One who eats once is a great Yogi (Divine Man). One who eats twice is a great Bhogi (sensual gratifier). One who eats thrice is a great Rogi (plagued by ill-health). One who eats 4 times is a great Drohi (one who torments all) — Proverb of India
One of the obstacles on the path to enlightenment, or at least to a balanced life, is the nature of the physical world and our appetites. Usually, the word “appetite” is associated with food, we get hungry, we eat delicious food and experience a sense of saity or well being. We should probably all eat more frugally and I am not knocking the old Indian proverb, but there is a bit more to the concepts of yogi, bhogi, Rogi and Drohi than to cut down on your food.
First of all, there are many kinds of food.
Not only do we eat material food, but our eyes feed on light, our ears feed on sounds, our minds feed on ideas and our bodies feed on touch. And just as our stomach craves food and our tongue craves taste, everyone desires happiness, success, love and abundance.
But like a kid who wants to eat a diet of candy, we can get hooked on things that aren’t healthy for us. It isn’t always good for you to have too much of anything. Candy tastes great, but it has little nutritional value. Eating candy all the time will make you tired and sick and will give you cavities.
Constantly pursuing food, pleasure, fame, money and relationships will also make you sick. A kid doesn’t know the candy is bad for him until his tooth is hurting and in the same way, we can find ourselves over-stimulated, our mind filled up with all sorts of rubbish; worries, plans, schemes, manipulations, and material objects. We can overdose on entertainment, comfort food and busyness just as easily as alcohol. Even relationships can be a way to extend energy into another person rather than putting energy into our own ideas and projects and directly into the world.
Sometimes we are trying to fill a hole in ourselves that can never be healed by “food” or busyness. When we’ve lost control of our appetites, there is usually a deeper reason why we are so “needy.” One solution is to meditate on our real needs, not obsess on the craving which is only a symptom.
What’s behind the craving? Can we rest in openness, without the snack or the phone call or the appointment or the obsession with a material object or a person? Can we be with ourselves as comfortably as we are with another? If we can’t, what are we avoiding? What do we need to express? Have we suppressed our own needs for others? Have we disempowered ourselves, deciding not to exert the energy to create or express?
It can seem easier to slip into familiar cravings and addictions to food, shopping, people and schedules, things we find controllable, rather than move towards our growth. As the proverb points out, once we are a Rogi we are on the way to ill health; too much food, too much TV, too much ambition, even too much exercise will all make you ill. And worse, once we are a Drohi our craving is so deadly and toxic that, not only will we make ourselves ill, we’ll end up tormenting those around us.
So what is it to be a “great yogi” and to eat one meal a day?
A yogi tries to live in moderation— to limit sensual excesses, not to deny them. We can put a bit less food on the plate, shop less, watch less TV, breathe space into our relationships and observe our deep cravings rather than give into them.
Be a good parent to yourself and find out what you really need.