A new booklet about vegans is about to be born. The same team that produced last year's booklet called "Kindness: A Vegetarian Poetry Anthology" has nearly completed a 48-page booklet called Whole Body Vegan Lifestyle.
Here's a preview of the cover. The book will be presented at the Vegsource.com Healthy Lifestyle Expo in Los Angeles this month. For a sneak preview of the essay, keep reading below
I wrote an essay introducing the concept and here it is.
Whole Body Lifestyle Introduction
by Rev. Heng Sure, Ph.D.
Copyright © 2005
A recent article in the October, 2002 issue of Pure Facts Newsletter reported that when students in an Appleton, Wisconsin school for developmentally challenged children changed their diets and ate wholesome, fresh and balanced foods instead of junk foods their behavior also changed dramatically, and for the better. A counselor who refused employment at the school because students were rude, obnoxious and ill-mannered, took the job three years later because upon a return visit he saw that fights had disappeared, policemen who before had patrolled the halls were no longer needed, and the former trouble-making students were now calm, well-behaved, and focused on their school work.
The children were the same kids but they had lost their aggression and had learned patience; the only difference was that water coolers had replaced soda and candy vending machines; hamburgers and fries on the lunch menu had been replaced by whole grain breads and salads, and vegetables and fruit appeared at every meal. One conclusion about the impact of fresh, healthy foods on learning and behavior suggests that food effects the way the brain works. Feeding our bodies junk food produces troubled behavior. The opposite seems also true: eating nutritious, healthy food brings out the best in people. Yet the question remains: what changes might occur if along with eating wholesome foods we fed our minds wholesome thoughts?
You hold in your hands a small booklet that proposes a “Whole Body” approach to a vegan lifestyle. The idea is that healthful eating includes what happens to the body and mind after we swallow our food. Eating the food is the important beginning, but the effect of the food on the body, mind and spirit and in turn, their effect on the world is also important, hence the name: Whole Body Vegan Lifestyle.
We have organized this primer of the Whole Body approach around the daily schedule of a mindful, kind-hearted individual, moving from early morning till close of day. We integrate three aspects of good health: food, exercise and meditation. We use the Sanskrit word “dharma” to refer to teachings and methods, universal principles that everyone is invited to try, regardless of religious orientation.
"Food-dharma," refers to food choices that are meatless, dairy and cruelty-free; "body-dharma," refers to tips and techniques for movement and exercise and “meditation-dharma” refers to easy-to-digest quotes and contemplations we are calling “bites of wisdom.”
We include contemplations for a nutritious and refreshing morning meal, an ample and joyful lunch at midday, and a dinner which leaves body and mind feeling light and grateful.
The centerpiece of our booklet is the Five Contemplations, a set of five non-sectarian, wholesome thoughts that spiritual seekers are encouraged to maintain during a meal.
The Five Contemplations connect food, body and spirit to the universe at every meal. The physical body’s flesh, blood and breath are the microcosm, the planet earth’s natural environment of continents, oceans, and atmosphere provide the macrocosm where my physical and mental habits make their mark. Employing the Five Contemplations in silence while eating points to humanity’s connection to the web of life and the transformation of energy that nourishes and sustains one’s life. The Contemplations can inspire a sense of gratitude and awaken awareness of the chance to work for the well-being of all. The Five Contemplations say:
This offering of the faithful is the fruit of work and care
A monastics receives alms-food offered by donors. Non-monastics are benefiting from the work and care of a mother, wife, husband, cook, or kitchen staff in providing food. How much work went into growing, harvesting, preparing and serving the food on my plate? Do I eat mindful of the blessings involved in having enough food to satisfy my hunger?
I reflect upon my conduct, have I truly earned my share?
Mealtime provides a regular opportunity to reflect on my behavior after leaving the breakfast table. Are my words, thoughts and deeds a gift to my family, my team, my community? Or do I tend to leave a trail of burdens and troubles behind me? Could this fuel move me towards greater service and a wider circle of well-being wherever I go?
Of the poisons of the mind the most destructive one is greed
Greed, anger and delusion are known as the Three Poisons, three toxic products of our minds that have the power to waste resources, destroy relationships, and bring out humanity’s negative traits: craving and selfishness. What begins as an unchecked thought of greed can lead to corruption and injustice, resentment, violence and intense suffering. Just as we wouldn’t add gas to a tank that is already full, we need not keep on eating after we’ve had enough. A useful and often-quoted maxim: “Live simply, that others might simply live.”
By observing my thoughts; by replacing the tendency towards greed with thoughts of sharing and generosity; by replacing anger with thoughts of patience and loving-kindness; and by replacing delusion with wisdom, lunch can become a time of personal transformation. World peace comes from transforming greed and anger, one thought and one bite at a time.
As a medicine cures illness, I take only what I need to sustain my spiritual practice and to embody Awakening
If hunger is an illness then food is medicine. Once we recover from an illness we don’t continue to take medicine; once we satisfy hunger we need not continue to eat. The Middle Way – the path of moderation that avoids both excess and deficiency – sustains our lives. One who can awaken to wisdom and leave all suffering behind.
So we contemplate with gratitude on this offering today.
Agronomists’ studies show that the planet can produce sufficient food to feed all creatures. When our diet is based on plants, instead of on animal flesh, dairy, and poultry, we can put an end to starvation around the globe. The will to share, not to hoard begins in my next thought. A Chinese sage said, “When the mind is content, even the roots of vegetables are delicious.”
Surely the best tasting sauce for my daily meal is contentment with my blessings. It is a source of happiness to know that by eating simply, I am freeing up resources that can be spared for mothers in poverty who now must watch their children suffer malnutrition. By not wasting food, by cherishing my blessings instead, and by being grateful for the food on my table each day, I manifest the essential teaching of the Five Contemplations.
As Buddhists, we offer this booklet to readers of all religions, spiritual paths, and indigenous traditions. As vegans, we dedicate any merit accrued from offering this booklet to the happier rebirth of the ten billion animals who each year lose their lives to feed our meat-eating brothers and sisters. May all living beings quickly leave suffering and awaken together!
Our team – designer, Bhikshuni Heng Lung, illustrator, Shramanerika Guo He, and co-editor Yuhchirn Liang, – have created this booklet with a wish to joyfully support the goodness in the heart of every living being.
Any suggestions or corrections are most welcome! Please address email correspondence to <[email protected]>