As we all know in our bones, there is a predatory quality to our economic system, and competition underlies all our institutions. We prey upon each other. It may not be obvious from within our planet‚Äôs dominant society, but our culture and our corporations and other institutions act in ways that can only be described as predatory vis-√†-vis those who are less industrialized, less wealthy, and less able to protect themselves.
Art: Laurie Lipton
Eating animal foods is an indefensible holdover from another era beyond which we must evolve, and with the ever-increasing profusion of vegan and vegetarian cookbooks and vegan foods like soy milk, soy ice cream, rice syrup, tofu, veggie burgers, and so forth, as well as fresh organically grown vegetables, legumes, fruits, grains, nuts, pastas, and cereals, we see alternatives proliferating. Books, videos, websites, vegetarian/vegan restaurants and menu options, animal rights groups, and vegan organizations are also multiplying as we respond to the vegan imperative.
As long as we remain imprisoned in the maze of self-oriented thinking, we can easily justify our cruelty to others, excuse our hard eyes and supremacist position, discount the suffering we impose on others, and continue on, rationalizing our actions and blocking awareness of the reality of our feelings and of our fundamental oneness with other beings.
We may discover that we can ‚Äúthink‚Äù with our hearts, without words, and we may learn to appreciate the consciousness of animals and begin to humbly explore their mysteries. There is perhaps much we can learn from animals. Not only do they have many powers completely unexplainable by contemporary science, but they are fellow pilgrims with us on this earth who contribute their presence to our lives and enrich our living world in countless essential ways. In fact, without the humble earthworms, bees, and ants whom we relentlessly kill and dominate, the living ecosystems of our earth would break down and collapse‚Äîsomething we certainly cannot say about ourselves!
Post-rational intuitive knowing can be born as a sense of being connected with all beings. No longer being merely a parade of conditioned thoughts revolving around a sense of being a separate self, we can sense more deeply into the nature of being and begin to know outside the limitations of linear thinking. With this comes an understanding that our essential nature is not evil, confined, selfish, or petty, but is eternal, free, pure, and is of the essence of love.
Our minds and consciousness are almost completely unexplored territory because we have been raised in a herding culture that is fundamentally uncomfortable with introspection. Our science blatantly ignores consciousness as an unapproachable, unquantifiable and unopenable ‚Äúblack box‚Äù and distracts us with focusing solely on measurable phenomena. Our religions discourage meditation and reduce prayer to a dualistic caricature of asking and beseeching an outside, enigmatic, and projected male entity.
Spiritual teachings of our interconnectedness and the vegan ethic of universal compassion, besides being vital and transformative, are in profound alignment with the core instruction of the world‚Äôs religions, which is to love others.
Learning to look the other way brings spiritual death in everyone who practices it. In encouraging it, religious institutions show how far they have strayed from the passionate mercy and all-seeing kindness taught and lived by those whose spiritual evolution and illumination inspired the institutions themselves.
Judging by the generally small numbers who have actually gone vegan in our culture, it appears that this commitment requires a certain breakthrough that has been generally elusive because of the mentality of domination and exclusion we‚Äôve all been steeped in since birth. There is something about veganism that is not easy, but the difficulty is not inherent in veganism, but in our culture.