Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
There are some people who are living without food but you know they don’t have so much strength, they don’t do much. If you want to be like a delicate doll sitting somewhere doing nothing, you don’t need to eat much, you don’t need to eat at all. Some people have practiced it for a long time. I know one gentleman who had come here to our ashram, said since the last thirty years he has not eaten anything.
Fine, how long did it take you to practice that? He said seventeen years. Seventeen years just watching the sun, slowly, slowly reducing the food, one time comes you don’t need to eat anything; but he hasn’t accomplished or achieved anything other than doing this. So if you want to take that as your life’s mission - not to eat anything and practice that, well good! That you can do, no doubt. See for some people it has come to them naturally. Some people, nature has made their body, their system such that they don’t have to eat, when they are happy and in meditation naturally food intake goes down, but it should not be done as a practice. I am reminded of the two great beings in India who were contemporaries, one is Lord Buddha and the other is Lord Mahavira.
Lord Mahavira did not eat at all, it is said he ate once in a year or three times a year or something like that. He didn’t feel the need to eat. He was a prince just like Gautama Buddha or Buddha. As a prince he went out to find the meaning of life, to find the self. He won’t eat for a long time. Very few times he ate, when someone brought food and offered him, he ate.
So Lord Buddha also tried this experiment; he also said okay I will also not eat and find out. Buddha forced on himself not to eat and his body became so weak and he could not even sit or walk or meditate, he became so dependant. At that time a lady came and brought him some rice pudding, he ate that and he got his prana back. Then Lord Buddha declared it is useless to fast too much! He said just by fasting you don’t get enlightened.Lord Krishna has said very clearly in Bhagavad Gita; Lord Krishna has said Yoga is not for one who eats too much or for one who doesn’t eat at all. It is not for one who doesn’t do any activity or not for one who does too much activity, ‘Yuktahara Viharasya’. Similarly not for one who does not sleep at all or one who sleeps all the time.
Yoga is for one who is in moderation and takes them out of misery, out of suffering, out of sorrow. Life is all about getting out of sorrow and how we can do this? ‘Yuktahara Viharasya Yukta Cheshtasya Karmasu Yukt Swapnavabodhasya, Yogo Bhavati Dukhha’. One who has moderation in eating, one who has moderation in activity, one who has moderation in sleep and rest, for that person, Yoga brings them to enlightenment. Yoga brings them to the state where they become free from misery.
Moderation means what? Three meals a day is moderation, two meals a day is moderation, one meal a day?...Moderation? What is moderation that you have to see!
When you are hungry then you eat, eat only as much as is required, little bit. Not stuffing yourself when you are not hungry and also not stuffing too much, just gently little bit, little bit as much as is necessary, and activity is necessary along with it. So when you don’t do activity and want to be in silence one or two or three days, okay then drop those days, take only water, some juice and then sit, you know; but you don’t need to do all that, you don’t need to do all those strenuous things at all.
The ‘Art of Living’ has given you such a nice package, such a nice path that suits today’s active life, that suits our body, that suits our environment, our social cultural environment that we are in.