If You’re Only Just Beginning

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

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


Bite Me, Ethically – Part 1

I’ve been meaning to write and complete this post for waaaay too long. Between obligations with school, work, and trying to iron out home buying / selling – it’s been a lot to juggle. The death of my birth mother didn’t help things to slow down any. The last six or eight months have meant a lot of evolution in regard to my views on eating and I hope to explain that to some degree in this post.

Growing up, we were raised somewhere in between allowed to eat anything we wanted and not. The general rule was just about anything in moderation, with a careful eye on junk food. I recall that we always had home-cooked meals, almost every day. I recall, too, that we weren’t allowed to stuff ourselves just whenever and often if we didn’t want to eat what was cooked for dinner, then we either caught hell or were sent to bed early, or both. We could drink as much milk or water as we wanted (we would often go through 5 gallons of milk in a week’s time!), but soda was something we had to receive permission to drink and even then that permission was granted only occasionally and for limited portions. My mom and her son both have battled cholesterol issues since forever, and we sometimes ate Egg Beaters instead of real eggs, but otherwise we really could just about have had anything to eat – in moderation.

Of course as I grew into adulthood this was the foundation of my decision making where it regarded food – although I sometimes ignored that foundation blatantly. In my early twenties I ate as much of anything as I wanted. My metabolism was apparently through the roof and despite eating most of a package of hot dogs in one sitting or consuming an entire box of Little Debbie Swiss Rolls in 20 minutes or less, I found it very tough to gain weight.

As I entered mid-twenties, and even while ending that decade of my life, the weight crept on slowly and it was kind of nice. Where before the only feedback about weight I ever received was how jealous some were of my for being allowed (by Nature?) to eat whatever I wanted without apparent consequence, I began instead to hear how well the additional pounds actually fit me. Now, as I enter my mid-thirties I have to be more diligent about content and portion control when choosing what to eat – this is the time of my life when, if I’m not careful, I’ll end up hypertensive or pre-diabetic like so many others.

Interestingly, it was in my early twenties that I adopted more of a Hindu identity and throughout that development it never once crossed my mind that I should eat “like a Hindu eats.” Of course, hindsight being 20 / 20, I can see how immature and frankly amateur that ideology is. It’s entirely backwards! You should do things (or don’t do things) because of what that means to you – not because you have adopted a label and need to make it fit. You do things, and then wear the most fitting label. That is, if you’re into labels. Another thing I didn’t realize back then – which holds true even today, over a decade later – is that the overwhelming majority of authentic / native / “legit” Hindus I know (I’m specifically referencing ethnic Hindus and of those, those who practice what is known as the Hindu religion) are omnivorous. With that in mind, trying to “eat like a Hindu” is silly.

So, for the last 2-3 years (???) I’ve mostly been a vegetarian. But not really. All along I’ve allowed myself to have fish and some other seafood when the other options available were bad choices – although consumption of seafood was still a rare occurrence. I’d considered myself a Hindu for most of a decade before the decision to begin cutting flesh from my diet. I never once really, truly, or deeply felt that consuming meat was somehow “against” being a Hindu, just that it was increasingly not “right” for me.

The last two months, or so, have been very educational on what it means to be a good person in regard to food choices and my eyes have really been opened.

My gym monthly publishes a magazine called, “Experience Life” and as any magazine created by a gym would be, it’s filled with all manner of tips and educational articles that relate to being a healthier person in a human body. Every issue has sections devoted to educating folks on how to identify healthier foods and provides things like websites, stores, and recipes to help people access and incorporate these possible choices into their daily living. A few issues ago there was a significantly large article in the magazine about “ethical” eating. I’ll admit it wasn’t what I thought it would be. It consisted, basically, of a series of interviews with people – some of whom were everyday people like myself, some were activists of one kind or another, and some were food professionals of one kind or another (dieticians, chefs, farmers, etc…). For some reason, one stood out among them all. I don’t know why because her story wasn’t entirely unique among the interviews, although she was obviously quite educated and experienced first hand the things she talked about. She grew up like I did, enjoying a wide chunk of the broad spectrum of what humanity considers edible. But then she made the choice to be a vegetarian. Then, because of how we farm animals, she went vegan. (In my experience, people often become vegetarians for karmic reasons and vegans for socio-political ones.) I think she also tried everything from the Paleo diet to South Beach and everything in between. The end result of these decades of food warrioring left her quite educated on how her body responds to certain dietary exclusions.

She was consistently her sickest and weakest when excluding meats. This confused me a little because so many modern health problems can be traced directly to meat consumption. But that was the lesson of her truth (a shared truth she holds in common with millions of other very caring, educated, concerned and even spiritual people) – her current existence is better with at least some meat.

I found myself hearing mental echoes of what I’ve read in the Gita where Krishna advises Arjuna that nobody’s dharma is meant for someone else. When you zoom out to the broader “Hindu” picture and include things like Ayurveda, doshas, samskaras, karmas, and other things, it becomes easy to see how what’s right for one person could absolutely be wrong for another. Each human existence is an incredibly unique bundle of components that are still being added to and subtracted from – and have been for eons.

This was a bit of an eye-opener for me.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha – Aum Shanti

Easy, Sleazy Slut

Often my department is the loudest block of cubicles on our floor. We’re a mixed group and sometimes get quite chatty. But today, another section was actually a bit louder as they were making lunch plans.

A remote employee was in the office and those who work with him on a regular basis were trying to organize a group lunch out. There’s another man in the group who is vegetarian. I happen to know this man and he’s not pushy about anything but sales. I know for a fact that he wouldn’t make an ordeal out of wanting not to eat meat, but would instead probably just order from the menu what he was comfortable with.

As I’m overhearing the conversation surrounding the lunch location, I hear a lady pipe up and reference this dude with, “Well he’s the picky eater!” as though it was a hassle for someone to be selective in their food choices.

I think this is another instance where, like the military general mentioned in a prior post, people aren’t aware of what they’re actually saying it when they say it. Like saying, “I could care less!” when you actually mean that you COULDN’T care less. In that instance, you’re literally and mistakenly saying the exact opposite of what you mean. As with the general, this lunchtime lady wasn’t aware of a difference existing between being picky and responsible.

Another interesting thing I noticed is that we’re expected to be a bit “picky” with things like our clothing, our cars, our education, our housing, and our sexual partners – to name only a few – and if someone slacks in those areas people usually have something to say, implying that pickiness is good. We’re supposed to have standards, after all. Anyone who isn’t picky to some degree about their clothing is labeled a slob. And anyone who isn’t picky about their sexual partners is labeled an easy, sleazy slut. Even fitness buffs who refuse to eat junk food in any form aren’t called picky – People might say instead things like, “Oh he doesn’t eat the good stuff!” or “He only eats healthy!” but whatever they might say, it’s not actually critical.

Of course, when it comes to food the aforementioned value of standards goes out the window. Anyone “picky” with what they eat or won’t eat where meat is concerned is somehow a pain in the ass. I think people are a pain in the ass when they order $30 of food in the drive thru, or when they ordered their Starbuck’s at 130 degrees and it’s only 125 degrees when they get it and complain, like they can tell a 5 degree difference. I can even see vegetarians being a pain in the ass if they insist on making a religious or political campaign at every meal and can’t be around others eating meat without contorting their faces in displeasure (judgment). But simply abstaining from foods not possible without a self-aware life form dying a fear-filled and sad death is not being a pain in the ass.

It’s being kind.

Aum Shri Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

नहीं अंतिम शब्द

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

I’m sure I’ll be writing about Hindu vegetarians (shakahari) again in the future, but for now I feel like a dead horse has been kicked enough. Plus, I have other posts and series I’m hoping to get moving on.

As usual, my goal was to cover something thoroughly and, because nothing in life is truly isolated, often that means I end up covering more than the actual topic I intend to write about. I don’t like to leave hanging anything that might cause questions for readers. I can only imagine the confusion my many rabbit trails cause. Please know, dear readers and sweet friends, if you’re able to keep up with my long-winded babbling you are almost certainly ahead of the game.

My entire goal was to detail how nearly unnecessary vegetarianism is to being a “good” Hindu. It helps. It’s definitely preferable. It’s something that should be far more natural to humans that it currently seems to be. But it’s not necessary. In fact, there are some sources that indicate that even inside the borders of India as much as 80% (an even higher percentage, according to some sources) of all Hindus consume meat – and those figures are considered to be a little off on account of some fibbing, saying they don’t eat meat just to save face. Certainly the percentage increases with Hindus who are found in nations where flesh foods are the major source of nutrition. Many will attempt to deny this because of a romanticized idea of what it means to be a “good” Hindu.

I’m telling you that other steps we take on our journey to our Source are weightier when it comes to gauging and encouraging our individual and collective progress. Vegetarianism is meant to be a byproduct, an aside – the result of something bigger. If that “something bigger” doesn’t properly start from within, the karmic results will be disappointing. Please believe.

I said early into this series that I would never be pressuring anyone to adopt vegetarianism; that remains true and will continue to be true of me. However, I’ll use this here sentence to gently encourage the good people who read my words to seriously consider it. Even more important, is for those of us who have already come to a vegetarian conclusion to afford fellow humans the same compassion we extend to other conscious creatures among us. Vegetarianism is an outward practice and is not enough to make anyone better than anyone else – search your soul places and be sure you’re as good as you think you are.

Aum Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

A Seat At The Table

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

In the disclaimer I offered back on May 25th of this year (which can be read here), I mentioned that there are many kinds of Hindus, and thus many expressions of Hinduism. The kind of Hindu I want to write about is the carnivorous kind. I hope you brought your big mind to class today. I also hope you have your reading glasses and ample time to not only read what is likely to become a rather lengthy post, but ample time to mentally masticate the suchery about to be included. Aum Ganesha!

Before I dive deeply into what I’m planning here, please allow me to be clear: I’m not condoning carnivorous practices among humans. It’s my opinion that our current methodology for farming meat products is not only wasteful and inefficient, but also immensely cruel. I also believe there’s more than enough scientific evidence to support the theory that humans are anatomically and physiologically designed to consume primarily plant material for our nutrition needs. Lastly, I do think, for various reasons which I may end up not going into very much, that humans – as spiritual and intellectual organisms – function optimally when abstaining from eating meat. Beyond that, I’m not mad at folks who chomp beasts.

From where I’m sitting, this topic is a source of contention and too many misguided, skewed intentions. In the middle ages, Christians hunted other groups of people who they perceived to be a threat of some sort. Mind you, those Christians didn’t simply decided against a group and then plot its extermination. There was something about one group or another that was perceived to be a detractor to the process of “saving” the world, or was seen as a roadblock of sorts for those attempting to gain entrance into eternal heavenly paradise. Everyone wants paradise and some people want it for others, too. This was the goal of Christians then, but what ended up happening instead were things like the Crusades where folks were literally hunted and killed for not being Christian. Interestingly, during these times even Christian priests were tested – by vegetarianism. If they refused to eat meat, they were accused of having been influenced by the religion of Manacheanism and would be killed. Some could read this as indicative of the violence inherent in Christian doctrine. I’ll let you take those thoughts where you will.

I find that something along these lines, although not to the same extreme degree, happens in Hindu/Buddhist circles. There are many many scriptural texts in the Hindu religion. Many of those texts strongly advise that eating sentient beings isn’t too far removed from eating another human and at times those same texts precisely detail the karmic and spiritual repercussions – sometimes with an amount of detail that causes me to question the validity of that kind of precision. What’s often overlooked, though, are the parts of the Hindu family that either say nothing about abstaining from meat, encourage killing in some contexts (perhaps for sacrifice or beacuse of so-called duty), or advise that being too against meat eating is no different from actually consuming flesh yourself.

That last bit is important. I personally know a numerous number of vegetarians and vegans who believe that abstaining from fleshy chews will save their souls all the while completely ignoring the inner landscape they’ve cultivated around the subject and all the resultant karma they’re incurring because of it. All of our external actions have seeds which are subtle, many being as subtle as our own thoughts and emotions.

Please understand that aversion is ultimately, qualitatively, no different than desire – both are dangerous traps! This is affirmed/confirmed in the Gita by Shri Krishna, himself. Ultimately, perception of “goodness” is meant to be avoided as much as perception of “evil.” The only possible benefit of cultivating an abundance of “good” is pleasantry of experience. Be sure – the two are essentially the same. Hating or despising the consumption of meat will put you in the same samsaric/karmic boat as those who actually eat meat. Karma is karma, after all, and even the smallest amount of the most subtle karmic expression is still enough to imprison one on the wheel of death and rebirth – preventing moksha from being yours.

I want to show that, while there may be plenty of Hindu Scriptures or accepted concepts that strongly encourage a meat-free life, there are also scriptures that proclaim the more ultimate benefit of transcending such preferences. I’ll write more about that later. One should also note that there’s a key difference between encouraging someone in a behavior and simply not condemning them for it.

I also want to briefly visit what is probably the most common reason for abstaining from meat: Ahimsa. Most understand the term to simply and broadly mean nonviolence. This is true, but at best this definition only half covers abstention from meat. That’s because, at best, “nonviolence” only half defines ahimsa. Taking the definition of a word like ahimsa to be fully encompassed by something like “nonviolence” is like saying Brahman is as simple as “God.” It’s simply not (completely) true. This form of simplicity is at work in other forms of fundamentalism where something important is whittled down to chewable bites, and then those bits are said to contain every flavor of the original. As with any other Sanskrit word, there are numerous layers of meaning, and saying ahimsa means nonviolence is like saying you are your skin. It should also be pointed out that true nonviolence is not possible in ANY life. This is something else that is key to remember and is a prime example of how fundamentalism works, even within Hinduism. You end up throwing out practicality and reason. Other layers of ahimsa are possible in life, with effort, and when ahimsa is applied to a spiritual context those deeper layers are what’s being pointed to, not simply nonviolence. With that said, ahimsa alone makes a great case for better living, but not specifically a vegetarian diet.

Karma is another word that’s quite often tossed around when arguing whether meat eating is massively detrimental within the perennial context. Everyone seems to be under the assumption that all killing is “bad” and that all “bad” actions create undesirable results. If this were really the case, the warrior caste would be lower than the Shudras and would certainly be doomed to hellish places lifetime after lifetime, and Krishna wouldn’t have advised Arjuna that to kill humans (humans he loved!) is the dharmic thing to do. This is further support that the concept of non-violence isn’t meant to be so encompassing. Surely, with God represented equally in all sentient beings, if there are times when it’s literally righteous to kill other humans, there must also be times when it’s okay to kill “lesser” beings – although not necessarily for food. Still, I have a hard time believing that someone who enjoys a hamburger is automatically somehow karmically worse off than a soldier… at least here in the Kali Yuga.

Three Hindu scriptures do sufficiently well at illustrating all of this – not that consuming flesh is ok, but that it’s worse (or just as bad) to have an aversion to it. Due to the current length of this post, I’ll save the actual meat of what I’m getting at for another post, which is just as likely to be as broad as it is long. Stay tuned if you care.

Jai Shri Ganesha!

Aum Mahaganeshaya Namaha
Aum Shanti

Ein Frisches Fleisch Fressen


Someone I’ve known for years, but now only see on Facebook, has gone off the deep end. Truly, he’s been off the deep end and has resided thusly for quite some time already. He’s an activist at heart and I suppose understanding his perpetual inclination toward diving head first off the deep end helps me to tolerate him. Recently, he ranted about his veganism. Mind you, he’s very out-spoken about veganism, the conditions on slaughter houses, environmental impact of meat farming, etc… VERY OUT-SPOKEN. In a recent status post, he vaguely mentioned that he detests being questioned about his dietary preference when he goes places and is surrounded by omnivorous human animals. He went on and on, vehemently, about how unfairly the scales are tipped and how he loathed it all.

I advised, as simply as I could, that these questions he’s getting are truly an educational opportunity and that he shouldn’t forget that one always catches more flies with honey than with vinegar. But he made me realize… From a karmic standpoint, vegetarians are all too often no different than meat eaters.

Surely eating meat can have an effect on one’s karmic balance. Surely abstaining from meat eating can also affect that balance. A number of religious sects have spoken on this quite extensively in regard to the karmic effects of consuming sentient beings for nutrition. Some of them have spoken so precisely on this matter, which I consider quite vast and in many cases quite unknowable, that I begin to doubt the claims they’re making. For instance, I don’t think karma works like, “an eye for an eye.” If that were the actual case, as Gandhi apparently said, the whole world would be plunged into blindness! I think it’s more likely that karma works like, “(the value of) an eye for (the value of) an eye.” I don’t think that those who kill in this lifetime are automatically doomed to be killed in a following life. Karma works precisely and evenly, but not usually in a manner that’s that cut and dry.

Also, and this is my main point, our actual actions are – at best – a very small part of karma. That might sound odd considering karma is often translated simply as “action.” But what’s key here is that every thing comes from something before it – a seed, if you will. Everything results from the seed of its own kind. An acorn, while it will produce a tree, will never produce a palm tree. Understand? Likewise, all of our outwardly-expressed actions come from subtle, internal seeds – our thoughts and emotions. Our thoughts and emotions have seeds of their own, which come from even deeper within our being – none of that I plan to discuss right now. I’m saying that we don’t “do” things (karma, action) because we “did” things (karma, action), rather we “do” things (karma, action) because we “think and feel” things (the seeds of our karma, action).

Unpleasant, unbalanced, unwholesome thoughts perhaps make it acceptable within someone’s mind for him to chomp creatures for food. Those thoughts and feeling may have roots in prior life cycles, but they result in outward actions in the here and now – and so we have not only the desire for flesh on our plate, but the need for slaughterhouses to make that a reality. Similarly, when someone avoids meat and has such an immense aversion to the practice, it will quite often follow that this person will somehow express that aversion, which is itself the result of unpleasant/unbalanced/unwholesome thoughts. No matter how you slice it, bad seeds make for bad deeds.

And so, you see, either way, one’s karma is negatively affected. I’m not saying it’s pointless whether one cares about eating meat or not. My own inclination is quite the contrary, and I believe this deserves the careful consideration of all. My point is only that being “pro” something bad (like eating meat?) is likely no worse (or any better) than being “pro” its opposite (like vegetarianism), or vice versa. My point is supported by Krishna in the Gita, as well as other important yogic works like the Yoga Vasishta and Paramarthasara. (I’m happy to supply references, and have even created drafts for future posts citing these, but the drafts are already quite lengthy!)

A true yogi (probably) abstains from meat – yes. Fair enough. But that same yogi neither loves the plant chewer nor detests the meat eater. If you think you’re ahead of the game because of your culinary choices, you’re certainly deluding yourself. The Bible says, “Pride cometh just before the fall,” and I can tell you that to view those damned dirty meat eaters as lesser or lower – or even meaner – than yourself is a grave mistake if you ever plan to exit the wheel of death and rebirth.

Jai Shri Ganesha

Om Shanti


A reposted pic that came on my Facebook newsfeed recently said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” I’m adding that pic to this post for your viewing enjoyment. This struck me, actually, and it reminded me of the quote by Alexander Hamilton that “if you stand for nothing you will fall for anything.” I think the superficial understanding/interpretation of these two is bologna, and I plan to explore them in more detail here. Tune out now, if you care not.

Let’s take the second one first. So, apparently, if you stand for nothing you’ll fall for anything. I don’t think so, really. I think one implication here is something like, “If you don’t know where you are, you might end up anywhere.” (Which, conveniently enough, ties into the other saying being examined in this post!) My husband is actually a great example of why this is bullcrap. He’s not religious in any way, but he does know devotion. He doesn’t focus on humanitarian stuffs, but cares much about the well-being of our society. He votes, and usually Democrat, but he’s not officially affiliated with any one side. He shirks the label of vegetarian, but he’s like 98% plant-based in his eating. In more than one area of his life, it could easily be said, he doesn’t actually stand for anything. And officially, he pretty much refuses suchery. Yet, he’s actually quite clever and reasonable and is by no means a person I’d suspect would “fall for anything.” I think this particular phrase, from someone of western culture and of the Abrahamic background, is typical. In a billion other religions and cultures around the world, folks have been encouraged to know their path and stick to it. But historically this has been taken to extremes in the West by the Abrahamics, who perpetually insist that not only must you be wrong for them to be right, but that if you’re not for them you must automatically be against them. And so, for people of that mindset, it naturally reasons that if you stand for nothing you’re an idiot who will fall for anything. My spouse refuses to stand for most things (at least in the way most people would expect someone to stand for something), but he is by no means someone who falls for anything. In his case, it’s almost more a matter of avoiding the drama of standing for something else (for the record, this is not the same as being lazy!). I’m probably not doing him justice in this encapsulation, but he’s the best example I could think of right off. And that’s that. Standing for nothing does not equate or necessitate falling for anything. And so we move on.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”

I think, in short, this implies that if you don’t know where you’re going you’ll never really arrive. Unfortunate, aimless, wandering is the tragedy implied here. No? As with the previous saying, I think the inadequacy of this one is solved when taken from a dharmic perspective.

In most parts of most dharmic religions, a central understanding revolves around the concept that all comes from the same Source. The other side of that coin is that all returns to the same Source. Also understood, is that the Source (Brahman) is beyond all classification. “Neti, neti,” we say in Hinduism. Not this. Not that. The Source is not only everywhere we look and in everything we see, but simultaneously transcends all of phenomenal existence. Something else that highlights this point is known as Om Purnam, and it goes,

“Om purnam adah, purnam idam, purnat purnam udacchyate. Purnasya purnam adaya, purnam evavashishyate.”

This translates roughly as, “That is infinite, this is infinite. From That Infinite this infinite comes. From That Infinite, this infinite removed; The Infinite still remains.” It can be kinda lofty  to wrap your mind around at first, but it’s one of the best descriptions of Brahman, the simultaneous Source and Destination, that I’ve found and because of this I’ve had it tattooed around my left wrist/forearm.

So, coming back to our original topic, it’s quite literally impossible and illogical to not only not get where you’re going but also to mostly even to cognitively know where you’re going. It then reasons that not only are most folks who read things like the sign above misinterpreting it, but also are reading the very Truth! It’s technically easier for the human manas/buddhi/ahamkara to know where it’s not going that where it is, while at that exact moment and forever after, any road will get you there.

Om shanti

That Church


I recently finished a very basic composition class. The focus has required writing research papers, which, formally speaking, I mostly loathe. I enjoy sounding academic. I enjoy citing sources of my knowledge. I like challenging myself -especially at things I do often, like writing, and am likely to slack on.

I do not like research papers.

My topic was vegertarianism, which you may recall me mentioning a few posts ago. In a class prior to this one, I’d written briefly about exercise and diet, that was also a research paper, and for this class I was concerned that choosing vegetarianism would be too much of the same. Gladly, I took this paper in a different direction. I decided to speak a little (and only a little) about the cultural, environmental, and religious implications of vegetarianism. The limit on word count really hampered how much I was able to touch on anything.

You may also recall mention of the very Christian (a minister) member of my university’s faculty who was/is teaching this class. Truly, this man mostly awed me. I love everything that has anything to do with languages. In fact, one of my favorite websites is for omniglots. I go there often to study con-scripts and study foreign alphabets as well as hear pronunciation examples. Any time I encounter someone who can pick apart a language, I love them. I think I can’t help it. Truly, a person’s language and religious background influence the course of their life and shape how they see the world more than anything else. You can imagine the bliss I’ve experienced throughout the duration of this class and the last-both of which were taught by this same person. It might be noted that I was about the only student who grew goosebumps and  swooned when, as an aside, sentence diagramming was demonstrated on the dry erase board. <dreamy sigh> That stuff is art, for me.

So… I struggled with this paper, simple as it was. Between word limit and references being limited and kind of wanting to slant my writing in a way that would appeal the most to my Christian teacher (yes, I’m manipulative), I was almost stuck. With a paper I’d written before now, he confided to me in his feedback that he’d been so impressed with the paper’s content and structure that it not only kept him awake at midnight while he graded it, but that he later shared it with his family at the dinner table. I’m thinking this paper didn’t sit the same with him. Here’s why.

Although I tried, somewhat, to appeal to his Christian senses, I’m thinking this may well have backfired on me.

My paper’s introduction actually wasn’t too bad, and I feel it pulled at some Christian strings in the ways I had hoped, while remaining professional/academic. The rest of the body of the paper I pretty much just stayed on topic and got through it, with the exception of when I spoke on the religious/moral aspects of vegetarianism. I only mentioned Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity-focusing almost entirely on Hindu and Christian views. I cited the Qur’an, a youtube video by Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya and quoted a few Christian sources, including the King James Version of the Bible. To say the least, as with the rest of my points of discussion, I was unable to dive as deeply as I wanted. My conclusion was rather weak, but did the job I think.

The problem? I should have known better. With the exception of some Jews, most of those adhering to the Abrahamic Faiths think they are experts at their own dharmas. Either not realizing, or choosing to ignore, the convoluted histories of these paths, they ascribe a number of fancies to their religions … which basically amounts to serious cases of denial.

What kills me, is that this highlights a terrible tendency among Christians (in particular). Picking and choosing, in addition to selective interpreting when it comes to their own holy writings. If you realize and accept the notion of deeper, perhaps more abstract truths, then even if your starting place is in taking the words literally you still recognize there’s more than the black and white of the page. If you limit your own religion, however, you end up relying on the black and white of the page, only, and through the ages spend more time arguing over where periods and commas go than what the Truth conveyed might be.

Through the ages, virtually since their Scriptures were first written and then compiled, Christians have engaged in selective interpretation in order to achieve their personal wills, at the expense not only of the divine Will, but many many human lives. Depending on who they’re trying to conquer or convert, certain Scriptures hold more or less weight than others. Whether it’s burning “witches,” keeping blacks as slaves, women as property, or gays from marrying, Christians are notorious for manipulating their own Scriptures according to what they want to accomplish or prevent.

The same actually applies to vegetarianism. 1500 years ago Christian kings would put their clergy to “taste tests” that involved eating meats. The fear was that Manacheaenism had infiltrate the clergy and corrupted them. Any Christian priest or minister who refused or was even reluctant to eat meat was severly punished. Hatred for vegetarianism was a major player in beginning the Inquisition as well.

The funny thing? Of all the things that are “literally” spelled out in the Bible, few things are clearer than the mandate for human vegetarianism. There are lots of instances mentioned in the Bible about animal sacrifice or meals that were had, unclean versus clean and all that jazz. The New Testament tells us that what we put into our bodies doesn’t corrupt our soul (Gospel of Mark). However, if we’re to take the Bible as literally as Christians have historically insisted, Genesis should be no different. (I realize that, increasingly, some Christian denominations are recognizing a more broad was of viewing Scripture, but historically and even today this is not the norm. The same is to be said of Islam.) I understand that a reason often cited for why certain portions of the Old Testament are ignored, is that Jesus came to put an end to the Law. And that’s fine, but for two loopholes: Vegetarianism was mandated before The Law applied and is the way things ought to be- it was spoken directly by G/god to humans instead of to humans through another human, and vegetarianism isn’t a part of The Law at all.   

According to some, there are two creation accounts in Genesis. The first, is the one most are familiar with and this is the one I’ll be referring to the most. In this account of the beginning of life, God apparently tells the first humans, “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat” (verse 29). A verse or so later, the very same is said about what animals are to eat.

(As an interesting aside, two chapters later documents the apparent fall of mankind. This represents the beginning of the flawed world as we know it. The Devil assumed the form of a snake. The snake tricked the first woman and the first woman got the first man to disobey along with her. God finds out, and punishes all of creation. During this episode, while the Almighty is flexing his moody muscles, he tells the snake, the woman, and the man exactly what their respective punishments are to be. It’s because of this part of the story that I’m inclined to go out on a limb and say that even arguing that vegetarianism no longer applies because we live in a fallen world is a weak arguement. It’s in chapter 3 that Adam’s punishment is made clear to him, and that punishment affirms the continuation of vegetarian sustenance. Gensis 3: 17-19, “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” One can see here that nowhere does God punish Adam by saying, “You’ve messed up and now you have to kill animals and eat them.” I think the text suggests that He still meant for humans to be sustained on plants, and this is clear not only by G/god cursing the ground and telling Adam that he’ll eat from it in sorrow, but also by the introduction of thorns and repetition (from earlier Genesis) that herbs are to be eaten. What the heck kind of punishment would the introduction of thorns and cursing of the ground be, if we’re not concerned with plants?)

I’m not a Bible scholar in any way. Admitted. I’ll never claim to be, and truthfully, at this point in my life I’m thankful that I’ll never be. Never mind that, though, because that’s not the point. The point is that if the Christian Word of God is supposed to be taken literally, then let’s take all of it literally. Agreed? In that context, nearly all Christians are disobeying their own God, and for those Christians who are familiar with their own scriptures, they should be afraid because not much deeper into their holy writings it is made abundantly clear that their God is a jealous God and is also vindictive and fond of severe punishments, often exceeding what is warranted by any specific offense.

Beyond this, there are only two alternatives: Don’t take the Word of God literally, or, as happens mostly, conveniently pick and choose what you want to literally apply and what you don’t. If we’re not to take the Word literally then slavery should never have happened, nor half the wars ever fought between humans, and gays would already be afford the same rights as heteros. If we’re to opt for the pick-n-choose-as-is-convenient method, we soon find ourselves in the predicament we know today. Regardless of which route we choose, it’s obvious that things have only worsened along the way – but that’s a whole other post altogether.

Backing up eight crazy paragraphs, we return to the topic of my paper and how my approach to it may end up biting me in the butt. Precisely because of the convoluted and twisted nature of Christianity, today and through out most of it’s very young lifespan, I suspect that my minister-professor will likely be unimpressed or feel somehow challenged, if not outright offended, and that it may show in my grade. Truly, I’ll be very surprised if the oppossite occurs. As I’ve composed this post, it’s come to my mind that (knowing the exact content of my paper) my paper wasn’t written as slanted as I had originally hoped. In fact, it couldn’t have been because I didn’t have the space to go deep enough to slant much at all, let alone in a manner that would appeal to my target. <sigh> Who knows? My grade still isn’t posted and I’m sure by the time it is, I won’t have the time or energy or care to argue it.

Om Shanti.