Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The World Peace Diet: Eating for Spiritual Health and Social Harmony (Ch 1-5)

This book contains 15 chapters. I want to share with you a brief summary of each, and expand on a few of my favourite gems. I'll cover 5 chapters per post.

Chapter One 'Food's Power' This chapter sets up the book by examining how important the act of eating is to us as human beings. It is a potent symbol, ritual and rite, because it is our most intimate connection to the world around us, the physical taking in of something which then is transformed into you!

Chapter Two 'Our Culture's Roots' Here Tuttle posits the idea that we are actually a herding culture with its roots in the eastern Mediterranean basin and Middle East, whose central defining belief is that animals are commodities to be owned, used and eaten. By extension, nature, land, resources, other people are also seen as commodities to be owned, used and exploited.

Chapter Three 'The Nature of Intelligence' The ideas contained in this chapter are beautiful in the extreme, and express my conception of the divine very well. If I ever were to talk of 'God' (which I rarely do, as people seldom acknowledge the word as I mean it, and to be honest, I prefer the phrase 'Universal Consciousness'), I could do worse than to quote from this chapter. When we look at the universe, whichever direction we go in, down to the tiniest sub-atomic particle up to the biggest whole that we can conceive, each thing is part of a system, interacting in complex ways with other systems to make up larger and more complex systems. And each system has its own unique intelligence. Cells make up organs, organs make up circulatory systems, which make up larger systems like oaks, ducks, sheep and humans, which make up larger systems like groves, flocks, herds and villages, which make up larger systems like forests, marine ecosystems, prairies, societies. These make up larger systems, like planets, which are parts of even larger systems, each contributing to the larger whole and made up of smaller wholes. This is called systems theory. 'Intelligence lies in the ability of every whole part to receive feedback from and make connections with all the other systems that are related to it, and to thereby unfold its inherent potential to serve the larger wholes.' Nothing is ever separate.

The largest whole that includes every atom, every cell, every creature, community, planet, star, galaxy, and universe is, to the part, say an individual human, inconceivable, and is intuited as divine, infinite, eternal, omniscient, and beyond all dualisms. There is literally nothing outside this largest whole, nothing that 'it' is not. Our language completely fails to describe 'it', since by its very nature language makes objects and things, and the ultimate wholeness within which all appearance reside as nested wholes is not a thing in any sense--it is separated from nothing. The intelligence of this universal wholeness embraces all apparent parts down to the tiniest, and lives within all the parts as their intelligence. Our dualistic thinking cannot grasp this directly, for it is beyond existence or experience as we know them. This universal intelligence can only be sensed non-dualistically, through intuitive receptivity in inner silence that is not clouded by concepts and conditioned thinking.
This is my concept of 'God'. Everything. All. It's so beautiful to me, this concept. It's so huge. So much more than the 'capricious mountain deity' I was raised to fear. (I can't remember where I heard Yaweh called that, but it stuck in my mind...)

The chapter goes on to discuss the different intelligences found in other species. Tuttle uses Buddhist language to describe this. 'The intelligence that manifests as a chicken,' he says, instead of saying 'a chicken's intelligence'. This reinforces the idea that a Universal Intelligence pervades all things. Thich Nhat Hanh and Eckhart Tolle, to name two, also use this sort of language. Like all systems, the intelligence that manifests as a chicken has a unique and specific intelligence suited to being a chicken. When we destroy the chicken's connection to family, community, habitat and its intelligent drives, we 'commit extreme violence against not only these creatures, but against the whole interconnected system of intelligence that supports them and that they serve. In committing such violence, we damage our own intelligence as well.'

The message of this chapter is that what we do as a herding culture is so out of whack with the Universal Intelligence, that we have become a cancer cell to the system of the whole, implying that the immunities of the whole must fight back. (And thus we see the ill health effects and other troubles our herding culture has created). We can heal this cancerous state by ceasing to ignore our own innate intelligence--by listening to the deep aversion we have to causing suffering and to ingesting blood and flesh and by acting as our innate intelligence leads us--we bring our systems in line with the whole. Human beings with our delicate, hairless bodies, clawless limbs and our tiny flat teeth and jaws hinged for side-to-side movement (as opposed to the up-and-down movement of carnivores), our long intestinal tracts (as opposed to the short tracts of carnivores), are clearly designed to be herbivorous, like all our nearest primate kin. Add to that our deep spiritual longing for peace and harmony and our instinctive aversion to violence and it is obvious how far from our natural intelligence this 'herding culture' has led us.

Chapter Four 'Inheriting Our Food Choices' This short chapter suggests that we are indoctrinated from birth as to what is acceptable as food. We accept unqestioningly our culture's most fundamental and defining practice, that of imprisoning animals for food. When we begin to question, we are admonished 'not to think about it.' Deep down, in our natural intelligence, we know better. This is why our only defense is to 'not think about it'. (Ask any omnivore how they can eat meat, they invariably say, 'I don't care. I just don't think about it.' Then after a pause, 'Don't tell me about it, I don't want to know.' This is how we thwart our natural intelligence).

Chapter Five 'The Intelligence of Human Physiology' I touched on this earlier, but Tuttle goes into how our physiology is designed for a plant-based diet. 'Classifying the human physiology has always been problematic in our culture and continues to be controversial today. While it's obvious we're not basically carnivores, it's also obvious we are not ruminant or ungulate herbivores, like cows or deer, horses or sheep. We may best be classified as frugivorous herbivores, designed primarily for fruits, seeds, vegetables, nuts and succulent roots and leaves. '

Like all animals, we are essentially spiritual beings, manifestations of a universal, loving intelligence that has given us bodies designed to thrive on the abundant foods that we can peacefully nourish and gather in orchards, fields and gardens. Our bodies reflect our consciousness, which yearns to unfold higher dimensions of creativity, compassion, joy and awareness, and longs to serve the larger wholes--our culture, the earth, and the benevolent source of all life--by blessing and helping others and by sharing, caring, and celebrating. We have, appropriately, a physiology of peace.

The chapter then goes into details of the health advantages of a plant-based diet, such as you will be familiar with if you'd read John Robbins and T. Colin Campbell.


Anna Down Under said...

Sounds like an interesting read indeed -- and the reaction you described is exactly what I hear when I attempt to discuss any of this with people -- they don't want to know. I think on some level they know that once you KNOW the truth, you can't go back, you can't un-know it and not change how you eat. I know once I started reading The China Study and The Food Revolution among others, there was no way I could ever go back. So they'd rather not think about it. But we need to think about it, not only to save our own health but as you've described here, that of our planet and the universe beyond.

Anonymous said...

Carla, I am very sorry to post here, but I knew no other way to contact you. I want you to know that I was very surprised and hurt to see you gone from friend list on facebook. No difference of opinion between us would have been enough for me to delete you from my life. Ultimately, our core values are the same. I expect and accept that there will some varying viewpoints along the way. After-all, we come such different parts of the world. Our experiences, knowledge and personalities are unique to only us. People can't agree on everything or there would be no individuality in the world. We would all dress the same, decorate the same, etc. I thrive on the creative vantage points of others, including you. Some, I adopt as my own and others; I disown quite rapidly.

I want to explain what a special part of my life were, because I believe it is important to tell others when they have made an impact on our lives. There are very few people on my FB page with whom I feel close. You are were of them. The past few weeks have been VERY trying for me. One of my kitties became very, very ill. I became immersed in her care- 24/7 there, for a while. At 2am, this past Monday, I finally had to say good-bye.

Unlike most people, I did not post the heart-wrenching news on my wall, simply because I didn't want a million fake, "I'm sorries" I reached out to a few friends via private email for support. You were one of them. When I looked for you and you were gone, I thought it was a mistake. When I tried to find you, using "search" I realized you had blocked me from your life. I was shocked and hurt because you never even siad goodbye or try to work out what upset you so much to leave me.

If you would like to contact me again, to work this out; I would be very happy, but of course it is your decision based on the type of people you want in your life. If I bring you down, for some reason then I agree it is best that we part. I want the best for you and never want to see you hurt because of me. Again, I just wanted you to know that despite any contrasting opinions we may have had, they never changed the way I felt about you. I always believed that you were my friend.

Peace of Heart to you Always,