The Ionasphere
Meditation


THE COMPASSIONATE DIET

A New Chapter for Journey to the Luminous - by Arran Stephens, ©2/2001

When I discontinued eating the flesh of animals more than 37 years ago at the age of 20, I was motivated by a love and respect for life--a commitment kept without any regrets.  As a result, I soon discovered boundless energy, and my youthful vitality, wasted as it then was by substance abuse and wild living, became fully restored.  As my heart expanded, I saw animals as my younger relatives.  It was far more than a mere intellectual understanding.  I also found the practice of a vegetarian diet and abstaining from alcohol and drugs indispensable for progressing deeper on the meditation path.  It was only after completely embracing a vegetarian and teetotal life that my spiritual quest led me to a perfect Master, and subsequently, the inner science.

My wife's family had been traditionally vegetarian for generations and our four children and grandchildren have all enjoyed the benefits of a compassionate diet, with no nutritional, social or intellectual deficiencies.  As a non-medical layman, yet active participant in the wholistic health movement for decades, I've seen many fads come and go.  However, a balanced vegetarian diet for energy, concentration and longevity has stood the test of millennia!

History is on the side of the vegetarian way of life.  Whether we go back to Genesis, the ancient Vedas, to Mani, Christ, Krishna, or he Buddha, we find inspiration and support for a compassionate diet.  Rabia Basri, a woman Sufi saint of Iraq, and princess Mira of India, could not bear to eat the flesh of animals.  It is written that the Prophet Mohammed ate meat four times in his life--only when he was starving, whereas he otherwise enjoyed excellent health on a diet of dates, barley and camel's milk.

All that is womb-born must die, but during life's transition, it behooves human beings--said to e the highest form in creation--to be good, kind, noble, and true.  A noble heart extends compassion not only to humans, but to animals, forests, oceans, rivers, air, the land, and the cosmos.

I've personally known many healthy vegetarians who lived into their eighties and nineties, including the great yogi, Sri Raghuvacharya who passed away at 113 years.  Medical studies have confirmed that vegetarians on average, live seven years longer than meat-eaters.  The fact that most vegetarians avoid tobacco and alcohol must also play a role in their slightly longer and often more healthy average lifespans.  They too, however, have to leave the body some day!  Death is inevitable, but death is not the end.  To the mystic, death is welcomed as the harbinger of union with the Beloved of the universe.

In one of his verses, Kabir (1398-1518) exclaimed,

"Mercy and compassion flee from those who kill or cause animals to be butchered for their food; to the abode of fire do they go..."

St. Francis of Assisi, who could not bring himself to eat his brother and sister animals and birds, found his tender heart embracing the one life-principle in all.  Leonardo DaVinci--genius of the Renaissance, and a vegetarian, would buy birds from the market and set them free.  He was so strong that he could bend a gold florin between his thumb and forefinger.  Schweitzer, Gandhi, Einstein, G.B. Shaw, Yeats, Padre Pio and many other noble souls of the 20th century practiced a compassionate diet.  All lived long and productive lives.  Several world record-holding athletes have been vegetarian, dispelling the myth that meat is needed for strength and stamina.

"We dig our graves in the kitchen, and more quickly with our teeth," wrote Kirpal Singh.  He and other Adepts in the Sant Mat lineage have consistently advocated a sensible dietary approach to eat moderately from the table of Nature: fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, small quantities of fresh milk and cheese, clean water, coupled with fresh air and exercise.

When we realize that killing and eating the flesh of animals leads to difficult health problems later in life, if not painful circumstances in our next, we will begin to change our ways, goaded by an inner motivation.  For the millions worldwide who engage in some form of spiritual practice--whether deep prayer or meditations, soon discover that consumption of flesh and intoxicants impede the inner way.  Not just one great spiritual teacher has taught this, but practically all.

According to karmic theory, the consumption of plants results in little or no consequences, whereas killing insects and reptiles result in some small payment.  Killing mammals and birds may result in fines, prison or possible consequences in future lives, but killing a human is the most heinous deed, and usually results in life-imprisonment or the death penalty.  If unpaid in this life, all outstanding debts are transferred and adjusted in the next.  Those who cause suffering will suffer.  Those who bring joy and happiness, will reap similar rewards, however, both good deeds and bad have ultimately to be transcended.

In the Gita, Krishna has said, "Good deeds are like chains of gold, and bad deeds are chains of iron; both are binding."  Many spiritual seekers and initiates of various paths and teachers believe that the goal of life is self-realization and liberations.  Therefore, it is only natural to follow the way of compassion and kindness to all life, and to cultivate detachment from the objects of desire by becoming attached to something Higher.

A plant-based diet is not only varied and delicious, but is more economical, uses a fraction of natural resources, results in less medical bills, and is beneficial to planetary ecology--especially when produced organically.

Pure food, obtained honestly and without killing, helps our spiritual unfoldment and powers of concentration.  The body is a temple of the holiest of the holy.  The kind and quality of "fuel" is considered by most thinking persons to be of importance.  And how are mighty engines measured?  In horsepower.  Look how mighty and strong are the elephant, the horse, the ox, and the mountain gorilla!  What meat or pills do they consume?

Let us calmly consider what lifestyle and dietary decisions will most benefit our evolution and passage through this world.  Each individual's choices count in the collective legacy we impart to coming generations.

"Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution of a vegetarian diet."    ---Albert Einstein

"Until he extends the circle of compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace." --Albert Schweitzer

"It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth or is offended, or is made weak." --Romans 1:4

"I solemnly declare that it my last wish that when I am no longer a captive of this physical body, that my coffin when carried to the graveyard be accompanied by mourners of the following categories: first, birds; second, sheep, lambs, cows and other animals of the kind; third, live fish in an aquarium.  Each of these mourners should carry a placard bearing the inscription: 'O Lord, be gracious to our benefactor G.B. Shaw who have his life for saving ours!"
                                                --Shaw, in his 90th years when told he havee to eat meat to survive

"You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity."  --Ralph Waldo Emerson, Fate; the Conduct off Life, 1860

"It was said of them of olden time, 'Honor thy Heavenly Father and thy Earthly Mother, and their commandments, that thy days may be long upon the earth.'  And next was given this commandment.  Thou shalt not kill,' for life is given to all by God, and that which God has given, let not man take away.  For I tell you truly, from one Mother proceeds that that lives upon the earth.  Therefore, he who kills, kills his brother.  And from him will the Earthly Mother turn away, and will pluck from him her quickening breasts...And the flesh of slain beasts in his body will become his own tomb.  For I tell you truly, he who kills, kills himself and whosoever eats the flesh of slain beasts, eats of the body of death.  And their death will become his death...that is the path of sufferings, and it leads unto death.  But do the Will of God, that his angels may serve you on the way of life.  Obey, therefore, the words of God: 'Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.  And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth wherein there is breath of life, I give every green herb for meat.'  Also the milk of everything that moveth and that liveth upon each shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given unto them, so I give their milk unto you.  But flesh, and the blood which quickens it, shall y not eat."

"...If you eat living food the same will quicken you, but if you kill your food, the dead food will kill you also, for life comes only from life, and from death comes always death.  For everything which kills your foods, kills your bodies also.  And everything which kills your bodies, kills your souls also.  And your bodies become what your foods are, even as your spirits, likewise becomes what your thoughts are."
                                       --Essence Gospel of Peace, translated by Eddmond Bordeaux-Szekely

"Diet is indeed an important aspect of the spiritual life.  If we wish to follow the path of nonviolence and love for all creation; then we will adhere to a strict vegetarian diet.  In doing so, we will not only have compassion on the younger members of God's creation, and our fellow-man, but we will also have compassion on our own selves."     --Darshan Singh, Spiritual Awakening>

The early historian Josephus recorded that Jesus and the nazarene community to which he belonged were vegetarian, and teetotal.  Epiphanius, of the same period, noted that the Nazarenes:

"Forbid all flesh-eating, and do not eat living things at all."  --Epiphanius, Panarion 1:1.19 PES, p. 11

"I live on bread alone, with olives, and seldom even with pot-herbs...This is sufficient for me, because my mind does not regard things present, but things eternal, and therefore no present and visible thing delights me."  --Clementine Recognitions, VII: VI (of Sainnt Peter). CR pp. 340-341

In a well-documented and insightful work on early Christinanity, The Gospel of Jesus, by John Davidson (1995 Element Books), there is ample historical evidence that the direct disciples of Jesus were vegetarian and teetotal (John the Baptist, James the Just, Matthew and Thomas), and that eating of meat and drinking of wine were only introduced later by Paul of Tarsus, who was not a direct disciple.

About James the Just (brother of Jesus) it is written:

"He was holy from his mother's womb; and he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor did he eat flesh."
--Hegesippus, in Eusebius, History of the CChurch 2:23, CHE p. 125; cf HC pp.99-100

Clement of Alexandria wrote about the disciple Matthew:

"Happiness is found in the practice of virtue.  Accordingly, the apostle Matthew partook of seeds, and nuts, and vegetables, without flesh."

The laws of karma and reincarnation were also an integral part of the teachings of Jesus and taught by his direct initiate disciples.  The dilution of the Master's teachings was an effort to expand Christianity and make it easier for the masses to follow.  Exoteric Christianity expanded exponentially, but the inner mystical teachings became lost and misunderstood.  Emphasis shifted from the inner life of the spirit to outer rites and rituals, blind faith, dogmas, and the corrupt power of the priesthood.  Divorced from the inner spirit of love, charity and service to all, religious wars and bigotry frequently flared up.

A vegetarian diet, coupled with an ethical life and practice of meditation has a very positive effect on the individual.  Individual practice tends to universal awareness and a love for all creation.

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Last Updated 8/5/01
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