VEGETARIANISM & MEDITATION: WHAT’S THE CONNECTION?
My journey towards becoming vegetarian first started after a brief encounter with the curious case of a wandering cow one summer’s afternoon on a beach in Southern Corsica. I could not believe what I was watching – this majestic animal was simply making its way casually along the beach, amongst plenty of sun bathers minding its own business. I was fascinated. From this point on, I knew that eating beef was definitely off the menu.
I can also appreciate why in India cows are revered. Have you ever observed a cow in a paddock, how still and present they are? How they socialise together in a herd, quietly and calmly, completely in consideration of each other. Could we as humans do this day in, day out? I think we know the answer to that one.
Buddhists call our restless mind, ‘monkey mind’. In such states of restlessness, boredom and anxiety, we are anything but the higher intelligent beings we make ourselves out to be.
On the other hand, someone who is cool, calm and collected is considered to have credibility and respect.
Isn’t it ironic then, that we slaughter, eat, and often abuse animals on an industrial scale, who exist in an already calm and natural meditative state? Think about it.
Through practices like meditation we can learn to calm our restless mind. As Eckhardt Tolle said:
‘All problems are a creation of the mind’
Meditation not only allows us to calm our restless mind, but also allows us to tap into and become more sensitive to what some would call:
‘the unified field of consciousness’.
That is, the field of energy that sustains all life. It is said in many spiritual texts that we are all connected – energy is not destroyed but merely transformed from one form to another. That connection manifests itself in many ways, telepathy being one.
When we start to become sensitive to all living beings, the concept of eating them for pleasure becomes an abhorrence.
Take the example of the average family dog. When I visit my family and see the dog, the infinite intelligence of that animal is all on display: it instinctively lifts its hind leg when you come over to it, implying in a non-verbal manner to:
‘please scratch my belly‘.
That thought is a manifestation of consciousness which pervades all life. It is the same type of thoughts that you and I have as part of our ordinary human existence, except that the ‘body’ takes a different form.
Indeed, in Korea they farm and eat dogs, something which we in the West find despicable. Yet we in the West raise, slaughter and eat millions of cows every year, and think nothing of it. To the millions of Hindus, this amounts to sacrilege. ‘Beef’ becomes just another traded commodity, like wheat or soy; yet that flesh was once a living, sentient being.
On this level, eating “Meat is Murder”, as the lead singer, Morrissey of the Smiths aptly named their second album. Except that we don’t afford animals the same rights as humans and thus their suffering is deemed acceptable. Somehow.
From my own experience, I notice that whether I am regularly meditating and whether I am not, I feel the difference in the tolerance to an animal’s pain. I respect life more, and am more conscious; I am aware.
That said, I acknowledge that killing is a part of life. As I grapple with the concept that a balanced diet means eating what works for you and your body type, I acknowledge that eating meat may play a part in some people’s diets.
However, if we must eat meat, let us eat it of the highest quality and be grateful to the animal that has sacrificed its life for our nourishment and pleasure. For without compassion, we lose just a little bit of what it means to be truly human.
The fact that meditation has helped me develop such a realisation is interesting. Indeed, the paradox of meditation is not in its ability to bring stress reduction, but in its ability to bring us closer to our true inner radiant self. If sensitivity to all life is a consequence of this, then just imagine what effect it would have upon the world if everyone had a regular meditation practice – it could only be a better place.
“Wherever meditation has happened, people have become vegetarian, for thousands of years. Vegetarianism functions as a purification. When you eat animals you are more under the law of necessity. When you are vegetarian you are lighter and more under the laws of grace….”.