From the Editor
This year we shall be having another Christmas sale of tapes and books at Lillian Road. This will be on Sunday 3rd December at 2:30pm, and we hope to have a good selection for sale in aid of the Trust, at bargain prices.
If you have any surplus CDs, cassettes and books on suitable subjects and are willing to donate part of the proceeds to the Trust, please bring them along (but please no 7" reel tapes).
We already have a good stock of cassettes at Lillian Road for sale, but we do need others, as well as books, and the more we have the merrier and the better for the Trust!
We shall also be selling three of Phiroz’s books at bargain prices — The Heart of Religion, Holistic Consciousness and The Oakroom Talks on Buddhism. A few items will be given away free!
After the sale we shall be having tea and this will be followed by the playing of a recorded talk by Phiroz. I’ll very much look forward to seeing you — do please come!
If you are interested in attending please please contact the Editor.
Please note that the information in this article by Michael Piggott is now out of date
We are pleased to inform our readers that over 120 of Phiroz’s recorded talks are now freely available on the Internet from the recorded talks section of our website.
They can be listened to using Microsoft’s Windows Media Player software, which is free to download from Microsoft. It is our intention of course to have all of Phiroz’s talks available in this way over time, and we have introduced a new feature on the website’s homepage to display the most recently updated talks, which we hope frequent visitors will find useful.
In addition to the online recorded talks, we are now in the process of making Buddhahood, which is now out of print, available for download as an e-book from the website. This will be in the Adobe Acrobat format, for which reader software is also freely available. We hope to have this available for the spring of next year, and will then consider perhaps extending this to Phiroz’s other works.
Any feedback on this or any other topic, or ideas as to how we might improve or expand the website further, are always most welcome, and we hope that you will find useful the list of online recorded talks and transcripts at the back of this newsletter.
A talk given by Phiroz Mehta at Dilkusha, Forest Hill, London on 2nd July 1983
Before we climb a mountain or go along the top of the range for any distance, we have to make several preparatory movements. We have to know something about the district to which we are going or, if we are starting a business, the nature of the business which we are wanting to start, we have to make preparations with regard to where we are going to stay, how we shall put up our tents and so on if we are travelling somewhere where we have not been before, and make all sorts of arrangements beforehand. If everything goes smoothly, the whole project might prove a satisfactory project and bring about some desired results. It is quite different with the living of the religious life. There are no maps where the religious life is concerned. We enter into, or try to enter into, a realm which is quite other than the worldly realm. We do not have to make preparations beforehand, in fact we cannot with regard to our food, (I don’t mean physical food), because where Transcendence is concerned, the spiritual food which sustains us is something utterly unknown to us. It cannot be bought, it cannot be sold. We do not have to make any arrangements about where we shall be or how we shall move and so on, because in the context of the Transcendent, which is the Infinite and the Eternal, no such arrangements can be made. There is no here nor there, forwards nor backwards where the Infinite-Eternal is concerned, because in that context there is only Unitariness, complete, absolute Unitariness. So there are no arrangements to be made of any sort.
One may wonder, “Well, how shall we progress in that case?” First, bear in mind that there is no such thing as progress in any meaning of that word which we already know. In the Transcendent context there is no becoming, there is only the Absolute IS. You see, it is necessary to try and get some sort of feeling, some sort of sense, however vague it may be, of the nature of that to which we are aspiring. We are aspiring for reuniting ourselves with the Absolute. That is in short the whole meaning of the religious life and spiritual development, advancement. Now those words are not good words, development, advancement , because their meanings for us are all self-oriented and they all are in limited terms, quantities, size, qualities, characteristics, and so forth. We have to keep ourselves so quiet, so clean in ourselves, so utterly open that there is no possibility of our trying to describe or name the indescribable. Inevitably, because we talk with each other about these things, we try to communicate, we use words which will always be the wrong words, it is impossible to avoid that. However we must try to avoid that as as far as it is possible for us to do so. This realization within ourselves which reunites us to Transcendence is a progressive intensification of our own consciousness. There again I have used a troublesome phrase, “an intensification of our own consciousness.” In two respects at least that is a misleading way of putting it. In Transcendence there is no “our own consciousness”, because “our own” implies the separate self-consciousness, the isolative consciousness, which puts us outside Transcendence.
That is one thing, and the other thing is that consciousness in terms of the Ultimate Realization is something utterly different from what we understand as our consciousness. We associate knowing, becoming, doing and all our activities with consciousness as it functions in us. Ours is a discriminative consciousness. The pure consciousness which is the origin, which is also the Primordial Creative Energy, has no such discrimination or analytical consciousness at all. It is Transcendent, and it is very, very hard to begin to get the feel of Transcendence. If it is all so very impossible to know, to think of, to try to get some idea about, then why do we talk at all? The process of talk with the intention of trying to communicate something which in its absolute sense is incommunicable does sometimes prove helpful if our language is suggestive, not assertive. Our language can be affirmative without being dogmatic. One can affirm what one has somehow, in some degree or other, already touched, and therefore we can talk about it, and that kind of talk could prove suggestive enough to be of some use to the listener. That is why we talk about these things, otherwise all our talk is useless. It is wastepaper basket stuff where Transcendence is concerned! Of course Transcendence has no wastepaper basket handy! However we must keep that in mind.
So now, the one thing we can perhaps try to sense is this intensification of consciousness, by which a totally different mode of awareness of Reality comes into being; not merely a mode of awareness of the world we live in, in all its aspects, but a mode of awareness of that which completely subsumes and completely interpenetrates the whole of the finite, the temporal and the mortal. What brings that about essentially is our own quietness, the quietness of the brain, the quietness of our whole psychological process, and with the quietness of the whole psychological life we get that extraordinary silence in which there is no intrusion upon one’s own awareness. Thereby this transformation of one’s mode of awareness of existence undergoes a complete change. The transformation of the mode of awareness of existence radically alters our attitude and understanding of the manifested world in which we live. It brings that about, and that leads to the awareness of that other order of Reality which we name Transcendence or God or Brahman, use any word that you like. It all means one and the same thing, although people will argue about that. But then they argue about that because they are professionals, whose business it is to argue! With the priest and the theologian it is their business to argue, they make their living thereby! Otherwise they wouldn’t argue! An argument does not either purify our own psyche and mind, nor does it lead to any true sensitivity to Transcendence itself.
Now this transformation of the mode of our awareness is tied up with the way in which we live our daily life. You will notice that every single religion or philosophy (when I say philosophy, I mean religious philosophy), has one point of agreement. This is where everything comes together, so to say. That is in the presenting of the ethic of human living, what we commonly call living according to the Commandments or the Sīlas or the Precepts, use what word you like. If we live in that manner there is a gradual cessation, an elimination of all the disturbing elements which prevent us from becoming sufficiently sensitive to this Transcendent order as such. And everything changes. But do not imagine that the change will necessarily bring pleasure, joy, calm, fulfilment in the way we think of these things. It will bring everything to us which characterises the world of duality, the world of multiplicity, with all its conflicts, its troubles and so forth. Do not forget how it is said in Mahayana that the path of a Buddha is filled with unutterable woe. Now, we may ask, if we strive to live the pure life, the good life and live it reasonably accurately, according to our good sense, our understanding and all the rest of it, why should it bring all these conflicts and so forth? You see, when we live truly ethically we are getting into touch, more and more intimate touch, with the life of the world as a whole. Now, consider, what is the nature of the life of the world as a whole? Is it a pure life, a peaceful life, a truthful life, a beautiful life? Up to a point it is, and yet that little goes a very long way. But very largely it is a life of conflict born of self-orientation all the time. Self-orientation is the sort of primary evil in our existence because it cuts us off from the Totality, and in that cutting off we are going on strike against Transcendence all the time. Our self-consciousness in terms of self and not-self is the very root of all conflict, and it is such a root of conflict that when we think about these things we postulate Transcendence or God or fulfilment or the order of reality as something other than ourselves. “I want to be in union with That.” But so long as I am aware in terms of “I” and “That”, there is the root of conflict, self, not-self. As we proceed with living the ethical life, this separative self-consciousness dissolves, dissolves rather slowly, that is the difficult part of the story! It dissolves somewhat slowly, but if and when it does dissolve, we are so much in tune with the Totality that all that takes place throughout manifestation affects us, just as we affect it.
This reminds me immediately of that saying of Jesus, when the wealthy young man came along and said, “Master, what shall I do to gain eternal life?” “Give all that thou hast unto the poor and then take up thy cross and follow me.” Not “thy feather bed.” “Take up thy cross and follow me.” I wonder how many people have ever realized the tremendous significance of that. The whole of the manifested universe is represented rightly by the old teachers in terms of a cross. This represents the deliberate self-restriction by Transcendence of itself into manifestation. You may naturally ask, “Why on earth (or why in heaven!) did God restrict himself in order to make this troublesome universe?” God is a child, God plays, he thought that he would amuse himself, he wanted a mirror to see what he looked like. So God or Transcendence, being creative energy fundamentally, as well as absolute consciousness, by self-limitation produced this mirror, the total universal process in which to find himself (to find itself, if you like). But Transcendence did not perhaps realize (but there again it is an absurd way of talking, Transcendence never realizes as we realize, however let us use that absurd way of talking), Transcendence did not realize that when, putting itself out into manifestation and ultimately producing Man, or, say, producing Man at some stage of that process of self-restriction, it produced something which has proved itself indispensable to Transcendence. It is very difficult to swallow! The Absolute, the Omnipotent, the Omniscient, the Omnipresent has produced something which is indispensable to its own Omnipotence, because, insofar as you or I or any human being (and maybe other kinds of creatures throughout this universe, I don’t know), insofar as you or I awake to this Transcendence and gradually change in that manner which fructifies in Transcendent realization, we affect Transcendence and (it’s a funny way of talking) save Transcendence from restricting itself still more, again and again, putting itself down as human beings, as creatures, in order to find itself, to see itself.
Is all this just verbiage? In a sense it is verbiage, but it is the sort of verbiage which, if it produces a flash of real illumination in some person, is prophetic speech for that person in whom that illumination arises. And so the process goes on, and the real transformation of the entire cosmos is helped forward. Again, bear in mind that the cosmos belongs to the context of the finite, the temporal and the mortal. Therefore it can be helped on, therefore there is development, there is fulfilment, there is fruition. But once that fruition takes place in the individual who becomes the Perfected Holy One, for that individual there is no further development or anything at all. “It is finished,” to use Jesus’s last words as put in St. John’s Gospel; it is completed. And when the Buddha used the term sammā for all the elements of the Way, sammā sati, sammā samādhi, sammā vācā, sammā sankappo, and so on, that word sammā is usually translated as “right”, and that translation is not wrong, but it is flebile, I feel. “Perfect” is a better word, and perhaps a still better word is “complete”, complete in the sense of Absoluteness.
So, this completion takes place in man, that is why man has dared to call himself the Child of God. We are all the Children of a Child, the Divine Child, but insofar as we realize that state of perfect holiness, we become the Divine Child too, the tiny Child, the very, very little Child of the big Child! It is like that .
So now, in this living of the religious life, we have to learn to become quiet, but we learn to become quiet by being noisy at first. We have to learn to become empty by becoming full at first. We become noisy with all our self-motivated activities, and they all make a noise in the world. We are soap box orators in this, that or the other cause all along the line. We continue that until we wake up to the fact that this belongs to the mortal, to the temporal, to the finite. It comes into being and it will just die. But if we understand that death is the inevitable end of it all, then we might cease to make that noise. And we fill ourselves with knowledge, worldly knowledge. A minimum amount of worldly knowledge is essential in order to walk in the street, drive the car, write letters, pay taxes and all the rest of that nonsense! All these things are really very nonsensical where the perfected human life is concerned. However we have to have that amount of knowledge. But we fill ourselves with so much knowledge thinking that we are going to progress that way intellectually, spiritually and so forth. We do acquire considerably where the intellect is concerned, true, but all that is a noise where the mind is concerned.
Finally we have to learn to let it go completely, and then there is the real emptiness. And this is tied up with the ethical life because the ethical life is the life which enables us to be free of the influence of our animal heritage, the crocodile brain in us for instance, and all the aggressiveness, the fear and the folly associated with its activity. It is a strange thing after three or four million years at least of human evolution that that crocodile brain is so crocodilian in its manifestation in the human race, but there it is! The ethical life gradually transforms all that energy that expresses itself in conflict, misery, destruction and so forth, and produces a more harmonious expression of that transformed energy, and energy which is in line with Transcendence. You know how Śrī Kṛṣṇa in the Gītā says, “Arjuna, perform all action as unto Me, not for the fruits of action.” When Arjuna says to Śrī Kṛṣṇa in the earlier part of the Gita that Kṛṣṇa a praises action and also praises inaction, the path of the Yogi and so forth, he wants to know which is the better path. The answer which Śrī Kṛṣṇa gives contains these words, “Arjuna, if I did not constantly engage in action, all these worlds would perish.” Now, what does that mean? You ask your good old hard-headed European what on earth did Śrī Kṛṣṇa mean and he would say, “Just nonsense, how can an Indian cease from action, so that if he ceased from action all the worlds would perish?” From his point of view he would be quite right. But his point of view belongs to the finite and the perishable! The point is this, Śrī Kṛṣṇa represents as the Perfected Holy One the complete unity with Transcendence. Therefore when he uses the word “I”, aham, it is not “I” who am separate from “you” or anything throughout the cosmos, it is the “I” which is completely integrated into the whole cosmos and into the context of the Transcendence, the Infinite, the Eternal and the Immortal. The Infinite, Eternal and Immortal is this Primordial Creative Energy which knows no cessation of creativeness. Therefore if Śrī Kṛṣṇa is this Totality (or if one were to use the Jewish word ehyeh, the I AM) then he is perfectly right in saying that, “If I cease from action (which means constant creative activity) then all this would perish.” It would not be there any longer. Just as this constantly active creative energy is Transcendence itself, it is also dependent upon that which it creates. You might say, “It’s a case of 50–50 perhaps. Supposing that which is created just becomes utterly devilish, how is one to envisage the situation?” It cannot become utterly devilish, because the self-restriction of anything will always bear in the restricted the essential nature of that which restricted itself. So the essential nature of Transcendence, of constant creative activity, of absolute pure consciousness is present in everything throughout the cosmos. The cosmos can be wayward but it cannot go wrong in the absolute sense, the absolute destructive sense. When the cosmos fulfils itself, or has fulfilled itself, which will be in process of time, then that fulfilment takes it right back into the primordial origin which is pure creative action, pure consciousness, which is the Absolute Good, if one may use such a word .
So now, this living of the religious life (at least what little I can see of it, and it is a frightfully little that I do see, a grain of sand is the size of a universe compared with what little I do see) involves sensitivity to all these things, sensitivity to the Absolute, the Supreme Transcendent. In our meetings in March and April we considered a few points in connection with these words Infinity and Eternity. Perhaps you may remember them or perhaps you may not, but it does not matter, one goes on all the same. So, do not feel despondent for any reason. One may say, “But this is all so up in the Himalayan heights, I can’t climb there.” You do not need to climb there, the Himalayan heights are here. Have we not tried to penetrate the Himalayan heights this afternoon in a very real sense? Whatsoever you do, if you have done it because it is expressing what you see in yourself as the pure self, the true self, is fulfilment. Do not want to be fulfilled, do not want to be the Perfected Holy One. If you cook a perfect meal tomorrow afternoon or tomorrow evening and die in your sleep, you will die fulfilled, perfected, holy, because you have cooked the perfect meal. You see, do not try to measure these things, otherwise you will get into all sorts of confusions and bring trouble on yourself. This transformation of your discriminative consciousness into the pure consciousness which touches that order of Transcendent Reality will happen in its own little measure in each one of us. Out with ambition! Do you remember Shakespeare? “Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition: By that sin fell the angels.”
Phiroz Mehta wrote four chapters of The Health Cookery Book, probably in the early years after the Second World War. He seemed to have intended it for publication, but it does not appear ever to have been printed
Continued from part 1 and part 2
To enjoy good health, it is most important to have a clean blood-stream. A pure blood-stream has a certain degree of alkalinity. When acid forming foods are consumed in excess, and the acid waste products are not eliminated fast enough, they enter into the blood-stream, and the purity of the blood, as measured by its alkalinity, diminishes. Here is a useful table telling you which foods promote alkalinity and which promote acidity:
It is necessary to eat all kinds of foods, and for good health we must balance the alkaline and acid foods by taking them in the right proportions.
About ¾ of the total food should consist of the alkaline foods, and ¼ of the acid foods.
Another important point to remember is that we should have as much variety as possible. This means that during the course of each week — and a week is chosen because it is the most convenient unit to use — you should have all the available fruits, vegetables etc. compatible with the season and your own needs. But whilst the variety is observed during the course of the week, do not have too much variety at any single meal.
We will give you one more list of the minimum essential foods, each of which you should include in some meal or other during the week, in proper proportion. This will ensure your “safety margin” for good health.
We mentioned before that fads and fancies should be avoided, and it will be well to mention a few here:
Whilst it is entirely true that vitamins are of such paramount importance that without them we get diseased and die in a comparatively short time, we must bear in mind all the other factors — the balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats; simple and wholesome preparation so as not to lose the mineral salts; the comparative indigestibility of fried foods — when preparing our meals. So do not think of food entirely in terms of vitamins, and become so vitamin crazy that you will even take vitamin tablets. Man can never manufacture food in his laboratory as Nature creates in hers because man’s proportions, combinations, and complexity of structure of the different elements in each food are nowhere near the perfection which Nature achieves. Help Nature, as a true doctor would say, by being clean personally, by careful clean food cultivation, and by good clean rearing of livestock.
Fruitarians are unicorns! When you do meet a person who calls himself a fruitarian, you find that his “fruit” diet includes many things — nuts and vegetables (green leaf vegetables particularly), and maybe even milk — which we do not usually call “fruit”. Such a diet, where fruits are highly in excess of all other foods, may suit some people. The average man and woman must beware of excess of fruit. It may not do obvious harm, but you will find that in our present conditions excess of fruit will not help us to get the best out of life. Such a diet may be possible for generations in the distant future.
Here again, some people may find it suitable to cut out bread, porridge, potatoes, etc. But most of us need our right share of starch which we get by eating wholemeal bread, potatoes with their skins, porridge made from coarse oats, etc. It is wise however not to eat too much starch, even via wholemeal bread and whole potatoes, because the excess of starch is a cause of catarrhal complaints, as excess of protein (meat, fish, eggs, lentils, etc.) is of the uric acid family of complaints.
Very few people can live successfully on uncooked food only. We should have a balance between cooked and uncooked food.
There should be at least four raw vegetable salads during the course of a week. If your digestion is not very strong, this is a normal amount to take. If it is really weak, you must get yourself fit by a carefully worked out course of dieting, balanced for your particular condition. If your digestion is naturally quite strong, you can take salads once every day.
In hot weather, and in warm or hot climates, take more juicy fruits and fruit salads (without cream for most of them), and lessen the amount of cooked foods.
Above all, never overcook or twice cook any food, though you may quickly re-heat (but only once) food that is cold. The reason why you should avoid re-heating is that the vitamin value is thereby diminished — sometimes even destroyed. Overcooking deprives food of its real value, makes it too soft (which is not good for your teeth), and makes it too easily digestible (which ruins the natural capacity of your intestines to do their normal work).
Beware of all slimming diets which do not observe a scientific balance — and unfortunately, most of them certainly do not. When you lose weight rapidly in a few days, you do something quite unnatural. Later on, when you go back to your “ordinary” food, there is a heavy price to pay.
“But I weigh far too much — I must get these rolls of fat off me — I look terrible if I don’t truss myself up with corsets…” Yes, we can cure you of all that, in the right way, so that you don’t look like a bale of cotton, or a dustbin, for the rest of your life.
First, the mind: Throw out your fear of fatness. Get the idea of real beauty, which is not indiscriminately getting slim, but attaining the right proportions for your particular build of body. If you lead a healthy life — right food and exercise, proper sleep, and a generally sensible life — you will undoubtedly be as beautiful as is possible for you, and have as much strength as you are capable of developing. So let your mind be at rest.
Second, the body: The two most important factors are (1) Activity and Rest, and (2) Food and Drink. Ordinary household work, or your occupation, or games or set exercises, or gardening etc., are usually sufficient. But if housework or your official duties do not give you enough activity, then you must play games, or do exercises, or anything similar to them. To balance your daily activity you must have sufficient rest, otherwise the waste products generated by activity cannot be cleared out of the body in time. Above all, do not be over-active. Too strenuous exercise or work can make you muscle-bound (and ugly) or too thin. Where you take up a system of exercises, choose one where you are taught Relaxation, Breathing, and Rhythmic Movements.
As regards food and drink: All excess substance means that we are carrying so much useless or waste material with us which ought to be eliminated. If we adopt a drastic remedy, and lose weight quickly, we more often than not lose good healthy tissue too. Also, we upset the normal functioning of the body. And in the majority of cases we include a wrong psychological state, for unconsciously we are now longing to throw off these restraints and “eat, drink, and be — fat again!” But with a balanced diet — which you will find in the specimen menus — you will inevitably attain your correct bodily proportions without indecent hurry and without any evil effects during or after.
The best drink at all times is water. Fruit juices — orange, lemon, grapefruit — assist in loosening up and removing waste products. But do not overdo it. Do not drink at meals, but only between meals; and take no drink between the half hour before and the full hour after any meal. Above all, remember that the combination of drinks like beer, with bread (especially white), and protein food (especially fat meat or fish, and cheese), is the royal road to a barrel-shaped body.
“This food (say lean meat, for it is a good source of suitable proteins and of vitamin B2) is good for me, therefore 10 times the usual amount of lean meat will be 10 times as good for me.” Nothing could be more fallacious! Any food substance is valuable to its full extent only when taken in the right amount. All amounts beyond that optimum amount are harmful. Similarly, it is unwise to take manufactured food products which claim to give you so much more of this vitamin or that mineral salt than the amount Nature gives you.
If you do not wish to eat meat and fish, leave it alone. You can thrive perfectly without meat and fish in any country in the world which is sufficiently organized to supply a reasonable variety of fruits and vegetables. The idea that one cannot live without meat and fish is a foolish fad.
Vegetarianism has its advantages as well as disadvantages. If by vegetarianism you mean living on stodgy, tasteless and sloppy food, wrongly cooked and wrongly combined, then please go back to meat and fish. But if you are scientifically vegetarian, then, generally speaking, you will find that:
Your best guide is your own inner feeling and conviction. In warm weather and in hot countries avoid flesh foods. This will only benefit you, and do you no harm. Flesh food (protein from animal sources) has a highly “exciting” effect as compared with vegetable proteins, and it makes you less controlled where your nerves are concerned. It also putrefies much faster than vegetable proteins do and these products of putrefaction need more efficient elimination than those derived from vegetable proteins.
You must also take into account your heredity and your psychological reactions. In a country like England, meat and fish have been main articles of food for centuries. If moreover you have a natural desire for meat, it is likely to be a disadvantage to you if you force yourself to give it up. At the same time, do not be a slave to any unhealthy craving (for it is not a natural appetite), but follow a sensible middle path.
Continued in part 4, part 5 and part 6
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