“I feel that spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants.”
In response to the last post, I was asked the following…
“A fundamental, but perhaps not so obvious question: HOW does it benefit us personally, and as a species to have compassion for all living things?”
As I’ve written extensively about elsewhere…here’s my take on it:
Everything we do and every thought we think expresses some form of energy, which, on some level, affects the Whole. Our most brilliant sages, shamans, spiritual leaders, philosophers and metaphysicians have all expressed this Truth in one way or another throughout our recorded history. Even in Christianity, when the Master said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, ye have done it unto me,” He was speaking of an interconnectedness between all people; when you do something to another, it’s just like doing it to yourself. This is a call to bring everything we do under closer scrutiny so we can live our lives in a way that expresses love and respect for all people and – as a modern day interpretation that’s reflective of these more evolved times – all living creatures.
Likewise, some of the key, governing principles of many other spiritual paths have to do with cause and effect, karma, and reverence for all forms of life through the demonstration of non-violence and compassion, because every action you take creates a re-action. So, if your food choices support or propagate the killing of an animal – one, I remind you, who clearly does not want to die – then you are ultimately contributing to the cultivation of a social environment that is emotionally and spiritually toxic. This is cause. The effect of this, as many of our wisest spiritual leaders have intimated, is more of the same, projected exponentially in our collective experience to include more fear, separation, angst and even war.
Wisdom Through the Ages
Here are a few of my favorite classic quotes on the subject:
“For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other.”
“As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.”
“While we ourselves are the living graves of murdered beasts, how can we expect any ideal conditions on this earth?”
George Bernard Shaw
“Until he extends his circle of compassion to all living things man will not himself find peace.”
“…the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.”
“As long as people will shed the blood of innocent creatures there can be no peace, no liberty, no harmony between people. Slaughter and justice cannot dwell together.”
Isaac Bashevis Singer
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.”
If this connection still feels like a stretch, then just think about the total expenditure of psychological, physical and suppressed emotional energy that it takes to confine and slaughter 75 million birds, mammals and fish per day in the US alone. This is a virtually incomputable amount of violence. Are we simply to believe that this kind of energy just evaporates into the ether, with no consequence to us on any level? Again, many of our wisest spiritual leaders and progressive thinkers suggest otherwise. And, perhaps more importantly, the fruits of our actions as observed by the overall condition of our society at large suggest otherwise, as well.
On the other hand, if your food choices purposely do not support or propagate the killing of an animal, then every meal becomes a statement of compassion and non-violence. So now, this is cause, and the effect is likewise more of the same, projected exponentially in our collective experience to include more peace, love and reverence for the Whole.
Compassion as a Daily Practice
Compassion, along with other evolved virtues like forgiveness and gratitude, is a practice. It’s like a muscle that we have to exercise. And as we “exercise” it, it gets bigger and stronger. Therefore, when we express compassion to ANY living being – human, animal or insect – we are strengthening our overall ability to express compassion in general. This is good! And this is of benefit to the species because, to me, compassion is the recognition of a deeper connectedness between us all…it’s an unconditional expression of love to another. Without it, we don’t stand a chance on the long-term.