Q: Is Vegetarianism Important?
ShantiMayi: Well, important for what or whom? Are you asking, is vegetarianism important for spiritual awakening? Actually there are many spiritual people who are not vegetarians. I have been vegetarian for most of my life. For me, it has been easier to not eat meat. We have a garden in our ashrams (except India), however I have never killed an animal in my life. In our ashrams we eat vegetarian food. It is lighter (satvic) in the body to eat vegetarian. It will make a difference to your entire physical system to omit meat from your diet. But is it important?
This you have to answer for yourself. For the world, it takes more energy and cost to raise cattle than it does to raise vegetables or grain. There are many good reasons for eating a vegetarian diet. Spiritually, it makes sense to eat good foods and organic (biological) food as much as possible. If you are healthy, it supports good health. If you are unhealthy, it supports wellness. A good, healthy body is advantageous for everyone. For spiritual people is it best to care for the wellness of the body, when it is unwell, it becomes a preoccupation. This is not to say the unhealthy people can not excel in understanding and realization. Good health is simply a hurdle dissolved.
Nothing will benefit health or increase chances of survival of life on Earth as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.
The fact is that there is enough food in the world for everyone. But tragically, much of the worlds food and land resources are tied up in producing beef and other livestock-food for the well-off, while million of children and adults suffer from malnutrition and starvations.
I think of veganism humbly and holistically. It's about taking personal responsibility in a world so full of needless suffering. It's challenging one's self to open one's eyes and question society's assumptions and habits. It's about critical thinking and compassion and how we would like to see the world evolve.
All the arguments to prove human superiority cannot shatter this hard fact: in suffering, the animals are our equals.
To avoid causing terror to living beings, let the disciple refrain from eating meat.
The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for whites or women for men.
Cows constitute the stay of all creatures. Cows are the refuge of all creatures. Cows are the embodiment of merit. Cows are sacred and blessed and are sanctifiers of all. One should never, in even one's heart, do an injury to cows. One should, indeed, always confer happiness on them.
Within the city of Brahman, which is the body, there is the heart, and within the heart there is a little house. The house has the shape of a lotus, and within it dwells that which is to be sought after, inquired about and realized. What, then, is that which dwells within this house, this lotus of the heart? Even so large as the universe outside is the universe within the heart. Within it are heaven and earth, the sun, the moon, the lightning, and all the stars. Whatever is in the macrocosm is in this microcosm.