'Text-days' are for delving into the words and theory of Advaita Vedanta
FIVE VERSES ON SPIRITUAL PRACTICE. Written by Sri Adi Shankaraachaarya. Please click on the relevant label and ensure to review the posts till date.
We now arrive at the fourth shloka of this action-packed little text! The price we pay for having incarnated in the physical form is to have to care for the BMI matrix.
क्षुद्व्याधिश्च चिकित्स्यतां प्रतिदिनं भिक्षौषधं भुज्यतां
स्वाद्वन्नं न तु याच्य्तां विधिवशात् प्राप्तेन संतुष्यतां।
शीतोष्णादि विषह्यतां न तु वृथा वाक्यं समुच्चार्यतां
औदासीन्यमभीप्स्य्तां जनकृपानैष्ठुर्यमुत्सृज्यताम्॥ ॥४॥
kshudvyaadhishca cikitsyatAM pratidinaM bhikshauSadhaM bhujyatAM
svAdvannaM na tu yAcytAM vidhivashAt prAptena saMtuSyatAM.
shItoSNAdi viSahyatAM na tu vR^ithA vAkyaM samuccAryatAM
audAsInyamabhIpsytAM janakR^ipAnaiSThuryamutsR^ijyatAm.. ..4..
In hunger and disease, get treated
Daily take the medicine of bhishaa (alms food)
Beg no delicious food
Live ocntentedly upon whatever comes to your lot, as ordained by Him
Endure all pairs of opposites, heat and cold and the like
Avoid wasteful talks
Save yourself from the meshes of others' kindnesses
Shloka Four. Paada One.
In hunger and disease, get treated. In Vedantic understanding, the great disease of the body IS hunger. It is a chronic condition, one which is incurable, but can be managed. In this we have the basis for 'food as medicine'! All modern nutrition is now returning to this understanding… that you are what you eat. Further, here, Shankaraachary-ji is telling us that in eating, we must take food as medicine. When the pains (pangs) come, then address them with whatever is required or available. Likewise, when the body truly ails beyond hunger itself, seek the appropriate medicine and attempt to bring back physical balance. Healthy body, healthy mind and as we are here in the state of properly healing our mind, we had better make sure that the structure carrying it is up to the task.
Daily take the medicine of bhiksaa food. It is a common sight in India (and elsewhere) to see monks of the Hindu and Buddhist practices moving about the community obtaining alms food. The fact is, as long as one remains in the body, that same body requires to be fuelled. Serious sadhaks are not to think of food in terms of pleasure and ought always to accept the food as a treatment for the hunger. As might be expected in this situation, 'meal planning' is not part of the picture! Whatever food is offered must be taken, with gratitude not only to the giver of the food but to the Lord for ensuring that someone had enough to share and the heart to give it. Acceptance of what is received in this manner is called as /prasaadam, which is akin to 'communion'.
Whilst this seems to be for sadhus alone, mistake not! All who would seek to advance in meditation must be careful to attend to the basic needs of the physical in order to not distract the mind from its purpose. Eating lightly, simply is advocated.
Beg no delicious food. Following on the theme of spiritual living and austerity, the sadhak ought not to actively ask for food which looks and tastes better. Bear in mind, though, that 'food' is not only sustenance for the body. At this level we are also talking about other sense stimuli which 'feed' the mind and intellect through all our sense organs. Therefore we can consider the same for sight, sound, touch… how easily we become hooked on bright things, become disturbed by silence, are comforted by certain materials... Living a dynamic inner and spiritual life will reveal flavour, colour and joy in all that comes our way. Grey carries the rainbow, if we know how to look, silence is the most profound of sounds, cotton dresses us equally as well as satin. Even then, we must not get carried away. The sadhak must deal with these things without ever loosing spiritual focus.
Contentedly live upon whatever comes to your lot, as ordained by Him. Thus, the lesson of moderation and adjusting one's perception of enjoyment is rounded off with this sentence. No matter what comes our way, if we are balanced and peaceful internally, all around us and what comes our way cannot disturb that; indeed we will find that it is more than enough.