I would like to bring this subject for a discussion on this forum and see what your take on it is. What do you think are common misconceptions about the use of them, their impact on our development and our attitude.

The use of drugs takes its place as a companion of alcohol when the spiritual development of man is considered. Exploring the widespread use of drugs in society today, we find that the need for their use revolves around three factors: 1) the relief of pain; 2) boredom; and 3) the hope of experiencing spiritual revelation.

For too many of today's youth it is a time of trial and error, a period of blind growth. Drugs offer a way out, but as time will reveal, it will be the wrong way. Being hallucinatory, they do not bring about the desired results; instead, they put the aspirant in danger of being controlled by undesirable spirits, of undermining the physical body, and of exposing himself to extremely harmful effects on his spiritual bodies. Any damage to these vehicles may require many lifetimes to restore them to the adaptability they originally had. This means a decided setback in evolution. A person, therefore, who made much progress in former embodiments could lose the value of previous hard work by seriously affecting the present life instruments.

What do you think the effects of alcohol, drugs and tobacco use in our present life will result in our future incarnations?

Please don't be shy, speak up.

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I do not know how they affect future incarnations. All I have seen about alcohol is:

You take a drink.
Drink takes a drink.
Drink takes YOU.

In the USA, culturally, people discuss about any problem except - alcoholism and psychiatric issues.
I agree that the effect of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs are things of this life, not a future one. To the extent that alcohol and drugs make spiritual growth in this life less likely, and serious mistakes more likely, the karma generated will not be good in a next life. But the main effect of all these drugs is on the body and consciousness in this life.

Traditionally theosophy and Buddhism have a problem with any mind altering substance. to avoid intoxicating substances is one of the five precepts (pansil) in Buddhism for instance. Blavatsky and Olcott took pansil, that is vowed to keep these precepts, when in Sri Lanka.

Smoking is another matter. It has been clearly shown in the last century that it is very bad for our physical health to smoke tobacco, though there is some debate on whether it's the tobacco or the additives TO the tobacco that's to blame for that. Similarly incense is also not very good for the nasal passage ways. Traditionally the latter is thought to clean the air of spiritual influences. In fact de Purucker thought that was a good reason to smoke tobacco as well. I don't remember where I read that, but I'm sure I did.

I personally think that it is our duty to keep our body as healthy as we can manage, so smoking is out on those grounds for me. However, there does not seem to be a spiritual reason to avoid tobacco, like there is for alcohol.

For most people alcohol does not lead to debilitating addiction. For those who do get addicted to the extent that it ruins their life, their brain does get damaged. Especially of young people abusing alcohol.

I think that my latest blogpost is also relevant here. I talked there about karma and health.
CHAPTER XIV from the book Hidden side of things by C.W.Leadbeater


851. FOOD

852. A SAYING is attributed to the Christ to the effect that not what is put into the mouth but what comes out of the mouth really defiles a man. Whether He ever made that remark or not, there can be no possible question that a man may be most decidedly defiled by what he puts into his mouth.

853. The food which we eat is taken into the body and we actually make it part of ourselves, so it is clearly evident that the magnetism with which it is charged is a matter of great moment to us. Both its physical and its magnetic purity are important, yet some people neglect one and some the other. In India, for example, great weight is attached to magnetic purity, and a man will not eat food which has been subjected to the magnetism of some one of lower caste. On the other hand he is much less careful than we are in the West as to the physical cleanliness of the preparations, forgetting that nothing which is physically dirty can ever be magnetically pure. We are usually particular as to the physical cleanliness, but we never think of the question of magnetic purity.

854. The fact which most seriously affects the magnetism of food is that it is touched so much by the hands of the cook in the course of its preparation. Now the special magnetism of a person flows out most strongly through the hands, and consequently food which is touched by the hands cannot but be highly charged with that magnetism. This is specially true in the case of pastry and bread, which are kneaded by hand in countries which are too backward to have learnt the use of machinery for these purposes. All food made in that way would be absolutely unfit to be eaten at all, were it not for the fact that fortunately the action of fire in the baking or the cooking removes the traces of most kinds of physical magnetism. Still it is eminently desirable that the cook should touch the food as little as possible, and so ladles and spoons, which can readily be demagnetised, should always be used in cooking and serving everything; and they should be kept rigorously clean.

855. In order to prevent any avoidable mixture of magnetism many an occult student insists upon always using his own private cup and spoon. Madame Blavatsky strongly advised this, and said that when it could not be done the cup and the spoon that were used should be demagnetised before each meal. The ordinary man pays no attention whatever to matters such as these, but the student of occultism who is trying to enter upon the Path must be more careful. It is possible to demagnetise food by a firm effort of the will, and with a little practice a mere wave of the hand coupled with a strong thought will do the thing almost instantaneously. But it must be remembered that demagnetisation removes neither physical dirt nor its astral counterpart, though it may take away other astral influence; and therefore every precaution must be taken to see that cleanliness is perfect in all culinary arrangements.

856. Food also absorbs the magnetism of those who are in close proximity to us when we are eating. It is for that reason that in India a man prefers to eat alone, and must not be seen eating by one of lower caste. The mixture which arises from eating in public amidst a crowd of strangers, as in a restaurant, is always undesirable, and should be avoided as much as possible. The magnetism of one' s own family is usually more sympathetic, and at any rate one is accustomed to it, so that it is much less likely to be harmful than the sudden introduction of a combination of entirely strange vibrations, many of which are most likely quite out of harmony with our own.

857. There are, however, always two kinds of magnetism in every article of food-- the internal and the external-- the former belonging to its own character, the latter impressed upon it from without. The magnetism of the merchant who sells it and of the cook are both of the latter kind, and can therefore be removed by the action of the fire; but the magnetism which is inherent in it is not at all affected by that action. No amount of cooking of dead flesh, for example, can take away from it its inherently objectionable character, nor all the feelings of pain and horror and hatred with which it is saturated. No person who can see that magnetism and the vibrations which it sets up can possibly eat meat.


859. Indeed, many of the pernicious habits of life of the ignorant would become instantly impossible for them if they could see the hidden side of their selfish indulgences. Even the undeveloped specimens of humanity who cluster round the bar of a public-house would surely shrink back with terror, if they could see the class of entities by which they are surrounded-- the lowest and most brutal types of a rudimentary evolution, a bloated, livid fungus growth of indescribable horror; and far worse even than they, because they are degraded from something that should be so much better, are the ghastly crowds of dead drunkards-- drink-sodden dregs of humanity, who have drowned the divine image in depths of direful debauchery and now cluster round their successors, urging them on to wilder carousals with hideous leers and mocking laughter, yet with a loathly lust awful to behold.

860. All this is entirely apart from the unquestionable deterioration which is brought about in both astral and mental bodies by the indulgence in intoxicating liquors. The man who is eagerly seeking for excuses for the gratification of ignoble cravings frequently asserts that food and drink, belonging as they do purely to the physical world, can have but little effect upon a man' s inner development. This statement is obviously not in accordance with common sense, for the physical matter in man is in exceedingly close touch with the astral and mental-- so much so, that each is to a great extent a counterpart of the other, and coarseness and grossness in the physical body imply a similar condition in the higher vehicles.

861. There are many types and degrees of density of astral matter, so that it is possible for one man to have an astral body built of exceedingly coarse and gross particles, while another may have one which is much more delicate and refined. As the astral body is the vehicle of the emotions and passions, it follows that a man whose astral body is of the ruder type will be chiefly amenable to the lower and rougher varieties of passion and emotion; whereas a man who has a finer astral body will find that its particles most readily vibrate in response to higher and more refined emotions and aspirations. Thus a man who is building for himself a gross and impure physical body is building for himself at the same time coarse and unclean astral and mental bodies as well. This effect is visible at once to the eye of the trained clairvoyant, and he will readily distinguish between a man who feeds his physical vehicle with pure food and another who contaminates it by intoxicating drink or decaying flesh.

862. There can be no question that it is the duty of every man to develop all his vehicles as far as possible in order to make them perfect instruments for the use of the soul, which in itself is being trained to be a fit instrument in the hands of the Solar Deity, and a perfect channel for the divine love. The first step towards this is that the man himself should learn thoroughly to control the lower bodies, so that there shall be in them no thought or feeling except those he approves.

863. All these vehicles, therefore, must be in the highest possible condition of efficiency; they must be pure and clean and free from taint; and it is obvious that this can never be, so long as the man puts into the physical body undesirable constituents. Even the physical vehicle and its sense perceptions can never be at their best unless the food is pure, and the same thing is true to a much greater extent with regard to the higher bodies. Their senses also cannot be clear if impure or coarse matter is drawn into them; anything of this nature clogs and dulls them, so that it becomes far more difficult for the soul to use them. Indulgence in alcohol or carnivorous diet is absolutely fatal to anything like real development, and those who adopt these habits are putting serious and utterly unnecessary difficulties in their own way.

864. Nor is the effect during physical life the only point which is to be borne in mind in connection with this matter. If, through introducing impure particles into his physical body, the man builds himself an unseemly and unclean astral body, we must not forget that it is in this degraded vehicle that he will have to spend the first part of his life after death. Just as, here in the physical world, his coarseness draws into association with him all sorts of undesirable entities who, like parasites, make his vehicles their home, and find a ready response within him to their lower passions, so also will he suffer acutely from similar companionship after death, and from the working out in astral life of the conditions which he has here set in motion.


866. All this applies not only to indulgence in intoxicating liquor, but also to the prevalent practice of feeding upon corpses. This habit also, like the other, produces a consistent effect; this also, like the other, draws round its votaries all kinds of undesirable entities-- horrible gaping red mouths, such as those that gather round the shambles to absorb the aroma of blood. It is indeed strange and pitiable to a clairvoyant to see a lady, thinking herself dainty and refined (truly refined and dainty she cannot be, or she would not be there) surrounded by an incongruous nightmare of such strange forms in a butcher' s shop, where she goes to examine the corpses left by the grim, ceaseless slaughter on the battle-field between man' s bestial, tigerish lust for blood and the divine Life incarnated in the animal kingdom. Little she realises that there will come a time when those who by their support make possible this ghastly blot on the record of humanity, this daily hecatomb of savage, useless murder of the forms through which the Deity is patiently trying to manifest, will find themselves face to face with His ineffable Majesty, and hear from the Voice that called the worlds into existence the appalling truth: “Inasmuch as you have done this unto one of the least of these My little ones, you have done it unto Me.”

867. Surely it is time, with all our boasted advance, that this foul stain upon our so-called civilisation should be removed. Even if it were only for selfish reasons, for the sake of our own interests, this should be so. Remember that every one of these murdered creatures is a definite entity-- not a permanent reincarnating individual, but still an entity that has its life in the astral world. Remember that every one of these remains there for a considerable time, to pour out a feeling of indignation and horror at all the injustice and torment which have been inflicted; and perhaps in that way it may be possible faintly to realise something of the terrible atmosphere which hangs over a slaughter-house and a butcher' s shop, and how it all reacts at many points upon the human race.

868. Most of all, these horrors react upon those who are least able to resist them-- upon the children, who are more delicate and sensitive than the hardened adult; and so for them there are constant feelings of causeless terror in the air-- terror of the dark, or of being alone for a few moments. All the time there are playing about us tremendous forces of awful strength, which only the occult student can understand. The whole creation is so closely interrelated that we cannot do horrible murder in this way upon our younger brothers without feeling the effect upon our own innocent children.

869. The pitiable thing about it is that a lady is actually able to enter a butcher' s shop-- that because of the indulgence of her forefathers in this shocking form of food, her various vehicles have become so coarsened that she can stand amidst those bleeding carcasses without being overcome by loathing and repulsion, and can be in the midst of the most ghastly astral abominations without being in the slightest degree conscious of it. If we take into such a place any person who has never corrupted himself with such carrion, there is no doubt that he will shrink in disgust from the loathsome, bleeding masses of physical flesh, and will also feel stifled by the actively and militantly-evil astral entities which swarm there. Yet here we have the sad spectacle of a lady who ought, by her very birthright, to be delicate and sensitive, whose physical and astral fibre is so coarsened that she neither observes the visible nor senses the invisible horrors which surround her.

870. The pity of it is, too, that all the vast amount of evil which people bring upon themselves by these pernicious habits might so easily be avoided. No man needs either flesh or alcohol. It has been demonstrated over and again that he is better without them. This is a case in which actually all the arguments are on one side and there is nothing whatever to be said on the other, except the man' s assertion: “I will do these horrible things, because I like them.”

871. With regard to flesh-eating, for example, it cannot be questioned that: (1) the right kind of vegetables contain more nutriment than an equal amount of dead flesh; (2) many serious diseases come from this loathsome habit of devouring dead bodies; (3) man is not naturally made to be carnivorous and therefore this abominable food is not suited to him; (4) men are stronger and better on a vegetable diet; (5) the eating of dead bodies leads to indulgence in drink and increases animal passions in man; (6) the vegetable diet is in every way cheaper as well as better than flesh; (7) many more men can be supported by a certain number of acres of land which are devoted to the growing of wheat than by the same amount of land which is laid out in pasture; (8) in the former case healthy work upon the land can be found for many more men than in the latter; (9) men who eat flesh are responsible for the sin and degradation caused in the slaughter-men; (10) carnivorous diet is fatal to real development, and produces the most undesirable results on both astral and mental bodies; (11) man' s duty towards the animal kingdom is not to slaughter it recklessly, but to assist in its evolution.

872. These are not points about which there can be any question; the fullest evidence in support of each of them will be found in my book, Some Glimpses of Occultism. No man needs these things, and to take them is just a matter of selfish indulgence. Most men commit this act in ignorance of the harm that it is doing; but remember, to continue to commit it when the truth is known is a crime. Widely spread as they are, these are nothing but evil habits, and with a little effort they can be laid aside like any other habit.


874. Another custom, also pernicious and equally widely spread, is that of smoking. In this, as in so many other cases, a man at once resents any suggestions that he should give up his bad habits, and says: “Why should I not do as I like in these matters?” With regard to flesh-diet the answer to this is perfectly clear, for that is a practice which not only seriously injures the man who adopts it, but also involves terrible crime and cruelty in the provision of the food. In the case of alcohol also a clear answer can be given, quite apart from the effect upon the drinker himself, for by buying this noxious fluid he is encouraging a pernicious trade, helping to create a demand for a liquor which tempts thousands of his fellow-creatures to excess and lures them to their own destruction. No man who buys alcohol for drinking purposes can escape his share in the responsibility of that.

875. It may be said that with regard to smoking the position is somewhat different, since no cruelty is necessary in obtaining tobacco, nor are lives destroyed by it as by alcohol. This is true, and if the smoker can entirely shut himself away from any contact with his fellow-men, and if he has no desire to make anything in the nature of occult progress, his argument may, so, far, hold good. If, not being actually a hermit, he has sometimes at least to come into touch with his fellowmen, he can have no possible right to make himself a nuisance to them. There are many people who, being deeply steeped in the same pollution themselves, have no objection to the nauseating odour of tobacco; but all who have kept themselves pure from this thing know how strong is the disgust which its coarse and fetid emanations inevitably arouse. Yet the smoker cares little for that. As I have said elsewhere, this is the only thing that a gentleman will deliberately do when he knows it to be offensive to others; but the hold which this noxious habit gains upon its slaves appears to be so great that they are utterly incapable of resisting it, and all their gentlemanly instincts are forgotten in this mad and hateful selfishness.

876. Anything which can produce such an effect as that upon a man' s character is a thing that all wise men will avoid. The impurity of it is so great and so penetrating that the man who habitually uses it is absolutely soaked in it, and is most offensive to the sense of smell of the purer person. For this purely physical reason no one who comes into contact with his fellows should indulge in this most objectionable practice, and, if he does, he thereby brands himself as one who thinks only of his own selfish enjoyment and is willing in taking it to inflict much suffering upon his fellow-creatures. And all this is quite apart from the deadening effect which it produces, and from the various diseases-- smoker' s throat, smoker' s heart, cancer in the mouth, indigestion and others-- which it brings in its train. For nicotine, as is well known, is a deadly poison, and the effect of even small quantities of it can never be good.

877. Why should any man adopt a custom which produces all these unpleasant results? To this there is absolutely no answer except that he has taught himself to like it; for it cannot be pretended that it is in any way necessary or useful. I believe it to be quite true that in certain circumstances it soothes the nerves; that is part of its deadening effect as a poison, but that result can be equally well achieved by other and far less objectionable means. It is always evil for a man to adopt a habit to which he becomes a slave-- evil for himself, I mean; it is doubly evil when that habit brings with it the bad karma of inflicting constant annoyance upon others.

878. No child by nature likes the loathsome taste of this evil weed but, because others older than himself indulge in it, he struggles painfully through the natural nausea which it causes him at first-- the protest of his healthy young body against the introduction of this polluting matter-- and so gradually he forces himself to endure it, and eventually becomes a slave to it, like his elders. It stunts his growth; it leads him into bad company; but what of that? He has asserted his dawning manhood by proving himself capable of a ` manly' vice. I know that parents frequently advise their children not to smoke; perhaps if they set them the example of abstention, their sage counsels would produce a greater effect. This is another habit with evil results which could so easily be avoided-- all that is needed being simply not to do it.

879. The impurity produced by this obscene practice is not only physical. It may be taken as an axiom that physical filth of any sort always implies astral filth as well, for the counterpart of that which is impure cannot itself be pure. Just as the physical nerve-vibrations are deadened by the poison, so are both astral and mental undulations. For occult progress a man needs to have his vehicles as finely strung as possible, so that they may be ready at any moment to respond in sympathy to any kind of vibration. Therefore he does not want to have his thought-waves deadened and his astral body weighed down with foul and poisonous particles. Many who call themselves students still cling to this unpleasant habit, and try to find all sorts of weak excuses to cover the fact that they have not the strength to break away from its tyranny; but facts remain facts, for all that, and no one who can see the effects on the higher vehicles of this disastrous custom can avoid the realisation that it does serious harm.

880. Its effect in the astral world after death is a remarkable one. The man has so filled his astral body with poison that it has stiffened under its influence, and has become unable to work properly or to move freely. For a long period the man is as though he were paralysed-- able to speak, yet debarred from movement, and almost entirely cut off from all higher influences. In process of time he emerges from this unpleasant predicament, when the part of his astral body which is affected by this poison has gradually worn away.

881. DRUGS

882. The taking of opium or cocaine, though happily less common, is equally disastrous, for from the occult point of view it is entirely ruinous and fatal to progress. These drugs are sometimes a necessity in order to relieve great pain; but they should be taken as sparingly as possible, and on no account be allowed to degenerate into a habit. One who knows how to do it, however, can remove the evil effect of the opium from the astral and mental bodies after it has done its work upon the physical.

883. Nearly all drugs produce a deleterious effect upon the higher vehicles, and they are therefore to be avoided as much as possible. There are definite cases in which they are clearly required, when they are really specifics for certain diseases; but these are few, and in far the greater number of cases nature herself will work a rapid cure if the surroundings are pure and healthy.

884. With regard to the treatment of the body, prevention emphatically better than cure, and those who live rationally will rarely need the services of a doctor. Under all circumstances animal serums and products in any way connected with or obtained by means of vivisection should be absolutely avoided. It should be remembered that tea and coffee contain as their essence drugs called respectively theine and caffeine, which are poisonous, so that an excess of these beverages is a bad thing, especially for growing children; indeed, I incline to the opinion that, while in moderation they do no serious harm, those who find themselves able to avoid them are all the better for it.


886. Doctors are usually agreed as to the necessity for physical cleanliness, but the requirements of occultism are far more stringent than theirs. The waste matter which is constantly being thrown off by the body in the shape of imperceptible perspiration is rejected because it is poisonous and decaying refuse, and the astral and mental counterparts of its particles are of the most undesirable character. Dirt is often more objectionable in the higher worlds than in the physical, and, just as in the physical world, it is not only foul and poisonous in itself but it also inevitably breeds dangerous microbes, so in these higher worlds it attracts low-class nature-spirits of a kind distinctly prejudicial to man. Yet many people habitually carry a coating of filth about with them, and so ensure for themselves the possession of an unpleasant retinue of astral and etheric creatures.

887. The thorough daily bath, therefore, is even more an occult than a hygienic necessity, and purity of mind and feeling cannot exist without purity of body also. The physical emanations of dirt are unpleasant, but those in the astral and mental worlds are much more than merely unpleasant; they are deleterious to the last degree, and dangerous not only to the man himself, but to others. It is through the pores of the body that the magnetism of the person rushes out, bearing with it what remains of the vital force. If therefore these pores are clogged with filth, the magnetism is poisoned on its way out, and will produce a pernicious effect upon all those around.

888. We must remember that we are constantly interchanging the particles of our bodies with those about us, and that our bodies therefore are not wholly our own; we cannot do just as we like with them, because of the fact that they thus constantly influence those of our brothers, the children of our common Father. A comprehension of the most rudimentary idea of brotherhood shows us that it is an absolute duty to others to keep our bodies healthy, pure and clean. If the person be perfectly clean, his emanations will carry health and strength, and so when we make ourselves purer we are helping others also.

I copied this out and I shall search for the article AnnieBesant wrote about that, she have worked out special about alcohol and drugs. Pity we cannot find on keywords, for what people have written before us, we don't need to do twice or even more than that.
Adyar Pamphlets - No.138
The Influence of Alcohol

Annie Besant
Anand Gholap Theosophical Institute

Publisher’s Note

Some requests have been received to provide the T.S. Order of Service workers with a suitable pamphlet in the cause of Temperance and so a second edition was issued. It was originally a lecture delivered in the Livesey Central Temperance Hall, London, on 7th February, 1892, under the presidency of Mr. George Ling of the Temperance movement.

[Page 1] FRIENDS, when I was asked to speak from the platform of your Hall — when I was told that your association took the broadest lines in not compelling or trying to compel the assent of any one to views on subjects outside that which you are united to support — when I learnt that you were thus liberal in your views, I was ready and glad to take the opportunity of adding my voice to the many voices that are heard all over the country protesting against the use of alcohol, and against the influence exerted by that use, not only on the bodies, but also on the minds of those who take it. My own position in the matter is very likely founded upon principles that may not be identical with those held by many of you; but then I am not sure that it may not be at once useful and interesting to hear the way in which the question presents itself to one whose views of the universe at large may be different from the views of many present. I am not going to proceed this morning on the lines of argument that will be most familiar to you. I am not going to deal with the drink-question in its bearings on the subject of poverty. I am not [Page 2] going to discuss drinking in relation to the misery it spreads throughout the country, or the crime of which it is the source. I am not going today to point you specially to the misery of the drunkard's home, or contrast in appearance, in health and in mental endowment, the children of the drunkard and the children of the abstainer: all those are useful aspects of the subject; are arguments that everyone of you may well have at your fingers' ends when you are trying to combat this great enemy of our race — strong drink, — but the lines which I am going to follow may possibly suggest to some of you fresh arguments with which to supplement the others; and even those of you who may disagree with the foundation on which they are based, may yet find in the arguments themselves useful reinforcement for your general line of thought. And now so far as I am concerned, I am a Teetotaler because I am a Theosophist; that is to say, it is part of the working out of the Theosophical view of the nature, the constitution, and the destiny of man. The views I hold with regard to man's nature, the views I hold of the relationship of one man to another, joined, as I believe them to be, by a bond of brotherhood that nothing can avail to break — the influence that is, which one man has upon another — it is these views which have led me to become an abstainer. Then the view of the body as the mere tabernacle in which dwells the Intelligence that is the real man; such I say, are the [Page 3] views, roughly, that lead me to the standpoint of teetotalism in practical life; and it is these views that I am going to put to you as possibly affording argument that may be to some extent unfamiliar, but which will work into other arguments more familiar to you, and so strengthen your own position as against those who advocate the use of alcohol — those who say it is an article of diet, nourishing and so on, and that it is useful to be taken. You may then show them that it is not useful but mischievous; not of the nature of a help but of a hindrance, and that what is wanted is the absolute cessation of the drink-habit; not merely what is called temperate or moderate drinking, and so on. I hold that alcohol itself is essentially a destructive, mischievous agency, and therefore its use ought to be entirely opposed, entirely renounced, as of no benefit in the economy of the human body. That is the position I am going to take up.

And now, first, as regards the body. We look on the body, of course, from our standpoint, as an instrument of the spiritual Intelligence which we regard as the man himself; that is, looking at ourselves, we regard the body as the coating, the garment, the instrument, used for work in the physical world, so that the efficacy of the work will very largely depend upon the integrity of the instrument. Just as no workman could perform a good piece of work if he were using, say a blunt [Page 4] chisel, a twisted screwdriver, or a hammer whose head fell off the moment he struck a blow with it; so cannot the real man, the inner man, the true man, do effective work on the physical plane, if the instrument whereby that work is to be performed is injured, spoilt, blunted, or stunted by any habit which injures physical life. With regard to the body, we study it, in its formation, in its living functions, and in its influence over the whole of the men and women — the whole of the animal, plant, and mineral world around us. We allege that man, as regards his body, is part and parcel of the world around him — that between the man's body and the bodies of all other men (I use the word, of course, to include women also) and things, having physical shape and form, there is a constant interaction going on — that all these are built up of what the scientist speaks of as atoms, and molecules, and that when you come to consider these atoms and molecules you will get to understand what they are. Studying them as we do from a double point of view, we say that an atom, like the man of whom it forms a part, is a complex and not a simple thing, that it is essentially a living thing — that your bodies are built up of innumerable lives — that all these atoms that go to make up the physical body are living things – lives in themselves, and that, according to their health or lack of health, will be the general health, or general lack of health, of the body which they gradually build up. It is an old Theosophical [Page 5] teaching, that all the world is made up of these lives; that the mineral, the vegetable, the animal, and the man differ not in the material of which the body is composed, but in the way in which that material is organized; that you have these atoms at one time in the mineral, at another in the vegetable, and at another in the human body, and that it is the difference of their arrangement, and of the way in which they are held together which makes the total organism take on one or another form of living thing. Now western science very much agrees with us in its investigations on this point. Those of you who have followed the investigations of our most eminent physicians will notice how, more and more, during the last few years, they have been studying what are called bacteria and microbes; those minute bodies, those tiny things that are only seen by aid of the strongest microscope — these, we have been lately told by physicians, are at the very root of all the diseases in men, so that when people come across a disease, the doctor goes to look for the microbe that causes it, and whether it is cholera, hydrophobia, influenza, or cancer, we are always being told that our advanced scientists are searching for the microbe which is the root of the mischief; because, if they can find what is acting in this destructive fashion in the human body, then they will be able to deal with its ravages better. They have gone a step further. They have found out that very often a fight goes on in our [Page 6] bodies between the microbes that are constructive and those that are destructive, so that if you get into your blood a destructive kind of microbe that would poison you, and gradually kill you as it multiplies, that may be met and stopped by starting against them an army of constructive microbes who build up where the others try to destroy, and who conquer this power for mischief by their stronger power for good. So that gradually science is making us look at our bodies as a kind of battlefield, in which all these lower lives are fighting, the one against the other, and always coming and going; so that our entire body is really a kind of country, into which come immigrants from other countries, and out of which go emigrants to other countries, and on the character of the immigrants will largely depend our condition; and if from other countries and neighbouring countries, there are all sorts of bad immigrants coming in — immigrants who are pauperized, drunken, and laden with every form of mischief, — then they will poison the population of our own country, and spread in that healthy population the diseases which they bring with them from other lands. Now this, which almost sounds like a fairy-tale, is really a scientific fact. There is no better fairy-tale teller than science — science which observes and coordinates facts, and gives out its result to the world. The Theosophists, studying this view of the body, find that it works in with their own view.[Page 7]

It is exactly the teaching which, for thousands of years, has formed part of their own philosophy; so that our body is made up of these millions upon millions of tiny lives which are always coming and going, always changing from one position to another, and there is not a moment in your life or in mine, in which we are not sending out swarms of these lives into the atmosphere around us, and receiving from it in return other swarms of lives. Science again will tell you that your physical body changes in every single atom in seven years — that every morsel of your body during that period goes away and is supplied by other morsels in exchange. This is done of course in such minute particles that the change is invisible to the eye, but the invisible world is none the less real — in fact, really and truly, the invisible world is by far the most important, for the invisible world is the world of causes, while the visible world is the world of effects, and it is in this invisible world that the causes which tend to make us what we are, largely exist. Now for a moment use your imagination in the way that Tyndall suggested, when he spoke of the scientific use of the imagination. Think of your body for a moment, and see it made up of all these innumerable lives. See them (with the eye of the mind) leaving you after they have resided in your body for a time and formed part of it. See others coming in to take their place, as those that have been in your body for a time pass [Page 8] away. Now notice a curious physical fact. Supposing you have had a bad wound that has healed. It leaves what is known as a scar. That scar may remain with you all your life although the wound may have healed perhaps before you remember. As a baby, in trying to stand in my cradle before I had any business to be on my feet, I received a wound on my forehead from the ornamental iron at the top of it, arranged so as to make a kind of canopy. Now that scar has remained with me from that time to the present, and will go with me to my grave. That scar remains though the body that has it has changed so many times — each seven years I have lived since the injury was caused. The scar remains, so that the new atoms that come into the body take the print of the older atoms amongst which they come, and just as those atoms I have received from the world around me take the imprint of my body as shown in the scar, so do the atoms I send out with them carry the imprint that has been put upon them during their stay in my body, and carry with them my imprint so to speak, to the other lives, the living things which may go to help to build up other bodies in the future. So that, to use another simile, the human body is like a mint that makes coin — bullion comes in, and goes out as coin stamped with the mark of the mint. Our bodies are mint-stamping every atom that goes out of them with the print and mark we put upon it, to carry [Page 9] that mark with it, and so to leave our imprint on other organisms into which they may go. Suppose that these atoms are always poisoned with alcohol!

Alcohol happens to be a substance which peculiarly takes up the magnetism of those who come into contact with it. I may speak of it in the chemical sense as a certain definite chemical compound made up of certain chemical atoms held together in a particular way. You may have a variety of forms depending on the number of the atoms that go to make them up, but, whatever the numbers, they always bear the same proportion to each other. The alcohol-radical is made up of two elements — carbon and hydrogen — perfectly harmless in themselves, perfectly respectable members of the chemical family. They only become disreputable in their combination into a particular form, and when you get a particular combination of them and add to them part of the molecule of water, you then get what you speak of as spirit, which is of course largely diluted before ordinarily taken, but the mischievous part of this diluted drink is the particular combination of chemical atoms and the proportion they bear to each other, known to the chemist as the alcohol-radical. Whether you get it in methylated spirit, in your beer, wine, etc., whether you get it in still more fiery forms like the potato spirit — which is largely used in the manufacture of the cheaper form of spirits, and is even more destructive and [Page 10] energetic than that which is ordinarily used — however you get it, it is always essentially marked by the same characteristics, and those characteristics cannot be separated from it. They are the direct result of this particular combination of the chemical elements. When taken into the body the alcohol carries with it the magnetism of the different persons who have been mixed up in its preparation. As a rule, persons who are concerned in the making of these drinks are not the most thoughtful, refined, or cultured of human beings. As a rule they show the influence of that in which they are continually working, and get a certain physical stamp upon them that enables you to recognize them as persons who are normally connected with this particular form of industry. I am not saying anything which is exaggerated — every one of you must know it, from your own observation. Anyone of you could pick out a brewer's man from a whole parcel of teetotalers. The physical body is changed by that with which it is continually working. Then again, in order to show in an exaggerated form what I am putting to you, take the habitual drunkard. Do you mean to say he cannot be recognized at once by certain physical marks, by the injury he does to his tissues, recognized always by the impregnation of the whole body, by the odour of the liquids he drinks ? and this is so much the case that any one present who has the habit of absolute teetotalism will know [Page 11] that he has become very sensitive to the whole of those emanations that come from the body penetrated with alcohol. You know it the very moment you come near such a person. If a person who drinks comes into an omnibus with you, you are acquainted with the fact at once. I know it myself, although I have not been a teetotaler all my life. For a great portion of my life I drank the light French wines which have very little alcohol in them, 2, 3, 4, and up to 8 per cent, so that the amount of alcohol there is comparatively slight; but still, taking any at all makes a difference, and I have noticed that difference since I have been now for some years past an abstainer. I have noticed that one very unpleasant result of teetotalism is the greater sensitiveness that it gives with regard to everybody else who drinks. I say unpleasant, because the majority do drink, and in every way you lay yourself open to this extremely uncomfortable result, as you cannot avoid going about amongst people who habitually take some amount of spirituous liquor. Even moderate drinking is perceptible to those whose senses have become very sensitive by long and complete abstention. On Tuesday last, I was lecturing in South Wales, and had to travel back to a certain point at which I wished to catch a connecting train. A football match had been played in the place where I was lecturing, and the players were returning to Cardiff in the train by which I traveled. [Page 12] Unfortunately, almost everyone of them had drunk heavily, and some of them were absolutely intoxicated. The result was, that it made me positively sick to be near them, although you may be sure, I kept as far from them as I could. The strong emanations, physical emanations, that came from the bodies of those people who had been in the habit of drinking, and still continued it, were simply sickening, so that I am speaking not the language of exaggeration, but of physical fact.

It is a literal fact that from everyone of our bodies emanations go out. They fall upon the bodies around them, upon human beings, plants, and minerals, and thus is continuing this constant interaction between all things amongst which we live, so as to make a link between you, and every body, and everything else, and constituting the drink habit not only a curse to the people who drink, but to the community and the nation. It has been said that the drunkard is no man's enemy but his own. That is not true. Apart from the obvious fact that the wife and children suffer, and that the example is demoralizing, the drunkard is a focus of poison to the community in which he is a physical being. I am not yet speaking of the mental and moral mischief, but of physical results, and men who put alcohol into their bodies make the alcohol mark on the atoms of which those bodies are composed. They scatter those atoms, stamped with alcohol, over the whole of the community, [Page 13] and sober people get these atoms into their bodies and suffer in that fashion from the drunken habits of their neighbours. So that it is not a mere self-regarding matter. Nothing is self-regarding really, because we cannot help being linked to each other, but drunkenness is most other-regarding, and a man has no more right to drink, and to scatter these poisoned atoms through the community, than he has a right, if he has small-pox, to go into an omnibus or cab and leave there the poison of smallpox to be absorbed by the next person who occupies the seat he has quitted. You will see now why I said at the beginning that although I am speaking from a different standpoint from that to which you are accustomed, some of the arguments I employ may be used by you when dealing with drunkenness. You can enforce them by the whole of the later observations of western science with regard to the effect of these tiny atoms on our bodies, if you do not care to take the stronger view I do, that every atom is a life, an organized life, with power to affect everything with which it comes into contact, and when it is a poisoned life, a germ in full activity that may breed further disease in the body with which it comes into contact. This, of course, has to be remembered on the other side. Let us suppose a person with small-pox, or any kind of infectious disease, to scatter about the poison germs. It does not follow that everybody on whom those germs fall will get the disease, because you [Page 14] not only want the germ, but you want the soil in which that germ can germinate and fructify. So far, then, we can guard ourselves against being the unwilling hosts of these poison germs. We cannot help them coming, but we can make the soil so un-fructifying that they will starve for want of nourishment. We can do that by making the soil of the body thoroughly healthy; by taking care that we never poison an atom when once it comes into our body; by taking care that we purify the body by always keeping the poison away as much as possible, and so in that fashion — to use a technical term — to sterilize the soil on which otherwise the germ would grow.

To illustrate: The scientific man takes a germ, and puts it into the mother liquid, as it is sometimes called. In that it grows and multiplies; so that you may find some instances in which scientific men have captured a germ or microbe and put it into a bottle filled with liquid which contains all the nourishment that particular microbe wants for its rapid development. The microbe begins to grow, and there are many cases in which microscopical microbe, over-fed, has developed until it has become visible to the naked eye in its full power of mischief, forced into a development truly abnormal. On the other hand it has been put into a liquid which is sterilizing, that is, it has not got the particular form of nourishment it is able to assimilate, and so it grows weaker and weaker until the [Page 15] power for mischief has grown very small. That is only showing you, like a picture, what may happen in the bodies of men. The body of man may be like the mother liquid of the scientist, giving all the materials in which the alcohol microbes, so to speak, may flourish. Thus, when an atom poisoned with alcohol comes to you from some drunken neighbour, and it finds in your body a host convenient for itself, it will grow and multiply in the soil you provide, and will intensify your own predisposition towards the alcoholic disease, by bringing fresh materials to the soil in which that material may increase and grow. In that way drunkards injure each other, and the very atmosphere of the public-house tends to feed the drunkenness of the people. On the other hand, if a body be pure, if it does not give the same tendency, the same nourishment that suits the development of this atom impregnated with alcohol, then gradually that atom, if it has no nourishment, will be starved, will slowly change its character, and take on the healthier condition of those other atoms amidst which it finds itself. Hence you can guard yourself against this poison by keeping your own body pure from all alcohol. You may indeed have one that is almost proof against such mischief.

You will readily see from this how difficult it is to break the alcohol habit — how terrible is the struggle when the victim first begins to fight against it — how he will go without drink sometimes [Page 16] for weeks and months, and then suddenly, as by an imperious physical necessity, break out. That is a war, a literal war, that is going on in the bodies of drunkards, and these atoms that by years of drunkenness have been fed and nourished, cannot be suddenly got rid of, and cannot at once be destroyed.

You will see, then, why it is that, as a Theosophist, I am in favour of absolute abstention; how I look on alcohol not as a food, not as a useful stimulant, but as an absolute poison. The danger of what is called moderate drinking lies in this nourishing of the alcohol germ, which may very easily develop, and so if the person come into unfortunate conditions, his moderation may pass into excess, and the ordinary sober man may become a drunkard by this poisoning received from the life around him. Surely also this will show the enormous importance of abstention, to the parents of families. The life of the child, so far as the physical body is concerned, is very largely influenced by the life given physically by the parents. How can a child be born with a body physically healthy, if that body be built up of atoms that are physically poisoned ? The father and mother give the germs of physical life and the materials of which the physical body is composed. If these are drink-poisoned, the child comes into the world with the drink tendency physically implanted in the body that the parents have given [Page 17] it. Surely that is a responsibility that no man or woman should dare to take. They have no right to create a physical body which is poisoned in this fashion, before it has a chance for itself in the outer world. They have no right to hand on to a child a body which, by its physical constitution, is already impregnated with the alcoholic tendency. People say to men: " Oh, you should drink to keep your strength up. You should take porter and beer, in order that you may be strong." They might as well say: " You should take poison in order that you may live." All these things not only poison the mother but the child, because the materials are poisoned, and on this point, if you will pardon me a moment's digression, men are very largely to blame. I know a great deal, as you are aware, of life in the East end. My work has been specially amongst women, and one of my greatest difficulties is when these girls of 16, 17, and 18 get engaged. There is no earthly objection to that, for it is natural and right; but the young man, as a rule, likes the girl to drink with him. If she won't go and take a glass, he says she is bad tempered, or sulky, or stuck-up. I have said to the girls over and over again : " I do not believe you care for the drink." (Here let me say we do not allow any alcoholic drink at all in the Club we have, and I find the girls enjoy the coffee and tea thoroughly.) They say: " We do not care for it, but Tom or Will, does not like it, if we won't take a sup with him."[Page 18]

Now if a man who is engaged to a girl practically forces her, either by chaff or jeering, or in any other way, into occasionally taking a glass, he has no right to blame the wife when she keeps up the habit. I have never yet found the man who liked his wife to drink. And yet they all want the sweetheart to drink ! Well, you cannot cut people up in that way. If you start them before marriage they will go on afterwards, and no man has a right to complain of a drunken wife, when he has jeered at the girl's first refusal to take any drink at all. So that after all, this is a question not only that concerns the woman who drinks, but that concerns other men and women; and there are none of those divisions that people are so fond of making. All questions really interest men and women alike in their issues, and this drink-curse is a thing they must fight together hand in hand, here as elsewhere, trying to make the world better by the influence they exert over those with whom they live.

There is another standpoint from which I am also strongly an abstainer. This again is Theosophical in its origin, and I do not know that you will be inclined to follow me even so far probably as you have agreed with my former argument — with the principle of it, at least. I said at the beginning that we regard man, not as a body but as one who uses a body. The body is the house while the man is the tenant, and we allege that the man passes from body to body, and that he makes in [Page 19] each human life practically the house he is going to inhabit in the next. So that during one life he builds up his next habitation, and by the intellectual and spiritual activity of one human existence he modifies the physical conditions of his next experience in human life. That of course is what is called the doctrine of reincarnation. It is one that many thoughtful people accept as throwing an extraordinary light on many of the problems of human life. Let me show you how it bears on this drink question. We say that the power in you that really makes you human, is THOUGHT; that that is the power that moulds action and life; that a man is what he thinks much more than what he does — that what he does very largely depends upon the circumstances about him, but that what he thinks governs his reaction on those circumstances. For instance, supposing a man is not honest in his thought — that is, suppose he is ready to take an undue advantage, if he can do it without discovery, suppose he is not thoroughly upright in his inner nature — whether that man is outwardly a thief or not depends very largely on circumstances. If he gets the chance he will be a thief, because in his thought he is a thief; and as a matter of dry fact, there is many a man who commits a theft who is not nearly as much a thief as others who go down to their graves and have the epitaphs of honest men. Now what the man thinks is what he is. [Page 20] Some of you may hold special religious views, but there is not one great religious teacher in the world who has not laid stress on the thought far more than on the action of man — the thought of the man is the most important, for it governs the action. As a man thinks, so he acts. Now on that foundation, and based on a large number of experiments with which I cannot trouble you this morning, the Theosophist has come to the absolute knowledge of the fact that, as you think, you are continually creating forms of ethereal matter not visible to ordinary eyesight, but visible under certain peculiar conditions, even of the nervous system. Take a man who is suffering from delirium tremens. It is not a fancy that he sees. That man is in a real world, although not in the objective world you are most acquainted with. He sees certain things by a certain faculty which is asleep in the ordinary man, but which can be stimulated into abnormal power under certain conditions, for good or evil. One of those conditions is the continuous drink habit, which has this peculiar physiological result, that it brings into activity this ordinarily latent sense of sight, and under those conditions he sees thought-forms of a very low and horrible character, but still thought-forms. You may have noticed the very peculiar fact that the type of things seen in delirium tremens is the same, whoever the person may be. The kind of thing the patient sees is of the same sort. These things are real, [Page 21] in a particular form of existence which is veiled from you in the ordinary body, and with which you only come into contact under these very abnormal conditions. Now your mind is always making forms in this ethereal matter, perhaps the matter spoken of as a possibility by Professor Clifford. Various experiments have been tried to prove that this really does exist, and that every time you think you are producing in the mental world a form that is the image of your thinking. If you look closely into hypnotism you will soon get the idea. The patient sees a thought-form, and is able to describe it, although no word is spoken, and no contact between the thinker and seer takes place. Sometimes you get it in what is called the medium, who is able to see a thought-form, and speaks of it generally as a spirit-form, but it is only a form of very subtle matter. Now these thought-forms we say persist, and the true, the real man, has the character which is made up of them. They go to mould even the outer body. Notice the difference between men whose lives have been noble or base in the outer world, when the man comes to be old. You can tell the one from the other. The beauty of the noble old man or old woman is not a beauty of feature — it is a beauty of general expression and appearance. It is the inner character, shining out through the mask or veil of the body. That is what persists — that inner form which the true man makes for himself, and it is that ethereal [Page 22] form that very largely models the physical form of the next incarnation. This means that in your life you are making your own future tendencies, and that when you come back to a new life's lesson, you will be marked with the tendencies that you have been making in your present life, so that those tendencies will form what is called the innate character. Children are not born like sheets of blank paper, but with strongly marked characteristics, sometimes vicious, and sometimes virtuous. Now, every man gets vicious or virtuous tendencies somehow. There are three alleged ways in which they can get them. There is one way that the purely physical scientists will tell you of, that man gets them by physical heredity. If that be so, it is a very sad truth, because it means that a child may be born into the world doomed by the actions of other people to vicious characteristics and tendencies, against which he will have to fight. Others say that it comes by virtue of the gift of an over-ruling Providence, who gives the soul or spirit to the child with all its tendencies, and so you come to a terrible injustice, if it is true that men are thus handicapped by an outside power at the start; but if neither of these views be correct; if the real view be, that you and I, by our own actions and thoughts in the past, have moulded the character which in the present life we are using for helping or hindering our development, then there is no more talk [Page 23] about injustice. There is no longer injustice at the heart of things, as in the other two ways of looking at it. We are responsible for our own characteristics and that which we have made we must live through as best we can. That is the view of human destiny which makes man master of his own life. Bit by bit he builds up a noble character; by continual carefulness and self-sacrificing love of others, he builds up a character of sympathy, of strength, of willingness to help, and of desire to improve. He is born into his next life-experience with this character that he has built during a previous life, and so has made himself a better instrument wherein he may progress yet further, gaining new powers, new growth, fresh progress for himself and for others. That is our Theosophical view of life — evolution, continually progressing, our bodies moulded by this inner life, and made a better and better expression of all its capacities in life after life, the body reacting under this influence and changing for higher and higher possibilities, until, millennium after millennium, the human race is built better and better, for a dwelling beyond that which it now occupies. And so you trace upwards as you trace individuals, and you have in this system of evolution, the reason for the progress of man.

You can understand then, how, with such a theory of life, we should be strongly against drinking habits everywhere, for it is as though [Page 24] in building a house you deliberately took bad materials and poisoned substances to build into your walls, so that when you came to dwell in the house its very walls should be poison-giving instead of health-giving. That is the other side of the question — the re-action on the inner man of the dwelling he fashions for himself.

Whether you take my first line of argument — the body built of these atoms that we impregnate or stamp; or whether you regard it as a dwelling-place of this true man — the inner self — you will see why the Theosophist is likely to be a teetotaler, and why he throws all his influence against the cursing of man by drink.

That, then, friends, is why I am glad to come this morning, and perhaps add some new weapons to the arsenal you are accustomed to use against this enemy of man. I do not ask any one of you to accept the peculiar side of my views without thought and investigation. I am not putting it to you as a propagandist might desire, to convince you of the truth of his views. I have only tried to lay before you a definite reason why this position against the use of alcohol altogether should be taken up by those to whom I myself personally belong; and without accepting my theories as a whole, I think you may find some of the arguments useful — at any rate, in putting them before you, you will judge them for yourselves, for you, I am sure, like [Page 25] myself, will not form your opinions merely upon an hour's lecture, but upon long and careful investigation. I have put before you views I honestly hold, and ask none to accept them until their reason judges them to be right. I ask none to take them, until their own intelligence endorses them. I speak to you as one human being to another, believing that these views are useful. I leave them to your judgment, but do not desire to dominate any one. I do not wish to force them upon any, but simply to express my views of man's nature, and in doing so, to give you fresh reasons to justify the propaganda you are carrying on in this matter. If we do not agree on all points, we are united on one. We are agreed on this, that in the present hour we are all practical creators, and to be a drunken creator is so ghastly a possibility that, when once realized, I am sure it never will be faced.
I think you are right on "damage to interior bodies" at least in respect to drugs. This is a serious thing. Western humanity at least has adapted to alcohol over thousands of years. There is less severe damage but it destroys inner sensibilities and perception, at least temporarily. (HPB says in one of her letters that a "beer drinker" or some such term can certainly be a theorsophist, or something such....) Judge, somewhere, says that tobacco has a beneficial effect, at least occultly, because it helps keep away certain classes of elementals. HPB in her youth may have smoked marijuana, at least there's some evidence for it, and in the MLs one of the adepts says he had to stop her from "ruining herself." I don't know if this refers to the grass or not, maybe this and other things. From observation, I think marijuana has a much worse and longer-lasting effect than alcohol. The Theosophists goal is no altering substances whatever, of course.
Well, Blavatsky was pretty harsh on the French lodge drinking alcohol at meetings & the mahatmas tried to stop Sinnett drinking as much alcohol as he did. So all in all, I do think they were pretty clear on preferring total abstention there.
So, it confuses me still, why HPB smoked if it's effects were so bad? (I guess it proves she is human and has vices like the rest of us.) But I have been told that it attracts certain "astral entities" who have died and are drawn it because of their addictions in life. But you say Judge said that tobacco can help keep away certain classes of elementals. (like incense does). That seems contradictory to me.
HPB smoked because she was human and had her faults. Just like you said. She also ate meat. I think she saw the latter as a more serious offense than the former. After all: eating meat is eating a formerly conscious being. There may have been medical reasons why she ate as much meat as she did - at least that's a hypothesis by one of her biographers.

Judge knew that she smoked, so he had reason to rationalize it and say that it worked like incense to keep away astral entities. De Purucker echoed him.

Blavatsky herself never said any of that. She also didn't say that there were elementals drawn to that addiction. She did say that about alcohol. Though more the opposite: one of the risks of being a medium was that spirits of the addicted could come and take over and make you addicted.

I never got from any of my reading from Blavatsky or the Mahatmas that they expect us to be perfect. They expect us to IMPROVE and be conscientious beings first, perfect in every detail, later. That is: it's more important to support the weak in society, stand up against oppression (like the suppression of the Indian people in India back then), fight to overcome social prejudice and all that - than to have a perfect diet. Blavatsky did the first, fought for truth as she saw it, fought for inter religious tolerance when that phrase hadn't been invented yet - and she also smoked and ate meat.

Smoking was at the time a very controversial thing to do for a woman, so part of her motive may have been to shock people. But, as we all know by now, smoking is also an addiction. Once started it takes a lot of energy to get over.

The mahatmas made it very clear that getting over an addiction may take more energy than it's worth. For instance: an alcoholic may be better off simply limiting their alcohol intake, than going cold turkey. That's controversial advice these days, but then the whole system of having clinics for these things hadn't been set up yet.

Yes - there is clearly a contradiction between the two teachings. Perhaps it's that there is one class of elementals that finds it hard to stay around when there's smoke in the air, and another that is associated with the addiction itself. The first may be the kind Blavatsky worried most about: unwelcome emotions and thoughts. The second just a by effect of the addiction itself. There are, after all, entities involved with just about anything.
Contradictions: There are definite contradictions on all this between the Theosophy of Blavatsky and her followers and the Neo-Theosophists of Leadbeater, Besant et.al. I'm sure only the former knew what they were talking about.
Blavatsky had a task to do, chiefly, and was not specifically training herself in the ways of chelahood. Thus she took short-term solutions: Meat-eating for the short-term energy boost, so she could keep on writing and everything else she did. Smoking cigarettes heavily, to soothe her nervousness, I suppose, and maybe occult reasons. (Also, it is stated in the MLs, I believe, that she was a "psychological cripple", because they had to keep one of her principles, or sub-principles in Tibet, whatever one may interpret that to mean.
Being "warm-hearted" is a lot more important in being a real Theosophist, than living an ascetic lifestyle.
I feel that anything which has the potential to be addictive should be avoided. Smoking was not seen for the addiction that it is today. It was quite socially acceptable. As we have learned more about ill-effects to our health, and of the damaging effect that addiction has on our self , it makes sense to avoid such things. Addiction weakens us, whether it be nicotine or cocaine. Obviously both have entirely different effects on our physical healthy, but both addictions take away our complete mindfulness because we have to take time out to make sure our addictions are met. An interesting read about the meat-vegan discussion from Theosophical Quarterly 1924-1925 HPB
Personally, I feel it is very important to make clear distinctions between types of drugs.

While alcohol, cannabis, opiates and several other drugs are in many ways sedative, they all have different effects. I know several highly spiritual people who are serious about their convictions, but once in a while smoke cannabis as a way to relax, relieve stress and contemplate. There is no addiction present, and most of them never experience any negative side effects. I can hardly see much fault in that, life can be very stressing these days and you rarely have the time to relax and ponder. That it is quite hard to become addicted to it is also a consideration.

Psychedelics on the other hand are almost a polar opposite. Most of them do not sedate you at all, on the contrary every single emotional, mental, sensory and spiritual experience becomes stronger. As an example, the only drug I allow myself to take is psilocybin mushrooms. I feel that it can help me focus on the spiritual parts of my being, as well as increasing my sensory perceptions and giving me a slight feeling of euphoria for a few hours. There is no potential at all for addiction, and while they may trigger a latent psychosis I truly feel that it is a risk worth taking considering the new perspective on spiritual matters it gives me.

Addiction is a terrible foe, to that I concur. However not all use of drugs, or all drugs for that matter, have the potential for addiction. I also feel that the sedative drugs can be very harmful, as they offer people a means of escape. And that is precisely why I don't touch anything but psychedelics, as most of them are not addictive and they do not sedate.

Not all drugs are the same, but most of them are clearly a threat. However, as a pursuer of truth on all levels, I feel that a fair judgement must be made, weighing the pros and cons before completely dismissing them.
I noticed most of the bases were covered in the past responses to this subject. Having been involved with most of the illegal drugs in the distant past, I'd definitely say to stay away from them. I do know people who smoke marijuana in moderation and function quite well. But, even people who can handle it okay will have to let go of it eventually.

Psychedelics can be of some use in spiritual development in a limited degree, for some people. Stay away from any underground lab stuff like LSD, DMT, Ecstasy, etc., for the purity is very questionable. If one feels compelled, I would say stick to plant based psychedelics like mushrooms or peyote,and only after reading as much as possible about them. Plus, having a firm spiritual discipline as a foundation and used with strict controls. Overall, they're not needed.

The biggest danger facing society and individuals are not not he illegal drugs, but the legal pharmaceutical ones being foisted on us by Big Pharma. Certainly, the anti-depressants are of real concern, for their damaging long term effects on the brain and nervous system. The toxins in our food and environment are exceedingly danging.

Merely not eating meat does not a good diet make. Of course, it was a different era back then, and healthy nutrition was not as advanced as it is now. Many of the important Occult and Spiritual figures, Theosophy for sure, had a weight problem. Of course, excessive overweight was not seen as a problem back then.

As for drinking and smoking, the dangers of the excesses of both are quite well documented. I might point out that many recent studies done over the last 30 to 40 years show the benefits of light to moderate alcohol intake, especially wine. Heavy drinking is obviously very unhealthy. Smoking is not something to be encouraged, though I know a case can be made that pure tobacco, as used ceremonially by Native Americans, can have some spiritual significance. I don't know enough about that to expound on it.

But, let's not get too judgemental here. As pointed out, Blavatsky chain smoked, ate meat and smoked marijuana(it was legal then). When and if she quit pot smoking is not known. Another puzzling example is the spiritual master, G. I. Gurdjeiff, a favorite among many Theosophists. He smoked expensive Egyptian Cigarettes, loved rich food, was not a vegetarian, and consumed quite a bit of armagnac, a form of brandy.

How they were able to do all this and still retain their spiritual and occult powers remains a mystery. Let's not make the mistake of thinking that if by imitating their lifestyles we will grow to their spiritual heights.


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