Confucius Analects – Food and Sleep
10.2 Confucius eating habits
He did not eat rice which had been injured by heat or damp and turned sour, nor fish or flesh which was gone. He did not eat what was discoloured, or what was of a bad flavour, nor anything which was ill-cooked, or was not in season. He did not over eat.
10.3 Confucius eating and sleeping
When eating, he did not converse. When in bed, he did not speak.
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Besides moral standards, Confucius also recommended healthy diet and sleep. Eat fresh and well-prepared food, in adequate quantity, be mindful in eating and sleeping so we can digest and rest well. Daoist also pay attention to diet and lifestyle as part of holistic approach to health and longevity. In meditation and internal alchemy practice, a healthy physical and energetic body is a pre-requisite for advanced practice. While in the absolute level the physical becomes less relevant, for beginners and regular practitioners, maintaining a healthy body through healthy food and lifestyle is recommended.
Aside from being be careful in how we eat and sleep and what we eat…
Did Confucius also comment on a practice of being thankful for having enough and having the good fortune of good quality food to eat? Did Confucius comment on giving up our own food to others that may be more needy? Did Confucius comment on how one should eat/ conduct oneself in a setting of a meal in the presence of our elders, be that in terms of age and/ or in terms of intellectual/ spiritual/ other accomplishment?
For surely food is a fundamental need (and desire), at least at the level where most of us are, and as such can it not serve as a powerful vehicle for spiritual development? Both in terms of how we approach it (food/ the act of eating)
and in terms of what we eat (It can effect on our emotions/ personality/ meditation practice…. etc.)….
Without dwelling too much/ over-thnking this topic… what do the teachings of the East teach us are the most important points to reflect on when it comes to all that is involved in feeding ourselves?
I’m not aware of any detail instructions from Confucius himself on eating manners. Perhaps they can be found from Confucius predecessors and followers who specialized in this area. Indeed, besides nurturing and healing the body, food and eating is one aspect of our life where we can cultivate gratitude, generosity, focus, and dedication (of energy acquired). Confucius followers take care the body to honor the gift from parents; Daoists take care the body in quest for harmony and longevity; Buddhists takes care of the body to support learning and serving the world. For spiritual students, I recommend looking at food as an area to cultivate focus and awareness, pay attention to what is going on in the body-mind-beyond before, during, and after you eat. Food then, become a form of meditation.