Slow it down -cook, chew, enjoy

Fast food is a problem and perhaps that’s because we are so detached from the cooking, the source, and the enjoyment.

What if we slow it down a little? What if we think in the grocery store, hang out in the produce section, and see what’s new and fresh? What if we think about our next meal and plan it and cook it slowly while we think about the flavors and the ingredients? What if we sit down and savor each bite? What if we bake some cookies from scratch? What will it look like if we change the thought pattern about making food? (Michael Pollan has a documentary called Cooked, and it’s based on his book by the same name.) Here’s a link to view a preview of his Netflix series. He learns how to cook, bake and take time to enjoy the process as he explains the origin of cooking and really examines where we are right now as a food obsessed culture.

car-swivel-food-tray-0

The truth is so glaringly obvious that it’s hard not to see it when it comes to food. Fast food is a problem and perhaps that’s because we are so detached from the cooking, the source, and the enjoyment.  For example, I slam a burrito in the car (my food drug of choice) on the way to wherever I must be getting to and then I don’t feel full or satisfied, but that’s ok because there will be a snack bar, food truck and coffee bar every step of the way I am most likely going. Let’s say anywhere there will be people, even a soccer game that last less than an hour, will be met with food that Madeline’s mom packed in a cooler stuffed with enough to feed the pack for 3 months should a disaster strike the soccer field and leave everyone stranded. And who wants to go out for pizza after the game we just grazed our way through? Don’t worry about being hungry there will be more food at the next place and when I get home I will still be hungry because I haven’t really eaten any actual food all day. So, I open the fridge and look for something, I don’t know what I want, just something that is fast and delicious before I head to bed. It’s silly.

I’m saying it doesn’t have to be this way and of course I am not the first person to rant about it. But one thing leads to another and I am just observing my own habits and seeing that once I slow down and slice some vegetables and cook some meat I feel good about the meal I eat. I like to cook, but I have to stay home to do it and that’s the trick. Staying home for a couple hours and thinking about it, caring about the meal and the process is something that is ancient and instinctual for humans. Perhaps we have backed away from the ritual that made a meal sacred and something very spiritual and essential has been lost. And maybe that is why most meals are not filling the void that we have mindlessly created.

My practice for today will be to search for something sacred in the food I am eating and preparing. I want to enjoy the flavors and savor the moments that I am eating and see if I can get back to my ancestral roots of honoring the source of life that makes the meal possible. I might start saying Grace again, why not be thankful for every meal?

A Spiritual Quest

With greater knowledge and reading my horizons expanded and the world felt huge and unknown to me.

Grassy-Path
Sunset in Ohio

“Mortals are helplessly tied like cattle by the rope of latent and residual desires born of their karmic footprints. The rope can be cut only if we use the God-given knife of intellect that animals do not have. A tiger is controlled by the instinct to kill and is helpless in this regard. Human beings are endowed with intellect and power to reason by which they can slowly cut the rope. We fail to use our power of reasoning and intellect due to ignorance. One’s enemy is none other than the other side of oneself. Sometimes intellect is taken away by the trick of divine illusory energy (Maya) before the dawn of fate-born adversity. One must use intellect, the precious divine gift to human beings, to analyze the situation. There is no other way to get out of the vicious circle of Maya.” –Bhagavad-Gita

 

I am on a spiritual quest. I have believed and prayed to God my whole life. The way I pray has changed a myriad of times. When I was little I prayed in Catholic school to the old man with a beard guarding the pearly gates of Heaven. I was sure I would never be good enough to enter or win the heaven prize, but I tried. Being good for God was a tricky task with him being the all-knowing Being that he was told to me to be. I prayed in my journals with “Dear God” prayers and I would begin with gratitude and then sort of list out my problems and the things I needed help with in my life. I had issues with my mom and dad and the ever-present dark cloud of money problems lingering around. I wanted God to fix it and I thought if I prayed hard enough I would win like the lottery (odd are about the same as it turned out). But I went to mass at school and on some weekends when my family was able to pull it together enough to roll in and sit and try not to laugh, but laugh anyways and feel guilty for it later.

But as I grew up and learned about the world of religions and the history of ancient philosophy for the Hindu, Buddhist, Tao, Muslim, and Jewish people I lost my way. I was confused as to why all the stories had the same theme the same common stories and lessons to learn; yet the world was at war over religion. I was shocked at the similarities when I read the story of Gilgamesh and compared it to the Noah story.

Here are 5 texts that came before the Bible:

http://www.ancientfacts.net/5-holy-books-predate-bible/

Egyptian Book of the Dead

Unfortunately, the Book of the Dead didn’t reach us in its entirety. From what we know of it, it was made up of several texts, written on papyrus and objects. In the most general terms, The Book of the Dead was a book of spells – both religious and magical. The theme of Death and the Afterlife was one of the most prominent ones in the texts. The Book of the Dead is believed to have influenced The Ten Commandments given to Moses – it reads exactly like them, except in the Negative Registry. For example, The Book of the Dead says, “I have not stolen”, whereas the corresponding Commandment is “Thou shall not steal”. The first text of the Egyptian Book of the Dead can be traced back to as early as 3150 BC.

The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Story of the Great Flood, the Serpent in the Garden of Eden, and many other Biblical stories are believed to be strongly influenced by this Epic Poem from Mesopotamia. The Epic of Gilgamesh is said to be written circa 2100 BC. It tells the story of King Gilgamesh and Enkidu, a man created by the gods to free Gilgamesh’s people from his oppression. The Epic of Gilgamesh predates Homer’s Odyssey and is believed to have heavily influenced the work.

Institution of Amenemope

This particular Egyptian work is believed to have close ties with the Book of Proverbs and was written sometime between 1300-1075 BC – a few centuries after The Book of the Dead. Unfortunately, very little of the work from that period has survived and to date, there aren’t any coherent translations available.

 The Rigveda of Hinduism

The Rigveda is a collection of Hindu hymns that is considered to be one of the four Vedas – sacred canonical texts of Hinduism. The Rigveda is believed to have been created between 1500 and 1200 BC, although allegedly it was recorded in oral form only back then. The Rigveda is believed to have been written down for the first time around the early Middle Ages. Nonetheless, it is one of the oldest religious texts written in an Indo-European language. It is also the only text on the list that’s still in use – the hymns are dedicated to various deities and phenomena.

 The Zoroastrian Texts

Zoroastrian Texts depict one of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions practiced in Iran around 600BC-650CE. The religion is believed to have influenced many of other world religions, including Christianity. For example, the story of creating the world in seven days is told in Avesta – one of the texts that predate The Bible. Several parallels can also be traced between another text called the Gathas of Zarathushtra Yasna and the Book of Isaiah. Zoroastrianism is also responsible for the angels and demons hierarchy and notions of Heaven and Hell.

 

 

With greater knowledge and reading my horizons expanded and the world felt huge and unknown to me. The stories I had learned from the Bible were not original stories, they were most likely influenced or borrowed from other ancient texts and religions. This was very unsettling to me. The quiet little nook of Catholicism was nothing like I thought. There was darkness in the history of religion, exclusion, secrecy, crime and a whole bunch of sin, as I understood it. So, I quit going to church and I began to search for answers. Who am I when it comes to God and is there a God, as I had believed? I took a class called Religions of the World, read the Bhagavad-Gita, and searched for enlightenment with books on Buddhism and spirituality. The answers I found were common, the path, the way, the source, the higher power, God, the Light, and then what seems to be an infinite list of names for God many different ones per each religion.

It gets confusing when you are searching for answers and trying to find an external match for what’s internal. The answer I have so far landed on is just that, God is internal not something I need to go looking for outside of myself. When I quiet my mind and listen, God is found there. When I walk in the woods and observe the natural world all around me, God is there but interconnected with what’s inside of me. I feel like consciousness links us all together in one source of energy that is life and as we live this human experience we transcend a bit higher each times until we achieve the ultimate body-less state of eternity. Could I be wrong? Of course. Could I be right? Of course. No one knows, but what I feel in my heart is that learning to love on earth is the greatest task and the ultimate message. Love one another. It’s so simple, yet we’ve muddied it up so much that people want to back away from religion and God and all the wrong messages that have been associated with it. If we can maybe relearn what our word for God means, be it love, higher power, divine, Om, what have you, then we can begin to love the message again and find prayer and ritual and reverence again. Surrendering to Love only means that we join forces with the energy flow of life and lay down our battle gear as we learn to love.

“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”

–Dalai Lama