A company of scribes and Pharisees came from Jerusalem to learn wherein the power of Jesus lay. But when they learned that he and his disciples heeded not the custom of the Jews, regarding washing of the hands before they ate, they were amazed. And Jesus said, Hypocrisy is queen among you scribes and Pharisees. Of you Isaiah wrote: This people honor me with lips; their hearts are far away. In vain they worship me; their doctrines are the dogmas and the creeds of men. You men who pose as men of God, and still reject the laws of God and teach the laws of men, stand forth and tell when God gave unto men the ceremonial laws that you observe; and tell these people how the spirit life is sullied if one washes not before he eats. (Aquarian Gospel 126:1-6)
The power of Jesus which interested the scribes and Pharisees was not spiritual power nor even miraculous power, but what they considered was his power over others. This is always true of such people. They never give ordinary people any credit for either good sense or will power. So they are always holding forth about discovering who has influenced or deceived them, looking for someone to blame for their losing their grasp on those people. This is especially the way of religion. I encountered it early on in life.
It cannot be denied that much of religion is purely from the human ego and ignorance. Few teach the true laws of God, but only externals and externally-directed doctrines. Obsession with ceremonial purity has been a curse of religion through the ages.
His critics answered not, and then he said, Hear me, you men of Israel! Defilement is a creature of the heart. The carnal mind lays hold of thought, and makes a monstrous bride; this bride is sin; sin is a creature of the mind. (Aquarian Gospel 126:7, 8)
Defilement is a matter of the mind and heart. When there is something wrong in a person’s life there is something wrong in their mind. Just as Edison could not have invented a light bulb if the idea was not first in his mind, so no one does any act that does not come from his mind. Action is the fruition of seeds sown in the mind in this or past lives. So unless we start with the mind we will never be able to correct our behavior.
That which defiles a man is not the food he eats. The bread and fish and other things we eat, are simply cups to carry to the cells of flesh material for the building of the human house, and when their work is done as refuse they are cast away. The life of plant and flesh that goes to build the human house is never food for soul. The spirit does not feed upon the carcasses of animal, or plant. God feeds the soul direct from heaven; the bread of life comes from above. The air we breathe is charged with Holy Breath, and he who wills may take this Holy Breath. The soul discriminates, and he who wants the life of Christ may breathe it in. According to your faith so let it be. (Aquarian Gospel 126:9-14)
That which defiles a man is not the food he eats. This does not contradict the teaching of the upanishad I cited. The energies from food that attach themselves to the mind are of two qualities: light and fluid and heavy and inert, not good or bad. However, since we are working for self-transformation, the light energies make this possible, whereas the heavy energies often cannot even be moved by our will in spiritual practices. Thus, the light energies are a help and the heavy are a hindrance. For this reason yogis are always careful about their diet. They do not avoid things because they are evil or eat that which they think is good or virtuous, but those that make purification and refinement of our mental energies possible. It is not a matter of pure and impure, spiritually speaking. Yet we must be aware of the effect different foods have on the mind. For example, when I first began teaching yoga I wondered how important vegetarianism was for them my future students. So rather than just parrot that they should be vegetarians, I broke my discipline and ate a single hamburger. It hindered my meditations for over a week! My mind just would not go upward as it did before. The heavy vibrations of the meat was like ballast to a balloon. So I did not hesitate from then on to advise the adoption of a vegetarian diet.
The life of plant and flesh that goes to build the human house is never food for soul. The spirit does not feed upon the carcasses of animal, or plant. We do need to realize that although the spirit is never affected by diet, the subtle bodies that make up the soul are made out of the energies of the food we eat. The soul is not defiled but it is either made light or heavy. So for the yogi diet is a very practical matter. Nevertheless there is the karma involved in killing a sentient being for its flesh, and that is very much a hindrance to spiritual life.
God feeds the soul direct from heaven; the bread of life comes from above. But we have to look above and seek the bread of heaven, and if the energies of the mind are heavy and inert we will either not look up and ask for the bread of life, or will not be able to receive it when it is offered to us. This is simple fact.
The air we breathe is charged with Holy Breath, and he who wills may take this Holy Breath. The soul discriminates, and he who wants the life of Christ may breathe it in. Now we have gotten to an extremely important subject: that of breath as a means to fill ourselves with the light of the Holy Spirit. Pranayama, work with the breath, is a vital part of yoga and meditation practice because the breath directly affects the mind and the subtle faculties in the soul-bodies. Everything alive breathes, for the breath is a direct manifestation of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Breath, the Spirit of Christ. The pranayama of yoga should not be equated with the breathing exercises of hatha yoga. Yoga pranayama consists of observing the breath and integrating certain esoteric practices with the process of inhalation and exhalation. I have written elsewhere:
“The reason why breath plays such an important part in the technique of classical Yoga lies in the close relation existing between breath and mind. ‘Breath and mind arise from the same source,’ the Self, according to Sri Ramana Maharshi in Day By Day With Bhagavan. One of the most profound texts on the philosophy behind yoga, the Shiva Sutras, says: ‘The connection of pure consciousness with breath [prana] is natural’ (Shiva Sutras 3:43). Breath is the meeting place of body, mind, and spirit.
“The breath and the body are completely interconnected and interrelated, as is seen from the fact that the breath is calm when the body is calm, and agitated or labored when the body is agitated or labored. The heavy exhalation made when feeling exhausted and the enthusiastic inhalation made when feeling energized or exhilarated establish the same fact.
“The breath and the emotions are completely interconnected and interrelated, as is seen from the fact that the breath is calm when the emotions are calm, and agitated and labored when the emotions are agitated or out of control. Our drawing of a quick breath, when we are surprised, shocked, or fearful, and the forceful exhalation done when angry or annoyed demonstrate this.
“The breath and the mind are completely interconnected and interrelated, as is seen from the fact that the breath is calm when the mind is calm, and agitated, irregular, and labored when the mind is agitated or disturbed in any way. Our holding of the breath when attempting intense concentration also shows this.
“Breath, which exists on all planes of manifestation, is the connecting link between matter and energy on the one hand and consciousness and mind on the other. It is necessary for the vitalization and functioning of all vehicles of consciousness, physical or superphysical.
“We start with awareness of the ordinary physical breath, but that awareness, when cultivated correctly, leads us into higher awareness which enables us to perceive the subtle movement behind the breath. Ultimately, we come into contact with the breather of the breath, our own spirit.
“In many spiritual traditions the same word is used for both breath and spirit, underscoring the esoteric principle that in essence they are the same, though we naturally think of spirit as being the cause of breath(ing). The word used for both breath and spirit is: In Judaism, Ruach. In Eastern Christianity (and ancient Greek religion), Pneuma. In Western Christianity (and ancient Roman religion), Spiritus (which comes from spiro, ‘I breathe’). In Hinduism and Buddhism, Atma (from the root word at which means ‘to breathe’), and Prana.”
A description of pranayama would be a distraction here. See my book Om Yoga for instruction in pranayama.
Man is not a part of his abiding place; the house is not the man. The lower world builds up the house of flesh, and keeps it in repair; the higher world provides the bread of spirit life. The loveliest lilies grow from stagnant ponds and filthiest muck. The law of flesh demands that one should keep the body clean. The law of spirit call for purity in thought and word and deed. (Aquarian Gospel 126:15-19)
The lowest part of our life, the body, is also the highest part, according to its degree of purity. And the degree of purity of our thought, word and deed determines how much or how little we are living and embodying the Christ-life.
Now, when the evening came and they were in the house, the twelve had many things to say, and many questions to propound. Nathaniel asked, Was what you said about the house of flesh a parable? If so, what does it mean? And Jesus said, Can you not yet discriminate? Do you not yet perceive that what a man takes in his mouth defiles him not? His food goes not into his soul; it is material for flesh and bone and brawn. To spirit everything is clean. That which defiles a man wells up from carnal thoughts; and carnal thoughts spring from the heart, and generate a host of evil things. From out the heart comes murders, thefts and foolishness. All selfish acts and sensual deeds spring from the heart. To eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man. (Aquarian Gospel 126:20-27)
This is so clear that it needs no comment.
And Peter said, Lord, What you said today has grievously offended scribe and Pharisee. And Jesus said, These scribes and Pharisees are not the scions of the tree of life; they are not plants of God; they are the plants of men, and every foreign plant shall be plucked up. Let all these men alone; they are blind guides; they lead a multitude of people who are blind. The leaders and the led together walk; together they will fall into the yawning pits. (Aquarian Gospel 126:28-31)
It is a mistake to become upset and mentally involved with false religion, false teachers and their followers. They are a part of the human situation, and only evolution enables a person to perceive them for what they are. So we should pay attention to fostering our own spiritual lives, part of which is cultivating good will and blessing for all, including such people. They, too, will one day take the upward path and attain Christhood.