TREATISE ON ZANDTAO
Of the three I have started with the most important "improving the mind", I now wish to consider the least important of the three "taking care of the body". In Zandtao I stress the need for following all three principles, and I do this because within certain spiritual approaches all 3 are not stressed. This doesn't make sense to me. I have described life's journey as accumulating baggage that then needs a learning and healing process. Perhaps the body is the easiest to deal with - but it is not easy.
Our lives have been so damaged by our society's greed. Businesses in order to facilitate distribution are including toxins in our food - under the guise of e-numbers. Many people are claiming that attention disorders are connected to these toxins. Refined sugar is added to our foods especially of our young, and our bodies cannot deal with this sugar. Manufacturers add MSG (a carcinogen) to our foods. So our foods have been damaged by big business with all these toxins, and then we look at other processing. Staple diets throughout the world focus on foods with the nutrition removed. White bread, white rice, pap in Southern Africa rather than mabele, how many more? And then there is alcohol, alcohol and white sugar start a cycle of acidity in the body that many see as a precursor for cancer.
Apart from the greed of big business there is a fundamental arrogance in the way our food taste is changing, we know better than Nature. Different foods grow throughout the world, why? Why are they different? Nature provides the foods that suit the climates, and can give us health in those climates. Why in hot countries throughout the world is chilli eaten? What does Big Food try to do? Transport food across the globe to increase profits. Look at cash crops. In Africa big business demands the growth of these cash crops to satisfy the western palate, and what devastation is caused? Desertification. Hunger and starvation in Africa is not caused by natural disaster. Natural disaster has existed in those countries in time immemorial, but it is only now that widespread famine is a repeated consequence. Previously farmers grew local crops that could survive their local climate, then along came the profiteering of the cash crops and we have expanding deserts. Nature provides local, in the desert stick to what you now and in the west if there is not enough change your diet. Nature knows best.
There is a moral imperative not to be greedy, improving the mind will do this, and it will have many ramifications - if we have the integrity to fight the social pressures that comes with those improvements.
Eating locally is the first principle of food, Nature provides what we need within our local environment, learn about it and then eat healthily. Quite clearly processed food is a problem because Big Food is more interested in profit than it is in our health, so this a second principle. I don't eat meat but free range meat might be acceptable but it would only be occasionally. Instead of meat I eat sea fish occasionally, as well as shell fish, oysters or muscles occasionally as they are good for those getting older. So I am not completely vegetarian, thus avoiding the issue of the need for B12. It is my view that Nature provides us with food to eat, including meat and fish, but that only needs be sparingly. The bulk of our food is through grains, legumes, vegetables and fruit. If our vegetables are near 50% of our consumption then nutritionally that is optimum. So eating these four food types would be my third food principle.
This schema provides the main approach to food that I have:-
You are what you eat.
These are my current food choices but choices will evolve as the body changes. These food principles can guide how you eat but the real issue is taking care of the body, and if you are not sure seek advice of an appropriate counsellor.
I started this approach to eating far too late in life, sadly; this healing process started late. It came about after I had retired. Towards the end of my teaching life, teaching took a great strain on my energy levels. During term-time I had little time other than going to work, and coming home to marking and preparation. And recovering from work. This did not detract from my pleasure in teaching but that did not mean that work was enjoyable as the careerists and profiteers continued to prevent that. They took their toll on my body, where migraines occurred because of stress and later in my teaching life reflux.
When I retired I thought these would disappear but they did not; I needed a conscious approach to healing. That came about after a particularly uncomfortable spell with reflux the night before a journey to Bangkok followed by the development of a migraine on the journey. Once I recovered from these they provided me with the impetus to go to a natural health clinic where the doctor advised me I had GERD and suggested Natural eating. Basically he told me to detox my liver and then eat naturally. I started on the liver detox with a crash diet for 10 days, and then started a process of eating naturally. This natural eating is not easy. Big Food has so much control of our eating habits that we are unable easily to buy what Nature provides for us. But it is there to find if you look. So for me the most important aspect of how I eat was setting my mind to the notion that I must eat naturally.
And once I did I felt so much better with my body. If you have ever drunk you know how awful the feeling is when you wake up. Once you stop drinking you feel good because you never have to feel that way when you wake up ever again. Waking up on Natural eating also felt so much better, Natural eating added to my happiness and as always happiness is the measure. Now I am conscious of what I eat. I do not eat for taste, I eat because the food I eat makes me feel healthy yet I like the taste.
But for most people the food I eat would not be tasty as their palates have been perverted by Big Food, most people's eating is governed by a sugar fix. The food I eat contains natural sugar but this is nowhere near enough for the "normal" demands for sugar. Now I taste what I eat rather than looking for food that would satisfy the need for a sugar taste. I look forward to the different tasting vegetables I eat, for some that sounds dull for me it isn't. Local herbs and spices also add taste, and are natural. I consider the way I used to eat sugar was an addiction, and with any addiction when you have overcome it you feel better.
Healing through food goes through many stages, and it is part of the healing process that is life. You find that as you uncover one problem food it causes you to expose another and so on. At the moment I am dealing with candida. I am certain that the candida contributed to the GERD problem but I have not had GERD since two months after I changed my way of eating - the migraines have also stopped. But would the doctor have diagnosed the candida? He didn't because I had so much work to do - so much healing. Once I had done the work maybe he would have diagnosed candida but by that time I was diagnosing myself. And in general that is an approach I advocate, take responsibility for your own healing. Come to learn about your body, how it responds to the foods you eat and control your eating accordingly. Take control of the foods you eat. I do have my own food guru, however, it is a book called "Healing through Whole Foods" by Paul Pitchford. If I have a health issue, I pick this book up and see which foods he recommends. It is not as easy as that as I live in Thailand, but as I learn more about the natural local foods I am able to use his advice better. Of course you need a healer for when you are ill. For most people the healer is the local doctor but how much of their quick fixes – the knife and pill – are based on the demands placed on us as wage-slaves. But there is a need for healers, counsellors, make an effort to find such whose approach fits your lifestyle. Why eat naturally and then fill yourself full of chemical toxins? Build up a relationship with your healer that complements your lifestyle and your decision-making about the body.
When I first started on the diet I realised that much of the approach to eating was macrobiotic. I needed to interact with western people as I don't speak Thai, and on the internet there have been many people in groups who have helped. Whilst macrobiotics as a lifestyle is not just about diet, it is the way most people practise macrobiotics. If they have a problem they seek a dietary solution. Whilst an improved diet might help with stress, it is not a patch on meditation or dealing with this, similarly there is energy work to help with low energy levels work that is far more beneficial than improved eating. It is their focus on food alone that led me to developing the three principles of Zandtao:-
Improving the mind
Harmonising our energy
Taking care of our bodies
I was already meditating when I started the changed approach to eating. The meditation gave me strength of focus when I realised that I had to eat naturally for my health. When foods were tempting me, meditation would give me the strength of mind to overcome the desires. Energy work is also part of macrobiotics theoretically but few practise it, if mb people were using all three their lives would be much more balanced and their food temptations much less. And they would be happier. This deficiency contributed to the formulation of the 3 tenets, so I have gratitude that perhaps they don’t want.