When we think about a vegetarian diet, we often connect it with the health of our physical body. For those who are concerned with optimizing their health, vegetarianism is now being promoted by many medical doctors who claim that this diet provides optimum nutrition and guards against many diseases caused by non-vegetarian foods. What, then, is the relationship of vegetarianism to spirituality? As spirituality relates to the spirit, then what connection would our spiritual essence have to the foods we eat?
Although diet is commonly considered a matter of physical health alone, since the Hermetic principle “as above, so below” is a fundamental truth of the cosmos, diet is a crucial aspect of emotional, intellectual, and spiritual development. For diet and consciousness are interrelated, and purity of diet is an effective aid to purity and clarity of consciousness.
There are other benefits to vegetarianism to help our mind and soul.
Spirituality is not only concerned with our own inner development. It is a way of living in which we also have love and concern for all other life in creation. Spirituality involves bringing us closer to our true nature. Our true self is one with God. When God has created this universe, the earth, and all creatures, it is natural that we want to respect all life rather than destroy what God has created.
Those who are truly connected with God feel a love for all creatures, great and small.
The purification of our subtler levels depends upon the purification of our physical entity. This makes sense when we realize that all that goes to constitute a human being is formed of energies of various types, and the only source of energy is that which is brought into the body through sunlight, air, and food. And it is material food that provides by far the greatest amount of the energy from which our multilevel complex is shaped.
When we realize that any physical object has all the levels which we do, namely, the physical, biomagnetic, sensory, intellectual and will bodies, we can understand the importance of the kind and quality of food we eat. For not only does the physical substance of the food become assimilated into our physical body, so also do the subtler energies become united to our inner levels. This is the teaching of the Chandogya Upanishad: “Mind consists of food. That which is the subtle part of milk moves upward when the milk is churned and becomes butter. In the same manner, the subtle part of the food that is eaten moves upward and becomes mind. Thus, mind consists of food”
People who have had NDE’s or near-death experiences who have undergone clinical death and were revived by doctors report similar experiences. According to a poll in 1991, twelve million people reported having an NDE. Early books by Dr. Raymond Moody, and later by Dr. Melvin Morse, who visited me at the Science of Spirituality Center a few years ago, described these experiences that were reported to them and to other doctors by patients who were revived. They described a repeated pattern of experiences. While their body had clinically died, they experienced rising above the body. They began by seeing their body below as people worked on their body. Then they went through a tunnel and emerged in a world of light. There they saw a light brighter than any in this world, but it was not scorching. They also were met and embraced by a being of light who poured into them more love than they had ever experienced from anyone on earth. This being of light often took them on a life review in which they saw all the good that they had done and all the bad that they had done. What was significant about this life review was that, as they viewed this three-dimensional rerun of their life, they also experienced with great intensity the reactions of the other people to their own actions. When a person having an NDE witnessed in their past an occasion of being loving and kind to someone else, he or she would also experience within themselves that love and kindness that the other person experienced. When a person having an NDE witnessed in their past an occasion of having hurt someone, he or she would then also experience within themselves all the hurt they had caused that other person. The intensity of experiencing the pain they had done to others transformed them.
It made them realize that everything that we do here does matter. What matters most in our worldly life is love.
All the love and kind things we do, come back to us, and all the painful and hurtful things we do also come back to us. When these people who had NDE’s were revived and their soul returned to the body, they changed dramatically. Most of them decided to become more loving people and not to hurt others because they realized the effect of being negative.
It is a natural deduction to realize that if we must undergo suffering or pain for hurting others in thought, word, or deed, then what is the risk we take when we cause the death of another, including any lower creatures? This law of reaction for our actions forms the basis of the teachings of the saints, Masters, and religious founders of various religions. We can understand now why Buddha, Mahavira, Guru Nanak, Moses, the Greek philosophers, ancient Hindu sages, and other enlightened beings implored their followers to be vegetarians.
So it is not surprising that when the Roman poet, Seneca, learned of Pythagoras’s teachings, he became a vegetarian. He was glad to discover, to his amazement, that his “mind had grown more alert and more enlightened.”
We can see the multiple benefits of vegetarianism. Whether you try this diet for physical health, for improved intellect and mental well-being, or for spiritual growth, one finds benefits.
To learn more about the benefits for yourself, why not come along to a Healthy Vegetarian Workshop in your area.