'Freedays' are the 'gather our thoughts' days; Q&As; a general page reviewing the week so far…
Yesterday we saw the meaning and intention of prayer prior to eating. Why is it important?
Eating is an example of consumption; taking without actually creating. We take away from the system. Quite often we do this unthinkingly and even with a sense of pride..."see how I eat? ...see where I eat?... being powerful/successful I can eat this and waste this..." Conversely, we may only have bread and water - yet it is still consumption.
Why do we eat? Primarily it is to give energy to the body sack in which 'we' ride; to maintain life force. Over time and with our ever-wandering mind, we have devised delicious cuisines, have become ever greater slaves to our tongues and stomachs. We have cutlery, food, ambiance, places with culinary rating... The higher up in society we are, the richer and more full are our tables. In the end, though, we all have a small stomach which needs nutrients to sustain our life. It requires only what is required to drive it. Surplus becomes redundant. It stores in all the wrong parts and bloats us, diseases us and dishonours the purpose.
We ought not to get distracted in the act of eating, neither ought we to pay so much attention to status related to food. We will be looking at qualities (gunas) in due course and how these also relate to food in terms of saadhana; as a general rule those undertaking serious spiritual pursuit would be advised to partake of light and pure foods.
Remembering at all times (as indicated by the prayers) that which is consumed is still only part of the Whole Brahman, we become more considerate in our consumption. It is not to show off about what can be afforded or what can be handed to others. By eating in quietude (within certainly, without if at all possible), by being controlled in quantities, in blessing the food prior to consumption we are carrying out saadhana as much as if in work activities. Refuelling the body is simply another action. A famous phrase stands here;
"Eat to live, do not live to eat."
In taking care at this level, there is a knock-forward effect, to the wider community, to larger actions, to environment and so on. Thoughtfulness at this level increases thoughtfulness at the highest level.... leading to the understanding that in offering to Brahman, we ultimately melt into and become Brahman.