– Food bestows the gift of eternal life
Nourishment consists, first of all, in consciously extracting the elements needed to build up our physical bodies from the food we eat. But man is not restricted to only one, physical body: he has other, subtler bodies which, owing to his ignorance, are frequently under-nourished. So the important question is how to nourish these subtle bodies. Everybody knows more or less what their physical body needs, but they have no idea how to nourish their etheric or vital body, their astral body (seat of the emotions and feelings), or their mental body (seat of thought).
1. The etheric body (a subtle replica of the physical body)
As I have said, we have to masticate our food very thoroughly. But mastication is for the benefit of the physical body. If we want to nourish our etheric body, we must add another factor, that of respiration. From time to time in the course of your meal, you must pause and take a deep breath; this is the only way to ensure that the etheric body gets the subtler particles it needs from your food. But if you are so busy talking and arguing that you swallow your food automatically without taking the time to chew it, you will disturb the rhythm of your breathing and the necessary physico-chemical reactions will not occur as they should, with the result that you will have a feeling of heaviness and discomfort: proof positive that you are not eating correctly. In order to nourish your etheric body, therefore, you must also eat in silence.
2. The astral body
The astral body is nourished by thoughts and emotions, a form of matter that is even subtler than the particles of the etheric plane. We nourish our astral body by the love and respect we feel for the food prepared for us in the Lord’s laboratories. When our astral body is nourished by these elements it is capable of arousing in us feelings of a very high order: love for all human beings and a sensation of being happy and at peace and in harmony with nature.
If you give your astral body the food it needs, you will have a tremendous sense of well-being and generosity, and when you have important questions to settle with others, you will be ready to make concessions and act with magnanimity, patience, and benevolence. On the other hand, when you spend your mealtime grumbling and being angry and critical of others, your astral body does not get the nourishment it needs, and you continue to feel tense, bad-tempered, and biased, and if you have a difficult problem to resolve, you will make a negative, unjust decision.
3. The mental body
Disciples nourish the mental body by concentrating mentally on the food they are eating. Instead of looking round and watching other people, they close their eyes to avoid being distracted and to be free to devote complete attention to their food. To disciples, food is a manifestation of God, a love letter from the Lord, and for this reason they try to read the messages hidden in it, and to dwell on all its different aspects: where it comes from, what it contains, the qualities that correspond to it, the entities that have cultivated and cared for it, and so on. Disciples know that there are entities that care for every single plant and every fruit, and that if they mature and ripen at a particular moment, it means that there is a correspondence with specific planetary influences.
Disciples’ minds are occupied in profound meditation of all these things while they are eating, and in this way, their mental bodies are nourished by elements that are even subtler and of a higher order than those of the astral plane. The result is that they gain greatly in lucidity and clarity of thought and acquire a more profound grasp of life and of the world. After a meal taken in these conditions, disciples leave the table with luminous understanding and the capability of undertaking extremely arduous intellectual tasks.
4. The causal, buddhic and atmic bodies
Above and beyond their etheric, astral, and mental bodies, human beings have other, subtler bodies, the causal, buddhic, and atmic bodies, and they, too, have to be nourished. Perhaps you wonder how. In addition to breathing deeply and eating their food with love and meditating on it, initiates cultivate a profound sense of gratitude to the Creator; through their food, they achieve communion with the Lord. In this way they nourish their three higher bodies and experience rapture and ecstasies. Food bestows the gift of eternal life
Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov
More details can be found in:
Complete Works, Vol. 16, ‘Hrani Yoga – The Yoga of Nutrition’
Complete Works, Vol. 13, ‘A New Earth – Methods, Exercises, Formulas and Prayers’