An Exploration of Sacred Parenting and Education

Letting Go and the Wisdom of Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov by Daniel Dyer

In Food & Cooking on April 5, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Omraam.Mikhael.Aivanhov Recently, my wife ordered a shoulder of lamb from Willowbrook Farm, and I slow roasted it to make dinner for us and her three brothers. I had never cooked shoulder of lamb before. I really enjoyed preparing the unusual combination of spices to coat the lamb (rosemary, cumin, fennel, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, and a pinch of chilli), and after 6 hours left in the oven it was delicious.

I’m not much of a cook and this meal was unusual for me. I make music, I write, I draw, but cookery is not an art I have really tried to cultivate. Cooking the lamb got me thinking about the nature of cooking, not just the opportunities for appreciation, attention, and sharing it brings and that others have already mentioned, but also its creative process. What strikes me is that if I paint a picture, I can hang it on a wall. If I make music, I can record it. If I write a poem, it can be preserved on paper or digitally. But cooking is very different – the food is enjoyed briefly and then it is gone. Transformed into another form – energy, love perhaps – but no longer there to be appreciated as food.

This might give a twinge of sadness, but it must also be a wonderful opportunity to develop detachment. A cook creates with care and attention and then learns to happily watch their creation disappear. It occurred to me that to be a dedicated, creative cook could be a beautiful way of learning to let go. Applying this more broadly in our lives, we might go about our daily activities with loving attentiveness but without investing our egos in the results. Even if something tangible that lasts for a little while is the result of our activities, we could reach a state where we have no self-image attached to those results – they have disappeared for us, and our egos with them.  In such a way we are free to slip into the Infinite. Everything is perishing except the face of God, says the Qur’an (28:88).Not being a very accomplished cook, I also find that cooking can require a lot of trust, patience, and calm. A lot can go wrong, especially with dishes we’ve never cooked before, and failure can be quite public. I had to tell myself to stop pacing round the kitchen, stop worrying about the vegetables (I cooked back-up potatoes!), stop opening the oven door and letting the heat out. Zhikr helped and I returned to this beautiful idea of letting go. What will be will be. If the food is a failure, God willed it, and the failure will benefit me. If it is delicious, then it was God’s doing. I am discovering a freedom in being able to step back into this awareness, and, paradoxically, the more I detach from the outcome of my efforts the more I enjoy the process.

Contemporary society seems to be at odds with this. There are the reality TV shows where cooking is presented in a competitive and highly stressed environment, where egos come out in full force and where some dubious qualities must be transmitted into the food. Clearly, cooking must be approached in the right way to become a spiritual practice, and I think many chefs are not spiritual adepts! And while chefs may have nothing substantial to point to after the meal is over, like other artists, their egos are able to dwell on praise, fame, and reputation. Nevertheless, I think the special opportunity for facing the ephemeral remains in the kitchen.

These are some of my thoughts on the act of cooking, and I just wanted to add something to the thoughts on the act of eating that have already been posted by Saqib, Sadat, and Jeremy.  The twentieth century Bulgarian mystic, Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov, had so many interesting things to say about seemingly mundane activities. With regard to eating, he describes the effect on all seven of our bodies, which according to him are (in ascending order of subtlety): the physical body, the etheric, the astral, the mental, the causal, the buddhic, and the atmic. I find it fascinating that our mental thoughts, for instance, form a body that requires sustenance, care, and attention (so much importance seems to be laid on becoming more embodied on the spiritual path).  And this mental body is not even the most subtle body we possess! As a taster, here is what he says about our mental bodies as we eat:

Disciples nourish the body by concentrating mentally on the food they are eating. Instead of looking around and watching other people, they close their eyes to avoid being distracted and to be free to devote complete attention to their food. To disciples, food is a manifestation of God, a love letter from the Lord, and for this reason they try to read the messages hidden in it, and to dwell on all its different aspects: where it comes from, what it contains, the qualities that correspond to it, the entities that have cultivated and cared for it, and so on. Disciples know that there are entities that care for every single plant and every fruit, and that if they mature and ripen at a particular moment, it means that there is a correspondence with specific planetary influences. Disciples’ minds are occupied in profound meditation of all these things while they are eating, and in this way, their mental bodies are nourished by elements that are even subtler and of a higher order than those of the astral plane. The result is that they gain greatly in lucidity and clarity of thought and acquire a more profound grasp of life and of the world. After a meal taken in these conditions, disciples leave the table with luminous understanding and the capability of undertaking extremely arduous intellectual tasks.

(Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov, A New Earth)

May we all learn to eat with such deep appreciation.

Link to Willowbrook Farm: http://www.willowbrookorganic.org/

Link to shoulder of lamb recipe: http://www.channel4.com/4food/recipes/chefs/hugh-fearnley-whittingstall/slow-roast-shoulder-of-lamb-with-merguez-spices-recipe

Link to the Universal White Brotherhood (the organisation created Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov): http://www.dovesnest.org/

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  1. This is wonderful. I didn’t know about Omraam MIkhael Aivanhov, I’ll be sure to look for more by him. I have many bad habits when it comes to cooking, sloppiness, getting distracted, making a mess, burning things…then eating becomes an ordeal of trying to keep children seated, so it’s hardly a peaceful meditative experience. But I would love to cultivate more of this reverence towards the whole process of food, contemplating the source of it, on all levels. Growing food you then eat is also an amazing way to become closer to the process. Glad you had a mystical experience while roasting! And thanks for sharing your reflections.

    • Greetings,

      Thank you for this post.

      I like Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov. This explanation of food, its origin, and what it does (even if we can’t see it) is fascinating.

      All good wishes,

      robert

  2. Thank you for this post Daniel and thank you for for commenting Medina.

    I must confess I don’t cook often and I’m not a great cook. However, when I do, its one of the most ‘therapeutic’ activities I know of (provided I am left to the task). So when Daniel equates cooking to art forms, I know where he is coming from. For me, the energy involved and the state I am in is very important. I’m often very specific about the music I play when cooking. I love the preparation, the serving and the cleaning at the end. In some ways, I feel its the most seductive art form because a good cook will entice ‘the audience’ through sight, smell, taste and depending on the dish possibly sound too. I have never felt attached maybe because it seems like an act of service from the very beginning. An excellent cook by on traditional Turkish recipes (including some from the time of Mevlana) is Sufi Cuisine by Nevin Halici.

    Maybe, I should also add I too can be sloppy too when small daily tasks such as toast, tea, coffee etc. So it could just be, those of us who don’t cook very often bring more attention to the task just like a new driver would bring to the steering wheel. (we cant function on autopilot because it unfamiliar territory). I also feel as parents multi-tasking is inevitable – especially if we have more then one child. But this to me is different to be distracted, divided or scattered. I envy those who multi-task very well. Have you seen the clip of the guy who can solve a rubiks cube while juggling: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zAIPL5O9Uwk?

  3. Letting go is such an important thing to be able to do. We carry so much baggage at times, often without realising it. How does one truly let go? I find authentic listening is so essential – listening from the deeper part of ourselves both to ourselves and the other in complete and utter honesty; the part of ourselves which is there before we use labels to judge, and set up stories, opinions and defenses. From that place there is nothing but compassion. In that compassion there is healing and in that healing we can, in my experience, learn to let go. It also means, we are able to express ourselves honestly and completely in such a dialogue.

    It also interesting to see the ‘personality/false-self’ deconstruct as we move to that center point in the heart and are left with nothing but our true/essential self (be it for a brief moment)- sometimes in the presence of the shiekh, during a retreat or a real heart-heart conversation. This is why I feel certain forms of poetry are so powerful and beautiful because they speak from that essential part of ourselves in complete utter honesty and authenticity.

  4. It was a delicious meal, I’m so grateful to have Daniel cook and care for me!

    On rare occasions when I have been present I have been able to taste the love and dhikr that has gone into the food preparation, it really makes a difference. I don’t cook much now but when I do I try to remember at the very least the Mevlevi tradition of saying a prayer and intention when adding the salt…so even if I have been distracted during the rest of the preparation, I still have that one moment to be connected and with the moment.

  5. Thank you Daniel, I love the way you describe developing detachment with the beauty of cooking. What a beautiful way to learn. I am going to try and be more attentive and loving to my food – even the wonderful replies have inspired me – thank you!

    Master Aivanhov is supercool ;0)!

    With visions of delicious loving food “a love letter from God”,

    Uzma x

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