our health. Excessive thinking, worrying, and studying is the main cause for man’s illness. Today, everyone is crazy after computers. What is the benefit accruing from it? The human brain is being under utilised. Today, people depend on calculators for simple arithmetic. One should make use of the original computer, the brain, which was gifted by God. We are giving up the original for the artificial. Art is outside; heart is inside. People follow the art, not the heart. Art should come from the heart.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle conducted extensive research on the digestive system of man, and as a result of too much of thinking, his health deteriorated, and ultimately he died of digestive problems. Constant investigations into cardiac ailments made the heart specialist Dr. Herin a heart patient and ultimately led to his death. Excessive activity in any field is harmful to health. Bear in mind the limitations of the body and act accordingly. The main cause for your illness is psychological. This is nothing but illusion and delusion. We start imagining that a disease that is present in another person may also be present in us. 80% of the diseases are psychological. If you check your pulse rate under anxiety, you will find it abnormal. Do not bestow undue attention on your health. Discharge your duties peacefully and happily, then everything will be all right.