A Diet that Responds to Our Changing Times
It is a great advantage to have the wind in your sails as you move through life. Knowing how to conduct yourself when winds die down or storms rise from nowhere brings a mastery to living. You want to know your ease of flow in navigating life’s waters with grace. The secret to how this happens is the BARDO DIET.
The BARDO Part
People, places, and things in our lives, enter and leave. Children grow up and make their own way in the world. Friends move, responding to new opportunities in far-off places. People close to us pass away. Larger environmental factors that define our lives – landscapes, economic status, political climates – often shift over the course of a lifetime. Most of this happens without our permission!
Our candidate loses the election, the stock market takes a dive, our neighbor bulldozes the house next door. Change is a given and often we feel left behind in its wake, at least for a little while. What “has been” is no more, and we are drifting in an unknown, and sometimes unfriendly sea of our reactions to the unbidden change.
That space between when someone leaves and someone else enters is called the bardo.
Each of us are left on our own to deal with the effects of aging, illness, and mortality. Over 2500 years ago, those realities of life sent a young prince named Siddhartha Gautama away from his father’s palace and out into the world to learn the meaning of eternal life. His story, of one individual’s seeking and finding, lives today in the teachings of the Buddha. In the Twin Verses, he said, “v1 Our life is shaped by our mind, we become what we think. Suffering follows an evil thought as the wheels of a cart follow the oxen that draw it. v2 Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think. Joy follows a pure thought like a shadow that never leaves.”
How do you experience your Self? Are you happy or sad? Comfortable or distressed? Angry or even-tempered? Do you forgive others easily or do you withhold your generosity? Can you see life from another’s point of view or do you find yourself preoccupied with defending your own?
We, you and I, are the constant in these changing times. What if the situations in your life are neutral, and you decide, in your mind, which is true and which is an illusion?
Every day, we see evidence that this is possible, as we watch others interacting with their environment. Two people take a walk in the woods to breathe the fresh oxygen, drink in the sunshine. Stretch their limbs and free their minds from the clutter of daily preoccupations. One shares space with the “natives” enjoying her time in nature, while the other fights mosquitoes, chiggers and ticks the entire afternoon. She carries her serenity back into city life. He complains for days afterwards, carrying the battle in the woods back to his home in the city. Then there are the people who never want to go to the woods at all!
Sticking to our position of liking the woods or detesting the woods often makes us a colorful character in the drama of our own making. Letting go of an established position, brings a freedom in the mind. Like Gautama, you experience the fine art of choice. Where there is equanimity, pain does not steal from pleasure, sorrow does not eclipse joy, failure does not destroy accomplishment. As William Shakespeare put the words into another prince’s mouth some 500 years ago, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Freedom is the true nature of the bardo.
The DIET Part
What has happened to the word diet tells a fascinating story of our civilization. Did you know that the original meaning of the word diet was not a reference to food? The English word diet comes form the Greek “diaita” meaning a sensible, moderate and dutiful way of living.
Originally the word did not refer to food. Later it came to be associated with foods that are customarily eaten, food as a way of life. You’ve probably heard the question, “Do you live to eat or eat to live?” If you answer yes to living to eat your definition of diet is probably the prevailing one in today’s world. “Diet” is now indicative of an all-consuming practice and desire to lose weight – an $80 billion dollar industry that, according to the National Institute of Health, fails 98% of dieters. This modern-day slang of diet is not the one you will learn here.
The BARDO DIET resurrects the original Spirit that is a way of living arising from the Source of Life itself. This inner dynamo is the true catalyst for change whether we are speaking of walnuts into brain food, oxygen into carbon dioxide, or distress into comfort. When Bardo is placed with Diet, the mind is freed of its preoccupation with the cravings of the body. You know those cravings. They can come in the form of ice cream, alcohol, even video games! They can overtake the mind like a song that gets stuck in a feedback loop in your brain and will not stop!
Freeing your mind from senseless preoccupations and returning to the divine Source from which all Life flows is why the BARDO DIET meets the challenge we all face in these changing times. When your mind is free, your body is free.
The BARDO DIET’s Ancient Roots
The BARDO DIET’s roots are deep and wide. Like Yggdrasil, these are roots nourishing the tree of your life. Like Asvattha, these roots grow from the cosmos, the heavens. Through you, outer and inner space find common ground. Human lives matter.
Hear how one human being, a successful businessman in China over 2000 years ago, learned the secret of the BARDO.
Though he was poor as a youth, Nianzu studied Confucian teachings. When his parents died, he entered the marketplace. Through hard work and fortunate circumstances, he learned the value of a sensible, moderate and dutiful way of living acquiring a substantial fortune by his middle years.
His success in physical life satisfied his sense of value, yet his heart seemed empty. Nianzu turned his mind toward the matters of spirit in hopes of finding answers to the questions life had brought him. Years of study in the histories and rituals of the great religions taught him that any confusion or contradiction in doctrines was conceptual, creations in the mind. Though helpful to him, a general understanding of religions did not meet his needs. Nianzu lived up to the meaning of his name, always “thinking of ancestors.” He was troubled not being certain of their fate and well-being. His study told him there was something deeper to be experienced in the spiritual realms, and he wanted peace for his parents as well as himself.
Nianzu set out to find a teacher who was truly achieved to be his model. The teacher he found began by asking the man, “What do you know about the achievement of Tao?”
“I have learned that in popular religions, authority exists outside of, not within one’s life,” Nianzu replied. “I do not imply that one should turn away from the Divine Realm. I have learned that only through one’s own self-cultivation can one attain spiritual growth. In the Tao, there is no real separation between the universal nature and one’s own divine nature.”
Finding Nianzu’s reply well considered, the teacher asked, “What else do you wish to learn?”
“How to truly achieve Tao,” the man replied without hesitation.
The teacher nodded. “In order to achieve Tao, and become divine within and without, one must complete one’s virtue,” the teacher replied. “Shall we begin?”