Osho on vegetarian food & Spiritual growth.
Posted by Prasanna santhi on June 18, 2009 at 6:07pm in guru
Osho - Is Vegetarian Food essential for Spiritual Growth
Question - What about Food? Is it not absolutely essential to be a Vegetarian for Spiritual Growth?
Osho - What you do is never essential, what you are is always essential. Being is essential, doing is not essential. Being is essential, having is not essential. Consciousness is essential, character is not essential -- because it is not character that creates consciousness but consciousness that creates character.
If you are religious, if you are spiritual, things will change around you. You may become a vegetarian, you may not. It depends -- people are different. But to be a vegetarian cannot be an essential condition for being spiritual. There have been spiritual people who were vegetarians, and there have been spiritual people who were not. And it is good that life consists of variety, it is good that life consists of different kinds of people. Otherwise it would be utterly boring.
Just think -- only Mahaviras, roaming around the earth, naked vegetarians. No Krishna, no Christ, no Buddha, no Mohammed, no Mansoor. It will be a very poor world, it will be really ugly. And remember, Mahavira is beautiful but too many Mahaviras won't be beautiful. God never creates the same person again. And the reason is that once is enough, once is more than enough. God is completely satisfied. He never repeats, He never duplicates. He believes only in originals, He has no carbon copies.
So I cannot say that food has any essential thing to contribute to your spirituality. But your spirituality may change your food habits. That too cannot be predicted; I keep your freedom intact. less used to drink, and he is not less spiritual because of that. Patanjali will never be able to even conceive of a spiritual man drinking, but that is Patanjali's angle of seeing things. Jesus will not be able to understand: 'Why is Patanjali not drinking? If Patanjali cannot drink, then who else? If Patanjali cannot celebrate, then who else? He should be dancing, he should be singing, he should be celebrating -- he has arrived.'
But celebrations are also different. Somebody may celebrate by fasting, somebody may celebrate by feasting. People are different. If you can remember this you will never become a fanatic. Otherwise the danger is always there: on the path of spiritual growth the greatest danger is that of fanaticism. All so-called religions are fanatic, because they only allow that which THEIR scripture says, and THEIR founder says -- everything else has to be denied. That is making life very very limited. And life is unlimited, it is an infinity.
You ask: WHAT ABOUT FOOD? I don't talk about food, I talk about you -- the real thing is to happen there. When it has happened then I am not worried about you; then whatsoever you do will be right. Let me say it in this way: There is no act which is right and no act which is wrong, there are only persons who are right and persons who are wrong. When the right person does something it is right, when a wrong person does something it is wrong. Right and wrong are not qualities of any act -- all depends on who is behind the act.
For example, it happened: Buddha said to his disciples, to his monks and nuns, 'Whatsoever is given to you, you have to eat it. You should not demand, you should not become a burden on the society. You should simply go and stand before a house and if the people feel like giving they will give. You are not even to ask and you are not to give the details of what you need. Whatsoever is given, accept it in deep humbleness, gratitude, and eat it.' One day it happened, a monk was returning after begging food from the town and a crow flew upon him and dropped a piece of meat into his begging-bowl. Now, Buddha had said 'Whatsoever is given...'
The monk was disturbed. He had not asked for this meat; it had fallen, it was in the bowl, he had not desired it. What should he do? He started thinking 'Should I throw it away or should I eat it? -- because Buddha has said "Don't throw anything away. People are starving, food is always a scarcity. Don't throw anything away; eat whatsoever is given." Should I throw it away or should I take it?'
The problem was such that there was no precedent. So he thought 'It is better to ask the Buddha.' When the assembly gathered he brought his begging-bowl and he asked the Buddha 'What am I supposed to do?'
Buddha closed his eyes, for a moment he meditated. He meditated because of two seasons. One: if he says 'Throw it away' then he will be creating a precedent of throwing things away. Then later on -- such is the cunning mind of man -- people will think that Buddha has given the freedom, if you feel that something is wrong you can throw it away. But then they will start throwing away foods that they don't like. That will be a wastage . And then he thought 'Crows are not going to drop meat every day. This is just an accident and the accident should not be made a rule -- it is an exception.' So he said 'It's okay. Whatsoever is given, even if the crow has dropped meat, you have to eat it.'
That transformed the whole Buddhist history -- in subtle ways. The monks and the nuns started spreading the news to people that whatsoever is given, even if meat is given, they would accept it. And Buddhism became a meat-eating religion just because of that crow. You see? The crows are more important than your Buddhas. They transform things. Man is so stupid that he will follow a crow rather than a Buddha.
I don't give you any particular instructions, what to eat or what not to eat. I simply teach you one thing: become more and more conscious, become more and more aware, and let your awareness decide.
Life is so complicated that if I start giving you details about everything -- 'This has to be eaten and this has not to be eaten' -- it will never be a complete guide for you; things will always be left. You can look into Jaina scriptures, they give every detail. That's why Jaina scriptures are not even worth reading. They go into such unnecessary detail: how many clothes the monk should have, how much food he should eat, how he should eat -- standing or sitting. How he should beg, how many things he should accept, how many monks should go walking together for their begging, whether nuns and monks should be together or not, or how much distance should be kept -- the details are infinite. If a nun is ill, whether the monk should touch her body or not.
Then there are details within details: if she is old or young -- if she is old it is okay, if she is young, no. When a nun is taking a bath should the monk look at her or not... Now, this goes on and on. The scripture doesn't seem to be religious at all, it is concerned with such stupidities. And still it cannot be complete -- because what about whether a monk should go to a movie or not? There were no movies, so you are at a loss; you have to decide yourself. Whether a monk should see a photograph of a nun or not... Now, there were no photographs -- and you cannot add anything to the scripture, it cannot be improved upon. So you have to always invent things for yourself.
When one has to find one's own way, why create this jungle of details? I simply give a light to you -- and that light will be enough, you will be able to find your path. I don't give you the map and I don't give you instructions: 'First go a hundred miles this way, then move to the right and then to the left.' The journey is such that no details are possible. I would like to share a parable with you.
AMONG the youth of the country, there began a resurgence of interest in foods. Many different diet theories were offered, telling what was best to eat, and how and when to eat it. And with these theories came fierce loyalties, for eating is a very serious subject. One young man said 'Whole grains only, with fruit and nuts.' And his girlfriend added 'Vegetables and fruits don't mix.' Her roommate believed 'No vitamin C, but lots of D and E.' And her cousin advised 'Fast one day out of every ten.' And she had a friend who worked in a health food store, who said 'Minerals are the key.' And every evening she ground her teeth on a tablespoon of highly-advertised garden soil, attractively packaged.
Some discovered miraculous healing properties in certain foods, and for a time there were shortages of figs, apricot kernels, yak butter, sawdust and earthworms. But if these foods could be modified to bring out all their natural goodness, they might be even better. One young man read that vitamins are trapped within the cell walls of foods, and he began to prepare his meals with a blender. He blended bread, fruit and cheese with wheat germ, kelp and strawberry yogurt, and each of his meals came out a nutritious grey glue.
Then the dietary habits became more exotic. One very serious man learned that certain yogis can exist on air alone; and he tried it for a time. And he had a close friend who learned of an ancient practice of turning the stomach inside-out to improve digestive secretions. But he was forced to stop when the neighbors complained of the unusual sounds.
Now, the confusion was caused by the fact that each theory was a little bit true. And people changed from diet to diet and felt guilty because they continued to like the things they weren't supposed to. Yet their diet loyalties remained strong and, as these things go, each one believed his current diet to be the panacea for all mankind. And for all the debates heard throughout the land, the most frequent and heated was the question of vegetarian-versus -meat. One day, a wise man arrived in the city. A crowd gathered around him and he was asked all manner of questions. He was asked about Mind, Soul, God, Stars, Love, Fate, and the significance of the Sanskrit language. These were all non-controversial topics. But then a young man asked 'Should I eat meat?'
A hush fell over the crowd, for this was important. The wise man answered with another question: 'How do you feel when you eat meat?'
The young man thought about that for a moment, then said 'Well, not as good.'
And the wise man replied 'Then don't eat it.' And there was a murmur of approval from the vegetarians in the crowd.
Then another young man rose and said 'I like meat and I feel fine when I eat it.'
And the wise man said 'Fine, then eat it.' And there was a murmur of approval from the meat lovers. Then the voices became louder and the debate started anew.
Just then the wise man started to laugh. At first it was a chuckle that softened the serious crowd so that several grinning faces were seen. And the sight of the wise man sitting on the little dais laughing was so infectious that the crowd began to laugh with him. And as it often happens, there was one among the crowd that had an especially funny laugh, and this so tickled the wise man that he began to shake up and down until he nearly fell off his seat. And this so pleased the crowd that an enormous peal of laughter arose and echoed through the streets. And passers by, without knowledge of what had caused it, were so affected by the pleasing sound that they stopped and joined in, until a great throng of laughing people had gathered.
The sight and the sound of so many people enjoying themselves made the wise man... well, it went on and on until not one among them could remember having such a nice time. But the nicest thing of all was, on that day nobody had indigestion.
Remember that. Whatsoever goes well with you is fine. Don't impose unnecessary structures upon your being. You are already in a prison, don't create bigger prisons for yourself. Although remember one thing: work as diligently as possible for becoming more conscious. Forget about character; character is a concern of the stupid and the mediocre. Let your whole concern be consciousness. And when you are conscious, when you are a little bit alert, aware, when a light starts burning in your inner being, when you are able to see, many things will change. Not according to any structure, not according to any ideology, not according to any fanaticism -- but according to your own understanding, things are bound to change.
My own feeling is -- remember, it is my feeling; it need not be a commandment to you -- my own feeling is that if you become more and more alert and aware, you will find it less and less possible to eat things which depend on hurting animals, which depend on destroying animals' lives. But this is not a commandment, and this has nothing to do with spirituality. It simply has something to do with an aesthetic sense.
To me, the question is more about a esthetics than about spirituality. In that sense I will call Mahavira more aesthetic than Jesus. Spiritual they both are, but Mahavira is more aesthetic. It is simply ugly to eat meat -- not unspiritual, remember, not a sin -- just ugly, dirty. To depend on killing animals -- just visualize -- for your small taste buds which can be satisfied in many other ways, torturing millions of animals around the earth is anesthetic. You are not showing poetry, you are not showing feelings.
Spirituality is possible. But a man should not only be spiritual, he should have some aesthetic sense too. The question is like this: If you ask me 'Is it essential to have a Picasso painting in my bedroom to become spiritual?' I will say it is not essential. You can become spiritual without a Picasso painting; no painting is needed. But having a painting in the room is aesthetic -- it creates a milieu of art around you, a sense of beauty. And once you understand this difference you will not be a fanatic, because art does not create fanaticism. In that way, art is more non-violent than your so-called religions -- they create fanaticism.
If you write poetry, if you paint or if you dance, it has nothing to do with spirituality. Just by painting you will not become spiritual. A man need not be a painter to become a spiritual person; spirituality is apart. But a spiritual man may like to paint. Zen masters have been painting and they have created wonders. Zen masters have been writing poetry, and their haiku are some of the greatest insights into beauty, into splendor, into reality.
Nobody has been as penetrating as the Zen poets, and in a few small words. They have written such great poetry -- to write that poetry others need to write great books, big books; they go on writing and writing, and even then not much poetry is found. But it has nothing to do with spirituality. Spirituality is possible without being a poet, without being a dancer, without being a musician. But if you are a musician, a poet, a dancer, your life will have more fulfillment. Spirituality will be at the center and all these values will be on the circumference. You will have a far richer life. A spiritual person can be a poor person -- he may not have any capacity to enjoy music.
In fact that's what is happening in the world. If you go and see a Jaina monk and you talk about classical music he will not understand a single word of what you are talking about. And he will say 'Don't talk about worldly things to me. I am a spiritual person, I don't listen-to music.' If you talk about poetry he will not be interested. His life will be dry, it will not have juice. He may be spiritual but his life will be a desert.
And when it is possible to be spiritual and a garden too, why prefer the desert? When you can be spiritual and poetic too, why not have both? Have as many dimensions to your life as possible, have a multi-dimensional life. Become more aesthetic, more responsible. But I don't give you any details. And remember always, these are not essentials for being a spiritual person -- they will not help your enlightenment and they will not debar it. But the journey can be very very beautiful or it can be very very desert like. It all depends on you.
My own approach is to help make your journey a joy. Not only the end -- the spiritual person is only concerned with the end. He is in a hurry, impatient to reach the end; he does not bother what is happening on the roadside. And millions of flowers bloom there too, and birds sing songs and the sun rises and in the night it is full of stars. And all this too is beautiful. Let the journey also be beautiful. When you can pass through these enchanted lands, why not? But your concern should basically be for more consciousness. And whatsoever that consciousness makes luminous for you, follow it. Let your consciousness be the only law. I don't give you any other law.