Max Heindel’s Science of Nutrition and Diet Plan
In his book The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, Max Heindel, an initiate and clairvoyant, wrote a chapter about the science of nutrition, explaining in depth the correlation between good nutrition and ability to progress spirituality, as well as which food benefits spiritual development, and which type of food should be avoided to prevent fast decay of the body. The way he explained the science of nutrition in the context of spirituality is very rounded and profound, which is why I decided to summarize that part of the book, and encourage others to read it.
Generally, it is well known by everyone dedicated to spirituality that the physical body is a temple of the soul, a vehicle that needs to be kept healthy and pure in order to reach with it the desired destination, the permanent awakening of consciousness and the incarnation of the Being – the goal of the spiritual work. Max Heindel explains that from the embryonic state until death, the human being goes through a process of consolidation, or hardening. Everything in the body, such as bones, tissues, muscles, organs etc. gradually increase in density due to the increase of things that bring about decay and death. That hardening, from a chemical standpoint, is due to “phosphate of lime (bone matter), carbonate of lime (common chalk), and sulphate of lime (plaster of paris), with occasionally a little magnesia and an insignificant amount of other earthy matters.” He refers to all these things that bring decay as earthy matter.
“The only difference between the body of old age and that of childhood is the greater density, toughness and rigidity, caused by the greater proportion of calcareous, earthy matter entering into the composition of the former. The bones of a child are composed of three parts of gelatine to one part of earthy matter. In old age this proportion is reversed.”
The author explains that the earthy matter is deposited into the arterial and venous blood and is carried over throughout the body, replenished by food and drink. For this reason, it is important to choose food and drink that has as little amount of earthy matters as possible, in order to lengthen the life span and have longer opportunity to do the inner work and reach the spiritual heights.
The author emphasizes that only distilled water should be drank, because regular water, even if boiled, contains phosphate of lime “to such an extent that the average quantity used each day by one person in the form of tea, coffee, soup, etc., would in forty years be sufficient to form a block of solid chalk or marble the size of a large man”. He also said that “undistilled water, when taken internally, is man’s worst enemy, but used externally, it becomes his best friend. It keeps the pores of the skin open, induces circulation of the blood and prevents the stagnation which affords the best opportunity for the depositing of the earthy, death-dealing phosphate of lime.” He recommends taking baths for the above reason, but also because the latter induces perspiration, for which he states that it eliminates more earthy matters than any other mean.
When it comes to food, Max Heindel says that “fresh vegetables and ripe fruits contain the greatest proportion of nutritious matter and the least of earthy substances”, and strongly advises anyone aspiring to the Initiatic path to avoid eating animal food, for several reasons. One of such reasons is related to the act of killing.
“No one who kills can go very far along the path of holiness. We do even worse than if we actually killed, for in order to shield ourselves from the personal commission of the act of killing, and still reap its results, we force a fellow being, through economic necessity, to devote his entire time to murder, thereby brutalizing him to such an extent that the law will not allow him to act as a juror in cases of capital crime, because his business has so familiarized him with the taking of life.”
He also says that, from the evolutionary point of view, animals are our younger brothers, and should be protected from human cruelty. This whole thing about not eating animals is an interesting subject, and not everyone interested in spirituality has the same view about it. A number of spiritual traditions do not eat animals, and there are also a number of them that have no problem with it. It is not uncommon to see people who pride themselves of having many years in the Gnostic teachings, scoff at the idea of vegetarianism, seeing it as a distortion of ancient spiritual teachings, simply because they learned that it is necessary to eat red meat in order to have stronger fire element in alchemy. It is seems to be a common thing in a spiritual tradition or a religion, especially when someone believes he has found a superior religion, to look at one’s own customs as the greatest in all respects, without truly questioning the why of things. However, those who work on themselves truly and deeply start to feel compassion for animals that they eat, and if not stopping completely, at the very least would dramatically lessen the amount of meat (depending also on the needs of the body).
Max Heindel recommends animal products such as cheese, milk and butter as important parts of one’s diet, saying that “these are the results of the processes of life and require no tragedies to convert them into food”. He especially recommends milk because it has no earthy substances and provides the body with influences unlike any other food. He also says that “during the Moon Period man was fed upon the milk of Nature. Universal food was absorbed by him and the use of milk has a tendency to put him in touch with the Cosmic forces and enable him to heal others.”
Fruits are another thing that the author recommends highly, because they stimulate the blood and open the way into capillaries that are already dried or chocked up.
In the Science of Nutrition part of the book, a table is provided with five chemical compounds: Water (the great solvent); Nitrogen or proteid (builder of flesh); Carbohydrates or sugars (principal power-producers); Fats (producers of heat and storers of reserve force); Ash (earthy substance, that which chokes the system). Number of calories is provided too and an explanation about how much calories is needed for different types of work, such as for example hard muscular work, medium muscular work etc.
In the above-mentioned table there is a variety of food listed, their nutrients, ash etc., and based on that one can easily work out for themselves what type of food to increase and what type of food to decrease.
Phosphorus is another recommended element, found in food such as grapes, onions, sage, beans, cloves, pineapples etc., because it is an element particular to brain alone. From this, a conclusion is made that a good amount of it helps the consciousness to express itself and influence the physical body, thus aiding mental and spiritual works.
Another important point that the author is making is regarding assimilation of the food we eat:
“There is life in every particle of food that we take into our bodies, and before we can build that life into our bodies by the process of assimilation, we must overcome and make it subject to ourselves. Otherwise there could be no harmony in the body. All parts would act independently, as they do when the co-ordinating life has been withdrawn. That would be what we call decay, the process of disintegration, which is the direct opposite of assimilation. The more individualized is the particle to be assimilated, the more energy will it require to digest it and the shorter time will it remain before seeking to reassert itself.”
“[…]Food obtained from the higher plants and still more from the yet higher animal kingdom, is positively nauseating because of the rapidity of decay. This process is caused by the efforts made by the individual particles to escape from the composite whole.”
It is explained that, because the consciousness of the plant kingdom is that of dreamless sleep and has small individuality, it offers no resistance during the process of assimilation, whereas the body of an animal is individualized because the animal possesses desire (astral) body and its particles offer more resistance, are harder to assimilate, and its constituents never become as incorporated into the body as the constituents of plant or fruit, which results in needing to have more food more often, which has its toll on the body.
I believe it is good to know some esoteric principles regarding diet and nutrition, and to correct one’s diet if one feels drawn to do so. Making drastic changes to a diet should be done with much thought, and only if there is a necessity to do so. Such changes should always come from within, rather from without or from being pressured into it. When one’s body is considered the temple of the soul, the opportunity for the Being to self-realize, then we start doing what is necessary for it to be healthy and to serve us well in what we need to do.