Food as a Symbol of Transformation
Like any other living creature we human beings eat to live and draw on the lives of other forms of life for our own life. But humans unlike the animals, of this world can be conscious of the significance of eating.
We can abuse food by eating in the wrong way. The right relationship to food is not produced by excessive attention to diet. It comes through practice of simple disciplines toward whatever it is one happens to be eating.
One can come to the point of glimpsing what it really means to eat, not simply on the physical level or even on the psychological level but also in the spiritual sense.
Food is the key to the transformation of life; before anything can be eaten by us it must already be transformed by life in some way. If we were something even near to normal beings we would have a deep love and constant respect for everything that lives, and see our need for, and dependence upon the rest of the living creation.
We often have very self-centred attitudes towards food. Often our concerns are with likes and dislikes, health issues etc. In essence we are thinking of ourselves and not the food we eat. If we prepare our food in the right inner state and eat it with the right inner state, then all our food can be nourishing and good. The right inner state is consciousness, an awareness of what Allah through Nature has done for us, and how we are in the process of transforming the food to be eaten, and being conscious whilst eating.
With the first entry of food into our mouth we must be conscious of oneself as in “I and this food—In the name of God”—we must be present at that moment. Put it to yourself that when you eat you are receiving a very honoured guest . It is Life visiting you, that has come to your gates; this honoured guest that has come to give you life must be greeted at the threshold in this way.
If I eat with a sense of gratitude to the beings, the plants and animals who have given their lives for me I am fulfilling my cosmic duty. “Man is the heaven for food”, this is to say that food eaten by man is transformed and reaches its own highest potential, provided we eat consciously.
If we can manage to develop within ourselves a non-egoistic love towards life, we shall have the right attitude towards food. We can experience this love towards life also by starting with the right attitude towards food. We serve God through serving His Creation. May God bless and guide us in all that we do.