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A Report on Vegetarianism.

Contents.

 

 

 


Introduction.

The word vegetarian, coined by the founders of the British Vegetarian Society in 1842, comes from the Latin word vegetus, meaning "whole, sound, fresh, or lively," as in homo vegetus - a mentally and physically vigorous person. The original meaning of the word implies a balanced philosophical and moral sense of life, a lot more than just a diet of vegetables and fruits.

Most vegetarians are people who have understood that to contribute towards a more peaceful society we must first solve the problem of violence in our own hearts, So it's not surprising that thousands of people from all walks of life have, in their search for truth, become vegetarian.

Vegetarianism is an essential step towards a better society, and people who take the time to consibder its advantages will be in the company of such thinkers as Pythagoras, Socrated, Plato, Clement of Alexandria, Plutarch, King Asoka, Leonardo da Vinci,

 


Fig 1: Leonardo da Vinci, a vegetarian!

Montaigne, Akbar, John Milton, Sir Isaac Newton, Emanuel Swedenbourg, Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Lamartine, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Leo Tolstoy, George Bernard Shaw,

 


Fig 2: George Bernard Shaw, also a vegetarian!

Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Schweitzer, and Albert Einstein.

 


Do onto others...


"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." - Gandhi.

"I have no doubt that it is part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals." - Thoreau.

 


Health and Nutrition

Can a vegetarian diet improve or restore health? Can it prevent certain diseases? Advocates of vegetarianism have said yes for many years, although they didn't have much support from modern science until recently. Now, medical researchers have discovered evidence of a link between meat-eating and such killers as heart disease and cancer, so they're giving vegetarianism another look.

Since the 1960s, scientists have suspected that a meat-based diet is somehow related to the development of arteriosclerosis and heart disease. As early as 1961, the Journal of the American Medical Association said: "Ninety to ninety-seven percent of heart disease can be prevented by a vegetarian diet.". Since that time, several well-organized studies have scientifically shown that after tobacco and alcohol, the consumption of meat is the greatest single cause of mortality in Western Europe, the United States, Australia, and other affluent areas of the world.

The human body is unable to deal with excessive amounts of animal fat and cholesterol. A poll of 214 scientists doing research on arteriosclerosis in 23 countries showed almost total agreement that there is a link between diet, serum cholesterol levels, and heart disease. When a person eats more cholesterol than the body needs (as he usually does with a meat-centered diet), the excess cholesterol gradually becomes a problem. It accumulates on the inner walls of the arteries, constricts the flow of blood to the heart, and can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes.

On the other hand, scientists at the University of Milan and Maggiore Hospital have shown that vegetable protein may act to keep cholesterol levels low. In a report the British medical journal The Lancet, D.C.R. Sirtori concluded that people with the type of high cholesterol associated with heart disease "may benefit from a diet in which protein comes only from vegetables."

What about cancer? Research over the past twenty years strongly suggests a link between meat-eating and cancer of the colon, rectum, breast, and uterus. These types of cancer are rare among those who eat little of no meat, such as Seventh-Day Adventists, Japanese, and Indians, but they are prevalent among meat-eating populations.

Another article in The Lancet reported, "People living in the areas with a high recorded incidence of carcinoma of the colon tend to live on diets containing large amounts of fat and animal protein; whereas those who live in areas with a low incidence live on largely vegetarian diets with little fat or animal matter."

Rollo Russell, in his Notes on the Causation of Cancer, says, "I have found of twenty-five nations eating flesh largely, nineteen had a high cancer rate and only one had a low rate, and that of thirty-five nations eating little or no flesh, none had a high rate."

Why do meat-eaters seem more prone to these diseases? One reason given by biologists and nutritionists is that man's intestinal tract is simply not suited for digesting meat. Flesh-eating animals have short intestinal tracts (three times the length of the animal's body), to pass rapidly decaying toxin-producing meat out of the body quickly. Since plant foods decay more slowly than meat, plant-eaters have intestines at least six times the length of the body. Man has the long intestinal tract of a herbivore, so if he eats meat, toxins can overload the kidneys and lead to gout, arthritis, rheumatism, and even cancer.

And then there are the chemicals added to meat. As soon as an animal is slaughtered, its flesh begins to putrefy, and after several days it turns a sickly gray-green. The meat industry masks this discoloration by adding nitrites, nitrates, and other preservatives to give the meat a bright red color. But research has now shown many of these preservatives to be carcinogenic.9 And what makes the problem worse is the massive amounts of chemicals fed to livestock. Gary and Steven Null, in their book, Poisons in your Body, show us something that ought to make anyone think twice before buying another steak or ham."

The animals are kept alive and fattened by continuous administration of tranquilizers, hormones, antibiotics, and 2,700 other drugs. The process starts even before birth and continues long after death. Although these drugs will still be present in the meat when you eat it, the law does not require that they be listed on the package."

Because of findings like this, the American National Academy of Sciences reported in 1983 that "people may be able to prevent many common types of cancer by eating less fatty meats and more vegetables and grains."

But wait a minute! Weren't human beings designed to be meat-eaters? Don't we need animal protein?

The answer to both these questions is no. Although some historians and anthropologists say that man is historically omnivorous, our anatomical equipment - teeth, jaws, and digestive system - favors a fleshless diet. The American Dietetic Association notes that "most of mankind for most of human history has lived on vegetarian or near-vegetarian diets."

And much of the world still lives that way. Even on most industrialized countries, the love affair with meat is less than a hundred years old. It started with the refrigerator car and the twentieth-century consumer society.

But even with the twentieth century, man's body hasn't adapted to eating meat. The prominent Swedish scientist Karl von Linne states, "Man's structure, external and internal, compared with that of the other animals, shows that fruit and succulent vegetables constitute his natural food."

 


Comparing the Anatomy of Man with that of Carnivorous and Herbivorous Animals.

 

Meat-eater

Plant eater

Human being

Has claws

No claws

No claws

No skin pores; perspires through the tongue to cool body.

Perspires through millions of skin pores

Perspires through millions of skin pores.

Sharp pointed front teeth to tear flesh.

No sharp, pointed front teeth.

No sharp pointed teeth.

Small salivary glands in the mouth (not needed to pre-digest grains and fruits).

Well developed salivary glands, needed to pre-digest grains and fruits.

Well developed salivary glands, needed to pre-digest grains and fruits.

Acid saliva; no enzyme ptyalin to pre-digest grains.

Alkaline saliva; much ptyalin to pre-digest grains.

Alkaline saliva; much ptyalin to pre-digest grains.

No flat back molar teeth to grind food.

Flat back molar teeth to grind food.

Flat back molar teeth to grind food.

Much strong hydrochloric acid to digest tough animal muscle, bone, etc.

Stomach acid 10 times weaker than meat-eaters.

Stomach acid 10 times weaker than meat-eaters.

Intestinal tract only 3 times body length so rapidly decaying meat can pass out of the body quickly.

Intestinal tract 10 - 12 times the body length, fruits and grains decay less rapidly so can pass slowly through the body.

Intestinal tract 10 - 12 times the body length, fruits and grains decay less rapidly so can pass slowly through the body.

 

Based on a chart by A.D. Andrews, Fit Food for Men,

(Chickago: American Hygiene Society, 1970)

 


The Protein Question.

As for the protein question, Dr. Paavo Airola, a leading authority on nutrition and natural biology, has this to say:

"The official daily recommendation for protein has gone down from the 150 grams recommended twenty years ago to only 45 grams today. Why? Because reliable worldwide research has shown that we do not need so much protein, that the actual daily need is only 30 or 45 grams.

Protein consumed in excess of the actual daily need is not only wasted, but actually causes serious harm to he body and is even causatively related to such killer diseases as cancer and heart disease. In order to obtain 45 grams of protein a day from your diet you do not have to eat meat; you can get it from a 100 percent vegetarian diet of a variety of grains, lentils, nuts, vegetables, and fruits."

Dairy products, grains, beans, and nuts are all concentrated sources of protein. Cheese, peanuts, and lentils, for instance, contain more protein per ounce than hamburger, pork, or porter-house steak.

Still, nutritionists thought until recently that only meat, fish, eggs, and milk products had complete proteins (containing the eight amino acids not produced in the body), and that all vegetable proteins were incomplete (lacking one or more of these amino acids). But research at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and the Max Planck Institute in Germany has shown that most vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, and grains are excellent sources of complete proteins. In fact, their proteins are easier to assimilate than those of meat - and they don't bring with them any toxins.

 


It's nearly impossible to lack protein if you eat enough natural unrefined food.

 

Remember, the vegetable kingdom is the real source of all protein. Vegetarians simply eat it "direct" instead of getting it second-hand from the vegetarian animals.

Too much protein intake even reduces the body's energy. In a series of comparative endurance tests conducted by Dr. Irving Fisher of Yale University, vegetarians performed twice as well as meat-eaters. When Dr. Fisher knocked down the non-vegetarians' protein consumption by twenty percent, their efficiency went up thirty-three percent.

Numerous other studies have shown that a proper vegetarian diet provides more nutritional energy than meat.

A study by Dr. J. Iotekyo and V. Kipani at Brussels University showed that vegetarians were able to perform physical tests two to three times longer than meat-eaters before tiring out - and the vegetarians fully recovered from fatigue three times more quickly than the meat-eaters.

 


Economics

Meat feeds few at the expense of many. For the sake of producing meat, grain that could feed people feeds livestock instead. According to information compiled by the United States Department of Agriculture, over ninety percent of all the grain produced in America goes to feed livestock - cows, pigs, sheep, and chickens - that wind up on dinner tables. Yet the process of using grain to produce meat is incredibly wasteful. Figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that for every sixteen pounds of grain fed to cattle, we get back only on pound of meat.

In Diet for a Small Planet, Frances Moore Lapp? asks us to imagine ourselves sitting down to an eight-ounce steak.

"Then imagine the room filled with 45 to 50 people with empty bowls in front of them. For the 'feed cost' of your steak, each of their bowls could be filled with a full cup of cooked cereal grains."

Affluent nations do not only waste their own grains to feed livestock. They also use protein-rich plant foods from poor nations. Dr. George Borgstrom, an authority on the geography of food, estimates that one-third of Africa's peanut crop (and peanuts give the same amount of protein as meat) ends up in the stomachs of cattle and poultry in Western Europe.

In underdeveloped countries, a person consumes an average of four hundred pounds of grain a year, most of it by eating it directly. In contrast, says world food authority Lester Brown, the average European or American goes through two thousand pounds a year, by first feeding almost ninety percent of it to animals for meat. The average European or American meat-eater, Brown says, uses five times the food resources of the average Colombian, Indian, or Nigerian.

Facts such as these have led food experts to point out that the world hunger problem is artificial. Even now, we are already producing more than enough food for everyone on the planet - but we are allocating it wastefully.

Harvard nutritionist Jean Mayer estimates that bringing down meat production by only ten percent would release enough grain to feed sixty million people.20

Another price we pay for meat-eating is degradation of the environment. The heavily contaminated runoff and sewage from slaughterhouses and feedlots are major sources of pollution of rivers and streams. It is fast becoming apparent that the fresh water resources of this planet are not only becoming contaminated but also depleted, and the meat industry is particularly wasteful. George Borgstrom says the production of livestock creates ten times more pollution than residential areas, and three times more than industry.

In their book Population, Resources, and Environment, Paul and Anne Ehrlich show that to grow one pound of wheat requires only sixty pounds of water, whereas production of one pound of meat requires anywhere from 2,500 to 6,000 pounds of water.

And in 1973 the New York Post uncovered a shocking misuse of this most valuable resource - one large chicken-slaughtering plant in the United States was using one hundred million gallons of water daily, an amount that could supply a city of twenty-five thousand people.

But now let's turn from the world geopolitical situation, and get right down to our own pocketbooks. A spot check of supermarkets in New York in January 1986 showed that sirloin steak cost around four dollars a pound, while ingredients for a delicious, substantial vegetarian meal average less than two dollars a pound. An eight-ounce container of cottage cheese costing sixty cents provides sixty percent of the minimum daily requirement of protein. Becoming a vegetarian could potentially save you at least several thousand dollars a year, tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a lifetime. The savings to America's consumers would amount to billions of dollars annually.

And the same principle applies to consumers all over the world. Considering all this, it's hard to see how anyone could afford not to become a vegetarian.



Ethics

Many people consider the ethical reasons the most important of all for becoming vegetarian. The beginning of ethical vegetarianism is the knowledge that other creatures have feelings, and that their feelings are similar to ours. This knowledge encourages one to extend personal awareness to encompass the suffering of others.

In an essay titled The Ethics of Vegetarianism, from the journal of the North American Vegetarian Society, the conception of "humane animal slaughter" is refuted. "Many people nowadays have been lulled into a sense of complacency by the thought that animals are now slaughtered 'humanely', thus presumably removing any possible humanitarian objection to the eating of meat. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the actual facts of life...and death.

The entire life of a captive 'food animal' is an unnatural one of artificial breeding, vicious castration and/or hormone stimulation, feeding of an abnormal diet for fattening purposes, and eventually long rides in intense discomfort to the ultimate end. The holding pens, the electric prods and tail twisting, the abject terror and fright, all these are still very much a part of the most 'modern' animal raising, shipping, and slaughtering. To accept all this and only oppose the callous brutality of the last few seconds of the animals' life, is to distort the word 'humane'."

The truth of animal slaughter is not at all pleasant - commercial slaughterhouses are like visions of hell. Screaming animals are stunned by hammer blows, electric shock, or concussion guns. They are hoisted into the air by their feet and moved through the factories of death on mechanised conveyor systems. Still alive, their throats are sliced and their flesh is cut off while they bleed to death. Why isn't the mutilation and slaughter of farm animals governed by the same stipulations intended for the welfare of pets and even the laboratory rat?

Many people would no doubt take up vegetarianism if they visited a slaughterhouse, orif they themselves had to kill the animals they ate. Such visits should be compulsory for all meat-eaters.

Pythagoras, famous for his contributions to geometry and mathematics, said, "Oh, my fellow men, do not defile your bodies with sinful foods. We have corn, we have apples bending down the branches with their weight, and grapes swelling on the vines. There are sweet-flavoured herbs, and vegetables which can be cooked and softened over the fire, nor are you denied milk or thyme-scented honey. The earth affords a lavish supply of riches of innocent foods, and offers you banquets that involve no bloodshed or slaughter; only beasts satisfy their hunger with flesh, and not even all of those, because horses, cattle, and sheep live on grass."

In an essay titled On Eating Flesh, the Roman author Plutarch wrote: "Can you really ask what reason Pythagoras had for abstinence from flesh? For my part I rather wonder both by what accident and in what state of mind the first man touched his mouth to gore and brought his lips to the flesh of a dead creature, set forth tables of dead, stale bodies, and ventured to call food and nourishment the parts that had a little before bellowed and cried, moved and lived.... It is certainly not lions or wolves that we eat out of self-defence; on the contrary, we ignore these and slaughter harmless, tame creatures without stings or teeth to harm us. For the sake of a little flesh we deprive them of sun, of light, of the duration of life they are entitledto by birth and being." Plutarch then delivered this challenge to flesh-eaters: "If you declare that you are naturally designed for such a diet, then first kill for yourself what you want to eat. Do it, however, only through your own resources, unaided by cleaver or cudgel or any kind of axe."

The poet Shelly was a committed vegetarian. In his essay A Vindication of Natural Diet, he wrote, "Let the advocate of animal food force himself to a decisive experiment on its fitness, and as Plutarch recommends, tear a living lamb with his teeth and, plunging his head into its vitals, slake his thirst with the steaming blood...then, and then only, would he be consistent."

Leo Tolstoy wrote that by killing animals for food, "Man suppresses in himself, unnecessarily, the highest spiritual capacity - that of sympathy and pity towards living creatures like himself - and by violating his own feelings becomes cruel." He also warned, "While our bodies are the living graves of murdered animals, how can we expect any ideal conditions on earth?"

When we lose respect for animal life, we lose respect for human life as well. Twenty-six hundred years ago, Pythagoras said, "Those that kill animals to eat their flesh tend to massacre their own." We're fearful of enemy guns, bombs, and missiles, but can we close our eyes to the pain and fear we ourselves bring about by slaughtering, for human consumption, over 1.6 billion domestic mammals and 22.5 billion poultry a year. The number of fish killed each year is in the trillions. And what to speak of the tens of millions of animals killed each year in the "torture-camps" of medical research laboratories, or slaughtered for their fur, hide, or skin, or hunted for "sport". Can we deny that this brutality makes us more brutal too?

Leonardo da Vinci wrote, "Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds theirs. We live by the death of others. We are burial places!" He added, "The time will come when men will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men."

Mahatma Gandhi felt that ethical principles are a stronger support for lifelong commitment to a vegetarian diet than reasons of health. "I do feel," he stated, "that spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants." He also said, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."



Religion

All major religious scriptures enjoin man to live without killing unnecessarily. The Old Testament instructs, "Thou shalt not kill." (Exodus 20:13) This is traditionally misinterpreted as referring only to murder. But the original Hebrew is lo tirtzach, which clearly translates "Thou shalt not kill." Dr. Reuben Alcalay's Complete Hebrew/English Dictionary says that the word tirtzach, especially in classical Hebrew usage, refers to "any kind of killing," and not necessarily the murder of a human being.

Although the Old Testament contains some prescriptions for meat-eating, it is clear that the ideal situation is vegetarianism. In Genesis (1:29) we find God Himself proclaiming, "Behold, I have given you every herb-bearing tree, in which the fruit of the tree yielding seed, it unto you shall be for meat." And in later books of the Bible, major prophets condemn meat-eating.

For many Christians, major stumbling blocks are the belief that Christ ate meat and the many references to meat in the New Testament. But close study of the original Greek manuscripts shows that the vast majority of the words translated as "meat" are trophe, brome, and other words that simply mean "food" or "eating" in the broadest sense. For example, in the Gospel of St. Luke (8:55) we read that Jesus raised a woman from the dead and "commanded to give her meat." The original Greek word translated as "meat" is phago, "which means only "to eat." The Greek word for meat is kreas ("flesh"), and it is never used in connection with Christ. Nowhere in the New Testament is there any direct reference to Jesus eating meat. This in line with Isaiah's famous prophecy about Jesus's appearance, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil and choose the good."

In Thus Spake Mohammed (the translation of the Hadith by Dr. M. Hafiz Syed), the disciples of the prophet Mohammed ask him, "Verily are there rewards for our doing good to quadrupeds, and giving them water to drink?" Mohammed answers, "There are rewards for benefiting every animal."

Lord Buddha is known particularly for His preaching against animal killing. He established ahimsa (nonviolence) and vegetarianism as fundamental steps on the path to self-awareness and spoke the following two maxims, "Do not butcher the ox that ploughs thy fields," and "Do not indulge a voracity that involves the slaughter of animals."25

The Vedic scriptures of India, which predate Buddhism, also stress nonviolence as the ethical foundation of vegetarianism. "Meat can never be obtained without injury to living creatures," states the Manu-samhita, the ancient Indian code of law, "Let one therefore shun the use of meat." In another section, the Manu-samhita warns, "Having well considered the disgusting origin of flesh and the cruelty of fettering and slaying of corporeal beings, let one entirely abstain from eating flesh." In the Mahabharata (The epic poem which contains 100,000 verses and is said to be the longest poem in the world), there are many injunctions against killing animals. Some examples: "He who desires to increase the flesh of his own body by eating the flesh of other creatures lives in misery in whatever species he may take his birth."; "Who can be more cruel and selfish than he who augments his flesh by eating the flesh of innocent animals?"; and "Those who desire to possess good memory, beauty, long life with perfect health, and physical, moral and spiritual strength, should abstain from animal food."

All living entities possess a soul. In the Bhagavad-gita, Krishna describes the soul as the source of consciousness and the active principle that activates the body of every living being. According to the Vedas, a soul in a form lower than human automatically evolves to the next higher species, ultimately arriving at the human form. Only in the human form of life can the soul turn its consciousness towards God and at the time of death be transferred back to the spiritual world. In both the social order and the universal order, a human being must obey laws.

In his Srimad-Bhagavatam purports, Srila Prabhupada says, "All living entities have to fulfil a certain duration for being encaged in a particular type of material body. They have to finish the duration allotted in a particular body before being promoted or evolved to another body. Killing an animal or any other living being simply places an impediment in the way of his completing his term of imprisonment in a certain body. One should therefore not kill bodies for one's sense gratification, for this will implicate one in sinful activity."

In short, killing an animal interrupts its progressive evolution through the species, and the killer will invariably suffer the reaction for this sinful behaviour.

In the Bhagavad-gita (5.18), Krishna explains that spiritual perfection begins when one can see the equality of all living beings, "The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana (a priest), a cow, an elephant, a dog, and a dog-eater (outcaste)." Krishna also instructs us to adopt the principles of spiritual vegetarianism when He states, "Offer Me with love and devotion a fruit, a flower, a leaf, or water, and I will accept it."

 


Afterthought

 

For the sake of Humanity, the Environment and all other living entities that we share this fragile planet with, please stop eating meat as soon as you can.


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