Relationship to food is the expression of our relationship to others but when somebody is diagnosed having eating disorders we systematically try to solve the problematic symptoms through the problematic symptoms. Specialists from all sides with the best intention try to heal this disorder with better diet, sugar substitutes, talking about it , behaviors management , mindful eating ...I believe we can address those apparent disorders from another perspective : Eating disorders could just be the mirror of our world relationship's disorders .The direct expression of our metabolic fracture from environnement which has a direct consequence on self relationship , separation of body and mind. This mirroring effect is particularly true with sensitive people and it can takes infinite expressions ( compulsion, privation, rejection, control …). In other words , eating disorders or most psychological ones could be the normality in an uncertain, dismembered world.
So trying to heal the way we eat , the way we love, when we feel out of balance might be out of subject. Alcoholic Anonymous society has understood it well , drinking in an addictive way or consuming any substances including food in an unhealthy way comes from a spiritual disconnection not from the fact that we don't control ourselves. So self development protocoles might not be the right strategy for most of the people who suffers from feeling guilty about their food, whatever mesure we put on that guilt and expression of it.
I beleive instead that what we need to do is delicately discovering another way to relate to the outside, others , animated and non-animated as it is connected to the causes and not the symptoms, such as restauring relationships to beings, animals, trees … and in the mirror of our relationships we will be able to restaure relationship to our dignity, our harmony , our self with more peace .
In our circles,we know that interdependance is a reality but I wonder to which extent we realize it is true. I have the feeling that it is still about us being in relation with others as 2 separate things and we still beleive that it is from our efforts that we will feel "interdependance", this promising grace of "Being one with all" , that it is from being a good practitioner, a good student that we will achieve Nirvana. But there is another way than trying, it is simply to awake others and by others I particularly mean the invisible ones and the non-animated ones, the forgotten ones.
All is alive and the fact is that we are made of others including the non (- visibly ) animated; and to see how much "intra-dependance" is not a concept but a sensible materialistic thing , a real ( quantum physical) thing is to write another story than the one we are in.
Religion is an experience not a doctrine,
Doctrine is for people to see that there might be something else than the normative story but when we are trying too hard to follow it it could becomes counter productive and even enabling this anthropocentric reality we want to escape from .
On the contrary when we relax our efforts on our spirituality but concentrate the presence on what is around us we are opening a conversation, we are in cont- act ( contemplative activism ) *.
That is why in zen , living in a clean , orderly spaces is so important. It is not about us becoming better because we will clean or do the dishes properly but cleaning, putting our attention on objects, lamps, dirty cups is on the contrary forgetting ourselves and see that all is alive . It is entering another world , another dimension of our realty through materiality.
Meditating together in a dojo, with aligned cushions, bowing in front of our cushion, is being with all , the cushion, the others . which is totally different than meditating by ourselves ,not taking care of what is around us . It s about relationships to all what is : the room, the cushion, others, air, sounds, objects and to experience this in an inclusive intention is fundamental . In reference to buddhism , this is the Mahâ ( vast , broader, inclusive ) yâna (vehicule) which embraces it all. To bring back collectively all in the space of absorption gives us the opportunity to awake together . That is why there is chanting, bells, a fix time, rituals in monastic practices but to a certain extent whatever conventions we decide is not so important as long as we agree that meditating is not about us, that it is about all of others humans and non - humans that we invite to be us.
I am made of my conversations, my parents , my education but I am also made of my cup, of my internet , I would not be the one I am if there would be no cup or internet , so logically they are as much as alive as me, there are part of a bigger life circle where we all exist and interactively produce life continuation.
Coming back to food, restauring relationship to food could be an invitation to meet food and from that to give her back her dignity, her beauty and in the mirror of it becoming harmonious beings ourselves. Rather than healing us we can heal food, she needs it maybe more than we do.
When we are meditating together this is exactly what we are doing. We are letting the world offers itself at our feet , echoing our being through the reality of our animated and non-animated relationship and in this movement we are seing, feeling and becoming.
I wish we would be opened enough to slightly change the focus from self development whatever spiritual good intentions we have towards a practice of relationships anarchy. ( non hierarchical)
I wish we would give objects, casseroles, lamps, tables, the space for them to be and consequently help us becoming with us , give them back their lives which will allow us to experience our true nature of “be(with)ing”and heal them as much as they heal us.
Not to say that tying to become a better person is not something that needs to be cultivated, the doctrine of all religions are there to help us to that, but sometimes the idealistic/ guilt projection we are making of them obliterate the reality of our light;
We have the opportunity in every instant to awake the world around us, to awake , cups and chairs ,moon and stars.
The practice to be in relationship with the non -animated is deeper than we think , to try to know objects, rooms , , welcome them ,feel them , ask for their consent when we use them, thank them is not jus a concept but a real way to inclusively awake to our world.
We have the choice to live among dead things, or to awake everything, this is our power.
Most of our houses don’t have life circulation , most of our food is treated like a dead object and we truly believe that it is more important to concentrate our energy on emails , or writing a book than honoring our shelves, our stairs, washing our bowls ? In fact , all, equally are important .This might sounds crazy as we are in the "separated story" but we have to remember that our best thoughts brought us to the situation of us destroying the planet and this is completely related.
So all I am saying is that we could experiment another view on things , we could try welcoming life in our homes with new eyes . Seing is caring, and to see our food, to care for it is a transformative practice.
To finish I would like to propose a koan, that could help us shift our way of being with in the world .
"What if this chair was dead? What if those dry beans were just beans ?"
* I borrowed this evocative contraction from my dear friend Carmen Azur
** inspired by my friend Liam Kavanagh from Life itself institute