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Nonviolence-3



Karma

The Sanskrit word karma means labor or action, or more specifically, any material action that brings a reaction that binds us to the material world. Most of the time the term refers to fruitive labor or the attachment to the result of labor. Although the idea of karma is generally associated with Eastern philosophy, many people in the West are also coming to understand that karma is a natural principle, like time or gravity, and no less inescapable. For every action there is a reaction. According to the law of karma, if we cause pain and suffering to other living beings, we must endure pain and suffering in return, both individually and collectively. We reap what we sow, in this life and the next, for nature has her own justice. No one can escape the law of karma, except those who understand how it works.

To understand how karma can cause a war, for example, let's take an illustration from the Vedas, from S'rîmad Bhâgavatam ("The Story of the Fortunate One"). In the Bhagavad Gîtâ ("The Song of God") the first main section, chapters 1 to 6, deal with karma-yoga - the yoga of perfect action. Sometimes a fire starts in a bamboo forest when the trees rub together. The real cause of the fire, however, is not the trees but the wind that moves them. The trees are only the instruments. (see S.B. 1.11: 34, 3.1: 21, 5.6: 8, 11.13: 7 en 11.30: 24). In the same way, the principle of karma tells us that for example the United States and the Soviet Union are not the real causes of the friction that exists between them, the friction that may well set off the forest fire of nuclear war. The real cause is the imperceptible wind of karma generated by the world's supposedly innocent citizens.

According to the law of karma, the neighborhood supermarket or hamburger stand has more to do with the threat of a world war than for example an insane dictator or some quick irritated politicians. We recoil with horror at the prospects of nuclear war while we permit equally horrifying massacres every day inside the world's automated slaughterhouses. As explained before, the person who eats an animal may say that he hasn't killed anything, but when he buys his neatly packaged meat at the supermarket he is paying someone else to kill for him, and both of them bring upon themselves the reactions of karma. Can it be anything but hypocritical to march for peace and then go to the local snackbar for a hamburger or go home to grill a steak? This is the very duplicity that George Bernard Shaw condemned:

We pray on Sundays that we may have light,
To guide our footsteps on the path we tread;
We are sick of war, we don't want to fight,
And yet we gorge ourselves upon the dead.

"-...in his next life the bull became a man..."

In his commentary of the Caitanya-Caritāmrita, the book of Krishnadāsa Kavirāja Goswāmī about the life and teachings of Lord Caitanya, the Lord of Vedic Reform, also called the 'New Testament' of the Caitanya-vaishnavas, written in the sixteenth century (Madhya 24, verse 251) S'rīla Prabhupāda says: "Those who kill animals and give them unnecessary pain - as people do in slaughterhouses - will be killed in a similar way in the next life and in many lives to come. ...". In the jewish-christian scriptures very clearly is stated: 'Thou shall not kill.' Still, even religious leaders invent excuses to eat meat (to kill animals) while they at the same time want to be recognized as pious or saintly people. These diversions and hypocrisy in society cause an endless number of disasters, like wars, where humans enter the battleground to kill each other. These are the consequences of karma.

Those who understand the laws of karma, know that peace will not come from marches and petitions, but rather from a campaign to educate people about the consequences of murdering innocent animals (and unborn children). To solve the world's problems we need people with a purified consciousness to perceive that the real problem is a spiritual one. People with executive powers or positions in the world should be vegetarians. A change of consciousness in the heads and hearts of people must take place. That will go a long way toward preventing any increase in the world's enormous burden of karma.

One of the most common objections non-vegetarians raise against vegetarianism is that vegetarians still have to kill plants, and that this is also violence. In response it may be pointed out that vegetarian foods such as ripe fruits and many vegetables, nuts, grains, and milk do not require any killing. But even in those cases where a plant's life is taken, because plants have a less evolved consciousness than animals, we can presume that the pain involved is much less than when an animal is slaughtered, what to speak of the suffering a food-animal experiences throughout its life. It's true vegetarians have to kill some plants, and that is also violence, but we have to eat to stay alife. One living entity is food for another in the struggle for existence. So the problem is not how to avoid killing altogether - an impossible proposal - but how to cause the least suffering to other creatures while meeting the nutritional needs of the body.

Vegetarian compassion contributes to experiencing more personal happiness in the first place.

Beyond being a vegetarian

Beyond concerns of health, economics, ethics, religion, and even karma, vegetarianism (non-violence) has a higher, spiritual dimension that can help us develop our natural appreciation and love of God. According the Vedas and all other scriptures of the world religions, the goal of human life is to understand and realize our true identity: God's servant. We are not the temporary material body, but are the eternal spiritual soul in that body. Because we unjustly think that we are the material body we suffer, while we as spiritual souls are in fact eternal, full of knowledge and full of bliss.

Let's read again the following verse from the Bhâgavata Purâna ("The Story of the Fortunate One") so verse 1.13: 47: 'Those who have no hands (the animals) are delivered to the ones who do have hands (the human beings); living beings without limbs (like grasses) are delivered to the four-legged (like the cows); the weaker ones are delivered to the stronger ones and thus is one living being feeding on another.'

Injunctions of the scriptures are meant not to encourage the eaters of animals, but to restrict them by regulated principles. The living being is the source of subsistence for other, stronger living beings. No one should be very anxious for his subsistence in any circumstances because there are living beings everywhere, and no living being starves for want of food at any place. Exploitation of the weaker living being by the stronger is the natural law of existence; there is always an attempt to devour the weak in different kingdoms of living beings. There is no possibility of checking this tendency by any artificial means under material conditions; it can be checked only by awakening the spiritual sense of the human being by practice of spiritual regulations: no eating of meat and fish (see for example S.B. 10.1: 4), no illegitimate sex and no intoxication or gambling. They are derived from the eternal values of resp. compassion (dayā), purity and loyalty (s'auca or dāna), truth (satya), and austerity and penance (tapas). These spiritual regulative principles, however, do not allow a man to slaughter weaker animals on one side and teach others peaceful coexistence. If man does not allow the animals peaceful coexistence, how can he expect peaceful existence in human society? The political leaders must therefore understand the Supreme Being or God and His all-embracing creation, so that every human being will be attracted to help protect that creation, help maintain and above all, cherish and love His creation dearly! And so, gradually, suffering of the struggle for life will be alleviated.

Leo Tolstoj said: 'As long as slaughterhouses exist, there will be wars.'
'There is a causal connection between violence against animals and violence against human beings.'


Government Parliament Party for Animals


In The Netherlands, since September 2006 (first in the world) the 'Party for the Animals' was found. The Party joined the elections for a new government in November 2006 and obtained two seats. Personally, I think this is a sign of progress in collective consciousness. A large number of Dutch celebrities have also openly expressed their support for the Party for the Animals. Writers, intellectuals, scientists, actors and actresses agree with our view of the miserable conditions under which animals live. They also realise the necessity of making drastic improvements. Moreover, just like the rest of our supporters, these public figures come from all sides of the political spectrum. They believe that animals should be treated with respect, and find this so important that they are prepared to set both the old left-right divisions and their own petty interests aside to work together to achieve our common goal.

About the PFTA and what they do: The Party for the Animals believes that animals should be given the rights that they deserve. Animal interests should no longer continually be subordinated to economic interests. Not just in the Netherlands, but also beyond. We would therefore like to join forces with kindred spirits in other countries. The more animal welfare parties that are set up across the globe, the better.

Our most important goal is to create a society, which treats animals in a respectful fashion. There are many problems associated with the way in which animals are treated. They are often not seen as living creatures with a soul, but as products that people believe they can use and abuse as they see fit: as meat products in the factory farming industry, as guinea pigs in laboratories, as the defenceless quarry of hunters and anglers, as a source of entertainment for visitors to circuses and zoos, and so forth. We want the legal position of animals to be laid down in our legislation. In this way, we can prevent animals from continually being the victims of political whims. At present, animal welfare still hardly plays a role in our legislation. This should change as soon as possible. (Party for the Animals).

It is an individual responsibility to abstain from eating animals. To become a vegetarian can not be forced upon others. But we can try to remove someone's ignorance or 'fear' to become a vegetarian by showing the consequences of meat eating and provide for proper and excellent information concerning vegetarian diets, with all necessary vitamins, minerals and fatty acids (i.e. good substitutes of meat) (see also again: Biochemistry of the filognostic diet).

Mahatma Gandhi: The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated and her inhabitants.

Department of Environmental Affairs starts initiative for ending bio-industry


Stop animal suffering

Amsterdam, September 12, 2006. The Department of Environmental Affairs and her Young People's Organization (JMA) today started a citizen-initiative to end bio-industry. This organization asks the Lower House to demand for livestock breeding without animal suffering, without environmental pollution and without the import of cattle-feed soybean at the cost of the Amazone forest. If 40.000 citizens support this initiative, the Parliament is compelled to discuss the proposal in their meetings. The new Lower House then has to take a stand about the future of stock breeding. Environmental Affairs and JMA are convinced that many Dutch citizens prefer cattle farms that take into account and are considerate with the interests of animals and environment. But this vision of the community must be taken over by politics. Campaign leader Wouter van Eck of Environmental Protection: 'There is quite some dissatisfaction in the community concerning the abuse in mechanized agriculture. This initiative offers an historical opportunity to set out a new course.' Independent from differences of opinion in political parties, the new politicians must formulate their own answers on this general public issue. It is a real poser for every member of parliament: 'Can I go on accepting the abuze or do we take this chance to make things better.'

The bio-industry wants to produce as cheap and efficient as possible. In the Netherlands 450 million agricultural farm animals live crammed together in stables often without seeing daylight. Chicks are stripped from their beaks and piglets are castrated without anaesthesia. Holland is the most densely populated pigs and chicken country in the world. The huge amount of manure per year is 70 billion kilos; that is 4.000 kilos per Dutch citizen. The manure is a contaminator of soil and underground water. Areas of natural beauty are affected and different types of plants become extinct. Also bio-industry can be hold partly responsible - through the large-scale import of soybean cattle feed - for the destruction of unique areas of natural beauty in South America. The construction of soybean plantations in the Amazon areas is one of the major causes of deforestation.

Since May 2006 the Lower House has the opportunity to place, with the aid of a citizen initiative, issues as mentioned above on the political agenda, as yet for a trial period of two years. If 40.000 citizens support an/the initiative, a/the proposal will be considered. (see Stop Fout Vlees (Stop Wrong Meat)).

If you do not have compassion with an animal, with another living being, then you also fail to have compassion with a fellow man.

Category: English | Articles | Author: Marja Langkamp


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