Whether we are aware of it or not food pretty much dominates our lives. Regardless of how we eat; if it is for pleasure, for survival, for health or for optimising our performance, it is generally the primary relationship in our lives. Even if, say, you were to fast then it is still about the relationship to food, in this case by not eating.
It is our survival block. As physical beings not fixed to the ground and without photosynthetic capabilities our sustenance to fuel every aspect of living in this dimension comes from our food. It is powerful and predominant and has me looking at what is my own relationship to the food I eat?
I just finished reading a science-fiction novel. I thoroughly enjoy reading about future visions of our species, although in most cases I feel authors, while adequately creating projections into our technological advancements, rarely give enough thought to the mental, emotional and spiritual development of our species. More often than not these novels are full of humans thinking the way they do now with the same kind of drama and problems and pettiness that exist in our current age. With my own investigations into adult human development I don’t think that will be the case, these facets of our being will also evolve. Anyway that is a tangent to be explored another time and if I ever get around to writing my own science-fiction.
In this particular novel, and in many I have read, the food eaten by humans in the future is entirely synthesised. There is no agriculture and humans do not grow any of the food they eat, rather it is perfectly tailored to meet the complete nutritional requirements and then processed into various forms and flavours to simulate the food that has been a part of our heritage.
There is one scene even when the protagonist unknowingly consumes meat given by a woman he is dating that belongs to a ‘regressor’ type of group who are trying to revert to older ways of living on the land. The main character vomits profusely and then lashes out at the woman claiming she is insane by eating an animal. This is not in response to a vegetarian mentality, rather it is in response to the idea of eating naturally grown foods as utterly disgusting (perhaps like how more ‘primitive’ cultures as well as our ancestors would eat food that now appears utterly disgusting to us. Having lived in Asia for a while I’ve eaten all kinds of things that many people I imagine would feel uncomfortable with).
Reading this story had me thinking, as I said above, about our relationship to food. In some ways this kind of line makes sense. It’s easy, it takes away the sheer quantity of time and effort that we need to invest in our daily consumption of food and makes it as easy as removing it from a package and sticking it in something akin to a microwave. In some ways we are already headed in this direction as processed food often is so far removed from actual food, and so full of chemicals and additives that it is virtually synthetic as it is! What if we could have that same luxury, that same range of tastes and know that every meal we consumed provided us with exactly the nutrition we needed to maintain an optimal state of health?
It would certainly free up a lot of time and a lot of our advancements through the industrial ages have been in removing that time investment in regards to our food. Once our whole lives revolved around it. There was a time most of the entire day was wrapped up in the hunting and gathering of food which, as we congregated together in larger numbers, the growing, harvesting and preserving of foods. Now all we have to do is visit a supermarket once or twice a week, and cook. Or if we are eating for survival and taste only then just take it out of it’s packet and stick in oven or microwave.
So as a species we have all this extra time, and what have we done with it? While there have been massive advances in longevity, technology, etc there has also been a massive cost. There is a disconnect from this planet that sustains us. We think of things as man-made vs nature-made when the reality is that everything we use and consume has come from this planet. Everything.
There is a natural harmony that I find missing and with is a global pathology. Rampant illness exists, broad-scale destruction of the environment, depression, and an insane life based on the accumulation of stuff. We have more time than ever before yet we are also busier.
How much of this is within our relationship to food I wonder?
For me while I can see the sense in moving towards ease, eliminating all that time that revolves around food so that we can put it into… into… umm… the advancement of the human endeavour? Or whatever.
I feel a calling towards a more harmonious and integrated relationship to the basic needs of my life. Currently I don’t know where my food comes from, I don’t know who grew it, which soil it was in, or anything much about it at all.
I wish that to change.
The design science of Permaculture offers options, I think, to reintegrate… or from an integral perspective “transcend and include” our relationship to the basic necessities of life. With an appropriately designed house, suburb, city we can be in relationship with our food, water and waste without having to dedicate so much time to it. Perhaps we can also take a look at what we dedicate our time towards. Hours upon hours of work to get money that buys… food, shelter and stuff. How much of it do we truly need? How much of the ‘good’ life says that we have made it, that we have finally survived?
The truth is we can’t survive, not indefinitely. Death waits for us all. Completely and totally and absolutely.
And yet we are still functioning out of fear-based survival, from a perspective that says the more that I have the more that I am surviving. It is really quite insane.
What if we slowed down and took a deeper look at the relationships in our lives? That with family, friends, lovers, purpose and meaning and our survival needs like food.
To transcend and include means to go beyond where we were and yet to also include that which brought us here.
I was attending the graduation speech at Naropa university in Boulder, Colorado. Pema Chodren was giving a speech to the graduates when she said something that struck me, hard.
“Some things can’t be fixed, they happened and can never be undone.”
Stopping to consider this phrase had me take a deep breath and a painful peek at myself. How many things had occurred in my life that I wished hadn’t? And how much was I holding on to some possibility that I could find some way to reverse these things?
I discovered that there was a lot. That huge portions of my attention was oriented towards fixing aspects of myself and my past. Parts of my physical body, parts of my love history, parts of my life choices all wanted to be fixed and done over.
Now having returned from what was, to me, a turbulent journey in the USA where many of my inner demons took the opportunity to come out and play I am seeing that there are more things I am sitting with wishing that I had chosen some other direction and resulted in some other outcome than this one I am having now.
These decisions, these ‘wrong’ turns cannot be unmade. I cannot go back and choose again I am where I am because of the intentions behind the choices I made when I made them. This is karma. The repercussions of my intention behind my actions. My actions at the time, I can see now in retrospection, were reactive. An unconscious and, I think, unhealthy pattern crept in and took over and as a result I made choices that I do not think were aligned with my highest values. It’s a regular pattern and it has shown up repeatedly in my life in various forms and guises.
As I dwell on the feelings resulting from seeing that I made choices that I see now as being wrong turns, I notice several responses arise within me.
Firstly is a voice that finds reasons for why it’s ok, that justifies and placates the decisions by finding fault with the conditions around my choices. This is the voice that was loudest while making the choices and when I look more deeply I don’t trust this voice. Even though it hurts to acknowledge the anger and regret I feel knowing that I deviated from the way I most desire to walk, I am reluctant to soothe that away. By doing so keeps this voice alive, it gives it the fuel to continue to pop up and sabotage the show in it’s drama loving ways. Wallowing in the hurt, however, equally feeds this aspect as our unhealthy ego-mind loves suffering. It is drawn to unnecessary suffering like flies to shit and will nudge us in the direction for the creation of suffering. Repeatedly.
The next voice is the New Age and Spiritual voice that often say things like “everything happens for a reason” and “things worked out the way they were meant to”. I find that I am equally as suspicious as this voice. In some way this is also placating, it is an excuse for our unhealthy ego-mind to create as much havoc as it likes all in the guise of “it was meant to be”.
What if the truth is that things actually happened because I indulged the unconscious self. What if in those moments it is more that I aligned myself with an unhealthy set of values such as trying to be the person that I think will have me be attractive in a way I most desire? Rather than being moved by a higher intention to serve the evolution of consciousness on the planet. This intention doesn’t care how I am seen and to be aligned with an intention such as this would not create any repercussions of suffering.
So whenever I suffer it is that my intention has become self-serving and driven by an unhealthy ego. The choices made from this place will inevitably lead to a karmic outcome that is less than desirable. The solution here is to go in and find the patterns. Find the unhealthy voices and their intentions and remove them from our attention. As we shine the light of awareness into the dark places in our mind we see them and when we know where they are we can choose to move our attention towards that which truly serves our evolution. The unhealthy aspects of mind wither and fall away if we refuse to feed them.
Some things can’t be fixed yet if we are diligent, intentional and unwavering we can change the outcomes of tomorrow, today.
How committed are you to your own awakening? How ready are you to live a life free of suffering and drama?
For me I cannot see any other point of being alive.
I am about to write about something entirely not new. So many spiritual teachings point to the “now” as it, whatever it is.
I just returned to my humble mountain sanctuary in Australia after several turbulent and expansive months abroad.
The most striking thing on returning is how easily and fluidly I dropped into the way I am here, as if I never left.
There is nothing outwardly unusual about this, I imagine it’s a pretty common occurrence for travellers to return and re-enter their lives in a normal way. Having travelled a lot, this time was slightly different in the ease in which I returned and the pangs I thought might occur were not present… however this is not the point I am coming to.
What struck me the most was how seamlessly that entire experience, 5 months of being in another country, became a memory. In a single moment it became nothing more than some faint recollection of what happened and the only residue was the impact on how my subjective experience is in the world in this moment. I’ve noticed in myself that I spend less and less time in past or future as such this abrupt transition, that is easily overlooked in the seeming continuance of a day-to-day experience lived out in a somewhat familiar routine, hit me.
This moment is it.
Literally every single experience I have instantly becomes the past the moment I have it.
I think it’s easy to not really see and feel this as, like I said above, often our lives have a familiar flow to them that allows us to merge with some kind of continuance of our experience. It seems as if life is happening one moment after the other in a seamless unfolding.
But what if it’s not quite like that?
What if, like a movie, it’s actually a series of frames each frame being completely individual and isolated from the others. Yet when put into smooth motion these frames blend together to create an animated and linear progression that looks as if there is no break whatsoever.
Regardless of the actual mechanism what I find myself left with is that this moment, the very one happening right now, is the only moment I have. I may be able to fool myself by the smooth routines of my daily life or by the continued identification with who I think I am yet if I slow down enough to catch it there is only this. And so what point for drama? What point for yearning for some experience not yet arrived or regret about some experience now past?
If I can step into this moment, to the best I am capable, what happens? I can feel and experience and be with the textures of life. There is so much happening both inside and outside right now. I can have longing for something not here, yet what point to fixate on it as a discomfort… rather to experience the longing here in this moment, and it becomes pleasurable. It is what is alive right now.
And so the only thing to do really is to live into this moment in the best way I can and in a way that aligns with my highest values in constant and forever deepening for this moment. And this moment. And this one. And this one too.
There hope I blew your minds with some wholly original content.
There are a lot of new subscribers to my blog and I feel honoured to have you here. That somehow something in my writings has touched you enough that you wish to continue to read my musings is inspiring to me.
I have been wanting to write something for a while, to add to this space of thoughts that I created and to contribute something that may have meaning.
And then… my reality has been a crushing sink into an existential angst. What started as joyful journey of growth and exploration has tested and pushed me deeper into the ways my own mind creates suffering, and I have suffered.
It is funny as the world has been incredibly kind to me, it has shown me abundance, has introduced me to amazing and inspiring individuals, has given me shelter… and yet I still suffered.
What has been playing through mind as I wander in an exhausted fugue of traveling and couchsurfing is to question the point of any of it. I have been sinking into what has been a challenging inquiry, an inquiry that has been asking repeatedly “what’s the point?”. What is the point… of any of it. Oh I may offer or be offered a number of platitudes that may ease my soul and paint a smile on my face, yet do I really believe such sayings, believe them deep in my core?
To let go of all my constructed ideas about the meaning of life and to continuously and painfully bury myself into the question of what is the point?
It would be easier to not confront this question and in some ways I’m sure that I could divert my attention and yet my disposition has been to dwell into the realm of feelings. To dive deep, like a cave diver, without much certainty of what I might find. All I have is an insatiable compulsion to feel fully whatever it is my experience, often past the point of what I might call healthy. Sometimes there are nuggets of gold in the depths, insights that bubble up when I truly embrace not-knowing and often found in the darkest of places.
I am fascinated by the potential of growth and evolution that we human beings seem to have. That somehow by opening myself, by allowing the very stuff of who I think I am to be malleable, that there is a real and genuine capacity to change. This is truly amazing.
Change and growth, what wonderful and strange possibilities we have… a feature of our lives we have changed as we grew from infants to children to teenagers to adults and then for many of us we stop. We become fixed in our ideas and beliefs about the world. We think we know the answers and they root us in place. What was once a fluid and dynamic ability to shift and expand becomes rigid and closed.
What is the nature of change? What is it that allows us to change and grow? To become more elegant, more efficient beings?
These past months for me, as I hinted above, have been some of the most challenging I have yet experienced… and I have grown. The very nature of my experience in this world seems somehow fundamentally different to what it once was. At times I am astonished as I feel what it is like to be me and it feels… different, new, matured (at least slightly).
I have been to workshops and retreats, more than I think was necessary and the ideas presented have swirled within me some sticking and becoming new inquiry while others spat out in rejection. Not all ideas are good ones, yet many are worth trying out at least for a little while.
This has been a dark night of the soul for me. As what once held me close in an embrace of comfort in an idea of what God is for me, has been released. The absence of this reassuring presence of belief is deafening and frightening. It feels alone, as if I have been deserted. And yet… in the moments I relax the devastation that I may have no reason for existing, a sense of peace fills me. A rightness that something is happening, I just don’t know what. A dark night may birth a new day.
All I have to offer here, as I continue my investigation into what is actually meaningful for me, is that change does not come from thinking about it.
As I look at the nature of my thoughts, there is a particular sense of fixation that thoughts have. They go round and round and perpetuate some sense of being that I have taken on as being important to me to uphold. If I ignore the thoughts, allowing them to swirl in their cacophony of sometimes madness there is a texture of feeling behind. There is something pre-thought from which this experience upwells. Allowing this to be there, without fixation, without attachment… with only an open curiosity gives it space to expand and stretch. To consider something beyond what it is I have come to believe. There is new possibility for what are my beliefs other than information presented to me and adopted within my identity. None of it has any validity beyond the way in which it gives me some sense of continuity as an identity.
Change is possible and in many ways a natural function of being, it seems to be only impeded by ourselves and our ability to solidify around a sense of self and the importance of such being recognised as us.
What if we were to let that go?