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Charles Fillmore and Spiritual Vegetarianism

Compiled by Dr. Will Tuttle

For over forty years, from the late nineteenth century into the 1930's, Charles Fillmore, co-founder of the Unity School of Christianity, wrote passionately about the physical, mental, social, and spiritual harmfulness of eating animal foods, and the necessity of a plant-based diet for anyone serious about developing spiritual maturity and contributing to world peace. He and his wife Myrtle, the other cofounder of Unity, were conscientious vegetarians and encouraged their students to be so. Charles's writings on this subject have been rather neglected, but in the hope that they may be of benefit to sincere spiritual aspirants, a small sampling of them is reproduced here following. They are excerpted from the original sources which are in the library at Unity Village in Missouri.

I can say about flesh eating that the Spirit has shown me repeatedly that I could not refine my body and make it a harmonious instrument for the soul, so long as I continued to fill it with the cells of dead animals.

-- "The Vegetarian," May, 1920

The desire to demonstrate the Love Universal is lifting thousands out of every form of cruelty that selfishness has claimed is necessary to man's well being. Therefore, in the light of the Truth that God is love, and that Jesus came to make his love manifest in the world, we cannot believe it is his will for men to eat meat, or to do anything else that would cause suffering to the innocent and helpless.

-- "Vegetarianism," June, 1915

The master on the spiritual plane is not a slave driver. He does not use force. The only law that he recognizes is love. To this law he must be true in all its ramifications throughout the universe of forms. He must love every creature, every beast of the field, every fowl of the air. His love must flowforth in protecting streams when any creature is in danger of violence or destruction. Thus he cannot in any way sanction the killing of animals for food, nor can he give passive assent by eating the flesh of those slain by the hands of ignorant men. He recognizes the right of every creature to fill out the full measure of its years, without interference on the part of men. This is a quality of mercy and justice which quickly falls into the mind opened toward God. 

-- "Flesh-Eating Metaphysically Considered," May, 1910

We need never look for universal peace on this earth until men stop killing animals for food. The lust for blood has permeated the race thought and the destruction of life will continue to repeat its psychology, the world round, until men willingly observe the law in all phases of life, "Thou shalt not kill."

-- "The Vegetarian," May, 1920

Every animal will fight for its life. What then can be the mental condition of the animal that has been cruelly forced into contracted pens and cars, and finally deprived of its body amid the most terrifying surroundings?-- Can it be otherwise than that its entire consciousness is permeated by violent vibrations of terror that act and react upon all planes of animal life with which they come into contact. You think that you eat a material thing called meat, but the fact is there is no such thing in reality. The flesh may seem to your outer sense to be a dead, inert mass, but, could your soul eye be opened, you would behold mental currents pervading its every atom, acting and reacting upon each other in a wild, bewildered manner, like the animal of whose body it formed a part. You are taking into your temple elements that will unsettle it, elements that you will have difficulty in harmonizing.

-- "Flesh-Eating Metaphysically Considered," May, 1910

Societies for the prevention of cruelty to dumb animals flourish, and large sums of money are given to them annually by those who daily eat the flesh of animals that have been cruelly carried to slaughterhouses, and knocked in the head, their throats cut and the skin stripped from their quivering bodies, all that the savage appetite of man shall be satisfied. The invisible psychic agony of. millions of cruelly slaughtered animals saturates our earth's atmosphere and the whole race suffers in sympathy. We make intimate mental contact with these psychic terrors of our little sisters and brothers of the animal world when we devour their fear-shattered bodies. Our vague fear of impending danger, our troubled sleep, our dread of the future, and numerous other unidentified mental complexes may and often are the echo fears of the brutes whose flesh we have entombed in our stomach.

-- "Eating and Drinking," November, 1931

The idea and object of Unity Inn is to demonstrate that man can live, and live well, on a meatless diet.

-- "The Unity Vegetarian Inn"

Paul says, "it is good not to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor to do anything whereby thy brother stumbleth." (Rom 14:21) "Wherefore, if meat causeth my brother to stumble, I will eat no flesh forevermore." (I Car. 8:13) The eating of flesh does cause your brother to stumble. To meet the demand of the flesh eater's ferocious appetite thousands of men are daily steeped in blood and beer. These men are made to cultivate the cruel side of their natures in slaying defenseless animals in horribly inhumane ways. No man or woman "liveth unto himself" alone (Rom. 14:7), and you are responsible for this stumbling of your brother in the slaughterhouse.

-- "The Twins: Eating and Drinking," June, 1915

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. This seemed to prove true up to a certain point in my experience. While my spiritual development was confined to the conscious mind there seemed no special need of food discrimination. But gradually a new phase set in.

-- "As to Meat Eating," October, 1903

Again, it is proven by experiment that certain negative states of consciousness peculiar to the animal accompany its flesh in all its journeys through the body of-man. All the upbuilding life goes out with the soul of the animal when it gives up its body, but the fears, the violence, the ignorance, the anger, the lust, and all that pertains to the error side of consciousness hovers around the dead cells. In San Francisco a number of years ago many people were made violently ill from eating meat bought at a certain shop. Physicians investigated and they found that the carcass of a certain steer was the source, and it was presumed that it was diseased. Further inquiry developed this to be an error--the animal was unusually healthy and vigorous--in fact so vigorous and forceful that he fought for his life for over an hour after the attempt to kill him began. He was in a frenzy of terror and anger; his eyes were bloodshot and he frothed at the mouth while the butchers were trying to slay him. The physicians decided that the anger and terror of this steer poisoned his meat in a manner similar to that of the angry mother her milk, which is well known to make the infant sick.

This instance was but an exaggeration of conditions that exist in a milder form in all animal flesh offered for food in our markets. Before they are slain these Door brutes are maltreated in ways almost beyond enumeration. Visit shipping pens, stock-trains, stock-yards and packing houses, if you want evidence of the sufferings of the poor beasts of the field. And these very sufferings are through the law of 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 in a measure traced to these unsuspected sources.

-- "As to Meat Eating," October, 1903

Good reasons for a vegetarian diet are many, and those who look into the matter have abundance of logic and sound sense arguments to sustain them in advocating the total exclusion of animal products as food. In discussing this question the humanitarian consideration should have first place, because it is farthest removed from selfishness; then follows the moral effect upon those who do the killing of animals; next the consideration of the various diseases that even doctors admit are caused by meat eating. All these points have been thoroughly handled - by various writers. But there is a further consideration of meat eating that does not receive the attention which it deserves from either temperance advocates or vegetarians, and that is the relation which flesh eating has to strong drink.

The assertion has been made, and we have not heard it disproved, that there never was a vegetarian drunkard. Here then, is a remedy for intemperance far more effective than all the drug cures that men take. That the discontinuance of flesh eating will also carry off the craving for strong liquids, like beer, whiskey, wine, tea and coffee, anyone can test for himself. Stop eating meat for even one month and that unnatural thirst which accompanies and follows a diet of flesh will disappear. There is a physiological reason for this. Meat is always in a certain degree of putrefaction, and the decay is increased when it is introduced into the stomach. The juicy steak which lovers of flesh smack their lips over is saturated with salty urea, which in the stomach calls for liquid. Physiologists say that this juice in the steak is the urine of the animal arrested on its way to the kidneys. In eating this mess man not only makes his system a sewer for the corrupting animal flesh, but he also puts into his stomach an irritant that demands a cooling solvent at once.

With this constant fever of rotting flesh in the stomach calling for a cooling draught, if is marvelous that any escape drunkenness. Blot out flesh eating and men will soon become temperate without the enactment of a single law. No one who eats the food that Nature prepared will have any desire for strong drink, not even tea or coffee. Then the sure cure for the drink habit is to stop eating meat and all animal products. This includes butter and eggs. Cereals, vegetables, nuts and oils have all the elements necessary to the body's sustenance.

-- "The Twins: Eating and Drinking," June, 1915

(Compiled by Dr. Will Tuttle. For more information, contact Will at 1083 Vine Street, Healdsburg, CA 95448. 800.697.6614 or 707.723.1005.  Also, see vegetarian websites such as vegsource.com and veganoutreach.org)

September 27, 2002