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December 2016 – The Notebooks, v. 4, pt. 2 – The Body (cont.)

The focus in this eteaching is on Diet /notebooks/5/3 and Exercise /notebooks/5/5

While this brief review cannot do justice to the wealth of information PB gives on diet in particular, the emphasis he places on it is too important not to note. In the section on Diet he writes: “The greatest of all diet reforms is the change from meat-eating to a meatless diet. This is also the first step on the spiritual path, the first gesture that rightness, justice, compassion, purity are being set up as necessary to human and humane living, in contrast to animal living.” (ch. 2, para 5) He reveals the depth of his conviction concerning vegetarianism when he says, “If there is any single cause for which I would go up and down the land on a twentieth-century crusade, it is that of the meatless diet. It may be a forlorn crusade, but all the same, it would be a heart-warming one.” (Ibid., para 6) “Why should we abstain from meat-eating? (a) Cultivated land if planted with vegetables, fruits, and nuts will yield much more food for an overpopulated world than it could yield if left under pasture for cattle and sheep. (b) The ghastly work of slaughter of these harmless innocent creatures, can be done only by hardened men, whose qualities of compassion and sympathy must inevitably get feebler and feebler. How many housewives could do their own butchering? (c) In terms of equal food value, the meatless diet costs less. (d) Animals which suffer from contagious diseases pass on the germs of these diseases to those who eat their flesh or parasites. (e) Meat contains excretory substances, purines, which may cause other, non-communicable diseases.” (Ibid., para 11)

Chapter 6, “Breathing Exercises,” covers many aspects of the benefits of deep breathing which the reader may want to try. Instruction such as Breathing Exercise to Improve, Control and Prevent Colds (ch. 6, para 11) and Breathing Exercises to pacify mind and body (ch. 6, para 17) are useful examples. He writes: “The reader should pay particular attention to the goals and dangers of breath control as they are listed several places in this chapter.” (Ibid., para 19)

Chapter 9, “Postures for Prayer,” gives meaningful information and instruction on “Seven Sacred Postures for Philosophic Prayer.” (ch. 9, para 2) This includes graphic sketches of the postures. He writes, “…the exercises depolarize the physical body’s earthward gravitation and render it more amenable to the entrance of spiritual currents.” (Ibid.) He names these exercises: 1) Standing and remembrance; 2) Stretching and worship; 3) Bowing and aspiration; 4) Kneeling and confessions; 5) Squatting and submission; 6) Prostrating and union; and 7) Gesturing.