Sunday, June 20, 2010

Seven Sins: Gluttony

Everyone should now be entitled, in this day and age to their own opinion, and they own faith.
Anything short of that is just preventing the most basic sort of freedom which in a lot of places is taken for granted.

Everyone can think what they want about religion. And specially of the catholic one, that although its one of the most criticised it is still holding strong.

Without going into technical details of similarities between faiths, there is one common point.
Over eating is always bad.
Each faith deals with it in a specific manner, yet all faiths address it.
That fact makes me think that there must be a certain common element.

If all the religions agree on that one as much as they have fought each other over their differences, there must be some sort of truth there.
Now, truth is a big word that is really unwieldy for me to use. I do not believe there is one truth but that I will tackle after this series of articles.

In the mean time if the same idea has originated in several places or has been perceived as being valid through time, there must be something valid about that idea.

Take it as a proof by fact, the weakest kind of proof but still some sort of proof.
In the Qur'an it is mentioned that the stomach should be 1/3 full of food, another 1/3 full of water and the 1/3 full of air, in order for it to function properly, and not cloud the mind or feel drowsy.
Surely a banning on food during daylight, helps remember that one can go without food and besides the evident hardship one can still live. All of this helps put food into perspective, and that is a healthy exercise, for the mind, the body, and the soul.

The catholic religion makes over eating a deadly sin.
Back then it was not know that over eating would be dangerous, in the same way as it is now.
Now we know about cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes, which can lead to a long and painful death of the body. If we where to follow the catholic prescription that faith would also be of the soul.
So that would make an all you can eat restaurant technically as dangerous, as a brothel for the soul.

So why is this sin so present in multiple faiths, and why is it still so easy to fall into it.
It must have to do something with the hardware. With the way our brains are wired.

Enough By John Naish offers a simple yet very well backed up explanation as to why this is.
Our brains where developed in times of scarcity, so now in times of plenty they have trouble adapting.
Religions jumped in to help evolve the brain further, to develop mechanisms in the brain that help control what is going on in our primal brains. The problem is that all of that got shifted out as faith and integral inner life became out of fashion.

As producing became more important than living. As time became a commodity and not just something we inhabit. Our modern society has reverted back, thought with a technological difference, to tap into our basic more archaic brain. This is done through evolved symbols but that is just the encoding of them.
The core message is still the same, go alpha. Become the top monkey in the heard by working more, consuming more and eating more.

Out of all the excesses the first one that got pruned from our current role models was over-eating.
Yet is it really done for the good reasons. To help you illustrate this here is a little example.

If you do not have dessert, is it because:

  1. Do not want to end up with your arteries clogged?
  2. Do not want to run an extra mile at the Gym?
  3. Do not want your mother(-in-law) to tell you you are fat?
  4. Do not have more money?
  5. Don't feel like it?

Which is the motivation to go without dessert will make it easier for you to accept better the outcome.Easier to accept also means it will be easier for you to share your motivation.The sort of exercise that focuses on changing the motivation, is seldom practised. Just the behaviour is looked at, but that is just for show, just for the others. The motivation is what really has to change to overcome the temptation. That sort of mechanism, is not even practised as part of religions in the western world.
The relationship to food which sets the basis for gluttony being a sin, can also be extended to the whole of our consumption. Only back in the day when all this ideas where developed consumption was only associated with food, but not the the rest of all the other material goods that we can now enjoy the possession off.

The same way we relate to our food we relate to our planet, and that is what pushes us to deplete it because we never learned to have enough, and the few mechanisms which where developed to helps us evolve that, have been bypassed through the use of more high level symbols conveyed to us through advertisement and the media.

So it is in a sorry state of affairs, that we have to look at all of our intake, specially the spiritual one, in order to make sure that we consume what we should and not more.That means in other terms aiming for quality and not quantity, and this applied also to our thoughts.