I used to think that showing love and compassion to all life was one of the most important decisions we can make as individuals.
I still think that 🙂
I used to think that one of the most fundamental ways to show compassion and love to all life was by not unnecessarily killing or harming them.
I still think that 🙂
I used to think that eating animals was the cruelest decisions a person could make.
I no longer think that. Hooray!
The act of eating animals, particularly using hard-earned dollars to purchase slain animal flesh is participating in a structure grounded in violence towards innocent beings. Not cool.
Yet, thanks to Guru Nayan, I’ve realized there are much less cool things to do than eat animals.
Also, as a friend relayed a message to me from Meher Baba, an individual who took a vow of silence for the last 42 years of his life, when his disciples asked him about eating animals, he communicated, with hand gestures, something along the lines of, “It matters not so much what goes into the mouth, but what comes out of it.”
More important than the decisions we make, it’s how we make those decisions. The quality of our consciousness and experience of life matters more than simple objective decisions. Granted, I think choosing vegetarianism or veganism will generally return a higher quality of consciousness, but that is not always the case. More important than what goes into the body, is what comes out. And along with coming out of the mouth, equally if not more significant are the thoughts in the mind, for they often move the body and shape our reality.
Life is not about condemning people. And it’s not about condemning behavior. We live the way we choose to live and make the decisions we make based upon our experience. I’ve been fortunate enough to have some totally awesome experience, meet some great people, and read some fantastically inspiring words that have moved me to make the vegan choice. Others have not been so fortunate. Same thing applies for other habits that I’m abundantly grateful for, like meditation and yoga and juggling and mindfulness.
When you find yourself making elevated decisions compared to another being, you can take a several different approaches to the situation. Two of the most powerful approaches, I think, are Jesus’ “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do,” a response of compassion. The other powerful response is one of curiosity, seeking to understanding. “Judge not.”
And really, the key always is just to LOVE THE FLIP out of whatever the Present Moment offers you. Love it no matter what. That’s what unconditional love is all about. Even if you use see another perhaps participating in an institution of violence, love them. No matter what, choose love.
The choice of love manifests in prioritizing the quality of consciousness you experience in the Present Moment. Are you aware of the presence of happiness, joy, peace, lightness, ease, connection? If you are, good work. Can you feel the heart? Heart-centered power provides a strong foundation for all action.
The lesson is a hard one to learn, and perhaps takes a lesson, but the key is unconditional love. And if there’s one quality we’d most definitely ascribe to God, isn’t it unconditional loving? So by striving towards unconditional love, we are striving towards realizing the divine potential within ourselves.
When i first arrived at Guru Nayan’s a few weeks ago, he was eating meat. And he still eats meat. And i would kind of give him a hard time about. Occasionally, i’d even challenge him so much about the choice that it made me feel on edge. The words i spoke created a tension in the environment and shifted the vibration from one of peace and love to judgment, and maybe sprinkles of pride, anger, and fear too.
A few days after arriving, this body started feeling ehhhhhhhhh. Not good. Stuffy nose, and later a cough, intense congestion, and heat. Not the best feeling. So i was sick!
And what did Guru Nayan do, after me bothering him about his meat-eating preference and giving him a hard time? And how did he do it? He cared for my well-being, with acceptance and love and compassion. He did whatever he could to help me recover, and even encouraged me to heal myself as quickly as possibly by eating the foods that i believed were best for recovery, aka carrot juice, bananas, and hemp seeds 🙂
Once i became sick and he started caring for me, i no longer concerned myself with his choice to eat meat. i was more concerned with me. The intention was clear for healing. And i realized that even if Nayan participated in a violent institution, he still practiced compassion towards my own being and cared for me. Whereas i previously demonstrated compassion towards animals by choosing veganism, i lacked the practice of compassion towards Nayan, and instead stirred discomfort around his food preferences.
What’s more important, how we care for people or how we care for animals? Considering humans have immense creative capacity in comparison to animals, it makes sense that perhaps human life is a bit more significant. If I had to choose between saving the life of a human or the life of a dog, i’d probably choose the human every time…although ultimately i’d rather plead the 5th and save all lives, all the time. I think it’s best not to participate in violence towards any species, to love all of life no matter what and care for all life. Meanwhile, if you practice compassion towards animals but not towards people, that sounds a bit backwards. Love unconditionally, no matter what.
And this also brings up the question of tough love, or a love that challenges individuals and spurs growth. Still not sure where i stand on the issue of potentially ‘being a jerk’ to shake someone out of their comfort zone and inspire change for the better. Intentionally creating a bit of tension to stir higher consciousness towards habitual decisions sounds like a reasonable thing to do, but it also sounds reasonable to strive for peacefulness and joyfulness as much as possible, all the time. Who knows! (Any comments on resolving this dilemma would be much appreciated :-))
Care for humans. Care for animals. Care for Life! Love life in all it’s forms. This certainly brings Peace. There are few worse feelings than judging another and creating a sense of superiority. Ultimately, who really knows anything? We’re all just guessing and doing what we believe is best for us, based on our experience. Different experience leads to different behavioral choices. “Nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so,” as Shakespeare likes to say. Or, as the hip hop artist Rocco sagaciously shared, “You just do you, Umma do me!” And by Umma, he meant “I’m going to.” You just do you, I’m going to do me. Meanwhile, love it all and appreciate the positive qualities. No use in dwelling on the negatives.
Also, the time for living your ideals is now. No need to wait to be in a particular environment or master certain knowledge or skills to start realizing your Heaven on Earth and becoming more conscious and aware and practicing what you believe to be best. Experiment with life! I say this because i’m strongly moved to live at an ashram or spiritual community or zen center, whatever it may be, and part of greatly looks forward to living in a community of people all practicing Present Moment Awareness, mindfulness, meditation, and yoga. The peer effect, the way people in our environment rub off on us and positively or negatively influence us, that effect is super powerful. Meanwhile, if you truly believe in something, you don’t have to wait to be in that environment to start practicing it. The time to practice is NOW! 🙂
In all matters, Hallelujah! And thank you, thank you, thank you. p.s. Abundance! 😉