Vegetarianism and Occultism
book by Charles W. Leadbeater
Vegetarianism and Occultism, (1913) was written by Charles W. Leadbeater, a theosophist author on occult subjects .
- We all know what is meant by Vegetarianism; and although there are several varieties of it... We need not concern ourselves with these divisions, but simply define the vegetarian as one who abstains from any food which is obtained by the slaughter of animals—of course including birds and fish.
- How shall we define Occultism? The word is derived from the Latin occultus, hidden; so that it is the study of the hidden laws of nature. Since all the great laws of nature are in fact working in the invisible world far more than in the visible, Occultism involves the acceptance of a much wider view of nature than that which is ordinarily taken. The occultist, then, is a man who studies all the laws of nature that he can reach or of which he can hear, and as a result of his study he identifies himself with those laws and devotes his life to the service of evolution.
- How does Occultism regard Vegetarianism? It regards it very favorably, and that for many reasons.
- One of the objections frequently brought against vegetarianism is that it is a beautiful theory, but one the working of which is impracticable, since it is supposed that a man cannot live without devouring dead flesh. That objection is irrational, and is founded upon ignorance or perversion of facts.
- We Want the Best. I take it that in food, as well as in everything else, we all of us want the best that is within our means. We should like to bring our lives, and therefore our daily food as a not unimportant part of our lives, into harmony with our aspirations, into harmony with the highest that we know.
- It has been the sad experience of many that much of the best and the most beautiful is lost to those whose mental food consists exclusively of the sensational paper or the cheap novel, or of that frothy mass of waste material which is thrown up like scum upon the molten metal of life—novelettes, serials, and fragments of a type which neither teach the ignorant, nor strengthen the weak, nor develop the immature.
- The destruction of life is always a crime. There may be certain cases in which it is the lesser of two evils; but here it is needless and without a shadow of justification, for it happens only because of the selfish unscrupulous greed of those who coin money out of the agonies of the animal kingdom in order to pander to the perverted tastes of those who are sufficiently depraved to desire such loathsome aliment.
- The more flesh is consumed, the more serious is the danger of confirmed alcoholism.
- It is not only those who do the obscene work, but those who by feeding upon this dead flesh encourage them and make their crime remunerative, who are guilty... of this awful thing.
- Beyond all question the future is with the vegetarian.
- It seems certain that in the future — and I hope it may be in the near future — we shall be looking back upon this time with disgust and with horror.
- I am certain that our descendants will look back upon this age as one of only partial civilisation, and in fact but little removed from savagery.
- I am abandoning the field of ordinary physical reasoning, and taking you up to the level where you have, naturally, to take the word of those who have explored these higher realms. Let us then turn now to the hidden side of all this — the occult.
- There are many types and degrees of density among astral matter, for example, so that it is possible for one man to have an astral body built of coarse and gross particles, while another may have one which is much more delicate and refined. As the astral body is the vehicle of the emotions, passions and sensations, it follows that the man whose astral body is of the grosser type will be chiefly amenable to the grosser varieties of passion and emotion; whereas the man who has a finer astral body will find that its particles most readily vibrate in response to higher and more refined emotions and aspirations.
- We all know that on the physical plane the effect of over-indulgence in dead flesh is to produce a coarse, gross appearance in the man. That does not mean that it is only the physical body which is in an unlovely condition; it means also that those parts of the man which are invisible to our ordinary sight, the astral and the mental bodies, are not in good condition
- The man who learns to see these higher vehicles sees at once the effects on the higher bodies produced by impurity in the lower; he sees at once the difference between the man who feeds his physical vehicle with pure food and the man who puts into it this loathsome decaying flesh.
- Let us see how this difference will affect the man’s evolution.
- It is clear that a man’s duty with regard to himself is to develop all his different vehicles as far as possible, in order to make them finished instruments for the use of the soul. There is a still higher stage in which that soul itself is being trained to be a fit instrument in the hands of the Deity, a perfect channel for the divine grace; but the first step towards this high aim is that the soul itself shall learn thoroughly to control the lower bodies, so that there shall be in them no thought or feeling except those which the soul allows.
- The physical, body and its sense perceptions can never be at their best unless the food is pure.
- Anyone who adopts vegetarian diet will speedily begin to notice that his sense of taste or of smell is far keener than it was when he fed upon flesh, and that he is now able to discern a delicate difference of flavor in foods which before he had thought of as tasteless, such as rice and wheat.
- The same thing is true to a still greater extent with regard to the higher bodies. Their senses cannot be clear if impure or coarse matter is drawn into them; anything of this nature clogs and dulls them
- This is a fact which has always been recognized by the student of Occultism; you will find that all those who in ancient days entered upon the Mysteries were men of the utmost purity, and of course invariably vegetarian. Carnivorous diet is fatal to anything like real development, and those who adopt it are throwing serious and unnecessary difficulties in their own way.
- The purity of the heart and of the soul is more important to a man than that of the body. Yet there is surely no reason why we should not have both; indeed, the one suggests the other, and the higher should include the lower.
- We are none of us so far advanced along the road towards spirituality that we can afford to neglect the great advantage that it gives us. Anything that makes our path harder than it need be is emphatically something to be avoided. In all cases this flesh food undoubtedly makes the physical body a worse instrument, and puts difficulties in the way of the soul by intensifying all the undesirable elements and passions belonging to these lower planes.
- If, through introducing loathsome impurities into the physical body, the man builds himself a coarse and unclean astral body, we have to remember that it is in this degraded vehicle that he will have to spend the first part of his life after death... all sorts of undesirable entities will be drawn into association with him and will make his vehicles their home, and find a ready response within him to their lower passions. It is not only that his animal passions are more easily stirred here on earth, but in addition to this he will suffer acutely from the working out of these desires after death.
- The higher sight, when brought to bear upon this problem, shows us still more vividly how undesirable is the devouring of flesh, since it intensifies within us that from which we most need to be free, and therefore, from the point of view of progress, that habit is a thing to be cast out at once and forever.
- Every religion has taught that man should put himself always on the side of the will of God in the world, on the side of good as against evil, of evolution as against retrogression. The man who ranges himself on the side of evolution realizes the wickedness of destroying life; for he knows that, just as he is here in this physical body in order that he may learn the lessons of this plane, so is the animal occupying his body for the same reason, that through it he may gain experience at his lower stage. He knows that the life behind the animal is the Divine Life, that all life in the world is Divine; the animals therefore are truly our brothers, even though they may be younger brothers, and we can have no sort of right to take their lives for the gratification of our perverted tastes
- The feelings of nervousness and profound depression which are so common there, are largely due to that awful influence which spreads over the city like a plague-cloud. I do not know how many thousands of creatures are killed every day, but the number is very large. Remember that every one of these creatures is a definite entity — not a permanent, reincarnating individuality like yours or mine, but still an entity which has its life upon the astral plane, and persists there for a considerable time. Remember that every one of these remains to pour out his feelings of indignation and horror at all the injustice and torment which has been inflicted upon him. Realize for yourself the terrible atmosphere which exists about those slaughterhouses; remember that a clairvoyant can see the vast hosts of animal souls, that he knows how strong are their feelings of horror and resentment, and how these recoil at all points upon the human race.
- I read an article only the other day, in which it was explained that the nauseating stench which rises from those Chicago slaughterhouses, and settles like a fatal miasma over the city, is by no means the most deadly influence that comes up from that Christian hell for animals, though it is the breath of certain death to many a mother’s darling. The slaughterhouses make not only a pest-hole for the bodies of children, but for their souls as well. Not only are the children employed in the most revolting and cruel work, but the whole trend of their thoughts is directed towards killing...
- I read how one boy, for whom a minister had secured a place in the slaughterhouse, returned home day after day, pale and sick and unable to eat or sleep, and finally came to that minister of the gospel of the compassionate Christ and told him that he was willing to starve if necessary, but that he could not wade in blood another day... he could no longer sleep. Yet this is what many a boy is doing and seeing from day to day, until he becomes hardened to the taking of life; and then some day, instead of cutting the throat of a lamb or a pig, he kills a man, and straightway we turn our lust for slaughter upon him in turn, and think that we have done justice.
- I read that a young woman, who does much philanthropic work in the neighborhood of these pest-houses declares that what most impresses her about the children is that they seem to have no games except games of killing, that they have no conception of any relation to animals except the relation of the slaughter to the victim. This is the education which so-called Christians are giving to the children of the slaughterhouse —a daily education in murder; and then they express surprise at the number and brutality of the murders in that district. Yet your Christian public goes on serenely saying its prayers and singing its psalms and listening to its sermons, as if no such outrages were being perpetrated against God’s children in that sink-hole of pestilence and crime. Surely the habit of eating dead flesh has produced a moral apathy among us.
- Even on the physical plane this is a terribly serious matter, and from the occult point of view it is unfortunately far more serious still; for the occultist sees the psychic results of all this, sees how these forces are acting upon the people and how they intensify brutality and unscrupulousness. He sees what a center of vice and of crime you have created, and how from it the infection is gradually spreading until it affects the whole country, and even the whole of what is called civilized humanity.
- The world is being affected by it in many ways which most people do not in the least realize. There are constant feelings of causeless terror in the air. Many of your children are unnecessarily and inexplicably afraid; they feel terror of they know not what—terror of the dark, or when they are alone for a few moments. Strong forces are playing about us for which you cannot account, and you do not realize that this all comes from the fact that the whole atmosphere is charged with the hostility of these murdered creatures.
- The average man is not after all a brute, but means to be kind if he only knew how. He does not think; he goes on from day to day, and does not realise that he is taking part all the time in an awful crime... every one who is partaking of this abomination is helping to make this appalling thing a possibility, and undoubtedly shares the responsibility for it.
- Let us at least make the experiment; let us free ourselves from complicity in these awful crimes, let us set ourselves to try, each in our own small circle, to bring nearer that bright time of peace and love which is the dream and the earnest desire of every true-hearted and thinking man.