A Lesson in Compassion

Once in a restaurant, a group of people were talking about vegetarianism next to my table. Eavesdropping I heard that one or two were vegetarian. Among the six diners who were expressing their ideas each were trying to prove that they were right.

“This is good, they have vegetarian food here,” the man with full smile said looking at the menu. His friend looked at him and responded, “I didn’t know that you are a vegetarian.”How long you have been vegetarian?” “I have been pure vegetarian for five years and before that I used to eat fish.” the first man replied.

They started a conversation and one of them said, “I wish I could be a vegetarian. But my body, I mean, my doctor says I have to eat some meat. I’d really like to stop though, because the way people treat the animals is horrible.”

A woman with a glass of beer, shaking her head, said, “But the animals are created by God for human’s food. On this planet every one eats each other like the creature in the ocean.”

Here a surprising thing happened. A woman from the other table asked,” Excuse me, can I tell you some things I’ve read about meat in books and newspapers?” I have been told that, if one desires to be free of illness and have long life, one should definitely abandon the greatest harm one can inflict upon others. That is killing them and eating their flesh. In general, that which is called meat consists of various impure objects: semen, blood of the womb, veins, tendons, pus, and other bodily fluids. There are also various diseases in the bodies of the animals that are killed. Most animals in slaughter houses either have been beaten by hand or by stick thus experiencing much physical hardship since youth. They are ill, old, infected by various bacteria and germs, or are animals not able to be forced to work any longer. Even at the time of their slaughter, once killed the flesh is mixed with the old blood and filth of the previous animals. Flies and insects of other sordid places deposit various impure substances, seeds of diseases on the meat. By faulty practices such as these, a variety of new diseases are appearing. Further in some countries, in order to make the animal’s fat they are given certain medicines and injections. As can be seen in current newspapers China is mixing chicken and pork, for example. In western countries they employ a variety of means in order to fatten up their chickens, pigs, cows, and other livestock. It is said that much difficulty has arisen from people having eaten this type of meat. Some have even become infected with a variety of diseases which have never been seen before.”

Before that day in the restaurant I was a meat eater and never gave it any thought. After that day I started to consider about eating meat. I realized that eating meat results in animal’s experiencing immeasurable fear and pain at being separated from their cherished life and body. I said to myself, “How would you feel if your neck were cut and your skin flayed. Suppose if you cut even a little bit of flesh off your thigh. How would that feel, would it look delicious or not?” In some places you don’t see the reality; the meat is so nicely packed up and frozen. Some other places the whole process is clearly in front of your eyes.”

One day when I was in Darjeeling, I went to the bazaar and saw a man with one eye. He sold living fowls and butchered them on the spot. He cut the chicken’s head and put it into a container. Then with the chicken’s body still moving he plucked and gutted the bird. I couldn’t imagine how fearful and painful an experience the chicken had at that point. After a pretty long time it’s wings still moved from the body in the man’s hand and the eyes cycled on the head in the container with a great sense of pain and fear. What a coincidence! I could see some of my friends in a nearby restaurant. The man sold the chicken to the restaurant and they cooked it for my friends. I have no idea where the chicken is now but I had a extraordinarily strong feeling about that! On that day I stopped eating meat.

However, I thought my friend might be interested in becoming a vegetarian too. I mentioned to him about the chicken he ate in the restaurant. He was a really good friend but we had such a big disagreement on this point. He thinks that animals are food for humans given to them by the god. To me it was unbelievable that he didn’t believe the reality in front of his eyes. See how the animals are suffering, but he believes in some things that he has never seen. Maybe it is even not a belief, I thought, he just doesn’t care about the others fear and pain. He likes the meat, and at the same time he also wants be on the right side; God, food for humans, he has all kinds of ideas to cover his negative actions. It seems a convenient excuse for him. “You should open your mind little bit,” I told him, “our own body is a kind of teacher, and from our own physical pain we learn that others have the same problems and pains. Considering this we don’t want to harm others. If we don’t learn this lesson, then we would be terrible. The fisherman cuts the fish just like he cuts potatoes, because he doesn’t know the fish’s pain. If he could feel the pain of the fish then I am sure he would never hurt the fish again.” He listened to me very carefully and said, “But somebody will kill them anyway.” I didn’t want to continue talking with him. But I thought, “It’s same thing to say, ‘I should kill him because he will die anyway.'”

Due to these experiences, I don’t kill and eat. Although I can see so many people are naturally kind and nice but very confused with all kinds of ideas; such as God gave the animals for human’s food, the Buddha never forbids his followers to eat meat. Some kill, & eat the animal, then they pray for it. To them this is compassion. Some have the idea that meat is good for the health. Some even think if we don’t eat animals they will eat us. That is really funny idea, what we eat is cow, fish, lamp, pig etc but they will never eat us. If some one is worried about that then he or she should eat the mosquitoes and the tigers.

From all these reasons, I composed this book and I hope many people will aware that to be a vegetarian is a profound means of practicing compassion and loving kindness. It is the foundation of all spiritual practices and in particular it surely contributes to enjoying a long and healthy life. I hope this is of some benefit to all who encounter this reading.


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