What is the ultimate purpose of good nutrition? Is it just to stay alive? Is it to avoid disease? We have so many food choices in our modern society, yet diet and nutrition are controversial and confusing subjects for most Westerners. Ayurveda, the traditional healing science of India, offers us a profound understanding of the ultimate purpose of good nutrition. Coming from the ancient Vedic tradition that valued spiritual enlightenment above all else, it’s no surprise that Ayurvedic nutrition serves to further that same goal.
In the 2500 year old Ayurvedic text, Caraka Samhita, it is stated:
When diseases cropped up creating impediments in penance, abstinence, study, celibacy, religious observances and life-span of living beings, the holy great sages, out of sympathy on creatures, assembled on one of the auspicious sides of the Himalayas.
Notice how it doesn’t say: When diseases created impediments to business, travel, and social life?
Here’s why: Ayurveda comes from a tradition that teaches that we are all manifestations of the divine, universal energy. Our consciousness is an individual consciousness that is connected to the greater universal consciousness from which we originally arose. Yet our ego keeps us in an illusion that we are separate from the divine, from the entire universe, and from everyone else in it.
Therefore… the aim of life, which is sustained by food (obviously!), is to realize our own true nature, which is not separate at all. This is what is meant by enlightenment.
It is hard to experience clarity, subtle insight, or a calm state of mind when there is heaviness, lethargy and fogginess in our bodies, or if there’s the reverse – hyper, wired energy in our bodies. A poor diet creates sluggishness in our digestion, in our energy level, and in mental activity. To be alert, aware and clear is what we want from our food, right? Therein lies the motivation to eat nutrient-dense, constitutionally-appropriate food.
Sure we want healthy skin, good energy, strong bodies, good sleep, etc. And of course all of those things come along with a healthy diet, but the deeper purpose is much greater. The ultimate purpose is to have the clarity and stillness within to experience and perceive our true nature. Consider this when you approach your next meal. Will the energy derived from your food enhance your clarity of perception and feelings of love? It is my wish that your answer is yes!