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'Animal Matters' (July 2012):

WHAT PEOPLE EAT CREATES THE WORLD AROUND US.

In this latest article, the subject of vegetarianism is going to be looked at some more, with some rather surprising reasons to support the diet...

Contrary to what most human beings have been conditioned to believe, Sai Baba tells us that:

“Animals did not come for the purpose of supplying food for human beings. They came to work out their own lives in the world. When a human being is dead, the foxes and other animals may eat, but we have not come to provide food for those that eat the dead body; we have not come for that purpose. Similarly, man eats the animal but the animal has not come to provide man with food”.  (Conversations with Sathya Sai Baba by John Hislop)

One so often hears that “it is only natural” to eat meat. The habit is so ingrained and so ancient that most people never think to question the fact that animals might actually have another purpose in incarnating other than providing fodder for human beings. Anyone who thinks otherwise is liable to be dismissed as a sentimental fool. The fact that farm animals form lifelong friendships and deep attachments shows us at least one example of other reasons for incarnating, even though one could say they would not be here at all were it not for the fact that they have been bred for the food chain.

Another surprising reason is the fate of the animals consumed. – Something that would literally astonish most of us. It is as follows:

“Man consumes as food many living beings... These are born as human beings, on account of this act of consumption.  But since they have not had the education which can reveal the God within, they vegetate or stay brutish, without appropriate ticket or passport for rising higher than the human status in which they have been hurriedly placed. Like most men, they roll along from womb to tomb, bondslaves to the senses and the ills that the bondage inevitably brings in its train”. (Sathya Sai Speaks vol 12, ch 34)

And:

“For the purpose of feeding ourselves, many lives are being sacrified. ...Because these various living things are being sacrified and are merging with human beings, they have also been acquiring human lives in their rebirth.  None of these Jivas is getting any chance of rising higher than human lives. The entire life is being spent in making an effort to be reborn after one’s death, thus repeating the cycle of birth and death”. (Sai Baba, Summer Showers in Brindavan 1974)

Whoever would have thought that the souls of creatures whose flesh is eaten by mankind would then be embodied into a human form long before they were ready to behave in a truly human manner! ...And remember, according to Sai Baba, a human being should be a truly noble creature. He tells us how hard it is to acquire a human form, what a great opportunity it is, and how even angels would love to have one! Yet, in the case of animals who ‘provide’ food for humans, the whole situation is reversed. And while they achieve a human vehicle far too early in their evolution, they cannot benefit from it, nor apparently, ever attain self-realisation through it. So not only do we deprive them of eventual liberation once in a human form, we also sentence them to aeons of lives lived miserably. One could also wonder whether some of the less than noble behaviour demonstrated in this Kali era can be explained thus.

Meat-eating not only adversely effects the meat-eater, making it more difficult for him or her to truly rise spiritually, although there are no doubt exceptions to this, it also adversely affects the creature eaten, not just in the sense of the suffering caused at the time, but by interfering with its natural evolutionary progress.  

The profoundity of the next two statements need some deep thought:

“He demeans himself by his evil habits. He kills animals and eats their flesh. When individuals take to evil ways, the entire society degenerates.” (Sathya Sai Speaks, Volume 32, chapter13).

And from the Srimad Bhagavatam 1.10.6, written around 5000 years ago:

“To be non-violent to human beings and to be a killer or enemy of poor animals is Satan’s philosophy. In this age, there is always enmity against poor animals and therefore the poor creatures are always anxious. The reaction of poor animals is being forced upon human society and therefore there is always the strain of cold or hot war between men, individually, collectively or nationally”.

Sadly, it seems nothing has changed, and there are as many wars now as there ever were.

So if most of the human race adhere to meat eating, not only are they participating in creating enormous karma which creates a 'boomerang effect' on us in the form of wars and other disasters, but by eating a heavy meat diet, they are also preventing themselves from purifying and so they remain less sensitive spiritually. Lack of sensitivity to spiritual truths can be the outcome, even in the best of people, and spiritual dullness of mind can turn a blind eye to a whole host of cruel and unholy practices, and that is one reason why it is linked with the degeneration of society. So, while mankind continues to kill and eat animals on the massive scale that it does, the state of society will continue with its struggle to truly improve.

In spite of all that has been said above, it is really important to emphasise that we all know that many, many  meat-eaters are very good, even holy people, and certainly not all vegetarians are angels. We need to keep that firmly in mind when tempted to judge another person by their diet and remember the following:

“...the learned man who has acquired humility through vidya must treat the cow, the Brahmin, the elephant, the dog and the eater of dog-flesh with equal compassion and consideration. Uniform compassion shown in this manner transforms itself into uniform welfare for the recipients. Wishing well for all is a sign of the one who has earned vidya”. (Sai Baba, Vidya Vahini, chapter 16).

Finally, in defence of adhering to a vegetarian diet when challenged, Swami Satchitananda has this to say:

”Whatever you receive in your life, let the source be love... it should come with love. Your money should come with love. Your clothing should come with love. Your food should come with love, not violence. It all should be a love offering. Unfortunately, a non-vegetarian diet never comes to us with love. Have you ever heard of an animal coming to you with love and saying, “Here, please, take my thigh and make your soup"? No. The animals don’t offer their body parts to us in this way. They even try to escape. They hate us because we cause violence to them. Non-vegetarian food is not a love-filled food...”

(Article written by Mercini Sherratt for Vedanta Empire's charity incentive)

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