When I eat, I have the experience of being nourished. I recall that when I was a child, I was so glad to be given food to eat. And now I feel this same way again. The food is before me, and I feel the benevolence of Goddess Earth, giving it to me. I’m so grateful to be nourished, so happy to eat what God has made.
California, United States
A rainbow of roses
Nature’s sweet bouquet of love
Fragrance of the Truth
New York, United States
When I was growing up, my family would offer arati
to Gurumayi at our puja
altar every day before lunch. I recall wishing, as a child, to prepare the tray of food that was going to be offered to the puja
Currently, the seva
that I offer at Shree Muktananda Ashram involves food preparation. Each day we offer the food that we have prepared to Gurumayi at the beautiful puja
altar in the kitchen. As I prepare the tray and offer the food, I inwardly pray that the prana
, the essence of each dish, be offered with love and accepted by my Guru. Through this sacred ritual, called naivedya
, I have come to understand the significance of offering food and the great gift of receiving blessed food.
As I reflect on this gift of bounty from the earth, I become more aware of the sacredness of food and what a privilege it is to have this form of nourishment in my life. I pray to Gurumayi that all living beings may receive this nourishment too.
a staff member in Shree Muktananda Ashram
Some years ago I prayed to Gurumayi to receive a direct experience of food’s divinity. One day I decided to make a simple salad for lunch with whatever I found in my refrigerator. I found some mesclun greens and a hard-boiled egg. I added sliced avocado, walnuts, and sunflower seeds, and dressed the salad with olive oil and lime. When I sat to eat, I took a moment to be present, admired the beauty on my plate, and offered thanks. Suddenly, I felt waves of bliss bubbling up from the plate, and I laughed out loud in delight! In that ecstatic moment, I experienced the food as pure Consciousness. I understood that by being present with my food and offering blessings from my heart, eating becomes a divine exchange.
North Carolina, United States
Yesterday I gathered some lemon balm from my garden. The fall air was slightly moist. As I brought the lemon balm close to my face and inhaled deeply, I delighted in what seemed to me to be a heavenly aroma. I felt deep gratitude for the earth’s gift of this fragrant, healing plant.
A few hours later, I was walking near the river and saw some mugwort. As I gently rubbed my fingers along the leaves of mugwort and brought my hands close to my face, I inhaled its distinct, healing aroma. Again, gratitude arose for the earth which blesses us with healing plants—both cultivated and naturally occurring.
California, United States
I live in a region in Italy where the people work the land to grow food to eat. The local farmers often stop in front of my door, offering to me what they have grown! I am filled with gratitude for these amazing gifts of Mother Earth. When Thanksgiving comes around each year, I am blessed with the abundance of fresh-grown vegetables and the autumn leaves.
Cornucopias of joy
God’s golden soil is blooming
Sing gratitude songs
New York, United States
Our house sits on a busy street, nestled in what is left of an old oak tree forest. This year, acorns began falling early and hard. As I looked out the window one day at the mass of ruddy brown nuts strewn across our driveway, I felt a sense of awe.
For more than one hundred years, no matter what has happened around them, these oaks have persisted. Through snow, ice, heat, drought, teeming rain, through the loss of the forest around them, families moving in, growing old, moving out, these beautiful trees have obeyed nature, growing abundantly in summer and shedding their bounty in fall. They are so strong and so firm, yet they are supple enough to respond without resistance to whatever occurs in their lives.
To me, these oaks exemplify humility. I am grateful for the nourishment they provide—to animals, and to my soul.
Wisconsin, United States
Back in the early 1990s, I offered seva
regularly in the Amrit Café at Shree Muktananda Ashram, when baked goods were purchased from an outside vendor. Then one summer, a visiting sevite baked scones each morning. I saw the great delight everyone took in baked food made in the Ashram, filled with the mantra and benevolent intentions. Before the baker left, I asked her to teach me to bake scones, which she kindly did.
Entering the bakery every morning, I felt uncertain about accomplishing the task. I’d never used the big mixer before, nor made large batches. I went to the puja
and prayed, inviting Gurumayi to bake with me and asking that the food be made with love, offered with love, received with love, and that it taste of nothing but love.
For many years, I prayed the same prayer. Although the seva
I offer has changed, I am often greeted by people who say, “Oh! You made those scones! Yum!”—as if the love that poured from my heart into those scones still exists as a golden thread between us.
New York, United States
When my son was just nine months old, Gurumayi suggested that my husband and I take him to a farm so that he would begin to learn about where food comes from. We thought this was a fabulous idea and scheduled an outing! As my son crawled through the fields of cabbage, touched the soil with his little fingers, and tasted sweet tomatoes picked fresh from the vine, his eyes twinkled with great wonder and delight.
Since then, Gurumayi’s teachings about food have continued to inspire and inform our approach as parents. When we introduce new foods to our son, we make it a point to show him the entire fruit or vegetable and to let him explore it fully! At mealtimes, we offer our gratitude to the earth, and speak about the sacredness of the food we are eating. My son, now almost two years old, listens with rapt attention and with his entire being says, “Fooood!” He makes his great love of food crystal clear, and I am immensely grateful!
New York, United States
One of the first Siddha Yoga teachings I took to heart was Baba’s teaching about the sacredness of food. For many years now I have made a great effort to take only as much as I can eat. I am so thankful for Baba’s teaching, and for my capacity to imbibe it. May I always respect Earth’s bounty by respecting food!
Virginia, United States
Since childhood, I have had a dream to alleviate human suffering and bring peace to the world. As I grew older, I lost track of this dream while I focused on the practical realities of life.
Then when I read Gurumayi’s teachings about food,
I understood that everyone receiving adequate nutrition is a crucial component to the world being at peace; my dream was reignited.
Last summer I contemplated Gurumayi’s teachings daily as I embarked on a fundraiser to provide money to feed one hundred children for a year through The PRASAD Project’s nutrition program. The goal of our group of donors is to increase this number every year.
Washington, United States
In my tiny garden in a mountainous, stony, grassland region, I grow food. The soil I used to buy in the past turned out to be filled with pieces of shredded plastic waste. With sad feelings and through time-consuming work, I meticulously removed these ever-tinier plastic pieces. This year I found an online recommendation to feed the plants with herbal smoothies and natural food leftovers as a sort of blended pie. Fabulous! Every time I “pampered” the plants like this, I felt I was receiving smiles, laughter, and gratitude from the plants—and the worms—I was feeding. The experience gave me enthusiasm, and so I continued.
The more the year advanced, the more “pie” became available. In my garden, happiness too increased. I saw, smelled, and ate happy strawberries, happy tomatoes, happy cucumber snacks, happy grapes—and that all made me
happy. The harvest was bountiful, ineffably delicious, and nourishing to my body, soul, and mind. There was a constant giving and receiving.
Filled with gratitude, I told a friend, “Now I realize food is God.”
Gurumayi’s teachings on the sacredness of food have forever transformed my relationship to the act of eating. A huge turning point for me was studying the two chapters on discipline in eating in Gurumayi’s book The Yoga of Discipline.
As I’ve applied these teachings, I’ve learned how to approach eating as a spiritual practice.
I’d like to share about one aspect of this practice that has been especially impactful in my sadhana
and my health––chewing!
In her book, Gurumayi teaches us to chew each morsel of food thoroughly, as we let it mix with “the fire of love, devotion, and faith in God.” When I began practicing this, I counted the number of chews so that I wouldn’t swallow the food too soon. As I stayed with it, I began discovering wonderful benefits of chewing thoroughly: the food released more flavors in my mouth, my mind and body relaxed, and the whole experience of eating became meditative. I was more attuned to how different foods affected me. I felt satisfied with less, and my energy was more even throughout the day.
Over the years it has become so natural to chew thoroughly that my body now refuses to swallow until I’ve done so. And the more I remember to focus my mind on eating as worship, as meditation, the more peaceful and joyful mealtimes become.
So today as I give thanks for Mother Nature’s bounty, I think not only of the myriad varieties of food she provides, but also of the bounty of sweet and sacred nourishment in each morsel I eat.
New York, United States
Living in New England is so magical in the autumn! The amazing display of deep, rich colors and the bounty of the harvest that is celebrated at the fall festivals and farmers’ markets bring a sense of excitement about the season.
We recently had a family outing picking apples at a beautiful, organic orchard. We were greeted by an older couple who have been this orchard’s loving caretakers. Their weathered faces were aglow with robust health and the gentleness that comes from a life lived in harmony with nature.
This couple gave us empty bags, and with anticipation we made our way up the hill to the orchard’s entrance. As we opened the gate, I could smell the fragrance of the ripe apples in the air. It was the simplest of pleasures, yet completely satisfying!
As I lost myself in finding apples that were ripe and ready to be picked, I tapped into the pure joy of receiving bounty straight from the source. It was intoxicating to behold the abundant generosity of Mother Nature. Very naturally, my heart filled with gratitude.
I have noticed that gratitude comes when I recognize all that I am constantly being given. And my growing ability to perceive this truth is the Guru’s gift to me.
Vermont, United States
Through my years of Siddha Yoga practice, I have learned some practices around the rituals of preparing and eating food. Such tools as reciting mantras to invoke God’s grace and to express gratitude, pausing to repeat the mantra eleven times, and chewing each mouthful until the food is like paste have given me an appreciation of food as God. As well, I have come to experience God as food. God is the fulfilling nourishment to all my senses. With this awareness, I have an even greater respect for food. I cultivate balance. I don’t deny my body’s needs, yet I no longer eat more than I need. I appreciate the flavors, the sensations that food brings to me. I appreciate the infinite and perfect wisdom of Mother Earth for creating this nourishment. I appreciate all the many hands that have helped bring this nourishment to me. And I appreciate how the light of awareness of Gurumayi’s grace has made me open to this transforming experience of gratitude.
Connecticut, United States