By Swami Rama
World has nothing to offer you as far as enlightenment is concerned. But if you learn to arrange the world around you, the world will not create barriers and obstacles for you. If you keep on removing the obstacles, when will you have time to realize? Learn to arrange your situation in a way so that there are no obstacles and barriers created in your family life, in your social life, in your financial life. Then, you are free to meditate. Why do you want to learn something about health? If you are very healthy, will it help you to attain God? No. Then what good is health? A healthy body will not create disturbance for you. It will not distract you from your aim of attaining the purpose of life.
Your body speaks to you. The body has a simple and subtle language. Nobody teaches you, but you have to learn that language. If you overstrain, your body will tell you. This consciousness will lead you to understanding, to self-awareness, and then you will understand the capacity of your body. Many things you do without understanding the capacity of your body. This injures your body. You ignore body language and what happens? Either you suffer on account of malnutrition or you suffer on account of overeating. When you overeat, what happens to you? You start burping. Body speaks to you. When you are tired what happens? Body starts aching. Body speaks to you but you don’t listen to your body. So first learn to understand your body language. This will keep you healthy.
If you have overslept, if you are lazy, you will feel dull. You do not do many things because of sloth, which is one of the greatest enemies of mankind. You talk about sins. But you know the greatest of all sins is sloth, laziness. You want to wake up at four o’clock. You have had complete rest, you have enjoyed the rest. But you are still trapped inside the blanket, tossing and turning, making some sounds but you do not get up. Laziness! The prime enemy of a human being is laziness. But once you understand the value of life, with currents and cross-currents, then you understand that there is no place for laziness in life. You can achieve tremendous things in this lifetime. Look, one-fourth of your life is spent in eating, a fourth goes in sleeping, another fourth in the bathroom, and the remaining fourth in dressing, talking about others, condemning and praising others. Is this life? Tell me, what will you gain?
From the viewpoint of both yoga and Ayurveda, there are two systems functioning in your body. One system is busy cleansing this city of life called the body. Another system is constantly nourishing this human life. Your pores, lungs, kidneys, and bowels, are busy cleansing the city of life. Your heart, brain, spleen and liver are nourishing the body. There is coordination established between these two systems in your human life. They are functioning well together.
To maintain a healthy body you need to first understand something about diet and nutrition. Secondly you should have some knowledge of liquids. Vegetables are nourishing, fruits are cleansing, have a cleansing effect. Your diet should have both. Your diet, no matter whether you are a vegetarian or nonvegetarian, should have enough vegetables, because the latest research conducted in universities and scientific laboratories all over the world says that too much meat-eating might lead to cancer of the colon.
Being a vegetarian or a nonvegetarian depends upon your culture, tradition and country. I have seen that Eskimos are good meditators, even though they have nothing else to eat but meat. In that climate, in those conditions, they have no other alternative but they are still good meditators. I do not want to enter into a controversy about this. I’m a vegetarian because in the Himalayas you don’t get much meat. So from the very beginning I was brought up with vegetables. If I bury vegetables in the ground, I can grow vegetables. But if I bury a piece of meat, it will create only germs. The greatest, the biggest and wisest of all animals, the elephant, is a vegetarian. The tiger is very fast and rash, but it cannot fight for more than two hours. Therefore, I personally prefer to be vegetarian but I don’t tell people that they should be vegetarian. This, I don’t. If you can afford and accept vegetarianism, it’s good, but don’t prepare for divorce because your wife is not accepting vegetarianism and you want to. She may eat the meat of a goat, and the goat eats grass, so she can be called a secondary vegetarian!
Learn to eat good food, food which helps you maintain good health. Your food should be cooked but not overcooked. Many people become fanatical and ask why food should be cooked. Well, your intestines are not meant to digest raw food. That’s why food should either be steamed or baked, but not overcooked to the point that the food value is destroyed. When you overcook food what happens? The natural calciums turn into inorganic calciums for which you have no place in your body. Take fruit juice. If you go on heating juice, overheat the juice, then all the germs of the juice will die. The nature of the juice will change. If you do not know how to extract the juice, if the fibers are not properly squeezed, then all the nutrients are left behind in the fibers. What good is that juice? Some understanding, some study, some research should be conducted on the food that you eat, that’s my point.
What we give to our children is food plus poison. Mothers cook food that is tasty, that is pleasant to the palate. Children like such food but that food is not healthy for their bodies. Too much roasting and toasting of food is not healthy. It could be very tasty, but it has no nutrition, no nutrients. Therefore, you have to be food conscious. That will train your children, the coming generation. I am not giving you a sermon. I am imparting some practical knowledge to you.
Simple food is healthy food. Do you really taste the food? No. You taste only the masalas, the spices. Too much of spicy and greasy food is very unhealthy. Please, my daughters, no greasy food. Why don’t I accept your invitations for lunch? It’s because of this reason, because I lead a health-oriented life. Learn to cook meals which are not greasy, and you will be healthy. You will be doing a great favor, a service to your husband and children. Many Indian mothers think that ghee, clarified butter, has some special value. We have done many experiments. Ghee has nothing, no vitamins. It is a very good cooking medium but please don’t overuse it. It’s especially injurious to your heart. It can create CHD, coronary heart disease. If you take too much ghee, then you have to work hard to digest it. Those who work in the fields, those who are in the army, they can use ghee and sugar, others should not. They are very injurious.
I tell you something, no matter where Indians, Japanese, Chinese, Southeastern Asians, go, they eat greasy food. And they consume at least 120 pounds of sugar every year. I am talking of research conducted honestly. You should understand that anything that you eat is converted to sugar by your body. The body creates sugar, builds sugar. That creates another 120 pounds sugar. So 240 pounds sugar per year! Oh my Lord, what poison! You cannot eat food without sugar? Why? Why do you want to eat extra sugar? This creates imbalance in your body, disturbs your metabolism and the functioning of your pancreas. Look at the salt you consume. You don’t need that much salt. So if you can change your dietary habits by avoiding too much roasting and toasting the food, killing the food, too much grease, extra sugar and salt, then you will not suffer on account of many, many diseases.
One thing I want to warn Indian women, a very bad tradition we have. Our food habits are disastrous. There was a German writer who lived in India for twenty-five years and spoke many Indian languages: Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Gujarati, Urdu, Bengali, Punjabi, many languages. He studied Indian food and he lived with Indian families. And he wrote, “An Indian woman, my Lord, is the best in the world. Only she can live with a stupid Indian husband.” Sorry, I am not saying it, that’s what he wrote! A conventional Indian husband is sitting down and water is next to him but he calls out to his wife who runs out from the kitchen, asking, “What do you want?” “Give me water,” he says even though the water is next to him. Then the German writes, “An Indian woman is wonderful. There is no woman on earth who can be compared with an Indian woman as far as home life is concerned, but there is one thing, she’s very dangerous! She’s a murderess.” I said, what’s this? I was shocked to read this. He writes, kehti hai, “Thodasa aur khalo, aur khalo, aur khalo.” She says, “Please eat a little more, a little more, a little more.” She wants to please her husband and so the whole day she spends in the kitchen. An Indian wife overfeeds her husband. He gets fat, has high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes. And finally he has a heart attack and she becomes a widow. He writes, “India is full of widows going to the temple and crying, remembering their husbands.” Preventive medicine is an important part of modern life. Why should we be sick? We should be aware of health, we should be aware of diet and nutrition, we should be aware of good living, of how to eat right.
Now let us look at experiments that we have done. A child was given chocolates all the time. And another child was trained not to give chocolates, not to take chocolates. The child who took chocolates, sweets and sugar all the time was cranky, used to cry and was angry all the time. Even my typist ... who is a writer, had rashes all over the body. She went all over the world but nobody could heal her. She went to skin specialists in France, Germany, England, America, many places. So one day she was typing with her whole body covered with rashes and she asked, “Can’t you help me, Swamiji? I have spent more than $300,000.” I said, “You never asked me.” I said, “In five minutes time, you can be cured.” She said, “Five minutes? Well, I have been helping you, why are you not helping me?” I said, “Stop eating chocolates and in one week you will be cured completely.” She used to eat chocolates all the time. And I gave her the upper wash and the full wash the next day and I reminded her, “Now, no more chocolates.” Her husband told me that even in her dreams, she used to say, “Oh Lord, oh chocolate, oh chocolate, oh chocolate.” In a week’s time she was completely cured. She completely stopped taking sugar. Look at the change. Now she goes to everyone and says, “Do you take sugar?” If someone says, “Yes,” then [she] tells them, “You are not my friend.”
There are many such diseases that the doctors cannot figure out because you are not telling them about your habits. Most of the diseases, at least 80% of the diseases, are self-created, because of our not understanding simple ways of life. Balance, balance, balance. Simple food, nutritious food, fresh food, that helps you. To enjoy good health is very beneficial for you.
Many of you are anxious to know how to lose weight, aren’t you? I will tell you a simple method. But I know you are not going to do it. Eat whatever you want to, but eat the way I want you to eat. You do not chew your food well. If you go on chewing your food well, you cannot overeat, let me tell you this. You’ll find an improvement in your digestion. Count thirty-six and chew, you cannot overeat. You overeat because you don’t relish food, you just fill up the belly and it expands. Filling up your tummy, converting it into a pantry, is not good for you, is unhealthy for you. You are not paying attention to your meal, you are not tasting the food. You actually live to eat, yet you don’t have time to eat. What a horrible thing.
You are trained to do things in the external world. I will tell you to do something that is very delightful. Now those who have bad digestion, they should try this. In all great traditions, when you sit at the dining table, there is something called saying grace. Remember God before you eat. Do you know why it is done? Do you mean to say that God comes down to eat your food? It has a scientific purpose. You are calming down and giving enough time for saliva and other gastric juices to flow in readiness to digest the food. That’s the point. You have to calm down. If you are angry, let me assure you, your endocrine system will not secrete well. Your tongue will become dry and there will be imbalance in your saliva and gastric juices.
Wife and husband should not make the dining table into a fighting ring. Husband is very busy, he has no time. And wife waits the whole day and she gets frustrated. He’s tired and has many, many preoccupations. He has no time, he doesn’t want to discuss anything. And she wants to discuss. And there is only one time and that is at the dining table. It’s unhealthy to fight at the dining table. You can fight, it’s therapeutic. Not to fight may be injurious. But to make the dining table into a fighting ring is not good. It’s therapy to let out your steam in a nice way. To bottle up is not good. So sometimes you swear, let out your steam on each other, that can be therapeutic, it’s Ok. But there are two times of the day when you should learn to be calm. Please listen to me. I am talking on the basis of the scientific experiments we have conducted. Wife and husband should have this understanding, “We will not fight before we eat. We will not fight just before we go to bed. Honey, if you want to fight, you can fight before going to bed, but not while going to bed.” That should be the understanding. Fighting at these two times directly affects the biological part of our life. It disturbs you. You fight and then you notice that your digestion is disturbed, your sleep is disturbed. Those homes where there is culture are homes where they calm down first, say grace and then eat their food.
The dirtiest part of your body is your mouth. You can injure people by saying something bad. If you shoot somebody, that hurt can be healed. But if you say something bad to your wife or to your husband, perhaps he or she might forgive you but will never forget. It happens. So do not hurt, harm or injure anyone through your speech. Besides bad speech, another dirty aspect of the mouth is your teeth. If your teeth are not cleaned properly, your liver will never remain healthy. Very few people know this, even the dentists do not know how to clean their teeth. It’s shocking to me because I’m a scientist, I observe. Therefore, you should learn to regularly clean your teeth.
When you eat your food, chew your food well in a state of calm and quietness. Don’t get frustrated, don’t get angry at your husband, then overeat without understanding what you are eating. And then you get fat and he says that you have become very fat. Don’t give him that chance. Don’t let him become lazy. Kick him on his bottom if he doesn’t exercise. You have every right to do that. If your husband doesn’t exercise, be strong, tell him he has to exercise. You should learn to help each other, that is called partnership. You shouldn’t destroy each other.
Understanding and simple prevention can help you stay healthy. We have come to know that in women, many cases of cancer of the cervix, more than 60%, occur because of lack of understanding of simple hygienic principles. The Tata Research Institute found that 50% of these cancers decreased after the women were taught how to clean themselves. Those who chew tobacco, who sniff tobacco, or who smoke excessively, suffer on account of cancer of the tongue. Certain types of diseases can be controlled, that’s my point.
I don’t understand what fever is. When you talk about cold and cough, I understand. But when you talk about fever, I fail to understand. This is because I have never had fever in my life. Why? I can create temperatures of more than 114 degrees in my body. No one has recorded anywhere in the world, a fever of over 108 degrees. You have so much potential, you can prevent many illnesses, this is my point. Don’t give up and say I need a pill, I need a doctor, I need my psychologist. Don’t remain like this all the time. You have many, many potentials and when you understand yourself, you’ll find that there is a great doctor sitting within you. Cheerfulness is the greatest of all physicians. Learn to be cheerful all the time.
Another habit you have to form is to exercise regularly. There are some exercises which we teach, that are called emergency exercises. Yes. This world has become a world of economy. Do you know economy reading? Today, people buy a book but they don’t have time to read. They only read the introduction and that is called book reading. So you should learn to do this unique exercise in the morning, agni sara (see Appendix C), which activates your solar system. If someone does that exercise regularly, he will be very healthy.
What is the human body? These arms, and legs and feet, they are not considered to be the human body. They are called upper and lower extremities. Your human body is only between the base of the spine and the top of the head. Now when you sit, sit with the head, neck, and trunk in a straight line. That’s all. What should be your posture? When you talk of posture, posture does not mean twisting your legs and going to the doctor the next day. Keeping your head, neck, and trunk in a straight line is called posture. Learning to sit. Now here, when you talk about posture, if you go deeply, you’ll come to know, no matter how many postures you do, you are not yet a yogi. Many people pay attention towards posture and they think that by standing on the head they become great yogis. No. Standing on the head really means learning to stand on your own feet. And if you have not learned that, what good is that? So no matter which posture you sit in, keep your head, neck, and trunk in a straight line and assimilate your upper and lower extremities in such a way that they do not disturb you. That’s the importance of posture. You should practice for a few days that which is a comfortable posture for you. During meditation keep head, neck, and trunk straight and aligned. That’s the first thing you should learn.
Now please let me explain. What am I doing? I am keeping head, neck, and trunk in a straight line. This is head, this is neck, and this is trunk. Along your spinal column lie three ganglionated cords, sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. In the center is centralis canalis and on both sides two ganglionated cords. I am giving you a very important lesson, please. I have seen you walking, all of you. How do you walk? You are walking hunched up like this. A young man walks like an old man. What is this? And if you walk like this, that is not a healthy walk. Even if you walk fast, you don’t keep your head, neck, and trunk in a straight line. Now, if you walk hunched up like this, you are not allowing energy to flow from pelvis to medulla oblongata. If you do not keep your spinal column straight and walk like this or sit like this, you are punishing yourself. If you keep your spinal cord straight and then walk, you can walk for many miles and yet you will be not tired, because you are not putting weight on your locomotors. Always remember that if you want to become old early, then walk hunched up. If you want to remain young forever then walk straight. It’s one of the secrets, I tell you. Walk straight, and enjoy your walk like a dance. When you walk, you are walking like it’s a dance, you are walking like a tiger. In fifteen to twenty days’ time, you will form the habit of keeping your head, neck, and trunk in a straight line. That will be very pleasant. That’s very good for your health.
After understanding the four primitive fountains, understanding diet, nutrition and posture, then you have to learn something that you have not done before, that will benefit you. Learning to sit still, not doing anything, just making your body still. Whenever you try to discipline anyone, even a child, they become rebellious. Body becomes rebellious. First few days your body will rebel for lack of practice but in one months’ time, your body will become still and you will find a great joy, a joy which you cannot find elsewhere. I tell you friends, you are missing something. All your joys are haunted by your fears. Learn to have inner strength so that you enjoy things in the world. Veerabhogya vasundhara. Only the brave can enjoy the things of the world, not the weak. Learn to sit still for a few minutes, five minutes will help you. There is no other method of giving rest to your involuntary system, let me tell you that. There is no medicine, there is no method except this, how to be still. It is a simple method, how to be still. If you keep the mind busy, lead the mind through a system, it will help your mind. And you should have a little taste of that practice. I will lead you to that. A few minutes of learning to be still, watching all the parts of your body systematically, from head to toe, learning to relax. Relaxation is not sleep, remember that. Don’t sleep during relaxation. Survey your whole body from head to toe, relaxing every part of your body. Your mind has the capacity to do that. Your mind can locate the tension points, the stresses in your body. Stress can occur through your muscles too. Stress of muscles is different, stress of your nervous system is different, stress of your mind is different. But mind is the commander of your body and nervous system, therefore mind should be trained not to have any stress in your body. After a few days you will find that the body has become still. Learning to be still is called journey without movement, a unique journey.
Having learnt to be still, gently close your eyes. If you keep your eyes open, they will distract you. Gently close your eyes. Pay attention that your body does not move. Now, what happens, body will move. Body will create many gestures because it has never been disciplined. Many fools think that they have now awakened their kundalini, the divine power. They have not, it is only body disturbance. After a few days, a month, you’ll find your body very still and calm. Then there are subtle disturbances, which are called twitching. In two months you will be able to make body very still and you will experience a kind of joy that you have never, never experienced in anything of this world. This is a secret that I’m revealing to you.
Don’t practice for more than ten minutes, please don’t. Because you don’t have the capacity, you’ll start thinking and hallucinating, so don’t do it. Ten minutes stillness without any turmoil and twitchings and jerks, will give you immense joy. You immediately jump, you have not trained your body, you close your eyes and start hallucinating. You are cheating your wife and children. Yeah, you are escaping. As you are not earning enough, your wife might nag you, so you sit in meditation. Many husbands do like that. They cannot handle the situation at home, so they become meditators and say, “I am Swami Rama’s disciple.” I say, “No, you are not.” And the wife telephones, “Hey rascal swami, what are you teaching my husband?” I replied, “Look, I have not taught him anything.” I have faced these problems, I’m telling you. Don’t use meditation as an escape. First few days you should learn. I will give you six months. In six months’ time you can attain that which one cannot attain even after many, many years. And my method is not mingled with any religion, excuse me. It is purely scientific, based on experiments done in many laboratories of the West, and taken from the most ancient scriptures and approved by the great sages. So I am not teaching you anything that I do not do myself. I have not come here to make a platoon of fools, no!
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of Swami Rama of the Himalayas