There has often been surprise at the important place that dinacharya, or lifestyle, takes in the teachings of this path. The term dinacarya comes from Sanskrit where ‘din’ means day and ‘carya’ means regularity and in reality, it is the guiding principle upon which one’s progress is measured in this path.
In reality, though, this should not be surprising as body impulses are the hardest to break. The ordinary way of spirituality is to bypass them entirely and remain in the mental realm. Here, of course, things shift but always hang in the possibility of uncertainty. Importantly, we remain dependent on the method and the technique to get or remain “there,” that mind state.
The purpose of diet and lifestyle is to build a body that will eventually be as impervious to disease and decay as possible. Of course, we will still get sick and die, but it will be on our terms. It is to find freedom through our own bodies and to reprogram the neurohormonal pathways. The particular pathways being accessed here are not just on the gross level but down to the cellular ones where the very signaling circuits are changing. But as we see, it isn’t at the body level only. When we apply dinacarya, it is shifting our minds, bringing up things that would rather be buried. It’s like a perpetual battlefield where our habits and ways are taking a thorough beating. Like in war, some days, they win. On other days, the new habits win.
The deeper purpose of dinacarya is to become radically independent and not rely on any external prop or crutch – think of all our must-haves. Still deeper is to access the creative pathways within ourselves. Once our dependency on external things comes to a rest, we will become aware of how within us rests the power to generate what we need. At one point or other, we all have said in the context of spirituality – oh yeah, I can give up anything. I can do anything. Now, these kinds of statements are being tested. Really? Can you do anything? Give up *anything*? Or only what is convenient?
Just as a diamond is the strongest form of carbon, obtained through thousands of years of beating carbon into this glittery beauty, so too the discipline of dinacarya takes away all the drama and the mind stuff to create a body like a diamond. This means a body that is at the peak of health and immunity which paves the way for a mind that is sharp in discernment and steadiness, and a heart that is open to what is. All of these elements are inextricably linked and so the place dinacharya holds on this path goes much deeper than would be imagined through a conventional understanding of diet and discipline.
On this path, the goal is to not be dependent on anything. And it’s a very long process.
I remember when I was struggling with the dinacharya a bit. I used to think I’ll do this for x months and imagine relaxing thereafter. Then it quietly changed. This is it. I’m happy to eat this way forever. That’s when big shifts happened, internally and externally. The inner yes, and total acceptance of “this is it” was the turning point.
For you, that can happen in a month, a year, or a decade. The question is whether you can keep at it until it does.