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From Food Is Everything Born – Hindu Teaching

We ought to remember, ‘No mortal lives by prana or apana; but all live by something else on which these two depend.’ Food becomes body, becomes life, becomes the senses, becomes mind, becomes intelligence, becomes bliss; thus has food gross and subtle aspects — and so has the eater. Not only is everything in creation food — if it is poison to one it is food to another — but also from food is everything born. One who knows this metaphysical secret of food knows the secret of the universe.

‘Just as it is here in the microcosm, it is exactly the same in the macrocosm. The universe of ours is exactly like that; it is the gross external thickness, and it tapers into something finer and finer until it becomes God.’  Why approach metaphysics through food? Well, what is better-known than food? The sages knew it and declared: ‘Food, vital force, eye, ear, mind, speech — these are the aids to the knowledge of Brahman’ — these are doors to the realization of Brahman (Taittiriya Upanishad, 3.1.1.).

We can speak of still another aspect of energy derived from food. The energy that comes from digestion and metabolism — which are subconscious activities — rises to the conscious plane and culminates in happiness. But this energy is mundane still. As one’s propensity towards enjoyment of sense-objects is restrained, the energy assimilated as food is converted into ojas, which is higher intuition, memory, and spiritual power. Swami Vivekananda says, ‘The Yogis claim that of all the energies that are in the human body the highest is what they call “Ojas”.’ Ojas brings one the power to wash away the last traces of one’s primordial past and become a superhuman. One can, with such a purified mind, penetrate the mysteries of creation (food) and the Creator.

Food has two aspects: the known and the unknown. The Mundaka Upanishad explains the second:
‘Through knowledge, Brahman increases in size. From that is born food (the unmanifested). From
food evolves Prana (Hiranyagarbha); (thence the cosmic) mind; (thence) the five elements; (thence)
the worlds; (thence) the immortality that is in karmas.’ Hence from the ‘unknown’ food has evolved
the ‘known’ food (Mundaka Upanishad, 1.1.8).

This knowledge will lead us beyond the food on our plate and in our stomach to the infinite Reality which is our real nature. The shloka from the Bhagavad Gita which is chanted before meals is an
elevating reminder: ‘Brahman is the offering; Brahman is the oblation; it is Brahman who offers the
oblation into the fire of Brahman. One who sees Brahman in all action attains Brahman.’

Source – excerpts from article titled ‘Food for All’ published by Swami Satyamayananda in Prabuddha Bharata Magazine May 2008 Issue.