Killing and eating creatures contributes to chaos, violence
Judy Carman, author of "Peace to all Beings":
The enlightened founders and teachers of most of the world's religions have taught over many centuries, and continue to teach, that killing and eating animals contributes to the chaos, violence and endless wars in the world, and is not harmonious with God's highest will for us. Likewise, taking into our bodies the flesh of terrified animals prevents us from achieving the inner peace, wisdom, enlightenment and heaven within that we ourselves desire. The highest ideal for us regarding animals, they say, is to do them no harm. Clearly, they are telling us God does not want us to kill animals.
These principles have been well-known among Eastern religions for centuries, and vegetarianism is common among them. Recently, vegetarianism has gained new respect in the West, and many people of the Jewish faith, as well as Christians, are realizing the enormous spiritual benefits of a life dedicated to lovingkindness. Since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, more evidence is emerging that Jesus was a vegetarian Essene who lived and taught the values of nonviolence and compassion for all life. Well over 100 Christian saints and their millions of followers were vegetarian as part of their dedication to live as Jesus did.
Most people of faith agree that God is love and that we ourselves have the potential to express such divine love for all God's creation. What sense would it make for our compassion to be limited only to human beings, while 100 billion animals are killed in this world every year by human hands. Our hands are meant for blessing, nurturing, healing and sharing, not for killing.
- Send e-mail to Judy Carman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How can we alleviate their suffering and bring them joy?
Judy Roitman, guiding teacher, Kansas Zen Center, 1423 N.Y.:
In 1977 while driving cross-country, for a couple hundred miles, I was behind, to the side, or occasionally in front of a pig truck - one of those big rigs that hauls pigs up the highway. The truck was empty, but there was dried pig excrement dribbled down the sides, and somehow what the pigs had experienced was palpable to me. I didn't think much of it at the time. That night, I ordered what I always ordered for dinner on the road: breakfast. In this case, ham and eggs and hash browns.
But when I put a piece of ham in my mouth, something strange happened. I just couldn't swallow it. In that moment, I became a vegetarian. I wasn't planning to do it. You couldn't even call it a decision. It was a reaction so visceral that there was no arguing with it.
My friend Kyoki Roberts, a Zen teacher and priest in Pennsylvania, was a farmer for many years, raising pigs and sheep and chickens and cattle. She loves animals and took good care of them. Her animals led good lives. But she raised her animals to be eaten. I do not eat animals, but I am not as good or kind to them as Kyoki is. I have never put my mouth to the mouth of a baby pig to breathe life into it, as Kyoki has, many times.
So here you have two human reactions to the fact that other beings suffer, from two people who don't want to cause more suffering. How does God view the killing of animals? I have no idea. More to the point is: How can we alleviate their suffering and maybe even bring them joy?
- Send e-mail to Judy Roitman at email@example.com.