Way back (okay I ain’t that old) when I was a teenager, I became vegetarian for about 3 months, influenced by a friend who was involved in a spiritual movement that considered the practice crucial. I stopped mostly due to family pressure, and being too young to understand why I did that apart from influence or have any access to material supporting or disagreeing with the practice, I simply succumbed. I regretted it a little, but eventually it was no big deal. Ever since then however, I have read many spiritual references, and come across many movements that promote the practice. And in my mind a struggle began, constantly attempting to justify why I did not think vegetarianism was important for spiritual progress.
Yet, something still nudged me to at some point seriously consider it, I am not sure what it was, whether it was some form of subconscious guilt, an inner guidance, God knows. With the recent events, as my stomach finds it hard to eat anything, I have been eating mostly light green food, except today where I had a veggie pizza at my friend’s. And something has changed in me, it is as if my mind in its state of sadness (or clarity? Bah, the monkey that is the mind!) has explicitly rejected meat-eating, I am not quite able to explain it, nor will I try, but I have decided to be vegetarian once more. I pray that I am able to keep this practice consistently henceforth, I feel it is right for me.
On a more general note, I am not fanatical about it (in the sense that I do not care if others do eat meat, not that I will only adhere to it when I can – the latter would defeat the purpose :)!), never have been, and if those of you who know me find me acting fanatical or preaching – hit me with a rubber duck or something (you know, since I don’t eat meat and all, a peking roast duck would probably be too cruel for me :P).
I have had conversations about vegetarianism with several people, and I have to say I find certain explanations from Caucasians to be the best. In general, vegetarian Indians and Asians tend to have been brought up in strictly vegetarian families, they tend to have a more hardline view on the matter. But people who practice of their own accord, they have a unique, often very personal view of things. An old Caucasian friend of mine, one of the gentlest souls I know (though I have not met him in ages), told me when the time is right, it will happen. An old lady, another gentle soul (whee, I know gentle souls!), who was very active in the Quakers movement said the same. A dear friend I hold in high-esteem, became vegetarian because she took care of different pets including chickens, and the thought of them being killed proved too much. At the time I did not believe I’d have actually voluntarily given up meat eating, and in a way they were right, and I am right – it is voluntary, and yet it is not, it just feels right, like for me personally, there’s no other way to go.
So, on the question of vegetarianism for spiritual progress – is it important? The answer is of course “it depends”, we live in the realm of relatives, nothing is absolute (and yet, there are absolutes that we often must hold on to so we don’t get shoved around… damn all this balancing!). At the end of the day, one has to do what one feels is right. I believe it is right for me, but I certainly do not feel it is absolutely the way to go for everyone. I do believe strongly in one thing though, humane killing (oxymoronic as that sounds) of the animals is vital. If they are to be used to sustain more life, at least they should be treated well while they live, and killed in a respectful way, involving little or no pain. In that sense, I believe the Muslim “Halal” concept to be a great way to go.
Oh well, time to attempt to sleep. Good night, blogosphere.