Yesterday I was having lunch at Yogaville. I happened to be in perfect position to hear two sets of conversations. Both were about diets. The girl at the end of the table to my right was speaking to her friends about how she is a vegetarian on weekdays; meat is reserved for the weekends. (The veggie-nazis must have been out of earshot). To my left, four or five people were embroiled in a discussion about how various foods and supplements affect your health.
In my mind’s eye I see the camera panning out and showing thousands and thousands of such conversations going on worldwide. About hundreds, even thousands of diets.
Including the one made famous by Weird Al Yankovich: “Grapefruit Diet. Dum De Dum. No more pizza and beer…”
Then there’s the Jesus diet. “The Jesus diet?”
Yes. The Jesus diet.
The Jesus diet should be the most famous of all, but it’s not even on Wikipedia’s list of diets. More about the Jesus diet coming up soon.
I’ve watched him very, very closely. You could put a plate of the finest food in front of him and he might not even look at it — in fact, he might not even give a hint that it was there at all. (Try doing that.)
I’ve spent forty years trying to copy his incredible mastery with no success. (I became a lacto-vegetarian out of personal taste and an inner conviction before I met Satchidananda.) (I eat eggs, but only if they’re hidden in cake or ice cream.)
In the struggle for Satchidananda-style self control I’ve tried more different things than any sane person would. At various times I’ve quit eating sugar, coffee, tea, fried food; eaten only fruit and nuts and only raw food; drank only juice, gone without breakfast or dinner for months at a time, fasted one day a week for years and taken other fasts lasting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 18, 21 and 40 days on water.
I have only a tiny bit more control than I did forty years ago.
So lately — as a last resort — I’ve adopted the Jesus diet.
THE JESUS DIET
I first heard about the Jesus Diet as a child in Catholic Church. The priest would hold up a wafer and, speaking for Jesus, say, “This is my body.” Then he’d hold up a cup of wine and say, “This is my blood.” Then we would all eat Jesus’ body and, occasionally, drink his blood.
As a young child this was all completely awesome and magical. As I grew up it turned into a dumb ritual (maybe it’s me that turned into a dumb ritual).
But a while ago I got to thinking about it.
Jesus introduced his new special diet at the Passover feast the night before his death on the cross. He gave his apostles bread and wine as his body and blood, saying also, “Whenever you do this, do it in memory of me.”
“Whenever you do this.” What is “THIS”?
Think about it. The event occurred before the mass had been invented, so it can’t be a command to celebrate mass. (I’m all for mass — Jesus shows up every time at mass. I’m just saying that Jesus wasn’t introducing the religious ritual called mass.)
I see three possible teachings in the event:
- “Whenever you celebrate the Passover, celebrate it in memory of me.”
- “Whenever you take bread or wine, do it in memory of me. (Do not take cantaloupe or Pepsi in memory of me.)”
- “Whenever you eat and drink, do it in memory of me.”
There are countless volumes dedicated to “Reading A” (Jesus and the Passover);
“Reading B” is too silly to bother with. So I’ll focus on “Reading C.”
The Jesus Diet In Practice
As I sit writing this, to my left I have a root beer. According to “Reading C,” I should not consider this to be root beer, but rather the blood of Jesus. Luckily I’m writing this blog, so I am remembering that this is the blood of Jesus as I take another swig.
Ahhh. Praise God! I’m doing the Jesus diet.
I had lasagne for lunch. Not for one second did I remember the body of Jesus (even though I’ve been thinking about this for years and was planning to write a blog about it in the evening). I was just eating my lasagne.
Bummer. I fell off my Jesus diet.
(Fortunately I get plenty more chances to do it right.)
This teaching is classic Jesus: Brilliantly simple, ridiculously easy to do, impossible to fake — and incredibly hard to remember.
When I eat a grape, that grape is giving its life so that I can live. Being eaten by me was certainly not part of the grape’s life plan, but the grape is OK with how it turned out. A chicken might not be so cool about it — unless you approach it in the right way (ask any Indian) in which case the chicken will also lay down its life for you, no problem. Same with Jesus: “Father, if this cup cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” Jesus had plenty of things he would rather do than be tortured to death for my sins, but since there was no one else to do the job he went ahead with it.
In order to go all the way in following his example I would imitate the grape, the chicken, Jesus and the rest of creation (exceptions: the demons and most of mankind) and lay down my life for others.
Don’t get any ideas; I’m not commending my body to your knife and fork. I’m pretty old and tough, and I’m told that humans are no good to eat anyway. (Don’t ask how they figured that out.)
But maybe I shouldn’t explain myself. After all, Jesus presented his diet some time before this last supper without explaining it John 6:35-66. (His whole crowd walked off. Maybe that’s what I’m secretly afraid of… )
Then there’s the wine: “This is the cup of the New Covenant in my blood, which is shed for you and for all mankind so that sins may be forgiven.” So when I have a swig of my root beer I’m supposed to remember that the self-improvement project that has taken up such a large part of my adult life — along with its foundation, the guilt and shame that makes me focus my attention on myself and drives me to do all kinds of idiotic things — is completely irrelevant because I have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus and am fully accepted by God as I am.
(NOTE: Pleasing people is out of the question. If there’s one thing the life of Jesus proves it’s that conquering death is much easier than pleasing people; the wise work on the easy stuff, like overcoming death, first.)
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
This is one of the all-time great sayings.
It’s well worth considering when you’re on the Jesus diet — eating and drinking Jesus.
I only recently ran out of other options and have, as I said, taken to the Jesus diet only as a last resort.
Pray for me — or wish me luck.
It might be too easy…