When Jesus said: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” he implied that food other than material is necessary in the life of man. In the light of this, the question of food becomes of marked importance.
Before turning our attention to physical food, let us briefly consider the food that Jesus speaks of as the “word of God.” In our understanding of this subject, we must see that this “word” is not to be found written in books or spoken by man. Only as the soul has awakened to a knowledge of its real self, is it possible to discern the impress of God’s word on the printed page or in the verbal utterance. The God that speaks to man is the indwelling Divine Presence in each individual life; and this speaks rather through states of feeling than in words. “The pure in heart shall see God.”
As we show forth these inner states, we reflect the Divine Image. Every soul is a word, and through the communion and unity of these the word _of God in its largest sense is best understood. Through soul communion—a realization of the unity existing between God and man—the soul is fed. The soul is the “Word” that was in the beginning with God, from whom come all things. We mean this in the larger sense—the Universal Soul that becomes individualized in the life of man. True soul communion must never be regarded in any personal sense. It is, as it were, the losing of self and the becoming at one with the Soul of the Universe. In this state the individual soul receives nourishment necessary for its fullest expression. This soul nourishment has its consequent action upon the mind of man, transforming and illuminating his thought so that the forms of life take on a new meaning, and the world becomes filled with a brightness that could have no existence if it were not for the influx from the spiritual side of life into the mental and material side.
Thus we see that the real bread of life—the true sustenance of humanity—is not in the outer form, but rather in the inner word; and this latter has its effect upon the whole life of man, finding its ultimate expression in the shaping of the physical form.
The body, or physical organism, is a house that we have builded for our special needs while on this plane of existence. In order to do this, it is necessary that we should draw from the things of the material world; and, while the soul is its builder, yet the body is of the earth, earthy, and the things essential in its construction and reconstruction must be drawn from the world of forms. If the mind were always under the direction of the inner word, the body would take on perfect form, expressing health, and strength; but, because the mind is content with drawing what it believes to be needful from the outer world, regardless of the inner, our bodies do not always express what we should desire. Sometimes the expression is that of weakness—sometimes that of disease.
The mind, not being nourished in the true way, cannot rightly supply the needs of the physical form. The body is strengthened and perfected only as the mind is renewed by the inner word. If man’s mind were only under the complete direction of the inner word, a weak or diseased body would be impossible: for the force of life moving from its center outward would bring perfection of mind and body, and the food necessary to build up the physical form would be of a kind and quality that would supply each and every need of the external man. Such is not at present the state of the majority of mankind; but this is no reason why it should not be attained.
When the force of life is directed through knowledge and understanding, the question of material food will not be so dominant as at present. Indigestion and dyspepsia will be things of the past. If man exercised half the care in the selection of his mental food, and the source from which that food is drawn, that he displays in the choosing of his physical nourishment, the results would prove far more beneficial. But his investigations are invariably on the surface, and he chooses to deal with effects rather than causes. The wrong mental desire finds its expression in the imperfect selection of material food. Looking upon this food as the cause of many physical ills, he seeks to bring about a better bodily state through foregoing certain kinds of food and cultivating a taste for others. One after another, however, they fail to bring the required good. Just so long as the wrong desires are retained in the mind will the physical indigestion and lack of true assimilation continue.
Many persons would have us believe that the different kinds of food we eat or refrain from eating have a tendency to make us spiritual-minded—some taking the ground that vegetables and cereals are ideal food for the perfect development of the physical man, others claiming that fruits and nuts are all that is necessary for the welfare of the body. That these positions are true I cannot believe. Man may live on any kind of food without its having any effect in spiritualizing his life. It is the true impulse that brings the true desire, which in turn brings the true expression. We cannot reverse this order and get the true results of life.
I do not think that animal food is necessary to give health or strength to our bodies—that conscious life must lose its own form in order to perpetuate the form of man. The animal has as much right to exist, and in its limited way to get as much enjoyment out of life, as man himself; but, so long as we believe that animal flesh is necessary for the welfare of the body, it will continue to be used, regardless of the pain and suffering inflicted. I believe there can be no question that there is a reflex action resulting from all this cruelty. The pain we inflict on the animal inevitably comes back to us, causing both anguish of mind and pain of body.
I have a theory, which may or may not be true, as to this reflex action. It is well known that the fibrin, or vital part of animal blood, is, or seems to be, indestructible. Subject it to whatever test you may, and its vital force is not destroyed. Conditions being right, from this fibrin proceeds the construction of new forms, two conditions only being necessary (warmth and moisture), and the rebuilding begins. Another fact, not so well known but equally true, is that the condition of fear in man or animal affects the blood; and when we think of the animals that are daily destroyed in the world’s slaughter-houses, and reflect that the sense of fear of loss of life, or rather loss of form, is just as strong in animals as in men, is it to be wondered at that this state of fright should leave its impress on the blood, thence to be transmitted to the minds of men?
Why is it that meat-eating people are so fearful of the loss of the body? we say that they are the bravest, that they are the best “fighters,” that they have a greater hold on life; yet they are certainly more fearful of losing their physical existence than those that live on fruits, cereals. and vegetables. Again, may not this “fighting” characteristic proceed from the animal, which in a sense has been perpetuated by assimilating the fibrin of its blood, so that we are unconsciously continuing an animal existence through the sustaining of the body by flesh food?
It may be asserted here that I am inconsistent in taking this position after having said that the food eaten by a man cannot of itself make him spiritual or bring about a higher state of existence; but, while these outer conditions do not affect the soul of man, yet there is a definite action on both mind and body, and mind cannot become spiritualized save as the soul qualities flow into it. Everything in the outer world, being related to every other thing, must affect and be affected by every other thing in the outer world. Now, as the true relationship is established from the inner (or higher) state of being, we have the perfect harmony of life; but if the relationship be established through purely mental and selfish objects, for gratification of the Personality, then such relationship, being discordant, inevitably brings with it evil effects.
A question that may arise at this point in the minds of many is, If spirit alone is the creative power, how can the fibrin of the blood bring about the construction of new forms? I would say in reply that the life principle is in all and through all; and the creative principle is in the fibrin—just as much in the life of the animal as in that of man, though not expressed to the same degree. We cannot conceive of anything in the universe in which this creative force is not found. We must not look upon the, fibrin, or the outer form, as the constructive or creative agent; but we cannot fail to see that the fibrin must enter into and be incorporated in the physical form of man, if that form, under the influence or direction of mind, is nourished by the blood of the animal. In the light of this we may be able to understand why Moses (Lev. xvii. 11) commanded that the children of Israel should not eat of the blood of any animal, giving as a reason, “for the life of the flesh is in the blood.”
Abstinence from animal food while the mental desire for it remains is not going to prove helpful either to mind or body. Desire for anything keeps us related thereto, as well as to all other minds having the same desire. Hence, desire is the thing to be changed, rather than the expression of it in the outer habit. With the disappearance of this mental state will go the thing that corresponds to it. All strong mental desires assume form (find expression) sooner or later in the physical world; consequently, if we wish to replace wrong physical conditions by true ones, we must begin with motive. Does the motive proceed from the inner world of being, fashioned by the spiritual force of life, or is it produced by external things? This is a question we should ask ourselves, for on the answer will depend the expression taken by the form in the outer world.
The varying mental states produce the physical hunger that is gratified by the nourishment that comes to us from without. Take the mind that is satiated with things of the world— the mind that fails to recognize or to get good from the people and things that constitute its environment—and we find that desire for food is wanting. On the other hand, a mind that is eager for knowledge and sees things continually in new lights—a mind that digests and assimilates—invariably accompanies a good physical appetite, the possessor of which relishes his food. Take also the simple-minded man: he will get more enjoyment from simple food than from all the so-called luxuries of the table. Wherever the animal nature predominates in man, we find the desire for animal food; and if this nature is vigorous, it will require such food in abundance.
With the awakening of the spiritual nature comes a change in the desires concerning physical food, many things being laid aside and entirely new ones being substituted. This process may be altogether unconscious, but it takes place just as surely as if it were a conscious act. There is no violent or sudden change—it may be hardly perceptible; but little by little the change goes on. The amount of food required to nourish the body becomes less and less, so that to many it would seem as if the person were literally starving himself. Such, however, is not the case; but the little he cats is digested and thoroughly assimilated.
At this point I wish to introduce another theory, which may be true or otherwise, but I can find no reasonable ground on which to discredit it. I apprehend that the air about us contains all things needful for the replenishing of the human form; that all we eat and drink is to be found in the atmosphere; that, as man’s desires are affected by the higher impulses of life, each desire has its action on all parts of the body (but nowhere is that action more manifest than on the organs used in connection with the breath); that with the higher and truer desires of life comes a new state of breathing—we breathe deeper and stronger and take more time in inhaling and exhaling; in short. that we draw nourishment direct from the atmosphere as naturally as do plants and trees—all the varied forms of vegetable life.
The question may be asked, 'Why is it that some persons living on a very material plane breathe strong and deep, but are not nourished in this way, requiring a great deal of prepared food to meet the needs of the body? I would answer that the desires of such a person were strong and true as far as they went; that his perception of life did not extend beyond that plane; that, his mind being engrossed in the things of form and his desires being there, the natural way to replenish the body would be to draw from the visible rather than the invisible realm. But the truly spiritual mind—whose aspirations and desires are for things invisible to material sight—attracts to itself the things necessary to sustain the body. The alchemist is within; it acts upon nature in such a way as to separate the dross from the gold, casting aside the former as being unnecessary to give true expression to the form of man in the world in which we live.
More from Charles Brodie Patterson
- Canadian New Thought author
- Born in Nova Scotia in 1854 and died on June, 22nd 1917