Monday, September 13, 2010

The relationship between humans and animals

Last Saturday, I attended an inspiring talk by Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh. During his talk, he brought forth a point about the interconnectedness of all things. For example, a piece of paper we used is more than what it seems. It is only available to us because of the sun, the trees, water, rain, air, tree logger, etc. Our grocery bag is made of cotton, which is from a cotton plant by a worker in a factory, which is planted and harvested by people, and these people are in turn brought into being up by many other conditions such as a mother, a father, air, food, water etc. Basically, nothing can "exist" on it's own without the conditions of others in our world, and we are all connected like a big net.

This same principle applies to the connection between people and the connection between humans and animals. It may not be a direct relationship, but there is a connection. We sustain them, and they sustain us. Not in the sense that we feed them and then slaughter them for food, but in other direct or indirect ways.

Why can't we slaughter them to sustain us? This we have to go back to the analogy of the big net. When we move part of the net, the rest of the net moves as well. When an animal suffers or is killed, there is great tension and negative energy and this net is agitated in a negative manner. This may not seem to be logical, but consider a terrified person or animal entering the room we are in, we could pick up the emotion immediately. This shows the agitation of part of the net in relation to the rest. When we destroy animals, we are actually destroying part of ourselves.

So what about plants? Plants to not have the kind of sentience that we and animals experience, so it makes a more compassionate choice as food. This compassion we generate will also have a positive effect on the net. However, we should not destroy plants heedlessly, and this applies to all other things in the world. We should not waste, but reduce wastage as much as possible. Eating less is one way, not wasting food is one way, conserving electricity, water and resources etc. are all important.

Venerable Heng Sure talks on a similar issue in his speech "Meaning for the Vegan lifestyle". It mentions Ubuntu - People becoming people through other people. Ven Heng Sure goes further to talk about a bigger ideal - People becoming people through other creatures.

Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh has a poem which someone edited to become a vegetarian version
Venerable Heng Sure has a nice song on "American Beef Cow"

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