CAN REVERENCE FOR ALL LIFE AND VEGETARIANISM LEAD US CLOSER TO WORLD
Meat-eating is the small print; war is
the blown-up picture,” Shree Chitrabhanu points out. In the
seemingly small arena of animal exploitation, the seeds of war are
growing. Why? Because each time we refuse to consider where our
dinner has come from and at what cost to lilfe and the environment,
we are causing pain and devaluing life. As soon as
something—profit, the tastebuds, muscle power, a concept—is more
important to us than life itself, we are supporting and perpetuating
a mentality which can lead to war.
The mentality which can treat other
sentient beings as if they were feelingless machines* is the same
as that which can conceive of dropping bombs on whole populations
and sending its own sons to carry
* In the U.S. alone, about 134 million
mammals and 3 billion birds are slaughtered each year for food.
Almost all are subjected to an assembly-line process. Chickens,
aurkeys, and other birds hang by their feet from a moving conveyor
belt as their throats are slit, the blood drained out, and the
feathers removed. Cattle are branded with a red-hotiron, dehorned,
and castrated before being sent to feedlots. Millions die before
ever reaching the slaughterhouse due to
it out. What is to prevent those who
close their eyes to the pain of helpless creatures from closing
their eyes to the pain and loss of human lives? Once we become used
to claiming no responsibility for such events, our minds become weak
and spineless, and we allow—someone else to do the slaughtering,
someone else to die for us, someone else to push the nuclear war
But we need to claim responsibility, at
least in part, for whatever we do, whether it brings good or painful
results. In this way, we will remove the blinders from our eyes.
We need to see clearly that the misery we are inflicting on others
by default is already coming back to us like a boomerang,
individually and collectively. Then we will not be afraid to
acknowledge that indeed, the causes of war are in us, and that the
greatest cause in this: ignorance of the preciousness of all life.
It takes courage to take a long look
at our weaknesses, at our callousness, at our desire to avoid,
shirk, and postpone responsibility. But the secret is that once
we look at it, we are no longer in ignorance. The thorn in our
consciousness is removed, and with it, the cause of our pain.
This is what it means
Stress, the trauma of overexposure to
heat or cold while being transported without food or water for one
to three days, disease, or brutal handling. Cows, calves, sheep,
and pigs are killed either with a sledgehammer (still the most
primitive and widely used method) which may take several blows, a
knife (used on fully conscious animals who are hoisted up onto a
conveyor belt by one leg so as not to fall in the blood of a
previously slain animal), or electric bolt pistol.
to experience the dignity of our own
life. Then we cannot bear to cause pain to anyone and we stop
violating the laws of life. The seeds of war cannot grow in such a
gentle and aware consciousness.
Vegetarianism helps to initiate this new
perception, because it jolts us out of seeing other lives through
the cold eyes of the intellect, as objects to be annihilated,
dominated, or used. According to the Jain reaching, enemies do not
exist. There are no opponents, no one lesser or higher. There are
only fellow living beings. Each one of us is beloved to someone:
none of us wants to be tortured or killed. If we can teach this to
our children through our living example, the world will come closer
to the peace it longs for.
waiting for others to change, we start with ourselves. When we
diminish the violent vibrations accumulated in body and mind, we
start releasing our own healthy and positive energy. This creates a
magnetic field around us which attracts vibrations of health,
peace, loving kindness, and balance to us.
To those who disagree with
us, we listen with understanding and unconditional friendship,
honoring the life in each individual. Rather than be dogmatic or
argumentative, we live and allow others to live. They have a right
to their own thoughts and opnions. But we remain free from creating
wars in the name of some patriotic, economic, religions, or other
ism; peace will come in time by our valuing life above and beyond
all other priorities. With this conviction, we plant seeds of
living kindness and trust nature to take care of them.
The liberty and
equanimity of our spirit will make ultimately the greatest
contribution to both our personal peace and peace on earth. As more
of us realize and revere the intrinsic sanctity of all life the
collective power of our loving kindness can reach into all corners of
the universe and heal it with its peaceful balm.