My dharma is related to food: The dharma (my life role) of what I do is related to food. I have always known that I would be cooking and I always knew that I loved God and in some way shape or form I was going to be connected on a deeper level to a spiritual organization. I have been, throughout my life, connected in that way to many spiritual organizations and then I found Kashi Atlanta which is my true home. I have many incarnations of cooking even in this lifetime. And I remember cooking in other lifetimes. My clearest memory, I have repeated this often, is being a young male chef out in the middle of a sea of people in the blazing sun in the middle of the afternoon in what appears to be a huge religious festival and we had giant fires and boiling pots of things and these giant flat stone areas where are creating chapatis. And, what I recall is looking out on a sea of people making chapatis and making chapatis and making more chapatis. The things I am most grateful for in this life are: a) we have running water, and b) we don’t have to build a fire in order to cook. So I don’t have to carry water for five miles in a bucket and I don’t have to build a fire first before I start cooking. That has to be a boon right there. It’s a blessing, so this lifetime is very fortunate for me.
Wholeness: That brings me to the yoga of cooking — which is wholeness. For me, just doing the cooking is wholeness. When I am cooking, time stands still. My connection with the food, the color of the food, the texture of the food, the aromas of the food, there are so many that it hits me on all of the sensory levels. I think this is why is so profound for me. Because there is nothing else that I have found that does hits every pleasure sensory in the body. Everything is in motion and its being utilized at the moment when you are creating food. I think to take it back a step further, it’s like creating the right relationship with your food is very important. The thing that we’ve lost the most in the this particular time is our relationship to where food comes from, how it’s grown, how it’s harvested, our connection to the soil, the land, the water, the air. Actually we are seeing some sort of resurgence around that with some of the permaculture people. I am seeing some of the younger people start to re-embrace that. For the most part, if we were to lose electric and gas and the comforts of today, I think a lot of people would be in a great deal of shock to try to figure out how to create food for themselves. Starting from that basis is like creating the relationship with the soil, with the seed is a great starting point to the connection with ourselves to Mother Earth. Until we have that type of relationship, we won’t have that type of wholeness or yoga with our food.
Community: We are accepting it from an outside source. We are not having a spiritual connection to what we are eating. We’ve lost that. Many people don’t pray over their food anymore. It used to be that everyone said Grace at the table. No one sits down at the table anymore. We’re not eating together. We’re not communing together. We’re all off exhausting our energy in many directions and so the community is lost. And the community is a big part of that yoga. It’s a big part of that union. One of the things we are trying to do here at Kashi Atlanta is to try to figure out ways that we can eat together. We know that a community that eats together creates a bond a sense of community and sharing.
Maharaji use to say,
“God is in the sharing.”
Sharing the food, sharing the experience of creating the food and eating the food, feeding each other is God; that is union.