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Fellow travellers,

As I have experienced myself major benefits from the practicing of asanas the past two years; plus from my raw vegan diet the past three years and qigong meditation the past year; I was wondering if these concepts/ways of life could be combined with Buddhism in the context of a monastic life.

The past year I was living like an 'urban monk' or something; meaning that I am spending most of my free time on my daily routine disciplines (lengthy meditation both sitting and walking; asanas; qigong meditation). As I also have to work to make a living, I have come to realize that this is an unequal struggle for me; walking some steps forward and then going backward. Which keeps me away from the development of my spiritual Self; and that is what I am interested about the most in my life.

Concerning the raw vegan diet I have found amazing benefits in both mind and body. Alive food provides higher levels of energy and a lightweight sensation, both bodily and mentally (as what we eat affects both mind, body and spirit). We consume the alive consciousness of other forms of life such as fruits; greens; sprouts and that has an instant effect in our "own" consciousness as well. That led me to realize that.. in fact in fact, it is not our consciousness in action, but instead, its the outcome of what we put into our system; and that is raw; alive; which changes us from within. It's not something dead, consuming food from the same kingdom (meat/flesh) as ourselves. Dark leafy greens have a higher alkaline pH, which aids to radiant health and elimination of all diseases. All these three years I was never sick. All diseases arise in a highly acidic environment. All processed foods and especially meat create a high acidic pH in our body. Therefore, the effects of a raw vegan diet are instant and they work deeply, in a psychosomatic level, affecting all that consists of what/who we are. Combined with the asanas from yoga and the qigong meditation, where I learn to sense the pranic/chi bioenergy field around me, and how to work with it and use it in order to heal my body, all these disciplines are essential to me. The body is the temple of the mind. «Νούς υγιής εν σώματι υγιεί» were saying the ancient Greeks. Which means "Healthy mind in a healthy body". As the body is the temple of the mind, both affect one another; a normally fit body will not suffer when we will be old. We are training our body as we are training our mind; these two go hand in hand for me (and for millions of others as well). I won't go much into personal details, to not make this a lengthy post.

As about Buddhism, I am new, but as it seems from my research, it's the only system that offers this freedom of both spiritual; psychological and philosophical expansion and betterment in one system, which is what I need (not want), in order to develop myself from within (the only true development).

I would heartily appreciate your advice on this very important path in my life. I am glad that I have found you.

Peace and harmony to each one of you ~

Grigoris

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    Hello and welcome to Buddhism.SE! We've put together some information here to help you get started. – Robin111 Jun 29 '15 at 12:50
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    In asking about combining a particular diet (raw vegan) with being a monastic in Buddhism, it would be important to understand which type of Buddhism you are interested in potentially ordaining into. In Theravada Buddhism, monastics eat food offered by lay supporters and therefore aren't able to specify such a diet, for example. Are you able to tell us more about which type of monastic practice you are considering? – Robin111 Jun 29 '15 at 12:54
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    It's rather early to choose a tradition/school but my inclination is rather towards the Theravada Buddhism. – Grigoris Deoudis Jun 29 '15 at 21:20
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There are a few things which come to mind that Buddhism may say about your current spiritual path;

Surely, the practices you have described will bring you some beneficial results. But without proper insight, guided by the Noble Eightfold path, they will not lead you to liberation from old age, suffering, and death. And this is evident by the way in which you describe the body. The body is in fact a prison, not a temple. This body is not ours, and by its very nature seeks out death. Pursuing health is a useless endeaver, as the Buddha said :

"'I am subject to aging, have not gone beyond aging.' This is the first fact that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained.

"'I am subject to illness, have not gone beyond illness.' ...

"'I am subject to death, have not gone beyond death.' ...

Upajjhatthana Sutta AN:5.57

And in fact, the mind has far more affect over the body than the body does over the mind, insofar as the mind is developed. An undeveloped mind can and will suffer in even the most healthy of bodies, but a well developed mind needs not suffer in even an ill and dying body. In this way, the two do not mutually affect each other, and therefore pursuing healthy things for the sake of health is of no benefit. Such clinging to your health and well being will only lead to suffering, as sooner or later it will come to an end.

As for asanas, or qigong meditation, I do not know. But unless their teachings ascribe the application of the Noble Eightfold path, they are not in line with the teaching of the Buddha, and will not lead one to final liberation.

I hope this helps clarify some things with your current practice in regards to the teachings of the Buddha.

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    Concerning the issue of death, I regard death as part of life, it's just in a different frequency. What we are is condensed energy. From what we know, energy cannot be created or ended, it's just recycled endlessly. Therefore what we are can never cease to exist, the only thing that ceases to exist is our short view on the subject of Life (which includes that which we call death). – Grigoris Deoudis Jun 29 '15 at 21:15
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    In fact, after some intense psychic experiences that I had, almost a year ago, there was a small period in my life that I was thinking how it would be like to deliberately leave/depart from this life. I was so much in awe from the experiences that I had (which were in fact supernatural ones), so seeing "death" in a broader concept, made me want to do everything and reach that state. But, for some reasons I didn't. :-) – Grigoris Deoudis Jun 29 '15 at 21:16
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    Either way, I do not have any sense of fear about the issue of death. I have experienced mySelf as who I really am, and Who I AM can never cease to exist. In that context, of course this body is the prison, but as long as we are in this life, it is better if we treat the body with respect and maintain a basic level of physical exercise in order physical pain to not divert us from our mental and spiritual disciplines and practices, on our Path. – Grigoris Deoudis Jun 29 '15 at 21:16
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    I agree as well that the mind is superior than the body, and that they are not truly mutually affecting each-other. Though, in this life we are functioning with both. – Grigoris Deoudis Jun 29 '15 at 21:17
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    You say you experienced yourself, by the verb experienced in past tense, which means this experience arose and ceased, which means it no longer is, which is directly opposed to your claim that who you are can never cease to exist. So what is it that you experienced, which arose and then ceased, that can never cease to exist? – Ryan Jun 29 '15 at 21:28
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It is a beautiful thing what you are doing. Respecting your body, the environment and all beings is the first path of the Bodhisattva.

Respect is not necessarily attachment. Buddhism recommends we have a healthy belief in impermanence, but not so much that we ignore caring for everything.

The Buddha warns his followers to practice hard while they still can. Because sickness, injuries and death can occur at any moment, and interrupt their practice, they must not put off practice for later. Buddhism is not found in sutras and big and ancient words, it is found in the practice of seeing the truth in every moment.

We obviously can't practice if we are losing consciousness due to an injury, or delirious with fever. We must take medicines at this moment and respect that our practice is dependent on causes and conditions, such as our good health.

We likewise cannot practice if we are lost in luxuries and delusions of reality, mistaking our comfortable conditions for permanent bliss.


The legend of the Buddha shows that Siddhartha, before he became the Buddha viewed his body as a defilement, hunger as a prison sentence that kept him trapped in this world, and practiced severe starvation penance. He couldn't sadly make meaningful spiritual progress towards Buddhahood with this belief system. When he learned to respect his human condition and eat food, his spiritual progress rapidly advanced.

By observing the beauty of nature interacting with our body, in a vegan diet, in asanas, in wild natural situations where our body helps us survive, we can practice a form of Vipassana or deep insight. We see that there is no independent existence, that all beings are interdependent.

We must see that the idea of "I" is a compounded reality. The "I" who is well rested, eating healthy and exercising is very different from the "I" who is sleep deprived, intoxicated and eating junk food. Thus we are our good or bad habits, we are nothing more than our thoughts, actions and speech in this present moment. By observing our body in sickness and health, in youth and old age we see the impermanence of reality.

Thus, respecting the body can lead to insight, but there is a danger that it can also lead to hubris and pride. If we spend a lot of time in front of the mirror basking in narcissism, that's dangerous :-)

We must learn not to fear the environment. We cannot control all aspects of our life. Eating healthy vegan food is good, but if we can't find good food one day, and we must eat something, we must learn to make do with whatever is available with no regret or sadness.

The Buddha was often offered fancy meals in palaces when Kings and rich men invited him and his followers for lunch. No matter how good the hospitality, he didn't linger on in the palaces even though he could have. He kept wandering into forests and little villages, making no allowance for comfort. So one day he would eat in the palace, the next day he would be in the forest and drinking muddy water and eating grass to survive, but he wouldn't make a face or miss for one moment yesterday's lunch in the palace.

He never recommends poisoning the body by eating poisonous mushrooms or berries, so some care must be taken, but not so much that we fall prey to comforts and luxuries.

On his last meal, he knew the food he was being offered was dangerous (traditions do not agree on whether it was rotten pork or mushrooms or something else). In any case he knew it was toxic, so he asked his followers to not eat the food, and have the rest of the food buried. However, he ate the meal with the same beatific smile, and passed away with no regret about losing his body.

That is the kind of wisdom and detachment we must follow.

Update: This health update from Plum Village, about the recovery of Buddhist teacher, Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh or Thây from a life threatening stroke is a good teaching on enjoying the wonderful joy of being, whatever one's condition.

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    some clarification first With asanas, let me clarify that I am at the beginner level and I would like to stay in that level. What I need is a fit and strong body at the basic level; just to remain physically healthy. I prefer devoting my time meditating and not practicing in order to reach the higher asana levels. Thus, there is no emotional attachment with my asana practice, I see it as a way to maintain a healthy body and to not let any physical discomfort keep me away from my spiritual practices. – Grigoris Deoudis Jun 29 '15 at 21:14
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    I understand now, that the monks are accepting the food that is being offered to them. In that concept, if I will become a buddhist monk in the Theravada tradition; I would be grateful then if someone can offer me a meal/day. In a better controlled environment I would surely prefer to eat the raw vegan diet that I am having now. But with one meal/day, I can concentrate as well on the other types of "food" in the broader term of the word, such as lengthy meditation and spending time in the healing embrace of nature. – Grigoris Deoudis Jun 29 '15 at 21:18

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