How can you love one & eat the other? That quote, along with the image of a dog and a pig, greets me in colorful poster form as I make my way into a Food for Life meeting. Our guest speaker will address the history and benefits of veganism – an “alternative” food lifestyle. In attendance are those souls who care passionately about our health and the health of our families, our environment, and our animals. Gatherings like this remind me of the long journey I’ve traveled to embrace a love for all life and to become the change I want to see in the world.
I was first introduced to these ideas over thirty years ago when I moved to California and began a sincere meditation practice. Masters of the ancient tradition were vegetarians/vegans and they suggested I explore that path. As a kid from New York City, I relished my deli visits and I realized that this whole different lifestyle could really put me in a pickle. I would have to surrender my pastrami on rye and step away from the counter. Holy cow! What’s a girl to do?
Take it to the mat, apparently. Take it to the meditation cushion. It’s there I leave that city girl behind and learn that as I deepen in my spiritual knowledge and discipline I will reach a place where I want to attune my body to the highest frequencies and energy that moves through me. It’s difficult to accomplish this if it’s weighed down with toxic thoughts, emotions, or nourishment. It’s JIJO – Junk in, junk out. At a basic molecular level, we are all energy in perpetual motion. If I constantly expend that energy eliminating negativity, battling bad moods, and digesting poisonous substances, I won’t have any energy left to devote to the higher causes in life. In other words, if I want to excel at meditation I have to literally lighten up.
Sufi poet Rumi describes the higher love that awaits me, “You think of yourself/as a citizen of the universe/You think you belong/to this world of dust and matter/Out of this dust/you have created a personal image/and have forgotten/about the essence of your true origin.” From that vantage point I can now look back at years of dedication to a seamless spiritual experience. I can clearly see that I have learned to lighten up by honoring my body temple with clean water, healthy air, plenty of rest, and simple, living foods. Now I don’t just do meditation, I am meditation in every moment of my life.
And still the story keeps unfolding, which brings me back to this present meeting. As I’ve moved deeper into the beliefs of nonviolence and peace I’ve become keenly aware of the nuances of the inter-connectedness of all life. One of the most convincing teachings shared by this food group beckons all of us to follow a higher order by embracing lifestyles which are compassionate, peaceful, and nonviolent. Gandhi’s statement urges us to honor all life forms: “I do feel that spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants.”
That is the clearest message of the evening: life can best be sustained without violence, and that doesn’t only apply to wars, but it also includes the choices we make about the food we eat. If the food we eat is alive, then our bodies can maintain a healthy life. If the food we eat is dead or violently acquired, then we are literally ingesting that noxious energy. Let’s all be conscious of what we are eating.
Feels like home to me and a good reminder that wherever I sit is my meditation cushion. On this Valentine’s Day, I declare my intention to renew my love for all life and find new ways to share that message. As I look into the eyes of another sentient being I see and feel our connection and silently say, “Namaste: the Love in me greets the Love in you.”
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Through her ministry, “Doorway Into The Infinite”, Rev. Maria holds the vision for the transformation of the consciousness of planet earth. She is a spiritual change agent committed to… educating people in the process of healing… empowering the world one creative thought at a time… and experiencing peace in our lifetime. Her articles, essays, and meditations have been published in various magazines. She has self-published numerous books and manuals, and released two recordings of guided meditations. She’s created a variety of classes, workshops, and spiritual performance pieces, where she expresses her profound interest in spirituality and peace. For more information, she can be reached at her website: www.be-the-change.com or at her e-mail: RevMariaS@aol.com.
Top photo: Sandhill cranes (Wikipedia)