The Fourth Nutriment: Consciousness
Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk writing in Calming the Fearful Mind, speaks of four nutriments that we consume:
1) Edible food,
2) Sensory food,
3) Our deepest desire and
The Fourth Nutriment: Consciousness
Two Levels to Consciousness
Hanh invites us to think of consciousness as having two levels: the living room and the basement. The living room is where everything is visible. This is where we are thinking, calculating or dreaming.
The “Basement Level” has seeds
The basement is where we stuff everything we don’t like. You might call it the subconscious. The basement “stuff” is like seeds. If we water them, they sprout. There are all kinds of seeds down there: Wholesome seeds of love, happiness, joy, forgiveness and generosity are examples. Unwholesome seeds include hatred, fear, anger and craving. Hanh says we all have all of the different kinds of seeds, both wholesome and unwholesome.
Which seeds are we watering?
We can be playing, having fun and being happy and then someone comes along and waters the seed of anger in us, the anger arises as a mental formation and takes away all our happiness. If we allow anger into our mind and stay for an hour, then we are eating anger for an hour. The more we eat anger, the more it grows.
On the other hand, if we water the loving kindness seed and allow it to flower, then we are eating or consuming loving kindness for an hour.
If you do not nourish your love, it will die
The Buddha said nothing can survive without food. Hanh says: “If you do not nourish your love, it will die. If you cut the source of nutriment for your violence, it will die. If you want your love to last, you have to give it food every day. Love cannot live without food. If you neglect your love, after a while it will die and hatred may take its place…If we don’t give hatred food, it too will die.”
“We can say to those close to us, ‘Dear one, let’s be careful not to water the unwholesome seeds in each other.’…When we water seeds of forgiveness, acceptance, and happiness in the person we love, we are giving them very healthy food for their consciousness, as if we were cooking them a delicious healthy meal.”
Your mission and mine, if we choose to accept, is to commit to watering the wholesome seeds in ourselves and in each other.
The “I Love You” exercise
Louise Hay has an exercise I love. First thing in the morning and last thing at night, look into the mirror, gazing deeply into your own eyes. Say “I love you, I really love you.” Say it like you mean it. Say it for at least 20 seconds. Notice your reaction. If you are like me, it may be difficult at first.
Nourish Your own love first
Why is this important? Think of the safety announcement at the beginning of an airplane flight. You are instructed that if the oxygen masks drop down, first put one on yourself and then help others to put theirs on. If you pass out from lack of oxygen while trying to help others, you are doing no good for them or you.
In the same way, if we don’t first nourish ourselves with love, our love “tank” may not have enough to spread to others.
The Way Out of Suffering
Hanh: “The way out of our suffering is mindfulness of consumption, not only for ourselves but for the whole world. If we know how to water the seeds of wisdom and compassion in us, these seeds become powerful sources of energy helping us to forgive those who have hurt us. This will bring relief to our nation and our world.”
Love and laughter,
Any and all information provided here is not a substitute for the advice of a licensed medical practitioner. Individuals are advised not to self-medicate in the presence of significant illness. Always consult with your licensed medical practitioner first before undertaking anything…be it supplements, exercise programs or other protocols. The information on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Do not construe the information provided here as authoritative health advice…or authoritative advice of any sort. All information provided or referred-to on this website is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be health, medical, financial, accounting or tax advice, nor should it be relied upon as such. Matti Anttila is not a licensed financial planner, doctor or health practitioner. If you’re not inclined to Do-It-Yourself then please, before you Do-It-To-Yourself, obtain professional advice.
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