There’s a swami I learned about online and have followed from a distance – although I’m not really sure why. I suppose I’m intrigued by some of the things I notice about him. Recently, he spoke about meat eating and yoga. Here’s what he said, “When a person starts a practice of yoga, a strict vegetarian diet is necessary. Without this, it is generally not possible for the kundalini to move. Later on, vegetarianism is not so important, because as a person eats meat they actually experience the suffering of the animal. They experience the fear and anger that the animal experienced at the time of slaughter and they actually feel the pains of death. By going deep into this experience, they ease the suffering of the animal and they liberate its soul. In this way, they sever their bonds to the karma of eating meat. When meat is eaten with this kind of awareness, it does not create karma. But when meat is eaten without consciousness, it binds us to our own animal nature and increases our suffering exponentially. When we are caught in the nature of the body and mind, eating the flesh of animals is a great obstacle to liberation.”
I’ve not reflected on this enough to be able to say whether I really agree or disagree but I thought it was interesting because so many people have so many thoughts on the matter and his words are something, at least in regard to the wording he used, that I’ve not heard someone say before.
I think I did once read in the Ashtavakra Gita or some other Hindu spiritual text that a true yogi / holy man “accepts whatever food is offered to him.” A billion other sources from the Yoga Sutras to the Bhagavad Gita, in their own ways, also advise us to be practical, realistic, unemotional, without disturbance of the mind or ego, etc… when contemplating Reality and in our pursuit thereof. I guess, in indirect ways, those texts and teachings support what the swami has said here.
We always read about the “ideal” we should be striving toward. Words like sattvic, vegetarian, and bhakti come to my mind. Regardless of one’s background much of the same seems to be repeated. “Be the best you can as you reach toward The Goal, and doing it in such-n-such way is the best and most effective way.”
The swami’s words relate no less, but surely differently. I agree with him insofar as highly advanced people being able to eat “bad” stuff without the usual negative baggage the rest of us are trying to avoid. I’ve preached in a few posts here that most of us can’t even eat the “good” stuff without lugging along the exact baggage we’re trying to avoid by not eating the “bad.” And I agree that a kind of detox at the beginning of one’s yogic journey surely helps to ignite the process.
But what’s this about the yogi being able to feel the dead animal’s anger, pain, and fear? Could it be related to some of the claims made about people “noticing a difference” when they abstain from flesh products? Most of the time I’ve only heard this mentioned in regard to the feeling of having a bowling ball in one’s gut or feeling generally heavy and sluggish after eating much meat. Ellen DeGeneres once talked on her show about how she thinks we’re ingesting and digesting the fear and sadness experienced by the animals, in the form of their hormones released into their flesh tissues while being butchered, whenever we eat meat.
But even if we construe what the swami said to what others like DeGeneres have said and neatly tie everything together under a pretty, dharmic, meat-free bow, at what point does the consumption of that beast become the vehicle for its liberation? The swami mentions going “deep into this experience” to effect that animal’s freedom but… how exactly? It sounds like something that tampers with the akashic record or something.
And also, if one can have a bite of a burger and “taste” the animal’s fear and pain and anger, then wouldn’t that be a deterrent for the potential meat eater? Most of us don’t seek ugliness, per se, but it would then seem that to make the choice to continue eating meat is necessarily a choice to experience anger, sadness, and pain. Isn’t it? Or – I suppose one possible flip side of that is that it would mean that the more advanced a yogi is the more he should want to eat meat – all boddhisattvas incarnating in human form and concerned with the uplifting and liberation of each soul should hit the meat buffets in an attempt to free all those life forms who ended up on a plate. I suppose revealing these questions simultaneously reveals the distance I have yet to travel before reaching that level of yogihood, but I’m still curious about the answers.
Maybe the answer came in the form of the resultant dialogue I read. Someone else had read the swami’s words and the response was, “So if u know its wrong to do it and feel the pain of the animal eating meat does not create karma? Sounds like a very crap idea to me. It should have more negative karma since u know that the animal suffers and u still choose to eat it.”
The swami answered back, “If you do something you think is wrong, whatever that thing is, this will create karma. Right and wrong is a human concept. Try to think beyond right and wrong.” Perhaps this swami, like Patanjali and so many others who have taught such similar truths, has actually tasted objective and supreme Reality and has realized that the play of light and dark as experienced by the human brain, and mind, and emotions is ridiculously skewed and mostly unreal.
Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha | Aum Shanti