© 2010 Radha's Kitchen These simple, everyday ingredients - potatoes, onions, cilantro, peanuts - can be layered and combined to create this unusual breakfast dish.

Turning Daily Habits into Art

Recently, I asked Shunyamurti: How is it possible that a culture does not innovate and evolve in the realm of its food preparation? Even poor cultures across the globe add spices to plain rice, forage for wild herbaceous plants to throw into half water/half bean stews, or utilize some uniquely regional foodstuff, such as ground orchid root, to thicken or perfume the most meager of dishes.

His answer was that alimentary petrifaction is often a rigid defense against internal individual and social collapse. In other words, it is a fantasy of collapse into lack, disorientation, and even depersonalization, the ultimate bad nothingness, that threatens the fragile false self, when the culture does not provide the foundations for innovation via a well-established symbolic capacity. Thus, in a shallow culture without deep spiritual roots, it is the repetition, day in and day out, of the same plate of food, with no desire to create a little nuance in such food, that regulates psychic stability and prevents decompensation. Even the appearance of a nuance of new tastes, that might be an expression of an awakened creativity, or even a mind simply interested in something different, must remain taboo.

Difference–all difference–is always threatening.

The truth, Shunyamurti went on to explain, is that it is only a very thin layer of society that has any interest in innovating in food preparation, and perhaps it is justly so. Very few humans, in relation to the human population, spend their entire lives honing their instrument (or have the luxury to do so), whatever that instrument may be, or playing with endless variations on themes in a creative context (be it science, religion, or art).

The truth is also that creativity is hard to come by in a world where most peoples’ minds are in a desperate state. In relation to food, this means most people eat to fill voids or run away from inner terrors, to remember the mother/the past, to enhance an imaginary identity–rigid or chaotic, and so on. For the very few, those who have gone beyond the imaginary ego matrix, food becomes art, a way to express the love of God, and to work with God’s love (Her Food) with utter devotion, reverence and delight.

That is the goal of Radha¹s Kitchen cooking courses, and ultimately the task of the Sat Yoga Institute–to inspire in students who feel called to the art of cooking (and all the other arts of life) to discover how beautiful meal preparation and the handling of food can become, when one has integrated one’s mind on a path of wholeness. When one’s mind is free to explore all the possibilities of joy and delight in this phenomenal plane, we can tap into our divine creativity and make every act a divine act. Our love of food that always had its dark side of a way of finding a self-contained form of pleasure as a defense against the difficulties of life, can now become an act of service and mental ordering that is shared with a larger community who value the creation of beautiful patterns in all fields of life.

Instead of remaining fixated on certain foodstuffs that we “must eat” to hold onto an ever-fading false identity (thin or fat, healthy or gluttonous), we learn to sublimate the act of eating, including choosing and preparing food, into something that is beyond eating–an act that has now become conscious and can shine with the glory of Life, the true meaning of Art.


Radha Lakshmi


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