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Yogic States and Stages of Consciousness

by (227)
Updated September 30, 2014 at 3:08 AM
Created March 02, 2011 at 11:50 PM

Would love to hear people's thoughts on how the differences between Vegetarian and Paleo diets impact their yogic path. Specifically I am interested in their experience and research they have come across that deals with how certain kinds of food facilitates various states of consciousness.

this may be 'out there for some'...no problem, feel free to delete. but for those who are interested in such things, I am interested in your thoughts.

first, it is clear that various peoples who eat paleo have developed spiritual states in themselves. this shamanic tradition is important to note. And it seems that the practice of vegitarianism may facilitate what the yogic traditions call a 'sattvic' state of consciouseness: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sattvic_diet

...do people find that they have accessed this on a continual basis as a yogic practitioner (not just postures, but meditative states that carry through off their mat or cushion).

On another note, I came across this a few years ago: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/220/testosterone

it tells a story of a guy who lost all of his testosterone and it sounds very much like a state of Samadhi or Kensho experience. ...makes me wonder if having the privilidge of being able to sit in a cave or in a monastery for a decade...not having to live a paleo way...may lower testosterone and facilitate this kind of 'sattvic' state.

anyway...here is to the paleo-yoga geeks to hash out together!

thanks, Justin

43c4473fda7e6f6bae82680a6a2333ef
227 · March 04, 2011 at 11:06 PM

"lots of food friend"...you mean "fried"? doh...spelling nazi...tag your it. :)

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad
56596 · March 04, 2011 at 9:56 PM

I work with lots and lots of Indian folks and modern Indian food = lots of food friend in seed oils + very heavy syrupy desserts

43c4473fda7e6f6bae82680a6a2333ef
227 · March 04, 2011 at 9:16 PM

I think that the key word is here: 'determines'. Food does not determine consciousness, but it effects it. Paleo science's contribution to this is to highlight the impact on sugar on insulin or ketogenic states impacting neurological functions, etc. I have found http://evolutionarypsychiatry.blogspot.com/ to be really helpful. ...yes too, Tibetans are a great example...and in reference to the conversations above...they are a hybridization between Bon Shamanism, Buddhism, and Indian Tantra. ...thanks for that reminder!

43c4473fda7e6f6bae82680a6a2333ef
227 · March 04, 2011 at 9:07 PM

thoughtful reflection...thanks. And I agree with your last comment: 'vegetarians are not inherently more respectful to the earth'. It seemed too that in both Eliade and Harner's research that there were a whole 'cannon' of shamanic technologies including plant medicine. Also Eliade did research on both shamanic and yogic traditions and saw a number of relationships between them...and gave a tentative hypothesis that the yogic grew out of the shamanic. anyway thanks for responding.

Eea4c0f072bb5caa74c1fbe6dfab5f46
942 · March 04, 2011 at 2:23 PM

excellent point :)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094
78407 · March 04, 2011 at 8:30 AM

Yea I love his lectures and a lot of the things he believed in.

Eea4c0f072bb5caa74c1fbe6dfab5f46
942 · March 04, 2011 at 2:08 AM

Yes they are a catalyst for an brain center opening experience, but it is a fabrication. It can create the opening for an experience, but it is a manipulation. And I also think that calling Buddhist and Hinduism branches "atheist" is misleading. They are highly driven by vedanta and discuss all pervasive consciousness as "emptiness".

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6
2437 · March 03, 2011 at 9:58 PM

Louisa, what does not having a religion have to do with respecting the planet? Theravada Buddhism is atheist and respects the planet much more than any Abrahamic religion (which views the earth as something to be subjugated by man and views nature and natural desire as evil.) There are also atheist branches of Hinduism. As for the magic mushrooms I have heard of the benefits. However some that abuse other psychedelic such as Tim Leary didn't seem so enlightened towards the end of their life

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6
2437 · March 03, 2011 at 9:57 PM

Louisa, what does not having a religion have to do with respecting the planet? Theravada Buddhism is atheist and respects the planet much more than any Abrahamic religion (which views the earth as something to be subjected by man and views nature and natural desire as evil.) There are also atheist branches of Hinduism. As for the magic mushrooms I have heard of the benefits. However some that abuse other psychedelics such as Tim Leary didn't seem so enlightened towards the end of their life

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6
2437 · March 03, 2011 at 9:54 PM

"There is not much room in their lives, it seems, for mysticism, for spirits, for pondering the unknown. There is no specific belief in an afterlife—every Hadza I spoke with said he had no idea what might happen after he died. There are no Hadza priests or shamans or medicine men" http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/12/hadza/finkel-text

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6
2437 · March 03, 2011 at 9:04 PM

Lousia, what does not having a religon have to do with respecting the planet? Theavada Buddhism is atheist and respects the panet much more than any Abrahamic religion (which views the earth as something to be subjected by man and views nature and natural desire as evil.) There are also atheist branches of Hinduism. As for the magic mushrooms I have heard of the benefits. However some that abuse other substances such as Tim Leary didn't seem so enlightened towards the end of their life.

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6
2437 · March 03, 2011 at 8:58 PM

Lindsey and Louisa do you have a source or are you just making something up? Google National Geographic and Hadza and read that article. They are atheist.

D5cde8031564f905260ce9aa7a1f5e2c
1160 · March 03, 2011 at 5:48 PM

Justanotherhunt, Terence McKenna fan?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094
78407 · March 03, 2011 at 4:32 PM

Magic mushrooms as well as other psychedelics can be the catalyst for inducing a spiritual experience for the subject. There's TONS of testimonials and information dating back to thousands of years by various cultures like the Aztecs ect.

Eea4c0f072bb5caa74c1fbe6dfab5f46
942 · March 03, 2011 at 2:55 PM

Eating magic mushrooms is not spirituality. And Geoff, I don't think the Hadza were atheist, but non-theist.

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7063 · March 03, 2011 at 8:36 AM

I do not agree with you Geoff. There is no way that hunter gatherers can exist on this earth without respect for the planet and the resources on it, it is crucial to their survival. This may not mean they are religious, follwing a god or goddes, but at the most primitive level, it certainly means they are spiritual/they 'respect' the web of life.

33b6c516904a967ef8ecb30f1dbd8cf2
7063 · March 03, 2011 at 8:33 AM

this probably would have been more appropriate in the comments section Wozza........

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094
78407 · March 03, 2011 at 8:03 AM

The more paleo way is to eat magic mushrooms and see what spirituality is for yourself. Then you can believe God exists and not be believing in it blindly. Spirituality is a subjective journey, as shown by psychedelics. Rituals and human-created ideas of spirituality are unnecessary.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094
78407 · March 03, 2011 at 8:01 AM

That's why mind altering psychedelics are more important than religion. It gets the subject to the root of what spirituality is instead of dogma-based beliefs. What creates a believer is experience. Without meditation or mind altering psychedelics then all we have is blind faith. Blind faith sucks.

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56596 · March 03, 2011 at 3:21 AM

Justin it's vegetarianism, not vegitarianism.

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24523 · March 03, 2011 at 2:25 AM

Yeah, no teachings are safe from ritualization. Sucks.

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2437 · March 03, 2011 at 1:47 AM

Buddha rejected ritual, he repeatedly ridiculed the rigmarole of Brahmanic rites as trappings withing themselves.

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6
2437 · March 03, 2011 at 1:44 AM

Buddha rejected ritual, specifically the rituals of Hiduism so if you experience ritual you should find another temple. Buddha also rejected the caste system, miracles, putting your body through pain trying to reach enlightenment and stressed the importance of the mind/body connection.

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8 Answers

33b6c516904a967ef8ecb30f1dbd8cf2
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7063 · March 03, 2011 at 8:27 AM

I totally get what you are saying - it seems that traditionally yogis go for vegetarianism, for various reasons (maybe because it is the major diet of Indian/China) also because I do feel and have experienced more 'enlightened' states of being whilst eating totally veg/vegan food and the ultimate which is of course fasting.

Imho I associate paleo with earthiness, paganism, turn of the seasons, the blood and guts of real life than anything 'out there'. No one surviving totally on the land can fail to have a 'pagan' belief system, as they would see their dependence on the web of life and therefore have a respect for all of nature that this kind of survival brings with it. They would eat meat and plants and revere the animals and plants they ate.

It is a difficult argument to get into; many yogis would vouch for animal cruelty and that eating flesh disturbs the path to enlightenment, but I personally feel that enlightenment resides in our closeness to the earth, to a mother-based spirituality and in the survival on and with the land, a kind of state of being 99.9% of people today are totally cut off from, whether they eat vegetarian, paleo, vegan or fast food. What's so spiritual about a supermarket?

Shamanic practice in the past, according to Mircea Eliade or Michael Harner, would involve spates of fasting and preparation for 'journeying' by particular individuals on behalf of the tribe/village. Plant ingestion (such as Ayashuacha or Fly Agaric) would have been used for altered states of being in the otherworld to seek changes in the real world. Plants would have been a shaman's ally. But a typical hunter/gatherer would not have been on a 'yogic path' to seek enlightenment, they would never have been in a state of un-enlightenment anyway. They would have eaten whatever was available to them at the time in order to survive and probably been in a state of feast and famine as a normal process of the turning seasons, for celebrations and marking the passage of their lives.

The real world to them would have believed to have been a dream, such as the Aboriginal Dreamtime, woven together with stories and myths that would have given them the coordinates for life and survival, and that survival would never have been separated from the animal and plants around them. When survival is the key, then the yogic path, regardless of whatever one eats, seems insignificant and irrelevant.

So in summary, I do not think it is what we eat that determines our spiritual consciousness, although being part of and respecting the total web of life of earth (not being anything apart from it) through eating what nature provides us with, personally, brings me to place that is totally in keeping with my karma. And I think it is wrong to assume that vegetarians 'respect' the earth (or are enlightened) any more than paleos do/are.

43c4473fda7e6f6bae82680a6a2333ef
227 · March 04, 2011 at 9:07 PM

thoughtful reflection...thanks. And I agree with your last comment: 'vegetarians are not inherently more respectful to the earth'. It seemed too that in both Eliade and Harner's research that there were a whole 'cannon' of shamanic technologies including plant medicine. Also Eliade did research on both shamanic and yogic traditions and saw a number of relationships between them...and gave a tentative hypothesis that the yogic grew out of the shamanic. anyway thanks for responding.

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851 · March 03, 2011 at 2:28 PM

In addition to the good answers and points already presented about the spirituality of non-veg*n cultures, my experience is that any meditative exercises are best supported by a diet that is easily digested and doesn't involve big ups and down in blood sugar. Paleo fits that requirement quite nicely.

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429 · March 03, 2011 at 1:28 PM

I like what Louisa said "I do not think it is what we eat that determines our spiritual consciousness, although being part of and respecting the total web of life of earth (not being anything apart from it) through eating what nature provides us with, personally, brings me to place that is totally in keeping with my karma." Take the Tibetans for example. Nature provides them with almost nothing but animal products (milk, butter, meat) and they are some of the most peaceful and "spriritual" people on earth.

43c4473fda7e6f6bae82680a6a2333ef
227 · March 04, 2011 at 9:16 PM

I think that the key word is here: 'determines'. Food does not determine consciousness, but it effects it. Paleo science's contribution to this is to highlight the impact on sugar on insulin or ketogenic states impacting neurological functions, etc. I have found http://evolutionarypsychiatry.blogspot.com/ to be really helpful. ...yes too, Tibetans are a great example...and in reference to the conversations above...they are a hybridization between Bon Shamanism, Buddhism, and Indian Tantra. ...thanks for that reminder!

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad
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56596 · March 03, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Remember you can always do periodic vegetarian fasts during special times of the year. You don't have to be vegetarian forever to be involved with spiritualities that have it as part of an ascetic tradition.

Eea4c0f072bb5caa74c1fbe6dfab5f46
942 · March 04, 2011 at 2:23 PM

excellent point :)

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7
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24523 · March 03, 2011 at 12:08 AM

There might be a paleo question buried in there, but it's not totally apparent. What I think you're asking is...do ascetic practices facilitate a clarity of mind? This is something that dovetails with paleo, with regards to intermittent fasting and lack of sugar highs.

However, multiple yogic states of consciousness is complicating a much more simple manner. As a semi-zen Buddhist atheist, I do realize that a pervasive sense of self can be made worse by diet and lifestyle. But the ritualistic crap associated with much of Buddhism gets in the way when seeing how it interfaces with paleo (in my opinion!).

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094
78407 · March 04, 2011 at 8:30 AM

Yea I love his lectures and a lot of the things he believed in.

D5cde8031564f905260ce9aa7a1f5e2c
1160 · March 03, 2011 at 5:48 PM

Justanotherhunt, Terence McKenna fan?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094
78407 · March 03, 2011 at 8:01 AM

That's why mind altering psychedelics are more important than religion. It gets the subject to the root of what spirituality is instead of dogma-based beliefs. What creates a believer is experience. Without meditation or mind altering psychedelics then all we have is blind faith. Blind faith sucks.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7
24523 · March 03, 2011 at 2:25 AM

Yeah, no teachings are safe from ritualization. Sucks.

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6
2437 · March 03, 2011 at 1:47 AM

Buddha rejected ritual, he repeatedly ridiculed the rigmarole of Brahmanic rites as trappings withing themselves.

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6
2437 · March 03, 2011 at 1:44 AM

Buddha rejected ritual, specifically the rituals of Hiduism so if you experience ritual you should find another temple. Buddha also rejected the caste system, miracles, putting your body through pain trying to reach enlightenment and stressed the importance of the mind/body connection.

43c4473fda7e6f6bae82680a6a2333ef
0
227 · March 04, 2011 at 9:23 PM

...wanted to say thanks to folks who responded. As a newbie to the Paleo thing, I am coming with my own set of questions and attempting to bring critical thinking to my own past ways of understanding things and as I dive into this whole scene, attempt to get a better handle on it and seek an integration when that is possible.

I also just came across this today: http://www.thelivinlowcarbshow.com/shownotes/3730/paleo-extravaganza-week-art-de-vany-episode-451/

and I found it interesting in that de Vany brought up the exponential increase in type II diabetes in India. Of course this has a lot to do with processed foods and not necessarily a high quality vegetarian diet, but I would love to look at those pieces of research and get under the surface of what is the current diet for the world's largest vegetarian culture. the question is it is not working for them now, but when did that shift happen?...was it prior to processed foods (high sugar, etc) or after that introduction.

anyway, thanks and onward! ~ Justin

43c4473fda7e6f6bae82680a6a2333ef
227 · March 04, 2011 at 11:06 PM

"lots of food friend"...you mean "fried"? doh...spelling nazi...tag your it. :)

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad
56596 · March 04, 2011 at 9:56 PM

I work with lots and lots of Indian folks and modern Indian food = lots of food friend in seed oils + very heavy syrupy desserts

C2502365891cbcc8af2d1cf1d7b0e9fc
0
2427 · March 03, 2011 at 4:43 AM

What a load of nonsense. Personally, I prefer real life.

33b6c516904a967ef8ecb30f1dbd8cf2
7063 · March 03, 2011 at 8:33 AM

this probably would have been more appropriate in the comments section Wozza........

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2437 · March 03, 2011 at 1:53 AM

I think that Paleo has made people atheist more than spiritual. It helps you see the holes in spiritual traditions such as wheat in Abrahamic religions and vegetarianism in Hinduism. Also if you read about the oldest tribe in existence the Hadza you'll see that they are atheist. I believe that religion sprung up to deal with agriculture and the new heiarchy based society that was starting to grow.

Yes I do believe that vegetarianism makes more sedate and placid people.

Eea4c0f072bb5caa74c1fbe6dfab5f46
942 · March 04, 2011 at 2:08 AM

Yes they are a catalyst for an brain center opening experience, but it is a fabrication. It can create the opening for an experience, but it is a manipulation. And I also think that calling Buddhist and Hinduism branches "atheist" is misleading. They are highly driven by vedanta and discuss all pervasive consciousness as "emptiness".

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6
2437 · March 03, 2011 at 9:58 PM

Louisa, what does not having a religion have to do with respecting the planet? Theravada Buddhism is atheist and respects the planet much more than any Abrahamic religion (which views the earth as something to be subjugated by man and views nature and natural desire as evil.) There are also atheist branches of Hinduism. As for the magic mushrooms I have heard of the benefits. However some that abuse other psychedelic such as Tim Leary didn't seem so enlightened towards the end of their life

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6
2437 · March 03, 2011 at 9:57 PM

Louisa, what does not having a religion have to do with respecting the planet? Theravada Buddhism is atheist and respects the planet much more than any Abrahamic religion (which views the earth as something to be subjected by man and views nature and natural desire as evil.) There are also atheist branches of Hinduism. As for the magic mushrooms I have heard of the benefits. However some that abuse other psychedelics such as Tim Leary didn't seem so enlightened towards the end of their life

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6
2437 · March 03, 2011 at 9:54 PM

"There is not much room in their lives, it seems, for mysticism, for spirits, for pondering the unknown. There is no specific belief in an afterlife—every Hadza I spoke with said he had no idea what might happen after he died. There are no Hadza priests or shamans or medicine men" http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/12/hadza/finkel-text

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6
2437 · March 03, 2011 at 9:04 PM

Lousia, what does not having a religon have to do with respecting the planet? Theavada Buddhism is atheist and respects the panet much more than any Abrahamic religion (which views the earth as something to be subjected by man and views nature and natural desire as evil.) There are also atheist branches of Hinduism. As for the magic mushrooms I have heard of the benefits. However some that abuse other substances such as Tim Leary didn't seem so enlightened towards the end of their life.

B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6
2437 · March 03, 2011 at 8:58 PM

Lindsey and Louisa do you have a source or are you just making something up? Google National Geographic and Hadza and read that article. They are atheist.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094
78407 · March 03, 2011 at 4:32 PM

Magic mushrooms as well as other psychedelics can be the catalyst for inducing a spiritual experience for the subject. There's TONS of testimonials and information dating back to thousands of years by various cultures like the Aztecs ect.

Eea4c0f072bb5caa74c1fbe6dfab5f46
942 · March 03, 2011 at 2:55 PM

Eating magic mushrooms is not spirituality. And Geoff, I don't think the Hadza were atheist, but non-theist.

33b6c516904a967ef8ecb30f1dbd8cf2
7063 · March 03, 2011 at 8:36 AM

I do not agree with you Geoff. There is no way that hunter gatherers can exist on this earth without respect for the planet and the resources on it, it is crucial to their survival. This may not mean they are religious, follwing a god or goddes, but at the most primitive level, it certainly means they are spiritual/they 'respect' the web of life.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094
78407 · March 03, 2011 at 8:03 AM

The more paleo way is to eat magic mushrooms and see what spirituality is for yourself. Then you can believe God exists and not be believing in it blindly. Spirituality is a subjective journey, as shown by psychedelics. Rituals and human-created ideas of spirituality are unnecessary.

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