Dr. Kuznetsov: In many religions, people try to make their bodies suffer. They believe in the suffering of the body. In Christianity, for example, at times you have to abstain from food. In some religions, monks withdraw from life. According to my understanding, these people who are trying to make their bodies suffer feel they will increase their meditation capacity this way.Sri Chinmoy: Some people are torturing themselves to please God. I am not at all in favour of this approach. Suppose, at this moment, I am asking you to play the role of God, and I am telling you that I love you and I want to come to you. Now, shall I cut my head or arms or legs to prove to you how much I love you? No! On the contrary, I shall run towards you as fast as possible. Then, either I shall sit at your feet or I shall embrace you because I love you. If I take you as someone who is infinitely higher and better than I am, then I will go and sit at your feet. And if I take you as my dearest friend, my oneness-friend, then I will embrace you. If I cut or injure myself to prove how much I love you, you will only feel sorry for me. I must run towards you as fast as possible to prove how much I love you.
This body is a temple, and inside the temple is a shrine, which is our love for God. If we destroy the temple, then the shrine will also be ruined. So we should keep the body fit instead of torturing the body. Some people do not want to eat for two or three weeks at a time. Now, some snakes eat only twice a year. In which way are these snakes better than human beings who eat two or three times a day? Of course, you and I and all human beings are higher than these snakes. We have to use our wisdom.
When Lord Buddha sat at the foot of a tree for his enlightenment, at first he said, "I am not going to eat anything." Then, when he began losing the faculties of his body, he started eating again in a normal way. Sri Ramakrishna ate three meals a day. While loving God with our body, vital, mind, heart and soul, we have to be normal. If we go to extremes and do not eat at all in order to please God, we are only torturing the body. If I love you and you also love me, will you be happy if I am suffering physically?
The child loves the mother, and the mother loves the child. Will the mother be happy if the child stops eating and ruins his whole body to prove how much he loves her? If he says, "Mother, see how much I love you; that is why I have destroyed my health," the mother will feel miserable. She will say, "If you love me, then come to me as quickly as possible." So it is advisable to follow the path of moderation and not the path of austerity. We should eat to keep our senses intact and our body in perfect condition.
There are countless people on earth who are poverty-stricken and do not get regular meals. Have all the poor people become spiritual? Have they all realised God? No! Here is the proof that if we do not eat, we are not necessarily closer to God.
Let us lead a normal life and not go to extremes. We will not be greedy, voracious eaters, nor will we lead austere lives and negate food. We have to keep the body-temple in very good condition so we will be able to worship at the shrine and please God.