I’m not a hardcore vegetarian or anything, but lately, I’ve had a very hard time buying meat. A while back as I was standing in the store, I thought to myself that something’s not quite right here. Suddenly and out of nowhere, it hit me – I’m literally staring at chopped up body parts. Dead pieces of life, nicely packed and orderly stacked. So, what did I do? I left the store with a whole bunch of vegetables, but then when I finally got home, I realized I had absolutely no idea what precisely vegetarians eat on a day-to-day basis – apart from my friend’s infamous curry maybe but who wants to eat curry every single day? For so long, cooking hadn’t verged all that much of my attention on any regular day, but now, it was honestly just a mess of vegetables and an ex carnivore staring at them in a puzzled, sort of lost kind of way.
If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian. – Paul McCartney
But, things have changed. I filled peppers with mushrooms and rice, made pasta with a delicious goat cheese and veggie sauce, and my fridge is filled with stuff I actually know what do with. Overall, I’ve been feeling lighter, less sluggish, just … happier. In fact, my cooking probably improved and recently, I even started doing sports again. All in all, it’s been a great experience. And yet, I found myself puzzled. What was it that had been able to change my perspective so suddenly and, above all, so drastically? Well, a couple of days ago something else hit me: shortly before the Holocaust-like associations started to invade my thoughts in the store, I’d read Hermann Hesse‘s – indeed, you know him from my very first post – Siddharta.
Taken from animalethics
Siddharta’s story has of course nothing to do with eating meat. It’s about Brahmin’s son who travels India to find Enlightenment. He’d grown up among people who claimed to have found it and yet he felt he wouldn’t be able to learn about life through their – or anyone’s – teachings, not even the Buddha‘s. He wanted to leave and experience life (something Steppenwolf had yet to learn from someone else), instead of relying on the insights gained from third party experiences .. or as he puts it
Wisdom which a wise man tries to pass on to someone always sounds like foolishness.
It’s a long journey and I won’t tell you the whole story (for one, because you should read it – preferably in German), but here’s the important part. Somewhere near the end of the book, his childhood friend Govinda, whom he hadn’t seen in many years, asked him whether he found what he had been looking for all this time and Siddhartha said yes. He’d learned from his path (and especially from listening to the river), that there was an intrinsic connection between all things. This connection, he believed, was eternal and so every thing that existed in this world was too. Or, to let Siddhartha speak his own words:
This here […] is a stone, and will, after a certain time, perhaps turn into soil, and will turn from soil into a plant or animal or human being. In the past, I would have said: This stone is just stone, it is worthless, it belongs to the world of the Maja; but because it might be able to become also a human being and a spirit in the cycle of transformations, therefore I also grant it importance. Thus, I would perhaps have thought in the past. But today I think: this stone is a stone, it is also animal, it is also god, it is also Buddha, I do not venerate and love it because it could turn into this or that, but rather because it is already and always everything – and it is this very fact, that it is a stone, that it appears to me now and today as a stone, this is why I love it and see worth and purpose in each of its veins and cavities […].
Consider it for a while, I (now) know I did. If you’re anything like me, one day, you may never quite look at yourself or the world in much the same way you used to and, surely, you’ll never sink your teeth into a cow’s thighs again without thinking twice about it. Because hey, for all you know? You were what you eat.
Taken from toplifequotes