It was a cozy restaurant near the forest. That was the setting where the master and his disciple decided to eat lunch. The disciple asked for steak with fried onions as the main dish. The master requested for lentils and brown rice with a small salad.
The disciple said: “It is said that spirituality will lead people to become vegetarian or vegan, but I love too much the taste of meat. I don’t want to give it up yet.”
The master replied: “ Sure. I understand.”
The disciple felt awkward as he thought his master was disappointed. The master sensed that and while waiting for food to be served, he said: “ In the world of duality, pleasure without awareness will inevitably lead to addiction and the experience of pain without awareness will lead to fear. Eating meat has been traditionally a symbol of wealth and power. This strong conditioning has been installed on future generations. More people conditioned with similar traditions will cause unrestricted destruction of the natural balance of our ecosystem, for their view of life will take them to pursue pleasure at the expense of other less developed beings and Nature. However, this trend at this time is backfiring humanity, for we are part of that ecosystem as well. We are all one. That was only a nice spiritual theory a few decades back. Now, it is a reality because we experience the consequences. While people used to debate whether eating meat was good or bad for health or moral purposes, at this time it is a social responsibility to refrain from it, as the consequences are affecting humanity.”
The disciple was shocked, but he asked: “Could eating meat affect us?”
The master replied: “The inhumane treatment of sentient beings, is hardening our hearts. Humans have lost their sense of equilibrium with Nature. Eating flesh to live is part of Life for some species even for some humans, but the exploitation and indiscriminate killing beyond our human physical needs, for the sake of profit or to just satisfy our addiction for taste, is an offense against our planet. The Earth, gains nothing. Other sentient beings suffer while some gain plenty of paper with human pictures in it, which will give them power to control other men. It is a mental game of disconnection with Mother Earth.”
The master took a sip of water and continued: “The addiction of meat is so strong that even though most humans are well informed about this situation, they are powerless to do anything about it. Their wills have been broken. There was a time when families had land with animals to provide for their food. Now, it is another reality where action with social responsibility is the rational direction, that is; to avoid consuming animal products, as much as possible.”
The disciple understood the words of his master and felt a bit guilty. He wanted for his master to tell him clearly to stop eating meat. So, he pushed the issue one more time.
The disciple said: “Master, aren’t you going to ask me not to eat meat?”
The master smiled and said: “Spiritual teachings don’t use the word “No;” as in “you should not do this or that,” for Life has its own intelligence and there is a lesson at every corner of it. If we fail to see something, that is because we lack awareness; but the consequences will be felt sooner or later to shake us up and then wake up. It is in that experience how we truly understand. Mental understanding of ideas and philosophies leads to no real personal change, but only help us to follow beliefs. If you just follow what I say without being ready, great repression will be built inside you and that will be my responsibility.”
The disciple felt a big release, smiled and asked: ” Master, how do I know when I have eaten enough or when my addiction for tasty things kicks in?
The master smiled, took another sip of water and said: ” That is truly a meaningful question. Eating is an art. You need a tranquil space where you can place your attention in what you are ingesting. Eat with gratefulness. Chew your food well, taste it, salivate it, let it go to your stomach and then take a couple of breaths; talk if you need to and then go at it again. Be aware of the signals that your body sends. As you are reaching 75% of your stomach capacity, that is a good place to stop. Your body will tell you exactly if you are aware. Your mind on the other hand, will enjoy the taste and say: Get more! How delicious! repeat! Let the mind enjoy, but remember that it is what you feel and not what you think what drives the art of eating. Leave with a sense that you could have eaten more. There are some days, where you could eat a bit more or less. Life is about feeling balance and not following formulas. To learn to feel is the key. Conscious, aware eating is a fine spiritual practice. Nevertheless, there is an indicator which could tell you most of the time, if you are eating sensibly or not…. “
The master stopped talking. After a few seconds, the disciple asked: ” What is that indicator, master?”
“your belly size.” said the master while smiling.