Was Buddha Worried About His Weight

I’ve only done this once before during the 2 ½ years I’ve been posting, but I want to repeat this post because it’s the most popular one to date. It seems important somehow to me to put this back out there…so, here it is.

One day I was wondering about all of the diets there are around, so I decided to investigate a little. A quick search of the internet produced thirty-nine diets, identifying their strong and weak points.

It was mind boggling.

How could anyone ever hope to understand all of the differences between them and conclude which would be the best to try, if in fact, you wanted to try one at all?

The specifics of each diet change depending on the emphasis of the plan. Many diets support the idea of increasing fruit, vegetables, fish and plant-based foods. Others capitalize on certain foods groups to counter physical conditions like, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardio concerns or to improve mental functioning. In all the cases I read about, nutrition and safety play a major role, but there seems to be a significant difference of opinion, depending on the expert who is providing the information.

Some diets are notoriously difficult to follow, while others make it too challenging to understand the differences between good and bad food items or some other key components.

In many cases there are supporting statements made to attempt to convince a potential dieter of the values or reasons for the individual plans. For instance, some report that the Paleo Diet says, “that if cavemen didn’t eat it, you probably shouldn’t either.”

It wasn’t until my mid 60’s that I felt the need for a diet. A gradual increase in my weight each year suggested I would be in trouble if I didn’t make some immediate changes.

So, off I went to Weight Watchers.

Their program stresses adherence to certain point goals (each food is assigned a point value) and highly recommends attendance at weekly meetings, to monitor weight and participate in conversations with other members, guided by an instructor.

I did, in fact, reach my goal and have been mostly successful in maintaining it, within a reasonable range.

What all of the instructors say is, that to be truly successful, you have to change your mind-set about your relationship with food. Merely altering what you eat for a short time, even though it might produce some results, will fail in the long run.

I believe they are correct.

I believe there is a lot more involved that allows a person to achieve their weight goals. Or, for that matter, any goals they might have.

This is where Buddha comes in.

Have you ever seen a picture of a slender, trim Buddha? I doubt it. Do you think Buddha spent any time concerned about his weight? I also doubt this.

Bear in mind here (BIG DISCLAIMER), I am not suggesting or recommending that you ignore the sound advice from your health professionals regarding any diet ideas they have, especially, if you have an obvious health concern.

What I do want to share is a thought about our ‘beliefs’, especially in relation to what we experience in life.

Considering all dieters, could the difference between those who are successful and those who are not, be their belief about the outcome they would experience, rather than the particular diet they were on?

If you substituted a different concept for dieting (academic, career, relationship, finances…), would it work the same way, meaning your outcome would be directly related to your belief about your outcome, rather than one of the individual steps you took?

It certainly feels to me like an important idea to consider, mostly because it alters the dynamic, shifting it from a conceptual form to one of belief, particularly if the belief is deep seated.

This idea is creating a shift in my mind-set about my food intake and maintaining my weight. What if I had a strong belief that it is not so much about what I eat, as it is about what I believe about what I eat?

That’s something I think Buddha would have something to say about.

Happiness and Joy

How do you measure your happiness?

Chances are if you are dieting, it is measured by whether you gain or lose weight. The changes may only be temporary, but they seem very important at the time. Of course, it’s possible to look deeper and evaluate according to the lifestyle changes you’ve made, even if they don’t directly impact your weight, but represent a healthier life plan for you.

Do you have other happiness measures?

Perhaps the size of your bank account, the funds in your investment portfolio, the car you drive, the number of friends you have, your athletic prowess or some other skill you possess?

Maybe your happiness is tied to something else entirely.

When I ponder this, I often land in the same place, asking myself whether my happiness is merely temporary? Is it easily stolen by someone else, based on their comments or opinions? Is my happiness too fragile or dependent on what happens to me?

These questions prompt me to reconsider the basis or source of my happiness. I confess I’ve struggled with this a lot.

I remember a time in college when my whole life seemed to be falling apart. My studies had stagnated, I had the absolute worst dorm room on campus, right next to the stairwell and common area lounge, facing the side of a hill so that little light penetrated and constantly being barraged by noise all day and all night.

Then my grandfather died. I was very close to him, and it hurt to think he was gone, and I didn’t even get to say goodbye. Not only that, but I also wasn’t invited home for the funeral. I guess my parents thought I’d miss too much school. Not one of their best decisions.

It’s likely you’ve had your own experiences of suffering, where happiness seemed a distant memory, if any memory at all.

Of course, life is balanced. There are up periods of happiness, and they are wonderful while they last, but some part of us knows they are temporary. There is an ebb and flow to happiness, and I believe everyone moves through its curve.

I wonder, what do we do when the unhappiness comes for us?

It took a long time for me to realize the problem I have with happiness is the source it arises from…my thoughts. I seem completely reliant on what I am thinking, placing my treasure there. Inside me, I know there must be a better way.

So, I do what I always do when my mind cannot solve a problem in my life, I drop into my heart to see what I am feeling, because my feelings shed light, guiding me forward.

I realize I have to wait, giving my mind a chance to release its hold and allowing my feelings to become clear. While I wait, I breathe in and out slowly, letting my heart open.

An awareness dawns on me. Happiness is fleeting because it is of the mind. It is my head telling me how I should feel. No wonder it comes and goes, because my mind wanders everywhere.

The awareness draws out a truth I have hidden inside. A truth that tells me happiness will always fluctuate.

It shares with me that what I want is…joy. Joy comes from the heart. It raises me up and cannot be stolen or destroyed.

I want to know more. I want to know the source of joy.

I am told, joy is the source. Joy and love are joined, forever in union, always available to me.

How, I ask?

I am told, remember that you are part of this joy, this love. Look outward into the world and see its reflection everywhere. Remember there is joy and love, even in those things you consider to be unhappy. Look past the surface. Look deeper and you will see the truth.

I want to believe this. I want to believe that I am a part of the joy and love that is my source. I want to remember.

For this moment, I understand I am being asked to trust this truth. It is up to me. And it is up to you too. What shall we do?


Do I deserve to experience what I want in this life? Do you?

I don’t believe this is a simple or straightforward question. The concept of deserving is far too complicated for that.

I need a place to start.

The place I’m choosing has to do with whether I deserve to lose weight, but you can substitute any other objective or goal if you’d like.  

So, do I deserve to lose weight? Actually, the better question is do I believe I deserve to lose weight? If I can’t answer ‘yes’ to that question, it’s doubtful I’ll ever achieve what I’m setting out to accomplish.

I also need to focus on what the word ‘deserve’ means. Here’s what the Oxford dictionary definition says, “to do something or have or show qualities worthy of (reward or punishment)”.

So, to me it’s an action word requiring me to essentially earn a reward. I feel there is also an implication involved that I must give something up in exchange for the reward, in this case, most of the foods I enjoy.

And what I hear myself say is that if I can’t or don’t do this all the time, then I don’t deserve to lose weight.

What a terrible idea to hold on to.

I sense there is a part of me that is keeping track of everything, especially those things that relate directly to my stated goal. So, whenever this part observes me thinking that I ate some forbidden treat, the obvious conclusion is that I do not deserve to lose weight.

I believe the mere thought (belief) that I do not deserve to lose weight creates its own reality, despite any of the other positive things I have done.

I call this process, ‘putting on mental weight’. And I’ve noticed it results in also putting on physical weight.

Does this make any sense to you?

I wonder, might this same principle apply to other areas in my life? To my relationships, finances, mental health, work life or family concerns?

I wonder too, is there a part of me that has already established criteria based on some form of a ‘deserving model’ that I’ve built or accepted?

It takes only a moment to decide the answer to this question.

YES, clearly over the course of time I’ve created numerous models that rest firmly under the surface of my life. I’m sure it would be enlightening if I understood how they were formed, but I’ve learned from experience that to uncover them would be time consuming and ultimately not worth the investment.

What seems far more important is what I choose to do right now, which leads me back to my original question about deserving. Do I or don’t I deserve to lose weight (or anything else in life)? After a few moments, a one word answer comes to me…sometimes.

That’s a terrible answer and it leaves me hanging.

Fortunately, I hear another voice inside me. It is insistent, yet gentle and commands my attention, drawing me in. It is Lia, a part of god who speaks to me in an ethereal feminine voice, and she has come to tell me the truth.

“You are a radiant being filled with love and light. This is your true nature. You can accept what the world tells you, if you choose, but nothing it says will change this fundamental truth. There is no such thing as deserving or not deserving. It is merely an arbitrary decision, a reflection of what the world views as real. If you decide to abide by what the world tells you, you will suffer needlessly. I encourage you to release all thoughts and beliefs that govern or limit your decisions and grant yourself the freedom to experience your life fully. This is why you came here, to live a full life, unhindered by self-limitations and with all things open to you.”

After a pause, Lia added these words, “Whether it is your weight, or any other aspect of your life, you may experience it in any way that you choose.”

I sat, blown away by the grace of this.