Nathaniel on gluttony

Saturday, February 3, 2018

4:40 a.m. Shall we proceed? Gluttony, presumably? At least, that’s next on the list if one uses my handy LEG CAPS acronym.

We can give a few words to gluttony, if you wish. First, remember that each of the seven major avenues of error turn toxic only when mingled with a distorted form of pride; when, one might say, one’s self-image is out of drawing in a certain way. In other words, it is the admixture of a mistaken sense of who one is that takes certain qualities and turns them against one’s best interest.

Gluttony is not about over-eating, though at first glance it will seem so. If it were about over-eating, anorexia would be one of the counter-balancing virtues.

I know that’s a joke, or irony anyway. I merely note it lest someone reading this miss the fact.

Never wrong to be careful. Some, though, will think themselves underestimated. No harm done. Our point: Remember that we are not talking about first-level consequences, but second-level. Not physical results per se, but what the physical experiences leave as residue in who one is, what changes they make in you by the decisions you make about them.

Yes, I get that. It was a valuable distinction you made, a while ago.

You might as well express the joke that is running through your mind; we may be able to turn it to advantage.

Which is to say, you may be planting the remembrance in the first place! Well, General Winfield Hancock was a slim, athletic man until gravely wounded in the battle of Gettysburg. After that, his mobility was much reduced, and he began putting on weight, until after a while he was pretty immense. Someone writing to someone after meeting him said, whimsically, “If, as has been said, all flesh is grass, the general may be compared to a load of hay.” I think it is a funny comment, but I look forward to seeing how you intend to use it.

Isn’t it obvious? Over-eating is a failure of prudence and temperance, perhaps, but it by itself could scarcely be said to be a failure of moral character; it could scarcely lead one into the shoal waters we mentioned by analogy earlier. But if gluttony is not simply over-eating, what is it?

I’m getting, it’s a concentration on the wrong things.

Not quite, but you’re on the right track.

It’s a wrong kind of pleasure? The thought comes to me of the Romans with their feasts complete with vomitoriums where the guests could (and did) deliberately throw up what they had eaten, so they could return to eat all over again.

That’s closer yet. You sense there’s something wrong with that, something unhealthy. Pursue it.

Well, it can’t be as simple as misuse of pleasures of the senses. At least, I don’t think so. I mean, that begs the question of the word “misuse.” We can feel that it’s wrong – that it is repulsive, in fact – but putting a reason for it being wrong isn’t quite so easy.

Concentration on the wrong thing? Or, let’s say, concentration on a thing in the wrong way?

I get, it’s making an idol out of a sensual pleasure. Is that what you have in mind?

Notice what we’re doing, here. We are helping you clarify your understanding by holding the space, as you say. If we – if you – hold your attention on a subject long enough, without trying to force a conclusion or chop logic (which is another way to say the same thing), clarity will gradually emerge. It is mostly a matter of concentration combined with non-attachment to any given conclusion.


That’s all guidance is, you see.

If you say so.

So, proceed.

Well, I can see that the idea of making idols of sensory pleasures might be the difference between sex and lust, or between appetite and gluttony, or between –. Hmm, actually, only those two. The others – pride, envy, covetousness, anger, ennui – are not particularly connected to sensual pleasures.

No, they are a distorted sense of self and self’s place in the scheme of things, as we shall see. But, you are correct, lust and gluttony are similar in that they channel through the senses and seem as though they could not manifest in the absence of 3D life. In reality, they could, and can, and do, but the manifestation is different. But that may be said of any 3D phenomenon as it manifests outside the crucible.

So, again, gluttony is associated with pride. How?

Well –. I sort of almost feel it, but not quite. It’s like part of me knows the answer and part doesn’t.

It would be closer to say, part of you knows how to look at things a certain way, and another doesn’t.

And the way to resolve it, presumably, is to settle in and intend for the understanding to surface.

Do so.


I tried to feel what it would be like to be one of those Romans, and all I got was a sense of swinish insensibility. No doubt they were very fashionable, and what they were eating was very elegantly prepared, but there was a swinishness about the misuse of a legitimate pleasure to encourage a – something. But I don’t quite have the “something.”

Stay with it. Retain the sense of the Romans but without judgment. Judgment [in the sense of condemnation] can never be correct, and only misleads.

Ah, I get it. You want me to find why it was harmful, and condemning them for indulging in it would only throw me off the track.

It would, in effect, say – as judgment always says – “This is about them, not me.” How could that produce illumination?

All right. I’ll go at it again.


Can it be as simple as, it concentrates the mind on the 3D as if that’s all there is? Lust would do that too.

Well, you tell us. Can it be that simple?

Maybe so. I can see gluttony and lust as leading toward a blindness to the world beyond the 3D, although what that has to do with pride, I don’t see.

Well, try to imagine either lust or gluttony coexisting with an active sense of humility. That is, try to imagine these two moods (for that is one way they might be seen) both being active at the same time.

I guess they couldn’t very well.

Humility is remembering one’s limitations, one’s true place in the world. It doesn’t mean thinking yourself a worm, it means remembering you are not a god. Lust or gluttony is devoting yourself – at least, for whatever time one or the other is dominant in your mood – to one object and necessarily forgetting at least for that time any competing or complementary or conflicting priorities. Can you imagine being drawn by gluttony and at the same moment remembering that you are more than your physical body? Is it likely that you could be consumed by lust and at the same moment be aware that your 3D life is other than it appears?

You see? These are not acts or attitudes to be punished; they are acts or attitudes that are their own punishment; they contain their own drawbacks. Again, not wrong because forbidden; not forbidden at all. But, worse than useless. Misleading. Harmful.

Anger, pride, may leave you beside yourself, forgetting who and what you are. Covetousness and envy may lead you to be unable to remember the balance in the world. Ennui may leave you unable to summon the will to be. And lust and gluttony may misdirect desire.

Can you clarify just a bit more how pride is involved with lust or gluttony?

Both depend upon a misperception – temporary or relatively persistent – of self as being centered in or wholly confined to 3D. Both put one’s 3D-mind’s idea of desire and satisfaction in center place. Both make it harder to for you enjoy 3D without losing yourself in it.

Lust without that distorted sense of self is sexual appetite. Gluttony without it is the appetite of taste, the love of food and drink. As we keep saying, sin is the turning of legitimate pleasures into pitfalls.

And there is your hour.

Thanks as always. Till next time.


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