Good Place. Good Things. Good Time.

The spiritual side of what you eat

Please
understand, that a vegetarian diet is not being put forth as being the all in all,
or glorified as being the goal in life, because it isn’t.

The
vegetarian diet can help one move toward seeking the highest perfection in life
and becomes a natural part of one’s life once the understanding of the goal in
life is attained.

After
all, even the purest vegetarian diet is primarily concerned with the body,
which is temporary, and bound to wither and die. Mahatma Gandhi put it
extremely clear when he wrote about the vegetarian diet:

It is for the building of the spirit and
not of the body. Man is more than meat. It is this spirit in us for which we
are concerned”.

Spiritual
understanding is that no one is the material body, but that each person is an
eternal, individual spirit soul, or living entity, just inhabiting a particular
body, and that this spirit soul’s true position is as the loving servant to the
Supreme Soul (God) – making it the ultimate goal of life.

With
this understanding comes the realization that there is a living entity present
in all the different bodily forms: grass bodies, plant bodies, bug bodies,
animal bodies, etc. In fact, it is the presence of the living entity, or spirit
soul, within any particular bodily form that gives the body, which is just a
lump of matter, life and value. In other words, the body is simply a shirt of
different colors, shapes and sizes for the eternal soul within. This leads to a
deeper respect for all lives and the eradication of racism.

This
brings to mind a story that I heard back in the 70s:

As a prince, Lord Buddha was sheltered and
raised in a palace surrounded by a beautiful pleasure garden because his father
wanted him never to see suffering. Yet as a very young boy of five or six, in
the midst of the pleasure garden, Lord Buddha was able to perceive suffering.
He witnessed a butterfly eaten by a frog, the frog by a snake, and the snake by
a hawk. After observing this chain of events, he concluded that this world is a
place of suffering because one living being has to cause pain and suffering to
other living beings just to keep their body alive.

One
living being lives off the body of other living beings. Of course, there are
certain vegetarian foods, such as fallen fruits and leaves and ripe grains and legumes
that do not entail causing the plant pain. But, even if a person eats in this
way, he causes pain to other living beings as he goes about obtaining those
foods.

If
he walks on other living beings in the bug bodies, grass bodies, plant bodies,
etc., or breathes living beings in germ bodies that get breathed in, they are
attacked by white blood cells once they enter the body, then there is killing
and suffering going on.

We
cannot exist in this world without causing pain and suffering to others. This
recognition that we keep our bodies alive by causing pain and suffering to
others raises some important questions . . .

Well,
if I just hardheadedly go stomping through the world figuring that’s how it is,
so, “so what”, or will I actually be concerned enough to try to cause
the least amount of pain possible?

If
there is actual concern, it means we will try to keep these bodies alive by
keeping the amount of pain we cost to others to a minimum by not causing any
unnecessary killing.

This
leads to another question: if this body is kept alive on the suffering of
others, then don’t I have a responsibility to make my life worthwhile?
Shouldn’t my reason for maintaining this body be higher than living like a
hippopotamus – eating to live rather than living to eat? Do I not have the
responsibility to live my life for the highest purpose?

The
hippopotamus is a vegetarian, but what does a hippopotamus do? He sleeps and we
sleep. He mates and we mate. He defends and we defend. He eats (a vegetarian
diet even!) and we eat (can choose to eat) a vegetarian diet.

Eating
a vegetarian diet, without any higher pursuit or purpose in life, is not any
better than animal life. Thus, vegetarianism unto itself is not the highest
perfection in life.

The
highest perfection of human life is to realize that God does exist, that we are
His eternal loving servants, and that our true enjoyment comes from doing His
will.

As
it is said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that
comes from the mouth of God”. Living by the words coming from God’s mouth,
or doing His will, is food for the soul.

Knowing
what is God’s will, what is pleasing or displeasing to him, seems so far away
when we are in a position of not knowing Him.

But
He doesn’t leave us in the dark. He is always communicating with us, inviting
us back to our home, which is oneness with him through loving service, and
speaking to us through his representatives and through Scripture, letting us
know what is pleasing to Him in every facet of our lives, including what we
eat.

By
a study of the scriptures of the world, we can learn what kind of diet is in
harmony with the will of God and the laws of nature, which is part of His
creation.

I
am humbly asking anyone who is interested in learning more and more what the
will of God is in connection with eating to please read the following quotes,
taken from various scriptures around the world, with an open mind and an open
heart.

Unfortunately,
sometimes people foolishly take the existence of Scripture, other than the one
they are familiar with, as a threat to their faith, security, and/or team
spirit.

If
we can only make our concern being able to develop a love for God and trying to
learn more and more about Him so our love can grow (you can’t love a stranger
or a vague mystery!), that all such sectarian feelings will fall away.

There
is no envy between those who are trying to find out more about God and develop
a love for him. The very fact that different scriptures exists in different
parts of the planet can only strengthen one’s faith, appreciation, and love for
God, because that fact alone is living testimony that God exists, that he loves
all of His children, and doesn’t forget any of them, and speaks to all of them.

“Everything
animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the
Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself,
which are set aside as his quota, and one must not accept other things, knowing
well to Whom they belong”.

– Sri Isopanishad, Mantra 1 –

In
the Bible, God gives us our quota:

“Behold,
I have given you every herb-bearing seed, which is upon the face of the earth,
and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree-yielding seed. To you it shall
be for meat”.

– Genesis 1:29 –

In
the Mormon Doctrine and Covenants God says:

“Every
herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in this season thereof; all these
to be used with prudence and thanksgiving. Yea, flesh also of the beast and of
the fouls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with
thanksgiving; nevertheless, they are to be used sparingly; and it is pleasing unto Me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or a
cold, or of famine”.

– Section 89; vs. 13 – 16 –

In
connection with this, we find that in the Bible, after the flood, when there
was nothing else, God gave Noah permission to eat flesh:

“Every
moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I
given you all things. But flesh, with the life thereof, which is the blood
thereof, shall ye not eat and surely your blood of your lives will I
require”,

– Genesis 1:29 –

O son of Kunti, all that you do, all that
you eat, all that you offer and giveaway, as well as all austerities that you
may perform, should be done as an offering unto Me. If one offers Me, with love
and devotion, a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it. The devotees
of the Lord are released from all sins because they eat food, which is offered
first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment,
verily eat only sin.

– Bhagavad-gita As-It-Is 3:13, 9:26,
9:27

People
are independently striving so hard to solve the problems of health, economics
and world hunger, when simply by living in harmony with the laws of God and
nature, these problems, addressed next, are automatically solved.

HEALTH:

By
nature, human beings are provided with teeth and a digestive system, which is
designed to most efficiently handle vegetarian foods. For example, our
digestive tract is more similar to that of a horse than to that of a tiger.

If
we habitually put the kinds of foods in our digestive system that it is not
meant to digest, the result will be disease. Research has linked flesh-eating
with cancer, heart and circulatory disease, digestive disorders, and others.

There
are other health hazards as well. Flesh-eaters, being at the top of the
“food chain”, have higher proportion of pesticides and other food
contaminants than vegetarians.

A
high percentage of the poisons present in this vegetation is retained and
concentrated in the flesh of an animal. Flesh foods contain 40 times the amount
of pesticide residues as root vegetables or grains, 10 times as much as fruits,
leafy vegetables and legumes, and even 2 1/2 times as much as milk and other
dairy products.

ECONOMICS:

On
this planet, which is like a tiny ball floating in space, we have a limited
amount of resources. Raising animals for slaughter is an uneconomic use of
these resources, as can be seen in the following figures:

In
Hawaii, 1 acre of land can produce 100 pounds of beef protein every two years,
or it can produce over 3000 pounds of protein from non-GMO soybeans. This
affects your pocketbook. For example, $17.42 will buy 4 1/2 pounds of meat
containing 355 g of protein, or it will buy you 18 pounds of soybeans containing
over 3200 g of protein, or nearly 10 times as much protein per penny. This
uneconomic use of resources it’s also going on at the worldwide level.

WORLD
HUNGER:

Hunger
is one result of an economic system based on satisfying people’s wants rather
than their needs. For example, to satisfy tongues addicted to the taste of
flesh, we are raising beef cattle, which consume 12 to 20 pounds of protein in
the form of grains and legumes to produce 1 pound of meat.

One
flesh-eating person has the same effect on world food resources as five
vegetarians who get their protein directly from grains and legumes. If the
total protein available from these crops, grains and soybeans, we used directly
by human beings, it could make up an estimated 90% of the world’s protein
deficiency.

There
are many other unhealthy things, such as sugar and tobacco, being grown on
land, which could be used to produce nourishing food for a hungry world.

These
and other problems plaguing the world today are nature’s way of
letting us know that we can no longer live ignoring wisdom or metaphysical
truths. Knowing this, E.F. Schumacher points out in his book, “Small is Beautiful:

“. . .
the philosophy of materialism is now being challenged by events. There has
never been a time, in any society in any part of the world, without its sages
and teachers to challenge materialism and plead for a different order of
priorities. The languages have differed, the symbols have varied, yet the
message has always been the same: ‘Seek ye first
the Kingdom of God, and all these things (the material things which you also
need) shall be added unto you’ “.

They
shall be added, we are told, here on Earth where we need them, not simply in an
afterlife beyond our imagination.

Today,
however, this message reaches us not solely from the sages and saints, but from
the actual course of physical events.

It
speaks to us in the language of terrorism, genocide, breakdown, pollution,
exhaustion . . . It is apparent that there is not only a promise but also a
threat in those astonishing words about the Kingdom of God – the threat that
“unless you seek first the Kingdom, these other things, which you also
need, will cease to be available to you”.

In
the richest countries on the planet, where material things are sought first,
mistaking the body as the self leads to thinking, “If I satisfy
my body, I’ll be happy”.

Thus,
trying to get satisfaction from external material goods in this single-minded
pursuit of material goods and wealth becomes the goal in life.

Ignorance
of the existence of the soul apart from the body leads to misidentifying the
body as the self and consuming more and more beyond what the body needs to keep
healthy and alive.

This
is due to an inability to differentiate between the body’s needs and greed’s, and the
needs of the soul.

Trying
to satisfy the eternal, infinite spiritual craving for happiness with
temporary, finite material things, has resulted in and will continue to result
in unsatisfied individuals and social problems, which are found even in the
richest countries and are evidence that the people are not happy, an unbalanced
environment, depletion of the earth’s limited resources, and constant fighting over
them.

Thus,
the solution that gets to the root of so many problems we face is choosing to
seek the highest perfection in life – love for God.

Then
we will be able to live in harmony with the laws of God and nature and learn to
find happiness within ourselves. This inner spiritual satisfaction is what will
enable us to live simply and self-sufficiently, taking only what we need.

Namaste!

Sources:

The
following scriptures:

The
Bible

Bhagavd-gita
As-It-Is

Sri
Isopanisad

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