The Company of Saints and Others
From the beginning of recorded history we can see that vegetables
have been the natural food of human beings. Early Greek and Hebrew
myths all spoke of people originally eating fruit. Ancient Egyptian
priests never ate meat. Many great Greek philosophers such as
Plato, Diogenes and Socrates all advocated vegetarianism.
In India, Shakyamuni Buddha emphasized the importance of
Ahimsa, the principle of not harming any living things. He warned
His disciples not to eat meat, or else other living beings would
become frightened of them. Buddha made the following observations:
Meat eating is just an acquired habit. In the beginning we
were not born with a desire for it. Flesh eating people cut off their
inner seed of Great Mercy. Flesh eating people kill each other and
eat each other... this life I eat you, and next life you eat me... and it
always continues in this way. How can they ever get out of the Three
Realms (of illusion)?
Many early Taoists, early Christians and Jews were vegetarians.
It is recorded in the Holy Bible: And God said, I have provided all
kinds of grain and all kinds of fruit for you to eat; but for the wild animals
and for all the birds I have provided grass and leafy plants for
food. (Genesis 1:29) Other examples forbidding the eating of
meat in the Bible: You must not eat meat with blood in it, because
the life is in the blood. (Genesis 9:4) God said, Who told you to kill the bullock and the she goat to make an offering to me? Wash yourselves from this innocent blood, so I may hear your prayer; otherwise I will
turn my head away because your hands are full of blood. Repent
yourselves so I may forgive you. (Isaiah 1:11-16) St. Paul, one of Jesus’
disciples, said in his letter to the Romans, It is good neither to eat
flesh nor to drink wine. (Romans 14:21)
Recently, historians have discovered many ancient books that have
shed new light on the life of Jesus and His teachings. Jesus said:
People who have animals’ flesh become their own tombs. I tell you honestly,
the man who kills will be killed. The man who kills living things and
eats their meat is eating the meat of the dead men.
Indian religions also avoid the eating of flesh. It is said that, People can’t get flesh without killing things. A person who hurts sentient beings
will never be blessed by God. So, avoid taking flesh! (Hindu Precept)
The holy Scripture of Islam, the Koran, forbids the eating of dead
animals, blood and flesh.
A great Chinese Zen Master, Han Shan Tzu wrote a poem which
was strongly against flesh eating: Go quickly to the market to buy
meat and fish and feed them to your wife and children. But why must
their lives be taken to sustain yours? It’s unreasonable. It will not bring
you affinity with Heaven, but make you become dregs of Hell!
Many famous writers, artists, scientists, philosophers and eminent
men were vegetarians. The following people have all embraced
vegetarianism with enthusiasm: Shakyamuni Buddha, Jesus Christ,
Virgil, Horace, Plato, Ovid, Petrarch, Pythagoras, Socrates, William
Shakespeare, Voltaire, Sir Isaac Newton, Leonardo Da Vinci,
Charles Darwin, Benjamin Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry
David Thoreau, Emile Zola, Bertrand Russell, Richard Wagner, Percy
Bysshe Shelley, H. G. Wells, Albert Einstein, Rabindranath Tagore,
Leo Tolstoy, George Bernard Shaw, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert
Schweitzer; and more recently, Paul Newman, Madonna, Princess
Diana, Lindsay Wagner, Paul McCartney and Candice Bergen, to
name a few.
Albert Einstein said, “I think the changes and purifying effects that a
vegetarian diet have on a human being’s disposition are quite beneficial
to humankind. Therefore, it is both auspicious and peaceful
for people to choose vegetarianism.” This has been the common
advice of many important figures and sages throughout history!