Sugar … as Sweetness … as the Lord

This may be one of the most important holistic health coaching sessions you’ll ever have.

What is it, really, that we all seek in life?  Ultimately, isn’t it happiness, joy, bliss … unending.

When we experience moments or events which bring us this happiness, how do we describe them?

Better yet, how do we describe those who are responsible for the joy that is brought into our lives?

Don’t we spontaneously call them, “Honey” or “Sugar” or “Sweetie Pie“?

It is the sweetness in life that actually brings many of us back here for yet another reincarnation of our soul.  We simply haven’t gotten enough of whatever form of life’s sweetness it is that we crave or desire.

For some it may be the simple yearning to experience “Sweet Jesus“.  For others, especially in the the Eastern spiritual traditions, it might be the opportunity to enjoy the mystical and sweet rasalila with Lord Krishna Himself.  In the Sufi tradition, there are the exquisitely sweet poems of Rumi, as well as the sweetness of the sema as experienced by the whirling dervishes, which enrapture the soul. The following rendition of Khwaja Mere Khwaja is a wonderfully sweet fusion of poetry and song, dance and music which reflects these sentiments in a truly transcendental fashion.

Of course what is the very essence of sweetness but love itself, which is why it is so satisfying and alluring.  It is also the very basis of our existence and what all of us crave to the greatest degree.  However, we often mistake the sweetness of our chosen sugar for the sweetness of true (and unalloyed) love.  This is where it behooves us to consult the more ancient wisdom of the East.

In India the science of Ayurveda (literally the knowledge of life) is known as the mother of all healing arts.  According to this highly respected body of wisdom it is understood that sweet – one of the six major tastes – is clearly the predominant one, not only in the great number and diversity of foods that exist around the world, but also the one that ought to be eaten in the greatest proportion by those who seek balance among their doshas*.  So even in our food, an earthly form which the Lord Himself has assumed, we instinctively are drawn to its many sweet varieties. We unconsciously seek the divine in the very food we eat because we know it was created by God, from His very own body – the created universe.

*dosha (per to dictionary.com)

Main Entry: _dosha
Part of Speech: _noun
Definition: _in Ayurvedic medicine, one of the three biological humors or energies (kapha, pitta,vata) which
combine in various proportions to determine individual constitution and mental and physical
disorders
Etymology: _Sanskrit ’fault, disease’

This is where this health coaching session gets very interesting.

You see, wherever we seek sweetness in our life, we are truly seeking the Lord.  The Lord is the sweetest of ALL sweets.  And His many sweet creations are but different manifestations of His pure sweetness.  Though many of these physical sweets may not look, or smell, or taste, or feel like the Lord as you would think, they are no less than the Lord Himself.  After all, they were made from His supreme consciousness and by His supreme energy.  In other words, He not only owns the bakery, supplies the flour and the sugar, as well as the bakers; the Lord is the entire bakery, and all of its delectable baked goods.

What’s the point here?  As we all go through our lives seeking out and yearning for the multifarious forms of sweetness in this earth realm, we are actually in hot pursuit of the Lord Himself.  Inevitably, we will attain this highest spiritual goal and achieve the very purpose of human existence, but only after countless lifetimes of getting sick from too much chocolate cake, or whatever “sweets” we overindulge in.

The real challenge here, after recognizing that it has been the sweetness of the Lord of which our soul has been in avid pursuit, is to re-channel much of the energy we expend in the pursuit of sweets, athletics, career, money, fame, fortune, cars, houses, clothes, artwork, sex, relationships, romance, reading, comfort food, beer, wine, brandy, cigarettes, marijuana, coffee, tea, cappuccino, expresso, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, recreational drugs, pharmaceutical drugs, nutraceutical drugs, TV, computers, wi-fi’s, iPhones/Androids/Blackberries, cellphones, talking, debating, arguing, social networking, conversation, sympathy, attention, notoriety, meat and potatoes, surf and turf, key lime pie, pistachio ice cream, chocolate cake, barbecue ribs, chicken wings, hush puppies, Italian food, Mexican food, Thai food, drumming, piano, violin, flute, guitar, fishing, sailing, motor-boating, beaching, gambling, cards, horse racing, car racing, football, baseball, basketball, soccer, marathon running, tennis, skiing, biking, power walking, working out, surfing, mountain climbing, skydiving ….

True skydiving is supposed to be head first, except when you land!

Did you know that it is actually the concentrated sugars (sweetness) in liquor which is craved by one who is addicted to alcohol?  When one gives up alcoholic beverages for good, he/she often segues over to a variety of very sweet foods to fill the very same void. Truly, it is the hunger for God that is wanting to be satisfied. All appetites lead to the Godhead when traced back to their ultimate source, and followed to their final destination.

By the way, it is very important to point out that there is nothing inherently “wrong” with any of the aforementioned endeavors or objects of desire.  They are all a part of God’s creation.  All of them have their rightful place in life and society, and may be perfectly appropriate for an individual given the worldly pursuits that makes him or her happy. Destiny also brings what destiny will bring, all for the unfoldment of the soul’s desires which ultimately do bring us closer and closer to God.

However, it’s all about moderation, and temperance, and balance, and sobriety.

Especially in these times, our chosen sugar or sweetness in life often becomes the instantaneous comfort which quickly takes the sting out of life’s pain and suffering.  However, if we can only remember that, just like pharmaceutical medications, most forms of sweetness taken in excess only serve to medicate, desensitize, distract, palliate, anesthetize, disguise, numb, or mask the true source of our pain*.

*It is said in some Eastern spiritual traditions that all pain reflects, to varying degrees, the most profound and primordial pain of separation from the Lord.  Also, that such pain will cease only when a permanent reunion with our true Beloved is attained through Self- realization.  Likewise, there are those schools of healing which acknowledge that all dis-ease ultimately derives from one’s disconnection from God.  And that the closer we get to the Godhead, the more likely we are to lead a pure and wholesome life; then robust health and lasting wellness come naturally.  

Trials and tribulations, no matter what form they take, always serve our highest good.  Therefore it is best to face them consciously and with maximum sobriety. Anything that treats our symptoms usually, in some way or another, rips off our shakti (spiritual energy according to Ayurveda), and lessens the degree to which we will be present in any given moment. Particularly during those experiences that are meant to be spiritually enlightening or edifying, we do well to “self-medicate” only to the extent that is really necessary.  The practice of such forbearance is in and of itself a great virtue, which will take us even further in our sadhana (Ayurvedic spiritual practice).

Bear in mind that the continuum from spartan stoicism to wanton overindulgence is quite long.  And, that our proper place on this continuum is one which each person must decide for him or herself.  Since this continuum is often changing, our ability to discern becomes critical, as this is where the breakdown usually occurs. Therefore, the virtue of self control ought to be ceaselessly cultivated.

For instance a regular, long daily run during a period of great emotional turmoil can have great therapeutic value, as long as the run serves to discharge the negative emotions in a healthy manner.  When the run becomes so addictive that the endorphin high overrides one’s judgement about when to stop, the therapy can then become counter-productive, and in some cases more destructive than the original dis-ease.

Viveka (the power of discrimination in Ayurveda) is the faculty which reigns supreme during our trek throughout the bakery of this world.  The sharper it cuts through the baked goods of our life, so that we eat (read sacrifice) only what is necessary, the better we will feel, the stronger will be our resolution, and the more likely we will reach the goal of our spiritual journey.

You may have already guessed that the author of this little essay is a recovering sugarholic.  His addiction to sweets (especially all things sugar) inexorably pushed him into his life’s work as holistic health coach/wellness counselor/integrative health consultant.

His lifelong contemplation of this matter inpired him to write and speak on the subject of sugar, and especially on the notion of sweetness as it relates to both physical and spiritual health.  He has suffered greatly from numerous ailments and various conditions directly related to the over-consumption of sugar.  And, it was the pain and suffering associated with these illnesses and general dis-ease that brought him face to face with his Higher Self, which quite fortuitously put him on his long sought after spiritual path.

There Is Much Joy In Self Restraint

Daily Devotional

Self-Control in All Things

By Brent Barnett
This week’s topic: The Fruit Of The Spirit

In ancient Greece, every year before and after the Olympic games were held, the Isthmian games took place in the city of Corinth. Those who won would receive a wreath made out of pine. No doubt those who participated in these games trained rigidly as the athletes of our day do for the Olympics. It takes strict discipline, sound eating habits, rigid training programs, a burning desire to win, and a persevering commitment to the task to prepare for an athletic event of this caliber. Those who compete at this level run to win, and in order to win, they must discipline their bodies. Self-control is a key component for victory.

In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul alludes to these athletic competitions when he says,

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

Paul says that it makes no sense for a boxer to punch the air. His goal is to train so that he can land his punches, knock down his opponent, and win the match. In the same way, it makes no sense for a runner to deviate from the course and go for a stroll through the country. His mission is to stay on track within the boundaries and cross the finish line before everyone else. Winning will require self-control in all things, from the training and preparation to execution and performance on race day. Spiritually it makes no sense to view life as haphazard or to approach it carelessly. God has called us all to run a race, and we are in it to win it, or at least we should be. Paul viewed his commission to share the gospel as even more intense and serious than the training of a world-class athlete. He knew that a race has only one winner, and he lived the Christian life as if he wanted to get the most rewards possible for the sake of Christ.

What helps makes an athlete successful is the same thing that contributed to Paul’s spiritual discipline- self-control. Paul speaks of disciplining his body to the point of making it his slave. The Greek word from which we translate the word self-control implies mastering fleshly passions and sensuous lusts. Just as an athlete has to discipline his mind, will, emotions, and body in order to perform at the highest level, a Christian must discipline his thoughts, behaviors, attitudes, and actions in order to bear abundant spiritual fruit. Self-control means that we don’t make any provision for the flesh and its lusts (Romans 13:14). We don’t do anything to aid and abet self. Rather, we yield to God by faith Who by His Spirit will enable us to live as new creations in Christ rather than as those who are enslaved to sin. We have been set free from being slaves to sin (Romans 6:6), and self-control is thus the process of continuing to reckon by faith that we are indeed free. This freedom will enable us to live out the fruit of self-control, which is discipline. A Christian who runs to win will thus be committed to studying God’s Word, to meditating upon it, to praying, to serving, and to doing all that Christ has commanded us.

Too many Christians, either out of ignorance or a lack of faith, continue to live as if they are slaves to self. Their lives become mired with self-gratification, self-seeking, self-absorption, and self-righteousness. They might be able to control some behaviors, but they are themselves controlled by others. The beauty of self-control is that it is the absolute opposite of selfishness. It is the ability to, no matter what the circumstances, stand firm in righteousness, remaining strong in faith.

Life will riddle us with encumbrances, and Satan will fire temptations at us more often than we like. Self-indulgence gives into a little sin here and there, and self-righteousness abstains from sin for the purpose of glorifying self. Self-control, on the other hand, makes self a non-issue and serves Christ as Master over all areas of life. When this fruit of the Spirit is manifested in the lives of believers, they will be able to resist temptation, persevere under fire, and finish the race strongly. This requires discipline by the power of the Spirit so that we don’t become disqualified in our Christian race due to sin. Sin saps the power of God working in and through us. If we want to win the crown of life, which is much greater and longer-lasting than the pine wreaths given to the Isthmian winners, we must have self-control.

We may never be professional athletes, but we can be world-class Christians if we have self-control in all things. Let us run to win, exercising the discipline characteristic of a champion.

Scripture Of The Day: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” – Romans 13:14

Brenton M. Barnett is the founder of the free Bible teaching ministry, Relevant Bible Teaching, found on the web at http://www.relevantbibleteaching.com. He is also the author of Catch Fire: A Call to Spiritual Awakening. Brent’s greatest joys in life are his wife, Sarah, and daughter, Anneke.…
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Atma-vinigraha –> Self restraint

“Together with the insistence on the necessity of a Guru in the imparting of knowledge, the Upanishads are also never tired of hammering upon another qualification of the student of this knowledge—brahmacharya. In many places it appears that brahmacharya and Brahman are almost identified. Wherever there is brahmacharya, there is also Brahman-knowledge. Very significant is this word—brahmacharya. It is the conduct of Brahman that is actually called brahmacharya. Charya is conduct, behaviour, attitude, disposition, demeanour, and brahma is the Truth. The conduct of reality is brahmacharya. So, when you conduct yourself in a manner not in contradiction to the nature of Truth, you are supposed to be observing brahmacharya. And what is the nature of Truth which you should not contradict in your day-to-day conduct and which is supposed to be brahmacharya? The nature of Truth is non-sensory existence. Truth is not a sensible object. It is not seen, it is not heard, it is not tasted, it is not touched, it is not contacted by any of the senses of our individual personality. Therefore, to desire for the objects of sense would be a contradiction of the nature of Truth. Brahmacharya is sensory non-indulgence. The opposite of sensory indulgence is the attitude of brahmacharya. Our present-day activities are mostly a refutation of the principles of brahmacharya, and so we are weak in every respect. We are unable to see, unable to hear, unable to touch, unable to walk, unable to speak, unable to digest our daily meal. Everything has been weakened, because our senses refute the existence of God. When you see an object you deny God, because the denial of God and the perception of an object are one and the same thing. When you hear a sound, you deny God. When you taste, when you touch, when you have any kind of sensory activity, there is an unconscious refutation of the indivisibility of the existence of God. Brahmacharya has thus been, by an extension of its meaning, regarded as sense-control. But sense-control is not the whole meaning of brahmacharya. It is a spiritual attitude to things that is called brahmacharya, which implies, of course, automatically, sense-control.”
– The Secret of the Katha Upanishad (Discourse No. 3)
by Swami Krishnananda
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Sawm or Fasting:

“Every year in the month of Ramada-n, all Muslims fast from dawn until sundown–abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations with their spouses.

Those who are sick, elderly, or on a journey, and women who are menstruating, pregnant or nursing, are permitted to break the fast and make up an equal number of days later in the year if they are healthy and able. Children begin to fast (and to observe prayers) from puberty, although many start earlier.

Although fasting is beneficial to health, it is mainly a method of self-purification and self-restraint. By cutting oneself from worldly comforts, even for a short time, a fasting person focuses on his or her purpose in life by constantly being aware of the presence of God. God states in the Qur’an: ‘O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed to those before you that you may learn self-restraint.’ (Qur’an 2:183)”

Per  http://www.pre-renaissance.com/islam/pillars.html#