Eating (and Drinking) One’s Way to Heaven

Western religions tend to keep faith separate from the ins and outs of the everyday. Church is for Sundays, specifically from 10:00 am to 11:30 am. Amen. And those quotidian ins and outs, when taken literally, are simply not matters of decency, certainly not ones in which to involve the Almighty. As a result, one finds multitudinous congregations next to equally numerous fast food chains across small US towns.

While I am all about the separation of Church and State, and shudder at the thought of prescriptive religious legislation, religion can be a useful way of imparting sound eating habits, especially if such teaching is motivated by an active exploration of health, and not intended as yet another arcane way of exerting control. 

Daoism, a religion made in China, understands that physical health is part and parcel to spiritual health. Since at least the 4th Century BCE, its sages have been preaching the old adage of ‘you are what you eat.’ Not too much sugar, not too much spice, meat in moderation, measure the portion size.

Put into religious terms, Daoism sets forth the simple truth that longevity is a sign of pious respect for one’s body, mind and spirit. And, since the soul is what links us to God and Nature, proper care of the one will facilitate deeper communion with both. 

Daoism is often represented by a white-bearded, sinewy, impossibly aged monk, a symbol of the longevity it expounds. Living right, according to this religious system of beliefs, requires eating and drinking right, just as much as it does praying, giving, and getting right. 

*This post is part of a series of explorations on the teachings I most admire from the world’s major religions. So far, I’ve written on Buddhism ,  Christianity and Confucianism as well.