What goes around comes around. We must as a species stop the violence that is inherent in our meat habit. This should be of paramount importance for all religious movements and teachers. It is the call of spirituality. If our religions don‚Äôt hear this call, we must revitalize them or create new ones that do
Since the decision to become a vegan is at its core an ethical one, spirituality, which is the foundation of ethics, must be the foundation of veganism as well.
The spiritual element within us encourages us not to harm others, but to express love and practice compassion. Compassion brings the intuition of spiritual awareness into daily life as actions that serve to help and bless others. Veganism is clearly a vital expression of this compassion that springs from our felt sense of connectedness with others. While it may not necessarily be religious, at its core, veganism is spiritual, and it is an expression of love. It is a concrete way that we can all be lovers.
Veganism is, I‚Äôve found, a litmus test of religious teachings and religious teachers. To the degree that religious teachings do not explicitly encourage veganism, which is the practice of nonviolence and lovingkindness, to that same degree these teachings are hypocritical and disconnected from their spiritual source.
Each of us is radically and profoundly interconnected with all other living beings, and by blessing and encouraging and seeing the best in others, we help everyone, and by condemning or turning away from others, we harm everyone, including ourselves. Shining compassion to everyone, even our apparent opponents, is the essence of the benevolent revolution that is veganism.
And not only that, going vegan‚Äôs a practical contribution to the energy crisis, hunger, and climate change. So keep building that connection to the inner sun and shine!
Looking around, we can see the tremendous urgency in the task required of us: to do all we can to influence our culture to evolve and embrace the vegan ideals of interconnectedness, freedom, and caring.
The same urgency is required in our inner lives as well. Going vegan is much more than minimizing the cruelty and suffering we cause others; it is awakening the heart of loving inclusiveness and realizing that there are, ultimately, no separate selves. We are all connected.
When we come to this earth, we find ourselves in a culture that is at its very core organized around confining and killing animals for food. We are forced virtually from birth to look at beings as mere commodities and to treat them as such by eating them in the most powerful daily rituals we engage in: our meals.
All cultures naturally propagate themselves through their various institutions, and ours is no different. Our scientific, religious, governmental, educational, and economic institutions all reflect the same underlying mentality and reinforce it, which is why veganism is so strenuously resisted, and also why it is so urgently needed as well. Fortunately, as we awaken and stop disconnecting from the suffering we cause others by our choices, we resensitize ourselves and begin to be a force for kindness and respect that can impact others, and we can work through our culture‚Äôs institutions to raise consciousness and spread the light of inclusiveness. The more clearly the inner light shines in us, the more clearly we can shine it into the world.
The real secret to personal and planetary peace and happiness is veganism rightly understood as the ancient and timeless teaching to include all living beings within the sphere of our kindness and respect, and never to treat any being as a mere object to be used or abused. This is the awakening of our true human heart, not for a self-centered happiness, but for a happiness that includes everyone. This is positive thinking beyond mere positive thinking; it‚Äôs living the truth that we are, and being the transformation we long to see in our world.
Now let‚Äôs imagine that!‚Äîand live it.
The secret to happiness and inner peace is thus not just the Law of Attraction and being mindful of our thoughts, although this is certainly important. The secret is being mindful of our actions as well, because just as our thoughts condition our behavior, our behavior conditions our thoughts, and regular daily actions of instigating violence and eating the results of that violence keep our consciousness and thoughts confined to a relatively low vibrational level
Veganism is the essential healing force that our culture desperately needs, because the mentality of domination that starts on our plates reverberates through our various cultural institutions as authoritarianism, oppression, and violence. Healing this mentality requires cultivating vegan values: concern and caring for others weaker than us, and refusing to exploit them. As vegans, the improved health we naturally experience is a side-benefit; it‚Äôs not the main focus because we sense there‚Äôs a higher purpose in life than just being physically healthy.
Veganism, which is a committed effort to live the ideals of mercy and kindness to others, is indispensable to all spiritual paths, because it emerges from and deepens the understanding that all beings are completely interconnected and interdependent. It is an inclusive movement that advocates a plant-based diet because it includes all sentient creatures within its sphere of concern. The towering spiritual geniuses who have blessed this earth have typically been vegan but have been little concerned whether their foods were cooked or not. For example, when we look at the great Zen masters of China and East Asia of the last 1,500 years, we find people who invariably ate a vegan diet of both cooked and uncooked foods. The desert fathers of the Christian tradition are similar.