Anna Kingsford, Buddhist Christianity and Vegetarianism

(Arnaldo Sisson Filho interviewed by journalist Viviane Pereira, May/2009)

Presentation by Viviane Pereira:

Raised in a Catholic family, Arnaldo Sisson Filho began his search for answers to the questions that guide our existence early on. He studied in Roman Catholic schools and, in his late teens, questioning everything he had learned so far, he became a materialist, an adherent of Marxism. Within this context, he chose to study Economics to better understand the political and social issues of the world. Afterwards, looking for answers to paranormal phenomena, he got to know the Theosophical Society and became part of it, traveling to various parts of the world, seeking and spreading knowledge. It was in a lecture by this organization that he met the person who would lead him to vegetarianism, in 1973. After witnessing paranormal or psychic phenomena, he plunged into the search for knowledge, studied religions and found it in the work of Dr. Anna Kingsford (considered the mother of modern vegetarianism) and from Edward Maitland the answers he was looking for. There he discovered essential information to rescue Christianity. “It is the religion that is at the base of Western civilization, which today dominates the world, for better or for worse,” he says. In addition to disseminating the work of those he considers great prophets, Arnaldo’s mission is to share the knowledge acquired on his pilgrimage. His new challenge is a work that prepares on Buddhist Christianity: “Buddhism and Christianity are traditions that were born to complement each other” (The Wheel and the Cross: An Introduction to Buddhist Christianity). In this interview he talks a little about these projects, the importance of religiosity in the current moment the world lives and vegetarianism within this context.

Why you became a vegetarian?

I was 19 years old, worried about having a healthy body; had stopped smoking and drinking. I had come across paranormal phenomena, or psychic phenomena. For example, I had lost a friend in a car accident and she started appearing to other friends and I didn’t believe in any of that. I thought it was all an illusion, a fantasy. And some friends I’ve known for many years said: this is happening, she is manifesting. I went to check it out and realized there was something real behind it. It was a time when I was wanting to investigate this whole phenomenology called the paranormal or, in my language, psychic phenomenology — which concerns the psyche, the super-physical part of our human constitution. In the context of this inquiry I went to attend a lecture by the Englishman, John Coats — he was an international speaker for the Theosophical Society and later its international president. After the lecture I went to talk to him and posed questions that intrigued me. He invited me for a chat and the other day I went to have lunch with him at the house of a vegetarian yoga teacher, where he was staying. We spent the entire afternoon talking; he had been a vegetarian for many years and showed me that if I was on the path, in the quest, becoming a vegetarian was the natural sequel. As a good Gaucho, raised on barbecue, I believed that the proteins in meat were important for good health. I calmly asked him: “Mr. John, is there no need for meat for our good diet?” With the same love, he took a file where he had a series of articles, with several data on vegetarianism, and began to show me that it was possible to live very well, and even better, being a vegetarian. He addressed the aspect of animals, the cruelty implied in it, told me about his trajectory, and all these things made a deep impression on me. He even showed me arguments of an economic nature, on how the solution to world hunger can be linked to vegetarianism. I am very grateful for how much this person helped me, with the good example, the good influence that this person was in my life. At that moment I made the decision to scientifically study the issue and if I found a scientific basis for becoming a vegetarian, I would never eat meat again. I looked for some books on nutrition and in less than a month I had come to the conclusion that I could be a vegetarian and live very well. I never went back to eating meat.

Does the Theosophical Society have any inclination towards vegetarianism?

Yes, although the founder of the Society, Madame Blavatsky, was not a vegetarian. In the Theosophical Society there is a great tendency in favor of vegetarianism. It’s not mandatory, but the Society has done a lot for vegetarianism, and just as I’m grateful to Mr. John Coats, by extension I’m grateful to the Theosophical Society for bringing this beneficent influence into my life. Many authors of this Society have done much for vegetarianism.

You found in your way the work of Dr. Anna Kingsford, considered the “mother of modern vegetarianism”. In her work, the defense of vegetarianism is very evident. What is her main argument in this defense?

Dr. Anna Kingsford went to study medicine at a time when women weren’t even accepted into medical schools in England — we’re talking about the mid-19th century. At the University of Paris the women had just been accepted. There was controversy among the professors: many said that women were not cut out for the study of medicine, that they had no emotional constitution for it. The few women who studied had to be very good students to pass subjects whose professors believed women were not cut out for the study and practice of the medical profession. She did this because she wanted to scientifically promote vegetarianism. The course conclusion work was called On Vegetarian Food for Human Beings. It was a scientific defense of vegetarianism — perhaps one of the first major academic defenses. This work is a milestone in the history of vegetarianism and is impressive because the arguments it uses are the main arguments of vegetarianism to this day. She later translated this work into English and published it in 1881 in England under the title The Perfect Way in the Diet — an adaptation of the thesis for a more general audience (this work is on the website in its entirety in English).

What does she approach in this work?

This work deals with the social aspects of vegetarianism as well as the humanitarian aspects of cruelty to animals. As a doctor, of course, she also addresses health issues, such as how the ingestion of meat, animal fat, is associated with certain illnesses; it deals with the issue of obesity, alcoholism, among many others. It even speaks of environmental factors — how the leather industry affected the health of rivers in England. It is a work approved by the University of Paris and a milestone in the history of contemporary vegetarianism. The arguments she uses are impressive for her time, from the philosophical religious foundation, through the medical issue and health in general, to the socioeconomic aspects.

In the religious question, why is it important to be a vegetarian?

All the religions that deserve this name tell us that God is love and that religion means coming together and living love to the point where we become, merging with the love and will of God. As the philosopher Plotinus said, ‘the eye could only see the Sun because it assumed its miniature form’ — it is an analogy that demonstrates that if we want to get closer to the great love that is at the heart of this universe, we have to start by being a tiny love in this universe. universe. We have to assume this form of God, of love, even if in miniature. Vegetarianism is the natural expression of love, sensitivity, not inflicting unnecessary suffering on our lives. This is the most obvious aspect of vegetarianism that is directly associated with true religiosity — developing in you, albeit in miniature, divine love.

We must remember the great law of action and reaction (Divine Justice, or Karma): if we are in the world sowing cruelty and pain to animals, we will reap pain. That’s what we’re reaping: growing violence, aggression, increasing environmental instability, diseases that are emerging.

Do you think religion can help spread vegetarianism and love for animals, this feeling of protecting, defending animals?

Religion not only can, but should help to spread vegetarianism.. One of the things that I find most passionate about Dr. Ana Kingsford’s work is that she, as a Christian, realized the importance of rescuing this knowledge within the context of Christianity, knowledge that has been lost over the centuries. A text from her and her great co-worker Edward Maitland shows that vegetarianism was an integral part of true Christianity. That true Christianity is vegetarian. And not in the way that today, in the distorted way, they want to pass us off. The text is called Vegetarianism and the Bible, and it is on the Anna Kingsford website.

Religion not only can but should help to promote vegetarianism because the true religion is the one that makes us, albeit in miniature, mirrors of divine love. And vegetarianism is a natural expression of divine love.

At what point in Christianity was this idea of ​​vegetarianism lost and why was it lost?

The history of Christianity is complex and full of conflict. We already find this conflict in Saint Paul’s letters: it shows Judeo-Christian communities that favored vegetarianism and others, within Christianity, that were not vegetarians.

These communities began to argue among themselves since that time and there are letters from Saint Paul wanting to harmonize them, indicating that they should not accuse each other. With these conflicts that already existed within Christianity, and by the time it became the official religion of the Roman Empire, it became corrupted. Christianity, since then, has been giving up essential things, and becoming influenced by vulgar politics, making concessions to the world and its dominant status quo, especially in Rome, and from there, imposing this degeneration by force.

Christianity has adapted to current reality.

It adapted itself in a degenerated way. And so we have what we call Christianity today, which is not true Christianity; it is a distorted and anti-Christian form. There remain today, from true Christianity, some sacred symbols and a few things still divine.

At this stage of becoming the religion of the Roman Empire, Christianity began to be used by politicians and priests in a distorted way, in conflict with the true prophets who were linked to the will and wisdom of God. These changes ended up excluding the fundamental knowledge of vegetarianism from Christianity.

Do you notice a greater awareness regarding the vegetarian option nowadays?

There is no doubt about that. It’s a palpable thing in the world. I think that even within Christianity we can observe this in a initial form.

To what do you attribute this advance?

I attribute it to the work of people who gave and give their lives for it. It’s always that way. Humanity’s advances always depend on the few who sacrifice themselves for it. All over the world there are people who give their time, their energy to promote vegetarianism. A movement to rescue a truer religiosity is taking place in our time, and vegetarianism appears naturally within this movement, although in an initial way. We need to advance a lot.

Many people say that energetically eating meat is bad for meditation, in making contact with your inner self. In your studies, did you find this?

It influences a lot. This is an ancient knowledge of mankind: in antiquity, the true mystics, the saints, the prophets already spoke of this. It’s nothing new. If there is anything new, it is this degeneration that happened. Eating meat heavily affects our psychic, psychic-spiritual capacity. I, as a student, have learned this from many sources, whether in the East or the West.

Within Christianity there is Good Friday, when you cannot eat red meat. It used to be Lent, a 40-day restriction. What was it like and what has it turned into?

These are remnants, this recognition of not eating meat is something left over. In Orthodox Christian communities, which separated from Rome many centuries ago, this knowledge is more explicit and fasting takes place throughout Lent — they don’t eat meat throughout Lent, but on Sunday they can. In Roman Catholicism, Good Friday is left, even so only in relation to red meat.

Why? What’s the argument?

The argument used is that during this period it is necessary to participate in the sacrifice of Christ, to combat gluttony, for example. Today, and for centuries, it is considered a penance. It’s a holdover from a way of saying: this is for the best, it should be this way. But the thing was so lost that for centuries it has been considered a sacrifice, a penance, not eating meat.

Being a vegetarian is just a preliminary foundation, the recognition of the importance of benevolence in our lives. For people who want to go deeper into true religious life, vegetarianism is a foundation, and these people need to move towards purer food. Dr. Ana Kingsford brings the knowledge that we should not only migrate to vegetarianism, but also to eat more and more raw foods in our diet, as they have tremendous importance for the psychic vitalization of our bodies. In order to become more psychically sensitive people, it would be very important that we eat more raw foods as much as possible.

What is the basis of Dr. Ana Kingsford’s defense for raw food?

She brings us this theme in some texts, with the limited resources that the time imposed. There is a text, which is on our website, which is called The Banquet of the Gods. This text is a dialogue between her and demigods. It is the report of a perception, of a psychic vision. In it she describes a banquet where the gods say that the feeding of people who want to get close to them, who want to advance in the more advanced stages of spiritual attainment, has to be basically raw food. She tells us that Ephaistos, the god of fire, is a destroyer, and that when passing through food, he leaves things dead, lifeless, with very harmful effects on health and on psycho-spiritual perception. Today, with scientific knowledge, we can go further. We can know, for example, that enzymes and many vitamins are destroyed by cooking, that many vitalizing properties of food are lost with a large increase in temperature.

Why are you dedicated to philosophy and religion? Why did you take this path in your life?

For a search for justice, to bring, especially to the most needy people, a well-being, a happiness not only in physical terms, but also a psychological and spiritual happiness, that is, a true inner peace.

In my search for solutions to the conflicts of excessive social inequality, I realized that the economic issue depends on the political issue, which depends on the philosophical issue, which depends on the religious issue. It’s like a “Domino game” where one inexorably influences the other.

Mr. Krishnamurti, that great thinker and prophet of the 20th century, asserted that religion is the foundation of any civilization. The final or ultimate questions and ideas — why we are here, what we came to do, what is the constitution of the human being, these deeper ideas, which design a purpose for our existence, are fundamental because they determine the rest of our existence. both individual and collective existences. If religion is the basis of any civilization, the great institutions of the world that are there are children of religious degeneration. This is a fact. So, if we want to have solutions to the world’s problems, we need to rescue philosophical and religious truth before anything else.

Religion is at the base of this social transformation.

When we deny religion, as the materialists try to do, we don’t give up metaphysical ideas, but we simply have a bogus, bad metaphysics. Still you need ideas that are beyond the physical. You cannot live without them, either individually or collectively.

In relation to animals, does animal rights also involve an awareness in this area, of equality, of equity?

Yes. It goes like that. If we are going to defend animals based on a materialistic philosophy we end up making nonsense. A religious philosophy is like a map that guides our lives. If you have a bad map, you will go the wrong way. If you have a good map, you still have a chance of not getting there, because the road is still difficult, full of challenges. But if you don’t even have a decent map, how are you going to get there? There’s no chance there. The world is oriented today using very wrong maps, both in the religious field and in the socio-political field.

Within philosophy and religion, ethics is very present, it is at the heart. Ethically speaking, it doesn’t seem right for an animal like a cat and dog to be treated with care and another animal to be tortured, murdered. How do people resolve this in their religions to justify these attitudes, people who live within a certain religious ethic?

It is not resolved. They live their lives with this incongruity, this nonsense, even in the case of so-called religious people. In one department of life you believe in one thing, in another you believe in something else. One day it acts one way, another day it acts in another way. In one place it acts one way, at work one way, at home another, and still in a different way at church. People’s lives are full of inconsistencies because the philosophy that governs their lives is deficient, wrong. That is why this work of seeking improvements, of seeking greater truth, more light, in the philosophical and religious field is very important.

You created Dr. Kingsford’s website ( to disseminate her work. What are the future plans within the objective of projecting this message?

The work of spreading and continuing the message of these prophets is a vast one. The goals of the “New” Gospel of Interpretation (as Kingsford and Maitland called this message) are as vast as “the opening of the world’s Bibles”, “to raise the level of the religious ideal, taking it from the external and physical plane to the inner and spiritual plane, and thus defeat the domination of materialism over the moral life”, or even, “the restoration of true Christianity, esoteric and spiritual”.

Today, what we have planned is to continue translating the main works of Kingsford and Maitland, to write and publish works, above all to present this message, and also to develop videos, hold meetings and lectures.

We are completing the translation of Anna Kingsford’s text on The Credo of Christendom, which will soon be on the website. We are also working on a work on Buddhist Christianity, in Portuguese initially, (The Wheel and the Cross: An Introduction to Buddhist Christianity), as these prophets taught us that Buddhism and Christianity are traditions that were born to complete each other, as two aspects of the same great gospel. truly catholic, that is, universal.

As resources are needed to do this more broadly, we are developing some projects that aim, among other things, to provide us with more resources for this work in the future. One of these projects is the planting of trees. This project aims both to generate resources and transform this farm into a center for environmental education, as well as a retreat, for peace and dissemination of spiritual forces. It is called Fazenda São Columbano, Roda e Cruz (Saint Columban Wheel and Cross Farm). It is located near Brasília, the brazilian capital, in the Federal District, next to the Fundamental Stone monument. [Summary of interview published in Revista dos Vegetarianos (June, 2009). Year 3, Number 32, pp. 18-20]