Granted, what we eat and how we eat and how much we eat can have a pretty strong impact on the quality of our consciousness and moment-to-moment experience…but you’ll notice that in any spiritual text, food does not play a central role. As much as it does play a central role in our lives, we probably engage with it at least two times a day, if not twenty ;), yet the spiritual texts seem to place it as an afterthought. Why is that?
There are greater things to concern ourselves with than human life on this earth. There is the entire splendor of the cosmos for us to consider.
Yet, while given life in the human form, it’s incredibly valuable to keep it going. The older we become, the more experience and ideally wisdom we’ve cultivated that can add immense value to society. And, who knows, we might have a lightbulb moment, too. Ding!
The older a mind/body grows, you can imagine it increases in value. Experiences are relatively priceless, so people with more experience are even more priceless than people with less! (All priceless, though :-)).
Because human life is so valuable and is packed with all kinds of potential to create and realize awesomeness in the world, we want to keep it going at all costs. There is, essentially, no price too high to continue to sustain life that is highly functional. Just the whole amount of energy invested in carrying the baby in the womb for 9 months alone…that’s huge!
So we want to keep life going.
Of course 🙂
This might sound a bit specie-ist, and it almost certainly is, but…let’s pretend a human life carries with it more value than a dog’s life. The human mind/body can create more experiences in the world than a dog, although a dog is so outrageously good at unconditionally loving…so there’s a bit of a snaffoo. But just for the sake of this article, pretend human life is more valuable than any other form of life, mainly because of the mind’s ability to think and reason and understand and create abundance.
Switching gears…at a certain point along the spiritual journey, one inevitably confronts death, and possibly overcomes the fear of death. Another possibility is that an individual seriously considers ending their own life, just to discover the mystery a bit more quickly. For anyone whose ever done any philosophical thing, suicide almost certainly sneaks a peak into the window of consciousness, if only for a split second.
So what keeps the individual from suicide if that would solve the mystery and unveil the next step? One thing..enjoyment of the human experience! Sure, as Sartre said, “Hell is other people,” and Scott Peck is all about, “Life is difficult,” so there are certainly challenges we face and obstacles to overcome and sometimes we think it’s too much, but there are a few foundations of the human experience that can keep us here for a long time.
One of these temptations that keeps us embodied and we enjoy almost every single day is…food!!! Food is so enjoyable, right? Why suicide when you have delicious food to enjoy?
Because “life is difficult,” life also wants to provide us with rewards to alleviate our situation. Food is one of the great gifts from Mother Nature, almost always enjoyable.
The Buddhist tradition is fairly big into the vegetarian decision, based on demonstrating compassion towards all living beings. Yet, it is also one of the few traditions where you’ll find ‘holy men’ practicing self-immolation, generally as some form of protest. Buddhists have burned themselves alive to make some sort of point. So, here we have a tradition espousing compassion towards all living beings, yet a practitioner meanwhile lights himself on fire…that doesn’t sound too compassionate. What’s the deal?
Looking at the Christian tradition, there is a teaching of unconditional live, yet this rarely shows up in the form of showing compassion to all living beings, non-violence, and non-harm/non-eating of animals. I do know of a few Catholic sects of priests who practice vegetarianism, like the Franciscans and Cistercians / Trappists, but they seem to be an exception to the rule. So, interestingly, Christians, whose central point of their tradition is belief in Jesus as the Son of God, and then something like unconditional love perhaps comes second to that…Christians eat animals, so perhaps there’s some harm and violence being done, yet there are no accounts of Christians self-immolating, as far as i’m aware. There are, however, a good amount of Christian martyrs, who could have saved their lives if they detached from some of their words / beliefs, so who knows…
The main point i guess i wanted to make…
–> If you take away people’s enjoyment of food, like start telling regular McDonald’s goers that they’re better off eating way more fruits and vegetables and no processed foods…they might possibly lose incentive to live. People get way excited about food! And it’s not like any human beings want other human beings to not starve…we’d all prefer that we have food over not having food, even if that food might be an animal, because we realize the immense value and potential that a human mind/body carries with it. So, whatever food an individual is putting, thank goodness! Eating demonstrates interest in continuing to live in a human body and have a human experience. It’s easy to become so disenchanted with the human experience that we stop eating altogether, so thank goodness people are eating something 🙂
–> Eat food! And enjoy it. Benefit people with the energy you consume. Keep on growing in knowledge and experience and enhancing your ability to contribute and understand this wonderful world!
My guess is the Buddha and Jesus didn’t talk so much about food because they wanted people to keep living, no matter what. Sometimes, if you talk about the ethics behind vegetarianism / veganism, it can disgust a meat-eater so much that they don’t know what to do, and maybe they start feeling guilty and depressed and this and that and who wants that? That helps no one! So it’s best to focus on the Higher Principles and Teachings behind our earthly, humanly way of living.
Buddha’s teachings often start with, “What we are is what we have thought,” and for Jesus one might start with, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” So yes, both are aware that generally humans eat food every day, and this helps keep the body alive, without having it for a few weeks it would no longer live…yet what is more significant than the foods you eat is what you’re directing the energy towards. Jesus guides us to direct it towards loving our neighbors. Buddha’s light leads us to realize how powerful our thoughts are, and to focus the mind on pure and noble ideas.
As you might have guessed, i just ate. It was delicious. And as far as i’m aware, no animals were harmed in the producing of any of the tasty ingredients that comprised the meal. Yet, even if they were, i think many people would willingly trade the lives of even 100 chickens, perhaps 1000, or a million!, to keep a human being alive. There is something sacred about the human life, and also something sacred about the chicken’s life. Perhaps this sounds like speciesism again, and maybe it is!, but alas. Every form of life dies anyway, and we do want to promote the flourishing of all forms of life as best we can. But let’s not pretend like these bodies or any animal or insect bodies live forever! Death of bodies is part of Reality, and there’s nothing to say it’s a bad thing. After all, no one knows for certain what happens once the body dies or how the experience of consciousness changes…for all anyone knows the animals that die in meat/dairy production could go on to experiencing something way more abundant than life one earth. Who knows!
Well, God-Willing, at least one person benefited from this post, and no one was harmed! Therein rests all the ingredients for a perfect yogic action. Benefit at least one, harm none. Hallelujah!
Love & Gratitude