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A Theosophist on vegetarianism and fur

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Remark by a student:

[There are people] who are distressed at the thought of eating meat, eating our younger brothers. It was so dreadful from the compassionate idea of the suffering that the creatures went through when they were killed. Then another side of the question [is] that by eating our younger brothers we gave them a chance to live a great many more times; and if we did not eat all these chickens, and so forth, they would not come to live so many times.

Teacher (Gottfried de Purucker):

I will tell you frankly that meat eating is something that every esotericist should try not to do. Nevertheless, it cannot be called a crime; and yet I must make a reservation there. It is one of the horrible things that belong to the present stage of our humanity.

I think that the idea of killing our unfortunate fellow beings, the beasts, in order to live on their carcasses is indeed a beastly one; and in the higher degrees in this our Order meat eating is not permitted at all – not so much because it is a crime, but from motives of compassion and from reasons of bodily purity. Actually we do not need meat. Flesh foods have a stimulating effect on the body, and also a grossening, coarsening effect.

And yet I have known a man, a chela (he was an exception, it is true, but he stood relatively high), who ate meat occasionally for one purpose (you may be surprised to hear it), in order deliberately to coarsen his body. It could not be done by drugs, which are strictly forbidden. It could not be done by drink, which is also a drug. In this sense he was looked upon as being unfortunate. He did it deliberately, in order to keep himself in his philanthropic work more in contact with the physical plane — if you can follow my thoughts. The idea is rather difficult to express. I do not bring this instance forward as an example to follow. On the contrary, I bring it forward as an example of a really great man who in his present incarnation was in one respect karmically unfortunate.

Meat eating is not a good thing. You might as well face the fact. But constituted as the human race is, and in view of past evolution it probably cannot be called a crime. It is a misfortune; and every one who can cease eating meat — especially those who belong to our Order — should do so if he feels that he can do so.

We do not help the progress of the beasts by eating their flesh. That is an error. We prevent them advancing as otherwise they would naturally advance, because we cut short their lives. They have to repeat the incarnating process.

But much more important than the eating of meat, far more serious, is the controlling of the gross human passions. These are the real things against which the neophyte must struggle and which he must conquer. And what are these gross human passions? The sex passion is not the worst of them, although bad enough. It is not the worst. The most deadening to a soul are passions such as hatred, anger, jealousy, envy, etc., for gross mental movements like these prevent all spiritual instinct. These are the inner beasts whom we must slay. And I mean these words literally.


A great many persons are just as radical in opinion about wearing furs, which cause the cutting off of animals’ lives — anything that has to do with shortening life these persons have warned us against.


I must say that I admire the spirit, the kindly feeling of pity, of compassion, behind what you have just said. But I think perhaps that the form of conduct or the verbal expressions which this compassionate instinct took in the cases you mention was a bit extreme.

It is the inner beasts that we must kill — our own evil side. When that is conquered, and wholly conquered, then you won’t eat meat.

From: G de Purucker: Dialogues – KTMG 5