Originally Published 9/27/10
“For the sake of purity, the bodhisattva should refrain from eating flesh… For fear of causing terror to living beings, let the bodhisattva, who is disciplining himself to attain compassion, refrain from eating flesh…. It is not true that meat is proper food and permissible when the animal was not killed by himself, when he did not order others to kill it, when it was not specifically meant for him…. Again, there may be some people in the future who… being under the influence of the taste of meat will string together in various ways many sophisticated arguments to defend meat-eating… But meat-eating in any form, in any manner, and in any place is unconditionally, and once and for all, prohibited… Meat-eating I have not permitted to anyone, I do not permit, and will not permit.”
From Gabriel Cousens’ Conscious Eating
Few debates run so fierce as that over whether humans should eat meat. I certainly do not want to begin such a debate, but as I believe in living consciously and healthfully, and consuming animal products comes with a few different issues. I will point out some interesting aspects of meat-based and plant-based diets over several posts on the subject. Hopefully it will give you insight and thought-provoking ideas.
In this first post, I will focus on the spiritual and energetic aspects of eating meat. In the future, I will talk about the more common and talked-about topics such as getting the right nutrients, the cultural aspects of diet, and more.
As it is logically pointed out, many tribes of humans who live intimately and naturally with the land eat meat and have for thousands of years, and this seems to say it is natural food for us. (There is at least one vegan culture we know of, located in Persia.) It is valuable to look at how humans lived before the advent of civilization, technology, and chemical engineering. Most of these cultures do not experience the chronic disease that runs rampant in Western culture such as cancer and diabetes (though I learned yesterday the Masai in Africa who eat an extremely high ratio of animal products have incidence of osteoporosis). We can then point out that it is processed foods which are the problem.
Processed foods, refined sugar, and all of the rest of these substances that technology has brought us are indeed huge problems and cause enormous suffering and ill health. You will hear me talk more about these later as well.
However, a food does not have to cause cancer or chronic illness to be deemed a healthy food for us to eat (though there is sound evidence that animal products do contribute to these too).
There is also huge variety as to the quantity of meat eaten in different indigenous cultures. Some eat hardly any while a small percentage eat tons. The notion that the natural human is out hunting all day, every day, is a huge exaggeration. These same meat-eating cultures also eat more plants than you would believe and can identify hundreds and even thousands of different edible plants. Eating meat with this kind of plant variety is a whole different ball game than the way the average American does it. Anthropologists are also mostly in favor of changing the term “hunter/gatherer” to “gatherer/hunter” because hunting is so secondary to the way the vast majority of them eat.
We all know what evolution is in the physical sense, but what about evolution in the spiritual sense? Are modern humans the same physiologically and energetically as the Eskimos?
Killing, whether animals or humans, is a violent act. You are cutting off a being’s life. Some people say the Bible’s admonition, “thou shalt not kill” applies to animals. Isn’t it strange no one seemed to think of that at the time? As referenced in Gabriel Cousens book Conscious Eating, there is evidence Jesus was a vegetarian, as was Buddha. Whatever our religion, I think most of us would agree Jesus and Buddha were quite a bit more evolved than any of us.
There is also a vast difference between hunting an animal which has had a free and natural life in the undisturbed wilderness and is suddenly hunted down unawares while grazing in a meadow, and breeding them in captivity. To breed animals in captivity for slaughter is to turn what should be hunting into farming when farming should be left to farmers and plants. When you hunt, the animal has a mostly fair chance and had a shot at life.
(Where milk is concerned: do you think a cow is comfortable and content breast-feeding years beyond when it should be done, especially when it is done with metal clamps and machines?)
Could you pull the trigger? I believe that the vast majority of modern human omnivores absolutely could not bring themselves to shoot a cow, cut off a chicken’s head, or even lethally inject a living animal. We give that unsightly job to people that can and forget what is going on while munching away at our dinner plates.
With the inevitable changes in our spiritual evolution comes energetic and physical changes as well, and I believe these alter the body’s chemistry. I believe meat is still more tolerable to some than others and is connected to this. I also believe many who say they feel great eating meat have not compared it to eating without it for an extended period–while carefully, properly replacing meat with nutritious alternatives their body needs, including plenty of plant protein.
To me, respecting the earth and its creatures includes all animals. It is ironic beyond measure that those of us who love our dogs and cats could never bear to see a dog killed and eaten, whether that animal was even part of their family. Pigs are now known to be just as intelligent as dogs and bond with people if given the chance. Yet it so happens we have not bonded with them so don’t mind them being slaughtered. Killing is ok if it’s someone we don’t know?
Incidentally, in many indigenous cultures, the shaman or medicine man/woman was a vegetarian. Interesting… why? Pranic Healing teaches us one possible reason. Meat is energetically very dirty. This is the same substance as the dirty energy we generate through stress, disease, pollution, rotten food, etc. This makes plenty of sense, as a dead body begins breaking down very quickly (much quicker than plants). This dirty energy has to be expelled by the body, giving it a lot of extra work to do. We learn in Pranic Healing when working on someone very sick, to advise them to give up meat at least temporarily until they are better. Pork is the absolute worst, and in Pranic Healing we learn the first day to stay away from it even if we consume other meat. Interestingly, there is a taboo against eating pork in several major religions.
For those interested in getting very serious on the spiritual path (and this is not for everyone), abstaining from meat will eventually be required. It would otherwise cause you aches and pains, nausea, grogginess, and sleep troubles. Master Co, one of my favorite instructors, said he took this news as just a suggestion when he first heard it. He said in Chinese, there’s a saying: “a Chinese person in a Chinese restaurant will eat anything with four legs except the tables and chairs.” He eventually had too many physical problems so gave it up as a last resort.
(The explanation? When you do intense meditation daily, your vibration becomes very high and your energy travels at many times the speed it did previously. Meat is very dense energetically, and your now fast-moving energy basically crashes into it, creating lots of discomfort.)
I subscribe wholeheartedly to the idea that there is no one diet for everyone, and you will always hear me say each person has to find what is right for them. Yet there are many aspects to this important choice that we don’t normally take the time to ponder. If this article speaks to you at all, remember you can make changes over time, and nothing has to be all-or-nothing and overnight. Try going a couple of days a week without animal products. Look up some new recipes online. You will give yourself the opportunity to try new foods you have never even heard of and are sure to love.