Regaining Wisdom, Regaining Shape
Meaning and Purpose
The rishis from ancient India left imprints of their remarkable insights into human nature in myriad systems of thought and practice. A common thread that ran through all those systems was the perception that the existence of man was not a transient phenomenon, nor the result of a chance event. There is a purpose and a meaning in our existence. We are not here to eat, sleep, procreate and wither away.
A natural question that follows such a line of thought is, “Who am I?” which in turn is followed by “Why am I here?” Unlike the modern industrial mindset, ancient wisdom did not consider man to be a machine. Rather it was proposed, on the basis of rigorous experience and understanding that man is a microcosm, a condensed form of the infinite universe, and contains infinite potential and possibilities albeit in a latent state. So, if the answer to the question “Who am I? is “I am a condensed form of an infinite and eternal Being, with infinite potential lying asleep within me”, the answer to “Why am I here?” would be “I am here to explore and express in an unique way all that is latent within me and experience the happiness and fullness that results from such exploration and expression.” A liberating idea such as that makes life a constant awakening to greater depths and heights of our self and an expansive experience of our being, contrary to the mundane perception that I am a living, thinking machine, limited to a groove and a pattern, with birth and death as two termini.
The Three Gunas
An insight from the treasure trove of ancient wisdom classifies human nature into three principal categories, in terms of three qualities or Gunas.
The nethermost guna is termed ‘tamas’. A person predominantly influenced by this guna is referred to as ‘tamasic’. He is inertia-ridden, indolent, leads a physically inactive life mostly, and enjoys being lazy.
The second guna is termed rajas; a person dominated by rajas is referred to as rajasic. He seeks excitement and sensation in whatever he does and goes overboard in the process. As a result he goes through cycles of feverish activity followed by a state of depression and malaise.
The third guna is sattwa, and a person guided by this quality is referred to as sattwic. His characteristic disposition is his ability to harmonise the states of rest and activity. Neither does he love dozing off nor is he too wild and adventurous. However, he is more effective and productive as he knows how to channel his energies and resuscitates quickly once he is depleted of the usual store. A sattwic person also knows that he has limitless potential and is therefore never satisfied with his present state of being. As a result he constantly seeks self-transcendence.
The Present Crisis
Contrary to the perceptions and realisations of our forefathers our present attitudes and perspective of life make us reactive in our habits and dispositions. “I am hungry, therefore, I should eat. I am sad or depressed, therefore, I should eat more. I am greedy, therefore, I should eat as I please. I start feeling happy but then I realize that I have grown fat, and then become sad again. Even if I am not sad about myself, I get sick. Then I realize suddenly that I have to get back to shape. I have to be fit. Not because I give a damn about fitness or good health but because I must appear good in front of others and I must be well so that I can afford my indulgences.” And the cycle continues.
Health statistics from all over the world suggest that the predominantly tamasic and rajasic people far outweigh the count of the sattwic ones. WHO estimates that at least 1 in 3 of the global population is overweight and 1 in 10 is obese, which indicates the number of tamasic people. WHO also indicates the number of rajasic people, who seek sensation and excitement unnecessarily, by putting the count of alcohol and tobacco users, apart substance abusers at close to half the population of the world. The result is a host of health conditions and diseases.
Undoing the Damage
We can either work proactively from within outwards by changing our attitudes and perceptions, or we can react positively to the crisis by changing habits. GM diet is one such corrective programme that helps one lose weight and regain shape, which may be a first step towards regaining harmony and balance in life. The plan essentially is to modify one’s diet for a week. This not only requires a strong will but determination and persistence as well to last through the regimen by restraining oneself from being greedy and gluttonous.
Day 1 consists in preparing the system for the upcoming programme. The only consumable food items are fruits with the exception of banana as it is high in carbohydrates and potassium. Apart from that drinking 10-12 glasses of water is also important as it prevents dehydration and weakness caused from a sudden change of diet.
Day 2 begins with a serve of complex carbohydrates coupled with a dose of oil. This means one should have baked potato with a pat of butter if needed for breakfast. Only vegetables should be consumed for the rest of the day. Again lots of water to keep the body hydrated.
Day 3 will consist of fruits and vegetables only. There is no limit to the amount but no potatoes and no bananas either. Potato is eliminated because carbohydrate is consumed through fruits. The system, by this time is ready to burn fat. The trick over here is to restrain oneself from the cravings.
Day 4 includes bananas, milk and soup. One can have as many as 8 bananas for potassium and sodium apart from 3 glasses of milk. There will be a definite loss of desire for sweets and the day will go surprisingly easy.
Day 5 is feast day! One will have to eat meat and tomatoes. As much as half a kilo of meat may be consumed with six whole tomatoes. The water intake will also have to be increased to cleanse the system from the uric acid that is produced. Vegetarians and vegans will have to eat brown rice instead of tomatoes.
Day 6 will have a repetition of meat and vegetables. One is allowed to have as much as one wants. Brown rice and vegetables for vegetarians again.
Day 7 is a return to vegetarian diet. One is allowed to have brown rice, fruit juices and vegetables.
During the entire regimen alcohol is forbidden. It would help if tobacco is off the table as well. By the end of day seven one will feel much lighter and his/her look will have a visible glow, because of the detoxification. Also the body would have lost at least 2 – 3 kilograms. However, losing weight and regaining shape may only be a starting point towards regaining lost wisdom, beauty and harmony of life. If the attitudes and perceptions remain same, it is very likely that one will back to old habits and old ways, defeating the very purpose of the entire exercise.