17. MAN'S BEST FOOD
HAVING defined "Man" and "Common Sense," as in the article Vegetarianism in its Higher Aspects, (1) Edward Maitland continued: –
Now, it is of Man as thus defined, and according to Common Sense as thus defined, that we claim as man's best food the produce of the vegetable world. Not only is this the only food to be procured by means which involve no shock to our moral and higher nature, it is also the only food which ministers to the development of that higher nature and of our consciousness of it. It needs no special scientific knowledge to tell us that it is not from bodies of the dead, from which all the vital elements have departed, that we can extract the best and purest substances for building us up into the full stature of the man perfect, whether in body, mind, soul, or spirit. Only the grains and fruits, ripened in the sun and filled with nature's vital magnetism in its highest perfection, can yield us these.
The key to all perfection is Purity, purity of body and conduct, purity of mind and thought, purity of soul and feeling, purity of spirit and desire. And in so far as we follow purity in all these, we follow that supreme Perfection whose name is God. This is the perfection which numberless men in all ages have aspired after, but which vegetarians only have been known to realise, since, even to see it mentally, it is necessary to have the luminous vision which is possible only to a purely nourished organism. For the perception of it requires the exclusion from man's system – which is but a repetition in small of the parent solar system – of everything, physical or mental, from which there might arise exhalations to darken his spiritual atmosphere and hide his spiritual sun. Of that sun, which is the radiant point of the man himself, no clear view can be obtained by one whose affections are such that
he can deliberately nourish himself upon blood, or exact for himself sacrifice of the innocent, and whose mental surfaces are constituted of such gross materials.
For, even though excelling in much else, such an one is deficient in the most essential of all respects – that of Love. Love is the centripetal power alike of the universe and of the individual – the power which binds together all things in heaven and on earth, in the world of thought and the world of sense. It is the power, therefore, of religion, which implies bound together; and the power which draws inwards to God. It is, therefore, the power by yielding to which alone man can find his own true centre and pivot, and attain to the common sense of every region of his manifold nature.
I have said that we have on our
side in this matter the experience of history. It is by following this
Experimental philosophers were they, and not shrinking from painful experimentation. But, for them, the only legitimate subject of such experimentation was a man's own Self. For, knowing that divine ends can be attained only through divine means, they held it a madness to expect to get good by doing evil.
Freethinkers were they; but not as those who in our day usurp that noblest of man's titles only to travesty and degrade it. For they did not restrict their thought to one single direction, and this the outward, to Matter only and negation, and there bind it fast. But they impelled it freely in every
direction open to thought, both outward to Matter and inward to Spirit, from the phenomenal Fact to the substantial Idea, complementing the Intellect by the Intuition, and so completing the system of their thought as alone it can be completed, and proving that man is not of necessity agnostic, but has indeed an organon of knowledge whereby he can attain to certitude of Truth, even the highest.
And they were Free-livers too; not as those who are wont to be so-called, and who are the veriest slaves to the bodily sense. But they were free in that they formed and followed their own ideal of perfection, suffering neither tyranny of custom nor any weakness of their own to stand in the way of its realization.
And, according as they were all these, and for love of perfection followed the law of purity, they rose higher and higher on the ladder of our common Humanity – the ladder on the summit of which, where it melts into Deity, we Christians place the Christ, the Finding of whom is always the result alone of following the Perfect Way of which the first step is adoption of “the best food for Man.”
The magic so successful in the past is equally potent, equally available now. For the world and man are made now as they were made then, and have ever in themselves the seed of their own regeneration. Of this divine magic the only implements are a pure life, a firm will, and a loving heart. Given these three, and the loftiest ideal which can be conceived in thought can be realized in fact. For of Man and nature the thought can be realised in fact. For of Man and Nature the capacity is boundless, extending from the “bottomless pit” of the negation of Being to the very throne of God. And, as God is Love, and Love hath nothing of its own, all that God has and is is man’s also, if he but seek it aright. Operating through eternity, man’s will becomes an infinite will. And to infinite will al things are possible.
And since that which is true of the individual is true also of the general, the rule that will perfect the man will perfect also the nation, aye, and the world. Recognising and welcoming as we do all the many admirable movements now in operation to the same great end of our social regeneration, we regard this one as by far the most essential, and are convinced that, until we return as a people to man’s best food, all other schemes together will be ineffectual, since, for man and
woman to be their best, it is necessary that they be built up of the best materials. What science, economy, and health say these materials are, my predecessor has told you. What history, philosophy, and religion say they are, I have told you.
(202:1) Pp. 159-169 ante.