Bite Me, Ethically – Part 2

In the last post, I began writing about vegetarianism and my evolution where it is concerned. Truly, there are many people whose “package” as a unique being has meant that vegetarianism is wrong. And, truly, there are those of the persuasion that this couldn’t possibly be wrong for ANYONE. My views have evolved from vegetarianism not even being on the radar, to thinking I needed to adopt it and that other should too, to recognizing that not only are there a bajillion people out there for whom this is plainly wrong but also that – at times – I might be one of those people. That feeling, of meat being increasingly not right for me, has definitely plateaued. I no longer feel like it’s something I need to fuss about in any context, but I’d like to continue to explain a bit about where I sit with it all and why.

As I mentioned in the last post – it’s simply not right for some people. There could be many reasons for this and some of those reasons may well be temporary. Another blogger has touched on this a number of times in his own journey with the matter. There are times even when a person might very much want to avoid meat and it’s just not in the cards.

For some abstaining from meat means health issues. I’ve known a number of vegetarians who admit that they aren’t “healthy” eaters – but don’t worry! They’re avoiding meat so it’s all good. WHAT?!?! That’s ridiculous, and I would argue that any karmic benefit gained from not eating meat would be just as quickly and easily wasted by neglecting the “temple” of one’s own body. Ask any shilpi or temple architect and it might be argued that if you can’t do it properly, then you’re perhaps better off (in many ways) just not doing it at all. And along the lines of karma, I’ve written before about how our reactions and sentiments carried about meat eating can create way more karma than we’re unloading by avoiding meat.

I also, in many contexts, find vegetarianism to be hypocritical where it relates to sentient life. Many people who are vegetarian have made the choice to be so because they are uneasy about the idea that sentient beings likes cows, chickens, and pigs are farmed for food. Of course, given the chance and freedom these life forms would opt out of landing on your dinner plate or mine. They are aware of their own existence and would prefer to keep on existing, right? Right.

So, where in all of this does it become okay to pick-n-choose which sentient life we value and which we do not? Isn’t that in itself cruel? Yet that’s exactly what we’re doing as vegetarians. You see, if animals aren’t being farmed then plants will be. And plants cannot be farmed without the loss of life. I’m not talking about broccoli being aware of itself. I’m talking about the MILLIONS of instances of life that are killed just to make one bowl of meat-free salad. Even if we exclude the use of pesticides and likewise exclude the massive number of insects that are killed by them, any farmer will tell you of the massive number of snakes, turtles, rabbits, raccoons, mice and other rodents, and even larger forms of life, that are butchered in the fields where our lettuce and kale are grown.

So I’m morally evolved if I value the life of a cow but not that of a deer? There’s an interesting and well-written article on the Huffington Post about how true veganism (obviously different than the vegetarianism I’ve been writing about) should actually mean people become insectivores. You can read it here. There’s an article here that pertains to vegetarianism and it’s role in the destruction of life. If we’re choosing meat-free eating primarily because of principles like ahimsa and suffering of sentient beings, then you’re absolutely a hypocrite. I know those words might seem strong to some well-meaning people, but I say it’s true because anywhere you look in Hinduism’s holy texts you can read that the core, the seed, of all life is the same regardless of the life form. A cow might look and behave differently than a fox or a human because that’s the difference of living an existence as a cow versus another life form – but the amsha (spark) at the core of any life form is not different based on the life form itself. To think your salad has less blood on it than your brother’s steak is ignorance. And to think a cow or rat or praying mantis have differing values or worth is hypocrisy.

The plain fact is that, at this point in human history, choosing vegetarianism (or veganism) for reasons related to saving sentient life is not only hypocritical but also it’s not really even that humane. But people will believe whatever they wish and absolutely will rationalize whatever makes them feel better about their choices – because that’s what we all really want: justification for our ways.

There are also some texts sacred to Hindus that advise that the authentic sage, or advanced soul, eats whatever is given to him. I’d have to check, but I think one place I came across that was one of the Gitas (not the Bhagavad Gita, obviously). That was an immense lesson for me. The implications are profound and have nothing whatsoever to do with carelessness.

Obviously, all of these things should be considered and reconsidered when deciding to be a vegetarian or not, and the REAL reasons behind why one might. For me, the preference will remain overwhelmingly in favor of flesh-free eats, but probably not strictly and also not likely for the same reasons as the bulk of other people making the same choice.

Thank you.

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

Fleisch Fressen


Some time back, I posted some photos to my Facebook account. They were from another text sacred to Hindus, the Paramarthasara, which is sacred to non-dual Shaivites. I purchased a copy of this from my favorite bookery. Even if one only glances at some of the content of Avinavagupta’s Paramarthasara it becomes clear quickly the treasure within it. For anyone unfamiliar, and according to the preface of my copy of the Paramarthasara, Avinavagupta lived between 950 and 1000 A.D. and produced the Paramarthasara as a build-on to an already-existing Vaishnav text. Avinavagupta increased the verse count from 85 to over 100 and converted the text into a Shaivite scripture.

Twists like this, insofar as scriptural evolution is concerned, are a bit more common than realized. Another example is the Vaishnav incorporation of Ganesha into some of their stories and myths. It really goes both ways, and in Hinduism it goes more than both ways– it goes all ways! From where I sit, I’m unsure which verses were added by Avinavagupta, which were simply modified, and which verses he deemed to already parallel Shaivite theology close enough to keep as-is. At any rate, there are many that stand out to me and could be applicable to this series on Hindu vegetarianism – and I’d like to share one with you, dear reader. You can see a picture of it posted here below. You’ll notice the devanagari, the transliteration, and the translation, all followed by Yogaraja’s commentary, which isn’t entirely viewable but which I’ll be sharing a bit of below the picture.

Verse 69, Paramarthasara of Abhinavagupta

Verse 69, Paramarthasara of Abhinavagupta

“He eats not according to dietary rule, but whatever may come, without considering whether that food is pure or impure, unpleasant or sweet in taste. In other words, free from any consideration of what is advantageous or disadvantageous for him, the spiritual adept lives on the food which appears before him…It may be asked: How is this possible? The reply given by the author is that the spiritual adept remains still, unruffled, above the feelings of pleasure and pain…”

Here we can see deep truth spelled out well for us. Shaivite truth, Vaishnav truth… doesn’t matter. The question asked, “How is it possible?” is a good one, that many staunch religious vegetarians ask even today. How can you get to heaven if you eat meat? The answer is given in the shloka above and it’s mirrored in the Gita: One cannot achieve moksha without this form of Self control. The rules are – at best – meant as a guide; they are not the destination. Indeed, this form of Self control is the key to governing one’s karmas and doing away with them – Karma Yoga.

This is actually indicative of deep realization of the Truth and high spiritual development. Whenever a devotee or aspirant invests enough effort travelling the path back to our Source, little by little, Truth opens to that person and while they still may live according to certain specific principles they are no longer bound by those principles. It’s from this supreme outlook/wisdom that Krishna advises Arjuna that it’s detrimental to be so greatly affected by life’s happenings – even when violence is involved, like killing your kin. This is a point where Jnana balances everything, always bringing one to (or closer to) equipoise.


Enter: Karma Yogis.

As with any action we make, our dietary choices are directly related to one’s practice (or absence of practice) of Karma Yoga. Karma Yoga affords special emphasis to one’s behaviors, and usually the context those actions are placed into is that of being beneficial to others. Karma Yoga is often then accidentally understood to be largely synonymous with seva (service to others), which is really only a small part of practicing Karma Yoga, in the same way that non-violence is often taken to be the “everything” behind ahimsa but is actually only a small part of. It can be argued that, by far, most people neglect to take Karma Yoga deeper than that. They manage to convince themselves that if they do good works and don’t expect anything in return (which they mistake to be completely synonymous with karmaphala vairagya, renunciation of their actions’ fruits), liberation will come to them. What a horrible disservice to one’s spiritual progression!

Karma Yoga is about the renunciation of the effects of one’s deeds on all levels not the just outward and obvious levels. Doing something for the simple and pure sake of doing it is something so very few people can even mentally grasp, let alone outwardly exhibit in daily life. And even when it seems like someone might truly be doing something purely for others, that inner landscape I’ve mentioned before still pollutes the whole thing. There often remains a glaring disconnect between the outer where everything is seen and the inner where everything originates. It’s in this context that so many humble “servants of the servants of the Lord” are actually fools simply engaged in mechanistic acts – which they incorrectly think equate Karma Yoga.

Another book I’ve been reading is The Yoga of Nutrition – in the book itself, this form of yoga is called Hrani Yoga. Much of the book so far has been boring and dealt a lot with mindfulness during eating and offering some instructions on how to view our food and habits involved when we’re eating. One thing said, though, I kind of like. The author, clearly Hindu, references a biblical passage where Jesus advises folks that it’s not what goes into the body, but what comes out from it that determines a man’s spiritual expression and development. Mind you, I think there’s ample support in the Bible to indicate that people aren’t meant to eat animals, but that’s for another day and another post. Certainly Jesus knew what he was talking about and I think, in this case, the Hrani Yoga author does too. He mentions, “Jesus certainly never advised his disciples to eat anything and everything: it would be unthinkable for an Initiate to give such advice, for it is only when one has done great spiritual work capable of changing impurity into light that one is free to eat whatever one likes. And the reverse is true too: unless you have made your mind up to work at your spiritual development, even the best food will not have the power to transform you. What counts is the strength of your inner life, of your thoughts and feelings.”

Aum Mahaganeshya Namaha
Aum Shanti

Diabetic Deity

Image taken from Google Image search

Image taken from Google Image search

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
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

WICKED Li’l Old Me

Taken from Google Images

Taken from Google Images

Everyone seems to have the understanding that holy people, or spiritually advanced people are only humble. After all, the meek shall inherit the Earth, no? (Bible, Matthew 5:5)

However, I’d like to convince you that humility can be a problem in a way identical to that of arrogance or pride. Some posts ago I mentioned that I believe many carnivorous humans are better off from a karmic standpoint, and spiritually, simply because of the ignorant, emotional, and often irrational aversion so many vegetarians have regarding the subject. The post seemed to go virtually unnoticed, which doesn’t bother me in the least, but based on my understanding of how thoughts, emotions, actions, and karma in general work, I really do feel that many who are vegetarian are at times hurting their own progress more than those who bite sentient beings for sustenance – not because of the vegetarianism, but because of the samsaras they build up around the choice. All of that hinges on something good and virtuous (non-violence, non-aggression, vegetarianism) being taken to an extreme.

Religions and spiritual traditions throughout time and around the globe are guilty of this in one context or another, to one degree or another. Of course, some religions are inherently more inclined toward the live-and-let-live model and so there are those who are perhaps “less” guilty of this imbalance. Still, guilty is guilty and people who live in glass houses ought not to throw rocks.

To a lesser degree I think this same principle is sometimes also at work when it comes to humility. Too many people are timid when it comes to displaying a warrior spirit in their own lives. A hymn from the Vedas, in part, says, “Ati Vinayam Dhoortha Lakshanam…” which translates as, “Too much of humbleness is an attribute of a wicked person.”

But how can this be? How can a virtue like humility lead one to wickedness?

Umm… how about by being emphasized or implemented in such a way or to such a degree that it becomes detrimental. Initially, the detriment would be applicable only to the immediate life state of the one exhibiting this imbalance. That person would end up essentially being walked on or abused throughout his or her existence, and while that saddens my heart, I can see, that on that level, it’s still only a localized misery – again pertaining to individualized samsara. If allowed to go further, however, the localization ceases and others begin to suffer, too – others who might need a so-called warrior, Vira, to help maintain or restore balance. The absence of this assertive warrior spirit is adharma, and this is why the Vedas tell us that “too much of humbleness” makes someone wicked. Too much humbleness is an imbalance and is adharmic. So much of the Hindu dharma points to the at-least-occasional need for exhibiting warrior-ness: everything from yogasanas to the Bhagavad Gita hint at this.

If someone tells you you’re going to hell for eating cows, tell them to mind their own damned business and worry about themselves not going to hell. If someone tells you your friend or guru is corrupt or fraudulent, hold them accountable for those accusations – if they refuse, they need to fuck off and you need to make them aware of as much, and if they can offer proof your life has been made better. If someone repeatedly and directly badgers you about your own ishtadevata or chosen scriptures, I do hope you have spine enough (and bhakti enough) to adhere to your spiritual home AND tell them to do the same.

So many people think that if one is humble they’re “good” and if they’re not, they’re not. But the truth is, humility is much like aggression in that it possesses degrees of expression. Ideally, humility is best expressed through patience, understanding and compassion – not necessarily meekness. If one keenly develops these traits, humility will manifest without compromising other areas and without leading to adharma/wickedness.

In posts like this, I eventually begin wondering if my point is lost. Like the vegetarian samsara post, it’s such a broad and deep subject that can be taken in so many directions. It’s actually a challenge to write about effectively without composing an entire book on the subject. If nothing else I’d like to leave you with just two recommendations:

1) Cultivate a keen inner awareness. Progress without this is infinitely more difficult.

2) Follow Krishna’s advice to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. Sometimes we’re called to be warriors. Sometimes dharma, whether localized or general, depends on us being loud, assertive and even bossy. History has shown as much.

Om Jai Shri Ganeshaya Namaha
Om Shanti


For a class I recently took, a paper was due. It was small and trivial. We were advised to pull from a list of pre-authorized topics to write about. I chose methods of weight loss. Obviously, a portion of the paper pertained to nutrition. Another aspect of weight loss mentioned in my paper is, in Sanskrit, mitaahaaraa. It translates as something like, “dietary moderation,” or “moderation in eating.” Certainly applicable, nahin?

In a class I’m now in, another paper is due. A research paper. Again, we’re advised to select a topic from a pre-made list. Of all the possibilities, I whittled my choices down to two. Culture, and vegetarianism. I’ve done some preliminary work in both directions just to feel things out. So far, I’m strongly leaning toward writing about vegetarianism. For the record, according to the Himalayan Academy, an American branch of Shaivism, the Sanskrit for vegetarian is shaakaahaaraa.

I’m feeling pretty good about this choice, with one possible exemption: like my other class, this pertains to nutrition. In that regard, I feel like I’m not being very creative. I do however, plan to overcome this. Here’s how…

The faculty teaching this class is a Christian. A REAL Christian …he’s a minister. He’s truly fantastic and brilliant and, in class-related things, very moderate and reasonable. He appreciates my work and even confided to me that my paper about weight loss not only kept his attention at midnight (while grading my rough draft; he meant this literally), but that he also shared it with his family (the final draft). Beyond these things, I suspect he’d just as soon vote (and probably soon will!) against me and my kind ever marrying.

He knows that I deeply want to also be an “official” man of god (I shared to the class during an ice breaker exercise that since before high school graduation, I’ve wanted to me a monk). And he suspects my religion differs from his own. Beyond these, admittedly very personal things, we haven’t gotten very personal. If that even makes sense.

So back to my paper on vegetarianism. I’ll probably afford it some kind of Sanskrit title, or perhaps a clever translation/interpretation of what I would title the paper, were I to use a Sanskrit title. And while I imagine I will likely touch on the nutritional benefit of abstaining from meat products, that won’t be my paper’s focus.

I’m aiming to write about the religious and cultural significance and implications, as well as some of the history, of vegetarianism. Even more, I plan to find biblical support for this practice! Assuming I can find enough non-website-based resources, and assuming that my APA formatting is impeccable, this should be an attention-getting A+ in my pocket.

But, alas, I’m apprehensive. Two things can usually be assumed of those who adhere to the Abrahamic Faiths. The first is that they often believe that any knowledge they already possess is complete. Secondly, they don’t like to “mess” with that knowledge and they don’t like others -especially those they consider less than themselves, or otherwise outsiders- “messing” with that knowledge either.

I’ll either ace this paper or bomb it like none other.

Om Shanti