This is to tell you that perhaps now it is time to change one’s food and go over to something a little less bestial! It depends absolutely on each one’s state of consciousness. For an ordinary man, living an ordinary life, having ordinary activities, not thinking at all of anything else except earning his living, of keeping himself fit and perhaps taking care of his family, it is good to eat meat, it is all right for him to eat anything at all, whatever agrees with him, whatever does him good.
But if one wishes to pass from this ordinary life to a higher one, the problem begins to become interesting; and if, after having come to a higher life, one tries to prepare oneself for the transformations, then it becomes very important. For there certainly are foods which help the body to become subtle and others which keep it in a state of animality. But it is only at that particular time that this becomes very important, not before; and before reaching that moment, there are many other things to do. Certainly it is better to purify one’s mind and purify one’s vital before thinking of purifying one’s body. For even if you take all possible precautions and live physically taking care not to absorb anything except what will help to subtilise your body, if your mind and vital remain in a state of desire, Inconscience, darkness, passion and all the rest, that won’t be of any use at all. Only, your body will become weak, dislocated from the inner life and one fine day it will fall ill. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwm/06/23-june-1954#p10</ref>
I think the importance of sattwic food from the spiritual point of view has been exaggerated. Food is rather a question of hygiene and many of the sanctions and prohibitions laid down in ancient religions had more a hygienic than a spiritual motive. The Gita's definitions seem to point in the same direction—tamasic food, it seems to say, is what is stale or rotten with the virtue gone out of it, rajasic food is that which is too acrid, pungent etc., heats the blood and spoils the health, sattwic food is what is pleasing, healthy etc. It may well be that different kinds of food nourish the action of the different gunas and so indirectly are helpful or harmful apart from their physical action. But that is as far as we can confidently go. What particular eatables are or are not sattwic is another question and more difficult to determine. Spiritually, I should say that the effect of food depends more on the occult atmosphere and influences that come with it than on anything in the food itself. Vegetarianism is another question altogether; it stands, as you say, on a will not to do harm to the more conscious forms of life for the satisfaction of the belly.
As to the question of practising to take all kinds of food with equal rasa, it is not necessary to practise nor does it really come by practice. One has to acquire equality within in the consciousness and as this equality grows one can extend it or apply it to the various fields of the activity of the consciousness. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/food#p61</ref>
Those who are ready to give up animal food, should certainly do so. The others can do it when they are ready. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/food#p62</ref>
It avoids some of the difficulties which the meat-eaters have, but it is not sufficient by itself. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwm/06/23-june-1954#p3</ref>
It is rather certain kinds of food that are supposed to increase it [sexual desire]—e.g. meat, onions, chillis etc. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/food#p64</ref>
There is no sin at all in eating these things [onions, potatoes, etc.]. The only objection to eating much onions is that it is supposed to stimulate not tamoguna but rajas, but there are other foods not forbidden that do that. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/food#p67</ref>
I think onions can be described as rajaso-tamasic in their character. They are heavy and material and at the same time excitant of certain strong material-vital forces. It is obvious that if one wants to conquer the physical passions and is still very much subject to the body nature and the things that affect it, free indulgence in onions is not advisable. It is only for those who have risen above the body consciousness and mastered it and are not affected by these things that it does not at all matter; for them the use of this or that food or its disuse makes no difference. At the same time I must say that the abstinence from rajasic or tamasic foods does not of itself assure freedom from the things they help to stimulate. Vegetarians, for instance, can be as sensual and excitable as meat-eaters; a man may abstain from onions and yet be in these respects no better than before. It is a change of consciousness that is effective and this kind of abstention helps that only in so far as it tends to create a less heavy and more refined and plastic physical consciousness for the higher will to act upon. That is something, but it is not all; the change of consciousness can come even in spite of non-abstinence. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/food#p68</ref>
Onions are allowed here because the palate of the sadhaks demands something to give a taste to the food. We do not insist on these details, or make an absolutely strict rule, as the stress here is more on the inward change, the outward coming as its result. Only so much is insisted on as is essential for organisation and inner and outer discipline and to point the way to an indispensable self-control. It is pressed on all that the greed of the palate has to be conquered, but it has to be done in the last resort from within, as also the other passions and desires of the lower nature. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/food#p69</ref>
''Q. Mother, A personal question. You have now allowed the use of tamarind. But some 20 years back you gave me a very good scolding because I prepared a tamarind drink for someone. You told me that it was bad for health and it was one of the things responsible for the lethargy of Indians. It was almost the same thing that our ancient sages have said. Now I want to know whether the values have changed or whether you are giving a concession to human desires.''
A.: I have heard so many contradictory reports on the effects of food, spices, etc., that logically I have come to the conclusion that it must be—like all the rest—a personal affair and consequently no general rule can be made and, still less, enforced. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwm/17/1964-2#p3</ref>
When the physical consciousness has been sensitivised, too rich or heavy food becomes offensive to it. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwsa/31/food#p47</ref>
When the physical is tamasic, unless one eats spices and highly flavoured food, one does not feel nourished. And yet these are poisons. They act exactly like poison on the nerves. They do not nourish. But it is because people are tamasic, because they do not have sufficient consciousness in their body. Well, mentally it is the same thing, vitally the same thing. If they are tamasic, they always need new excitements, dramas, murders, suicides, etc. to feel anything at all, otherwise.... And there is nothing, nothing that makes one more wicked and cruel than tamas. For it is this need of excitement which shakes you up a little, makes you come out of yourself. And one must also learn, there, to distinguish between those who are exclusively tamasic and those who are mixed, and those who are struggling within themselves with their different parts. One can, one must know in what proportion their nature is constituted, so as to be able to insist at need on one thing or another. <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwm/05/30-december-1953#p19</ref>
Now, as you know, from the physical point of view human beings live in frightful ignorance. They cannot even say exactly... For instance, would you be able to tell exactly, at every meal, the amount of food and the kind of food your body needs?—simply that, nothing more than that: how much should be taken and when it should be taken.... You know nothing about it, there's just a vague idea of it, a sort of imagination or guesswork or deduction or... all sorts of things which have nothing to do with knowledge. But that exact knowledge: "This is what I must eat, I must eat this much"—and then it is finished. "This is what my body needs." Well, that can be done. There's a time when one knows it very well. But it asks for years of labour, and above all years of work almost without any mental control, just with a consciousness that's subtle enough to establish a connection with the elements of transformation and progress. And to know also how to determine for one's body, exactly, the amount of physical effort, of material activity, of expenditure and recuperation of energy, the proportion between what is received and what is given, the utilisation of energies to re-establish a state of equilibrium which has been broken, to make the cells which are lagging behind progress, to build conditions for the possibility of higher progress, etc... it is a formidable task. And yet, it is that which must be done if one hopes to transform one's body. First it must be put completely in harmony with the inner consciousness. And to do that, it is a work in each cell, so to say, in each little activity, in every movement of the organs. With this alone one could be busy day and night without having to do anything else.... One does not keep up the effort and, above all, the concentration, nor the inner vision. (The Mother, 24 February 1954) <ref>http://incarnateword.in/cwm/06/24-february-1954#p24</ref>
''Why the Physical Being prefers to have Certain Food?''