HOW CAN WE LIVE IN THIS WORLD
WITHOUT TAKING LIFE AND CAUSING VIOLENCE?
philosophy, the answer lies in taking care to minimize the barm
one does and to direct one’s actions with the intention to revere
life. This requires vigilance, awareness of motives, and
fearlessness to live in tune with nature’s laws. The underlying
Feeling is not to inspire fear in any living being; it is opening
one’s heart to life.
Intention is what counts. Living in
reverence means not condoning or consenting to any form of
violence, even if someone else is willing to be the active
perpetrator. It also means trying to prevent it before it
happens, and trying to stop it once it has begun. Throughout
history, Jain monks have tried to stop priests from other
religions from dragging animals to altars to be sacrificed. Under
Mahavira’s gentle influence, many kings abolished in their lands
slavery the caste system, degradation of women, hunting,
butchering, and sacrificing of animals, and many people were
inspired to live in Ahimsa and Non-Violence.
true that just by breathing, using water, treading on earth, and
taking plants as food, we are causing lives to be lost. The
emphasis lies in reducing to a minimum the harm we do in order to
to make a choice. Rather than take the flesh and blood of animals
who have already evolved all five senses and a highly developed
brain, whose nervous system and emotional life are so similar to
ours, and in whose veins blood runs, as in our own, we sustain
our bodies with the help of the bloodless plant kingdom, which has
not yet developed any one the senses of taste, smell, seeing, or
sensory apparatus, the more a life form can be sensitive to pain.
Since fish, birds, and animals are equipped in this way, we refuse
to be a cause to their agony and pain. Also, when we observe how
dearly animals cling to life and struggle to survive, how much
they are dominated by fear, we drop any notions of using or
exploiting them. We feel for their helplessness in the face of
man’s gluttony, greed, and callousness; we want to see them live
vegetables are harvested at the end of their natural life cycle.
Many of them, such as berries, melons, beans, peas, squash, okra,
pumpkins, nuts, and fruit from trees can be picked without
uprooting the whole plant. Nevertheless, we realize with humiliy
that every fruit, leaf, grain that we find on our plate had to
lose its life in order to give us life. Without the plants to
whom we are helplessly bound, we would not be able to survive, and
therefore, to evolve. That it why Jain Monks recite this blessing
before the daily meals:
Jinehim asavvajja vittisahuna desiya
sahana heoosa sahu dehassa dharana
What a wonderful teaching you have gives us!
taught us to take only that food which is
benign, and healthy, because it has not
procured through causing bloodshed.
taught us to know why we eat—to sustain
and to do so for one main reason—to
our life and reach ultimate liberation.
sense of appreciation, we eat with respect and restraint, without
taking more than we need. And we say as the native Americans did,
“Dear plants, some day our bodies will return to you, to become
food for the nourishment of your roots.”
The staples of a vegetarian diet are
grain, legumes, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds. Protein
comple-mentarity is achieved easily through a wide variety of
combinations, in particular grains and legumes. Legumes such as
lentils, split peas, chick-peas, soy kidney, black, white, and
mung beans can be turned into soups, baked preparation, and
veggieburgers, and served with whole grains such as rice, barley,
corn, wheat, millet, oats, and others. The nutrition-minded
mother can create nut and seed butters from sunflower, sesame,
cashew, almond, and other sources for school lunches on whole
wheat bread. Sandwich spreads made from soy tofu, avocado, and
hummus, for example, also go a log way a dips or as salad
dressings. The above mentioned foods are high quality proteins
which supply a wide range of vitamins and minerals.
We do not need as much protein as we
have been led to believe. In fact, too much, as found in a
meat-centered dire, creates excessive uric acid, a burden on the
system and a breeder of disease.
Many raw vegetables—cabbage, carrots,
beets, squash, celery—can be greated or sliced and added to mixed
greens with fresh tomatoes, peppers, sprouts, and sunflower
seeds. Avocado has been lauded as a complete food. Iron-rich
green leafy vegetables, squashes, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes
are among the most nutritious vegetables to be baked or steamed.
Fruits in season are nature’s vitamin supplements and for some
people, the staple of their diet.
When plants are the direct source of
nourishment, they provide the most efficient fuel for maintaining
the body in a state of well-being. Witness the elephant, bull,
gorilla, and horse, along with many other of the strongest
animals; all are vegetarians, gaining their nutrients from plants;
we can also. Plants receive energy directly from the sun, air,
water, and soil, which gives them the capacity to transmit
vitality and energy to us. By the time plants have been digested
by animals, their original energy has already been used up by the
animal. Humans who ingest flesh foods are therefore taking in a
second-hand, devitalized form.