Monday, September 7, 2009
September 7, 2009 Monday 9pm
I am using as one of my resources a book, "Art of the Inner Meal: Eating as a Spiritual Path" by Donald Altman (Harper: 1999). The author is a former Buddhist monk and uses his Buddhist training for this book. Since I lean towards Buddhism and Taoism, this book seems to suit me very well. Ironically, I read it in 2001; but I had forgotten that I did. I had made a note in it since that is my usual practice.
Reading it slowly, I have been enjoying it in part and took it to the lake this evening as I enjoyed a fruit blend drink of bananas and Oranges and mangoes as well as a large cup of decaffeinated coffee. Today was Labor Day and I was alone and decided to visit my favorite park where there is a wonderful view of the lake and mountains and watch the sun go down. The temperatures which had soared of late had gone down a bit and there was a breeze. The lake is off the valley floor where I live but only 20 minutes from my house. I did not want to watch television.
As I was reading the chapter on the sacredness of food and how it played a part in the author's life, I got very irritated. He had grown up in a Jewish home. He talked about the foods that they would eat, what those foods meant and how families would sit down and eat those symbolic meals. I was getting more and more irritated. The foods represented certain events from their religious past. The author then said that people should also treat their food in the same way. I was really angry. Why? Wash your hands? Big deal? Begin with a prayer? So what? I am not Jewish. I don't give a damn about their traditions. Why do I want to read about them? I think all religions are a bunch of baloney.
I had to stop reading. I never eat at the table. I set a coffee table in front of the television or the computer and eat there although it is Buddhist tradition to eat a meal and do nothing else. Do I hate the Jewish religion? The Jewish people? Am I anti-Semitic? I never thought I was.
I sat on a bench overlooking the lake and just thought about it. The stars were beginning to come out as the sun had dipped behind the tallest mountain in the area. No, there is no religion that I hate. I hated my family especially at a meal specifically dinner. Meals were when my mother showed her hatred of us kids because she hated to give us food. She would divide a can of vegetable soup among all three of us and we learned a long time ago never to ask for more. I have a hatred of Campbell soup that I refuse to eat it even now. She fed us beans for dinner while our father had the good things, steak, roast and we would look at it as my father ate it, our eyes so big and our stomachs so empty. Breakfasts were always oatmeal. My mother said eat your oatmeal. Koreans would be glad to get it. It always made me so sick and of course I was unable to eat it because it did make me sick. Now, at least we had the food. But us kids had rickets and other signs of malnutrition. That was not why I hated our meals.
My father made good money. He was never out of work. He bought expensive cameras and stereos, records and other toys. He never bought my mother clothes or us girls clothes although my brother got some and bikes. My sister and I had to do without or what my mother could earn cleaning houses.
It was during those meals that my father showed his hatred of the world including all of us. He shouted, shook his fist at each of us and my mother whimpered. I would often hide under the table and he would shout at me for doing that. All of us kids ate as fast as we could and begged to be allowed to leave the table. My memories are so faulty about meal times. For a long time I could not remember any of them. I think I learned to hate men from meal times so having men in charge of meal times in the Jewish tradition would not be a pleasant thing for me. When I did eat with relatives, they would ask why I ate so fast. I don't know, I would say. And I didn't. I just bolted the food down.
Part of Buddhism is mindfulness. You have to try to be in the present moment and get rid of past attachments. In order to detach from these past memories, you have to uncover them first. It took some work to figure out why I was distressed by the discussion about the Jewish tradition of eating. I did not want to put a man in charge of my eating patterns again. I did not want women telling me what I can eat and what I cannot eat. Of course this is not what is happening in the Jewish meals that the author of the book that I am reading meant. This was what my inner mind was thinking, however. When I did bring it up as I looked at the lake in the waning light, wells of emotion emerged. I felt so angry at my parents and so sad at what I went through as well as what my brother and sister went through. My brother committed suicide ten years ago and my sister is a functioning psychopath that I cannot have contact with. Both of my parents are dead now.
So why bring it up? I think it is part of the past that still haunts me and is part of the reason I am over-weight. I cannot have psychological help with my overweight. As I said, resources where I get my medical care are too tight. They are for people who are in danger of death and I am not. I am lucky in that I can write. I am able to read and I have always felt close to my Spiritual Guides. My blog will record my attempt to do all of this myself. I will just have to cross my fingers and hope for the best.
Posted by Geneva Lorraine at 9:00 PM