Maharishi talks on Soma, mid 1970s
Soma, It’s Effects and How It’s Produced
At MIU with Keith Wallace in the mid 70s, he played for his biology students every tape he had of Maharishi talking about Soma - the finest product of digestion.
Here is a transcript of one of those tapes:
Maharishi: It’s very easy to understand about soma, hmm? A sickly nervous system does not produce that material from what we eat or drink, which will maintain the body for long time. An ineffective nervous system, inefficient, sick nervous system, the digestive ability is very much less, and therefore, whatever the system digests, is not good enough to make the body strong.
When the health is more normal, then the digestive system produces more agreeable product from what we eat. If the nervous system is very normal, very, very normal, then the digestive system will be able to digest the whole value of what we eat. Whole food will be completely digested. That means, the finest of the relative particle will be so modified in the process of digesting that the product of digesting will be most healthy for the nervous system.
A crude nervous system, crudely functioning machine, does not, does not produce such valuable product, which will be favorable for best health. But most normally functioning nervous system, produces that product, which is most healthy. The blood that comes out of the food that we eat, and all kinds of things that come out of it. They are normal for health, if the system is functioning normally.
[Questioner] : I understand. Now one would have to be more selective than one’s parents….
Maharishi: One – No, no, no, no, no, no, no. [laughs] Cow eats grass. And her nervous system produces milk. It’s a kind of machine. Grass has to be of some specific quality, this or that. But any grass, doesn’t matter, milk will come out of it. Food has to be good quality. But no matter what kind of rice, or what kind of potato, what kind of peas, but the most effective health producing quality will come out of it, if the nervous system is functioning normally. [audience and Maharishi laugh.]
So, there are two things, hmm? One is the ability to digest. The other is, what we are digesting. Who is digesting, and what is being digested. Two things. We must be able to select. Make use of our eyes, and make use of our hands, to select, fine. But, we should do something so that the nervous system functions normally. There are no stresses, no strain, the machine is flexible enough to crush down everything that goes in. This is what digestion means. Everything should be properly crushed. And the strong relation, the chemicals, they are in proper proportion, good.
Such a normally functioning nervous system, free from stress and strain, and any abnormality, produces a chemical called soma. It is the product of human normal nervous system. Soma.
Synthetic also is prepared. Synthetic soma prepared from outside. Any chemical can be reproduced. This starts to be produced by the time the nervous system’s functioning normally. And that is gauged from the level of awareness. Level of awareness. If there are no restrictions, no inhibitions. Awareness is unbounded. And when this awareness unbounded is maintained spontaneously at all times, then the nervous system is functioning normally. That’s normally functioning nervous system. Now, the best product of such a normally functioning nervous system is soma.
Now what happens? Who enjoys soma? That aspect of intelligence which is at the basis of all functioning in the system. That aspect which makes the eyes see, makes the ears hear, makes the tongue taste. That is the most delicate aspect of intelligence within this nervous system.
Intelligence is there functioning everywhere. Animals, like that, like that… But that aspect of intelligence which makes the finger feel the coarseness of the mike. There is something, there is something…
That finest aspect the intelligence, and when we have different fields of intelligence, different qualities of intelligence, then that intelligence has its identity. The intelligence that enables the fingers to touch, has its own specific value. Another value of intelligence, that which makes the ear hear. Another value of intelligence makes the eyes see. Another intelligence makes the mind think, intellect decide, ego experience.
Different, different qualities of intelligence. These, these basic faculties of intelligence, which uphold different functioning, different abilities in the nervous system, and also which coordinate different functioning and different abilities, and produce the whole man, produce the whole individual. And makes that individual either not lose the universal value of life, or not have it. That specific value of intelligence. These values are nourished by that most refined product of digestion. Soma.
So Soma is to strengthen the most delicate impulses of intelligence. And it is from there that the individual becomes powerful. The value of soma is that to water the root, in order that the individual enjoys the fruit. Watering the root at the very basis of the composition of individuality is the nourishing influence of soma.
Rig Veda says, “Soma for devas.” Deva is the word. That which upholds intelligence in its various specific range. In its various specific qualities, qualifications. These devas. “Devas drink soma.” This is the expression. “Devas drink soma.” The specific impulses of intelligence are nourished by that most valuable product which the normally functioning nervous system produces from the process of digestion. So soma is that which helps all the fundamentals of individual life to develop themselves, so that the totality of individual consciousness may raise above boundaries -may have unbounded status. This is one thing.
Another thing is, that in that unbounded self awareness, the perception is most rich. Richest. The perception is richest. Soma enriching the fine impulses of intelligence functioning in various forms, in various phases of individual life, make all those individual areas most powerful. And when the eyesight is most powerful, the greatest value of the sense of perception will result. Celestial perception will result. The celestial perception of God Consciousness is the blessing of soma. The infinite perception in Unity Consciousness is the blessing of soma. And soma, for its most refined value, starts to be produced from Cosmic Consciousness, when the nervous system is completely free from stress and strain. When the digestive system is functioning most normally.
Questioner: I’d like to extend this question somewhat in a more personal vein. Of course, that was my purpose of asking.
Maharishi: Something more, I’ll go one more step ahead.
Maharishi: Soma, being the finest product of normal human digestive system, it is influenced to rise to its highest value by the delicate impulses of Sama Veda. Sama. Soma. Sama hymns. Hymns of Sama Veda. When they strike the system. We hear them. The system receives those impacts of those… Then the more… You know, it’s like the fruit, maybe what, a guava. An avocado.
[laughter]. You warm it up, in some steam, little bit warming up, makes it ripe. More ripe. Warming up makes ripe. Just like that. The Sama vibrations, vibrations of Sama hymns warm up, and ripen, so to say, the value of soma being produced in the system. When the system is functioning normally and Sama hymns enrich the quality, as if ripen, make it more palatable, more agreeable, tasteful, useful, enriching to the whole nervous system. Enriching to the whole quality of taste, perception, hmmm? Ability of experience becomes higher and higher.
And the value of Sama in the process of, as if, ripening the soma, is great. Mechanically being produced by the nervous system. And with these sensations, with these impulses of Sama hymns, it gets as if warmed up. More agreeable. And it is this quality of very ripe state of soma – we can call that in this term – this quality of warming up soma by Sama hymns that produces spontaneous celestial vision of God Consciousness. Very simple, natural, nothing to worry about.
But Sama, I mean soma, we see as a chemical produced from the most normally functioning nervous system. And this, in our language we say, in the state of Cosmic Consciousness, when the nervous system has no stress left anymore. Whole thing is such a beautiful thing. And then, what the Veda says, the Sama hymns, nourish the region of gods. Same thing apply the – to all the specific impulses of intelligence. The impulses of Sama hymns enrich them, as if the soma is fed to keep alive and strengthen the devas, and produce that total God Consciousness.
And it doesn’t end there. Because the process of evolution of consciousness continues till it has reached the climax. And it continues till the ability to perceive everything in the light of the Self. That means, in terms of infinite value is gained. The ability to spontaneously perceive everything in the infinite value develops as the quality of soma is more enriched.
It’s always the quality of soma. Always. Hmm? Anything can be found in its varying qualities. Some very good, A grade, second, third, fourth, like that, like that… Soma also has all those qualities, depending upon what nervous system is producing it. How much free the nervous system is from stress and strain, and over and above freedom from stress and strain, how much glorified the system is. It’s one thing to have the nervous system free from stress and strain. It’s another thing to have the nervous system more glorified than mere freedom from stress and strain. Hmm? It’s two things, different.
It’s good thing to have a beautiful home, built. But it is another thing to have it served with all antiques. It’s one thing to have the stresses and strains freed completely. The nervous system is free from stress and strain. And over and above that, more glorious, more powerful, more sublime, more delicate nervous system. So, by the time one gains C.C., the stresses and strains are gone. And then, as one continues to live C.C., the system becomes more glorified. More glorified, more glorified.
And as the system becomes more and glorified, the soma that it produces is more glorified soma. And that is how the stages of development of consciousness from C.C. to G.C. proceed on, till they end up in U.C. All the stages of development spontaneously, and this is by the quality of the nervous system becoming better and better, by virtue of the digestive system functioning more and more powerfully, more and more gracefully.
So the whole thing comes down to how one digests. And therefore, in our thinking, we lay more emphasis on how we go about it, rather than how the potato and tomato go about it. [laughter]. We lay emphasis on ourselves, rather than vegetable. What kind of peas will produce best soma? We don’t think in terms of this. We say, what kind of meditated nervous system will produce soma. Because peas are not in our hand.
They come from the field, doesn’t matter what. Maybe some winter, the sun was beautiful, and the peas are very healthy. In some winter maybe, the sun was not there, and they are shrunk. Doesn’t matter what peas. But who is digesting it? That is why, we take responsibility of either producing or not producing soma on ourselves, rather than undermining that shopkeeper who sold frozen peas.[Maharishi laughs]. Frozen, by frozen, I meant, the shrunken heart. [Maharishi laughs more]. Hmm?
Now we can go ahead with your question, yes. See the whole thing is so
[audience laughs, Maharishi laughs] Alright…
Maharishi on SOMA, Majorca, 1971
MAHARISHI: SOMA, yesterday we described as a very precious product, most precious product of digestion. We eat something, we produce...SOMA is like nectar.
That phrase 'you slip and taste' (you slip into the transcendence and then taste SOMA) it meant... See the taste of SOMA is the taste of energizing chemical, energizing substance. It enlivens the whole thing. Most precious product of digestion nourishes the system in the best possible way. Greatest nourishment of richest value is provided by SOMA.
And SOMA is the product of the nervous system functioning normally. When does the nervous system function normally? Normally functioning nervous system has pure awareness, pure consciousness. When pure consciousness is there then the nervous system is functioning normally.
'Slipping', transcending, is a procedure which sets the nervous system normally and produces that pure awareness, pure consciousness. It was in this sense that it was said 'slip and taste SOMA'...