Toxic Living by John Cali

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Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, activist and writer, talks about “mindful consumption.” What is mindful consumption?

John Cali

Nhat Hanh’s use of the phrase, “mindful consumption,” has its roots in the Buddhist Fifth Precept. Here is part of that precept:

“Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivate good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practising mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I am committed to ingest only items that preserve peace, well-being, and joy in my body, in my consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society. I am determined not to use alcohol or any other intoxicant or to ingest foods or other items that contain toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films, and conversations.”

That may seem a bit strict for non-Buddhists. But I found it interesting the precept classifies as “toxic” things we don’t normally associate with that word. Things like “TV programs, magazines, books, films, and conversations.”

Here’s Spirit.


John chose an appropriate title for our article today. Your world some days seems to be overflowing with toxic stuff. In our view, among the most toxic of all available to you today are those things mentioned in the Buddhist Fifth Precept: “TV programs, magazines, books, films, and conversations.”

With your modern technology you have so much information — often too much — literally at your fingertips. We realize, as John said, you don’t normally consider information, no matter what the medium, as toxic or poisonous.

Yet, for example, if you have the habit of immersing yourselves in hours of TV-watching every day or most days, you’re most likely finding yourselves sad, upset, depressed, etc. There is so much “bad” news out there, so much emphasis on the drama and trauma running rampant in your world today.

We are not criticizing the mainstream media for focusing on negative news. After all, that’s what sells, and they’re in the business of making money.

But if you participate too much in the negativity, such as negative “TV programs, magazines, books, films, and conversations,” it will drag you down. It’s unavoidable, for what you focus on mostly multiplies in your experience. As we just said, the end result is you feeling sad, upset, depressed.

The negativity, friends, is toxic to your minds, your hearts, your spirits. Ultimately it can and does negatively affect your physical bodies. It can sicken you and even end up in physical death.

Now we know none of you consciously choose to live the grim scenario we just painted. But you do often choose it by default. It can sicken not only your physical bodies, but also your relationships with other humans. The poison just spreads and spreads.

So what can you, one individual standing alone, do about this? A lot!

We urge all of you reading this to remember you are divine beings temporarily in human form. You may have forgotten it, but you do know it or you would not be reading this to begin with.

When you are aligned with your higher selves — your souls — your lives become more joyful, more peaceful, more abundant, more loving.

In making a conscious choice to think only positive thoughts, to read only uplifting books, to have only loving conversations, to watch only inspiring TV programs or movies, you will be creating a more joyful life for yourselves.

But, just as importantly, you will be uplifting and inspiring your brothers and sisters, especially those mired in the toxicity and negativity.

A positive loving thought is far more powerful than a negative hateful thought. The vibrations are at opposite ends of the energy spectrum.

So each of you, as one person standing alone, have the power to uplift those who’ve become susceptible, usually through their own neglect, to all the negativity your world is seeing at the moment.

So we urge you to make a conscious choice to maintain healthy habits in every area of your lives. The positive powerful vibrations you will radiate will ripple out to the ends of the universe, if you will.

Every loving thought you hold contributes to the healing of the world. Every hateful thought you hold contributes to the wounding of the world.

You are that powerful. Use your power wisely.

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