We Do Not Eat Matter, But Life

Published on: June 1, 2014

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“We do not eat matter, but life” may be Charles Fillmore’s most profound teaching. The statement comes from Charles Fillmore’s tract As to Meat Eating, which was first published in 1903 and was used for many years to explain Unity’s belief that a meatless diet was conducive to spiritual thinking. Charles Fillmore wrote,

If we are daily eating aggregations of life ideas hidden within the material forms, we should use discrimination in choosing those forms. Our food should be full of life in its purity and vigor. There should be no thought of death and decay connected with it in any degree.

There are three reasons why healing in Unity should begin by revisiting Unity’s historic teaching on a meatless diet. First, what we eat impacts our new Christ body. Charles wrote,

Almost forty years ago, when I began the study of Truth, I was told, that it made no difference what I ate, if I was in the right thought…. But gradually … I was shown that the food that entered the organism had to pass through a process of regeneration before it was in proper condition to be built into the new Christ body.

The Christ body, for Charles, is not just spiritual. Which leads to the second reason we should revisit Unity’s teaching on a meatless diet: what we eat impacts our health. Charles continued,

We eat the flesh of the animal for the life it contains, yet the fact is that that life has disappeared in its highest degree, and there is left only a lot of cells in various stages of corruption and decay. These are a burden to the human body because of the disintegrating process that has already set in. Instead of the vigor and force that once animated the flesh of the animal, there is left a mass of dead cells.

Charles was able, as early at 1903, to recognize the impact of eating “a mass of dead cells.” This understanding was prescient of how the fast food industry has provided us a diet largely void of fresh, live substance. This leads to the third reason we should revisit Unity’s teaching on a meatless diet: what we eat is an ethical issue. Charles continued,

Before they are slain, these poor brutes are maltreated in ways almost beyond description. Visit shipping pens, stock trains, stockyards, and packing houses, if you want evidence of the sufferings of the poor beasts of the field. And these very sufferings are, through sympathetic mental vibrations, transferred to the flesh of those who eat the bodies of these animals. The undefined fears, the terrors of the nightmare, and the many disturbances in stomach and bowels that man endures, may be traced, in a measure, to these unsuspected sources.

His concern for the ethical treatment of animals was reiterated in 1921 when Unity published its historic Statement of Faith which said, “Cruelty, war, and wanton destruction of human life will continue so long as men destroy animals.” It is a perverse coincidence that in 1939, when Unity removed these words from the SOF, Charles Fillmore witnessed the start of World War II, the bloodiest war in human history.

Charles concludes As to Meat Eating with some helpful suggestions on how we may shift to a meatless diet. First is recognizing that as our nature is spiritual, so is our appetite. The appetite may be brought under the dominion of the Christ mind with the following affirmation: “My appetite is spiritual, and it now finds its perfect expression in the purity and righteousness of the Christ mind.” Second, Charles advocates refraining from all stimulants, such as beer, whisky and tobacco.

Finally, Charles wrote, “It is essential that no thought of condemnation or judgment be allowed to enter the mind; nor should a person seek to coerce in any way the one for whom he is praying, or to dictate to him as to the course that he should follow.” He affirms,

[We] are assured that as the word of Truth continues to take root and grow in the race consciousness, the animal kingdom shall be raised above the untoward conditions that have been placed upon it by man. It shall be redeemed and set free, free from death, free from all forms of cruelty, free to grow and advance into that which is the Father’s perfect idea for it.

You may read the full content of As to Meat Eating at TruthUnity.net.

Mark Hicks
Mark Hicks is a licensed Unity teacher and the founder of TruthUnity.net, a Unity discipleship program that provides live classes and online audio and video streaming of many great Unity teachers and founders.

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  • Carol Saunders

    Thank you for being a voice for our Unity roots, for ethics and for the animals. This is a huge blindspot for many spiritual people and a conversation that needs to be brought to the light.