The Buddha: Garlic is Bad for Yogis on Meditation!

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

The Buddha: Garlic is Bad for Yogis on Meditation!

Postby Mr. G » Sun Sep 19, 2010 1:49 pm

Buddha: Garlic is Bad for Yogis on Meditation!

Via Ramesh Bjonneson - Sep 19, 2010

Not only yogis, but Buddhists also have a problem with garlic in the vegetarian food basket.

The “Five Moral Precepts” in Buddhism are: no killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, or partaking of intoxicants.

According to Buddhism, intoxicants will distort and cloud one’s samadhi (deep states of bliss) on the path to enlightenment.

But how is sexual misconduct related to the Buddhist lunch basket? In the Shurangama Sutra (Mahayana school), Buddha explains why the “Five Pungent Spices”, including garlic and onions, are not good for us (especially not good for celibate monks).

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Re: The Buddha: Garlic is Bad for Yogis on Meditation!

Postby fragrant herbs » Tue Oct 26, 2010 1:15 pm

Thank you for posting this information. :good:
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Re: The Buddha: Garlic is Bad for Yogis on Meditation!

Postby Indrajala » Tue Oct 26, 2010 1:59 pm

Good info.

There is a minor precept in the Brahma Net Sutra Bodhisattva precept set that includes not taking the five pungent roots 五辛

They are leeks, scallions, garlic, onions, and ginger (though what the original characters correspond to in Chinese cuisine or the modern day might be a subject of debate).

They say they're also prone to make one lustful and angry.

I have one Indian friend who though not Buddhist eats a diet in line with Ayurveda theory as does his family.
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Re: The Buddha: Garlic is Bad for Yogis on Meditation!

Postby Lazy_eye » Tue Oct 26, 2010 2:36 pm

Ironically enough, scallions, garlic and ginger are practically synonymous with Chinese and Korean cuisine. Wonder how that happened in countries with long Buddhist traditions! As for provoking heated states, nothing beats a spoonful or two of 고추장. My Korean students used to tell me that their spicy cuisine was responsible for the national temperament.

I gotta say, personally I can't see how these food choices would be more disruptive to samadhi than countless other things we do on a daily basis, such as watching movies or posting to internet discussion boards. It seems rather arbitrary. Let's face it, all of worldly life is an obstacle to samadhi.
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Re: The Buddha: Garlic is Bad for Yogis on Meditation!

Postby Indrajala » Tue Oct 26, 2010 5:21 pm

Lazy_eye wrote:Ironically enough, scallions, garlic and ginger are practically synonymous with Chinese and Korean cuisine. Wonder how that happened in countries with long Buddhist traditions! As for provoking heated states, nothing beats a spoonful or two of 고추장. My Korean students used to tell me that their spicy cuisine was responsible for the national temperament.

I gotta say, personally I can't see how these food choices would be more disruptive to samadhi than countless other things we do on a daily basis, such as watching movies or posting to internet discussion boards. It seems rather arbitrary. Let's face it, all of worldly life is an obstacle to samadhi.


I think the dietary guidelines are of particular importance to the yogi who already has rid themselves of most disruptive nonsense. Maintaining a proper internal balance through diet is desirable to someone doing advanced meditation. Food is medicine.

Truth be told though I don't know many Buddhists, only a few come to mind, who even refrain entirely from drinking, let alone garlic and onions.

Religious practices might say one thing, but inevitably cultural and social norms override it all. That's why drinking is so hard to give up -- the social customs that come with it are just that strong. Likewise telling people, even Indians or Chinese, that you don't or can't eat onions and garlic will be met with uncomfortable dialogues.

Your dietary habits can end up being social and even economic handicaps. In Japan for example you won't go far in the business world if you don't drink alcohol. Being vegetarian will have you deemed a freak. Telling people you don't eat garlic and onions will make them think you're in a cult.

Fortunately I am in academia (not business) and I was also a freak in Canada, so works out well for me.
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Re: The Buddha: Garlic is Bad for Yogis on Meditation!

Postby fragrant herbs » Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:40 pm

my own diet is really restricted, no meat, no soy, no gluten. hate beans but try to eat them doctored up. what is hummus without garlic? what is black bean soup without onions and garlic? and i love ginger.

I agree with lazy here:
I gotta say, personally I can't see how these food choices would be more disruptive to samadhi than countless other things we do on a daily basis, such as watching movies or posting to internet discussion boards. It seems rather arbitrary. Let's face it, all of worldly life is an obstacle to samadhi.


They say they're also prone to make one lustful and angry


if i were told that it is bad for me due to my ayurvedic type, then I would let them go, but they are actually balancing for my type.

i have also read somewhere that monks eat tofu in order to suppress their sex drive. does it work? i can't imagine that it would make much difference. and i read somewhere that meat makes people angry. my husband is a big meat eater and is a very peaceful man.
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Re: The Buddha: Garlic is Bad for Yogis on Meditation!

Postby kirtu » Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:06 pm

That's what the tradition says ... and as Huseng points out there is a minor precept from the Brahma Net Sutra (this bothers me a lot - because ...) - I eat lots of garlic because it is a medicinal herb. I eat much less of it now than I used to though ... it probably does stimulate lust actually but it can also eliminate one's body of very nasty germs.

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Re: The Buddha: Garlic is Bad for Yogis on Meditation!

Postby plwk » Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:09 pm

They are leeks, scallions, garlic, onions, and ginger...

I thought ginger wasn't listed as part of the 'panca-parivyaya' or '五辛' (wǔ xīn)....
http://www.cttbusa.org/shurangama7/shurangama7.asp
Sutra:
"Ananda, all living beings can live if they eat what is sweet, and they will die if they take poison. Beings who seek samadhi should refrain from eating five pungent plants of this world."
Commentary:
The five pungent plants have been described already.They are onions, garlic, leeks, scallions, and shallots.

Nor even here....
http://www.ymba.org/bns/bnsframe.htm
4. On Five Pungent Herbs
A disciple of the Buddha should not eat the five pungent herbs -- garlic, chives, leeks, onions, and asafoetida. (44) This is so even if they are added as flavoring to other main dishes. Hence, if he deliberately does so, he commits a secondary offense.
44. Pungent herbs: "They are: leek, onion, garlic, and a few other such herbs such as asafoetida, an ingredient common in curries etc. Eaten raw they are believed to incite people to anger and disputes; eaten cooked they increase one's sexual desire." Buddhist adepts are advised to avoid them, as their consumption tends to disturb the peacefulness of the mind. "According to the [Surangama Sutra], garlic, three kinds of onions, and leeks are the five forbidden pungent roots. 'If eaten raw, they are said to cause irritability of temper, and if eaten cooked, to act as an aphrodisiac; moreover, the breath of the eater, if reading the sutras, will drive away the good spirits.'"
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Re: The Buddha: Garlic is Bad for Yogis on Meditation!

Postby Huifeng » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:21 pm

Ginger is not on the list.
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Re: The Buddha: Garlic is Bad for Yogis on Meditation!

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:59 pm

Phew! That's good to know. Nothing beats a cough like a hot cuppa ginger tea.
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Re: The Buddha: Garlic is Bad for Yogis on Meditation!

Postby fragrant herbs » Thu Oct 28, 2010 2:20 pm

it is nice that ginger is not on the list, but i can tell you for certain that nothing beats a cough or cures a sore throat like 20 drops of tabasco sauce a few times a day. i am serious.
Last edited by fragrant herbs on Thu Nov 04, 2010 11:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Buddha: Garlic is Bad for Yogis on Meditation!

Postby Individual » Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:38 pm

I don't believe in this sort of thing and haven't found any justification for it.

Garlic, for instance, has strong medicinal properties.

One might think that it is because they have strong ("pungent") flavors, perhaps there is some stimulating or agitating kind of effect on the nervous system. But then, why wouldn't something like ginger have a similar effect? And why name five specific vegetables, instead of simply naming any foods which have that certain quality? What is even the definition, here? Specific species of vegetables native to Asia, or any vegetables which vaguely resemble them? Is there no way for these vegetables' negative qualities to be purified?

And also, why don't the sutras regard high amounts of sugar, sodium, fat, or caffeine (from tea) as having such effects? Perhaps they do mention tea, but the others...?

Urgyen Chodron wrote:i have also read somewhere that monks eat tofu in order to suppress their sex drive. does it work? i can't imagine that it would make much difference. and i read somewhere that meat makes people angry. my husband is a big meat eater and is a very peaceful man.

Soy contains a chemical that mimics estrogen. It seems plausible that it could influence libido.

Urgyen Chodron wrote:it is nice that ginger is on the list, but i can tell you for certain that nothing beats a cough or cures a sore throat like 20 drops of tabasco sauce a few times a day. i am serious.

Sometimes I drink tabasco sauce just for the taste! :lol:

People tell me it's supposedly rough on the stomach.
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Re: The Buddha: Garlic is Bad for Yogis on Meditation!

Postby fragrant herbs » Thu Oct 28, 2010 10:18 pm

Sometimes I drink tabasco sauce just for the taste! :lol:

People tell me it's supposedly rough on the stomach.


it seems i have read that chili heals ulcers. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7895548 and so i found it.

it cures a sore throat in that the pain goes away due to the capsaicin inkilling pain. i once had strep throat and didn't know it because my throat didn't hurt, but i went to the doctor because i was still sick. he said, "this must be the worse sore throat you have ever had?" i said, "no. i didn't know i still had one." i had a friend whose husband had shingles, and i told her to tell him to use tabasco sauce, but added that i only thought it could help. he used it and then bragged to his doctor about how wonderful it was. i have found that the drug product, capsaisin, does not work so well for anything.

tabasco sauce on soda crackers is wonderful. can't stop eating them, but i no longer eat wheat, so no more soda crackers with tabasco.

yes. garlic has a lot of medicinal properties. the main one is if you eat eat you may find yourself very much alone. i was in mexico one year sharing a room with my friends, this before learning about tabasco, and so was eating raw garlic for my throat. they walked into the room and said :woohoo: "stop using that garlic immediately," or something like that.

:focus:
http://www.energiseforlife.com/wordpress/2006/09/20/how-to-kick-start-your-sex-drive-with-libido-boosting-foods/


and so if this is true, then i can see why buddha said no to the monks and nuns in regards to garlic, but chili should also be listed according to this article. but this article is better:

http://www.libido-increasing-food.com/libido-articles/03.Health-Benefits-Raw-Garlic.php
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Re: The Buddha: Garlic is Bad for Yogis on Meditation!

Postby Lazy_eye » Fri Oct 29, 2010 4:23 pm

Good to know about the tabasco! I tend to develop a prolonged cough every time I catch cold -- probably chronic bronchitis, perhaps the result of an old smoking habit. Ginger tea and honey are about the only things that seem to help.
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Re: The Buddha: Garlic is Bad for Yogis on Meditation!

Postby Individual » Fri Oct 29, 2010 10:56 pm

Urgyen Chodron wrote:
Sometimes I drink tabasco sauce just for the taste! :lol:

People tell me it's supposedly rough on the stomach.


it seems i have read that chili heals ulcers. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7895548 and so i found it.

it cures a sore throat in that the pain goes away due to the capsaicin inkilling pain.

You have to think about how it works to understand its mixed effects. Capsaicin triggers receptors related to the inflammatory response -- heat (caused by pyrogens), pain, and swelling-- which is why in large enough quantities, spicy foods can actually cause pain, inflammation, and stomach irritation.

The reason it can reduce pain and swelling is a more long-term effect, because the body is depleted of the neurotransmitters related to the reaction (drug tolerance and withdrawal happens for the same reason), meaning that capsaicin can reduce pain and swelling for a person with health problems, but for a normal healthy person, it seems plausible that ingesting spicy foods regularly can hinder the body's natural inflammatory response, and increase the likelihood of an infection... perhaps only by a very small degree. Because the inflammatory response, while uncomfortable and even painful, isn't entirely bad; it's a part of the body's immune defense, by isolating pathogens when they are discovered. The capacity to reduce pain and inflammation from capsaicin might also be achieved through the regular use of certain poisonous wasps, scorpions, spiders, snakes, etc.. Certain forms of traditional medicine actually do this (allowing themselves to be ritually stung by scorpions, snakes, etc.).

On the other hand, despite its mixed effect on the immune system, ingesting spicy foods regularly also has the benefit of making you more resistant to pepper spray. :)

Lazy_eye wrote:Good to know about the tabasco! I tend to develop a prolonged cough every time I catch cold -- probably chronic bronchitis, perhaps the result of an old smoking habit. Ginger tea and honey are about the only things that seem to help.

Cough drops containing menthol & eucalyptus (often the very bad tasting ones) help and gargling with salt water can help too.
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Re: The Buddha: Garlic is Bad for Yogis on Meditation!

Postby mudra » Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:14 pm

Really depends on the type of meditation you are doing.

For example in Tantra, for the lower tantras, especially Kriya it is recommended to stay away from "black foods" including garlic and onions. For HYT no such injunction.
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Re: The Buddha: Garlic is Bad for Yogis on Meditation!

Postby fragrant herbs » Sat Oct 30, 2010 12:50 am

interesting information individual and mudra.
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Re: The Buddha: Garlic is Bad for Yogis on Meditation!

Postby spiritnoname » Thu Nov 04, 2010 4:27 am

I wasn't aware that Buddha Shakyamuni taught food restrictions for monastics or lay people except in 1) they are not intoxicating, 2) moderation, and 3) time and place.

In Mahayana and Vajrayana Garlic is classified as a black food, there's various explanations for that,... the ones most people here would be concerned with though I think is having smelly breath when you go into a temple.

Non Buddhist yogis do divide food into groups like that, so does chinese medicine, so does indian medicine, you're crazy if you take these categories to an extreme though because it's really just a matter of how it effects your body, depending on various things you may want to eat heavy cold food, or maybe hot light food, or neutral or any combination. I eat mostly very spicy things, I drink only tea and that suits my body better than other foods.

Spices are actually very good for you, they prevent many illnesses, kill parasites, and I think if you live in a humid part of India and you aren't eating very spicy food you're putting your health at risk.
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Re: The Buddha: Garlic is Bad for Yogis on Meditation!

Postby mudra » Fri Nov 05, 2010 7:49 am

spiritnoname wrote:
In Mahayana and Vajrayana Garlic is classified as a black food, there's various explanations for that,... the ones most people here would be concerned with though I think is having smelly breath when you go into a temple.




Smelly breath?? :rolling:

Actually it is t do with what garlic and onions do to the winds/energies, particularly obvious in the case of the digestive winds. As I said, in HYT this all gets thrown out the door (not the garlic, the injunction)
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Re: The Buddha: Garlic is Bad for Yogis on Meditation!

Postby spiritnoname » Fri Nov 05, 2010 8:08 pm

(nods) there are other reasons, but most people need only be concerned with their smell.
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