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Let Meat-Eaters Be Meat-Eaters
Amy: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to ask this question. I listened to James’ videos today on bhakti yoga, and he talked a lot about moral values and how we should care for each other because it is a natural law. He never mentions animals, and yet most of the cruelty in this world is created by our addition to meat and animal products. Do we not include animals in our moral values? Should we continue to kill and enslave animals for food when we don’t need to?
Daniel: Hello, Amy. This is a common and often sensitive topic for many.
Simply put, from a non-dual perspective there’s no such thing as killing or cruelty, because everything is nothing other than me, non-separate awareness. But from a viewpoint within mithya (where your question arrives from) there will always be killing and cruelty because the world of duality operates on nothing but a “life eats life” trade.
Duel = cruel. There’s no escaping this apparent fact.
A sattvic (clear/calm) and educated person would, however, generally respect his fellow beings – which includes animals. Following dharma (offering good action) means appreciation of all forms of life.
That said, mithya is home to many different cultures, lifestyles and dietary practices. So what may appear cruel to one person may just be an honest tribal ritual or survival necessity to another. Who’s to judge?
I believe it boils down to intention, appreciation and respect, not what you eat but rather how you eat.
There are those who greedily stuff their faces with soya bean products whilst vainly wearing an “I am vegan” badge on bulging bellies. And there are those who work hard at catching and slaughtering each dinner and then share their meals in meditation, with total appreciation.
I’d say that the latter person/action is more “morally valuable” than the former. But that’s just my opinion.
My advice is to do what most suits your jiva and let meat-eaters be meat-eaters. If your earnest goal is liberation (moksa), then try not to concern yourself too much with this topic – or about the world in general – because it’s not going to help or change anything.
~ Much love, Daniel
Amy: Hi, Daniel.
Thank you for your reply. I do understand what you are saying and mostly agree. I have been vegan for many years now because of my love for animals and my sense of oneness with them. I do try my best not to judge those who eat animal products because I understand there are many reasons why they do, but I often find myself judging spiritual teachers who teach only anthropocentric compassion. I guess I need to learn to love unconditionally and judge no one, including spiritual teachers. As you quite rightly say, Daniel, I can only do what I think is right and suspend all judgements. Daniel, I have so many questions related to Vedanta. I have read so many books and watched so many videos, but often find myself questioning what is being taught or not understanding it. Is there a limit to how many questions you have time to answer?
Thank you again for your kind reply.
Daniel: It’s fine to judge spiritual teachers. Heck – it’s even fine not to even like a spiritual teacher! But don’t confuse a teacher’s “personal style” with his/her ability to deliver the actual teachings.
There are some real warm-fuzzy vegan “spiritual teachers” out there who claim to offer the formula to liberation – but who remain as spiritually confused as their students. And there are teachers who may be bold, edgy and “spiritually satirical” but who deliver the teachings purely and in harmony with the tradition. James Swartz is a fine example.
Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. You will not come across a more professional and clean teacher than James.
If you can, suspend your judgements and don’t even take a personal liking or disliking to him. Just use him for the teachings – for the sake of attaining self-knowledge (i.e liberation). Take advantage of him. ☺
That said, I suggest you invest in either of his books How to Attain Enlightenment or The Essence of Enlightenment. They offer a complete delivery of the teachings of Vedanta.
You are most welcome to write to me after you’ve read it. But the books tend to resolve all doubts and questions.
Amy: Thank you for you reply. I already have How to Attain Enlightenment. I haven’t read it yet, but it is on my iPad and I will read it next. I am currently reading I Am by Jean Klein, which I am finding helpful. Thank you for offering to answer any questions relating to James’ book, and I will most likely be in touch when I have read it.
~ With love, Amy
Daniel: Om for now. ☺