Eat and Drink in Moderation 於食知量

Swiss woman dies after attempting to live on sunlight; Woman gave up food and water on spiritual journey

 

Documentary film ‘In the Beginning, There Was Light’ gave her the idea

Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger reports that a woman starved to death after embarking on a spiritual diet that required her to stop eating or drinking and live off sunlight alone.

It is saddening to see such a news.  Sad on two counts.  1. That this woman lost her live because she adopted an inappropriate practice that would seem to be unsuitable for human beings.  2. While many hundreds and thousands around the world go hungry or starve, they don’t go on the news.

Eat and drink in moderation 於食知量

The Buddha taught the way to True Happiness by the Middle Way, the Noble Eightfold Path.  With respect to food and drinks, he advocated moderation as well.

In the Aparihani Sutta (AN4.37 [1]), the Buddha advised thus:

“And how does a monk know moderation in eating? There is the case where a monk, considering it appropriately, takes his 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, ‘I will destroy old feelings [of hunger] & not create new feelings [from overeating]. Thus I will maintain myself, be blameless, & live in comfort.’ This is how a monk knows moderation in eating.”

 

To eat enough to sustain the body, and not to overeat.  Eating mindfully, one may allay hunger and not give rise to greed, hatred and delusion.

In the Buddhist commentary, Yogacarabhumi sastra  瑜伽二十一卷七頁云[2]:
云何於食知量?謂彼如是守諸根已;以正思擇,食於所食,不為倡蕩,不為憍逸,不為飾好,不為端嚴,食於所食,然食所食,為身安住,為暫支持,為除飢渴,為攝梵行,為斷故受,為令新受當不更生,為當存養力樂無罪安隱而住。如是名為於食知量。
What is Moderation in Food?  Where one has guarded one’s sense doors, reflecting rightly, consuming food not in excess, not for pride or wantonly, not for adornment or beautification, but for calming one’s body, for sustaining it temporarily, for removing hunger and thirst, for enabling one’s cultivation, for removing old feelings and not give rise to new feelings, for sustaining the effort and joy in blameless calm abiding.  This is named “Moderation in Food”.
Dear friends, are you hungry yet?

 

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