Eating to Transcend Ego

by Courtney on July 18, 2010


Spiritual traditions which focus on creating the preconditions for liberation, or traditionally called enlightenment, emphasize reducing thepower and substantiality of the ego.The word ego is commonly associated primarily with the mind, but for purposes here we will expand the definition.To be liberated, these traditions teach, it is not just the mind which must be transcended and experienced as definitively not who you actually are. It is also the emotions, body, and entire complex which can end any sentence that begins with ‘I am….”.

My primary spiritual teacher, Gabriel Cousens, explains that liberation is the direct experience (not just intellectual knowledge or partial indicative experience) that who we truly are is beyond this “body/mind/I-am” complex.If this concept is new to you, you may wonder, as we all do, “Who am I if not my mind, thoughts, body, identity?” Spiritual practices support experiences that answer that question. The process of rising above and removing identity from this complex can be challenging for us, who so often define ourselves as what we do, who we think we are, our pasts, our achievements, our roles in life, our body, our thoughts, our creations, etc.To dissolve to a space where no body exists, no mind exists, and no thoughts exist is unfathomable to most, yet is the primary intention for meditation.

Although I personally have yet to experience liberation and a sustained experience and permanent knowledge of my boundlessness, I have touched it, and experienced it for brief moments in meditation. I’ve experienced for fleeting moments that this ‘matrix’, appropriately named, is not the truth of creation and is a tiny portion of what reality actually is.Gabriel teaches that a primary reason to fast and eat live foods is to lessen the substantiality of the body, creating the conditions for more light, or spiritual energy, to flow more freely throughout the physical body as well as the subtle body.Many spiritual teachers throughout history taught live foods and fasting for this very purpose of supporting a deeper direct experience of the Divine.

I have observed that food, and the experience of eating, weighs us down physically and substantiates our bodies. Usually, that subsequently substantiates our minds, since the mind tends to become more activated when the body is processing food. Eating more than the body needs and eating toxic foods compromise the evolving of a physical body to become more of a “light body”.

In meditation, I have experienced coming close to what will obviously be some kind of breakthrough in my consciousness, lessening my identification with ego and cracking the ‘glass ceiling’, as Gabriel calls it.I have observed that when I have been on that razors edge, on the edge of my current consciousness paradigm, sensing the cliff that is there, that I have the opportunity to leap faithfully into it. Although intellectually I know that is what I am meant to do, I shrink back from it.It is the ultimate unknown to dive into the depth of consciousness and be willing to let go completely of what seems to be reality.I have not yet jumped.

The fear of dissolving, the fear of the nothing, of that which is beyond and prior to all form, is acted out through eating and reinforcement of physicality.Letting go of our attachment to our identity, our form, and that which is tangible and seemingly real, is often played out in the attempt to keep that comfort, that seeming surety and substantiality, by eating. Eating is grounding for people; it brings us back if we get too ‘out there’. Additionally, for some, having a larger body can make us feel more substantial, or more important.Even if we despise the extra weight and tell ourselves that we want to lose it, the fear of losing metaphoric ego substantiality may overpower the mental concept of societal approved thinness.At it’s core, compulsive eating and/or fear of losing body weight are issues related to attachment to this larger definition of ego.Having extra weight, feeling heavier, visually seeing heaviness, and the seeming importance of the mental activity surrounding one’s battle with food, and/or weight, are all ways that we cling to the matrix.

In my own experience, the feeling of my body becoming lighter through fasting and eating lightly, paired with my regular meditation practice, has always increased the feeling of space, air, and light in my body, which to my mind feels quite ungrounded and foreign, and even scary.The acceleration of energy passing through and circulating within my body can be alarming and unsettling for my mind.

The understanding of the relation between eating, weight, and spiritual awakenings that ask us to let go and dive into the unknown can be paramount for transformation and growth. Such exploration invites us to understand our experience of emotional eating and a possible reason that we may hold on to weight despite our seeming desire to lose it. But more than anything, it helps us to transcend the ways we shrink from the ultimate leap of faith: into the unknown, the nothing, and the boundlessness of consciousness. Then, we can leap.

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