The Four Soul Killers

Authored or posted by | Updated on | Published on September 27, 2017
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Picture of fast food and alcoholBy Abbot George Burke (Swami Nirmalananda Giri), contributing writer for

What are the Four Soul Killers? Before enumerating them, we should examine the principles behind the avoidance of various items.

Although this study is based on the Judeo-Christian scriptures, both Judaism and Christianity have roots in the philosophy of India as explained in The Christ of India. So here at the beginning I would like to present some statements about the nature and effect of good that are found in the basic texts of India, the upanishads.

“From food has arisen strength [virya], austerity [tapasya], mantra, action, and the world itself” (Prashna Upanishad 6.4). Ascetic discipline (tapasya) and prayer (mantra) are essential to religion, and here we see that the food we eat is their basis. And obviously the kind of food we eat will determine the quality of our discipline and prayer.

“By food, indeed, do all the breaths [pranas, life forces] become great” (Taittiriya Upanishad 1.5.4).

“Man, verily consists of the essence of food” (Taittiriya Upanishad 2.1.1). So we are what we eat.

“From food, verily, are produced all creatures–whatsoever dwell on earth. By food alone, furthermore, do they live.…From food all creatures are born: by food, when born, they grow.…Verily, different from this, which consists of the essence of food, but within it, is another self, which consists of the vital breath [prana]. By this the former is filled. This too has the shape of a man. Like the human shape of the former is the human shape of the latter” (Taittiriya Upanishad 2.2.1). The spiritual, astral body is drawn exclusively from food, so diet is crucial in spiritual development.

“Food when eaten becomes threefold. What is coarsest in it becomes faeces, what is medium becomes flesh and what is subtlest becomes mind. Water when drunk becomes threefold. What is coarsest in it becomes urine, what is medium becomes blood and what is subtlest becomes prana.…The mind, my dear, consists of food, [and] the prana of water…” (Chandogya Upanishad 6.5.1, 2, 4).

“That, my dear, which is the subtlest part of curds rises, when they are churned and becomes butter. In the same manner, my dear, that which is the subtlest part of the food that is eaten rises and becomes mind. The subtlest part of the water that is drunk rises and becomes prana. Thus, my dear, the mind consists of food, [and] the prana consists of water” (Chandogya Upanishad 6.6.1-3,5; the same is confirmed in 6.7.1-6).

“Now is described the discipline for inner purification by which self-knowledge is attained: When the food is pure, the mind becomes pure. When the mind is pure the memory [smriti–memory of our eternal spirit-Self] becomes firm. When the memory is firm all ties are loosened” (Chandogya Upanishad 7.26.2).

“On food rests everything—whatsoever breathes and whatsoever breathes not” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.5.1).

“In the body there are nerves [nadis] called hita, which are placed in the heart. Through these the essence of our food passes as it moves on. Therefore the subtle body receives finer food than the gross body” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.2.3).

The basic principle

It is wise to avoid taking into our bodies any substances that are addicting or that produce a distortion or dulling of consciousness–in other words, anything that produces an abnormal or unbalanced state of mind. This is because our body chemistry, which is produced by whatever we take into our bodies, is the most potent influence on our mental states.

For this reason those who seek higher consciousness should scrupulously avoid: 1) all animal flesh, including fish and eggs; 2) tobacco in any form; 3) alcohol in any form; and 4) mind-altering drugs, including the legal ones. The use of these substances is a form of mental and spiritual suicide–and often physical suicide, too, for the number of suicides committed by those who are pumped full of “tranquillizers” and “anti-depressants” is simply incredible.

No thing exists as a merely physical entity. All objects consist of innumerable layers of energies, ranging from the grossest material (atomic) vibrations to the subtlest, almost spiritual, energy. Therefore whatever we eat does not only enter into our physical bodies, but into all levels of our being. That is a very sobering, if not actually unsettling, thought. Our minds, our emotions, even our wills, are masses of subtle energies, and whatever we eat or drink enters also into those energy levels and affects them profoundly.

After all, what sensible person wants the mind, the emotions, and the will impulses of animals grafted into his own mind, emotions, and will–thus altering them and changing them from intelligent human entities into instinctual animal entities? Yet this is exactly the effect of eating meat. And since tobacco, alcohol, and mind-altering drugs poison and distort the physical body and the mind, what must they do to the higher aspects of our being–especially our wills? All four of these listed substances are addicting to the human body, and therefore erode the will. And without the will intact, what are we?

It should be understood that these substances are not evil in themselves. It is their effect on us that is negative. To take them into our bodies is to misuse them. Everything is good in its right place, but our bodies and minds are not the right place for these things.

Meat, Fish, and Eggs

First let us look at meat. The effect of meat on the mental and psychic states of those who eat it is detrimental to the attempt at attaining higher consciousness. It is even destructive of normal, balanced mental states for, as stated above, our minds are fields of energy which absorb the subtle energies of whatever we eat and are affected thereby. To eat meat is to absorb the mental state of the animal.

The Spiritual Aspect

But there is also a religious basis for abstaining from meat. The eating of meat directly opposes the commandment: “Thou shalt not kill.” God did not qualify His prohibition by adding the words: “human beings.” Killing is prohibited strictly across the board. The Hebrew word translated “kill” is tirtzach, which according to The Complete Hebrew/English Dictionary means: “any kind of killing whatsoever.”

God Himself has spoken on the severity of slaughtering cattle: “He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man” (Isaiah 66:3). No need for interpretation. It is quite clear: To kill a cow is as homicide in God’s eyes. Why? Because that cow is as real and viable a person as you and I, with just as much right to earth life for evolution as anyone else. And if you do not think that God values cattle with humans, consider His words to Jonah: “Should I not spare Ninevah, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:11).

Even more to the point, Saint Paul states: “For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offense. It is good neither to eat meat or drink wine…” (Romans 14:20, 21).

The Bible definitely teaches that human beings should be vegetarians, right from the start of the human race. “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat” (Genesis 1:29). What is more, God continues and sets the same diet for all living creatures: “And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so” (Genesis 1:30).

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Category: Energy & Holistic Healing, Spiritual Growth & Ascension

Comments (1)

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  1. Anabel says:

    Agree the body needs good food.
    And if you run good food in teh body the brain and body have optimal functioning.
    But do not understand how the soul can be “killed” by food or by the body (or when the body dies).

    Far more important or at least as important is the mind fuel.
    If you do not consume a diet of compassionate,positive awareness you are creating a junk mind. You are what you think.
    As when you eat junk the body gets sick you think junk your mind gets ill = mentally ill.

    The “Rules are for fools”

    I take pain relief for injuries in my body, and yet my soul( part of the one soul) is not ” killed” nor will it be.Not one soul will be lost.
    For how does something that does not die, die? the body does die (the body which is indeed made sick by junk food and tortured animal flesh).