Sunday, August 23, 2009

700 : To Kill or to Live?

I am 33, and since childhood, my views on the veg/non-veg food have vacillated enormously.

Growing up as a precocious Brahmin boy, I almost rebelled against the whole “dogma” of belief, and its easy to see….. that without belief, values or truths have no bearing at all.

Till I was a teenager, freely ate meat, albiet not too much though, because to be honest, I did not enjoy that sort of food too much. I used to occasionally like seafood and continue to do so.

By the time I was 20, I was too much into Buddhist philosophy, to be deeply influenced by their precept of non-violence. By 24, I had weaned off meat, and between 2002 and 2008 – there was complete abstinence, save a few occasional digs – when and where there was no other manna available.

A large part of this period was influenced by John Robbin’s The Food Revolution.

If you had spoken to me a year ago, I would have passionately explained to you the merits of non-violence, a la PETA….to the extent that I had given up honey as well, for almost 3 years.

Fast forward to 2009. I am back on eggs, back onto meat (occasionally though, as I mentioned, I don’t enjoy that food as much + my health does not allow me to pack in too much of that protein).

What has caused the volte face? Some examples.

1. I kill a mosquito in the car, because it will hurt my baby….Does that qualify as self-defence?
2. Pest control of the home, and a thousand dead bodies all floating around? Does non-violence only extend to chickens and others, but not to roaches?
3. My leather bag involves at least one dead animal if not more.
4. The cook who serves me sandwiches at office, is a muslim. He in all probablity eats meat and poultry. If he serves me a great veg sandwich (which he invariably does, he’s a real sweet fella), but he has to eat lamb in order to sustain his own breath and faith, isn’t part of his Karma mine?
5. I take a pill of antibiotics, and a trillion of bacteria in my tummy are gone kaput…khattam shud. Does that qualify as self-defence again?

I am terribly confused, knowing fully well that my didactic logic is very weak, even if at all it holds any water. Just because there a billion deaths around, it still cannot justify one additional well. Hence my heart knows that non-violence might be still the right way to go. (Between Buddha’s and my own intelligent choice, I would blindly go with his anyday…..he is the closest I have come to acknowledging a superior being, a Godhead).

One last note though, on a completely un-related note:
In all of this, I have sincere and utmost respect for my dear brother, who is a confirmed Buddhist, has been off meat, honey, leather, pest control and the whole trapezium….for many years now.
I really admire and look up to such a strong unquestioning belief in goodness and karma.
Multiple times in a day (yes you heard me right), the thought crosses me, I wish I could share the same strong faith and belief as him.

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