During my series on human vegetarianism, a reader commented asking possibly for a post tackling a question along the lines of, “Why would God allow something like diabetes, which sometimes necessitates the eating of meat, and thereby essentially make humans irredeemable?”
First allow me to say that questions like this one have a very “sad” feel to me. Going from my personal understanding of God, which obviously makes the most sense to me and is the viewpoint from where I’ll be answering this question, this question makes little sense.
It needs to be understood from the outset that humans don’t need redeeming, per se. The Hindu pursuit of salvation is not because we’ve fallen, as it is with the Abrahamic religions, rather to remedy a really bad case of amnesia. There is never a time when we’re “less” than we ever once were. Never. Our core essence is literally non-different from The One, and since the one doesn’t require redeeming, neither do we. The trick though is that “we” convince ourselves that “we” are “we” instead of realizing that “we” are The One. That, dear friends, is what Hinduism’s foundations rest on. Being kicked out of the house isn’t the same as locking yourself out and forgetting the key is in your pocket the whole time.
The question posed makes little sense to me because, while I believe in a “layer” of God that is immanent and very minutely involved in the day-to-day goings on of humanity, this layer is based only a perception of ours from within the complex filter of Maya (developing a stronger relationship with this layer of God actually has been an immense exercise in bhakti for me). However, and I’ve tackled this in past posts, the “fullest” expression of God is beyond and outside of Maya and to say that God (in the biggest, most complete sense) transcends or is beyond our sensory perception is a ridiculous understatement. Along that same vein, the part of God that is within our limited range of perception should still be understood to be “higher” than being involved in making something like diabetes or food rules.
This is because any god that would do that is no God at all – that god would in fact be too human to be a god. A lot of bhakts will disagree with that. Fine. But this is a large part of why much of the Abrahamic religions seem unreasonable to me. God would never have a “chosen people.” God would never make onions and garlic (or any other food!) more “evil” than other foods. God would never curse gays with HIV. God would never command a father to kill his son. And God would never send people to an eternal hell for acts committed on a temporary earth. All of those things are ultimately based in emotional reactions to egoic perceptions/attachments – which themselves can be indicative of how well someone “knows” God, or doesn’t. God doesn’t love anyone or anywhere more than anything else. God is. That’s it. When it’s said like that, most responses are, “DUH” but then when we continue on in our existence we act as though that “duh” never crossed our minds and we act as though we believe God prefers some people over others and that certain foods please God while others don’t.
Within the veil of Maya, it might be said that karma is supreme. It’s actually integral to the structure of Maya. Since karma starts with our thoughts, it’s important to be as conscious as possible of our internal landscape. We have to make everything within “okay,” and then allow that to translate into the resultant outward expressions.
So, dear reader, please understand that God doesn’t make people diabetic. God doesn’t make meat or garlic offensive. And God doesn’t make plants more desirable as food. Humans and their karmas are entirely responsible for all of those things. Essentially, we come here because of karmas that dictate what comes our way, we usually react to those karmas which in turn is the cause of more karma, and then when that karma arrives, we continue reacting. In the incredibly short duration of time that spans between any two lifetimes, we create and react to enough karmas to keep up busy for lifetimes to come. Obviously, it takes no time at all for things to get messy. The messier things become, the more ways we contrive to supposedly find our way out of those karmic messes. This is fine, though. We need to do that and that’s why vegetarianism is preferable. However, it’s not the end-all-be-all and will not bring liberation to anyone.
Anyone who is afflicted with something like diabetes or ulcerative colitis or spina bifida isn’t cursed by God – because God doesn’t act/react in the way humans do. This is deserving of our special attention because how we view and understand God directly shapes our religious/spiritual behaviors.
Anyone who finds themselves in a circumstance where meat is the only beneficial food choice shouldn’t fret. God is not allowing something that makes that person irredeemable and then holding it against that person. Instead, that person’s karma has landed them where they are and that person should see this as an opportunity, not a punishment.
Aum Mahaganeshaya Namaha