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Loathesomeness of Food - Dhamma Wheel

Loathesomeness of Food

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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Khalil Bodhi
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Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Wed Nov 18, 2009 3:00 am

Just wondering if anyone has had any experience with the contemplation of the loathsome aspects of food either as a daily life practice or formal meditation. I'm interested specifically as it relates to a commitment to moderation in eating. Any feedback will be appreciated. Metta.
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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pink_trike
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby pink_trike » Wed Nov 18, 2009 3:11 am

I did loathsomeness practices for many years and found them to be very beneficial at that time. However, speaking from my training and experiences as a psychotherapist, I no longer consider them to be healthy or appropriate for most Westerners except in the rare situation where the practitioner has a close consistent engaging student/teacher relationship with a Buddhist teacher who is very familiar with the Western psycho-cultural mileau and who understands that extreme practices are contraindicated and potentially harmful for a great many Westerners.
Last edited by pink_trike on Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Nov 18, 2009 3:17 am


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retrofuturist
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Nov 18, 2009 3:37 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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pink_trike
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby pink_trike » Wed Nov 18, 2009 3:45 am

Yes, but also the most harmful to people who have eating disorders that cause them to avoid food, or those who are attracted to extremes of all kinds. I probably sound like a broken record when I say this, but there was a time when these types of practices were given very selectively by teachers to those students they felt would benefit by them and withheld from those who might not benefit or who might be harmed by them. There are many practices and teachings that were never meant to be widely available to the unprepared masses regardless of their conditioning or ability.
Last edited by pink_trike on Wed Nov 18, 2009 3:52 am, edited 3 times in total.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

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Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

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retrofuturist
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Nov 18, 2009 3:47 am

"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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catmoon
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby catmoon » Wed Nov 18, 2009 5:16 am

I find it difficult to meditate on the loathsomeness of food. How do you meditate on something you do not perceive? Of all the thousands of things one can stuff into one's face, I can think of maybe three that have some unpleasant qualities, and I thoroughly believe that the unpleasantness resides in me and not the food, because many people find those same foods delightful.

This meditation hits me as a completely alien concept. Food is all composed of practically identical atoms, the perception just has to do with how they are linked up and dancing today. The mathematics of a snot molecule is just as elegant and beautiful (actually much more so) than that of purest gold. I just don't get it...

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Ben
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Ben » Wed Nov 18, 2009 7:04 am

Dear Khalil Bodhi
Thank you for raising this interesting thread!
Generally, i agree with what Mr Pink has said. I think its important to understand that some practices are like medicine and should only be applied in certain situations under the guidance of competant and knowledgable teacher.
Having said that, my own experience has been on some vipassana retreats the awareness of the loathsomeness of food manifested naturally. Outside of retreats I just maintain my usual vipassana practice which generates enough opportunity (I believe) to observe reality without having to directly engage in loathsomeness practices.
metta

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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catmoon
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby catmoon » Wed Nov 18, 2009 7:11 am


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Ben
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Ben » Wed Nov 18, 2009 7:59 am

Why is it a scream?
The 'chefs' as you put it, are volunteers who are working from the same recipe book since I first began practicing in 1985. Having worked in the kitchens at Centres, the focus on the production of meals is nutrition rather than sensory experience. Most new students rave about the food on retreat but given it is the only sensory 'entertainment' of sorts, its no wonder.
Having practiced vipassana intensely for a number of years in an environment that supports one's practice, loathsomeness of food naturally arises.
The awareness of the loathsomeness of food, is not misplaced aversion due to body-image/eating disorder issues nor is it aversion as a result of food not being to one's liking. Underscoring the awareness of the loathsomeness of food is a base of equanimity.
As with anyone who serves on retreats, I share my merits with all those who served on the course, including the servers in the kitchen.
kind regards

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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pink_trike
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby pink_trike » Wed Nov 18, 2009 8:19 am

Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.

Sanghamitta
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Sanghamitta » Wed Nov 18, 2009 8:46 am

I agree that in our culture at this time trying to develop aversion to food could be unwise. An abundance of every kind of food has brought with it a host of associated eating disorders as has already been mentioned. Some of them obvious, some of them more subtle, to dwell in aversion to food per se, without a context of wider Dhammic practice, is as unskillful as any other kind of aversion. Those countries where the loathsomness of bodily functions was practiced among Dhamma practitioners, paradoxically, had a far more narrow range of choice in terms of food in both quantity and type.
It can be helpful to envisage with neutral emotion the passage of a mouthful of food, from chewing, to bolus, to digestion and eventual elimination. To see this as simply part of the process of Anicca . But we have a culture that reinforces aversion in ways not intended by the Buddha's Sangha. They did not I suspect intend a situation whereby a section of the population is phobic about food.
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Nov 18, 2009 9:02 am


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Cittasanto
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Nov 18, 2009 9:16 am



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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catmoon
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby catmoon » Wed Nov 18, 2009 9:23 am


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Cittasanto
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Nov 18, 2009 9:34 am



He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Ben
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Ben » Wed Nov 18, 2009 10:04 am

“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

(Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • •

e: [email protected]..

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Khalil Bodhi
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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Wed Nov 18, 2009 10:10 am

Thank you everyone for the excellent replies. I don't intend to deeply cultivate the perception of loathsomeness of food on a regular basis (I can certainly appreciate the dangers that would arise from doing so without the guidance of a qualified teacher) but am interested in using it as a tool to prevent my mind from being consumed by sensual pleasure while eating. I do find that simply reflecting on the process of mastication and digestion helps to reframe the experience of eating and gives me enough space to disentangle myself from the sticky strands of sensuality when I'm eating a particularly tasty food. Anyway, thank you all again. Be well. :anjali:

Mike
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

Uposatha Observance Club:
My Practice Blog:

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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby catmoon » Wed Nov 18, 2009 12:27 pm


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Re: Loathesomeness of Food

Postby Annapurna » Wed Nov 18, 2009 2:19 pm

Last edited by Annapurna on Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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