Monday, February 22, 2010

The Spiritual Consequences of Tobacco Consumption, Part 2

The dangers of addiction

When a person decides to reach for and smoke a cigarette, he will feel a more or less significant effect. For example, he will feel calmer. In this way he “learns” that it is possible to achieve this goal without an inner, spiritual effort. This would not be a major problem if it occurred only occasionally. But a pleasant and comfortable experience is something one wants to have again, and so the smoker soon reaches for the cigarette at every opportunity, very often even unconsciously. And in so doing, the spirit becomes less and less accustomed to reacting out of an impulse of its own will to maintain or restore the inner balance or, as the case may be, to rediscover what is its task. The less the will is active, the weaker it becomes, and soon the smoker finds it exceedingly difficult to remain calm without resorting to the use of nicotine. He needs it and cannot manage without it. And this is what we call “addiction.”

It is important to point out that it is the spirit above all that becomes addicted, not the body. For the spirit is the only living entity in a human being that has the ability to perceive consciously. And it is the spirit — and not the body — which suffers, feels discomfort, perceives lack of something, or feels a sense of inner dissociation. The body and the brain merely transmit the sensitive information of the pain to the spirit. The normal functioning of the body may be disrupted by a drug, but the experience of addiction occurs in the nonmaterial realm of the real self. The spirit yearns for the drug in order to experience the desired state. It binds itself through its own volition to the means of addiction.

The propensity for smoking (or consuming other drugs) is not automatically eliminated with the death of the physical body. Not by chance do clairvoyants who have contact with the other world give account of departed souls who remain "earthbound" through their propensity. The avid desire to smoke holds them near those who can still succumb to this urge, and they try to satisfy their craving through the feelings of a smoker who is still in flesh and blood.

Moreover, the fact that this addictive behavior rests in the psyche and not in the physical body explains why it is so difficult to give up smoking as long as there is not an absolutely serious and firm resolution of the will based upon knowledge. External aids may be able to support the spirit’s efforts. However, they do not render the spirit more active.

Conversely, some smokers experience little or practically no unease and can stop smoking without problems as soon as the appropriate impulse of will comes from the spirit. In this case, the body begins to produce those substances again that, up to this point, were being replaced by the drug.

Some people become addicted to tobacco in a surprisingly short time. Others can indulge heavily in smoking without developing an addiction rightaway. This, too, has to do with the previous spiritual development of the person concerned, perhaps also with the past lives on earth. A smoker who dies and does not manage in the beyond to free himself of his propensity will come with this “predisposition” into a new incarnation on earth — and as soon as the opportunity presents itself the tendency will manifest again.

Tobacco consumption thus has consequences for the spirit! Through the blood radiation, nicotine allows the smoker to experience a state of relaxation and well-being. This “comfortable” path, however, endangers his spiritual development. Knowledge of these connections should induce the smoker to free himself of the smoking habit.

As we have seen, the blood radiation can be influenced and altered not only from “without” but also from “within.” In order to free oneself of the cigarette habit, it is necessary to bring about a change in this radiation — not with nicotine, but through the power of the spirit.

Photo by Flickr user Vanessa Pike-Russell

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Spiritual Consequences of Tobacco Consumption, Part 1

Unknown in Europe before the end of the 15th century, tobacco was introduced from America by Christopher Columbus after he discovered the new continent in 1492. Being a rare and therefore precious product, tobacco was initially primarily used for medical purposes, for example as a herbal infusion.

The cultivation of tobacco spread first in Spain and Portugal, then into the rest of Europe. As demand grew, tobacco was soon being cultivated on a large scale, beginning in 1520 in North America, the Antilles and Cuba. Selective breeding finally yielded a variety adapted to the European climate, the cultivation of which began around 1560.

At that time tobacco was mainly snuffed as a fine powder, so that it was absorbed through the nasal mucous membrane, or else it was consumed as chewing tobacco. Pipe, cigar or cigarette smokers were quite rare. The ubiquitous cigarette of today did not exist before 1674. It appeared about two centuries after tobacco was introduced to Europe, and at first was rolled by the smokers themselves. Production on an industrial scale only began in 1842, and helped not only to make it available but contributed considerably to the popularity of tobacco. The number of smokers then rose spectacularly, first in Europe and soon worldwide. In France, for instance, annual cigarette production was around 7 million in 1860, but by 1893 (only 33 years later!) it had climbed to a billion, and by 1960 to 50 billion. After peaking at 97 billion in 1991, production still amounted to as many as 83 billion cigarettes in 2000.

Initially, tobacco was a rare and valuable commodity, but today, it is commonplace and its consumption is considered quite normal, having a universal appeal that is rather surprising. In contrast to other drugs that tend to be limited to certain regions or particular segments of the population, tobacco use does not know any such limits. Tobacco is consumed by the most primitive tribes as well as by people in the most modern cities, by men and women alike, regardless of educational standing or religious orientation, by adults as well as youngsters.

The bridge between spirit and body

As it is with most drugs, nicotine — a component of tobacco — does not only have physical effects. The "internal high" that the smoker seeks from smoking not only manifests in the body but also touches on the psyche, more precisely: his spirit.
The question is: How is it possible that a material substance like nicotine can affect the non-material spirit?

Naturally, the spirit cannot be influenced directly by nicotine molecules. There has to be a “connecting element” between body and soul* — and this "element" is the blood, more precisely: the radiation of the blood. The blood, this “juice of very special kind” in the words of Goethe, emits radiations or vibrations which in fineness and frequency resemble those radiations emanating from the outermost covering of the soul, or “astral body”. It is the similarity of these radiations that forms a “bridge” of resonance between the physical body and the soul, across which all information “circulates” between the material and nonmaterial realms. In this way the spirit is fully connected to the body during its incarnation on earth.

The blood radiation is dependent on the composition of the blood. Any change in this is bound to influence the condition of the soul as well. Let us take some examples. It is well known that a drop in the blood sugar level (hypoglycaemia) evokes a feeling of uneasiness; a lack of vitamin B1 leads to a state of anxiety; excessive lead in the blood triggers depression, etc. Thus it is easy to understand that nicotine changes the blood radiation, and consequently the condition of the smoker’s soul. Via the blood radiation (and in turn, followed by a similar radiation process via the finer cloaks of the soul) the spirit, too, is indirectly influenced by the effects produced by nicotine.

Now it could appear as though we were defenceless against all earthly influences which can reach us through our blood radiation. This is not the case. For the spirit likewise exerts its influence on all bridges of radiation, but from “within”.

It is well known that we can change our emotional state or soul condition by an effort of will. By pulling oneself together, one can become more cheerful if depressed, more even-tempered if excitable, more focused if distracted, more confident if one is despondent. In such a case, the volition of the spirit exerts a pressure — first on the finer coverings around the spirit, and subsequently also on the physical body. This pressure in turn causes the production of hormones and other secretions which change the composition and thereby the radiation of the blood. As a result, the spirit is soon "immersed" in radiations of a corresponding nature and experiences a correspondingly different emotional state.

If, for example, a person seeks calm, his body will produce endorphins as a result of the pressure exerted by his spirit. With increased vigilance of the spirit the cortex of the adrenal glands will produce adrenalin. Naturally, such processes take place unconsciously.

Drugs are not substances absolutely foreign to the body — even if it could not use these — but they come very close in their activity to endogenous substances, produced by the organism itself. So similar even, that they can replace the body’s own substances. The unusual effect of drugs stems from the fact that they mimic in an exaggerated manner the particular effect of a substance normally produced by the organism. Thus morphine, which is extracted from the opium poppy, is very similar to endorphins, which are endogenous hormones. Cannabis resembles a biocatalyst that is secreted by the brain. And nicotine, in turn, corresponds to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, which partly ensures that messages can be transmitted from one nerve cell (neuron) to the next.

So, in a stressful situation, a state of restlessness or fear, there are two ways of restoring inner composure: either through an act of will which follows an impulse from the spirit and causes corresponding secretions in the body — or by tobacco and nicotine consumption which brings an artificially induced state. The choice is ours.

The reason why people often opt for a drug which is known to be harmful is that it always appears easier to “consume” an external aid than to make the personal effort. To restrain oneself, or to do something of one's own will in order to achieve a goal, requires personal effort. Self-exertion is certainly beneficial to the development of the spirit and unfolding its innate abilities, for the spirit unfolds by activating a volition, just as a muscle gets stronger through exercise.

For this reason, resorting to the use of the drug nicotine exhibits a certain indolence or lack of willpower and self-confidence. Ironically, this is the exact opposite of those qualities the advertising industry uses to make smoking “glamorous”. Generally speaking, the smoker is portrayed, as everybody knows, as an active, decisive, strong-willed and self-confident person.

from a manuscript compiled under the direction of Leonhart Fuchs (1501-66)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Eating in Season

Nowadays most fruits and vegetables are on offer throughout the year. Since everything is available at any time, we are loosing the concept of eating according to the season. Some even find it difficult to name typical spring vegetables or to indicate when exactly the strawberries are in season. Nonetheless, it would be better for our health to eat in accordance with the season.

When is a food in season?

Nature offers us a variety of plant and animal foodstuffs, but not all at the same time. The offer differs from season to season, therefore we speak of “seasonal foods”. It is, however, not that every foodstuff belongs to the one season – spring, summer, autumn or winter – but that it has its specific season, a certain period when it comes to full ripeness and is at its peak for consumption.

For example, the apricot season lasts only a few weeks, as this fruit gets overripe very quickly and then decays. Drying, though, can extend its season.

Grains such as wheat, have a longer natural season. Mature wheat, harvested in summer and stored in good conditions, can be enjoyed over the entire winter and up to the next harvest. Wheat therefore has a year-round cycle, retaining its qualities and its vitality all through.

Eating according to need

There is a wise correlation between what nature offers seasonally and our bodily requirements. Nature gives us the necessary food exactly when we need it most.

In broad terms, the following foods are available during the year: in spring, at the time of awakening and renewal, nature makes a variety of young shoots available – dandelions, greens, lambs lettuce and so on. Fast-growing, vital or also vitamin-rich plants aid the human body, with its intensified activities typical for this season, and they also satisfy the increased vitamin requirements after winter, when mainly long-lasting, vitamin-deficient foods are available, because at this time of the year almost no fresh foodstuffs are available.

From spring onwards, proteins are also available in greater quantities. Hens lay more regularly again, the cows calve and suckle. The supply of protein-rich foods such as eggs, milk and meat grows, meeting the increased protein demands during the hot, sunny months. The days lengthen, we work longer hours and tissue metabolism is thus also higher.

During the warmest time of the year, nature also offers the juiciest vegetables; cucumbers, tomatoes, melons. They help to meet the greater fluid demands conditioned by the high temperatures. Summer is also the time of energy-rich fruits that are easily digestible in the severe heat.

In September and October with the return of cooler days, the food needs to be more enriched, so that the body can better withstand the onset of winter. At this time more concentrated foods are available: cereals, pulses, chestnuts, nuts and so forth. The vegetables suitable for the cold season – carrots, beetroots, celery – are less juicy, just as the fluid requirements of the body are reduced.

In winter, the cold compels people to live on a high calorie diet, provided by foods that are suitable for storage: potatoes, cereals, pulses. We obtain vitamins from stored fruit and vegetables, dried fruits (sultanas and apricots) are also a good source. Preserving suitable food for winter is justified, natural and also provides consistent seasonal nutrition. Animals do the same – bees keep honey for winter, squirrels store nuts, and so on.

If the climate conditions – sunshine, temperature and so on – were to be unchanged throughout the year, then our physical needs would also remain the same and nature would provide us with a constant selection of foods. This is the case in tropical areas near the equator, where nature minimally changes the food supply throughout the year.

Benefits of seasonal food

There are two main reasons why it is advantageous for us to eat in season. On the one hand, because the foods are ideally suited to the organic requirements of the respective season; they comply with the seasons and we can maximize the benefit from them. On the other hand, foods during the time of full ripeness offer the most nutrients – vitamins, trace elements and so on.

A food out of season lacks energy, it is inferior. Moreover, such foodstuffs are often imported from far away and are treated with preservatives or cultivated in unnatural ways. All this reduces its essential quality.

To eat foods in season as much as possible is exceptionally beneficial for good health. In this way we enjoy the best of what nature makes available, and at a time when we most need it.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Being Vegetarian, Part 2

Adaptation to change

The question of meat-eating is different for a born vegetarian, living in a country where by tradition meat is not consumed, than for someone who becomes a vegetarian. In the first case, the body is accustomed to functioning without animal flesh for generations and is able to provide adequate blood radiations from other types of foods. The spirit is therefore well adapted to the body, though it should be noted that vegetarian nations are more prone to dreaming and meditating than meat-consuming nations.

In this second case, the people who decide to stop eating meat, had done so for decades and inherited a physical body that was accustomed to eating meat for generations. The suppression of meat cannot therefore be easy. They generally face a problem of adaptation to their new way of life.

The process is similar to that of a smoker who decides to stop this habit. The body no longer receives the nicotine that stimulated the organ functions prior to quitting smoking. The organs then slow down their activity and cannot accomplish the work expected of them. Consequently problems arise: headaches, lethargy, constipation, nervousness, etc. A general malaise also sets in.

Since meat is a type of food rather than a drug, its suppression does not cause acute disorders. In fact there may not be any visible problems for weeks or months thereafter. On the contrary, those who effect the change generally feel better and more energetic. However, problems arise with time.

Initially the body succeeds in maintaining a correct blood radiation because the meat consumed in the past exerts its influence for a while. Since the body does not have any substitute element at its disposal to replace what it found in meat, the composition of the blood and its radiations will be modified. It can then no longer offer a good connection to the spirit, which cannot penetrate the body and manifest with the same force and intensity as before. A certain distancing and pondering sets in. This state, however, only manifests very progressively and for this reason it often goes unperceived until being clearly present. Therefore it is not attributed to the suppressing of meat, that would have occurred quite a long time before.

A person in this situation does not enjoy life as he should. The aim of human life is indeed to give the spirit the opportunity to experience on the earthly plane, and develop the faculties entrusted to it by the Creator. These experiences must be intensely lived according to the spirit’s wishes. In order to feel and to act efficiently, the spirit must be correctly linked to the body. This is not the case for those who eliminate meat consumption. The “lack of presence” of their spirit does not allow them to fully experience their lives. Events glide past them without touching them. Moreover, the decrease in their inner zeal leads to lethargy and lack of interest in external issues, which they actually avoid due to their additional sensitivity. They therefore miss a great deal of experiences and must subsequently make up for lost time.

Should meat be eliminated from the diet or not?

From a spiritual viewpoint, it is not recommended to eliminate meat from the diet of one used to it. By so doing the body is deprived of the possibility to offer a vital link to the spirit through blood radiations. Should meat then continue to be a part of our diet? If so, in what quantity? There is no single answer for everyone as it depends on the one concerned. If a person is too attached and inclined towards materialism, it is necessary to reduce the amount of meat consumption in order for him to open himself more easily to spiritual matters. On the other hand, whenever one “drifts” or “floats” too much, meat consumption should be increased in order to bring him back to reality. These measures can be alternated over time.

Changes can be effected either in the quantity taken at a meal (to be increased or decreased, as necessary), or the frequency of servings (meat consumed daily or every other day). The choice of animal flesh is also important. Red meat contains more toxins and grounds us more than white meat (veal, poultry, lamb) and fish.

The need for meat varies from one individual to another and from one epoch in the evolution of man to another. Needs were greater at the beginning of human history than they are in the present time. Then, the incarnating spirits needed very strong blood radiations that would firmly anchor them in gross matter, which was very alien to them and which they were penetrating for the first time. Now, needs differ in our materialistic world. A reduction in the consumption of animal flesh and a transition towards a more vegetarian diet would be desirable. However, such a transition should be progressive. It cannot be achieved in the course of a single earth-life but must be stretched over several generations.