2022 Essays

Circles of Slavery and Liberation

Dr. Will Tuttle

How can we most effectively understand and positively transform our current situation? According to the Buddhist metaphor of the Great Mirror Wisdom, we are called to contemplate the many ways that our outer world mirrors our inner attitudes and perspectives. The outer world as a great mirror holds true not just for us individually but collectively as well. We have, as a society, inherited a way of living based on routinely imprisoning and killing billions of animals for food, and this has created a circle of slavery in our human world. What we sow in our treatment of those who are at our mercy, we reap in our own lives.

Farm Animals by visionary artist Madeleine TuttleOur cultural indoctrination compels us to assume that we have the right to rape billions of cows, pigs, chickens, fishes, and other animals, and enslave them and their offspring on animal agriculture and aquaculture operations. This is the hidden and undiscussed driving force behind the widespread human slavery, injustice, and oppression over the centuries, and why it looms even larger in our world today, despite our many efforts. The more we enslave animals, the more we find ourselves enslaved; in fact, it is only people who have already significantly lost their sovereignty who would ever consent to participate in the enslavement of other beings. When we commodify and enslave animals by purchasing animal-sourced foods and products, we are reduced, unavoidably, to commodities and slaves ourselves. This is the Circle of Slavery. We can easily see its consequences rocking our world today in ever-greater waves of reverberating assaults on our freedom, health, and cultural sanity.

The good news is that there is a Circle of Liberation also. The outer reflects the inner, and as we authentically liberate animals, we sow the seeds of our own liberation, both individually and collectively. Ahimsa, the practice of nonviolence, is the practice of the teaching of the Golden Rule, which is a universal expression of the Great Mirror Wisdom. Ultimately, this practice is unavoidable on our journey toward the joy and fulfillment of realizing our full potential as human beings in this world.

At its core, vegan living is based on ahimsa and on respecting the sovereignty of individual beings, and refusing to comply with cultural mandates that destroy or degrade the inherent dignity and sovereignty of others, both human and non-human. So, veganism isn’t anything to be proud of or that needs to be enforced or policed or even to be understood as an “ism” of any kind. It is simply the natural expression of our true nature, functioning in harmony with our basic wisdom that understands spontaneously and empathically that others are capable of suffering, and just as we would like to be protected from abuse or harm, we do our best to protect others from harm. This inherent compassion is unfortunately repressed in us from infancy onward. We witness role-model parents and adults purchasing and eating the flesh and products of abused animals, and  we find ourselves compelled to participate in this ritualized violence as well.

Frog by artist Madeleine TuttleWith every generation, as technology advances, allowing us to forcibly impregnate, enslave, track, medicate, and kill more animals per person than ever, we find our sovereignty, privacy, and dignity being ever more severely eroded by powers wielding technology, as we do over the animals we exploit. We allow and even cooperate with this happening to us, perhaps unconsciously, just as we facilitate this happening to billions of animals, also quite unconsciously.

Authentic spiritual teachers and traditions have emphasized that an essential key to mental and spiritual health is the ongoing effort to become more conscious. This means cultivating the capacity to question the unconscious narratives and assumptions upon which we rely and depend in our daily lives. Just as it is obvious that reductionistic science has made the lives of animals far more miserable by facilitating revolutionary forms of human tyranny over them, such as hyper-confinement of many animals in restrictive spaces, made possible through high-tech pharmaceuticals, mutilations, tracking, and genetic manipulations, it is similarly obvious that materialist science and technology are damaging the quality of our human lives as well.

By reducing free-flowing, magnificent, intelligent, sovereign animal beings to mere material units hyper-confined in purposeless, toxic, high-tech environments to be exploited and sold by the pound, we have irrevocably reduced ourselves to mere material objects living in similarly toxic, purposeless, and increasingly tyrannical environments. Factory-farming them as livestock commodities, we are factory-farmed ourselves, and the great irony is that we fail to resist our debasement, but clamor for more.

Ironically, it is those of us on the left who seem to call most vociferously for more war, more censorship, more medical tyranny, and more trust in governmental agencies that are completely captured by plutocrat oligarchs and global enslavement organizations, like the central banks and the immense equity holding corporations such as BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street, as well as groups and agencies like the CIA, the CDC, the World Economic Forum, and the World Health Organization, and dutifully depend on their disinformation spreaders like the BBC, NYT, CNN, NPR, NBC, and the Lancet. Why have we become so gullible and aggressively resistant to understanding how we are being reduced to livestock? Why do so many of us seem to yearn for our own enslavement, and remain blind to what is actually happening to us? It is as Paul wrote, “God is not mocked. Whatsoever you sow, that will you also reap.” The culture that compels us to unconsciously abuse animals and eat their misery and slavery also builds the inner mental cages and blinders that imprison and blind us humans as well. The Great Mirror Wisdom. It could be no other way.

Nevertheless, the Circle of Liberation is always present and beckoning. By refusing to comply with social mandates, and by protecting and liberating animals, we liberate not just them, but our inherent creativity, genius, clarity, insight, and compassion. The last two years have also made it obvious that going vegan, while necessary for our positive cultural transformation, is not sufficient of itself. We are called further, to Deep Veganism: making an effort to understand the profound ways that ten thousand years of animal agriculture have perverted the fundamental orientation of our entire society, and wounded us individually, reducing our innate intelligence, health, and empathy, and alienating us from nature and from our true nature.

It’s time to see the chemical-pharmaceutical-medical-banking-media cartel for what it is: a deadly instrument of enslavement, biocide, and genocide. It is the perverse and demonic progeny of animal agriculture’s entrenched practice of dominating and exploiting animals and nature, and this relentless attack on animals and nature, facilitated by science, breeds in all of us a deep fear and loathing of microorganisms, insects, the natural world, and even of ourselves and each other. Medicine and agriculture are practiced as wars against nature, germs, and animals. And yet, we are animals and we are made up of germs and we are nature. It is a war against ourselves, and we are losing everything in this war. The harder and more brilliantly we fight, and the more sophisticated our technology becomes, the more devastatingly we are defeated. The transhumanist agenda looms in a dystopian future that would be the triumph of our original sin in the garden: enslaving and killing animals for food.

The way forward is to practice the Circle of Liberation, which is an expression of the universal wisdom of the Golden Rule. We are called to refuse to comply with all mandates that harm the sovereignty of animal and human individuals, and to stand up for freedom for all living beings. We are called to question all official narratives, both those arising through media channels and those arising from within our consciousness as indoctrinated thoughts and assumptions. We are called to practice connecting with inner silence and with the ever-present inner wisdom that is antecedent to verbal formulations.

Each one of us can take time daily to listen internally and to reconnect with the light of truth shining in our heart, and with our native loving-kindness and respect for other expressions of life. By quieting our minds and learning to reconnect with the profound peace of our true nature, observing with awareness, we can directly realize that what we are was never born and will never die. We are the source of this life that we see reflected in the mirror all around us, not merely one of the reflections. With persistence and practice, we will be able to question and liberate ourselves from the vast array of materialistic delusions that pervade our cultural landscape, and begin to understand more deeply what is arising in the apparent world around us, and how this world flows from patterns of social indoctrination. We can discover how essentially free we actually are of this harmful indoctrination. The infinite and radiant sky can never be harmed or limited in any way by mere transient clouds. However, without the effort to realize and discover our inner depth, there is no hope for liberation.

The Circle of Liberation is always beckoning, and by liberating animals we can begin to heal the inner and outer wounds inflicted by the unrecognized and relentless structural violence of our culture’s defining core of herderism and animal agriculture. The Great Mirror of the outer world reflects our consciousness, and the harmony, abundance, beauty, and freedom for which we yearn are always available to the degree that we are able to awaken these qualities in our consciousness as reflections of our true nature.

Without this inner work and awakening, technology only brings greater slavery, injustice, and suffering, and science is merely the accumulated delusion of animal agriculture’s shallow and corrupting materialism. The situation is urgent, and we have a guiding light. The Great Mirror Wisdom is always shining in our minds and hearts, and our task is to realize this and turn completely around in the seat of our consciousness. Each of us can cultivate and benefit from the mirror wisdom within us, and by bringing our lives into harmony with it, do our best to follow its guidance to help co-create a world of kindness, respect, and freedom. All life is interconnected, and future generations of all beings will benefit from the legacy of our efforts.

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