We all hate war. All the wars are waged in the name of peace. No soldier in the world fights for his country. He fights for his platoon. His loyalty is primarily to his team mates. He is not supposed to exercise his free will; he is supposed to take orders from his commander and act upon it unquestioningly. If you watch Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Full Metal Jacket’ (1987), you will see how soldiers are made into puppets in the hands of a commander. Nationalism is a pre-training and post-war/victor or failure doctrine. A soldier fights for his commander. And the commander knows that the soldier exercises his free will only to survive and that is often while attacking the enemy. There he becomes an individual and his whole effort is to save his life; for him a war is his own life and his own death. He chooses his own life over death. So he is ready to ambush, kill, rape and loot. All is justified, by the end of the war, in the name of patriotism and pension. But a soldier is on his own and in his most brooding self when he is back in barracks or in the trenches made in the battlefield. A man in combative mood becomes as soft as a rose petal or as melting as a piece of ice under the cruel sun. His provisions are limited and his devices are minimal. He needs to survive by the rations provided to him. He becomes careful in using it. A soldier who torpedoes the main water supply pipe to an enemy land protects his water flask with utmost care. One who vandalises and torches down the food stores in a hostile country, takes care of his food packet as if it were a piece of gold. A soldier who rapes and shoots innocent women and girl children weeps when he takes out the yellowing piece of paper in which his girl friend has written the parting letter. He weeps over a fading photograph of his family and children. A soldier is a field of contradicting emotions. A man who lives alone (most of the human beings live alone even when they are inside a crowded family) is like a soldier; a man in a battlefield that assures more death than life. He needs to survive. That is where when he comes to think about healthy living. Healthy living has a lot similar to the life of a soldier in a remote trench. I am going to talk about how you could live a healthy life.
Most of us, especially those who earn good for themselves, tend to live according to guide books. These guide books are not concretely prescribed text books imposed on us by any academy or agency. These guide books are virtual and notional. They come in different forms; through television and print media advertisements, life style magazines, health clubs, yoga classes, laugh clubs, joggers’ club, sports clubs, health spas, gyms, organic food outlets and what not. These text books tell you how to live a healthy life; and healthy life has somehow got mixed up with trendy life. Rather I would say, it is imperative for the consumer market to blur the demarcations between health and trend so that they could pass off the latter for the former and vice versa. That’s why, to take a very mundane example, most of the middle class families when they set up a home, first and foremost fill up their moderate homes with huge sofas. Sofas are meant for sitting or reclining. People are supposed to sit in these sofas, make conversations with family members or guests. And those bookish types could even read books sitting there. Sofas define a modern avenue for family communion. But over a period of time, sitting in a sofa has become a by word for sitting to watch television. Communication between family members is supposedly pushed to the dining table (which again is a market compulsion) or bed time talks. A good amount of the leisure time of all family members are gobbled up by television programs. Today, good life means having more than one television in a house. As a result of it, family is fractured into several pieces, where individuals watch their respective channels in their respective pads. It indirectly underlines the age old ideology of male chauvinism; that pushes women to television serials, men to news channels and children to imported and dubbed Japanese animation programs. All in the name of a good and healthy life.
That was a random example and my focus is not on that. My idea is to talk about surviving in a lonely world in a healthy way. Being lonely is a choice, first of all. You could be lonely even in a crowded place. But families and such familial situation are ideologically conditioned spaces where individual human beings (both male and female, children included) do not get any time to be alone. Right from the dressing habits to food habits are dictated by the idea of good life. Where men eat and women cook, they cook something that men want or they would relish. Where men cook and women eat, same thing happens again. While women do cooking with compassion, men often do it with arrogance. I have noticed people actually performing cooking on a Sunday because that is how it is said in life style magazines. Children eat what the market prompts them to eat. Parents live in the illusion that they provide whatever children want but they never think that there is an alternative way of living possible. Children are like sponges. They eat Mcdonald burgers not because they want it but because a desire to have it is created in them. This desire could be curtailed then and there. But our parental instincts, which are often faulty these days, tend to take them to have those burgers. None seems to take any care to give an alternative and healthy life style to the kids. Within a family everyone is invisibly oppressed in this way. That’s why Aldous Huxley in his path breaking novel, Brave New World said, (let me paraphrase), ‘family, oh, two small rooms filled with the presence of a man, constant harangue of a woman, the din created by children, illness, noise, dissatisfaction.’ All these happen because we have failed to live a healthy life.
A healthy life starts with a healthy food habit. This does not have anything to do with what you are told by the television channels or life style magazines or movies. When you have a healthy food habit you start behaving life the soldier in a war trench; careful and parsimonious. To have a healthy food habit what you need to do is to eat more or less the same amount of food on stipulated time. It need not necessarily be a variety of food. You may cook for yourself. But cook something that is very simple and the way you could with limited resources. A food cooked with limited resources is the tastiest food in the world. A food cooked in an elaborate style with elaborate condiments to go with it is often found to be a teaser or tastes. It takes you to different level of experiencing momentary pleasures. That’s why people talk more about exotic food than cooking it for themselves or eating it regularly. You have to cook like a soldier and eat like a soldier in a war trench. You are completely aware of what you are cooking and what you are eating within the limited resources. You do not waste water and you do not waste any food material. Once you cook and eat in that way, you find great satisfaction about it. And more importantly it is pertinent to see what goes out of your body. You should be equally aware of your bodily excretions. Once a balance is achieved between what you take in and what you eject out, then you could say that you live a healthy life. But make sure that you do not resort to any kind of medicines. Human body is capable of curing itself (though it cannot grow a cut off limb back). Most of the people rush to their medicine box even if they have a simple headache. Do not take any medicine. That should be the mantra of life. But those who are suffering from real illness and those illnesses that have already set in and need to be prevented from growing further should take medicine based on the doctor’s advice. Never self medicate. The best way is to eat health and remain healthy. One has to start really early for this.
Exercise is a must. That does not mean that you need to rush to a gym. Buy expensive gears for jogging, do yoga under a trained master, or do aerobic dances, diet or anything like that. One has to be aware that he or she has to do good enough bodily work so that whatever has been taken in is digested properly. If that much physical work is done, then one need not even go for morning walk. We have avoided all kinds of physical work. We have mistaken physical work for lack of sophistication. We are not ready to walk and we are not even ready to clean our own homes. If we do these things properly, all kinds of demands for doing physical exercise are satisfied. But today people just do not do it. They drive five kilometres to a park to do a one kilometre of jogging. They buy treadmills to keep their unwashed clothes. People talk more about exercise and make their tongues stronger than any other part of the body. Simple thing that is to be done is this: If you are not able to do anything else, just walk in silence for at least fifteen minutes. But people cannot walk in silence. They listen to music when they walk or they talk over mobile phones. You body does not get any exercise out of it. When your bodily movements become full in tune with your own awareness of being, then only your body gain health. Listening to classical music or rap does not make any difference. They are meant to distract. To have a healthy life you just need to be silent. You do not call it spiritual or meditation. It is nothing. It is just being silent and get lost in that silence. Then everything becomes clear; as if from a vision your life will reveal unto yourself.
I am forty five years old. Vital status of my body could be roughly something like this: Weight 69 kg, Height 5’ 8”, Waist: 30, Chest 40. I go for morning walk in silence. I cook and eat like a soldier. And I refuse to take medicines. But I do take medicine when it is unavoidable. But such chances have been rare so far. I sleep early and get up early. No washing machine, no refrigerator, no maid servant. Everything is done by hand. The routine is simple. Get up and drink lemon water with honey. Make sure the bowels are clean. Read or write for an hour. Go for walking. Come back, clean up and wash clothes. Make a simple breakfast that comprises of two eggs and four pieces of bread. Go to the work place. Work for eight hours. Come back, cook dinner, which is often rice, dal and vegetables put together and pressure cooked. Taking bath is an important thing. Massage your body with soap or oil as if you really love it for almost ten minutes. You will not feel any tiredness during the day and above all you will look fresh. And make sure you do everything in silence. A healthy life is assured.