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Vegetarianism and Ahimsa

Cigno

Vegetarianism and Ahimsa
January 12, 2009, 05:34:02 AM
Quote
"Bhishma said, 'Utterers of Brahma have said that there are four kinds of compassion or abstention from injury. If even one of those four kinds be not observed, the religion of compassion, it is said, is not observed. As all four-footed animals are incapable of standing on three legs, even so the religion of compassion cannot stand if any of those four divisions or parts be wanting. As the footprints of all other animals are engulfed in those of the elephant, even so all other religions are said to be comprehended in that of compassion. A person becomes guilty of injury through acts, words and thoughts 1. Discarding it mentally at the outset, one should next discard in word and thought. He who, according to this rule, abstains from eating meat is said to be cleansed in a threefold way. It is heard that utterers of Brahma ascribe to three causes (the sin of eating meat). That sin may attach to the mind, to words, and to acts. It is for this reason that men of wisdom who are endued with penances refrain from eating meat. Listen to me, O king, as I tell thee what the faults are that attach to the eating of meat. The meat of other animals is like the flesh of one's son. That foolish person, stupefied by folly, who eats meat is regarded as the vilest of human beings.

 Mahabharata. Anusasana Parva: Section CXIV

                                                                                                                                                                                     

I have seen this topic in all the previous incarnations of the forum, but not in this one at least in a quick search.

I wonder how many people here is vegetarian, and why. If not, what do you think about the relationship between vegetarianism with the Ahimsa concept, and what's quoted above?

Re: Vegetarianism
January 13, 2009, 02:49:51 PM
If not, what do you think about the relationship between vegetarianism with the Ahimsa concept, and what's quoted above?

I was a vegetarian for many years. I quit it for two reasons: one, I no longer believed it was psychologically sound; two, I no longer believed it was healthy.

To correctly balance a vegetarian diet, depending on your blood type and body type, can be an arduous task. You are often missing things you need.

Further, I no longer agree with Ahimsa. I think it distracts from the real goal: organize the world in such a way that it perpetuates itself. Nature is horror and suffering and beauty and light; the two cannot be divorced, and it is hubris to try to do so.

If you want to end unnecessary suffering... end overpopulation, so that species can continue to exist. In contrast to that task, vegetarianism is a paltry substitute and a surrogate activity that takes the place of real action.

Re: Vegetarianism
January 14, 2009, 12:37:21 AM
On the other hand, there is something to be said for eating more vegetables and less meat, firstly on the fact that vegetables are easier to grow with less impact on the ecosystem as a whole, and secondly that nutritionally, even hunter-gatherers had various roots, tubers, fruits and such.  A diet too high in meat is not healthy either, nor is it in balance with the planet.  Also, the factory farm in which most meat is produced is an abomination which separates us from the actual process of the animals' life, and thus impairs our understanding and connection to the rest of the natural world.

Re: Vegetarianism
January 14, 2009, 07:30:56 AM

I respect the Mahabharata but disagree with it here, partly due to what DMBM said. Veganism these days operates more like a moral cult than anything concerned with nutritional health.


Thats the second post in a row of yours I have read with the word moral used as a derogatory term. Some people care about the suffering of animals-wimpy moralistic cult!

Anyway, nobody is going to learn anything if the forum moderaters keep deleting everything that doesn't adhere to the ANUS code.

Do your own research, most books that you find in a library that are fifteen or twenty years old are unbiased. A strict vegan diet is the healthiest in existence.

I've done research; it happens to be an area of interest to me.

My point about morality comes from the fact that the vast majority of vegan arguments I've encountered are founded on guilt, rather than letting the science stand on its own. Not saying this is your position - it's just my experience. The suffering of animals has less to do with eating meat and more to do with how the animals are farmed, an issue which is a symptom of overpopulation.

I don't really want to get into this argument any further as I've seen it enough times before and don't intend to derail the thread any further.


Re: Vegetarianism
March 16, 2009, 10:25:16 PM
The suffering of animals has less to do with eating meat and more to do with how the animals are farmed, an issue which is a symptom of overpopulation.
How did you come to conclude that overpopulation is the culprit? Pick out any rural town in America and you can bet it'll still have a Wal-Mart and a Starbucks. I'd put it to industrialization being taken as the bread, meat, and dessert. As Helmholtz, we've lost our connection to the animals. We have with them no longer a personal relationship and interdependence. Animals are an industry. We get this epic battle of industry vs. environmentalism for the souls of mankind which has got almost nothing to do with anything, especially not reverence for man, animals, or the natural world.

Re: Vegetarianism
March 28, 2009, 07:21:23 PM
The suffering of animals has less to do with eating meat and more to do with how the animals are farmed, an issue which is a symptom of overpopulation.
How did you come to conclude that overpopulation is the culprit? Pick out any rural town in America and you can bet it'll still have a Wal-Mart and a Starbucks. I'd put it to industrialization being taken as the bread, meat, and dessert. As Helmholtz, we've lost our connection to the animals. We have with them no longer a personal relationship and interdependence. Animals are an industry. We get this epic battle of industry vs. environmentalism for the souls of mankind which has got almost nothing to do with anything, especially not reverence for man, animals, or the natural world.

Back in realityland, you'd shop at Wal-Mart too. Why? Prices are much better.

What got us to this stage? Competition. If someone else offers it at a lower price, you lose. So you bow to the new order.

What brought about that order? An order that emphasizes quantity over quality, and thinks in singular, absolute universals?

Mass revolt, you say?

And what made the masses so powerful?

Oh... now you see!

Re: Vegetarianism and Ahimsa
April 09, 2009, 02:13:12 PM
I have been a vegetarian since I was a young child (age 4), out of my own choice.
I cant see myself living any other kind of lifestyle... even if it is hard to balance correctly.

However in relation to Ahimsa, perhaps it has something to do with aggression,
and the idea that the consumption of red meat causes aggression.
A vegetarian lifestyle, with lower levels of aggression would just be suited better with a peaceful religious outlook on life?

Vegetarians would also perhaps be drawn to a "no harm" lifestyle because of depression,
the diet is responsible for a lack of Vitamin B12 which is known to cause depression.
"It is for this reason that men of wisdom who are endued with penances refrain from eating meat"
 depressed people maybe just think more, compared to a happy distracted counterpart.

Re: Vegetarianism and Ahimsa
April 09, 2009, 02:18:33 PM
I only eat meat from local farmers that do not use any type of steroids or chemicals in raising the cow. I don't have any moral hang ups over eating animals to be honest.

Re: Vegetarianism and Ahimsa
April 09, 2009, 11:52:37 PM
However in relation to Ahimsa, perhaps it has something to do with aggression,
and the idea that the consumption of red meat causes aggression.
A vegetarian lifestyle, with lower levels of aggression would just be suited better with a peaceful religious outlook on life?

Quote
THE FOUR GREAT ERRORS
1   The error of confusing cause and effect. There is no more insidious error than mistaking the effect for the cause: I call it the real corruption of reason. Yet this error is one of the most unchanging habits of mankind: we even worship it under the name of "religion" or "morality." Every single principle from religion or morality contains it; priests and moral legislators are the originators of this corruption of reason.
   Here is an example. Everybody knows Cornaro's famous book in which he recommends a meager diet for a long and happy life — a virtuous life, too. Few books have been read so widely; even now thousands of copies are sold in England every year. I do not doubt that scarcely any book (except the Bible) has done as much harm, has shortened as many lives, as this well intentioned oddity. Why? Because Cornaro mistakes the effect for the cause. The worthy Italian thought his diet was the cause of his long life, whereas the precondition for a long life, the extraordinary slowness of his metabolism, was the cause of his slender diet. He was not free to eat little or much; his frugality was not a matter of "free will" — he made himself sick when he ate more. But whoever has a rapid metabolism not only does well to eat properly, but needs to. A scholar in our time, with his rapid consumption of nervous energy, would simply destroy himself on Cornaro's diet. Crede experto — believe me, I've tried.

Re: Vegetarianism and Ahimsa
April 11, 2009, 01:52:34 AM
I dont understand why the Mahabharata has been quoted in the original post. Vegetarianism is pretty deeply intertwined with Hindu philosophy. In the end if one does not accept Hindu notions such as Karma, Dharma, reincarnation, enlightenment and so on there is no other reason to practice vegetarianism other than ethical concerns regarding the environment and the suffering of animals.

Regarding Ahimsa, Hinduism has nothing against aggression. The text in question, the Mahabharata, is virtually a celebration of battle and the warriors code. War is considered to be normal and is in fact the duty of the Kshatriya. However war must be practiced in accordance with the rules of dharma - and that those innocent should not be harmed. In classical India, peasants would work peacefully on their farms, while within viewing distance Kshatriyas butchered each other on batltefields. Many people associate Ahimsa with its dogmatic, perverted Gandhiist variant - as being some sort of absolute religious dictate agaisnt all forms of violence. I interpret Ahimsa as taking the path that would cause the least harm whilst practicing ones Dharma.

Re: Vegetarianism and Ahimsa
April 11, 2009, 03:47:53 AM
I only eat meat from local farmers that do not use any type of steroids or chemicals in raising the cow. I don't have any moral hang ups over eating animals to be honest.

I raise and slaughter my own meat, and grow most vegetables/fruit as well. All is done in an Organic/Biodynamic way.
It is the only way to go.

Re: Vegetarianism and Ahimsa
April 11, 2009, 04:42:15 AM
I am not a Hindu, so this does not apply to me. I eat meat because I like meat.

I wish I lived somewhere where I could hunt for it though.

Re: Vegetarianism and Ahimsa
April 11, 2009, 08:03:59 AM
I was vegetarian for several years, and vegan for a brief period. While my reasoning was not as coherent or sincere as that expressed in the OP's quote, it was essentially similar: avoid unecessary cruelty.

Having done a lot of thinking, experiencing and "knowing" between now and then, my diet has changed to reflect my changing view of what is fundamentally right. I view the selected Ahimsa quote as corrupted/false religion, i.e, religion that no longer transmits truth because it has been diluted by "purely human" (as opposed to human but also "more than human") interpretations of reality.

Example:

"The meat of other animals is like the flesh of one's son. That foolish person, stupefied by folly, who eats meat is regarded as the vilest of human beings."

This quote is partially correct, but marred by reactionary moralism. Eating the flesh of an animal IS exactly like eating the flesh of your son, or your father, or your daughter, or yourself. And it is good and right that it should be so. It is good and right, because that cruel, harsh, apparently "evil" truth is part of a much greater pattern - a pattern which is at its root an expression of love/virtue/excellence/beauty. Death Metal Black Metal is right - nature is horror and light.... and even putting it this way is slightly erroneous at the highest level, as it implies that there is some distinction between the two at all.

Most authentic religions throughout the world express, either explicitly or in a playful, roundabout way, the understanding that there is really no sin except for ignorance. No particular action has any inherent value, no matter how cruel or benevolent. The goodness or lack thereof of an act has everything to do with the inner reality of which it is an expression, and nothing to do with the exterior reality of morals and consequences. That which is authentically good/holy/virtuous is that which is an expression of understanding/love of reality. That which is sinful is that which is done in ignorance/reaction-to/contempt-for reality. Fully grasping this concept, and also grasping the essentially good/excellent/beautiful nature of the world of natural phenomenon, with all of its blood and guts and terror and glory, one should be able to understand that the truly sinful attitude here is that which is expressed in the Ahimsa quote, and not that of the flesh-eater (at least not inherently).

Re: Vegetarianism and Ahimsa
April 11, 2009, 09:06:28 PM
I'm a vegetarian, and I have  been since the tender age of sixteen.  I have no moral pretensions about being one, in the long run all people will be vegetarians, since rearing livestock will not be a sustainable option.


Re: Vegetarianism and Ahimsa
April 12, 2009, 12:03:44 AM
since rearing livestock will not be a sustainable option.

That is a moral opinion.

Sustainable at what standard and for whom?