What are the Four Soul Killers? Before enumerating them, we should examine the principles behind the avoidance of various items.
Although this study is based on the Judeo-Christian scriptures, both Judaism and Christianity have roots in the philosophy of India as explained in The Christ of India. So here at the beginning I would like to present some statements about the nature and effect of food that are found in the basic texts of India, the upanishads.
“From food has arisen strength [virya], austerity [tapasya], mantra, action, and the world itself” (Prashna Upanishad 6.4). Ascetic discipline (tapasya) and prayer (mantra) are essential to religion, and here we see that the food we eat is their basis. And obviously the kind of food we eat will determine the quality of our discipline and prayer.
“By food, indeed, do all the breaths [pranas, life forces] become great” (Taittiriya Upanishad 1.5.4).
“Man, verily consists of the essence of food” (Taittiriya Upanishad 2.1.1). So we are what we eat.
“From food, verily, are produced all creatures–whatsoever dwell on earth. By food alone, furthermore, do they live.…From food all creatures are born: by food, when born, they grow.…Verily, different from this, which consists of the essence of food, but within it, is another self, which consists of the vital breath [prana]. By this the former is filled. This too has the shape of a man. Like the human shape of the former is the human shape of the latter” (Taittiriya Upanishad 2.2.1). The spiritual, astral body is drawn exclusively from food, so diet is crucial in spiritual development.
“Food when eaten becomes threefold. What is coarsest in it becomes faeces, what is medium becomes flesh and what is subtlest becomes mind. Water when drunk becomes threefold. What is coarsest in it becomes urine, what is medium becomes blood and what is subtlest becomes prana.…The mind, my dear, consists of food, [and] the prana of water…” (Chandogya Upanishad 6.5.1, 2, 4).
“That, my dear, which is the subtlest part of curds rises, when they are churned and becomes butter. In the same manner, my dear, that which is the subtlest part of the food that is eaten rises and becomes mind. The subtlest part of the water that is drunk rises and becomes prana. Thus, my dear, the mind consists of food, [and] the prana consists of water” (Chandogya Upanishad 6.6.1-3,5; the same is confirmed in 6.7.1-6).
“Now is described the discipline for inner purification by which self-knowledge is attained: When the food is pure, the mind becomes pure. When the mind is pure the memory [smriti–memory of our eternal spirit-Self] becomes firm. When the memory is firm all ties are loosened” (Chandogya Upanishad 7.26.2).
“On food rests everything—whatsoever breathes and whatsoever breathes not” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.5.1).
“In the body there are nerves [nadis] called hita, which are placed in the heart. Through these the essence of our food passes as it moves on. Therefore the subtle body receives finer food than the gross body” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.2.3).
The basic principle
It is wise to avoid taking into our bodies any substances that are addicting or that produce a distortion or dulling of consciousness–in other words, anything that produces an abnormal or unbalanced state of mind. This is because our body chemistry, which is produced by whatever we take into our bodies, is the most potent influence on our mental states.
For this reason those who seek higher consciousness should scrupulously avoid: 1) all animal flesh, including fish and eggs; 2) tobacco in any form; 3) alcohol in any form; and 4) mind-altering drugs, including the legal ones. The use of these substances is a form of mental and spiritual suicide–and often physical suicide, too, for the number of suicides committed by those who are pumped full of “tranquillizers” and “anti-depressants” is simply incredible.
No thing exists as a merely physical entity. All objects consist of innumerable layers of energies, ranging from the grossest material (atomic) vibrations to the subtlest, almost spiritual, energy. Therefore whatever we eat does not only enter into our physical bodies, but into all levels of our being. That is a very sobering, if not actually unsettling, thought. Our minds, our emotions, even our wills, are masses of subtle energies, and whatever we eat or drink enters also into those energy levels and affects them profoundly.
After all, what sensible person wants the mind, the emotions, and the will impulses of animals grafted into his own mind, emotions, and will–thus altering them and changing them from intelligent human entities into instinctual animal entities? Yet this is exactly the effect of eating meat. And since tobacco, alcohol, and mind-altering drugs poison and distort the physical body and the mind, what must they do to the higher aspects of our being–especially our wills? All four of these listed substances are addicting to the human body, and therefore erode the will. And without the will intact, what are we?
It should be understood that these substances are not evil in themselves. It is their effect on us that is negative. To take them into our bodies is to misuse them. Everything is good in its right place, but our bodies and minds are not the right place for these things.
Meat, Fish, and Eggs
First let us look at meat. The effect of meat on the mental and psychic states of those who eat it is detrimental to the attempt at attaining higher consciousness. It is even destructive of normal, balanced mental states for, as stated above, our minds are fields of energy which absorb the subtle energies of whatever we eat and are affected thereby. To eat meat is to absorb the mental state of the animal.
The Spiritual Aspect
But there is also a religious basis for abstaining from meat. The eating of meat directly opposes the commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.” God did not qualify His prohibition by adding the words: “human beings.” Killing is prohibited strictly across the board. The Hebrew word translated “kill” is tirtzach, which according to The Complete Hebrew/English Dictionary means: “any kind of killing whatsoever.”
God Himself has spoken on the severity of slaughtering cattle: “He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man” (Isaiah 66:3). No need for interpretation. It is quite clear: To kill a cow is as homicide in God’s eyes. Why? Because that cow is as real and viable a person as you and I, with just as much right to earth life for evolution as anyone else. And if you do not think that God values cattle with humans, consider His words to Jonah: “Should I not spare Ninevah, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:11).
Even more to the point, Saint Paul states: “For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offense. It is good neither to eat meat or drink wine…” (Romans 14:20, 21).
The Bible definitely teaches that human beings should be vegetarians, right from the start of the human race. “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat” (Genesis 1:29). What is more, God continues and sets the same diet for all living creatures: “And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so” (Genesis 1:30).
What About Noah?
Some advocates of meat-eating maintain that after the Flood, because of altered conditions on earth, God permitted Noah and his descendants to eat meat. But this is not so. After the great Flood, when there was little to eat, God made an emergency concession to Noah which has been thoroughly distorted and used to justify meat-eating. Here is the actual text: “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things” (Genesis 9:3).
Carnivores attempt to justify themselves–and at the same time condemn vegetarians by making this seem an eternal commandment rather than the temporary concession that it was–by pretending that this verse gives human beings the right to eat all living creatures. Nothing could be more false. The Greek term in the Septuagint which is here translated “moving thing” is herpeton, which literally means “reptile” (it is the word from which we get herpetology, the study of snakes), but in this instance it refers to crustaceans and mollusks, such as clams, abalone, oysters, lobsters, crabs, shrimp, crayfish, and snails, which are not animals, but insects. How do we know this? By the explicit prohibitive qualification given by God in the next verse: “But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat” (Genesis 9:4).
No, it does not mean that we should eat dead bodies that have had the blood drained out and are therefore “kosher.” That is a second ridiculous distortion. Rather, these words mean that any organism whose life fluid is red blood is absolutely prohibited. Here is the translation from the ancient Septuagint text: “But flesh with blood of life ye shall not eat.” By “blood of life” is meant red blood–which all animals share in common with man. The “moving things” do not have red blood, being, as has been said, insects. Not that that makes them fit to normally eat.
So the truth of the matter is that for a short time only because of the conditions right after the Flood, Noah and his family were permitted to eat that type of insect life which would not be poisonous and would give some nourishment. Lest they misunderstand and think that they could eat other “creepers,” such as snakes, etc., God made a clear demarcation between what He was temporarily allowing and what was absolutely banned by establishing the principle that no animal with red blood could be eaten–ever.
But why would there be this prohibition? For two reasons: (1) it is physically and psychically harmful to eat the type of flesh that has red blood, and (2) it is morally wrong to interrupt the life and evolution of those life forms that have evolved far enough to develop red blood. Insects–which is really what those organisms permitted temporarily to Noah and his family were, though on the borderline of being true animals–experience very little interruption of their life chain by death. In fact, seers have observed that an insect is reborn almost instantly upon the death of its body–in a matter of a minutes to a few hours at the most. This is not true in the case of animals, who suffer real trauma at death.
The addictive nature of meat and its consequent negative effect is shown in Exodus, when the Hebrews, although delivered from slavery, actually said to Moses: “Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots” (Exodus 16:3). And that was not all. When God was giving them miraculous food in the form of manna, they rebelled against that heavenly diet, and “the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting [the New King James version has “yielded to intense craving].” In other words, even though they were being fed on perfect, divine food, they began to suffer “withdrawal,” as do any addicts. And in their frenzy of thwarted addiction “the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat: We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely …but now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes” (Numbers 11:4-6).
What more perfect example of the evil effect of eating meat do we need than this? The food which God provided in His love, food that was perfect for them, was rejected by them like madmen because of their addiction to meat and fish. “Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven, and had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven” so that “man did eat angels food” (Psalm 78:23-25), that “food of angels” was hated by them in their love for dead flesh. They looked with nostalgia upon their enslavement in Egypt–which entailed the murder of all their male children–because at the same time they were getting to eat meat!
Does not this show clearly the utter contradiction between spiritual consciousness and flesh-eating? In the light of this example, it would not be amiss to question the compatibility of meat-eating with sanity itself. But the matter is not finished. Because of their carryings-on God, Who does not interfere with man’s free will, sent an abundance of quail to them. And those “dried up” people, supposedly weak from a non-meat diet, spent nearly forty-eight hours vigorously catching and killing them! (Remember this the next time someone tells you that they tried to be vegetarians but were forced to start eating meat again because their health was giving out.) And then?
“And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord smote the people with a very great plague. And he called the name of that place Kibroth Hattaavah: because there they buried the people that lusted” (Numbers 11:33, 34). The New King James version has: “While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was aroused against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very great plague. So he called the name of the place Kibroth Hattaavah [Graves of Craving], because there they buried the people who had yielded to craving.” These final words indicate that those who abstained from meat and ate the manna did not die. Those who ate flesh did die.
The New Testament
Turning to the New Testament, we find definite instructions on diet. The oldest known version of the Gospels is in Aramaic, the actual language which Christ spoke. The text of Luke 21:34 reads: “Now take care in your souls that you never make your hearts heavy by eating flesh and by drinking wine.” What more need be said?
Loaves and Fishes?
Eventually we get to the assertion that Jesus and the Apostles ate fish–especially since he worked the miracle of multiplying the loaves and fishes.
Let us consider the miracle of multiplication first, because it actually underscores that disapprobation of Jesus in relation to eating fish. We find the account of the miracle in all four Gospels. But in Matthew 14:19, Mark 6:41, and John 6:11, a very definite distinction is made between the bread and the fish. All three evangelists specifically–obviously deliberately–state that the Lord Jesus first took the loaves, blessed them, and gave them to the Apostles to distribute. He never blessed the fish or broke them for eating, but simply handed them to the Apostles for distribution. Why, then, did he even multiply the fish? First, because the five loaves and two fishes are important symbols of esoteric wisdom. Second, if he had not done so he would not have been able to make such a distinction in his treatment of them and thereby give us this lesson showing his attitude toward eating fish.
There is another opinion, however. There is a plant found in the Sea of Galilee called “the fish plant” that was eaten at the time of Jesus and is used even today in the Middle East. Small rolls, rather like our modern vegetarian versions of sushi, were made from the plant and called “fish.” Some feel that these were what Christ multiplied.
Since Jesus was an Essene–as were most of his apostles–it is impossible to believe that he or they ate meat or fish. Although some of the apostles were fishermen before meeting him, there is no evidence that they ate fish after being called by Christ.
Also, if we look at the accounts of the two times Jesus “cleansed” the Temple (Matthew 21:12, 13; John 2:13-17), we will see that his main targets were the sellers of animals for sacrifice–the moneychangers being only secondary in his concern.
However, two evidences of the Apostles’ faithlessness and reversion to their old way of life were their having some fish when Jesus appeared to them after his resurrection and asked for something to eat (Luke 24:41-43), and their going back to catching fish, even after seeing the resurrected Christ. It was for this reason that Jesus asked Saint Peter point blank: “Simon, Son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these [fish]?” (John 21:15). For the reversion to eating fish and catching them certainly betokened their losing faith in Christ and a leaving of their “first love” (Revelation 2:4). In this way Jesus gently but pointedly rebuked them, making it clear that Saint Peter could not have both Jesus and the dead flesh. He had to choose between them. So it is clear that meat-eating is a serious obstacle to spiritual life.
The unsettled meat-eater (who often completely disregards the Bible on other subjects) asserts: “Didn’t Jesus say that it is not what goes into the body that defiles it, but what comes out of the heart?” Yes; but not the “yes” they want. Here is the passage they are referring to: “Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.…And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.…Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man” (Matthew 15:1, 2, 10, 11, 17-19).
So here it can be easily seen by any but the most willfully blind that Jesus was speaking about physical cleanliness being exaggerated into spiritual cleanliness. We see this today in many supposedly health-minded people who also think they are metaphysically-minded. They believe that to purify themselves spiritually they should take purgatives and high colonics. The absurd fiction known as The Essene Gospel of Peace not only has Jesus saying that fecal matter is sin, but even giving ludicrous instructions to the apostles on how to take high enemas to rid themselves of sin and thus become spiritually pure.
The eating of meat greatly darkens the consciousness and inhibits not only spiritual but physical and mental growth as well. It is for this reason that vegetarian babies are continually being declared six months “ahead of themselves” in physical growth. What the carnivore doctors who make this statement do not realize is that meat-eating retards the physical growth of infants to an easily perceived degree. The vegetarians are not ahead–rather, the meat-eating children are behind in their development.
The physical act of eating meat and its negative consequences in the form of the deadening of awareness is not spiritually defiling. However, for those who should know better, such a willful killing of consciousness is a spiritual defilement. After all, Saint Paul whom the carnivores love to quote out of context, also said: “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit? He who defiles the temple, him will God destroy.” Now the temple is in no way the indwelling spirit. That is obvious. Therefore the defiling of the temple is not the defiling of spirit, but rather the defying of spirit by inhibiting consciousness–and therefore evolution. The willful self-destruction of the body by meat-eating is indeed a moral (i.e., spiritual) defiling of oneself.
The “heart” spoken of by Jesus in the carnivores’ “no defilement” misquotation is not the organ which circulates the blood in the physical body, but rather the inner psychic bodies of the individual. And their makeup is determined almost exclusively by diet. Therefore, diet does determine what the nature of the heart shall be. Out of a pure and enlightened heart only purity and light can come. But conversely, out of a darkened and deadened heart only darkness and death can come. This should be realized, for it is the emanations of this “heart” that do indeed defile not only us but those around us. And since diet determines the nature of the heart, there can be no alternative to vegetarianism for one who aspires to accomplish conscious evolution and return to the infinite Source. As the beloved Apostle said: “Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (I John 3:3). Again: “Now is described the discipline for inner purification by which self-knowledge is attained: When the food is pure, the mind becomes pure. When the mind is pure the memory [smriti–memory of our eternal spirit-Self] becomes firm. When the memory is firm all ties are loosened” (Chandogya Upanishad 7.26.2).
Meat-eaters insist that in the fourteenth chapter of Romans and the eighth chapter of First Corinthians Saint Paul said it was all right to eat meat, since it was provided by God, even if for the sake of weak people it would sometimes be good to abstain. But they are misled by King James’ linguistics. At the time of the King James version, “meat” was the common term for food in general. In the passages they refer to, the Greek word is broma which simply means “food” (the Greek word for flesh is kreas.) The controversy discussed by Saint Paul was not about flesh-eating, but about eating food which had been offered in pagan temples–the eating itself being considered an oblique act of worship of the deities to whom it had been offered. Also, in certain areas, the pagans would take blood from their sacrifices and sprinkle it over all the food in the market, and then claim that by buying and eating that food–though in innocence of what had been done–the Christians were partaking of “the food of the gods” and thereby recognizing them. Saint Paul said that the blessing of Christians removed any defilement of pagan worship, but that food so obtained should not be eaten if it caused doubts in persons of more sensitive conscience.
In Romans 14:2, 3 we read: “For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.” There is not a word here about meat-eating versus vegetarianism. Notice that Saint Paul speaks of those who “eat all things,” not those who eat meat. What, then, does it mean?
Initiates of the Mysteries
Unlike popular supposing, the Apostles did not go from city to city shouting on the street corners for people to come and “get saved.” In fact, they hardly ever spoke in open public situations. Rather, they went to a place and sought out those who were initiates of the various mystery schools–whatever the religion–and to these only, since they had an esoteric background, did they speak of Christ.
The various mystery schools of the Mediterranean world often had dietetic restrictions for their initiates, especially in relation to plants that were considered sacred to their particular deity–and should therefore be treated with respect and not eaten. Some plants (vegetables) were looked upon as somehow harmful to esoteric development. For example, the Pythagoreans considered that beans had a detrimental effect on meditation, making the mind “heavy.” Others considered that root vegetables should be avoided since they grew under the earth in darkness. Others (as do many Indian yogis of today) felt that onions, garlic, and hot spices had a negative effect on the mind. The Jewish Essenes felt that everything listed in Numbers 11:5–fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic–for which the Hebrews pined in the desert when they complained about eating manna, should never be eaten. (Some Hindus today will not eat cucumbers, considering them slightly toxic.) Because of Genesis 1:11, 12, and 29, they also would not eat anything which did not come from seeds, such as mushrooms (which Hindus also refuse to eat).
It was only natural then that when many of these people (including those Brahmins of South India who became disciples of Saint Thomas the Apostle) converted to Christianity they had an ingrained prejudice against those items they had abstained from for so long. This was especially true of those who had been taught to eat nothing but leafy plants (“herbs”) or things that grew above the ground–and usually only those which were preceded by a flower. Agreement or disagreement with these ideas were what Saint Paul refers to as “doubtful disputations” which should be left up to the choice of the individual. But we can see by other passages from Saint Paul that he had no doubt at all about the wrongness of meat-eating.
The vision of Saint Peter
Another favorite scriptural “proof” sometimes set forth is that God gave Saint Peter a vision of animals, and told him to kill and eat them (Acts 10:9-16). What those who appeal to this incident seem to overlook is the fact that Saint Peter refused to do so absolutely! He evidently held the opinion in common with Saint Paisius Velichkovsky, as cited in Christian Vegetarianism, that even a heavenly revelation would be no justification for eating meat. Then it was made clear to him that the vision was purely symbolic, and indicated that he should not avoid the Gentiles as though they were unclean. And that was that. He never killed and ate. Centuries before that vision, God told Abraham to kill Isaac (Genesis 22:1-18). He was willing to do so in obedience, thereby passing the test, but that hardly makes murder of one’s children lawful.
Are we killing plants?
Often the objection is raised that we are killing plants to eat them. But this is not accurate, either. When we harvest vegetables, we do so at the end of their growth cycle; we don’t “cut them down in the prime of life.” Animals, however, are slaughtered long before their natural lifespan is finished. We must also distinguish between the fruit and the plant. When we pick, say a tomato, we do not kill the plant, but it continues to grow–no life is taken. As for root vegetables such as carrots or potatoes, the “root” that we harvest is the final stage in the plant’s growth; if it were not harvested, the plant would merely rot in the earth. Furthermore, in plants the sensory mind is only potential, it is “asleep.” They do not feel pain. Although they do have a rudimentary nervous system that responds to injury, the conscious mind that would receive the message of pain in animal organisms is not functional.
In the early centuries of Christianity vegetarianism was the norm according to such authoritative persons as Saint Jerome, Papias, Tertullian, Saint Benedict, Saint Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Cyprian, Saint Pantaenus, and Saint Basil the Great.
[Saint Peter’s words on meat-eating have already been cited in Christian Vegetarianism.]
In The Church History of Eusebius, Book II, chapter 23. the historian Hegesippus records that Saint James of Jerusalem “did not drink wine nor eat any living thing.”
In his Church History (Book 2, chapter 17), Eusebius states the Saint Mark told the Christians he converted in Alexandria to always refrain from meat.
Both Saint Epiphanios and Saint Cyril of Jerusalem wrote that originally the Christians abstained from meat. Saint Augustine, Saint Jerome, and the historian Theodoretos said the same thing.
Saint Anthony the Great of Egypt, Patriarch of Christian monks, “very strictly forbade the eating of meat, as the written account of his life demonstrates” says Saint Basil of Poiana Marului.
Saint Jerome, virtually quoting Saint Paul wrote: “It is a good thing not to drink wine and not to eat flesh.”
Commenting on the same statement of Saint Paul, Saint Clement of Alexandria wrote: “It is good, then, neither to eat flesh nor to drink wine, as he [Saint Paul] and the Pythagoreans acknowledged. For this is rather characteristic of a beast; and the fumes arising from them being dense, darken the soul” (The Instructor, Book II, chapter 1). That is certainly to the point Eating flesh is a trait of beasts, not men, and the subtle emanations (“fumes”) of meat that are absorbed into the psychic part of our existence darken our minds and souls. He says a little further on that “Happiness is found in the practice of virtue. Accordingly, the Apostle Matthew partook of seeds, and nuts, and vegetables, without flesh.” That pursuance of a flesh-free diet is a virtue leading to happiness should not surprise us, for happiness is an interior state, and our inner makeup is produced almost exclusively from the food we eat.
In Book VII of the Stromata, Saint Clement further wrote: “If any one of the righteous does not burden his soul by the eating of flesh, he has the advantage of a rational reason. Now Xenocrates, treating by himself of ‘the food derived from animals,’ and Polemon in his work on Life according to Nature, seem clearly to say that animal food is unwholesome, inasmuch as it has already been elaborated and assimilated to the souls of the irrational creatures.” Apparently in ancient Alexandria there were also, as today, the “cute” who would tell vegetarians that “the cow eats the grass, and I eat the cow. So I am a vegetarian too.” Saint Clement was not laughing, for he looked at the esoteric side of things, as did Xenocrates and Polemon, both of whom had been head of the Platonic Academy. Fruits, vegetables and grains have pure, unconditioned life energies. But when those energies are taken into animals they become “elaborated and assimilated” to their souls (psychic bodies), as the authorities cited by Saint Clement affirm, and thus unfit for human consumption.
After citing the earlier writers, Saint Clement discusses the fact that various spiritual traditions have enjoined abstinence from certain kinds of animal flesh because they produced the behavior patterns of those animals in those who ate them. Although many non-Christian athletes ate meat for the strength it supposedly gave them, Saint Clement points out that “to those who devote themselves to the development of the soul it is not so,” but rather is detrimental to their endeavors. Therefore, he says, the wise man “will abstain from the eating of flesh for the sake of training,…. ‘For wine,’ says Androcydes, ‘and gluttonous feeds of flesh make the body strong, but the soul more sluggish.’ Accordingly such food, in order to clear understanding, is to be rejected.”
Saint Basil the Great wrote: “With sober living, well-being increases in the household, animals are in safety, there is no shedding of blood, nor putting animals to death.” Even more strongly: “Whose bones fell in the desert? Was it not the bones of those who sought to eat meat? For as long as these people had been satisfied with manna, they vanquished Egypt and passed through the midst of the sea, but when they remembered meat and the fleshpots, they did not see the promised land.”
In a homily on the Gospel of Matthew, Saint John Chrysostom said: “Flesh meats and wine serve as materials for sensuality and are a source of danger, sorrow, and disease.”
From ancient times in the Church of Iraq no one could be made a bishop whose mother had not been a vegetarian–at least throughout her pregnancy.
The Virgin Mary
In the early part of the sixth century a young man named Dositheus went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. In one of the churches there he saw a fresco of the judgment of the soul, and was very drawn to it. As he stood, studying it, a woman robed in purple (something prohibited to anyone but the Emperor or Empress) came up to him and began to speak to him about spiritual life. In conclusion she told him that if he sought salvation he must never eat meat. She then vanished, and he realized that he had been speaking to the Virgin Mary. He followed her advice and is remembered as a saint on the nineteenth day of February every year. So there is certainly no doubt as to the value of vegetarianism in his case.
Fortunately the use of tobacco was unknown to the people and times of the Bible, so there are no specific scriptural statements about that. But the Bible does counsel good sense–and that is enough to use in relation to such a destructive habit. That the use of tobacco in any form both poisons the system and shortens the life–especially the lifespan of the heart–is so well known except to those who do not want to know it, that nothing more need be said on this aspect of physical health.
Tobacco greatly shuts down our subtle faculties of awareness. For that reason nicotine addicts erroneously conclude that it calms their nerves, when it is simply killing their capacity for awareness. When we see how the Lord Jesus refused to dull his senses with the drugged wine at his crucifixion (Mark 15:23), how can we think that a person consciously striving for spiritual growth can afford to ignore his example?
One of the most destructive effects of tobacco is its effect on the subtle energy bodies or aura of the individual. The use of tobacco in even a small quantity disturbs the biomagnetic field of the body, and produces both mental and physical imbalance. The tiniest ingestion of nicotine in any form sets off the auric defense systems and causes the aura to become totally sealed, as if turned to stone. The enemy is already within the gates, so to speak, but the energy levels are getting a false type of signal and so attempt to block any external invasion. This, of course, happens only after deliberate distortion of the bodily defense sensors. In the first few uses of tobacco, the body recognizes that the enemy is within, and produces coughing and nausea to rid itself of the intruder. After a while the body seems to adjust, but in reality it goes haywire and produces warning signals exactly opposite to the reality of the situation.
This toxically induced form of psychic defense also makes the addict feel that tobacco steadies and calms him. Just notice how at the slightest onset of pressure or anxiety the addict reaches for the weed, thus becoming increasingly incapable of coping with even normal human stresses, eventually turning himself into an emotional paralytic. Not having to pick up the psychic energies of others around him, the tobacco addict retreats into the worst form of escapism–the world of mind-altering drugs. And nicotine is a potent mind-altering drug. Even worse, the addict becomes incapable of receiving any higher spiritual energies or influences, and becomes impervious even to his own higher consciousness. Tied right in with this, he also loses more and more of his own free will, as is inevitable with any addiction. Moving through his gray world of smoke and death, the tobacco addict is a moral zombie, a spiritual suicide.
The situation is much the same regarding mind-altering drugs, except they are incalculably more poisonous and destructive to the body and mind–even affecting future generations of children and causing birth defects. The most dangerous aspects of drug use is its effect on the psychic and mental nature of the user.
Drug use utterly destroys the conscience–much more so than tobacco. Whereas a person can usually recover from the negative effects of tobacco by simple abstinence, mind-altering drugs often leave their permanent mark upon all levels of the person–especially in the form of nerve and brain cell damage. They reduce the psychic energy levels (bodies) of those who use them to rags. Although hallucinogenic drugs are the worst, so-called “downers” also make the user incapable of defense on any level, since they cancel out the ability to detect attempts at invasion.
Exactly opposite to tobacco, rather than sealing up the aura of the person most drugs rip it open, making it totally vulnerable to any negative energies or intelligences, especially those spirits that live like vampires off the bleeding energies of living beings. The user also becomes completely open to influence and even possession by “tramp” spirits wandering through the earth’s atmosphere looking for a nest and a free lunch. As an effect of mind-altering drug use, there are people walking around who are constant channels of negative, twisted, insane energies flowing in from the worlds of chaos through the peripheries of their auras, although they themselves are unaware of it, so distorted and alienated have they become in their biomagnetic life.
Saint Basil of Poiana Marului, writing about abstinence from wine wrote this: “Consider how that ancient Jonadab, son of Rehab, forbad all his offspring to drink wine; his sons who observed this commandment were told by the Lord through His prophet Jeremiah, ‘Thus saith the Lord Almighty, because the sons of Jonadab obeyed the commandment of their father to do all that their father commanded them, therefore, thus saith the Lord of hosts: A male offspring shall never be lacking from the sons of Jonadab, the son of Rehab, to stand before My face all the days of the earth” (Jeremiah 35:18, 19).
It is often stated that Saint Paul approved of drinking wine, but the opposite is true. As already cited, in Romans 14:21, he wrote: “it is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine.”
When Saint Timothy had intestinal troubles because the local water supply was polluted, Saint Paul wrote: “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake, and thine often infirmities” (I Timothy 5:23). Saint Paul is using some idiomatic expressions that are difficult to put into English. Although it, too, is a paraphrase, the New King James Version catches the meaning by rendering it: “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.” That is, Saint Timothy should not drink plain water that might be polluted, but should mix in a small amount of wine to disinfect it.
Though not knowing about germs, the ancients understood that alcohol had a purifying effect on water. In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:34), it is said that the Samaritan poured wine into the wounds of the injured man–using it as a disinfectant, just as we would use iodine today.
Therefore we can see that Saint Paul advised Saint Timothy to stop drinking plain water and to add a little bit of wine to his water for safety’s sake. He was no doubt thinking of the Second Book of Maccabees, which says: “It is hurtful to drink wine or water alone” (II Maccabees 15:39. This book was originally part of the Bible, including the King James Version). Here, too, the sanitary conditions of the day necessitated this rule. Fortunately, it no longer applies today, at least in the Western countries.
The fact that Saint Paul had to order Saint Timothy to even use this small amount of wine shows that Christians were averse to its internal use except as medicine in extreme measures.
Why, then, did Jesus turn water into wine? (John 2:1-11). Mostly because his Mother asked him to. You may recall that he expressed a reluctance to do so. But she, being the mother of all, could not bear that their hosts be embarrassed by not having enough wine. Also, there is no indication that Jesus or his apostles drank any of the wine. There is a tradition, however, that drinking the miraculous wine made the drinkers sober.
Let us take a look at what the Old Testament has to say about wine.
“And he said thus, O ye men, how exceeding strong is wine! it causeth all men to err that drink it: And when they are in their cups, they forget their love both to friends and brethren, and a little after draw out swords: But when they are from the wine, they remember not what they have done” (I Esdras 3:18, 22, 23. This book, too, was originally part of the Bible, including the King James Version).
“Wine is wicked” (I Esdras 4:37). Hardly a recommendation!
In the Second Book of Esdras we see that Esdras had to abstain from wine to prepare himself for divine communication. When Esdras pled with God for prophetic guidance, God told him: “Go into a field of flowers, where no house is builded, and eat only the flowers of the field; taste no flesh, drink no wine, but eat flowers only; And pray unto the Highest continually, then will I come and talk with thee. So I went my way into the field which is called Ardath, like as he commanded me; and there I sat among the flowers, and did eat of the herbs of the field, and the meat of the same satisfied me” (Second Esdras 9:24-26). After seven days Esdras received a revelation from the Lord, but first he had to refine his mental energies by diet–mere devotion and prayer was not enough. Daniel and his companions did the same and thereby excelled all the meat-eating wise men of Babylon. “And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king. And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm” (Daniel 1:19, 20).
Abstinence from alcohol was nothing new to the Hebrews. It was strictly enjoined upon those who would serve in the tabernacle (temple) worship. “And the Lord spake unto Aaron, saying, Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations” (Leviticus 10:8, 9). “Lest ye die” is not a threat but a warning that alcohol so deadens, deranges, and lowers the entire energy patterns of a person that contact with the highest energy-consciousness can result in serious psychic and physical damage–or even death. This may seem extreme, but it is not. Consider how electric shock injures or kills because our nervous system–itself electrical in nature–cannot handle it. (This is even more true with being struck by lightning, which is very much like divine contact.)
For this reason the prophet Ezekiel was told: “Neither shall any priest drink wine, when they enter into the inner court” (Ezekiel 44:21). If that was true for those who would enter the inner court of an earthly building, however sacred, how much more must it be necessary for those who would enter the true inner court of the spirit.
The negative psychic effect of alcohol is affirmed by the prophet Isaiah. “But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink” (Isaiah 28:7). Here we see that alcohol both impairs the rational faculty of judgement and distorts the psychic perception. So drastic is the effect of alcohol that it disrupts our communication with higher consciousness and renders us “out of the way.”
Here are a few more passages from the Old Testament that need no comment.
“Shew not thy valiantness in wine; for wine hath destroyed many. The furnace proveth the edge by dipping: so doth wine the hearts of the proud by drunkenness” (Sirach 31:25, 26. Sirach is another casualty of “Bible Christianity”).
“But wine drunken with excess maketh bitterness of the mind, with brawling and quarrelling. Drunkenness increaseth the rage of a fool till he offend: it diminisheth strength, and maketh wounds” (Sirach 31:29, 30).
“Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart” (Hosea 4:11).
“Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink” (Isaiah 5:22).
“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1).
“Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh” (Proverbs 23:20).
“Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder” (Proverbs 23:29-32).
“It is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted” (Proverbs 31:4, 5).
There are passages in the Old Testament that speak of the medicinal value of wine. This cannot be denied. But modern medicine has eliminated the need for such a primitive remedy. Also, “wine” sometimes refers to unfermented grape juice which is very good for health. Since grape juice cannot be kept in the Mediterranean climate without fermenting, it was (and is) usual to make raisins from grapes and to soak them and press out the juice and drink it “fresh” when needed. This is the practice for eucharistic “wine” in the Syrian Jacobite Orthodox Church (which includes the Orthodox Church of India) and the Assyrian (Nestorian) Church of Iraq. The raisins are put to soak in the evening, the juice is pressed out in the morning and immediately used in the eucharist. So when wine is extolled in the Bible it is often in reference to this form of grape (raisin) juice.
Wine is also used in the Bible as a spiritual symbol.
In the New Testament wine is totally rejected. When the archangel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias to tell him of the birth of John the Baptist, he told him that Saint John “shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). Is it accidental that in between the statements that the Baptist would be spiritually great and possess the plenitude of divine power, the archangel spoke of his total abstinence from alcohol? Surely not.
In giving advice to Saints Timothy and Titus regarding the qualifications of those who would lead the early Christian community, Saint Paul says they must be only those who are “not given to wine” (I Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7).
Those who consciously seek God are of a very different psychic makeup than ordinary people. Just as certain items are forbidden to athletes in training, so it is with them. For ordinary people the observance of such rules may be valueless, but for the spiritual seeker they can be the difference between success or failure. Many things tolerated in the earlier stages of evolution are forbidden to those of advanced awareness.
Let us take a look at the wine the Bible speaks about. Because of the ecology of the times, wine was never more than six or seven percent alcohol, in contrast to the artificially boosted wines of today. Even then, wine was never drunk without being diluted with equal amounts of warm water. Therefore the common “wine” of Biblical reference was really about three percent in alcohol. To get drunk on such a beverage took hours of deliberate swilling. That is why Isaiah said: “Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them” (Isaiah 5:11).
For the same reason, when the Apostles were accused of drunkenness on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:13-15), Saint Peter pointed out that it was impossible since it was so early in the day and not enough time had elapsed for anyone drinking wine to become drunk.
The wine used at the time of Christ and the Apostles was nowhere as strong as modern wine, and still it was prohibited to Christians.
Alcohol in any amount has a deadening effect on the higher centers of awareness in the brain and psychic levels. Even worse–a single drop of alcohol in the bloodstream kills a multitude of brain cells. Alcohol directly attacks the nervous system, which is why the first symptom of drinking wine is a false sense of relaxation. It is actually the first degree of paralysis. Alcohol also directly attacks the pineal gland, the physical counterpart of the “third eye,” through which we contact the higher planes of existence. It should be enough to remember that another term for drunkenness is “intoxication” which literally means “internally poisoned.” In this perspective we can see that the idea of “moderate” or “temperate” use of alcohol is simply not realistic.
From all the foregoing it can be seen that the objections to meat, tobacco, alcohol, and mind-altering drugs are not on a purely physical basis alone. Even though the most dramatic and evident harm from those substances are on the physical level, nothing is exclusively physical, for all the levels of our being are interrelated. Therefore a physical state has a corresponding mental and emotional state, as well. Even more to the point, in the final analysis matter is spirit. So what is material is also spiritual, hearkening back to the ancient principle of Hermetic Philosophy: “As above, so below.”
Food And Mind
In the Christian view, we are basically tripartite–body, mind, and soul; material, psychic, and spiritual. What affects one of these components affects all the rest, as well. Can it be denied that alcohol alters the mental condition? And as mentioned, studies are also currently being done (by meat-eaters, not vegetarians, by the way) to show that people exhibit the personality traits corresponding to the type of animal whose flesh they mostly eat.
If flatworms are taught to run a maze, then are ground up and fed to other flatworms, those worms will be able to run the maze, as well. This is proof that we absorb the mind and behavior of whatever and whomever we eat.
As has also been said, addiction is a defect of the will, which is our highest power. And all these substances are addicting–in fact, addiction to one tends to produce addiction to the others. Meat eating and alcohol addiction have been proven to be interrelated. Those who stop eating meat find it easier to conquer alcoholism. The same is true regarding nicotine addiction.
Even if the effect of these things were purely physical, their use would still be objectionable. The purpose of the physical body is evolution. To damage or inhibit the body in its functions is to hinder our evolution. To shorten its time upon the earth is just to force ourselves into another incarnation. Is it any wonder then, that Saint Paul wrote: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (I Corinthians 3:16, 17). Is it not ironic that human beings will contribute millions of dollars to preserve ancient structures from disintegration, while at the same time damaging their own living spiritual temples, impairing their faculties, and shortening their span of life?
But there is more to be considered.
The Higher Levels
An aspirant to Christhood acts upon a steadfast belief in the possibility of our finite individual consciousness contacting and entering into communication with the infinite, universal consciousness which is God. The acceptance of that proposition is all very well, but the next logical step is to ask how that contact can be made. The answer is: through awakening and developing our inner faculties. The use of meat, tobacco, alcohol and mind-altering drugs inhibits this.
There is another aspect to meat-eating tied in with this. The inner, invisible planes are teeming with intelligences–all of which may be contacted by him who extends his awareness into those worlds. The law of duality being operative there as it is here, some of those entities are negative and some are positive. If our mental-psychic energies are polarized to negativity (and here please do not equate negativity and positivity with “evil” or “good” respectively, but look upon it simply as a matter of evolutionary orientation–either tending upward toward higher, expanded consciousness or downward toward more confined consciousness), then our mental broadcasting will be picked up by negative intelligences. If our energies are attuned to the positive side of things, we will contact positive intelligences. This is a very crucial matter, for if we contact the negative stream of consciousness, it will pull us downward, even if in our naivete we think we are rising.
Every one of the Soul Killers has throughout history been used in negative or foolish occult or religious rites to facilitate the contacting of the invisible planes and the establishing of communication and even interchange between them. Doors were opened between dimensions by the use of these substances. They were thus used as psychic tools for interdimensional contact.
Meat attracts entities that feed on the life forces being released as it decays. Newly-shed blood is especially potent, and those beings draw much power therefrom. In some rituals, meat was used in exorcism to draw off the negative disease energies and entities from their victim and into the meat. Wherever there is flesh and blood, there the life-sucking spirits congregate. The priests in the Temple in Jerusalem had to be constantly protected against the negative entities that swarmed there, attracted by the flesh and blood of the sacrifices. Alcohol can be used in the same way as blood. In some forms of voodoo the spirits are summoned by pouring liquor out on the ground and over offerings.
What, then, must be the plight of a human being that has these substances inside him, circulating through his body and brain? What defense has he against invasion by negative entities? And they are negative, for both dead flesh and alcohol carry the vibrations of death, of the anti-life force in creation. Alcoholic beverages are called “spirits,” and that is an apt name.
Here is an example of what has been said. A woman whose husband was addicted to alcohol decided to place a single grain of blessed salt–whose basic function is the breaking of links with negative energies and intelligences–in each of his liquor bottles. Some of them were extremely difficult to open–she felt as though some force was struggling against her. When she did get those particularly difficult bottles opened and dropped in the salt, a terrible stench, as of something dead, poured out and filled the room. And to her interest, her husband no longer drank from those bottles which contained the grain of blessed salt. This has happened in other instances, as well.
A man worked for a contractor who always kept a bottle of whisky in his office and a few times a day would take a swig from it. Learning of the instance just cited, he decided to put a grain of blessed salt in the whisky. His employer immediately quit drinking from the bottle. Later he got another bottle. The man “doctored” that too, and the contractor simply stopped drinking.
The only logical conclusion from these two examples is that once the negative linkage is broken the desire for the substance will disappear–for although there is a definite physical basis for addiction, the primary force in the use of these substances is the subliminal urging of evil vampiristic entities who wish to feed off the distorted and weakened energies of those who use them.
Tobacco, alcohol, and mind-altering drugs–all have been used to distort the consciousness, bending it to alien wavelengths so “the gods” could be seen or heard. How do we know they were negative beings, and not beneficial? By the very means needed to contact them: substances poisonous to man–in other words, substances of death, of anti-life. No other proof is needed to establish the fact that the intelligences operating on such wavelengths are dwellers on the left-hand path of devolution, not evolution.
Any person who takes these substances into his body opens himself up to deep subliminal influence from any wandering “astral trash” of the left-hand path that takes an interest in him. How then, can any responsible person, seeking conscious spiritual growth, have anything to do with such items as these “invitations to the Abyss”?
“What communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (II Corinthians 6:14, 15, 17).
For additional information on vegetarianism spirituality see also: