Dharma: Food and Spirituality

fight  Suman Lohani Tuesday, Feb 20, 2018 3:31 PM PDT

Hindu and Bouddha Dharma, two distinct teachings of the 'Dharma' is followed the world over with significant populations in the Indian subcontinent. While there has been a concerted effort to divorce the two major Dharmic heritage including by some adherents belonging to the Dharmic heritage the core Dharmic principles are observed by all of these Dharmic teachings. The Dharmic (those who follow the Dharma) population of the Americas crosses 300 million with the Dharma teachings observed in the US, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago in South America.

credit:  Wonderlane from Seattle, USA

Pictures showing the common Dharma theme of cyclical existence.

The Sages of the Dharma recognized the effect food has on our being. In the Hindu Dharma, food is divided into Tamasic ( fermented foods (including alcohol) and meat that promote dullness and inertia) , Rajasic (foods including onions, garlic, hot spices, stimulants, fish, eggs and salt. are thought to excite intellect and passion which interfere with meditation) and Sattvic foods (foods including fruits, vegetables and grains that promote transcendence, sensitivity to our essential nature).

Similarly in the Chinese tradition (Dao) it is known that plants of the alliaceous family are detrimental to humans in their healthy state. In his writings, one sage Tsang-Tsze described the Alliums as the "five fragrant or spicy scented vegetables" - that each have a detrimental effect on one of the following five organs - liver, spleen, lungs, kidneys, and heart. Specifically, onions are harmful to the lungs, garlic to the heart, leeks to the spleen, chives to the liver and spring onions to the kidneys.

Tsang-Tsze said that these pungent vegetables contain five different kinds of enzymes which cause "reactions of repulsive breath, extra-foul odour from perspiration and bowel movements, and lead to lewd indulgences, enhance agitations, anxieties and aggressiveness," especially when eaten raw.

Similar things are described in Ayurveda. 'As well as producing offensive breath and body odour, these (alliaceous) plants induce aggravation, agitation, anxiety and aggression. Thus they are harmful physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually'.

Brahma Net Sutra includes  Bodhisattva precept of not taking the five pungent roots. They are onions, garlic, leeks, scallions, and shallots.

It is to be noted that these root vegetables such as  garlic are allowable as medicine in the Theravāda vinaya and also in the Ayurved.

In the Satvic diet,
  • Meat is forbidden along with all meat products.
  • Eggs are forbidden.
  • Milk and milk products are permitted, butter, yogurt, cream, etc.
  • Cheese must not be coagulated with rennet (an animal product). In India the acid coagulated cheese panir predominates. It is roughly the same as hoop cheese, a form of farmer's cheese with more of the liquid squeezed out.
  • Onions - forbidden along with all other members of the Allium genus, including garlic, scallions, chives, shallots, etc.
  • Mushrooms are forbidden along with all other fungi.
  • Stimulants - coffee, tea, etc. are rajastic and to be avoided as they interfere with meditation.
  • Alcohol - no.

Vegetaria diet produced by Loma Linda University

Back in the 1980's, in his research on human brain function, Dr Robert [Bob] C. Beck, DSc. found that garlic has a detrimental effect on the brain. He found that in fact garlic is toxic to humans because its sulphone hydroxyl ions penetrate the blood-brain barrier and are poisonous to brain cells.

Dr. Beck explained that as far back as the 1950s it was known that garlic reduced reaction time by two to three times when consumed by pilots taking flight tests. This is because the toxic effects of garlic desynchronize brain waves. "The flight surgeon would come around every month and remind all of us: "Don't you dare touch any garlic 72 hours before you fly one of our airplanes, because it'll double or triple your reaction time. You're three times slower than you would be if you'd [not] had a few drops of garlic."

Even when garlic is used as food in Chinese culture it is considered harmful to the stomach, liver and eyes, and a cause of dizziness and scattered energy when consumed in immoderate amounts.

Nor is garlic always seen as having entirely beneficial properties in Western cooking and medicine. It is widely accepted among health care professionals that, as well as killing harmful bacteria, garlic also destroys beneficial bacteria, which are essential to the proper functioning of the digestive system.

Reiki practitioners explain that garlic and onions are among the first substances to be expelled from a person’s system – along with tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceutical medications. This makes it apparent that alliaceous plants have a negative effect on the human body and should be avoided for health reasons.

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Suman Lohani is a Dharma Advisor (Mentor) and Director of inspireTrend, a Community Social Media based in Vancouver, BC. He believes that humanity is at a pivotal point and has a chance and choice of leaving and living the legacy of Dharma.

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