AGNI YOGA WEB TV
„THE 10 PILLARS OF THE PRACTICE OF AGNI YOGA“
3rd Pillar: Nourishment according to Spiritual Principles
Ladies and Gentlemen,
welcome; how nice that you are with us again!
Today we shall be talking about one of the crucial questions of both the material and the spiritual life: Proper nutrition.
Why is nourishment so important? Because we have to provide the body with food several times a day. Because we form to a certain extent our own nature with that what we take in: It is said with good reason: "Man is what he eats." And because nutrition is a constant "battlefield" in the struggle between body and spirit.
If you want to begin seriously with the practice of Agni Yoga and with the spiritualization of your life, the refinement of your eating habits will have to be among the first and most important steps.
Let us first briefly make sure that we agree on the basics:
1. The decisive statement for the complete transformation of your life is: "I am a soul." The starting point of the practice of Agni Yoga, as we had discussed in previous Broadcastings in detail, is your transformation from a material to a spiritual being.
So to know the real do not think you have a soul but the soul has you. (Teachings of the Temple, Vol. 3, Lesson “Mystery of Life and Death”)
2. As spiritual beings, we all are still little children. If you want to become an immortal, a New Man, a disciple of Agni Yoga, you need to start to nourish, to maintain, to purify, to heal, to train, to strengthen and to let grow your true, higher individuality. "Immortality", your spiritual self is, for the time being, no more than a potential which awaits development.
We are here only for the perfectment of the spirit. (Heart 400)
3. We had said (Series “Introduction to Agni Yoga”, Broadcasting 10 "The Supermundane World"): There is no "spirit" and no "matter", but only "spirit-matter". "Matter" is "spirit-matter" of a low vibration (for example ice). "Spirit" is "spirit-matter" of higher vibration (for example water and, even higher, steam).
The same applies to human beings: Our physical body is made of coarse, earthly matter with a low vibration. Our Subtle body (body of emotions, body of instincts and body of thoughts) is made of the finer matter (with a higher vibration) of the Subtle World. And our eternal individuality, the Fiery Body, the soul, is an entity of the Fiery World with the highest vibration - namely "spirit" in the sense of the highest form of "spirit-matter".
The transformation into a higher being, into an immortal therefore means: You need to put yourself (your physical, your emotional and your mental body) each morning into a state of higher vibration. That requires above all: To harbour only feelings and thoughts of a higher order (joy, enthusiasm, solemnity). And you have to make an effort in the course of the day to maintain this state of high vibrations - or to restore it at once in case that the tension has dropped. Only then you are indeed a spiritual being with a higher vibration.
2. Consequences of the Basics
What follows from this basic knowledge for everyday diet? As spiritual beings, you develop a completely different relationship to food:
Your real self, your soul needs - as a spiritual being - not material, but only spiritual food. So you will have to change your consciousness: When the stomach growls, you will no longer think: "I am hungry", but: "My vehicle requires fuel - should it really get some more already now?"
The Soul is dependent for its nourishment, and therefore its life, upon the force of its high ideals. (Teachings of the Temple, Vol. 1, Lesson “The Murder of Ideals”)
Each intake of physical food encumbers the soul!
If you have acquired a certain sensitivity of feeling, you will perceive: Your eternal individuality is adversely affected in its spirituality by any, even the smallest amount of food. It is thereby tied to the material sphere, dragged down and obstructed in its flights. Therefore, fasting is always accompanied by a sense of mental ease and liberation of the soul.
We can prove this feeling scientifically: If you incorporate parts of gross matter with low vibration (for example material food) into a being in a state of fine spirituality or high vibration, the necessary result, purely physically speaking, is a drop in the level of vibrations.
As you can see, food weakens and fasting strengthens your true, eternal, spiritual self!
Observe how the stomach of the frail spirit growls for food. (Agni Yoga 176)
For your soul, eating is no pleasure! It is rather an annoying, time and energy consuming, dragging down need, caused by the requirements of its material vehicle, the "brother donkey" - not unlike the refuelling of your car.
We are not disciples of Lucullus. (Heart 534)
Do not take this as a theoretical instruction! Do not exert coercion! Do not resort to hostile, grim, joyless asceticism! The task is rather: Gradually transform yourself into a being that - precisely because it is spiritual - actually no longer finds pleasure in material food - as little as an elephant in eating meat!
You enjoy other and higher pleasures, especially the living connection with the Higher World and the spiritual conversation with your teacher. For this, you will give up willingly certain lower delectations.
People dream about their stomachs when their spirits should be filled with the grandeur of the Highest. (AUM 36)
Agni Yoga teaches: Place little value on eating. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden I, 373 )
This was translated rather cautiously. The Teaching uses quite a very harsh word here. One could also translate: "Despise food"!
Everything we had already said about fight being the slogan of the New Age of Aquarius, and about the mission of man as a spiritual fighter, becomes concrete, first of all, in the ordinary, grey, everyday life of all of us, when it comes to nourishment:
Here indeed is an essential step of the spiritual path, with which each disciple must deal. Let no one think that he can bypass or skip this lowest level!
One cannot skip over the following steps without mastering the first ones. Certainly, we can run swiftly through all the steps by great striving. Even so, however, our feet should touch each step. (Helena Roerich, Letter of 21.10.1931)
Here, several times a day, a real battle takes place between spirit and matter: For the body, eating is one of the greatest pleasures. He craves for frequent, opulent, sweet and fat meals. To enforce the interests of the soul against this animal desire is a constant struggle. The body uses all kinds of tricks to get his way. You must face this with a sophisticated strategy and tactics.
That shows: The first dragon, which we knights of the spirit have to fight, whose desire we have to starve, is within ourselves!
Regarding food, it is particularly necessary to follow this fundamental instruction:
Ask yourself: "What does the spirit wish?" (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 120 [Part Two III 13])
Every, even the smallest step towards the spiritualization of your eating habits; every, even the slightest renunciation of unnecessary food, is a victory of the spirit over yourself, over your lower self - a victory that strengthens the power of your eternal individuality.
Do not indulge in illusions: The treading of the spiritual path requires a thorough departure from the current, unsuitable Western eating habits.
4. Yardstick: The Spirit
It is a feature of our materialistic culture, completely oriented on the mundane, on pleasure, on selfishness and consumption, that we all of us are eating much too much. Any look at the bodies of the people you encounter daily, proves this. The Bible says about them:
Their God is their belly. (Philippians 3, 19)
With the old man, the animal lust of the body determines the food intake.
It is wisely said that eating is the chains of the devil. (Fiery World II, 168)
The New Man learns to determine the type and the amount of food according to the requirements of his higher self. If you adhere to this, you will find that you need much less food than would correspond to the habits of our culture. The opulent meals are a relic of ancient times when food was scarce. Today, however, from a worldwide perspective, overeating causes more harm to humanity than hunger.
In general, food is not needed in the usual quantity. Many generations have been burdened by gluttony, therefore caution is required in applying counter-measures. In the final analysis, more people perish from over-eating than from hunger. But a gradual process is required always in overcoming atavism. It is impossible to abolish over-eating all at once. (Fiery World II, 168)
Nourishment according to spiritual principles means: To eat only then and only so much as is absolutely necessary to maintain the body as a healthy and strong tool. No other meaning has food.
All unnecessary food is harmful! Why? Because it contradicts the primacy of the spirit. The rider, the master shows an undignified image, if he allows the donkey to make a fool of him, rather than keeping the donkey in check, as is required by the mission of both of them.
All superfluous food is harmful. (Fiery World II, 168)
It is part of the inauguration to examine the aspirant whether he succumbs to the temptations of the palate. The disciples are in these days constantly offered from all sides many kinds of dishes that are incompatible with a spiritual life. To pass the inauguration in the midst of life requires to resist these temptations.
5. Only two Meals a Day
You should adopt a wholesome, solid rhythm of meals. This disciplines the body in a natural way: If you accustom him to eat at fixed times only, he will require nothing more in-between.
The most harmful is consumption of food at any time with no real need. An orderly life is not something shameful, for one must carefully protect the apparatus built through the ages. (Agni Yoga 442)
Agni Yoga advises: Two meals a day are sufficient. In Tabenisi, we eat before noon at 10:30 h and again in the afternoon at 15:30 h. If you imitate this practice, you will be surprised how quickly your body adapts to this new rhythm.
Then, out of the 24 hours of the day, the body is busy with eating only during 5 hours. During the remaining 19 hours, he is burning the foodstuff. In this way, you find back easily and naturally to your normal weight.
On the path let us remember that eating twice a day is sufficient. (Community 148)
Watch yourself exactly: Are you really hungry in the morning, or is it only habit that drives you to the breakfast table? In fact, after the fasting time of the night, the body can easily do without food for a few more hours. This especially if you start the day with physical exercises outdoors, study and meditation, and when you drink first of all plenty of water after crossing into the world.
To eat in the evening is absurd: The body needs no new energy at the end of the day; a digestion does not take place anymore; and a full stomach makes first the evening meditation impossible and then perturbs your sleep.
6. Eat Little
The disciple of the spirit will eat at a meal not more than is strictly necessary to preserve the body. A full belly is an insurmountable obstacle to any spiritual elevation.
An over-full stomach is the end of the ascent. (Agni Yoga 206)
The amount of food that you really need is much smaller than you think. You must only accustom the stomach to the new measure. The spirit educates the body so that he manages with as little food as possible. You must step by step reduce gradually the hitherto customary amount of foodstuff in order to encumber less and less the growth of your soul.
A person does not need much food. Two or three fruits or vegetables, a little cereal food, some milk and butter – this is the best diet. (Helena Roerich, Letter of 23.08.1934)
The new measure does not mean that you should eat without joy or even with contempt. Nourishment is a sacred act, if it serves your higher mission on earth. However, it contradicts the dignity of man, when the eternal spirit, that should prevail, subordinates itself to the desires of its transitory tool.
No more holy function exists than that of supplying nourishment to the body; no more degrading process can be conceived than that of gorging the stomach for mere appetite's sake. (Teachings of the Temple, Vol. 1, Lesson 59 “Transmutation”)
Here, as everywhere, we have to warn against extremes.
Excessive emaciation and corpulence are equally harmful for ascent. They equally nullify psychic energy. The middle path foresees the best conditions. (Fiery World II, 274)
It is right to develop a fine sense of the natural, real needs of the body.
Every compulsion is against the Teaching of Light. If it is necessary to decrease our food, our organism will indicate it, and every surplus would be disgusting for you. (Helena Roerich, Letter of 10. 05.1933)
7. Three Exercises
You cannot get rid with one blow of old, deep-routed habits. Better than aim too high and then fail is to change gradually in small steps. Start with small victories of the spirit!
Here are three exercises that contribute significantly to the spiritualization of your eating habits:
1. You should allocate yourself a certain ration of food before the start of a meal. Later you should not allow yourself any second helping, even if your appetite continues.
This is like in the Ashram, where the teacher himself or his authorized representative is issuing the food portions. You can always eat less than the amount which was placed before you by the superiors, but more you will not get.
2. Eat as slowly as possible. Enjoy thoroughly the little that was assigned to you. Take in consciously every single bite. This increases the effect of food, so you will need less.
One can see that a conscious consumption of vitamins manifoldly increases their usefulness. (Hierarchy 236)
3. Finally, an old home remedy says: Get up from the table with a last remnant of hunger, which will then pass away quickly. A master allows himself no saturation!
The background of this exercise is: The signal "satiated" needs about 20 minutes to run from the stomach to the brain. This defect forces us to exert spiritual discipline: If you listen to the stomach only and wait until his message “satiated” has reached you, you have already eaten too much.
8. Simple Food
The simpler the food, the better. The spiritual warrior does not require selected or specially prepared food. Industrially prefabricated food is in general of less value.
Entirely sufficient is the basic foodstuff: Fruits, vegetables, cereals, potatoes, rice, milk, eggs, nuts and honey, as well as their simplest products such as bread, butter, curd, cheese, noodles and oat flakes.
A special treatment or preparation of the food is not required. The taste does not matter, only the suitability. The food does not even need to be cooked. In Tabenisi we cook only on weekends, during the week we eat raw food.
The perfect morning meal consists of oat flakes from different cereals, fruits, nuts, honey and milk; the afternoon meal of vegetable salad accompanied by bread with fresh cheese, the dessert of curd with fruits. On weekends, we have cooked vegetables with rice or potatoes.
In regard to the question of nutrition, it should be noted that it is necessary to have some raw vegetables or fruit each day; raw milk is likewise preferable if the cow is known, and also whole wheat bread. (Fiery World I, 484)
To drink we only need water, which is at the same time healthiest.
Beware of food that has been prepared by others: It is usually designed to stimulate the pleasure of the palate. Let us follow the example of Gandhi, who actually took his own yogurt to the palace of the British Viceroy, knowing very well that the food that he would be offered there, would be inappropriate for a spiritual man.
9. High Quality
What little we eat should be of high quality.
The preparation of our food is of the utmost importance. Today's industrial farming reduces its natural quality considerably. People have lost the sense of how little value it is to drink milk from cows who never leave their stable, never see the sun and never graze fresh grass in a meadow; or to consume eggs from hens kept in batteries.
The purer, the more natural the food, the better. Each treatment can only reduce its value. Do you not sense the huge difference not only in taste, but above all in energy that exists between raw milk that comes straight from the cow, and that packaged, homogenized and pasteurized industrial product, which is "milk" in name only!?
When used in their pure form, milk and honey contain the precious primary energy. Precisely this quality in them must be preserved. Whereas, the sterilization of milk and the special processing of honey deprive them of their most valuable property. There remains the nutritive importance, but their basic value disappears. (Brotherhood 201)
Each decay, fermentation or decomposition is harmful because it attracts lower creatures from the lower spheres of the Subtle World. Therefore, we are warned against alcohol, stagnant water and cheese (unless it is fresh and young). That is why "unleavened bread" (2. Moses 12, 15-20, 34; 5. Moses 16, 3, 8, 16) is preferable, which is made of grain and water only, without leavening or acidifying agents (such as yeast or sourdough), which lead to undesirable fermentation.
Also, the human beings who are involved in the production are of great importance, because their psychic energy adheres to the food they make.
In the notion of bread is contained something sacred; we should not forget that Saint Sergius, so revered by us, used to bake both the host and the bread always himself. Working while reading the Teaching is so much uplifting! Precisely a bread that was baked under such conditions increases its nutritional value and is imbued with the healing emanations of the spiritual atmosphere. (Helena Roerich, Letter of 13. 01.1934)
Finally, look for light and avoid heavy food. So for example rice is much more suitable for a spiritual man than noodles or potatoes.
10. No Poison to the Spirit
The spiritual disciple avoids any luxury food, that is food which is not eaten because the body needs it, but merely to give him a sensual pleasure.
When one is on the path, delicacies are not needed. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 4 [Part One V 4])
This includes in particular sweets, cake, chocolate, fat food and white bread. They are all poison to the spirit. They destroy our higher energy, make the spirit heavy and lazy and further indulgence towards the animal nature.
Always remember: Your soul does not want all these delicacies! It is only your body who is begging for them like a dog, because they give him - but not you, your true individuality - pleasure.
Dangerous is sugar because it is addictive and spoils the flavour of the natural sweetness of fruits or honey.
Coffee and black or green tea are stimulants and therefore unsuitable.
If you for once can get harmful food only - why not schedule some fasting hours?
People should remember that hunger is far better than harmful food. (Heart 534)
11. No Meat
Meat eating is harmful. It strengthens the carnal, coarse aspect of our nature instead of spiritualizing and refining us. To adapt your eating habits to the spiritual path requires first and foremost renouncing meat. Meat makes us animalistic, physically strong and aggressive.
In Tibet horses are fed on leopard flesh in order to make them fierce. The Kshatriyas of Rajputana depend upon a meat diet to maintain their warlike spirit. These two examples alone show the significance of meat-eating. People do not slaughter a vast number of cattle from a sense of refinement. (Fiery World I, 482)
Meat is not necessary for a healthy diet; fruits, vegetables and grains are completely sufficient.
People know that vegetables or fruit give more vital energy than a cup of blood, yet they prefer being served with bloody meat, greatly relishing this coarseness. There is no other name for this frenzy of blood consumption. People are perfectly aware that a handful of wheat or barley is sufficient to sustain life, but their animal instinct tries to drag their minds back to a bestial state. (Fiery World I, 482).
Apples, oranges or strawberries, for example, present themselves particularly attractive for the very purpose of being consumed: Thus their seeds are released and they can reproduce. Animals, however, by their nature are not intended to be consumed. What would you say if the beings of the higher levels of evolution would take advantage of their superiority and start eating us humans?
The really harmful in animal meat is the blood. It hinders the development of our finer energies and the natural connection with the Higher World. In an emergency, you should therefore eat, if possible, only dried or smoked meat.
Striking phenomena can be observed around spilled blood. Animals not only sense the blood but fall into agitation and terror. Not by accident did the most savage sacrifices require blood, as a means of excitement into intoxication. Likewise the black mass needs blood as a strong stimulation. (Fiery World II, 423)
Any food containing blood is harmful for the development of the subtle energy. If humanity would only refrain from devouring dead bodies, then evolution could be accelerated. (Brotherhood 21)
Likewise, when I indicate a vegetable diet, I am guarding against nourishing the subtle body with blood. The essence of blood thoroughly permeates the body and even the subtle body. Blood is undesirable in the diet. (AUM 277)
Blood attracts lower creatures from the lower strata of the Subtle World.
One can actually see that the creatures attracted by meat are repellent. (Fiery World I, 227)
Meat eating is also inadmissible because any unnecessary killing must be avoided.
If a branch has been senselessly broken, let us nevertheless carry it to the temple, that is to say, let us be compassionate. The same feeling prompts one to guard against killing. (Brotherhood 238)
Look behind the shiny facade of the tastily packed, beautifully coloured industrial products that are offered at the supermarket as "meat"! Do not close your eyes to the terrible conditions of industrial livestock farming and slaughterhouses!
The en masse slaughter of our younger brothers and sisters on the ladder of the evolution creates a terrible aura around the earth. In the coming new age, this will be regarded as one of the greatest crimes of our time. Let us not only look back self-righteously, for example to the Nazi era! Let us rather see to it that we today are living according to high moral standards!
Let us not forget that mass killings, whether in war or in the slaughterhouse, equally pollute the atmosphere and violate the Subtle World. It must be realized that every conscious killing shakes the entire surrounding atmosphere. (Fiery World I, 482)
12. No Alcohol, no Smoking, no Narcotics
Alcohol, tobacco and narcotics are dangerous poison to the spirit. They weaken the soul and destroy the body and our higher senses.
Narcotics are veritable chains of darkness, placing man in a helpless situation. (Fiery World II, 353)
They rob us of our vitality.
Healer, tell the ailing ones that the use of wine diminishes by half their chances, that the use of narcotics takes away three quarters of their vitality. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 223 [Part Two VIII 14])
They attract from the other world not help, but on the contrary dangerous lower creatures, and thus make the situation even worse.
It is a mistake to take refuge with narcotics and alcohol. (Heart 548)
The spiritual path is a way of rising and refinement. If you enter it, you must not paralyse and kill exactly those fine emotions and sensations, which you are called upon to develop.
We are definitely against narcotics which calm and deaden the intellect. How, then, will the quality of thoughts, so needed for the future life, be developed if we dull it with poison? (Hierarchy 186)
The dark forces endeavor to seduce with all kinds of narcotics, but the narrow boundaries of life are not broadened by stupefying the intellect. (Fiery World I, 350)
Drunkenness is incompatible with the dignity and the mission of a servant of God. This self-intoxication, self-mutilation and self-humiliation is a form of degeneration.
We are decidedly against the drinking of wine. As an intoxicant it is inadmissible. (Supermundane 372)
As long as we are addicted to alcohol, we do not gain access to the higher spheres, and they will not approach us.
The Great Teachers will never approach a person who lives amidst the fumes of alcohol. (Helena Roerich, letter of 15.10.1935)
Intoxicants are an unnatural and inadequate attempt to rise above the stifling, burdensome earthly conditions.
Instead of following the path of good, people attempt to replace ecstasy of the spirit with various narcotics, which give the illusion of the other world‘s existence. Observe that in many religions there were introduced, as later adjuncts, very clever compounds of narcotics for the purpose of artificially advancing the consciousness beyond the earthly state. Indeed the falsity of such forcible measures is great; they not only do not bring the Worlds closer, they on the contrary estrange and coarsen the consciousness. (Fiery World II, 351)
Instead of bringing us closer to heaven, they take us away from it.
The use of alcohol and opium are ugly attempts to approach the Fiery World. If Samadhi is a natural manifestation of Higher Fire, then the flame of alcohol is a destroyer of Fire. True, narcotics evoke illusions of a fiery approach, but actually they will remain for a long time as obstacles to the mastery of the true energy of Agni. Nothing brings such misery later, in the Subtle World, as do these unnatural attempts to evoke Fire without a fitting purification. One may imagine that in the Subtle World a drunkard not only is tormented by craving for alcohol but suffers still more from unnaturally manifested Fire, which, instead of strengthening him, consumes the tissues prematurely. (Fiery World I, 120)
The real reason that drives people to enjoy narcotics, is dissatisfaction with a meaningless, devoid of content and unfulfilled life. One can speak of self-hatred, of a self-destructive impulse, which decomposes the natural instinct of self-preservation.
Urusvati knows the true meaning of humanity’s self-stupefaction. Think about this urgently, think about it! Humanity has never been so greatly poisoned as it is now. People do not want to understand that all kinds of alcoholic drinks, smoking, and so many other poisons, decompose the human nature. They do not want to realize that in the midst of such poisoning a healthy new generation cannot be conceived. People do not acknowledge that they infect space with their poisonous breath, and that by this madness they prepare for themselves a terrible existence in the Supermundane World. People, in their mental torpor, not only do not think about others, but even their own instinct of self-preservation is withering away. (Supermundane 888)
The solution of the addiction problem does not lie in pronouncing prohibitions. Rather, we need to show people a better life, a higher path with higher, spiritual pleasures.
It is easy to say that people should not daze themselves, but they should then be offered more elevated paths. (Supermundane 500)
13. No Comforter
Food is not a comforter. The old man likes to fight frustration and depression with eating and drinking - even though you know perfectly well from bitter experience that the "healing effect" is only temporary and that you fall even deeper afterwards. It would be better, especially in such a situation, to eat little or nothing.
When agitated, it is better to eat very little. (Heart 548)
To food applies as to so much else: If we try to comfort ourselves with earthly, material means, we weaken our immortal soul. Only if we seek solace in the eternal realm, we strengthen the spirit. The way out is elevation, striving upwards - not sliding down even further.
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux says: To console oneself with earthly matters weakens the soul, the expectation of the heavenly ones, however, strengthens it. (St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Letter 385, 3)
Instead of seeking refuge with eating or even with alcohol, you should follow the famous Tibetan mantram:
Take refuge with the Teaching, with the Teacher and with the Community.
14. No Pleasure
Eating is not a pleasure but a necessity. As long as we eat for pleasure, we are not on the spiritual path. Food is not intended to spoil and to pamper our body. Therefore, Helena Blavatsky advises:
Eat only when you are hungry and drink when you are thirsty, and never otherwise. If some particular preparation attracts your palate, do not allow yourself to be seduced into taking it simply to gratify that craving. Remember that the pleasure you derive from it had no existence some seconds before, and that it will cease to exist some seconds afterwards; that it is a transit pleasure, that that which is a pleasure now will turn into pain if you take it in large quantities; that while there is another object that can give you eternal bliss, this centering your affections on a transient thing is sheer folly; that you are neither the body nor the sense, and therefore the pleasure and the pains which these endure can never affect you really, and so on. Practice the same train of reasoning in the case of every other temptation, and, though you will often fail, yet you will achieve a surer success. (Helena Blavatsky, Some Practical Suggestions for Daily Life, No. 1)
Contrary to the principle of simplicity is the custom of the time to dine in restaurants of choice. To the warrior of the spirit, these distractions are an abomination. What kind of a person is he who makes a feast of the feeding of his donkey?
The rays of the sun are dimmed by your banquets. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 224 [Part Two VIII 15])
In the New World, food will lose its importance in social life: You can meditate, serve or study together, but eating together should take only little time.
To walk the spiritual path means to seek higher pleasures than the physical ones. Pleasure at good food ties you to earth.
15. No Festivity
Eating is not a feast either. Opulent meals in connection with religious celebrations are an atavism from ancient times, when food was scarce. This is not true any longer today. Solemnity is not increased but disturbed by eating. It can be better achieved by fasting.
Sometimes the Thinker [Plato] gathered His disciples for a discourse, which He called Banquet of Joy. Only spring water and bread were served. On such occasions the Thinker said, "Let us not besmirch the joy with wine and rich food. Joy is above everything." (Supermundane 281)
Our religious celebrations (Christmas, Easter and others) are downright degenerated in consequence of the large role played by food there. Through these practices, the spirit is actually expelled. We take a spiritual occasion as a pretext for carnal debauchery!
16. Little Time
It is not spiritual practice to spend too much time at eating. This time must be used for more important matters. The preparation and consumption of a simple meal should not take more than about forty-five minutes.
The time for meals must be shortened, in order to preserve a human appearance. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 312 [316; Part Three IV 10])
People claim they have no time for meditation, for the study of the Holy Scriptures, for training and service to the common good. May they shorten the meal times, then they can achieve a great deal.
Friends, you find ample time for everything, but for the Highest you have only a few moments. If you had dedicated only the time you waste at banquets to the Highest, you would have become teachers by now! (Supermundane 156)
17. Worthy Behaviour
At meals, the immortals keep quiet and behave in a dignified way.
There is no worse lack of adequacy than to prattle at the dinner table about trifles. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 312 [316; Part Three IV 10])
As you have heard, many people eat their food in silence or accompany their meal with worthy conversation. (Heart 331)
Before eating, you should create a sublime, solemn atmosphere.
It is wrong for people to pay no attention to the consequences of eating while irritated or agitated. Very strong poisons form during this unwise activity. Many days must go by before this poison dissolves. The silence that ancient people kept during meals had a sacred significance. (Heart 534)
It is advantageous to pray before eating. The scientific basis of the table prayer is: The food is cleaned by the influence of good thoughts and put into a state of higher vibration. This changes its substance for the better, as the experiments of Masaru Emoto with water demonstrate.
18. Change Habits
It is rightly said: Man is a "creature of habit": Our habits constitute our second nature.
Of course it does not hurt an ordinary man if he rarely eats a piece of meat, or drinks a glass of wine, or smokes a cigarette. With these small encumbrances a healthy body can easily cope.
It is crucial that we get rid of bad habits - which means to replace them by new, higher ones. The smoker has to become a non-smoker, the meat eater a vegetarian – that is what matters, not a single cigarette or a single piece of meat.
Everyone knows best himself when he has overcome his habits. If that is the case - but only then -, you do not have to be a fanatic. You may, if goal-fitness or courtesy so suggest, even deviate sometimes from the rule.
Fasting is an extremely useful spiritual exercise: It proves today’s human beings, accustomed to excessive food intake, that the body can easily do for quite some time - for example, two weeks - without material food; and this without any reduction of his physical or mental performance.
Fasting is a habit breaker. It can do much to change our outdated eating habits: The fasting person can feel firsthand how little food he really needs and, accordingly, how nonsensical his former diet was.
Fasting is - like meditation - a fruitful exercise to overcome the desires of the body, to submit the body under the rule of the spirit.
The monastic rule of Saint Francis of Paola says: When the body is fasting, the spirit is being purified, the mind uplifted, the flesh submitted to the spirit and the heart humble and contrite; then, the evil desire does not find fertile soil any longer, the fire of desire is extinguished, and instead the light of chastity is ignited.
It is a real relief when the true self, the soul, learns to let go of things and troubles it does not really need.
A certain purification of the physical organism is necessary and helps the spiritual liberation. (Helena Roerich, letter of 29.09.1950)
Fasting serves the purification of the body, which has an impact on mental health as well.
The hygiene of the spirit presupposes the hygiene of the body. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden II, 238 [239; Part Two X 1])
Fasting can be an experience to raise the spirit, to largely dissolve it from the body and to sense greater closeness to the Higher World. Already hunger leads to a feeling of lightness accompanied by a high sensitivity. By fasting, the smell and taste nerves, but especially the inner, spiritual senses are sharpened, which allows an extended, more subtle perception.
How can one think himself a disembodied spirit if any passing sensation of hunger is not conquered? (Agni Yoga 206)
Fasting can also serve the concentration, the connection to the higher will before acting, or before taking an important decision.
Especially in a time full of sensual temptations and unbridled consumption, fasting is an effective means of self-imposed penance. To deprive the body of food and luxury agents, even only temporarily, is a renunciation which has a purifying effect. The consequences of a breach of the spiritual laws can be mitigated by penance and purification. Mahatma Gandhi has brought this aspect back to our attention which was well known and widely practised in the Middle Ages.
So it says in the Bible: This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. (Matthew 17, 21)
Under no circumstances must fasting become a sport in which ascetic maximum performance is sought. The aim of the path is spiritual elevation. This cannot be reached by fasting alone.
Is it possible that people believe they will attain the Community of Shambhala through invasion or through fasting? (Hierarchy 24)
A good exercise for the beginner is to renounce material food regularly, for example once a week, for 36 hours - one night, one day and one more night. You will see that it is not hunger that is the problem, but appetite, the body's craving for pleasure.
20. Spiritual Fasting
Even when fasting, it is not so much the physical abstention that is important, but to overcome the mental desire.
Think not of food. He who fasts, but in his heart covets food, is of little merit. (Leaves of Morya’s Garden I, 166 )
Spiritual fasting serves to retreat from the sensual overstimulation of the world, to look for inner rest, to exercise in frugality, to restrict oneself to the few things that we really need. During this time, all earthly concerns should be put aside as far as possible. The spiritual faster is trying to come as close as possible to the ideal of a contemplative life.
We shall keep strict spiritual fast in order that we may, in complete purity of body and spirit, welcome the Eve of Easter – the Resurrection of the Spirit. (Helena Roerich, letter of 26.04.1934)
21. Nourishment by Sun, Air and Psychic Energy
The goal of human development is increasing spiritualization. Even the physical body should become always finer, of ever higher vibration. This development we can promote if we gradually accustom him to less and less material and increasingly finer food. If plants can feed on sunlight and the nutrients in the water, this should not in principle be impossible for human beings either.
Anyone observing his body accurately notes that sun and fresh air are foodstuff, too. Accordingly, physical exercises outdoors let hunger disappear.
It has often been clearly stated that pure air provides far more essential nourishment than city air. People in the mountains can live longer without food and without needing sleep. The nourishment of spirit, or Agni [psychic energy], can satisfy them without the need of heavy foods. Studies should be made of the nourishment by prana on heights. (Fiery World I, 404)
A body well supplied with sun and fresh air requires less material food. Ten deep breaths in clean air provide you with quite a lot of energy.
Prana is like food for the heart. (Heart 568)
Those who free themselves more and more from the burdensome conditions of the earth, will manage with less food. This applies first physically, namely, for example, if you live in the mountains.
At an altitude of seven thousand feet man can decrease his intake of food. The mountains are important, since they, like a principle, lead one out of the lower earthly conditions. On the heights one feels that one has been freed from ordinary earthly demands. (Agni Yoga 73)
This is also true in a spiritual sense. You have already experienced: In a state of strained psychic energy, of higher vibration (enthusiasm, prayer, meditation, joyful, focused and self-forgetful work), man needs only little food.
The more you raise your spiritual nature, the more you suffer indeed from a relapse into the old habit of overeating.
Earthly food can be reduced to small portions; the body will not require more when Agni is aflame. (Fiery World I, 494)
So it is good to establish such a state of high vibration before eating, whereby the physical needs are reduced. In this way, you can replace to a considerable extent physical by spiritual food.
Psychic energy will itself whisper to the sensitive ear when less sleep is needed, when less food is needed, and when less drink is needed. Indeed each kind of energy provides nourishment, psychic energy especially. The natural growth of psychic energy can replace the ressources of the body. (Agni Yoga 501)
Of course, we are not yet ready today to feed ourselves on light and air. The path thereto leads through a gradual spiritualization. This refers not only to the soul, but also to our organism: The finer, the higher the vibration of our body is, the less material food he will need.
22. Spiritual Food
Not only the body, but also the immortal soul must be nurtured, because
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4, 4)
The heart demands constant nourishment; without it, the heart is deprived of the higher connection and begins to decompose. (Heart 9)
Most people neglect the nourishment of the soul.
The people of the world are starving for want of spiritual sustenance. (Teachings of the Temple, Volume 1, Lesson 64 “Let there be light”)
Fellow citizens, you are not wise. You pay gold for rotten food, but are too stingy to pay even a copper coin for the nourishment of your soul. (Supermundane 181)
However, the provision of our true, eternal being with food is much more important than that of the body, who passes away soon anyway.
Daily we partake of food, and without it regard the day as miserable. But our spirit also requires nourishment of thought, and it is a crime to pass one's day without it. Let us think of the fundamentals of Yoga as our bread and milk. (Agni Yoga 357)
Just as to fixed mealtimes, we should therefore get used to regular times of meditation, where in particular our eternal individuality is nurtured.
The fact that the soul of man requires nourishment no less than the body, and also requires it at stated intervals of time, and in sufficient quantities, is not always recognized or accepted, consequently in the majority of cases that nourishment is very inadequately and intermittently supplied, and the result of such neglect is to a close observer evident in the faces and forms of the people he meets. (Teachings of the Temple, Volume 1, Lesson 59, “Transmutation”)
Spiritual nourishment, as we shall more fully discuss in the Broadcasting about Meditation, consists of high thoughts, feelings and ideals, of prayers, of the absorbing of higher energies, and of the "words from God's mouth" (Matthew 4, 4 ) as they are laid down in the Holy Scriptures of mankind.
There is good reason for my repeating about solemnity, for it is nourishment for the heart! (Heart 462)