Well then, we have more than once discussed the importance of active and elevated consciousness for boosting our personal growth. We’ve made it clear how vital it is to think about your life calling and life purpose, the birth and death, and certainly, the difference between the body and the soul. But it must be noted that our consciousness is not always fit for that. Sometimes it’s lazy, unable to engage in any kind of thinking.
Consciousness is switched off due to various reasons. These include tiredness and the impact of external factors, such as weather. Our consciousness is also greatly affected by the time periods. This factor is related to the laws of karma which dictate how we perceive reality at different times of our life. The last but not the least, we may simply fall under the influence of the mode of ignorance.
We aren’t going to analyze all these reasons, since much has already been said about them. We’ll be more concerned about how to reenergize our consciousness, escape from laziness, ignorance and fatigue. Living with your consciousness switched-off makes no sense at all. Such a life is always a kind of coma. We simply waste time eating and sleeping. It can’t go on this way. Therefore, an intelligent person is well-versed in various tips for invigorating consciousness. By the way, he/she applies them not just once a year before taking vacation, and not even once a week on Mondays. An intelligent person applies these tips every day, or even several times a day.
The easiest way to keep your consciousness active is to practice walking in the fresh air. This method, known to the yogis for thousands of years, has now been acknowledged by modern science. Walking has officially been approved and recommended as part of education system that helps to improve thinking skills. U.S. researchers uncovered this interesting correlation after a series of experiments. It turned out that walking in the fresh air, except apparent health benefits, can greatly enhance intelligence. This pattern was discovered after many experiments involving dozens of volunteers had been conducted.
According to researchers, increase of intelligence level can be explained in the following way. As soon as you go outside, you find yourself in the world of many external stimuli, such as sounds, colors and events. All these stimuli invisibly activate different areas of brain cortex. It’s a kind of exercise for our consciousness. According to the authors of the study, in order to obtain such a result, one needs to go for a walk not less than three times a week. Each walk must be at least 40 minutes long. Unfortunately, though, no reference has been made to yoga.
We know that the actual reasons lay much deeper. They are described in the 14th chapter of the Bhagavat-Gita. Consciousness becomes activated when it gets in touch with the energy of goodness. This is the main energy of education and knowledge. It switches on human brain, and henceб an intelligent person avails of every opportunity to get in touch with goodness. When it comes to walking, simply to ‘take a long hike, get extremely tired and go to sleep’ is stupid and makes absolutely no sense. We need not just to get in touch with goodness – we must focus on some serious philosophical issues directly thereafter. Then our brains will get accustomed to the proper sequence of actions.
By doing so, you can form a positive habit to switch on your brain. Unfortunately, at the initial stages it can’t always remain “switched on”. We may lack desire, physical strength, or our intelligence may lack power to keep it active. But we are obliged to understand this system. It consists of a simple sequence of actions. As soon as we get in touch with something pure and sublime, we must use it to boost our education and thinking, solve philosophical problems and understand the meaning of life. Such moments are the breakthrough points when we can really change something in our life.
Those who are not trained to act like this constantly lose the rare opportunity to change anything. Every time people go outside, they dumbly eat barbecues, washing them down with beer and chasing squirrels away. I’ve seen it recently as I took a walk in the woods. I’ve been using the above-mentioned tip daily for many years. When you are preparing a lecture, your consciousness feels fatigued within two hours. And it’s necessary that you reboot your brain and refresh your focus. At such moments I go out to take a walk in the nearby wood. 30-40 minutes is quite enough. If you do it for a longer time, instead of brain-switching, physical fatigue will ensue. And this is the symptom of the energy of passion, which is sure to be followed by the energy of ignorance – dozing off.
It can be seen that very many people feel drawn to nature. Their switched-off brain pushes them to take a nature walk. But nobody knows why they have a longing for fresh air and how to use this inclination in the right way. The same happens when you come into contact with another source of energy of goodness. That is water. Taking a shower boosts your brain to the max. We can witness it every morning, if we use this method, of course. But the modern man seems to have forgotten the purpose of taking a bath. He keeps bathing and lying on the beach all day long. As a result, instead of being invigorated, the brain shuts off completely. Just take a look at people sprawling on the beach – they look like anything but thoughtful sages with clear consciousness.
We must learn to feel the invigorating power of goodness. Regarding water, it should be noted that too cold water is the energy of passion. It has a too big impact on the body. Instead of switching on the brain, it excites the physical body that starts to shout, turn red and scrub itself with the towel. Maybe it’s good for health – it’s more of a healthcare issue at this point. But it brings no positive result for the brain. After passion comes ignorance, rather than goodness. For this reason, after getting in touch with cold, a person relaxes and feels like taking rest – instead of switching on brain to the max.
The same thing happens when we sit in the bath for too long, lazing in the streams of hot water. This is direct contact with the energy of ignorance. Our brains are literally “boiled” in that “broth”. The conclusion is: there’s no need to stay in the bath or shower too long. An important criterion for choosing water temperature is that it must result in a cheering, invigorating effect on our consciousness.
Generally speaking, everyone is free to choose their own method, when it comes to walking in the fresh air or taking shower/bath. But it’s important that we always be guided by the stated principle: how long does it keep our consciousness active?
This is the hallmark of a wise person. He (or she) keeps a watchful eye on the changes in his consciousness. He conforms to certain principles to keep his mind as clear and active as possible.
Intake of sweets is another example of getting in touch with goodness. If we eat a little sweet stuff in the middle of thinking process — as we think something over – sweet stuff will nourish our brain. Modern man, however, eats the whole cake in one sitting, which kills his brain and thought process. Eating small amounts of sweet things at a time is part of ancient yogic science. Yogis were expert in nourishing their brain, not just feeding their bodies.
This is nutritional science for sensible people. Now we’ll dwell on it a little bit. Foods in the mode of goodness include milk products, fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. Therefore, the system of nutrition for wise people is based on these products. For the same reason, foods under the influence of ignorance are excluded from healthy diet. Knowing this, we can organize our nutrition so that our brain will never switch off. Yogis are often asked questions like: “Why don’t you eat eggs? They can be infertile, after all. We don’t take anyone’s life, when we eat them.”
The answer is quite simple. Yes, a hen is not deprived of life in that case. But we deprive ourselves of a worthy life by doing so. If we eat foods influenced by ignorance, we don’t let our brains work properly. We can’t think sublime thoughts, as a result.
From the standpoint of karma, consumption of eggs has less severe karmic consequences than products obtained by violence and animal-killing. By eating flesh of an animal that died a natural death, man gets no bad karma at all. And still, food of that kind impedes spiritual progress. It doesn’t invigorate consciousness, and is not allowed for sanctification. Although it’s not laden with karma for killing an animal, such food belongs to the mode of ignorance, anyway. It’s nothing but modified blood. Animal embryos represent uncivilized food because civilized men don’t eat such things. Uncivilized nourishing bereaves one of intelligence. It’s because for uncivilized life, intelligence is simply not needed. Therefore, remember: any food consisting of flesh falls under the mode of ignorance. It switches off subtle thinking process in our brain, making us incapable of sublime and profound thoughts.
The same pertains to eating fish. In the Manu-samhita it is said: “If one eats the flesh of a cow, he is called go-kaga, if one eats the flesh of a dog, he is called sva-pacha. But the one who eats fish – he eats all the fleshes.” Fish is abominable, according to Manu-samhita. Because it eats all kinds of flesh floating in the water, including that of cows and dogs, fish flesh is considered the most low-grade and abominable. Those who eat fish suffer a little less karmic reaction than cow flesh eaters. But spiritual consciousness is still switched-off. Sages say that various foodstuffs including those in ignorance can invoke various types of material thinking. But nothing boosts spiritual thinking like cow’s milk.
Some things need to be said about mushrooms. According to the sages, since mushrooms are a type of fungus, they are also not too good for sanctification. Although, for someone who doesn’t live on sanctified food, they don’t pose any danger, as far as karmic laws are concerned. They can be grown and put up for sale without any consequences on part of karma. The only problem is that mushrooms can’t be used in spiritual nourishment. Therefore, sages who adhere to the strictest rules and regulations of spiritual life avoid eating them.
However, when it comes to onions and garlic, one should be extremely careful because they are likened to non-vegetarian products. Onion and garlic came from the dead body of a murdered cow and so, eating them is considered like eating meat. From the standpoint of scriptures, such food items break the non-vegetarian principle. Strict vegetarians eat neither onions nor garlic. Meat is in the mode of ignorance, and the same goes for onions and garlic. Probably they can be used in medically helpful ways – even wine in sometimes used in medicine. But as food, they are forbidden for all who care about their karma and purity of consciousness. According to one of the parables, when devil was thrown out of heaven, garlic sprouted where he first placed his left foot, and onions grew where he placed his right foot.
We must differentiate between food that can be sanctified and that which can be taken, although it’s unfit for sanctification according to all the rules. For instance, food that is not of very good quality can’t be duly sanctified. But karmic reactions and influence can still be removed. One can do it by chanting “Sri Vishnu” thrice. The food won’t be sanctified, but it will be released from karma. We can take it to sustain ourselves in emergency situations, but not all the time.
Wise people say that different food products are capable of transmitting one person’s karma to another to various extents. This must be kept in mind when you are being treated to foods and drinks. You get the karma of a person who gives you a treat.
Extent of karma transfer increases as follows:
- Water is the safest item. It can be accepted from any person without any misgivings.
- Next is the whole fruit, not cut into pieces. It also transmits practically no karma at all.
The list of safe products ends here. It’s better not to take anything else from unknown people. Listed below are the products that are more prone to transmit karma:
- Sliced fruits contain much more karma than whole fruits.
- Fried vegetables contain even more karma since they are cooked on fire.
- Cooked grains such as rice contain even more karma than cooked vegetables.
Remember: if you simply buy food, you don’t get karma of the seller. You only get karma contained in the food itself. But if you accept cooked food from someone, you get both the karma of the cook, and their consciousness that has entered the meals, is also transferred to you. If you chant “Sri Vishnu” thrice, it will certainly make vegetarian dishes free from karma. But it won’t remove the mindset and consciousness of the cook he/she has put in the meals in the process of cooking. It’s easy to be infected with greed, pride, envy or lust in this way. So, be cautious and learn discernment. Raise your consciousness. Keep your mind from being obscured.