I did not intend to craft a bummer blog today but I write what I write and share what I share. I let the market place decide worthiness.
Thai Buddhist monks (Theravada) are not vegetarian. In large measure they cannot choose their diet as they are expected to eat what is offered by lay people whether it be meat or fish head in oil. But the expectation is that neither lay persons or monks will cause harm unnecessarily. My sensitivity to my environment in conjunction with the concept of “engaged Buddhism” has led me to work that much harder on behalf of the earth and all its occupants.
In my Buddhist practice, we send blessings and compassion to all sentient beings (metta). If you ever had a pet, you know sentience. Sentience is defined as “able to experience feelings,” “responsive to or conscious of sense impressions,” and “capable of feeling things through physical senses.” Sentient beings experience wanted emotions like happiness, joy, and gratitude, and unwanted emotions in the form of pain, suffering, and grief. Do not be someone who hurts sentient beings through ignorance, neglect, intention or negligence.
Every time I eat meat or fowl I recognize there is a food chain that I am part of but my participation is multiplied by the indifference of our society and its marketing of food products. So I minimize my non-vegetable consumption, which by the way always pays off in better health, less expense and enhanced awareness of my environment. Most of you think that is bullshit which probably means like me, you do not want to be inconvenienced or are unwilling to disrupt your taste buds. Equally disturbing to me are persons who own animals but are indifferent to their animals’ discomfort or suffering. Show up for life being the best sentient being you can be and have empathy for all other sentient beings.
Do not merely “not kill needlessly” but to the best of your ability, protect all beings. Hold in your heart that we are fortunate to be able to actively express our discomfort and suffering. If we get hit by a vehicle they will send an ambulance to help us. Not so for the thousands of critters struck last night for whom only death will bring an end to their suffering.
My bubble is crowded with the suffering of others. Empathy is an attribute that I value but it is the foundation of so much of my discomfort and suffering. It is why I do not practice law. I could not handle watching my clients sentenced to confinement in a system which only held the promise of punishment without the offer of rehabilitation, education or reformation.
Like we say in Alcoholics Anonymous, No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. … We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.
“Why, if it weren’t for this ‘internal illumination’ [i.e., sentience] the world would be nothing but a pile of dirt!”
― Albert Einstein