Information: This article was kindly sent to the Anna Kingsford Site by Mr. Brian McAllister. It was published by the Author as a pamphlet, and contains the text of a lecture given to the Croydon Vegetarian Society on 7th November 1933.
THE FOOD OF MAN
(REGARDED AS A SPIRITUAL BEING)
Samuel Hopgood Hart
(Vice-president of the Croydon Vegetarian Society)
PUBLISHED BY THE AUTHOR
The Kemp Hall Press, Ltd.,
THE FOOD OF MAN
(REGARDED AS A SPIRITUAL BEING)
We read in the Psalms, (civ. 15), “He bringeth forth grass for the cattle: and herb for the service of men; that He may bring food out of the earth.” That is a Vegetarian diet, apart from which no food reform can be regarded as complete, because for the reasons hereinafter mentioned all true food-reform must embrace and include vegetarianism. It is not uncommon to read in the secular press of the day letters and articles written by medical men and others advising the eating of less meat and more fruit and vegetables, especially in their natural condition. This is good and in the right direction, but such food-reform is but a step towards the goal. It is half-measure only.
“Before I can answer the question, “What is the right food for Man?” I must define in what sense I use the word “man.” In popular language, the word is used to denote the men and women whom we daily meet in the world as physical beings, having more or less intelligence or mental ability to guide them through life. Such a definition of man, however (as the subject of this article indicates) is not sufficient for my purpose. It is too narrow. It is but a partial definition. It defines only man physical and visible to our ordinary sight, whereas there is a part of man’s nature which is non-physical and (for the most of us) invisible and which survives the death and disintegration of the physical body. That is to say; there is a part of man that is of a spiritual nature, and for my purpose, man must be regarded not only as a physical, but also as a spiritual being; and of the two, the spiritual is by far the more important, because man physical is but man temporal, whereas man spiritual survives the death of the physical body and has within him the potentiality of life eternal. I say “potentiality,” because it depends upon the man himself, whether or not he will choose life rather than death as his goal. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die,” and it is not until a man “turneth away from his wickedness and doeth that which is lawful and right,” that “he shall save his soul alive.”
There is an upward path that leads to life, and there is a downward path that ends in death. The former of these two paths is referred to in the Book of Job where we read: –
“There is a path which no bird of prey knoweth,
And which the vulture’s eye bath not seen;
The lion’s whelps have not trodden it,
Nor the fierce lion passed by it.”
Man is by constitution fourfold, that is to say, he has four distinct natures or planes of being, of which two are outer and lower, and two inner and higher. The two outer and lower are those of the Body and the Mind, and the two inner and higher those of the Soul and the Spirit – the Soul being the Ego: the true man: the “man within.” The question we have to consider is, what is the right and proper food for such a being as man, with his fourfold nature, during his life on earth? It must be borne in mind that each state of our consciousness requires its own appropriate vehicle, world or body in and through which to function, and the higher and more spiritual the life, the higher and more refined must be the body in and through which that life is to manifest itself. There is but one substance in creation which becomes differentiated into various planes, and man is a living Soul possessed of bodies in and through which to function thereon.
Foods that can be obtained only by wrong doing are not lawful, and must be abjured by those who would lead a moral life, which must be led by all aspirants to the higher consciousness which we call spirituality; and, apart from this, there are foods which, though otherwise lawful, repel certain people. Whenever such feeling of repulsion exists, that food should by that person be avoided.
The importance of the food question is beyond doubt, as I shall show. In her book, When the Sun Moves Northward, the late Mabel Collins says: “Each drop of blood in the body of a man can be changed in its nature, and become part of his spiritual being; and this transformation and transmutation is required of him ... Out of the natural being the spiritual being must arise, fully equipped, and perfected in shape.” The blood of the physical body is thus required to supply the material for the building up of a higher (spiritual) body, and the food eaten which supplies the building material, must be suitable for such operation. The blood is the carrier of nutriment to every part of the body, and the condition of the blood, its character and composition, depend on the nature of the food supplied to it. There is also to be considered the power of the mind over the body. Our bodies (and blood) are affected by our thoughts, and therefore it is most important that those thoughts be right thoughts. A materialistic mind is a curse to its possessor. It; is the greatest enemy to human progress. In the Psalms we read that “Health is far from the ungodly,” while “To live in harmony with God’s will, is to live in unison with the Supreme Spirit of all health and life.” Not only are our bodies (and blood) affected by our thoughts. Our minds are affected by the state and condition of our blood. This is a fact which must not be lost sight of. Man is responsible for the kind of body he builds for himself, as also for its condition; and his lower mental activities must not be allowed so to dominate him as to become his jailer and turn his body into a prison. The man must be master of his house. We are all masons in that we are building for ourselves bodies, and we must learn to build such that will serve a high purpose. “Man,” says Mabel Collins,
in her book above referred to, “can rebuild his physical nature, and create his divine nature out of it, only when he knows that neither it, nor the animating power within it, are his own, or are even himself. When he knows this, he is ready to build his body anew, and from within it a spiritual shape worthy of immortality.” One great object of our incarnation is to build up a higher and spiritual body for ourselves, always bearing in mind that “Except the Lord build the house: their labour is but lost that build it.”
As regards food, Mr. Carrington, the well known food specialist, says: “I have gone carefully through the various foodstuffs, and, by careful analysis, have shown that all meats are injurious to the body, for the reason that they are not suited to it, by reason of its anatomical structure, and, further, by the facts of experience and hygiene, which clearly indicates that if man eats meat, he suffers in consequence.” In his opinion, the foods best suited to man’s organism are fruits and nuts, eaten uncooked in their original primitive form. He says that “a diet of this character, has a tremendous effect upon the mental and moral, no less than upon the physical life.” Other non-flesh foods are, of course, allowable. Mr. Carrington says: “Food has but one function – replacing broken down tissue. It supplies no heat and no energy whatever to the body, at any time, or under any circumstances. Both the heat and the energy are due to another source altogether, and not to the food ingested.” It is in response to the requirements of spiritual growth that forms evolve from lower to higher states, and our bodies, for the time being, are the outward indications of our characters. “No one," it has been said, ”can inhabit a more efficient body than he is capable of building.” We are the builders of our bodies which are to serve as the vehicles for our expressions, and if our expressions be those of the Divine Spirit within, the meaning of the words of the hymn (Adeste Fideles) which at Christmas is sung in honour of the incarnation of the “Prince of Peace,” will be apparent –
Verbum caro factum.
The “Wedding Garment” of the Scriptures, is the Etheric
or Spiritual body that man builds for himself. It is
verily and indeed the “Tabernacle or House of God.” It has been called the “
O how glorious and resplendent,
Fragile body, thou shalt be,
When endued with so much beauty
Full of health, and strong, and free,
Full of vigour, full of pleasure
That shall last eternally!
This, then, is the key to the meaning of the text: “The Tabernacle of God is with Man”; and for the effecting of such transformation
and transmutation as is above referred to, a pure and bloodless diet coupled with right thought is required. Thus, it behoves us all to cleanse our blood stream from impurity. It is not allowable for us to live as vampires on the flesh and life-blood of our lesser brethren, and this for our own sakes and apart from the injustice and cruelty thereby occasioned to the victims, because it is against the law of our higher nature, the breach of which must retard our evolution arid bring about for us dire consequences. Would that all flesh-eaters could be made to realize this, that while “The Lions,” – that is, those who feed like beasts of prey –” do lack and suffer hunger “– because their outer and lower nature only is fed – “they who seek the Lord, or the Divine Spirit within themselves, and, therefore, in their feeding as in other matters, “seek peace and ensue it,” “shall want no manner of thing that is good.” As peacemakers they are numbered among the “Blessed,” and on all planes of their being they shall lack nothing. In our outer physical body, through the bodily senses, we come into touch with and receive impressions from the outer physical world, the outer body being merely an instrument for such purpose. In our mental body we find the seat of our worldly desires and aims and also an opening for higher states of consciousness if we so will. These higher states of consciousness have their seat in the soul. It is the soul that is the seat of our divine instincts and spiritual unfoldment, and if the soul is to regain her spiritual condition, she must not be bound and held down by the outer mental consciousness – the consciousness, that is, of the man of the world, however clever he may be; the soul, if she is to endure, must live in unity with the Divine Spirit – the God within – and be obedient to His Will; and, for this, it is required of her that she be pure. The pure in heart are the pure in soul, and they alone can attain to spiritual discernment. Purification means purification of the soul from materiality. It is the means whereby man transmutes himself from the material to the spiritual plane. It is not the same as regeneration, thought is a necessary step towards it. Regeneration is transmutation into spirit – that is Redemption, the turning of the “Water” into “Wine.” The necessity for purification extends from the soul downwards to the outermost part of our being. Our whole lives have to be polarized to our divine and inmost centre – the Spirit. This purification requires abstention from flesh-eating in any form. Purification and cessation from wrong doing are the first steps towards a higher life. Mind and sense must be subdued. There must be discipline of both mind and body. In one of her lectures on Yoga (The Building of the Kosmos, p. 102), the late Dr. Annie Besant says: “You will find certain kinds of foods forbidden to those who lead a spiritual life. Food should be correlated to the purpose for which you are living. There is no rule which you can lay down for all. There are rules which are different according to the purposes that you are using your life to accomplish. According to that which it is the desire of your life to accomplish, so should be the food that you take to nourish, to keep, the life of the body. Therefore it was
that when to be a Brahman meant to be a man who had made progress in the spiritual life and who desired to advance rapidly and further along the road, the rules as to what he might and might not do were exceedingly stringent; and then it was that he was told to eat those things that have Sattvic quality, because he did not want to bring into the body which he was endeavouring to purify any foods having the Rajasic or the Tamasic qualities, which would draw him downward instead of lifting him upward.” The writer (who signs himself “Ion”) of an article on “Purification – the Way of Escape,” in The Occult Journal of November, 1926, when dealing with this requirement, reminds his readers that “the chief reason for abstention from flesh-eating must always be the ‘humane’ one, which when clearly understood and not merely a matter of sentimentality, means the moral responsibility of man towards the lower forms of life, and the facing of the fact that man will one day have to answer to God for his treatment of everything and everyone in a lower condition of understanding than himself.” And, he points out: “If man were to receive as little mercy from the Divine as he metes out to those in his power, his future would be dark indeed; and in any case his awakening into a true perception of what his treatment of the animal kingdom has been – and is – viewed from the Divine standpoint, will be a painful and humiliating experience for him. Nevertheless, it is one that will inevitably to be gone through, and reparation will in due course have to be made by man to all forms of life that have suffered through him.” I would remind you of the words of Edward Maitland who said: “He who makes existence a hell for others, prepares, inevitably, a hell for himself, wherein he will be his own devil, the inflictor of his own torments.” In the Spirit within is to be found the Will of God or the Divine Law, which is made known to the pure soul. All the steps of the ladder to perfection are within the man. All truth is to be found within. You will remember the words of Browning this subject, who, in Paracelsus, says:
“To know, rather consists in opening out a way
Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape,
Than in effecting entry for the light
Supposed to be without.”
It is important to bear in mind these facts concerning man’s nature and the need of purification, for on their truth depends the greater part of what I have to say about food.
The physical body is man’s outermost sheath. It has been called his “food-sheath.” It is built up from the food that he eats. Hence the importance attaching to the kind of material used in building up this outermost food-formed vesture, which, as has been said, “comes into being through food; which lives by food, and which perishes without food.” All the bodies, vestures or sheaths of the soul, which is the true self, have in the course of man’s evolution to be renounced, for they constitute that outer man which presents the obstacles which in the evolutionary processes must be overcome.
which is the organ of the mind, must be used as an instrument of the man, as a
workman would use a tool. It is not the man. It is but a temporary instrument,
and the vehicle for the actions of the indwelling man for which he alone is
responsible – responsible because, he, the indwelling man, has free will. He is
free to do right or wrong, and it is for him to see that his mental as well as
his physical body is subservient to his requirements as a spiritual being. Mr.
J.M. Pryse, in his book The Restored New
Testament, referring to the fact that the body is the
Adytum of God, says: “The elements composing it have become so foul during the
long ages of material evolution, that the soul is thereby tainted and instigated
to evil“; and, “this condition has been brought about by reason of the soul
having become subservient to the lower mental force.” It rests with the soul to
reverse this evil which for her constitutes what has been called “the
Fall.” The late Anna Kingsford referred to such subservience as “the
curse of Eve,” – Eve, in this connection, representing the Soul. The whole outer
man, or Adamic nature – the man of the earth – must be
made subservient to the spiritual man within before the unjust, cruel and evil
conditions of life which today prevail in the world in which we live, will pass
away – conditions which for man are hard, and for the animals, have converted
some parts of the world into veritable hells, so much so that the Buddhists call
the Christian countries “the hell of the animals.” .And is this surprising? I
understand that missionaries sent out to India by some one or more of the
Protestant Evangelical Societies to “convert the heathen,” actually require
their “converts,” who, theretofore, have not so defiled themselves, to prove
their conversion to Christianity by eating pig meat! “By their fruits ye shall
know them.” There is still cause for Christ to weep over “
For these evil conditions, I verily believe the habit of flesh eating to be the primary cause, in which case, so far as man may be a sufferer from them, they are evils which being of his own making are deserved. I again refer to the Psalms, which contain so much of truth and wisdom, and remind you of the words: “His wickedness shall fall upon his own pate.” And thus it is. Killing – for which all flesh-eaters are responsible – is the cause of most of the evils in the world. What would it mean if mankind were to adopt and live by the principle of non-killing? Mabel Collins in her book Our Glorious Future, speaking of the five great and essential vows in the Patanjali Yoga, says that the first of these vows, which is non-killing, is “the most important of all,” and she draws attention to the words of that .great Hindoo commentator, Dividi, who says that “It obviously implies abstinence from animal food ... non-killing or perfect and universal compassion is the one and only thing strongly prescribed and enjoined – it means nothing less than perfect love.” This vow cannot be taken in a limited or qualified sense. It is without respect to rank, place, time or compact. Many sentient
creatures dwell on this earth along with man, and he has dominion over them, and if he had behaved rightly towards them, they would all have been friendly towards and loved and served him as an elder brother. It was never decreed by God, nor was it intended that man should kill and devour them. To man and animals alike the green herb was given for food. The food of the whole animal creation was to come out of the earth; “He bringeth forth grass for the cattle; and herb for the service of men; that He may bring food out of the earth.” All knowledge is open to man, and in his highest condition – which implies absolute love and compassion – he has the willing service of all creatures whose powers he desires to use. In her book The Transparent Jewel, Mabel Collins says: “Non-killing is not a negative state which would mean merely renouncing the evil deed of taking life, it is a positive state, one of infinite compassion and universal love.” It rests with man to reform himself on the lines that I have indicated if he desires the evil and sub-human conditions of life to pass away. The man who is not prepared to help the animals in their evolution, has not fully attained to the human standard, to say nothing of the spiritual or divine.
The evil effect of the bloodshed which flesh-eating requires, is far greater and more extensive than is generally recognized. Not only is the air we breathe contaminated to the detriment of our physical health, but the very atmosphere of the earth on which we live is affected to our mental and spiritual detriment. When, in the month of December, 1880, Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland were contemplating giving their Lectures on Esoteric Christianity – which were afterwards published under the title of The Perfect Way – nothing of much importance could be done by them before the spring of the following year. And why? It was because of the earth’s magnetic currents which were then “thick with bloodshed for the Season’s Festivities,” – it then being close on Christmas, when the earth was like one vast charnel house, and the magnetism required for spiritual intercourse was intercepted; and, when the time came for giving their Lectures, they were forbidden to speak of the Greater Mysteries to those who were eaters of flesh and shedders of blood. In this connection, you will remember how Christ forbade his disciples to cast the pearls of his divine teaching to those who, on account of their vile mode of living he likened unto swine, lest they should turn and rend. Flesh-eaters are apt to look down on butchers on account of their horrible and degrading occupation, but as the flesh-eater is the one for whom the butchery is committed, he, as accessory, is as great a culprit and breaker of the divine law as the instrument he employs for the purpose.
I have said that the Soul is the seat of our divine or spiritual consciousness which is the source of all truth. She is man’s Spiritual Vessel, and Seat of Wisdom. When pure she is his initiator into things divine, but if she loses her purity, which she does if she turns away from things spiritual to things of sense and gross living, the man must fall. Edward Maitland says: “It is through the soul
and the soul only, that man learns the Divine Will, and, learning it, saves himself. And the clearness with which the soul on her part, discerns and transmits that Will, depends upon her purity.” In her purity, she is the receptacle of the Divine Nucleus. “The Soul,” said Anna Kingsford, “is born in the womb of matter, and within her is conceived the Divine personal element which, divided from God, is yet God and man.” Man is a part of nature, the mysteries of which are revealed to him by his Divine Principle within. In his book; Man, the Grand Symbol of the Mysteries, Manley Hall says: “The Zohar admonishes the wise not to look upon a man as a creature of flesh, skin, bones and veins, but as a living soul whose true constitution is spiritual rather than physical. Skin, flesh, bones and veins are but a garment, a cloak worn during the period of physical existence and cast off at death.”
Some of you, no doubt, have heard of Shri Meher Baba, who was lately in this country. He was born some
forty years ago of Persian parents in
accords with such high thought.” Spiritual growth is the fruit of self-mastery. It has been truly said that the man who conquers himself is greater than he who taketh a city. He is the greatest of all conquerors. When speaking of his and Anna Kingsford’s method of procedure in their joint work, Edward Maitland said that it consisted in “the forcible projection of their mind’s perceptive point inwards and upwards ... following meanwhile the mode of life which always has been found essential to such introvision, one indispensable condition being the renunciation of flesh as food.” Such abstention was practised by them not merely as a means to an end, but as a part of or allied to their religion; for, when Anna Kingsford wrote to Madame Blavatsky drawing her attention to the publication of The Perfect Way, and informing her as to her mode of life, she said: “for twelve years I have abstained from all flesh meats, and have desired, as much as is possible to me, to do the Divine Will.” The soul of man is indeed, the organ of Divine Spiritual knowledge and Divine Illumination, but such is accessible and attainable only to those who lead the requisite life. “No one,” says Max Heindel (in his book on The Rosicrucian Mysteries) “can live to his highest possibilities while making his stomach a grave yard for the decaying corpses of mutilated animals.” In a recent article in the Occult Journal, that profound thinker, Dr. Purucher, the author of Fundamentals of Esoteric Philosophy, speaking of “the wisdom that cometh from on high, which man has inherent within the spiritual core of his being,” says: “it is the wisdom of impersonal devotion, is a love for ones fellow-beings, is a love indeed that knows no bounds, love that takes within its ever encompassing reach not only all mankind but beasts and the plants and the rocks, yea which reaches out to the very stars in the skies.” These are the words of a spiritually minded man, and those who believe them will not kill to eat the flesh and drink the blood of highly sensitive creatures who should rather be able to look to them for sympathy and help in their upward course, but who by many of those who eat them are regarded as having been expressly created by God for their food and exploitation.
Some time ago, a well-known bishop sent to the Express (15th September, 1925), a letter in which, speaking as a chief-pastor to his flock – of souls, not sheep – he said: “We ourselves are not necessarily depraved because we eat mutton chops.” In this respect he is, no doubt, a true exponent not of the Christian Religion, but of the doctrines of the Church in which he holds such a high and responsible position, for in a well-known hymn book, compiled for use in the services of the Church of England, I recently came across the following:
“The fish in wave, the bird on wing,
God bade the waters bear;
Each for our mortal body’s food
His gracious hands prepare.”
The Roman Catholic Church, while requiring its members on all
Fridays to abstain from flesh-meat, should Christmas day fall on a Friday, permits them on that day to celebrate the birth of the “Prince of Peace,” by a return to their flesh-pots; and, at Easter, that Church goes so far as to provide a special form for the blessing of Iamb, the flesh of which is to be eaten by the faithful, “to the honour and glory of God.” Nonconformists are no better. Wesleyan ministers openly repudiate the Vegetarian principles which were taught by the saintly founder of their Church, himself a vegetarian. What can be said of those who allow doggerel such as I have just quoted to be sung in their churches? The anomaly, if not hypocrisy, of it all is that some of those who look or affect to look upon animals as their God-ordained food, do not hesitate to join in hymns – to be found in the same hymn-book, as that from which the above verse is taken – actually calling upon their victims, the birds and the beasts, to give praise to God for having created them! Thus they sing:
“First let the birds, with painted plumage gay,
Exalt their great Creator’s praise, and say – Alleluia!
Then let the beasts of earth, with varying strain,
Join in creation’s hymn, and cry again – Alleluia!”
It is for us so to treat our lesser brethren as to make hymns such as the Benedicite, Omnia Opera, not a mockery, but a possibility. In divine science there is no place for pastors who see no harm in eating sheep; nor place for those who kill or procure or condone the killing of innocent animals except in case of necessity – which, in normal conditions in this country, does not include food. Since the introduction of Harvest Festivals – excellent in their implication – we have witnessed the desecration of churches under the sanction of sacerdotal orthodoxy. On such occasions, one church in particular, is “decorated” – as newspapers have described it – with dead fish representing the “harvest of the sea and river,” and, worse than this, place has even been found in the porch of a church for the exhibition of the carcase of an English lamb – and this at a Harvest Festival! Good intentions of the donors of such articles may be acknowledged, but, emphatically, bloody sacrifices have no place in the Christian religion, and should not be allowed by those in authority in any Christian church. It is a degradation, the responsibility for which rests with those who permit it. If we again turn to the Psalms, we learn that “The Lord abhors both the blood-thirsty and deceitful man,” because “their inward parts are very wickedness,” and their throat is said to be an “open sepulchre.” What better description of the flesh-eater than this will you find anywhere? And these blood-thirsty men are condemned. God is called upon to “cast them out in the multitude of their ungodliness,” because they have rebelled against Him! The meaning of which, of course, is that we must from ourselves cast out the ungodly and bloodthirsty man, and in ourselves offer to God, “the sacrifice of righteousness,” which is demanded of us, that being the only sacrifice that is required by God
of us. “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination,” (Prov. xxi, 27). I think it was Edward Maitland who said: “Man’s sacrifice for sin consists in the renunciation of that lower nature which operates as a veil to hide him from his true self.” With such sacrifice, the Lord is well pleased.
We must provide the conditions that will best enable the Divine Principle within us to be manifested. To fail in this is to fail in life. There is a possibility of our losing the step of the ladder – that golden ladder – that leads to life, and getting on the step of a ladder of our own making that leads to death. The way of the flesh-eater is not “the way of peace,” which is the way that leads to life. It is a new, self-made and not Divine way of manifestation. It is an evil way. The two ways are distinct and lead to different places. All the paths of Wisdom are peace. In the article by “Ion,” to which I have referred, the writer says: “The greatest thing that any man or woman can do to serve the race during the coming critical days, is to embody in his or her life those principles and attributes which together may be summed up in the word Righteousness.”
There is a sense in which all creation is alive, because all is sustained by the
One Divine Life, whom we call God; and the question which arises for us is,
“Where in a living Universe is the line to be drawn as regards killing or taking
life for food?” The answer is, it is not permissible
for man to kill and eat any “dead thing that has looked with living eyes upon
the light of Heaven,” for, as has been said, “The eye is the
symbol of brotherhood and it is not lawful for man to take the life of his
brother to feed withal his own.” If, through
life, we bear in mind this great test of brotherhood, the words “my brethren even
the least,” will have a deeper and wider meaning
for us than would otherwise be the case; for this brotherhood acknowledges a
kinship unknown to or unheeded by those who would live as “lions” – “Inasmuch as
ye have done it into one of these my brethren, even the least, ye have done
it unto me.” Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland were told that except in the
case of evil animals – which might be slain “in the name of the Lord” – "They
are miserably deceived who expect eternal life, and restrain not their hands
from blood and death.” They were told to “eat no dead thing,” and to “drink no
fermented drink,” and to “make living elements of all the elements of their
bodies,” and to “take their food full of life, and let not the touch of death
pass upon it.” The highest knowledge, such as they sought, is reserved for those
who have fulfilled the conditions, requisite for initiation therein, and of
these conditions “the first is the complete renunciation of a diet of flesh,”
the reason, being fourfold – spiritual, moral, intellectual, and physical –
according to the fourfold constitution of man. “This condition is imperative.
Man cannot receive, nor will the Divine Powers impart, the Mysteries of the
connected by many subtle bonds. We know that the mind is in some way dependent
upon the brain in this life; and a sound, clear brain depends upon the character
of the blood supply, and that toxins in the blood stream will poison the nerve
cells and result in temporary mental derangement. Food poisoning is one of the
greatest destroyers of humanity. Blood is made from food. If changing organic
matter can poison the blood, it can also poison the nervous tissue.” Animals
(including man) can assimilate only organic substances, not inorganic elements.
Animals must, therefore, subsist upon fruits, grains, nuts and vegetables or
upon the flesh of other animals. The plants convert inorganic elements into
organic substances. The animal kingdom (including man) thus depends upon the
vegetable kingdom for its supply of vital food, and it is not right or lawful
for man to take his food indirectly by eating the flesh of other members of the
same kingdom as himself. It is a denial of the
brotherhood to which I have referred. No man can stand by himself. In her book, When the Sun Moves Northward,
to which I have referred, Mabel Collins says: “He
who stands alone, stands to fall.” “Love has the capacity to appreciate all that
lives, to suffer with all that lives, to be responsible for all that
lives,” and “He who desires to escape from physical life can only do so
by passing into and through the
Dr. Annie Besant, in her book The Three Paths of Dharma, when dealing with the manner in which a man who desires to develop the characteristics of spiritual love should treat his body, says: “The man who desires that his body shall be the vehicle in which the soul penetrated by Divine Love shall dwell, must have a body that is pure, and must use discrimination with regard to food. He begins with that elementary point, and says that the Bhakta must be careful in the selection of his food. He must not take that which would require suffering on the part of other sentient beings before he can enjoy it. The would-be Bhakta must not be a source of suffering and misery to others, a source of injury to creatures who are lower than himself in the scale of evolution. He must not use as food anything that possesses sentient life, as do all animal creatures. No Bhakta must touch such food. He not only pollutes the body by such food, but he degrades his soul by showing hatred instead of compassion, selfishness instead of altruism, doing injury to helpless animals instead of protecting them, doing away with the beautiful life of a harmless creature, for the selfish gratification of his own palate – this is trampling on the very idea of love. Therefore, at the outset he must learn discrimination of food. In the selection of the food that is necessary for a Bhakta, the magnetic law of purity must be followed – purity which affects the subtler bodies of man, which are liable to be polluted by outside contacts, and which should be kept clean from external pollution as well as from pollution from within.”
In the physical world we see the manifestation of the Divine Law, and just as in the universe there is but one substance, so on all planes
there is but one law. Now, let us consider the operation of this law in relation to disease. Mr. Reinheimer, who has devoted many years of his life to the study of the cause of cancer, says that in all things in nature there is a moral principle at work. Disease for him, is “no mystery, no chapter of accidents,” but is “a matter of retribution.” He has no sympathy with what he calls “the tiger philosophy,” of our modern Western science. He believes in the wisdom of the East, which teaches the doctrine of “the inevitable reward of every deed, good or bad, applying individually and communally.” In his opinion disease is due to “the crowded foulness of our bodies,” and to mankind’s “crowded uncleanness of soul.” He explicitly repudiates the teaching of those Victorian scientists, who taught that “the supreme law of nature consists in Universal cannibalism, (‘Eat and be eaten.’).” This doctrine of personal responsibility, which is the moral law at work, lies at the root not only of the Christian religion, but of all the great world religions. The flouting of this moral law by modern science, says Mr. Reinheimer, has been the most sinister feature of our time and it could not but produce, as it actually has done, the most dismal results. He says: “The divorce of medicine from religion and philosophy, has been nothing short of disaster,” and “The problem of health is one in which religion, morality and philosophy are intimately concerned. We cannot remain satisfied by a non-moral biology” (Occult Review, 1932). As regards the prevalent mode of diet he says: "There can be no doubt that our carnivorous habits constitute a discrepancy, and also a corruption, biologically and morally speaking,” and “In a physiological sense, our cells turn corrupt,” by which he means, “indifferent or hostile to the law of the members.” It comes to this: our own cells take on the character of and in their turn fall victims to our own degeneracy, and, in his words, “adapt themselves to paracitism,” from which it follows that, “whatever disease it be that visits us, the same is but proportional to some transgression we have previously made ourselves guilty of.” Bearing this in mind, I was recently not surprised to read in the review of a book on the Natural Cure of Cancer that H.M. Shelton, the author, finds that “cancer increases about as quickly as meat consumption increases,” and that “in cancer, our cells have just enough religion to make them hate, but not enough to make them love one another.”
Bearing in mind that the instruction of the ignorant is one of the “Spiritual Works of Mercy,” “Why,” you will ask, “is it that the Christian Church has failed – as it has failed – to teach the truth concerning these matters?” It is because the Church of today is the Church of the Fall. It has long ceased as a body to be the Church of the Spirit. Anna Kingsford said: “Religion has been degraded through the materialization of the spiritual doctrine of sacrifice,” and, for this, the responsibility rests with the priests. The extension of the doctrine of vicarious sacrifice from the sacerdotal to the social and scientific planes, has made of Christendom little else than a vast slaughter-house and chamber of
torture. I have explained the spiritual teaching regarding sacrifice. As an instance of the evil effect of the materialistic teaching, I refer to a very beautiful little book written by a lady who remains anonymous. It is entitled The Prodigal Returns. The authoress, who has been in close communion with God, writes as follows: “Is it all joy to find God? How can it be? ... How can the daily requirements of flesh be fulfilled without pain? How without profound humiliation and patience can we descend from contemplation to duties in the household? How without pain consider, with that same mind which has so recently been wrapped in God, the various merits of breads, pasties, and portions of dead animal in order that flesh shall live! What a fall is this! – a fall that must be taken daily and patiently.” The fall here referred to is, indeed, very obvious; but, if the flesh of dead animals be not for us a God-ordained food – as most assuredly it is not – is not the sin of the act which is the occasion of such fall also obvious? Though not so to the writer of the book, who has accepted the assurance of ecclesiastical pastors that flesh-eating is not necessarily depraving, and of medical practitioners and others that it is natural; and so against her own true intuition, has come to regard it as a painful but unavoidable incident of life to be “patiently” endured! No true religion can stand for flesh-eating; for, what is religion? Edward Maitland says: “Religion signifies our sense of relation to a whole, of which we recognize ourselves as a part, and duty signifies our sense of relation to our fellow-parts in that whole.” To like effect, Madame Blavatsky says: “Religion in its widest meaning is that which binds not only all men, but all Beings and all things in the entire Universe into one grand whole.” These are definitions that spell “Peace on earth,” because the binding principle referred to is Love – love extended to the whole creation – the “way of peace.” This is the “path,” to which I referred, “which no bird of prey knoweth.” It means harmony – harmony with God and with his creation.
The late Professor Caird, in his Gifford Lectures on the “Evolution of Theology in the Greek Philosophers,” says: “God is our centre, from whom to separate ourselves is to be in discord with ourselves and with all things; while to be in direct communion with Him is to attain perfect harmony and peace with ourselves and with the universe.” Henry Myers, in a little book written for the patients at St. Thomas’s Hospital in London, says: “The first step towards perfect physical health is to have a right attitude to the Author of our being, to recognize the necessity of living in harmony with Him, by cultivating a spirit of love towards Him, and by endeavouring that His will should be done in us, and obeying His Law that we should love Him supremely, and our fellow-men as ourselves.”
It is only after many lives that we learn the lessons that life in the lower worlds has to teach us. This is knowledge gained by experience. In creation, the path of the Divine Spark in us is outward and downward – the purpose being the individuation of Spirit. In redemption, the process is reversed, being the spiritualization of the individual.
For the fulfilment of the purpose of our creation, it is necessary that our whole life be consecrated to the service of the highest within us – that is, the Spiritual Man – and eating and drinking must be brought into his service. Only when this is done do we eat and drink “to the Glory of God,” and then our very meals become as sacraments, and our food is, literally, blessed by God. The righteous man can truly ask God to bless his food to his use; but not so the unrighteous man – by which, in this connection, I mean the man who does not feed righteously. Only such food as has been righteously come by can be said to be blessed by God. I once read that “unconsecrated food nourishes only the physical form,” while “food partaken of as a sacrament, nourishes the spiritual body also.” (Occult Review, September 1928). The food of the man who would attain to spirituality must be of such nature that it can be blessed by God. I have referred to Anna Kingsford; and, in conclusion, let me repeat to you what, many years ago, she said regarding the vegetarian movement in which, in her time, she was such a prominent worker, and to the forwarding of which she devoted so much of her life. In never-to-be-forgotten words she said: “I consider the vegetarian movement to be the most important movement of our age. I believe this because I see in it the beginning of true civilization. My opinion is that up to the present moment we do not know what civilization means. When we look at the dead bodies of animals, whether entire or cut up, which with sauces and condiments are served at our table, we do not reflect on the horrible deed that has preceded these dishes: and yet it is something terrible to know that every meal to which we sit down has cost a life. I hold that we owe it to civilization to elevate the whole of that deeply demoralized and barbarized class of people – butchers, cattle-drovers and all others who are connected with the deplorable business. Thousands of persons are degraded by the slaughterhouse in their neighbourhood, which condemns whole classes to a debasing and inhuman occupation. I await the time when the consummation of the vegetarian movement shall have created perfect men, for I see in this movement the foundations of perfection. When I perceive the possibilities of vegetarianism and the heights to which it can raise us, I feel convinced that it will prove the redeemer of the world.”
SAMUEL HOPGOOD HART.