Eat onion?

Discussion of ordination, the Vinaya and monastic life. How and where to ordain? Bhikkhuni ordination etc.
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Re: Eat onion?

Postby manas » Fri Oct 28, 2011 12:53 am

Regarding garlic and onlions, it is interesting to note:

"Garlic is one of the best infection fighters available for both bacterial and viral infections. One of its many ingredients, allicin, is a natural antibiotic that does not appear to create resistant bacteria strains. In addition, fresh garlic extract has been shown to be virucidal to many viruses.Garlic possesses the ability to stimulate the immune system. It can stimulate the activity of the macrophages (white blood cells), which engulf foreign organisms, such as: viruses, bacteria, and yeast. Furthermore, garlic increases the activity of the T-helper cells (immune cells which are central to the activity of the entire immune system). Garlic may be particularly effective in treating upper respiratory viral infections due to its immune-enhancing properties and its ability to clear mucous from the lungs. The same component that gives garlic its strong odor is the one that destroys, or inhibits various bacteria and fungi. The component is allicin, and when crushed, combines with the enzyme allinase and results in antibacterial action equivalent to 1% penicillin.[NB: this is why you should not waste your money on so-called 'odourless garlic'!] Garlic is also effective against strep, staph, and even anthrax bacteria.

Everything that's been said about Garlic can be said about onion. Onions and garlic share many of the same powerful sulfur bearing compounds that work so effectively as anti-viral and anti-bacterial agents."

(source: ... ial-report)

...but also note this:

Along with garlic, onion (Allium) should be considered the most important natural aphrodisiac that have been known for centuries. Along with excellent nutritional abilities, onion has very powerful properties to boost libido and enhance sexual performance in both men and women.

(source: ... ac-garden/)

Some 'food for thought' maybe...


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Re: Eat onion?

Postby Jaidyn » Fri Oct 28, 2011 8:00 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
Jaidyn wrote:Not being able to stand the smell of a person having eaten onion is not a very tolerant attitude.
The bhikkhu in question was not intolerant — he was being considerate of his fellows who might be discomfited by the smell of his breath.

It is now clear I misinterpreted the text.

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Re: Eat onion?

Postby Subharo » Thu Nov 12, 2015 1:11 pm

The "party line" in Theravada is that monks are to be content with whatever almsfood they are given. I take this to mean that they shouldn't complain about what they get, because they are, after all beggars (who can't really be "choosers").

There is however an often overlooked Sutta, MN 114, the "Sevitabbāsevitabba Sutta: To Be Cultivated and Not to Be Cultivated". Here is Sister Uppalavanna's translation.

Here's a brief snippet from the Wisdom Publications MN (starting on page 922):

39. [Buddha:] Sāriputta, ... Almsfood is of two kinds, I say: to be cultivated, and not to be cultivated.

40. ...the venerable Sāriputta said...: "I understand the detailed meaning, to be thus:

42. ...such almsfood as causes unwholesome states to increase and wholesome states to diminish in one who cultivates them should not be cultivated. But such almsfood as causes unwholesome states to diminish and wholesome states to increase in one who cultivates them should be cultivated..."

50. [Buddha:] "Good, good, Sāriputta! It is good that you understand the detailed meaning of my be thus.

So although the Buddha never specifically prohibited the eating of onions (due to the possibility that they might evoke lust in certain monks and nuns, who have a sensitivity to these), this blanket statement allows monks and nuns to "cultivate" the almsfood that conduces to wholesome states of mind, and avoid the almsfood that conduces to unwholesome states of mind, whatever type of food that may be.

BTW: I seem to be one of the unlucky ones who has a sensitivity to onions, garlic, etc. If I can manage to avoid those, my meditation is seriously about 10 times easier. It makes a huge, noticeable difference for me. Most people I talk to about this, however, think I must be a bit off my rocker, as they either have no such sensitivity themselves, or have never taken a break from onions, etc. for long enough to determine if there is a cause-and-effect link there (after observing how it affects their meditation).

I post this Sutta reference for those fellow yogis out there who would like a little Canonical defense for their abstinence from these nasty aphrodisiacs (to them, anyway). For those of you who don't have this problem, please show some compassion for those of us who do!

Another BTW: I recommend never mentioning such a sensitivity to Sri Lankans, as their diet seems to have onions and garlic as its very foundation. I've found that their profound and intense attachment to onions and garlic is literally unquestionable. I've been told (and it seems to be true) that each and every curry starts with frying generous quantities of onions and or garlic.

Even though Ayurvedic medicine is the "official" system of medicine used in Sri Lanka, it seems virtually all Sri Lankans have lost the knowledge of the difference between "sattvic", "rajasic", and "tamasic" foods. Onions and garlic are definitely not sattvic.

Here's an interesting article explaining these three Ayurvedic terms: "Why No Onions and Garlic".

Rajasic and tamasic foods are also not used because they are detrimental to meditation and devotion. “Garlic and onions are both rajasic and tamasic, and are forbidden to yogis because they root the consciousness more firmly in the body”, says well-known authority on Ayurveda, Dr.Robert E.Svoboda.

I would suggest to meditators who are having difficulties with lust to try abstaining from onions/garlic/leeks/shallots/etc for a week or two, and see if that doesn't make a noticeable difference. Then once you go back on the onions again, see if lust increases noticeably. Is there a cause-and-effect link? I would encourage you to experiment with it.
Subharo Bhikkhu
"There is but one taste on this path, the taste of freedom" -The Buddha :buddha1:

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