Unknown in Europe until the end of the 15th century tobacco was introduced from America by Christopher Columbus after he had discovered the new continent in 1492. Being a rare and precious product, tobacco was at first mainly used for medical purposes, for example as an infusion.
The cultivation of tobacco first spread in Spain and Portugal, then in the rest of Europe. As demand grew, tobacco was soon being cultivated on a large scale – from 1520 also in North America, the Antilles and Cuba. Various selections finally resulted in a variety adapted to the European climate, the cultivation of which began around 1560.
At that time tobacco was mainly snuffed as a fine powder, so that it was absorbed through the nasal mucous membrane, or consumed as chewing tobacco. Pipe, cigar or cigarette smokers were still rare for the time being. The cigarette, which is so widespread today, did not exist before 1674. It appeared about two centuries after the introduction of tobacco to Europe and was rolled by the smokers themselves. Its industrial manufacture began only in 1842, and contributed considerably to the popularity of tobacco. The number of smokers rose spectacularly, first in Europe and soon all over the world. In France, for instance, the yearly production of cigarettes was around 7 million in 1860, in 1893 (only 33 years later!) it had reached a billion, and in 1960, 50 billion. After a peak of 97 billion in 1991 still as many as 83 billion cigarettes were produced in 2000.
In contrast to the value and rarity of tobacco in the beginning, today its consumption has become quite “normal”. What is most surprising about this “success” is its universal character. While other drugs are taken only in certain regions or by certain sections of the population, smoking knows no borders: tobacco is consumed by the most primitive tribes as well as in the most modern cities, by women and men alike, regardless of educational status or religious orientation, by adults as well as youngsters.
The bridge between spirit and body
As it is with most drugs, the effect of nicotine – a component of tobacco – is also not only physical. The “inner well-being”, an aim of smoking, touches also the psychic level, more precisely: the deep “ego” of man, his spirit.
In this context a question arises: How is it possible that a material substance like nicotine can influence the immaterial spirit?
Naturally, the latter cannot be influenced directly by the nicotine molecules. There has to be a “connecting element” between body and soul – and this “element” is the blood, more precisely, the radiation of the blood. The blood, a “juice of very special kind” in the words of Goethe, emits radiations or waves which in their fineness resemble the radiations which emanate from the densest cloak of the soul – called “astral body”. The similarity of the radiations forms a “bridge” between the physical body and the soul, on which all information “circulates” between the material and the immaterial spheres. In this way the spirit is fully connected to the body during its incarnation on earth.
The blood radiation is dependent on the composition of the blood. Any change in this is bound to influence also the condition of the soul. It is for example well known that a drop in the blood sugar level (hypoglycaemia) evokes nervousness, a lack of vitamin B1 leads to states of anxiety, too much lead in the blood triggers depressions etc. Thus it is easy to understand that nicotine likewise changes the blood radiation, and therewith the condition of the smoker's soul. Across the blood radiation (and followed by a similar radiation process across the finer cloaks of the soul) the spirit, too, is indirectly influenced by the effects of nicotine.
Now it could appear as if we were defenceless against all earthly influences which can reach us through the blood radiation. However, this is not the case. For the spirit likewise exerts influence on all bridges of radiation, but “from within”.
It is well known that we can change the condition of our soul by an effort of will. By pulling oneself together, one can become merrier if depressed, calmer if excited, more concentrated if distracted, more confident if one is despondent. In that case the volition of the spirit exerts a pressure – first on the finer cloaks surrounding it, and subsequently also on the physical body. This pressure in turn causes the production of hormones and other secretions which change the composition of the blood and the blood radiation. The spirit thereby soon “swims” in radiations of corresponding nature and experiences a change in the condition of the soul.
If, for example, a person seeks repose, his body will produce endorphins as a result of the pressure exerted by his spirit. In increased vigilance of the spirit the cortex of the adrenal glands produces adrenalin. Naturally, such processes take place unconsciously.
Now, drugs are not substances absolutely foreign to the body – even if it could not use these – but they are very similar to substances produced by the organism itself. They are even so similar that they can replace the endogenous products. The unusual effect of drugs results from the fact that they emphasise in a certain manner the effect of a substance which is normally produced by the organism. Thus morphine, which is extracted from poppy, comes very close to the so-called endorphins, which are endogenous hormones. Cannabis resembles an active substance secreted by the brain. And nicotine in turn corresponds to acetylcholine, a so-called “neuro-transmitter” which partly ensures that messages are transmitted from one nerve cell (neuron) to the next.
So, in a stress situation, a state of restlessness or fear, there are two ways of restoring the inner repose: either through willing impulses of the spirit which release the corresponding secretions in the body – or it can be “forced” artificially “from without” through tobacco consumption, thus nicotine intake. The option is ours.
The reason why people often opt for a drug which is known to be harmful is that it seems ever easier to “consume” an external aid than to make the personal effort. It requires an effort to restrain oneself, to do something of one’s own will, to try to achieve a goal. On the other hand, effort is beneficial to the development of the spirit and development of the abilities resting in it. For as a muscle becomes stronger only by activity, the spirit also unfolds by exertion of the will.
Accordingly, resorting to the drug nicotine shows a certain indolence or a lack of willpower and self-confidence. Hence the very opposite of the qualities with which cigarette advertisement glamorises smoking – the smoker appears, as everybody knows, active, decisive, strong-willed and self-confident.
The dangers of addiction
In deciding to smoke a cigarette, a person will more or less clearly feel an effect, for example he will get calmer. This makes him “learn” that it is possible to reach this end without an inner, spiritual effort. This would not be a major problem, if it happened just the once. But what was experienced as pleasant and comfortable, a person is liable to want to experience again, and so the smoker soon takes to smoking at every opportunity, often even unconsciously. And in so doing, the spirit gradually loses its habit of reacting by its own impulse of will to keep or restore its inner balance – as would be its task. The less the will is exerted, the weaker it becomes, and soon the smoker will find it extremely difficult to be calm without nicotine. He needs it and cannot get by without it. And this amounts to addiction.
It should be pointed out that it is the spirit above all that becomes addicted. For it alone is the living entity in a human being and capable of perceiving consciously. It – and not the body – suffers, feels uneasy, need, and conflict. The body and the brain merely transmit the sensitive information of the pain to the spirit. The body can indeed be hampered in its functions by a drug, but the experience of addiction takes place in the immaterial realm of the real self. The spirit yearns for the drug to be able to experience the desired state – it binds itself by its own will to the means of addiction.
Tobacco consumption thus has consequences for the spirit! And the propensity for smoking (or for consuming other drugs) is not automatically eliminated with the death of the physical body. Not by chance clairvoyant people who have contact with the other world give account of departed souls which are “earthbound” by their propensity. The burning wish to smoke holds them near those who can still succumb to this urge, and they try to satisfy their craving through the sensations of a smoker who is still in flesh and blood. Moreover, the fact that the addiction behaviour is anchored in the psyche and not in the physical body explains why it is so difficult to give up smoking, as long as there is no absolutely serious and firm resolution based upon knowledge. External aids can support the efforts of the spirit, they, however do not make the spirit more active.
Conversely, some smokers experience little or practically no uneasiness and can stop smoking without problems, once appropriate impulses are willed by the spirit. Then the body starts to produce those substances again which were so far substituted by the drug.
Some people become dependent astonishingly fast on tobacco, others can smoke a lot without developing an addiction right away. This, too, has to do with the previous spiritual development, perhaps also with the past life on earth. A smoker who dies and does not manage in the beyond to free himself of the propensity, comes with this “disposition” in a renewed incarnation on earth – and as soon as the opportunity presents itself the propensity will manifest again.
Through the blood radiation nicotine allows the smoker to experience a state of relaxation and well-being. This “comfortable path”, however, endangers the spiritual development. The knowledge about these connections should inspire the smoker to free himself of the smoking habit. As we have seen, the blood radiation cannot only be influenced and changed “from outside”, but also from within. In order to free oneself from the smoking habit, it is necessary to influence this radiation – not with nicotine, but through the power of the spirit.