Must I be Vegetarian to be Spiritual?
Becoming vegetarian or vegan is a natural step for many who are on the spiritual path.
But if liberation and spiritual consciousness are what you are truly yearning for then take care that your vegetarian or vegan principles don’t become an obstacle to your spiritual growth.
There are many reasons for deciding to be vegetarian.
Some people give up meat for health reasons, believing that a vegetarian diet is more healthy than a meat-eating one. The truth of this is still very much debated, and there is evidence both for and against vegetarianism for health reasons.
I am not going to go into this debate here, but if you would like to read more about that I can recommend two interesting articles presenting both sides of the argument:
Acupuncturist and Integrated Medical Practitioner, Chris Kesser, argues that a vegetarian or vegan diet may be detrimental to physical health. Citing medical reports, his article, Why You Should Think Twice About Vegetarian and Vegan Diets, provides an informative summary of the risks of such diets.
Conversely, the article Why Go Veg published in vegetariantimes.com, highlights the benefits of turning to a vegetarian diet, also quoting medical research. In addition this article describes the impact on the environment, pointing out how we are wasting grain to feed livestock, when we could feed far more of the population with the grain than we do with the meat from the animal industry. Some argue that reducing or eliminating the animal industry could be one of the solutions to world wide famine, as well as saving the rainforest which is being cleared to provide grazing land for livestock.
These reasons alone can make it worthwhile to become vegetarian, and it is down to you as an individual to do the research and make an informed choice.
Your spiritual awakening is urging you towards becoming vegetarian.
As you grow spiritually you will become more and more aware of these issues. If you have been giving thought to these topics, then that is a result of your spiritual awakening. Indeed the very fact that you are reading this post is an indication that the light of the Higher Self is shining ever more strongly into your consciousness.
The subtle, but inevitable, pull of the Divine Spark within you is gradually drawing you up towards the bliss of Divine Consciousness. In the presence of the Higher Self you can no longer tolerate the lower vibrations of a meat-eating diet associated with the destruction of the environment, and cruelty to animals.
The high vibration of spiritual consciousness is not compatible with the lower vibrations of the animal industry.
All is a vibration.
As you grow spiritually you become more sensitive to different qualities of vibration. You find that you don’t enjoy eating certain meats. They don’t sit well in your stomach. After eating red meats you feel a “heavy” vibration that makes you uncomfortable.
When your consciousness becomes more accustomed to the higher vibrations of the spiritual Self, you naturally avoid things of a lower vibration. If you are not sure about this, test it for yourself. The next time you eat a hotdog, or some heavy red meat like pork, pay attention to how you feel. Do you honestly feel good after eating those things? You may have a few moments of pleasure from briefly enjoying the taste in your mouth, but soon your body will feel uncomfortable. You may even experience some turbulence in your emotions, and find that your mind seems agitated and restless.
You are what you eat.
The spiritual person recognises that when he or she eats something, they absorb not only the physical nutrients; they also absorb the vibrational energy of whatever it is.
Animals have within their muscle tissue all the vibrational energy of their emotions and primordial instincts. These vibrations are far more intense than those of plants, which are less developed in terms of emotions and instincts. Animals experience fear, anger, lust, greed… all the natural instincts that are a part of their evolution. That means higher levels of adrenaline and hormones being saturated throughout their muscle tissue. Those unfortunate animals that are processed by the millions in the animal industry, experience a lot more fear as they are treated cruelly and lined up for slaughter.
When you eat meat, you are absorbing into your own system the vibration of all that fear, anger, and other animal instincts. Over the years those vibrations contribute to your own personal vibration, fuelling your own animal instincts. When you eat meat regularly you don’t notice the negative effect it is having on your being. Your own emotions fluctuate a lot, you experience regular periods of agitation in your mind, and life in general seems to be very stressful.
Eating meat can negatively influence your mind and emotions.
I experienced this very vividly one time during my time as a monk. In the hindu monastery where I was living we followed a strict vegetarian diet of no meat, fish, or eggs. After many years of following this diet I happened to find myself in a situation where I was obliged to eat some meat.
I was a guest at the home of some locals who had gone to huge effort to prepare an elaborate meal for us. Not expecting to be treated to such warm hospitality, I had to decide if I should reject their beautifully prepared food, in the hope that they would understand my religious motives (they were not even familiar with the concept of vegetarian). Or I could choose instead to acknowledge the love they had put into preparing such a welcome for us, and accept their hospitality whole-heartedly by eating the meat.
I choose to forego my vegetarian principles in favour of giving merit to the love with which this family had welcomed us.
Actually it was easy for me to decide.
Not because I was desperate to eat some meat after years of abstinence. No, my adherence to vegetarianism was something that came naturally as a result of my spiritual growth.
On the contrary, I found that after so many years of intense spiritual practice, I had risen above the duality of vegetarianism and non-vegetarianism. When you reside in the consciousness of the spiritual Self, even the differences of vibration associated with eating, or not eating, meat no longer affect you at a spiritual level.
When you realise that you are the Eternal Self, you know that nothing can touch you. Nothing can harm you. No vibration, no matter how low or disturbing, can even come close to you. As the Higher Self you are eternal and unchanging. In that level of consciousness deciding to eat meat is neither here nor there.
So it was with great pleasure that I enjoyed that lavish meal with all of my senses fully engaged! In fact I was enjoying more the vibration of love that had gone into its preparation, which somehow made the food taste nicer than I had imagined.
However, even when one is rooted in spiritual awareness, the physical body still reacts at the physical level. It still absorbs the animal material of that kind of food, and all the low vibrations that go with it.
So I shouldn’t have been surprised the next day (although I definitely was!) when all those animal vibrations started manifesting in me. As my body digested the heavy meats, I found myself becoming inexplicably irritable, and aggressive in my behaviour. At first I didn’t even realise what was happening.
I went through the day like a bull in a bad mood!
It was only when I got into an explosive argument with one of the other monks that it suddenly occurred to me that this was the effect of eating a lot of meat the day before. My life as a monk was not without its emotional ups and downs, but never before had I been at the mercy of such intense negative emotions. By the following day those emotions had gone, and I was my normal self again.
That had been a lesson in awareness of the vibrations we absorb, and the effects it can have on us.
The spiritual path takes you through many stages of being a vegetarian.
Out of compassion for living things you decide not to eat animals. You can’t bear the thought of them being killed prematurely. All life is sacred. Animals have as much right to live out the full length of their natural life as do humans. As a spiritual being it is your duty to do whatever you can to aid the life of those creatures lower down in the chain of evolution.
However, when you have the experience of Divine Consciousness you know that there is no such thing as death. No living thing ever dies. There is only a change of state, as all living beings discard the physical body of one life, only to reincarnate in another body to continue their journey towards liberation.
All living beings are on the same journey, and all are part of the same Universal Self, manifesting in a myriad of different forms. When you truly understand this you will never have a problem if you have to eat meat.
The truly God-realised soul living in the consciousness of the Divine Self is untouched by the karma of eating meat.
In fact when you eat meat with awareness you have the opportunity to bless the animal which died to nourish your own body. That animal died so that you may live. Its sacrifice should not go without being acknowledged.
When a spiritual soul blesses the food it eats, the consciousness of the Divine touches the soul of the animal that gave its life.
The same is true for every life-form, not just animals. Plants too are living beings, lower down in the scale of evolution, but living nevertheless. Even a vegetarian or a vegan is taking the life of a living creature in order to eat.
The diet of a spiritual person is based on awareness, not rules.
If you become too rigid in your principles of not eating meat, you are in danger of losing sight of the spiritual benefits. Expending too much energy in maintaining a strict diet can distract you from the spiritual beauty of life around you. Constantly checking ingredients, saying no when friends invite you out to restaurants, unable to enjoy holidays because of the food options. Don’t let these things take the passion out of your life.
Spirituality is about experiencing the full spectrum of life. It is about living with contagious passion in every moment.
True spirituality leads to liberation. Liberation of rules, liberation of limited perspectives.
Whatever food you eat, eat it with spiritual awareness. Offer gratitude to the life-force that sacrificed itself so that you may nourish your body, whether it be animal or plant. Liberate yourself from the restrictions of principles and rules.
Experiment with your spirituality… If you are a vegan or vegetarian, break your principles once in a while and eat some meat. If you are a meat-eater, always remember where this animal has been, what kind of life it has had, what kind of vibrations you are absorbing.
Knowledge, experience, and awareness will always lead you closer to the Divine, regardless of what you eat.
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