Loathesomeness of Food

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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Wed Nov 18, 2009 3:50 pm

Annabel,

Thanks for the advice. Eating is definitely an area for I find myself consuming simply out of pleasure and distraction. It's not that I eat often or even much it's simply that I tend to lose mindfulness when eating. What a heart-wrenching picture! That poor baby. It's a crime that we live so well when babies all over the world are allowed to starve to death before their mothers' eyes. Anyway, be well and thank you again.

Mike
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Lazy_eye » Wed Nov 18, 2009 4:56 pm

Khalil Bodhi wrote: I do find that simply reflecting on the process of mastication and digestion helps to reframe the experience of eating and gives me enough space to disentangle myself from the sticky strands of sensuality when I'm eating a particularly tasty food. Anyway, thank you all again. Be well. :anjali:

Mike


Mike,

I've found it interesting to gauge my reactions to food that isn't particularly tasty. For example, I usually eat soup for lunch, but the soup I was getting had a heavy sodium content. So I switched to a low-sodium version. Along with the heavy sodium went the delicious flavor. It was really startling to see how my enjoyment of the soup depended on it being overloaded with salt.

Similar things could be said with regard to sugar -- or, more to the point, the high fructose corn syrup that's ladled into practically any food product sold in the US.
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Annapurna » Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:33 pm

Khalil Bodhi wrote:Annabel,

Thanks for the advice. Eating is definitely an area for I find myself consuming simply out of pleasure and distraction. It's not that I eat often or even much it's simply that I tend to lose mindfulness when eating. What a heart-wrenching picture! That poor baby. It's a crime that we live so well when babies all over the world are allowed to starve to death before their mothers' eyes. Anyway, be well and thank you again.

Mike


You're welcome, Mike, if it helps you then I am happy.

(I have a little problem there myself) ;)

Best wishes I guess for both of us!
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Dhammabodhi » Wed Nov 18, 2009 11:08 pm

:offtopic: About the picture:
The haunting photo of a vulture stalking an emaciated Sudanese girl who'd collapsed on her way to a feeding station won photographer Kevin Carter a Pulitzer Prize in 1994. Carter also become notorious for sticking to the journalistic principle of being an observor and not getting involved -- he left after taking his photo and neither he, nor the New York Times, which first published the photo on 26 March 1993, knew what happened to her. (Looking at the photo, it's hard to imagine a pleasant ending.) A few months later after collecting his Pulitzer, Carter committed suicide, the violence he'd encountered in his life as a journalist, especially in South Africa, becoming too much to live with.


From about.com.

:focus:
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby zavk » Thu Nov 19, 2009 12:10 am

Oh man.... I love food--or more precisely, seeking out well-made food. :pig:

But others have suggested, I have on retreat found the act of eating quite insightful.
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby pink_trike » Thu Nov 19, 2009 2:25 am

Having studied Classical Asian food cures for years, I regard food as substances that have an effect on the body/mind. All foods, without exception, have an energetic quality that in premodern cultures was used medicinally - both preventatively and as cure...this is how food was at one point regarded in most cultures, not as entertainment or just as fuel. It was known that some foods are dampening, some are drying, some are cooling, some induce heat, some are diuretic, some are stimulants or sedatives, etc... For example: green beans are a diuretic, black beans are an internal lubricant, honey lubricates the intestines but has an overall drying effect on the body, buckwheat can overstimulate the mind, sweeteners can dull the mind. Some foods have specific effects on specific organs of the body. Everything we ingest has some sort of energetic qualitative effect on the body and internal energetic processes. The body also does better with certain foods/herbs/tastes in certain seasons - this is where the term "seasonings" comes from. For example: premodern people knew not to eat drying foods during dry seasons or cooling foods during cold seasons, which we do routinely in our culture to our detriment. Food is medicine, but this has been forgotten as we follow our sensory cravings...today we tend to gorge our way through nature's medicine cabinet unaware of the potential effects of what we eat on the body/mind as we're driven and suffer the consequences of our mindlessness (with the help of corporate advertising that has transformed food into near sexual fetish). In premodern cultures "taste" wasn't regarded as sensory pleasure, it was regarded as a diagnostic tool...if a person craves certain tastes this can indicate an imbalance in the body that is re-balanced with either the taste being craved, or a different taste that has a different energetic quality, depending on other indicators such as the quality of the tongue coating, now the skin feels, quality of the hair, inherited energetic qualities and patterns, etc... In addition to being mindful of how we obtain, chew, taste, swallow, digest, and eliminate food, its also beneficial to note the effects of what we ingest on the internal processes of body/mind. This awareness can surface over time as we develop our sitting practice and can be useful in balancing the body/mind in relationship to internal and external conditions so that we remain healthy and functioning optimally as long as we can as we attend to the mission of life and awakening.
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby zavk » Thu Nov 19, 2009 5:18 am

pink_trike wrote:HIt was known that some foods are dampening, some are drying, some are cooling, some induce heat, some are diuretic, some are stimulants or sedatives, etc...


You know... I grew up in a cultural environment were there was very general understanding of these properties of food. In fact, based on a combination of a very, very watered down understanding of these ideas and various old wive's tales about food/nutrition, my mom would often restrict me from eating all sorts of junky but oh so delicious food. Those foods were said to be too 'heaty' for my own good..... :cry:

Anyway, for us contemporary folks living in post-industralised societies, it might be more productive to think in terms of the ethics of the food we consume rather that its 'loathsomeness'. For example, there are pressing issues about various food industries that we could be mindful of when choosing what we eat.

Just a thought....
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby pink_trike » Thu Nov 19, 2009 5:44 am

zavk wrote:
pink_trike wrote:HIt was known that some foods are dampening, some are drying, some are cooling, some induce heat, some are diuretic, some are stimulants or sedatives, etc...


You know... I grew up in a cultural environment were there was very general understanding of these properties of food. In fact, based on a combination of a very, very watered down understanding of these ideas and various old wive's tales about food/nutrition, my mom would often restrict me from eating all sorts of junky but oh so delicious food. Those foods were said to be too 'heaty' for my own good..... :cry:

Anyway, for us contemporary folks living in post-industralised societies, it might be more productive to think in terms of the ethics of the food we consume rather that its 'loathsomeness'. For example, there are pressing issues about various food industries that we could be mindful of when choosing what we eat.

Just a thought....

Agreed. I find that eating locally grown organic food and avoiding animal products as much as possible addresses a wide range of ethical problems plaguing modern society.
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Annapurna » Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:16 am

Dhammabodhi wrote: :offtopic: About the picture:
The haunting photo of a vulture stalking an emaciated Sudanese girl who'd collapsed on her way to a feeding station won photographer Kevin Carter a Pulitzer Prize in 1994. Carter also become notorious for sticking to the journalistic principle of being an observor and not getting involved -- he left after taking his photo and neither he, nor the New York Times, which first published the photo on 26 March 1993, knew what happened to her. (Looking at the photo, it's hard to imagine a pleasant ending.) A few months later after collecting his Pulitzer, Carter committed suicide, the violence he'd encountered in his life as a journalist, especially in South Africa, becoming too much to live with.


From about.com.

:focus:


Dhammabodhi, why do you think this foto is off topic?
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Annapurna » Thu Nov 19, 2009 10:33 am

pink_trike wrote:Everything we ingest has some sort of energetic qualitative effect on the body and internal energetic processes. The body also does better with certain foods/herbs/tastes in certain seasons - this is where the term "seasonings" comes from. For example: premodern people knew not to eat drying foods during dry seasons or cooling foods during cold seasons, which we do routinely in our culture to our detriment. Food is medicine, but this has been forgotten as we follow our sensory cravings...today we tend to gorge our way through nature's medicine cabinet unaware of the potential effects of what we eat on the body/mind as we're driven and suffer the consequences of our mindlessness



:goodpost:

So many people are out of balance today, and ill, largely based upon our alienation from a natural simple life, physical work and living in tune with nature.
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Clueless Git » Thu Nov 19, 2009 11:02 am

Annabel wrote:
hang this image at the fridge (etc)

Image

edited for typos

Poor little mite ...

According to WHO figures one of those dies every six seconds.

Another idea would be to post this piccie on our fridges with the caption; "Whilst just one child in the world goes hungry this fridge is on a total boycott of any products that come from well fed chickens or pigs or cows ..."

The obvious flaw in that idea is that if too many people stop buying animal products then the whole process of breeding and feeding animals soley for the purpose of salughter would become unprofitable.

That cannot be allowed. If it did then the whole current batch of animals that have already been bred and are being currently fed soley for the purpose of slaughter would then have to die.
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Annapurna » Thu Nov 19, 2009 11:45 am

:jumping:
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Nov 19, 2009 11:51 am

zavk wrote:
pink_trike wrote:HIt was known that some foods are dampening, some are drying, some are cooling, some induce heat, some are diuretic, some are stimulants or sedatives, etc...


You know... I grew up in a cultural environment were there was very general understanding of these properties of food. In fact, based on a combination of a very, very watered down understanding of these ideas and various old wive's tales about food/nutrition, my mom would often restrict me from eating all sorts of junky but oh so delicious food. Those foods were said to be too 'heaty' for my own good..... :cry:

Anyway, for us contemporary folks living in post-industralised societies, it might be more productive to think in terms of the ethics of the food we consume rather that its 'loathsomeness'. For example, there are pressing issues about various food industries that we could be mindful of when choosing what we eat.

Just a thought....

:focus:

I think that contemplating the ethical dimensions of our diet may be a worthy topic, but it is not the one which forms the point of this thread, which is about detaching oneself from building a false sense of self by means of sensory and sensual experience. This false sense of self taken as an experience in itself is just as easily served by organic carrots as it is by a Big Mac and chips. I am not arguing about which is the more healthy, or ethical, or environmentally sound, that is a matter which is fairly obvious, but I dont think that was the thrust of the thread.
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Annapurna » Thu Nov 19, 2009 12:11 pm

I think that contemplating the ethical dimensions of our diet may be a worthy topic, but it is not the one which forms the point of this thread


Sometimes, the best parts of topics are in the side alleys.

Here, I think, that contemplating the collapsed child or overfed pigs helps to detach ourselves from rotating around our own bellybuttons pretty good.
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Nov 19, 2009 12:25 pm

Perhaps it should form the basis for another thread. The OP refers specifically to the traditional practice of contemplating the loathsomeness of the body and its functions. This practice is no less valid for a vegan than for a meat eater. a vegan diet might be more healthy and ethically sound, but vegan food still ends up as a waste product, or as blood, bile, mucus, etc just as much as does a meal of meat. That is the basis of that practice. It is not Hatha Yoga, or another attempt to prolong the life of the body.
Not long ago I watched Ajahn Sumedho tucking into a burger because that is what had been dropped into his bowl. Now, a salad of fresh vegetables might have been better for his long term health, and it might have been better for the environment, the point is however, that Luang Por Sumedho ate his meal with his usual carefully cultivated Upekkha in order to fuel his body, not for the sensual experience, nor for personal concerns. He would have eaten organic fruit with exactly the same mind set, Upekkha. In part that Upekkha has no doubt been cultivated by just the kind of practice being explored by the OP.
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Nov 19, 2009 12:38 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

A good middle ground, perhaps... an extract from

AN 4.159: Bhikkhuni Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.159.than.html

"'This body, sister, comes into being through food. And yet it is by relying on food that food is to be abandoned.' Thus was it said. And in reference to what was it said? There is the case, sister, where a monk, considering it thoughtfully, takes food — not playfully, nor for intoxication, nor for putting on bulk, nor for beautification — but simply for the survival & continuance of this body, for ending its afflictions, for the support of the holy life, [thinking,] 'Thus will I destroy old feelings [of hunger] and not create new feelings [from overeating]. I will maintain myself, be blameless, & live in comfort.' Then, at a later time, he abandons food, having relied on food. 'This body, sister, comes into being through food. And yet it is by relying on food that food is to be abandoned.' Thus was it said, and in reference to this was it said."


There is also the following extract from...

SN 12.63: Puttamansa Sutta
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.063.than.html

At Savatthi... "There are these four nutriments for the maintenance of beings who have come into being or for the support of those in search of a place to be born. Which four? Physical food, gross or refined; contact as the second, intellectual intention the third, and consciousness the fourth. These are the four nutriments for the maintenance of beings who have come into being or for the support of those in search of a place to be born.

"And how is physical food to be regarded? Suppose a couple, husband & wife, taking meager provisions, were to travel through a desert. With them would be their only baby son, dear & appealing. Then the meager provisions of the couple going through the desert would be used up & depleted while there was still a stretch of the desert yet to be crossed. The thought would occur to them, 'Our meager provisions are used up & depleted while there is still a stretch of this desert yet to be crossed. What if we were to kill this only baby son of ours, dear & appealing, and make dried meat & jerky. That way — chewing on the flesh of our son — at least the two of us would make it through this desert. Otherwise, all three of us would perish.' So they would kill their only baby son, loved & endearing, and make dried meat & jerky. Chewing on the flesh of their son, they would make it through the desert. While eating the flesh of their only son, they would beat their breasts, [crying,] 'Where have you gone, our only baby son? Where have you gone, our only baby son?' Now what do you think, monks: Would that couple eat that food playfully or for intoxication, or for putting on bulk, or for beautification?"

"No, lord."

"Wouldn't they eat that food simply for the sake of making it through that desert?"

"Yes, lord."

"In the same way, I tell you, is the nutriment of physical food to be regarded. When physical food is comprehended, passion for the five strings of sensuality is comprehended. When passion for the five strings of sensuality is comprehended, there is no fetter bound by which a disciple of the noble ones would come back again to this world.


I expect loathsomeness of food would most benefit one who currently had strong cravings towards food, in the hope of ultimately generating dispassion towards food and other cords of sensuality.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Sadhu. I wonder if whether the Buddha were teaching on this today he might include food narcissism...
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Dhammabodhi » Thu Nov 19, 2009 12:55 pm

Annabel wrote:
Dhammabodhi, why do you think this foto is off topic?

Hi Annabel,

You got me wrong! I hardly think that pic is off-topic, in fact I find the idea to put it up on the fridge is a brilliant one in this context! I only wrote 'off-topic' because the passage I quoted about the history of the picture and the photographer most probably is off-topic. Sorry for not being clear...


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समाहितं चित्तं यथाभूतं पजानाती |

A concentrated mind sees things as they really are.

-Ujuko nāma so maggo, abhayā nāma sā disā.

उजुको नाम सो माग्गो, अभया नाम सा दिसा |

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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Annapurna » Thu Nov 19, 2009 5:53 pm

Oh....! :!:

Thank you. :anjali:
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby pink_trike » Fri Nov 20, 2009 1:38 am

Sanghamitta wrote:Perhaps it should form the basis for another thread. The OP refers specifically to the traditional practice of contemplating the loathsomeness of the body and its functions.


Sanghamitta wrote:...from building a false sense of self by means of sensory and sensual experience.


Manapa wrote:Asubha


Greeting Sanghamitta,

I wonder if we're talking about the same practice. Its been a long time since I was taught and regularly engaged this practice, but I seem to remember that it doesn't directly address sensory and sensual experiences, as it isn't practiced while eating - and isn't a direct contemplation on the loathsomeness of the body - it is an emphasized and direct contemplation on the loathsomeness of food. If I'm remembering correctly, the contemplation on the loathsomeness of food includes but is limited to the observation of:

1. problems associated with obtaining food related to issues of food safety and harm to other living beings
2. food's continuous rotting (impermanent) nature and it being home to parasites (the causes of ill-health)
3. the ugly and disgusting forms food takes within the body
4. that food can feed harmful parasites and dis-ease that exist within the host organism (the body)
5. that food has the potential to produce excretions that are hazardous to other living beings.

I see issues of both health ( #1, 2, 4 , and 5) and food ethics (#1, 5) in this practice.

I wonder if we may be speaking of different practices? Both your comments and Manapa's comments about translation seem to be pointing at something different from the practice I'm familiar with (described above). This practice, if I'm remembering correctly, is included in a very specific list of practices related to the cultivation of a very specific awareness related to materiality. I'm not remembering the pali name of this practice or the name of the list of practices that this particular practice is a part of and the google god isn't cooperating.

Anybody else know what specific practice I'm pointing at?
Last edited by pink_trike on Fri Nov 20, 2009 3:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Ben » Fri Nov 20, 2009 3:36 am

pink_trike wrote:Anybody else know what specific practice I'm pointing at?


Hi Pink

If I get time tonight I'll transcribe from the Visuddhimagga which has a detailed nidessa (exposition) on the contemplation on the repulsiveness of nutriment; incidentally the chapter on the contemplations on repulsiveness also includes non-material forms of nutriment as well. I think I included a chapter reference in one of my earlier posts if anyone has a copy of Vism.
kind regards

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