April 28, 2010

It’s what they say in Buddhism: you can’t be an activist until you’ve tamed yourself, or you just create further aggression in the world.

Allen Ginsberg, an activist with few equals in his day: “Aggression only begets Aggression.”

Vegans love animals. Do they love humans, too?

I showed the above Facebook comment to my colleague Lindsey. “Who are these people?!” she smiled.

“It’s intense,” I agreed. “I don’t even know if they watch the video before commenting.” I get about 20 of these personal comments a week. Fun!

Funny thing is, I mostly agree with the comment above. I’m vegetarian (though not Update: vegan). I consider the killing of animals for health or pleasure to be a moral issue, not just a health or environmental no-no. It’s just hard to convert folks with aggression. It’s much easier, post-Hinayana (taming one’s own root poisons of aggression, attachment and ignorance through the daily practice of meditation, which trains us to come back from our thoughts to the present moment)…it’s much easier to convert others to our cause with peace, and humor.

I’m working on it, personally. It’s tough. But it’s much easier than the alternative.


PS: the bad side of Buddhism is that we meditators never stop navel-gazing, never get out there to try and change the world for the better (as vegans and PETA do so enthusiastically)…we become afraid of effing up and creating further aggression or neurosis.

The good news is there’s a middle ground: as Pema Chodron says, get out there. Don’t wait to be perfect.

Not too tight, not too loose—as the Buddha once said in advising a musician that tuning his instrument and training his mind were analogous.

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