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Spiritual Vegan Roots
by Colin Sky 13 August 2002
Eighth century BC. Greek poet, Hesiod, portrayed service in agriculture, as sacred work, in his poems Prometheus and Pandora. Mahavira, (Zoroaster) the Persian prophet, founder of JAINISM, exhorted his followers to "regard every living being as thyself..." around 628-527 BC. "Non injury to living beings is the highest religion." Yogashastra. These are vegans' deep roots.
Tao is harmony; in life and nature. Many Taoist are vegetarian. Their founder, Lao Tzu (605-530BC) was a man of peace who shunned war-like actions and spoke strongly against them; leaving society at eighty years old for what is now Tibet in protest over societies' unwillingness to follow the path to natural goodness. At the border a guard asked Lao Tzu to record his teachings before he left. He then composed the Tao Te Ching (The Way and Its Power). http://www.ivu.org/history/east/china.html
Pythagoras around 580-500BC. was the first prominent modern vegetarian (with vegan tendencies) though this is eclipsed in history by his mathematical equations and doctrine of immortality and transmigration of the soul, showing him to be a spiritual man. Pythagoras would have been strongly influenced by Mahavira a few decades earlier. It is written that Pythagoras wore no animal skins and ate chaste nutriment. (Those who abstained from meat were called Pythagoreans until 1847 AD when the word vegetarian came into being.
Buddhism is the religious and philosophical system founded by Buddha Guatama, 560 - 480 BC teaching that all sorrows arise from desire and can be eradicated by following the disciplines of his eight fold path to nirvana. The first Sila (ethic) of Buddhism is not to kill. Only some Buddhist are vegetarian. Vegetarian Buddhist link.
"Pray let us not eat any meat whatsoever coming from living beings." The Buddha in Brahmajala Sutra.
Other Greek and Roman Philosophers associated with the vegetarian lifestyle followed...among them.. Socrates, Antisthenes, Plato, Diogenes, Aristotle, Theophrastus, Epicurus, Ovid.... "If we pursue our habit of eating animals, and if our neighbour follows a similar path, will we need to go to war against our neighbour to secure greater pasturage, because ours will not be enough to sustain us, and our neighbour will have a similar need to wage war on us for the same reason?" Socrates.470-399 BC. http://www.ivu.org/history/greece_rome
Not all wise philosophers shunned meat, Hippocrates wrote, "Let food be your medicine and medicine your food." Hippocrates has been called the father of medicine and surely today would be a practising vegan.
On the completion of each phase of Creation it is written "And God saw that it was good. God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very good". Judaism, and Christians, hold these texts as proof of God's original plan for a vegan diet for humanity." Genesis 1:29 and 30, "... And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food."
Some still believe Jesus was a member of the Essenes, a Jewish sect, one of the three main religious sects in first century Palestine. Though the Essene scriptures are excluded from the Bible, their Gospel of the Holy Twelve, portrays Jesus as a pure vegetarian, with loving creatures at his feet. http://www.ivu.org/news/1-96/essenes.html
Blessed are the merciful. Mathew 5:7
Hinduism. Is a system of religious beliefs and social customs, originating in India, that believes in reincarnation, the worship of several gods and an ordained caste system, as the basis for society; which is firmly based in the ancient Vedic texts. "Having well considered the origin of flesh foods and the cruelty of fettering and slaying corporeal beings, let man entirely abstain from eating flesh." Manusmriti 5.49 "The slaughter of animals obstructs the way to Heaven." The Laws of Manu V,45-5 Not all Hindus are vegetarian.
Krishnaism. The worship or belief in the Hindu god Krishna (an incarnation of Vishnu). Bhagavad-Gita. Krishna says, "I am the mind of the senses; the consciousness of creatures."
A good site for the World/NZ Krishna Consciousness movement of vegetarians. http://www.hknet.org.nz/KC-means.html http://www.hknet.org.nz/
View excellent service by Hari Krishnas in war torn Russia. "There may be places in the world where simply seeing a bunch of Hare Krishna members would make people turn tail and run. But Grozny isn't one of them. Here, they have reputation like Mother Teresa has in Calcutta: it's not hard finding people to swear they are saints. In a city full of lies, greed and corruption, the Krishna's deliver the goods. Each day they serve more than 1,000 hot meals, as many as any organisation in the city." Full story. http://www.europeanvegetarian.org/evu/english/news/news961/russia2.html
Wiccan and native religions. "An ye harm none, do what ye will." Wiccan Rede. http://www.neopagan.net/Contents.html
Bahai. "What will be the food of the future?" "Fruit and grains. The time will come when meat will no longer be eaten." 'Abdu'l-Baha. Ten Days in Light of Akka. Julia M Grundy.
Latter-day Saints. Mormon. LDS. doctrine is quite specific about the importance of overcoming earthly appetites that lead to over-consumption, compulsion and which can be detrimental to health thereby causing physical and consequently spiritual damage. LTD seems to follow vegetarianism in order to live longer to do the Lord's work longer... Check out their vege status @ http://www.vegsource.com/articles/catano.htm
Early roots of the Seventh-day Adventist started with Baptist preacher William Miller who prophesied Jesus returning to Earth between 1843 - 1844, based on Daniel 8.14. When this never eventuated, those that stayed with the movement, restudied their bibles and concluded that it was a new mission for Jesus, that was to start at this time. They still expect Jesus to return. One of the prominent leaders of this time was Ellen G White. A strong advocate for vegetarianism and Veganism. Ellen G. White had written that health foods were a blessing from God to His people and that "health food work is the property of God and not to be made a financial speculation for profit."
"The light given me is that it will not be very long before we shall have to give up using any animal food. Even milk will have to be discarded.... The habits and practises of men have brought the earth into such a condition that some other food, than animal, be substituted for the human family. God can give us something else." Ellen G. White.1899.
As in the enlightened 5th & 6th c BC, wise persons abound in the 20th & 21st C. Many spiritual, learned folk, embrace vegetarianism without being outwardly religious. "Any society which does not insist upon respect for all life must necessarily decay." "Our task... widening our circle of compassion, to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature..." "Nothing will benefit human health, and increase the chances for survival, of life on earth, as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." Albert Einstein.
"There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher animals in their mental faculties... The lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." "The love for all living creatures is the noblest attribute of man." Charles Darwin.
"Vegetarianism serves as the criterion by which we know that the pursuit of moral perfection on the part of humanity, is genuine and sincere." Leo Tolstoy.
"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." The 14th Dalai Lama.
One of the strongest (spiritual) messages coming out of America, and indeed the world today... is coming from vegan Christians, Mary and Frank L. Hoffman. (Frank is a 15 year veteran of veganism.) His emails are all signed with a powerful message... "If we REALLY want God to bless America and the earth, GO VEGAN!" Frank says, "Far too many people get on the political-Christian bandwagon with anything but Christ-like characters." "We agree that today, Jesus would definitely be vegan. The problem we have in the US and the world is that our societies function from a position of violence rather than peace. We have peace talks and serve violence on the attendees' plates. As long as our societies are based upon sanitised violence, we will never have peace. And according to Jesus' words in Mathew 5:9 the blessing comes to the peacemakers." They host an E-Mail discussion group of Christian and vegetarian issues (if you want to be on the list let them know email@example.com ). "Through unconditional love and compassion we can change the world." http://www.all-creatures.org
"If you have men that will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow man." Francis of Assisi.
Ahimsa is a Sanskrit word meaning 'non harming, non injuring'. The American Vegan Society described it as 'dynamic harmlessness' and until recently had named its magazine Ahimsa.
A = Abstinence from animal product.
H = Harmlessness with reverence for life.
I = Integrity of thought, word and deed.
M = Mastery over oneself.
S = Service to humanity, nature and creation.
A = Advancement of understanding truth.
Vegan Spirituality. Many vegans experience increased well-being with their diet. With harmless ways, giving peace of mind, many express this as spiritual, or like being in a harmony/love relationship with nature.
"Veganism... is my personal, ultimate "faith". I believe it to be an all-encompassing ideal for humanity to strive towards." Sienna Blake, editor of Vegan Voice. http://veganic.net/
Vegans respect and care for nature through their actions. Seek to be kind and harm none. Those in this article are our torch bearers, blazing our path, expressing our messages of love towards nature and world peace."Be the change you want to see in the world." Gandhi.
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