Although this 4th Thought is aimed at the practice of depriving oneself of good health through extreme physical practices, it is also an invitation to take a good look at our relationship that we have with our physical self. Meditation is primarily a method of using our minds (Our six senses; taste, smell, hearing, seeing, feeling and consciousness (the latter being a Huffington Post-like aggregator of the other “news” that the body sends to the mind), to become aware of how we relate to ourselves, to others and to the world we exist in. What are getting from our food? How are we using food?
” We will eat lest we become lean and die”
The Buddha during his early years followed many aesthetic practices to his physical detriment. One of his realizations concerning the Middle Way was that it also applied to nourishment and being aware of the physical body. That to deprive or hurt the body did nothing to bring one closer to the truth; it is not necessary to be uncomfortable in order to make progress in the spiritual life. There’s plenty of discomfort (mental) coming up as one delves deeper anyway.
This thought reminds us that we must nourish ourselves properly and to take good care of ourselves, We must not be too greedy (#3) nor must we be too abstemious in our food intake. The middle path is the way.
In some Buddhist traditions, like the Theravaden schools, they do not eat after the noon hour. In our tradition we practice the “medicine meal” which is a light optional repast in the evening so that one doesn’t go to bed hungry.
The main idea is not to drift into either extreme. This hold true in all things. The Buddhist trainee tries to adhere to the middle in all things. For most of us it’s probably a good idea to…
Eat! (Not too much).
Enjoy! (Not too much).
Be Content! (as much as possible).
The activity of practicing of adequacy, sufficiency, and contentment are always good boundary guides in the development of Right View, which is the first step on the Eight-fold Path.
We need to have a sense of where, and why, we are going before we set out on a journey.
What is Adequacy? What is Sufficiency? What is Contentment?