Photo by: Ananta Vrindavan
- Krishna and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance -
by Rohini-suta dasa (Ronald E. Boutelle)
Table of Contents
Chapter Three – What Would Jesus Do?
In the early seventies, another school year and the promise of a new season brought to Saratoga Springs a beehive of activity, with many new faces appearing on the streets for the very first time. This was a few years before I became a member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
Sperry’s had just opened with the look of the fifties—Davis had recently become the new owner of Saratoga Traders—and for live music the best was found every Wednesday night at Skidmore’s new basement coffeehouse, Lively Lucy’s.
Of course, certain things about Saratoga were perfect, just as they were, and especially for an early morning breakfast it was hard to beat the potatoes being “pan fried” over at the Four Sons’ Cafe. Somewhere in the midst of all of this, my good friend, David O’Neill, introduced me to Peter and his girlfriend. Late one afternoon, we all took a short drive toward Wilton to look at a small cabin that Peter said I could live in.
At the time, I still owned the 1959 four-wheel-drive GMC panel I had bought while I was in the Air Force, and seeing how David’s friends mentioned that the road leading up to the cabin would be quite rough, I volunteered to drive. But a few months later, after the owners of the property had asked me to be their permanent caretaker, I decided that a recent offer to buy the truck was just too good to pass up. Without hesitating, I sold it. Besides, the road to the cabin was almost two miles long and because of its poor condition, much too grueling to be constantly driving back and forth on. Now that I was going to be living rent free and my utilities cut to zero, getting rid of this last big expense seemed like the right thing to do. It was always an invigorating experience walking to the cabin, especially in the dead of winter when I’d have to strap on my cross-country skis. Even so, nothing ever compared to the ebullience I felt when we all drove up on that first visit.
Including the two hundred acres that went along with the cabin, this location was much more isolated than the little house I found in Fischer, many years later. Instead of stone, this cabin had been built entirely out of logs—probably right after the turn of the century by some unknown Adirondack recluse. I remember when I first saw it. I could hardly believe that something so beautiful and so old could still exist, and yet be completely abandoned. Inside and out everything had the unmistakable appearance of having withstood both the test of time and the ravages of man—a little forgotten cabin perched on top of a pine covered knoll, simply waiting for someone like me to come along and take care of it. When discovering something as incredible as this, one’s euphoria is boundless and every moment ecstatic.
Following everyone through the back door, the first thing Peter wanted to show us turned out to be an old display case. It probably had three dozen, thin-sliding drawers, each full of moths and butterflies delicately laid out with their wings spread open. Someone had labeled their Latin names on little slips of faded paper, neatly pinned below each specimen: Lymantria dispar, Pieris rapae, Vanessa Virginiensis, Emperor Gum.
photo by: Fir0002
From this small room (where the display case stood), we entered the cabin itself, which was undivided except for two sleeping lofts overhead. Off to my left, a stone fireplace suggested how the cabin was heated during the winter. Although a fireplace gives any cabin an added touch, what really gave the place its unique character was the nickel plated, Red Cross Tribune, wood burning stove, sitting off to the side. The stove was the type that had an old-fashioned warming oven on top.
After I got the knack of using it I even managed to bake a few loaves of bread. Nor could I wait to look through all the old National Geographic magazines that were standing on the mantle. A quick glance at their dates told me that, indeed, the cabin was as old as Peter had said.
Gradually fall gave way to winter and as the nights grew colder I enjoyed snuggling next to the fireplace inside my North Face sleeping bag. I definitely found this cozy atmosphere and the crackling fire the perfect setting to ponder the many questions that seemed to be weighing heavily upon my mind. What better place to sort out all the things that were bothering me? Perhaps I could even write a book.
As much as the next person, I wanted the sorrows of the world to go away and with more than enough time on my hands to write, my notebooks soon became stuffed. This approach, however, wasn’t solving anything and even writing about the problems in great length proved just as futile. I desperately felt the need for a more dynamic solution to the insanity around me.
“Why did the Lake Luzerne Highway Department cut the throats of more than fifty magnificent maple trees spectacularly lining both sides of a lazy country road?” Answer: “Just to make a ten miles per hour hairpin turn into a fifteen miles per hour hairpin turn. What was the point?”
Furthermore, what about the nuclear waste our government’s producing all over the world and how deadly the stuff is? At the University of New York, during a lecture one night, the speaker explained that if you get just one speck of it inside you, death by cancer is certain. Of course, radioactive waste does eventually decay through a phenomenon scientists call half-life, meaning that after a certain time span its lethal potency drops in half. Then, after that time span passes by anew, it drops by half again, and so on. That’s not bad except for several facts. Besides being the most deadly substance on earth, after its half-life—after it becomes only fifty percent as lethal—the stuff will still kill you “dead as a doornail.” Instead of being shot in the head with a .357 magnum, you’re shot in the head with a .22 magnum.
And here is the clincher: It takes four times longer than the known written history of mankind for the stuff to reach its half-life. Now our “brainy” scientists are going to bury the stuff out in the desert and post a guard out front.
You need to let this sink in. This super deadly material will remain toxic at full strength, four times the known written history of mankind. Still a toxic threat, it will need to be guarded for several more periods that long. Do they really think they can do that? Just think of all the kings and queens and Napoleons and dynasties and earthquakes that have appeared over the countless centuries of yesteryear, and what we are now faced with is guarding something more than four times that length of time!
Reeling from frustration, I started a large fire in the fireplace and standing back, tossed in every page I had written. All I had was a collection of problems, anyhow. In those trying times the only comfort I knew I could rely on was “Sealy,” my four-string tenor guitar. But even my most recent song had a sad story to tell. Still, I felt drawn to it.
Propping myself against the back of an old chair, my fingers felt at home against the steel strings. Listening carefully as the tune slowly began to resonate with my feelings, I found it easy to remember the words.
The soldiers rode their horses fast
Toward the reservation
The braves had gone to hunt for food
The soldiers were ‘advanc’n’
The tepees stood tall each eye to eye
The Northern Star was in the sky
All the children fast asleep
Their mothers weary no food to eat
The braves had gone to hunt for food
The soldiers knew just what to do
They aimed their cannon from the hills
The fuses were lit – the earth she stood still
The children they cried
Their mothers they died
The generals were ‘a-pranc’n’
Now the chief’s young son
He was just barely two
My Lord, oh God, what could he do?
The braves had gone to hunt for food
The soldiers knew just what to do
When the chief came home
He found his young wife
She’d been raped and stabbed
By a soldier’s knife
High in the sky an eagle did fly
Looking down he asked himself why
All they wanted was to be left alone
To hunt and fish – to keep their tepees warm
Their land was sacred and the air was clean
But the white-man’s greed destroyed their dreams
The braves had gone to hunt for food
The soldiers knew just what to do
Later that evening I sank inside my sleeping bag with my thoughts on the verge of total despair. Staring at the dancing flames in the fireplace, I felt that if I could just look deeply enough at what was right in front of me, possibly, then, I’d discover the right solutions. “But, how is that done?”
Making sure that my sleeping bag wasn’t getting hit by flying sparks, at least I could appreciate how after living in the forest I had a greater respect for Mother Nature. I was thankful and I really enjoyed my new home—the way things around me were so beautiful, peaceful, and sane.
Then I recalled earlier that day, trying to find some music on my transistor radio. Inadvertently, news of the Vietnam War had come on. Even though we had signed a peace treaty there was still fighting going on. While listening to the bloody account, I had gazed out the window. No matter where I looked I was totally enveloped by trees—a world unto itself.
The stark contrast between where I was living and what I was hearing over the radio had suddenly given me the eeriest sensation that I was actually living on some other planet, tuning-in to a distant world and their desperate cries for help. “Come to think of it, I wonder how the earth would look if there were no human beings on it?”
Now that was a very interesting question! Somehow I had stumbled onto something that suddenly filled me with hope. Curious, I adjusted my pillow, closed my eyes, and with my imagination, began to envision what Earth would look like; never having been walked on by a single human being.
Oh, what a glorious sight I saw! The pictures came effortlessly. In the panorama of my mind’s eye I looked down upon our splendid planet with its deep blue lakes and winding rivers, teaming with native trout and other fish.
Then I saw stretching out as far as I could see an endless herd of buffalo, filling themselves with fresh grass. High above them flew four golden eagles, soaring effortlessly in a large graceful circle. The oceans were clean and shimmering with natural shades of blue; full of whales and dolphins playing together; undisturbed by oil spills and killing ships. The woods along the streams were free from pop-top rings and bent beer cans, thoughtlessly thrown to the ground. Everything was behaving in perfect harmony.
With my curiosity rising, I used my imagination again, but this time I put back all the human beings I had just removed. Within a split second, visions of rotting garbage; ambulances screaming their way to the twisted remains of a bloody pileup; an ugly slum; a woman being brutally raped; starving children and cities ravaged by war filled my sight. Litter was everywhere and children with sad faces looked up at me from a dump in Mexico City. Like a pesticide, acid rain filled the air. In South America I could see huge portions of the earth naked, her valuable trees ablaze, leaving the air full of thick smoke. The ground oozed with brown mud, smeared on the face of a little girl, her tears making little white lines down her soft cheeks.
Reeling at this appalling sight, again I took away all the human beings and sighed with relief as I gazed upon the earth I truly loved. How beautiful she looked with her splendid snow-capped mountains and emerald forests, filled with hemlock and blue spruce and singing birds. I could even smell her fresh aroma and feel her dark soil—warm, full of life, and eager to give.
Finally, at last, I felt I was addressing the right issue and each night, for the next several evenings, I eagerly replayed these two scenarios over and over again in my mind. First I looked at the earth without any humans and then I put them back. Suddenly the questions appeared. “Why the difference? What makes one world so vastly different from the other? Aren’t they both, ultimately, created by the same Almighty God? Why is there such a tremendous difference? Did God make a mistake somewhere?” Placing another log on the fire I just knew I was at the threshold of something very meaningful, if not at the very core of the problems I wanted to solve.
Early the next morning I grabbed an apple and took a long walk, still heavy with the questions from the previous night. At least certain things were clear to me. In the world without human beings on it, Mother Nature reigns supreme. Every blade of grass, everything, acts in total unison with her will—each, in its own unique way, busy with its particular task—each an integral part of Mother Nature’s master plan.
Snapping off a dead tree limb, I watched a formation of Canadian geese fly overhead. I thought how the earth had flourished under Mother Nature’s care for millions upon millions of years. It seems to have been just these last few hundred years (not even a second ago compared to millennia) that our planet has become threatened with total destruction. Even here in America, not so long ago, the ground in Wyoming and Colorado still rumbled from the wild buffalo charging across her great plains. “But why the instant change? What went wrong?” Again questions appeared. “Did God make a mistake?”
This is what contemplation means—becoming totally absorbed in thought, like a large cloud slowly growing more ominous, until BANG—its charge becomes so great it explodes with tremendous light. My questions seemed more defined, for sure, and I was even playing along the edges of the answer, but I still hadn’t come to the “banging part.” Something was still missing.
Catching a glimpse of the cabin through the trees, I couldn’t contain my thoughts any longer. I couldn’t. I had the lion by its tail. Sitting down on a log I thought again about the earth without any humans on it, and once more the same simple truth struck me—everything was behaving in total cooperation with her. But when man is allowed to enter upon the scene, it is his will that wants to prevail, replacing Mother Nature’s with his own desires—to conquer over all that he surveys, no matter what the price.
In other words, man insists on doing his own thing and to make matters worse there are so many people on our planet, each with his own aggressive viewpoint, selfishly pushing it on others. Our history books and newspapers are full of the horrors of war, and as far as the religions of the world (which are supposed to teach man to live in harmony), they have hardly helped at all. Come to think of it, some of the bloodiest wars are fought over religion. note #1
The sun was bright and I could feel its soothing warmth penetrate through my wool jacket. I loosened a few buttons. The soft snow even began to twinkle. As I glanced around, I realized that a planet without any human beings on it would look a lot like the forest where I was now standing—peaceful, beautiful, and obedient. Actually, I didn’t have to imagine the earth without any humans on it because looking around, besides myself, there were no other human beings.
Beginning to feel the thunder of exhilaration race through my soul, all of a sudden I actually transcended my make-believe planets. Without the slightest effort I took a step right into the very world I had been creating over and over, the past several nights. BANG everything connected to Mother Nature—the flying geese, the busy beaver, the changing seasons, the melting snow, the chirping birds; every last thing around me connected.
My mind took me back in time. I was looking at a large spider’s web behind the cabin, each strand sprinkled wet with dew. It was so delicate and yet so strong and intricately woven. Where in the world does a spider get the knowledge to make such an incredible thing?
The Spider’s Web
Photo by: Gnissah
How do any of the creatures of the forest know what to do? Doesn’t it all come from mother nature? The geese that I had just seen flying overhead had received their message from her, “Now it’s time to fly south.” In between two fence posts she tells mister spider, “Weave your web like this.” In the winter she tells the black bear, “OK, now it’s time to sleep.” And gazing upon a great herd of Russian elk she speaks the words that spark a great migration. Even the autumn leaf knows which way to fall and the babbling brook which way to flow.
I stood still—almost spellbound—rooted to the earth, looking around me in wonder—ninety-nine percent forest and one percent me. Ninety-nine percent getting their messages from Mother Nature, and me, an insignificant one percent, not having the foggiest idea what I was supposed to do. Wasn’t I the superior species? Or was I? It felt unfair. I yelled out, “I’m created too, so what is my message? What am I supposed to do with my life? I want to be part of your kingdom and behave properly like everything else.”
Living in that small cabin definitely brought me in contact with the essential idea of serving God, or “loving devotional service,” but to save myself, I couldn’t say for sure (exactly) what it was (specifically) I was supposed to do. In the first place, it wasn’t up to me to decide and, furthermore, how could I? What I was trying to come in touch with, was, by its very nature, something beyond me. Its entire content, I felt, would originate from God and then, somehow, come down to me. It would be exactly like the message that originates independently of the bear, but then comes down to him, “OK, now it’s time to wake up!”
Asking basic questions doesn’t necessarily mean quick answers. After all, certain answers can be beyond man’s ability to reach by himself and requires someone very special to help him. For example, a person who doesn’t know the identity of his actual father might look into thousands of faces, asking, “Is he my father?” or, “Is he my father?” Even if he searched like this for years, this approach would never provide a satisfactory answer. However, if he were to simply ask his mother who his father is, he could instantly know the answer.
Unquestionably true, it is a mistake to avoid, or sidestep, the spiritual master. JOHN 15:5—”Without me you can do nothing.” SHRI SHRI GURU-ASHTAKA (#8)—”Without the grace of the spiritual master, one cannot make any advancement.”
This is one of the essential numbers to the combination, so you can’t get any more important than that. One of the greatest stumbling blocks to spiritual life is having the attitude, “I’m an individual and nobody can tell me how to worship God!” But, you see, this isn’t what God has to say. Actually, God has a lot to say on this matter. Basically, the system He has established is that on His behalf, the saints represent Him. These great men and women have sacrificed everything to carry out this holy task, resulting at times in great persecution, suffering, and loss of life. Even one of our young Hare Krishna missionaries (Her Grace Hladini devi dasi), who was organizing the mass feeding of homeless refugees in war-torn Africa, was executed by rebel soldiers.
Her Grace Hladini devi dasi
The Sampradaya Sun
Therefore, out of our Lord’s deep love for His devotees, He asks us to approach Him, through them.
If you owned a large company and had a devoted staff working for you, wouldn’t you ask that the public approach you through them? So even God has a “spiritual etiquette” that He follows.
This only makes sense and from the Bhagavad-gita As It Is there are four pertinent verses spoken by Lord Krishna about the affection He has for His devotees, all with the same corollary—”God wants us to fall down at the lotus-feet of His dear servants and learn from them.”
BHAGAVAD-GITA (bog-a-vod GHEE-ta): 4.34—”Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth.”
BHAGAVAD-GITA (12.20)—”Those who follow this imperishable path of devotional service and who completely engage themselves with faith, making Me the supreme goal, are very dear to Me.”
BHAGAVAD-GITA (18.68-69)—”For one who explains this supreme secret to the devotees, pure devotional service is guaranteed, and at the end he will come back to Me. There is no servant in this world more dear to Me than he, nor will there ever be one more dear.”
“Approaching a spiritual master” is the same idea Jesus spoke about when he said, JOHN 14:6—”I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man (can presently) cometh unto the Father, but by me.” note #2
One of the most vivid images I took with me after giving up my forest cabin in search of “my message” was that of a falling leaf. It represented how I wanted to be. The reason this impressed me so was that a falling leaf, caught by the wind, never resists its destiny; blown to the right or blown to the left. Although I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do, at least I had determined that this was how I wanted to act--obedient like a leaf. And as far as discovering what my message might be, there was at least one good lead that immediately came to mind.
As I have mentioned, during one of the last lectures I heard Charles Berner give, he told us about a very spiritual person who once lived in ancient India. Although Charles never elaborated, I did remember that this person had a beautiful sounding name: Krishna (Krsna). So one of the first things I wanted to do after I got settled down in Saratoga was to find some information on who Krishna was. Perhaps, I thought, He might have said something about “my message.”
Sharing an apartment with a friend, I had only been in town a few days when one of the first things I noticed was an ugly, trash-strewn parking lot, down on the end of Caroline Street, between Sperry’s and Saratoga Traders. These were two of the most popular bars in town. Shamefully, college students had littered the parking lot with thousands of flattened out beer cans, broken bottles, pull tabs, cigarette butts, pieces of paper, and all kinds of trash. What a contrast compared to the tidy footprints left by my furry little friends back at my cabin.
I was shocked at what I saw. “Perhaps I should go over to Mike’s and borrow his rake, and with some trash bags pick up that mess.” This made perfect sense; perfectly in line with my new values. Plus, I had just read a book from India and the holy man who wrote it (although vague on details) also spoke of the general concept of loving devotional service to God. Actually, the more I thought about cleaning the place up the more enlivened I became, confirming in my heart all the more that this was indeed the very thing that I should do. Even though I wasn’t sure who or what God was, I was certainly eager to serve Him.
With rake in hand, I happily spent the better part of three days gathering up every piece of trash I could find. Eventually I stacked over forty sacks to be taken to the dump. In a very satisfying way, the parking lot began to look beautiful.
I even found two small trees that had somehow managed to avoid all the drunk drivers. At last finished, I took a few extra minutes to carefully groom the dirt under their branches. Making real sure that no one was watching, I got down on both knees, bowing my head to Mother Nature, God, and the earth, asking that my small effort might somehow be pleasing. I asked God to forgive me for all the pain I had once inflicted upon His children (animals). This was the first time in my entire life that I had purposely tried to please Him.
One morning, while having breakfast with Cathy over at the Four Sons’ Cafe, one of my friends came over and asked if I would be interested in sharing a workshop with him and several other people. I was told that the rent was extremely reasonable. When I mentioned this to Mike, he thought he’d be interested, too, because he needed some extra room to work on his arts and crafts. As for myself, I thought that perhaps I could start my own business.
Checking it out, we were more than pleasantly surprised. The large workshop turned out to be an old, ivy-covered garage, hidden from public view and overlooking the park. Constructed from wood and red brick, there was a certain charm about the place and I knew that if I decided to go for it, I would really enjoy working there.
The only oddity that occurred is that after I said I would, for various reasons everyone decided to pull out of the deal, leaving me as the only tenant. Even this became quite vague because as far as who I was to pay, no one ever told me. If there was a landlord, he certainly never showed up while I was there. The rumor going around, however, was that the businessmen in the area greatly appreciated my presence, because previously kids had been damaging property, which they immediately stopped once I opened for business.
Since college towns (Skidmore College) are bicycle oriented, I figured I would do well opening a bicycle shop. I liked to work with my hands and all the tools I would need could be purchased for under a hundred dollars. Best of all, I now had the perfect place to work out of.
Setting my mind on this approach to resolve my financial woes, I opened, The Adirondack Wheel Works—a repair shop specializing in buying, selling, and restoring used bikes. Even though my spiritual questions temporarily found themselves on “the back burner,” I had the potential for a rewarding business, hardly any overhead, a town full of good friends, a much better understanding of life, and best of all, my wonderful girlfriend, Cathy Moore, whom I loved very much.
* * * * *
Sixteen years later, the morning sun over Fischer, Texas, was slowly making its presence felt, giving warmth and light to a new day along Cranes Mill Road. Orders for my barn-wood frames had picked up considerably and having been up late trying to get everything ready, I was planning to sleep until at least nine. When the weather was hot like it had been, I’d often work at night and spend the day taking care of less strenuous things, such as buying supplies or getting together with my friends at The Shanty. Mostly we’d raid Joe’s inner tubes so we could cool off floating “the loop” on the Guadalupe River.
Over the past year the children and I had gradually made friends with the cows. At the “feed store” in Wimberley we even found some biscuits for them that they simply loved. Standing behind the pump house, I opened the paper sack and let Julia grab as many as she could. She tossed them over the fence and with much delight we watched the cows come running, madly shoving their big round noses into the leaves, searching desperately with their long tongues for a little morsel.
Pump house as it looks 23 years later
photo by: The Author
At other times a lone cow would slowly saunter over to the water trough to take a long drink, invariably followed by her timid calf. With Patrick in my arms and Julia holding my hand, over the fence I’d say, “Good morning Mrs. Cow. Hare Krishna.” Then we would watch her calf, who often showed an equal interest in us. Imitating his daddy, Patrick stretched out his little arm and pointing with his finger said, “Hare Krishna.” Frankly, I had never lived close to cows before and I definitely felt blessed to wake up every morning and see all my gentle neighbors. I couldn’t help being touched by the loving gestures between the calves and their mothers.
The nicest thing I found about living in the country was that I got to think certain things, that as a city dweller I just never had the chance to contemplate.
For instance, one thing I got to ponder and later build was a compost bin; using 2x4s for the framework and chicken wire for the sides. To make the compost I used a layering method consisting of alternating amounts of soil, dry leaves, green-grass clippings, and manure, as outlined in an old issue of Mother Earth News. This quickly produced plenty of rich compost for all my gardening needs.
When I got to the manure part, this is when I’d get Julia and together we’d climb the fence where the cows drank water. With our shovel we’d then fill our buckets to the top with as much as we wanted. Julia was always eager to help me but poor little Patrick, being far too small, could only stand on his tipsy-toes, making sure to see every move we made from his playpen. But those were much happier times.
Now, all alone in the empty house, I was awakened by the distant sound of a mooing cow. At first I didn’t think much of it but after hearing her for a steady fifteen minutes, I could tell that something was definitely wrong. “Maybe her calf has its head stuck in the barbwire fence, or worse yet, one of the cows is having a hard time giving birth.” I had heard unpleasant stories about that and the more I listened to her cries, the more I became concerned. I knew I could always call my landlord if there was a serious problem. Getting dressed as fast as I could, I ran outside to see what was wrong.
Looking toward the far end of their pasture I could make out several cows standing together, one of them doing all the mooing. I went closer but other than her peculiar behavior, everything seemed to be in order. I finally concluded that she had to be calling for her missing calf and with hundreds of acres to get lost in, this was all that was wrong. I was sure that every now and then, with kids being kids, her calf had not paid close enough attention to which way she had gone. Soon, I thought, with all that power behind her bellowing, her calf would show up. Realizing I had to drive into San Marcos to deliver an order to the Paper Bear, I loaded my truck and put on some decent clothes.
As was often the case, I didn’t get home until five. After parking under the trees, I went inside to check my answering machine. The only call I had was from “Preecher.” He wanted to let me know that he was back in Canyon Lake, having just completed a three week tour with his boss, country singer, George Strait.
Having forgotten to check the mail, I stepped back outside when again I heard more mooing. “What in the world is wrong with that poor cow?” Then I heard the phone ring. It was Joe wanting to know if I could play racquetball with him at seven. He said I had better get my gym clothes together quickly if we were going to grab a bite to eat before driving into New Braunfels for our court appointment. By the time I got home it was well after midnight. I was so exhausted, all I could manage was to take off my clothes and fall into bed.
The next morning, just like the day before, again I was stirred by the sound of that poor mother’s mooing. Still puzzled, I thought to myself how she had been crying for at least two days and nights, if not longer. Something must have dreadfully happened to her little calf. That had to be the answer. I was fairly certain that she was the cow with the spotted calf but it was difficult to say for sure because they all kind of looked alike. Besides, I don’t think I ever saw the entire herd together at one time. But this was certain—something had happened to her youngster. Why else would she be mooing like that?
Getting out of bed and wondering if I should call my landlord and tell him about his cow, I began to recall how a couple of days earlier, John and his father had been out back with their stock trailer while I had been busy in my shop. Every now and then they’d drive up in their pickup and tend to their herd. But come to think of it, because of the stock trailer, what must have happened is that they took her calf from her—taking it to the slaughterhouse. No wonder she had been crying for such a long time. Her heart was broken.
Even though I knew that this was the ultimate fate waiting for all the cows, the reality of it had never fully hit me. After getting dressed I walked outside by the fence, sadly watching her trying to nibble on a little grass.
Both of us now alone, my feelings went out to her. Having had little ones of my own, I know that nothing in all this world is more precious to a person’s heart.
Several years ago while I was attending a Hare Krishna festival in Venice Beach, California, a young mother turned around to look at something and when she looked down, she couldn’t find her little girl. That poor woman also went mad, looking throughout the huge crowd, calling and calling for her missing child. Was her pain and terror any different from this poor cow, who had just spent two days and nights calling and calling for her missing one?
Sitting in my small reading room I felt heavy and stared out the window. I was unable to shake from my mind the cruel heartedness that had fallen upon this cow and her poor calf. I began to think about my Christian landlord and his family. I recalled the very day we had moved in. Opening the back door to the house we found on the floor six, neatly wrapped Christmas presents. Needless to say, this gesture of Christian love deeply touched me because we were total strangers.
But I was confused by this other behavior. They had shown me so much kindness, but on the other hand, regarding that little calf, “What would Jesus do?” As I see it, the failure to honestly address the answer to this question sadly reveals, “The Great Christian Thorn.” With all my sincerity, I hope that the remainder of this chapter can somehow help to pull it out.
While it is true that I am not by any means a Christian scholar, over the past ten years I have enjoyed making a study of the Holy Bible. This has been a very rewarding experience.
The first Biblical literature I read was Pearl S. Buck’s lucid renditions of both the Old and the New Testaments, followed later by a copy of the Reader’s Digest Bible. Then I read The Living Bible, and next, The Greatest Story Ever Told, by Fulton Oursler. I also enjoyed, The Bible In Pictures, and I’ve read many sections of The King James Bible.
Besides these, I have also studied most of Rev. Kenneth Hagin’s writings; all the available literature by Smith Wiggelesworth; Christ The Healer, by F. F. Bosworth; and some of the teachings by E. W. Kenyon. There are many other books I have read, mostly recounting the lives of the great Christian saints—both modern and early.
In the Holy Bible there are three outstanding themes that entwine with one another, evoking a powerful and compelling message of love. When asked by a lawyer which is the greatest commandment (divine instruction), Jesus Christ replied: MATTHEW 22:37-39—”Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
These two commandments are probably the most familiar verses in the Bible, compared to, “The Third Greatest Commandment,” which, unfortunately, because of its lack of formal decree, creates what I call, “The Great Christian Thorn.” This is a pity since the “Third Commandment” is one of the most important messages the Bible has to offer.
Simply stated, this “Third Commandment” instructs us, “to act like Jesus.” This is what his disciples taught:
COLOSSIANS 3:17—”And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus.”
1 PETER 1:15, 16—”Be holy now in everything you do, just as the Lord is holy. He Himself has said, ‘You must be holy for I am holy.’”
1 JOHN 2:6—”That is the way to know whether or not you are a Christian. Anyone who says he is a Christian should live as (Jesus) did.”
1 PETER 2:21—”For even hereunto were ye called; because (Jesus) also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.”
EPHESIANS 4:15—”And so become more and more in every way like (Jesus).”
ROMANS 15:5—”May God help you to live with the attitude of (Jesus).”
EPHESIANS 5:2—”(Follow) the example of Christ who loved you.”
PHILIPPIANS 2:5—”Let this mind be in you, which was also in Jesus.”
There is also a similar statement by Rev. Smith Wigglesworth in which he says, “God wants us to let the mind that was in Jesus, that pure, holy, humble mind of Jesus Christ, be in us.”
* * * * *
In my imaginary world without humans on it, there is no question of rebellion. Everything behaves perfectly, according to the will of Mother Nature and she is the holy servant of God. This is clearly stated by Lord Krishna in the BHAGAVAD-GITA (9.10)—”This material nature, which is one of My energies, is working under My direction, 0 son of Kunti (Arjuna), producing all moving and non-moving beings.”
Actually, behavior is a fundamental factor in life. From our birth to our death, beginning to end, we are constantly encouraged, persuaded, informed, preached to, and told how to act. Placed on this planet, the thing that separates us from the rest of God’s kingdom is our free will—our freedom of behavior. Everything else can be compared to stage props, governed by Mother Nature to give us humans an arena on which to live out our lives. And living amongst us, over these countless centuries, have sat and taught the Lord’s humble servants (spiritual masters), also carrying with them a message of behavior.
Please listen to these incredibly beautiful words as Jesus Christ invites us by his side: MATTHEW 11:28-30 — “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
What is “the yoke” that Jesus Christ humbly wears? Herein lies the greatest secret—the divine song, sung throughout the Holy Bible and the Bhagavad-gita. This is how we should behave: in loving devotional service to God, our Father. This is the yoke that the saints exhort us to slip over our unruly hearts, to tame our souls, and bring us everlasting peace of mind. This is Krishna Consciousness and Christianity at their best.
BHAGAVAD-GITA (12.20)—”Those who follow this imperishable path of devotional service and who completely engage themselves with faith, making Me the supreme goal, are very, very dear to Me.”
BHAGAVAD-GITA (9.33)—”Therefore, having come to the temporary, miserable world, engage in loving service unto Me.”
BHAGAVAD-GITA (7.17)—”Of these (pious men), the one who is in full knowledge and who is always engaged in pure devotional service is the best. For I am very dear to him, and he is very dear to Me.”
BHAGAVAD-GITA (8.28)—”A person who accepts the path of devotional service is not bereft of the results derived from studying the Vedas (vay-does), performing austere sacrifices, giving charity or pursuing philosophical and fruitive activities. Simply by performing devotional service, he attains all these, and at the end he reaches the supreme eternal abode.”
SHRIMAD-BHAGAVATAM (SHREE-mod-BHA-ga-va-tom)(1.2.22) (first canto, chapter two, text twenty-two)—”Certainly, therefore, since time immemorial, all transcendentalists have been rendering devotional service to Lord Krishna, the Personality of Godhead, with great delight because such devotional service is enlivening to the self..” note #3
2 CORINTHIANS 5:9—”So our aim is to please Him always in everything we do, whether we are here in this body or away from this body with Him in heaven.”
JOHN 8:29—”He has not deserted me for I always do those things that are pleasing to Him.”
2 TIMOTHY 1:3—”I thank God, whom I serve. My only purpose in life is to please Him.”
PROVERBS 3:6—”In everything you do, put God first, and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success.”
Preserved for us by the Holy Fathers, there are also these famous words of St. John of the Cross: “I drank deep within the hidden cellar of my Beloved and, when I came forth again, I remembered nothing of the flock I used to look after. My soul is content to serve Him with all its strength. I’ve finished all other work except that love. In that is all my delight.”
As I have mentioned, this “Third Commandment” encourages us to become (or behave) like Jesus Christ, the humble servant of our heavenly Father. Consequently, it is absolutely necessary to ask ourselves, “Exactly what kind of person is Jesus Christ?” And doesn’t Jesus express this same thing when he says: “And learn of me?” (MATTHEW 11:28-30)
Furthermore, doesn’t it also make sense that Jesus would have the same mentality as his Holy Father? JOHN 17:21—”My prayer for all of them is that they will be of one heart and mind, just as You and I are, Father.”
Walking outside to sit at the picnic table, I began to remember a beautiful glimpse I once saw of our Holy Father’s mind as I was reading one day in the Old Testament (first in Genesis and then in Isaiah).
One of the most straightforward pages in the entire Bible is the very first. Here it describes God’s creation of the earth—His giving life to Adam, and to the animals. Then God does a very remarkable thing: He prescribes a meatless, vegetarian diet for everyone! GENESIS 1:29-30—”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 the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.”
Now we begin to sense God’s wonderful character. Besides being a very gentle and healthy diet, this was His original and most perfect plan. This is why God said, “Behold, it was very good,” when at last He judged His creation. But it wasn’t until reading further in the Old Testament that I thoroughly discovered the true nature of our Lord’s Holy Mind. Please let me share with you these illuminating verses: ISAIAH 65:17-25—”For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come to mind. They shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, saith the Lord.”
The question is obvious. “What kind of a God is that who wants to go back to His original idea of perfection, where lions and cows live together in peace, eating only straw, and where nothing kills or screams in pain?” And as far as the character of Jesus, he comes right out and declares that he is “meek and lowly in heart.” (MATTHEW 11:28-30) So this is the kind of person Jesus Christ is: soft, gentle, kind, and unimposing—exactly like his Holy Father.
* * * * *
With one final attempt to call her calf to her side, another loud bellow could be heard along Cranes Mill Road—as pitiful a sound that has ever been made. Again I thought about Jesus and what he would do.
Until the day I die, I will never understand how so many Christians can remain oblivious to the suffering they inflict upon animals, especially when the Holy Bible clearly tells them, “not to kill” and “to act like Christ.” PROVERBS 6:16-17—”These things doth the Lord hate: hands that shed innocent blood.” 1 JOHN 2:6—”Anyone who says he is a Christian should live as Christ did.”
Surely I must say to my Christian friends, that Jesus wouldn’t cause any creature to suffer. But just see what has happened to our poor cow and her helpless calf, just so that after church everyone can meet for lunch at the steak house. Would Jesus go there to eat?
“Doesn’t God naturally love His entire work, including both humans and animals? If so, then no unnecessary killing would be approved.” (STEVEN ROSEN, Food For The Spirit, p. 11, Bala Books, 1987)
How is it then, that such wonderful Christian landlords, who give Christmas presents to strangers, can simultaneously support a lifestyle (raising beef for slaughter) that inflicts so much pain and suffering? Would Jesus Christ terrify that little calf—yank him from his mother—run him down the freeway at sixty-miles-per hour (regardless of the weather)—use electric prods to force him into a smelly feed lot—and with hundreds of other frightened cows, make him walk down a narrow killing chute to a horrible death? “Would Jesus do that?” This is an important question that every follower of Lord Jesus Christ needs to sincerely ask. It has to be asked! A Christian’s entire advancement in spiritual life depends on this: “What would Jesus do?”
What I fear, however, is that instead of going directly to their hearts for the simple answer, instead they will turn to their Bibles. Please don’t misunderstand me. By no means is turning to the Holy Bible the wrong thing to do but there does come a point in one’s spiritual life when honest, heartfelt answers are needed—especially when answering this question. Otherwise, spiritual maturity will never properly develop. note #4
Unfortunately, due to some inappropriate changes, in some instances the Bible has become more like a book of nutrition than the indisputable word of God. I once worked in a health food store. In one book, a Ph.D. will tell you that all you need is 10 mg. of vitamin C, while another Ph.D. will say you need 1000 mg. And then you can find five other books, also written by Ph.Ds, and in each of them you’ll get a totally different opinion. The point is, which Bible and whose opinion are you going to believe? There are so many to choose from.
For example, a certain Bible scholar may confess that, “Yes, Jesus certainly did eat meat, therefore Jesus must have condoned the killing of animals.” He could point to this passage: LUKE 24:41-43—”And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he (Jesus) said unto them (his disciples), ‘have ye here any meat?’ And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them.”
Yet, another respected Bible scholar might argue that although this is an often used text to prove that Jesus ate meat, ISAIAH 7:14,15 points out that instead, Jesus was a vegetarian: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Im-man-u-el. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.”
Although Jesus was offered both fish and honeycomb, the use of the word, “it” which is singular, indicates that Jesus only took one of them. In light of ISAIAH 7:15, we can easily conclude which of the two he ate. note #5
Using a different approach, another Bible scholar might argue that Jesus served out loaves of bread and fish to the hungry multitudes who were following him. However, an equally prominent scholar can point out that there is strong evidence that the basket didn’t contain dead fish (that would easily rot in a hot basket with bread), but contained little vegetable biscuits very popular during the time of Jesus and called, “Fish Plant Rolls.”
Still, other Bible scholars have pointed out that the account of dead fish was first introduced in the fourth century and that the earliest Bibles, when referring to this incident, actually mention bread and fruit, not bread and dead fish. note #6
Sadly, all these facts and counter arguments go on and on, running the gamut, chapter to chapter, verse to verse, supporting one scholar’s case against the other, and so on. After all, the word “meat” is used throughout the New Testament more than twenty times. Doesn’t this prove that they all ate meat? Just look at the facts:
JOHN 21:5—”Children, have ye any meat?”
ACTS 16:34—”And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”
LUKE 8:51-55—”And when he (Jesus) came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John and the father and the mother of the maiden. And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, ‘Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth.’ And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, ‘Maid, arise.’ And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.”
So, is this an accurate account? At first glance it seems pretty straight forward. Well, not according to the famous Bible scholar, Reverend V. A. Holmes Gore. He compared the use of the word “meat” with the original Greek meanings and then published his findings in the 1947 fall edition of, World Forum. There he argued from his investigations that none of the original Greek words mean animal flesh, at all. For instance, in John 21:5, the original Greek word used is, prosphagon and means: “anything to eat”—not, “Children, have you any meat?” And in Luke 8:55, the original Greek word used is, phago, meaning: “to eat”—which correctly explains that Jesus ordered something “to eat” for the maiden he had just brought back to life.
The most lucid example of what I’m getting at is found in Acts 16:34, because the English translation used in the King James Bible is completely misleading. Again, the verse reads: “And when he brought them into his house, he set meat before them and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.” But, as Reverend Gore points out, the original Greek word is trapesa, which means: “table.” In other words, the host set a table before Jesus and his disciples, not a pile of dead flesh! (STEVEN ROSEN, Food For The Spirit, Bala Books, 1987)
An historical study of old Biblical documents is also quite revealing concerning the character of Jesus and his followers—what they were like and what they ate. Speaking from my own heart, these revelations make much more sense than a picture of a carnivorous Jesus, picking through the wet bones of a dead animal. If this were true, then one could also conceive of Jesus helping to hold the terrified beast down, while Peter sliced open its throat, spraying hot-red blood on Jesus’ robe and sandals.
A good example of these early Christian documents is this quote from The Clementine Homilies (Homily XII). Here it states: “The unnatural eating of flesh meats is as polluting as the heathen worship of devils, with its sacrifices and its impure feast, through participation in which a man becomes a fellow eater with the devil.” The most amazing thing about this second century quote is that it is reportedly based on the direct teaching of Saint Peter, “the rock upon whom Jesus built his church”. (STEVEN ROSEN, Food For The Spirit, Bala Books, 1987)
Another fascinating quote, taken from The Ecclesiastical History, relates how certain individuals were accusing the new Christians of feasting on dead children. Standing up to protest this absolute absurdity, Biblis (A.D. 117) said, “How would such men eat children, when they are not even allowed to eat the blood of irrational animals?” (STEVEN ROSEN, Food For The Spirit, Bala Books, 1987)
The point is this: we must all become more thoughtful. 1 CORINTHIANS 11:28—”Let a man examine himself.”
JAMES 2:12-13—”You will be judged on whether or not you are doing what Christ wants you to do. So watch what you do and what you think; for there will be no mercy to those who have shown no mercy.”
Especially, my Christian friends should never forget these words of their spiritual master, Lord Jesus Christ: MATTHEW 7:21-23—”Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Consider again our poor calf, yanked screaming from its mother’s side and held in terror until his cruel and painful death in the ugly slaughterhouse.
What does Jesus mean when he says, “ye that work iniquity?” My Webster’s Dictionary tells me that “iniquity” means, “wickedness, contrary to divine law, viciousness, brutality, imposing upon, causing discomfort or distress, to cause harm, injurious, heartless, causing wounds, and offensive to the smell.”
Our human form of life is a rare blessing and we all need to be more reflective. Heaven is a place where the merciful reside. The saints have always stressed the need to be kind, loving, and gentle to animals. His Divine Grace Shrila Prabhupada has said that mercy is one of the four pillars of religion, and surely Jesus Christ was the personification of mercy—purely reflecting the holy character of His Heavenly Father. Or, as Lieutenant Colonel Henry Gariepy of the Salvation Army said, “Lord Jesus Christ is the heart of God wrapped in human flesh.”
This is why Jesus endorsed the commandment (EXODUS 20:13)—”Thou shalt not kill.” His final position regarding this commandment is stated in MATTHEW 5:17-19, where Jesus said—”Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”
So please, do not let yourself become deluded and misled by so-called men of the cloth who are addicted to meat, wine, and deer hunting—who twist the commandments to suit their own appetites and shallow understanding.
In this divine proclamation, “Thou shalt not kill,” the exact Hebrew word is lo tirtzach, which means precisely as it is stated in the King James Bible, “Thou shalt not kill.” According to Dr. Reuben Alcalay, the word, tirtzach means: “any killing whatsoever.” Both the Holy Bible and Jesus Christ are very clear about this. No, the confusion is inside our hearts. We pray for mercy from above but are unwilling to give it out ourselves. Why should we then expect mercy from God? Is it reasonable to ask for something that you are not willing to give yourself? The saints have always taught compassion, kindness, and respect for all life. Being a vital part of “my message,” this is the gentle way we are supposed to behave.
Feeling the hot Texas air begin its ritual climb to the ninety-degree mark, I went back into the house to make myself more comfortable. Opening my brown notebook, I turned through the pages, stopping for awhile to read an assortment of notes I had collected. At the top of the page I had scrawled, Krishna and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance--“Oh yes, that book I’m going to start writing someday.” Adjusting a pillow behind by back, I began to read many of the things that I didn’t want to forget and had jotted down.
1. MATTHEW 11:29—”I am meek and lowly in heart.” Meek: gentle and kind. (Gentle: not harsh, soft and soothing. Kind: good will, loving kindness, sympathy, kindheartedness, well-wisher, benevolent, merciful, tender, considerate, soft-hearted, full of natural affection.) Lowly: humble, unimposing.
2. ROMANS 3:31—”Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”
3. JAMES 2:22—”His faith was made complete by what he did, by his actions, his good deeds.”
4. JAMES 2:11—”Yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.”
5. ACTS 24:5—Saint Paul is described in this text as a Nazarene—a religious sect whose followers prescribe to the Essene way of life, including vegetarianism. (STEVEN ROSEN, Food For The Spirit—hereafter cited as “FFS.”)
6. The early church father Eusebius (A.D. 264) quoted Saint Hegesippus (A.D. 160), describing Saint Thomas as a vegetarian. (ROSEN, FFS, p. 19)
7. MATTHEW 5:5,7—”Blessed are the meek. Blessed are the merciful.”
8. GALATIANS 5:6—”All we need is faith working through love.” (My note: Is terrorizing those poor cows and other animals, working through love?)
9. JOHN 5:17—”My Father constantly does good, and I’m following His example.” (My note: How can actions which terrorize and injure animals, be considered good?)
10. “The further back we go in religious history, the more respect we find for life in all its forms. Quite naturally, vegetarianism played an important part in this respect for all.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 2)
11. “There is a real religious hypocrisy which preaches brotherhood and human slaughter in the same breath. While mercy and compassion are qualities espoused by all religionist (and many non-religionist), the world’s major religions have done little to promote them. Indeed, we inflict violence and prejudice upon our human neighbors, even as we direct the same toward the animal world. Religion, in fact, seems to instigate violence rather than eliminate it. The examples are numerous: the Crusades, the Inquisition, the perennial fighting in Northern Ireland between Catholics and Protestants, the endless hostility between the Jews and their Muslim neighbors, the Hindu/Muslim killings in postwar India and the bloodshed between Sikhs and Hindus today. Apparently, despite the spiritual mandate for mercy and compassion, many religions exclude not only animals from their scope, but human beings from other religious traditions as well. Something is amiss. If those who implement religion are confused about the treatment of people from other religious traditions, could they then not also be confused about the treatment of animals? Have they perhaps drawn artificial limits on the scope of mercy?” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 1)
12. “With the mounting scientific evidence that a meatless diet offers a more healthful life, and that eating flesh shortens one’s lifespan, reason dictates that God would choose a vegetarian diet for His children. Why would one who loves His creation desire its quick demise? Clearly, He would not. In fact, He would take great pains to insure its longevity.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 11)
13. “Only when God looked upon His original creation, including the vegetarian diet that He gave to man and beast alike, did He use the words, ‘very good.’ He never used these words to describe a meat diet.” (ROSEN FFS, p.16)
14. “The author, Dr. Edgar Goodspeed, in his book, History of Early Christianity, refers to the ‘Acts of Thomas,’ as an historical record, indicating that Saint Thomas avoided flesh in his diet.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 19)
15. Kill—”To deprive of life, to slaughter an animal for food.” (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)
16. “Saints Matthew, Luke and Mark say that the last supper was a meal in honor of the Passover, suggesting that they all feasted on a dead lamb. But, JOHN 13:1 mentions that the meal was ‘before the feast of the Passover.’ Also, Bible historians Glieze, Rudd, and Gore support the view that the feast was actually a vegetarian meal.” (ROSEN, FFS, pp. 26-28)
17. “In The Gospel of the Holy Twelve (accepted by many Bible scholars), there is this passage with comments made by Christ: And on hearing these things, a certain Sadducee, who believed not in the holy things of God, asked Jesus, ‘Tell me, please, why sayest thou, do not eat the flesh of animals? Were not the beasts given unto man as food, even as the fruits and herbs ye spake of?’ Jesus answered him and said, ‘Behold this melon, the fruit of the earth.’ And Jesus broke open a watermelon and further said unto the Sadducee, ‘See thou with thine own eyes the fruit of the soil, the meat of man, and see thou the seeds within, count ye them, for one melon maketh a hundredfold and even more, If thou sow this seed, ye do eat from the true God, for no blood was spilled, nay, no pain nor outcry did ye hear with thy ears or see with thine eyes. The true food of man is from the mother of the earth, for she brings forth perfect gifts unto the humble of the land. But ye seek what Satan giveth, the anguish, the death, and the blood of living souls taken by the sword. Know ye not, those who live by the sword are the ones who die by the same death? Go ye thine way then, and plant the seeds of the good fruit of life, and leave ye off from hurting the innocent creatures of God.’” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 36)
18. “Quoted from Judaism and Vegetarianism, by Dr. Richard Schwartz: ‘Dominion does not mean that we have the right to conquer and exploit.’ Immediately after God gave people dominion over animals (GENESIS 1:26), He prohibited their use for food (GENESIS 1:29). Dominion means guardianship or stewardship; being co-workers with God in taking care of and improving the world.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 42)
19. “Jewish dietary laws only pertain to flesh foods. Dairy, fruits, raw grains and cereals are considered naturally kosher.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 44)
20. “There is no such thing as humane slaughter. And to eat animals, one has to slaughter them.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 48)
21. Al-Ghazzali (1058-1111)—”A famous Islamic scholar: ‘Eating the meat of a cow causes disease, its milk is health, and its clarified butter is medicine. Compassionate eating leads to compassionate living.’” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 61)
22. “The great Sufi, Saint Basri, was accustomed to going to the mountains for peaceful meditation. Forest animals would come to her. One day, when another Sufi approached, all the animals ran away in terror. Noticing the disruption, the Sufi asked Saint Basri, why the animals fled. When the Saint asked the fellow what he had last eaten, the reply was onions fried in animal fat. Saint Basri replied, ‘You eat their fat! Why should they not flee in fear from you?’” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 62)
23. The Manusmriti is one of India’s most sacred text. MANUSMRITI (5:51)—”Without the killing of living beings, meat cannot be made available, and since killing is contrary to the principles of ahimsa (nonviolence to animals), one must give up eating meat.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 72)
24. “There is one other teaching that is considered fundamental to authentic Buddhist doctrine, and this is today still considered THE FIRST PRECEPT OF BUDDHISM—’Do not kill, but rather preserve and cherish all life.’” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 79)
25. MAHAPARINIRVANA SUTRA—”The eating of meat extinguishes the seed of great compassion.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 77)
26. SURANGAM SUTRA—”But in seeking to escape from suffering, ourselves, why should we inflict it upon others? How can a bhikshu (seeker), who hopes to become a deliverer of others, himself be living on the flesh of other sentient beings?” (Buddhist Scripture, ROSEN, FFS, p. 82)
27. ATHARVA VEDA (17.1.4)—”One should be considered dear, even by the animal kingdom.”
28. ATHARVA VEDA (19.48.5)—”Those noble souls who practice meditation and other yogic ways, who are ever careful about all beings, who protect all animals, are the ones who are actually serious about spiritual practices.”
29. “The Vedic viewpoint is that a person should see the same life force in all living entities, regardless of their ‘outer dress’ (the body). Those who cannot understand the principle of life in lesser beings may then eventually misunderstand what the life force is altogether and lose their sense of humanity.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 93)
30. BHAGAVAD-GITA (5.18)—”The humble sages by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana (priest), a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater (outcast).”
31. “Lord Krishna’s love for the cow is celebrated throughout the Vedas.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 93)
32. “The difference between religion with a small ‘r’ and religion with a ‘R’ is how successfully it encompasses all living beings.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 98)
33. Reverend Hart—”The Old Testament says that, ‘a man should diligently guard his health and life.’” (DEUTERONOMY, 4:15). Another Old Testament command is tzar baalay hayyim, which means in Hebrew, ‘Man must have compassion for animals.’ So if we take these two commands together, vegetarianism seems like the natural conclusion.” (STEVEN ROSEN, East-West Dialogues, p. 27, FOLK Books, 1989)
34. Reverend Hart—”Christian love should be all-embracing, extending even to animals.” (ROSEN, East-West Dialogues, p. twenty-nine. Hereafter cited as EWD)
35. Reverend Hart—”I see, one cannot understand deeper subjects if one does not have a full grasp of the Lord’s compassionate ways.” (ROSEN, EWD, p. 33)
36. HEBREWS 5:14—”You will never be able to eat solid spiritual food and understand the deeper things of God’s word until you become better Christians and learn right from wrong by practicing doing right.”
37. LEVITICUS 3:17—”It shall be a perpetual statute for your generation throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood.”
38. LEVITICUS 17:10—”And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn among you (all men, everywhere), that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood.”
39. GENESIS 9:4—”But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.” (Note: It is impossible to remove blood from the capillaries of meat.)
40. MATTHEW 12:20—Concerning Jesus Christ fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah: “He does not crush the weak, or quench the smallest hope.”
41. Cardinal John Newman—”Cruelty to animals is as if man did not love God.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 108)
42. ROMANS 12:4-5—”Just as there are many parts to our bodies, so it is with Christ’s. We are all parts of it.” (My note: There is not a single part of Jesus’ holy body that would terrorize, slaughter, or butcher an innocent animal. So if a Christian is participating in the killing of animals, on any level, how can he be part of the body of Christ?)
43. 1 CORINTHIANS 5:11—”Good Christians are to avoid abusive Christians.” (My note from the Webster’s Dictionary: Abusive means “to use wrongly, to mistreat, physical ill treatment, injury.”)
44. ROMANS 13:10—”Love does no wrong to anyone.” (My note: Isn’t taking an animal’s life wronging the animal?)
45. “During a seventy-year lifetime, the meat consumed by an average American involves the slaughter of approximately eleven cattle, one calf, three lambs and sheep, twenty-three hogs, forty-five turkeys, 1,100 chickens and some 862 pounds of fish. The amount of pain (and terror) inflicted upon these creatures (in order to provide meat for our pleasure) is beyond calculation.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. iv)
46. 1 PETER 1:14-16—”Obey God because you are His children—be holy now in everything you do, just as the Lord is holy, who invited you to be His child. He Himself said, ‘You must be holy for I am holy.’” HEBREWS 12:14—”For one who is not holy, will not see the Lord.” (My note: Is terrorizing, killing, and inflicting pain upon animals a holy thing to do?)
47. ROMANS 14:21—”The right thing to do is to quit eating meat or drinking wine or doing anything else that offends your brother.” 2 CORINTHIANS 6:3—”We try to live in such a way that no one will ever be offended.” (My note: Unfortunately, this is exactly what Christians do, thereby receiving condemnation from the Holy Vedas and many religionist around the world.)
SHRIMAD-BHAGAVATAM—”According to Manu, the great author of civic codes and religious principles, in the act of killing an animal, there is a regular conspiracy by the party of sinners, and all of them are liable to be punished as murderers exactly like a party of conspirators who kill a human being combinedly. He who gives permission, he who kills the animal, he who administers distribution of the foodstuff, and at last he who eats such cooked animal food are all murderers, and all of them are liable to be punished.”
48. PHILIPPIANS 4:8—”Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things.”
* * * * *
At this point I put my notebook down, struck by the profound implications of this last verse (Philippians 4:8). If a Christian isn’t even supposed to think of unpleasant things, then the corollary that must reasonably follow is that taking part in harmful things, in the first place, is wrong—directly or indirectly.
Will I ever get through to my Christian friends (and even to myself), so we’ll all take a hard and honest look at what we are doing? Is it all that difficult to understand the spirit of the Holy Bible? It is a wonderful book, with a wonderful message of love (1 CORINTHIANS 14:1—”Let love be your greatest aim.”) …and right here, before us, isn’t this, what this verse is all about?
Saint Paul is saying to absorb our minds in things that are “of good report” and “lovely.” As I see it, the most outstanding word in this verse is the word, “lovely.” When its meaning is thoroughly understood, the answer to the question, “What would Jesus do?” becomes crystal clear.
Webster’s Dictionary says that “lovely” means: “sweet, adorable, beautiful, lovable, having exquisite beauty, and very pleasing—as, a lovely view.” It therefore follows that a person must not be a Christian (or a very good Christian) if he is implicated in an activity that is horrible and ugly. This is why the Bible constantly encourages us to be holy, be blameless, be harmless, watch what you do, be merciful and kind, do good to all, act like Jesus, and don’t kill.
Why is this? Because, there is such a thing as being implicated in sin. If two men are robbing a bank (one of them driving the getaway car and the other, inside, and he kills the bank guard)—are not both criminals equally guilty of murder, although the driver of the car wasn’t even in the bank? This principle is why so many animal-rights activists won’t wear fur or leather clothing, or use animal-based cosmetics. They understand that even though they are not personally causing the animals to suffer, these products couldn’t exist without subjecting them to horrible laboratory tests, or a violent death in a steel trap.
There was a time when a trapper I once knew had set his traps, and even though the law required him to check them every three days so that the captured animals wouldn’t overly suffer, the fact was, on several occasions he didn’t.
I remember seeing a small raccoon trembling in one of his traps that hadn’t been checked for over seven days—its bloody paw excruciatingly mangled between the steel jaws.
Another time I found a trap set by a different person and all that was left in it was the gnawed off end of an otter’s foot. The trap had been left unchecked for over two weeks! In order to escape, the otter had eaten his own foot off! This is common knowledge amongst trappers and has happened more than once.
No wonder so many women are now having second thoughts about draping dead animal skins over their shoulders; permeated with the bad vibrations, karma, and suffering of these animals—what to speak about the ramifications of sitting around a table and feasting on the dead flesh ripped from their bones. Is what happened to my landlord’s calf, “of good report?” Something pleasing to the mind? Something “lovely?” If not, then the Holy Bible instructs: Don’t do it and don’t eat it!
His Divine Grace Shrila Prabhupada spoke out strongly on this matter of cruelty to animals. This is why I have included this chapter. He especially referred to the treatment of cows, who according to the saints are to be treated with the same respect given to one’s own mother. This is a spiritual injunction, one that has been endorsed and followed by millions of men and women throughout history.
The logic is so beautiful. By the Lord’s merciful arrangement, the cow eats what no one else wants—grass. Her body then takes that grass and transforms it into the most delicious and wholesome beverage known to man: pure, natural milk. From milk, endless recipes can be made using yogurt, ghee, cheese, cream, and butter—mixed with vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains. And what’s more, children the world over, from time immemorial, have been drinking cow’s milk in order to grow up strong and healthy. I simply ask you, “What do you call one who gives milk to children?” Did you say, “mother?”
Just visit the slaughterhouse. Watch as our little calf takes his last steps upon the face of the earth. Every hair on his body is standing on end. He feels sick. Not too many days ago he was by his mother’s side, encouraged with a loving lick and a gentle moo to nurse as much as he desired.
Full of warm milk, off he ran with the other calves, smelling the fresh air and looking for the sweetest tasting grass. He will never see his mother again. He is about to be processed into veal (the flesh of a calf a few days old to 14 weeks of age).
Pushed down the wooden gangway, the “fatted calves” move forward. “Oh, please, where is my mother? Please, I don’t want to be here. I want to be back home in the pasture with my friends. Oh, this place smells so horrible! I have never smelled such a dreadful odor. What could possibly smell that bad? What are those loud noises up ahead and why is the calf in front of me trying to back up? Oh, my God, what is wrong. Who is that horrible man? Oh, no! Please, I don’t like that. Please let me go home. No—please—don’t do that to me.”
Visit the slaughterhouse. Look down at the pools of hot, thick, steaming blood, and notice the horrible, choking stench. Over there on the dirt floor is our little calf, but something is dreadfully wrong. Blood is smeared all over his face and his tongue is hanging out of his mouth, covered with a swarm of black flies. The rifle shots keep going off and the “fatted calves” keep moving forward.
Again I feel that I must ask, “A good report? Something lovely? Something praiseworthy? A lovely view?” Days later, inside a fast food restaurant, the ground up remains of our little calf are now kept chilled, waiting for the crowds to show up after church. The Sunday special is meat loaf. Only $7.99, ice tea included.
Just as sure as you can kill with a knife, when you reach into your wallet and pull out your dollar bill, you’re reaching for your “paper knife”—just as sharp and just as deadly as one made of hardened steel. This is “The Great Christian Thorn.” Why do we implicate ourselves in this carnage and gore? Why the “church barbecue” in countless churches across America? What would Jesus do?
We all want to think of ourselves as being kind and sensitive—as was Jesus Christ when he walked the earth. Aren’t Christians supposed to be just like him? And wherever he went, didn’t he walk in love? This was the rule! This means that Jesus lived a life of love—each and every footprint a mark of tenderness, care, compassion, sympathy, and peace. It’s not that Jesus only walked in love in the temple, and then walked out of love during other times. No, Jesus walked in love everywhere, all the time. There are no blemishes on his character. There is no bad report. All the saints love him. All the animals love him. There is only praise.
* * * * *
Broadcast loudly across America daily on Christian radio stations everywhere, the Word is preached: “Walk in love, brethren. Let the holy mind of our Lord Jesus Christ fill your soul. Walk in love, brethren.”
But come late September, a different tune is heard as the brave Christian soldiers prepare to arm themselves. “Excuse me Reverend Edwards, how about joining Tom and brother James and myself after church next Sunday? Deer season opens then and we’re planning to go on over to Molly’s Garden and kill us that fat doe Jimmy’s been seeing. And besides, this will give you a chance to try out your new deer rifle.”
What about this kind of devotion? Is this the spirit of the Holy Bible and the teachings of our Holy Father and His beloved son?
During the summer of 1989, I noticed a large tent pitched in a vacant lot in Denver, Colorado.
Asking, I discovered that an old-fashioned tent revival was going to be held and that the public was invited.
Just a year prior to this I had visited Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Oral Robert’s City of Faith. One of the little books I picked up in his gift shop was titled, Best Loved Tent Sermons. I was deeply impressed with the pictures in it, showing thousands of people gathered together, eager to hear the word of God. So having the opportunity to attend a tent revival, myself, was simply too inviting to pass up.
For five nights in a row I attended, sincerely appreciating the dedicated efforts by the churches involved. On the second night I met a very nice pastor from Missouri, having made the long drive to Denver with his lovely wife and their two children. Besides the tent revival, he also wanted to visit with several of the other ministers that he had known from his student days at the Rhema Bible Training Center, also located in Tulsa. I couldn’t help liking this man, with his warm smile and soft southern drawl. Since I had visited the Rhema Bible Training Center and had met Reverend Kenneth Hagin, I especially enjoyed meeting some of his graduate students.
Over the next few nights we spoke about Jesus. Somehow, one of our conversations got onto the subject about how, in Missouri, he and his son had recently shot and killed a couple of large bucks while deer hunting.
This really pushed a few buttons inside me, as you can imagine, and for the remainder of our conversation I tried to introduce my perspective on the matter. There’s just something about a group of armed ministers traipsing through the woods looking to kill something that I find a bit odd.
Again, Jesus Christ said, “To love the Lord thy God with all your heart.” It’s that word, “all,” that speaks the loudest. Yes, we need to love God with every part of our heart. The heart is where love dwells, but if part of it has hardened to the point that it allows us to act differently than Jesus, then how will we ever grow spiritually? Rather, we want to keep our hearts pure and simple—capable of loving all of God’s creation.
Please don’t misread me. I’m not saying that this Missouri minister is all bad, anymore than I’m all good or anything like that, because, obviously, this isn’t the case. Rather, he is one of those kind and gentle Christians you meet everywhere, who would eagerly give you the shirt off his back. But stop killing deer? Well, that’s a WHOLE different story.
After he presented his arguments why killing deer was OK, as kindly as I could I asked him the question: “But what would Jesus do? What would Jesus do?” At first he didn’t understand what I was asking, so to make myself clear I said, “The next time you are out in the woods and spot a small doe down the barrel of your rifle—just before you squeeze the trigger to knock her down—please ask yourself, what Jesus would do in your situation?”
As a large crowd of Christians slowly gathered in close to hear his answer, he took a few moments to think; looking at his wife and sons—then at me—and then gazing at the hushed crowd. He straightened up and boldly declared, “Well—Jesus—he wouldn’t shoot that small doe at all. He’d wait for a big buck to come by.”
I guess it’s needless to say that his clever answer received a loud roar of approval from the others, all very proud that one of their “Christian warriors” had so cleverly defeated this odd believer.
I wish I could say that this was just an isolated incident, involving this one pastor and no one else, but I can’t. When I was living in San Marcos, Texas, I got to know another pastor. After we became friends, he proudly showed me his deer rifle!
Still, on another occasion, while attending a service in San Antonio, their famous pastor mentioned in his sermon what it’s like to live in a tent near Rifle, Colorado, for a week, with five men.
Just some little point he was trying to impress everyone with, but no one listening really understood the implications behind his remark. But honestly, does anyone realize what men do in Rifle, Colorado: the deer hunting capitol of Colorado?
And what about deer hunting? Is it a “good report—something lovely?” Not from my experience! Actually, I have seen grown men vomit at some of the sights. Are Christians to absorb themselves with thoughts of their meek and gentle savior on Sunday morning, and then later that afternoon, with the minister in the lead, blow away a small deer desperately trying to escape? Is a Christian to walk in love one minute, but later become a walking monster, sneaking through the woods with part of his congregation, armed to the teeth?
Haven’t you heard of camp meat? Most deer hunters have state permits, allowing them to kill the females and younger deer. Is inflicting all that pain and terror, “lovely?” Are the bloody wounds pleasing to look at?
Spotting his fallen prey, the minister closed in for the kill—bravely approaching the flopping doe. Her backbone has been shattered by one of his bullets and she is bleeding profusely around the mouth from another shot. His heart pounding madly, he raises his rifle to finish off the kill. He misses the mark but with the next pull of the trigger, sends a hundred and eighty grains of hot lead ripping through her brain, ending such an innocent life in such a horrible way.
Little Johnny, who sings in the choir, is along on his first hunt. He begins to cry and tells his dad that he wants to go home. The other boys begin to laugh at him, calling him a sissy. But the job isn’t finished. One of the bigger kids drags the young doe to a clearing.
Two men then spread her legs apart, loudly voicing their opinion where to start the cut. Reaching over her with his knife, Rev. Edwards pushes the sharp blade in—slowly drawing it upwards until it dead ends against her breast bone. Now the doe can be flipped over and her steaming guts emptied out of her belly.
Little Johnny had to go back to the truck because he started to vomit. One of the other boys got sick, too. Almost ready to start dragging her back to camp, there’s only one last chore to do.
“Over here Grady. Tell your kid to bring me that sharp pocketknife he’s got. Over here Billy. You other boys get over here, too. Good, I hope it’s nice and sharp. All right, I’ll hold her legs apart while you cut out her anus and all that other female junk. Come on, you know we’ve got to do this. Didn’t I tell you last time that if we leave that stuff in there it’s going to spoil the taste of the meat? Now all you other boys come over here and watch so next time you’ll know what to do.”
What would Jesus do?
Once upon a time, there was a little fawn who asked her friend, the mouse, to write a letter for her. She wanted to send it to the hunter. “Dear Mr. Hunter,” she dictated to the mouse. “I know that you worship Jesus because one day when you and the other hunters were eating your lunch under a tree, a little bird heard you talking about him.
“Please, why do you come into our home and hurt us? At night my baby brother cries because he is so afraid of you and our mother gasps for air. She has an excruciating hole in her neck, full of puss and blood, where one of your bullets hit her.
“My dear sir, don’t you remember when Jesus went into the mountains to fast and pray for forty days and forty nights? To help keep him warm at night, our great, great, great, grandmother, when she was a little deer like me, she used to snuggle up to Jesus while he slept. She was his constant companion. She even used to lick his feet, and he loved to pet her with his gentle hand.
“Don’t you know that Jesus blessed her and that to this day his hand is still resting upon our hearts? We would like you to pet us, too, but instead we are deathly afraid of you. Why don’t you come visit us like Jesus did? Wouldn’t that be much lovelier?”
With only an hour left before having to go out into my shop, I picked up my notebook and began to read where I had left off.
* * * * *
49. PHILIPPIANS 4:5—”Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” (Moderation: sparing, to diminish in force and violence.)
50. (MATTHEW 11:29) Jesus describes himself as meek and humble. (ROMANS 8:29) God wants us to become like His son. (My note: Therefore, we must become gentle and meek, too. What do you call a person who inflicts pain and terror upon animals?)
51. MATTHEW 5:21—”Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill be in danger of the judgment.”
52. ROMANS 14:20—”For meat, destroy not the work of God.”
53. From the ESSENE GOSPEL OF PEACE—”Be yea therefore considerate, be tender, be pitiful, be kind, not to your kind alone, but to every creature which is within your care; for ye are to them as gods, to whom they look in their needs.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 36)
54. ISAIAH 1:15—”When ye make many prayers, I will hear not: your hands are full of blood.”
55. MANUSMRITI (5:9)—”Having well considered the origin of flesh-foods, and the cruelty of fettering and slaying corporeal beings, let man entirely abstain from eating flesh.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 89)
56. DHAMMAPADA—”Because he has pity on every living creature, therefore a man is called holy.” (Buddhist Scripture, ROSEN, FFS, p.109)
57. DEUTERONOMY 30:19—”I have set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Oh, that you would choose life; that you and your children might live.”
58. SHRIMAD-BHAGAVATAM (7.14.9)—”One should treat animals such as deer, camels, asses, monkeys, mice, snakes, birds and flies exactly like one’s own son. How little difference there actually is between children and these innocent animals?”
59. Rev. Hart—”We now have scientific evidence that vegetarianism is good for the body. The greatest spiritual teachers have always known that it’s good for the soul.” (ROSEN, FFS)
60. Abbot Kapleau (Zen Minister)—”The founders and patriarchs of all these higher religions renounced the killing and eating of our four-footed and feathered kin.” (ROSEN, FFS)
61. Peter Singer (Philosophy Prof.)—”The exploitation of animals is incompatible with any religion which professes compassion.” (ROSEN, FFS)
62. Dr. J. H. Kellogg (Christian theologian and vegetarian)—”It’s nice to eat a meal and not have to worry about what your food may have died from.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 8)
63. The Journal of the American Medical Association—”A vegetarian diet can prevent 90-97% of heart disease.” (JMA 1961, ROSEN, FFS, p. 8)
64. Saint John Chrysostom (early Christian leader)—”We, the Christian leaders, practice abstinence from the flesh of animals to subdue our bodies. The unnatural eating of flesh-meat is polluting. The saints are exceedingly loving and gentle to mankind, and even to brute beast. Surely we ought to show them great kindness and gentleness for many reasons, but above all, because they are of the same origin as ourselves.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 18)
65. Clement of Alexandria (early Christian scholar)—”But those who bend around inflammatory tables, nourishing their own diseases, are ruled by a most lickerish demon, whom I shall not blush to call the belly-demon, and the worst of all demons. It is far better to be happy than to have our bodies act as graveyards for animals. Accordingly, the Apostle Matthew partook of seeds, nuts, and vegetables, without flesh.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 18)
66. Origen (early Christian writer)—”I believe that animal sacrifices were invented by men to be a pretext to eat flesh.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 22)
67. Prophet Mohammed (A.D. 600)—”Where there is an abundance of vegetables, a host of angels will descend on that place.” (ROSEN FFS, p.59)
68. Lord Buddha—”Creatures without feet have my love. And likewise those who have two feet, and those, too, who have many feet. Let creatures all, all things that live, all beings of whatever kind, see nothing that will bode them ill. May naught of evil come to them.” (Note: This is said to be an ancient poem—the only text we know of ever written personally by Lord Buddha, Himself.)
69. LANKAVATARA—”Meat eating in any form, in any manor, and in any place is unconditionally and once and for all prohibited. Meat eating I have not permitted to anyone, I do not permit, I will not permit.” (Buddhist Scripture, ROSEN, FFS, p. 81)
70. Maharaja Pariksit (great Indian saint)—”Only the animal killers cannot relish the message of the Absolute Truth.” (SHRIMAD-BHAGAVATAM, 10.1.4)
71. Prophet Mohammed—”Maim not the brute beast.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 108)
72. Mahatma Gandhi—”The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be measured by the way in which its animals are treated.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 109)
73. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada— “As long as human society continues to allow cows to be regularly killed in slaughterhouses, there cannot be any question of peace and prosperity.”
74. Albert Einstein—”It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living, by its purely physical effect on the human temperament, would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 109)
75. Pythagoras—”As long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.” (ROSEN, FFS, p.110)
76. Leonardo De Vinci—”Truly man is the king of beast, for his brutality exceeds them. We are burial places! I have since an early age abjured the use of meat.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 110)
77. The Dali Lama—”I do not see any reason why animals should be slaughtered to serve as human diet when there are so many substitutes. After all, man can live without meat.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 110)
78. Saint David of Garesja (He protected deer and birds from hunters)—”He whom I believe in and worship looks after and feeds all these creatures to whom He has given birth.”
79. Saint Bonaventure—”When he (Saint Francis) considered the primordial source of all things he was filled with even more abundant piety, calling creatures no matter how small, by the name of brother or sister, because he knew they had the same source as himself.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 29)
80. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada— “‘Love of God,’ that is Krishna Consciousness. If you have not learned to love God, then what is the meaning of your religion? When you are actually on the platform of love of God, you understand your relationship with God: ‘I am part and parcel of God.’ Then you extend your love to the animals, also. If you actually love God, then you cannot maintain a slaughterhouse. If you maintain a slaughterhouse and you proclaim yourself Christian or Hindu, that is not religion. Then it is simply a waste of time because you do not understand God, you have no love for God, and you are labeling yourself under some sect, but there is no real religion.” (BHAKTIVEDANTA SWAMI PRABHUPADA, Science of Self-Realization, © BBT- Int’l, 1977)
81. Brother David-Rast (Benedictine Monk)—”While the Biblical tradition may be interpreted variously in regard to man’s treatment of animals, the lives of the saints show the importance of universal compassion. The genuine flavor of a tradition can be best discerned in its saints.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 23)
82. Steven Rosen—”Today’s factory farming techniques torture the animals long before their death.”
83. “When an animal’s throat is cut in the Jewish custom, seventeen seconds to six minutes elapses before loss of consciousness.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 47)
84. Buddhist Teaching—”Unless you can so control your mind that even the thought of brutal unkindness and killing of animals is abhorrent, you will never be able to escape from the bondage of this world.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 82)
85. MANUSMRITI (6.60)—”By not killing any living being, one becomes fit for salvation.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 90)
86. MAHABHARATA (ANU. 115.40)—”The purchaser of flesh performs himsa (violence) by his wealth; he who eats flesh does so by enjoying its taste; the killer does himsa by actually tying and killing the animal. Thus, there are three forms of killing. He who brings flesh or sends for it, he who cuts off the limbs of an animal, and he who purchased, sells, or cooks flesh and eats it, all of these are to be considered meat eaters.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 90)
87. In America alone, 10,000 animals are butchered every minute.
88. “Early church writings indicate that meat eating wasn’t allowed until the fourth century, under the order of Emperor Constantine. It is said that he was a maniac who poured molten lead down the throats of Christian vegetarians. He also killed his wife by setting her in a vat of boiling water.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 19)
89. “During the medieval period, Thomas Aquinas (A.D. 1225-1274) assured Christians that animal killing was sanctioned by God. Yet he was a glutton and famous for the doctrine on the various kinds of souls a body may possess. He states that beast and women are without soul.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 19)
90. “Cancer and heart disease are nearly epidemic in nations with a high per capita consumption of meat. Meat eaters absorb into their own bodies the blood toxins left in the meat after the animal is slaughtered. Meat contains DDT, arsenic (growth stimuli), sodium sulfate (gives meat that red look), and the carcinogenic hormone, DES.” (ROSEN, FFS, pp. 4,8)
91. Steven Rosen—”The human body is a complex machine and the record shows that meat is a very inefficient fuel for the human machine and one that eventually exacts a severe toll.”
92. Movie actor James Garner became famous for his beef ads, touting: “Real food for real people.” In April, 1988, James Garner underwent quintuple coronary artery bypass surgery.
93. PSALMS 37:11—”But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”
94. From the SEFER CHASIDIM, The Book of the Pious (sacred Jewish scripture)—”Be kind and compassionate to all creatures that the Holy One created in this world. Never beat or inflict pain on any animal, beast, or insect.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 43)
95. “In the Jewish Talmud, to save an animal’s life, or even to relieve it of pain, one is allowed to break any Sabbath rule (their most holy day). Thus the Jewish tradition is to cause the animal as little pain as possible.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 49)
96. Hadith (words of) Prophet Mohammed—”Whoever is kind to the creatures of God is kind to himself.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 57)
97. “When Mohammad woke from a nap, he discovered that a sickly kitten had fallen asleep on his coat. Instead of disturbing it, he cut off the edge of his coat, saying, ‘Show sympathy to others, especially to those who are weaker than you.’” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 59)
98. “The name used for God found most frequently in the Koran is al-Rahim, ‘the All-compassionate.’ The next most frequent name used is, al-Raham, ‘the All-merciful.’” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 67)
99. PSALMS 145:8-9—”The Lord is full of compassion and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are all over His works.” (My note: Therefore, all Christians should follow in our Lord’s footsteps and also shower “tender mercies” upon all His works—animals in this case. Is deer hunting, sending animals to the slaughterhouse, and feasting on the dead remains of these defenseless creatures, the way to shower “tender mercies?”)
100. PROVERBS 23:20—”Be not among the winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh.” (My note: Then how could Jesus be a meat eater?)
101. MATTHEW 9:13—”It isn’t your sacrifices and your gifts I want. I want you to be merciful.”
102. 1 PETER 5.5—”All of you serve each other with humble spirits, for God gives special blessing to those who are humble (meek and gentle).”
103. The Gospel of the Holy Twelve includes a story about Jesus as a Child—seeing a bird caught in a snare. Noticing some boys nearby, the Lord spoke, “Who hath set this snare for these innocent creatures of God? Behold, in a snare will they in like manner be caught.” (ROSEN, FFS, p. 36)
104. Indira Gandhi—”Everything is related. Whatever happens now to animals will eventually happen to man.” (ROSEN, FFS, p.109)
105. SHRIMAD-BHAGAVATAM (11.5.14)—”Those who are ignorant of real dharma (eternal religious truths)—and though wicked and haughty, account themselves virtuous—kill animals without any feeling of remorse or fear of punishment. Further, in their next lives, such sinful persons will be eaten by the same creatures they have killed in this world.”
106. On one acre of land, 20,000 pounds of potatoes can be grown, compared to another acre of land dedicated to raising beef, which can only produce 165 pounds of meat.
107. ISAIAH 1:10-11—”Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God. What purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me? I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beast; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.”
108. “Jean Mayer (Harvard nutritionist) estimates that reducing meat production by 10% would release enough grain into the world to feed 60 million people. Others have pointed out that America alone could wipe out all aspects of world hunger by being a vegetarian nation.” (Rosen, FFS, p. 7)
109. Because butchers have to be so insensitive, in some states they are not allowed as jury members at murder trials.
* * * * *
Realizing that it was getting late, I put my notebook down and headed to the workshop. Even though I had a lot to do, the cruel fate that had befallen the small calf kept lingering in my head. I suddenly realized that there were a couple more points to consider.
For instance, another contributing factor seems to be the mixing of religion (love) and business—two activities that are nearly impossible to harmonize. If anything, business has a caustic, perverting influence, and I know that many religious leaders have dealt love a serious blow in order to keep the money rolling in. LUKE 16:13—”You cannot serve both God and money.”
1 TIMOTHY 6:10—”For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
In Denver I once I spoke about these things with a Catholic priest, specifically about the Holy Bible’s powerful messages of love, including the merciful treatment of animals. I was quite surprised that he agreed with all my points, but he said if he were to teach them, himself, he feared that many in his congregation would stop coming. Consequently, that would have grave repercussions, starting at the collection plate and ultimately ending with his job.
As I have said, the Holy Bible is a book about love, but when mankind tries to justify the mass slaughter of animals for the sake of the almighty dollar (or one’s taste buds), then everything suffers. The animals suffer, the holy teachings of Jesus Christ suffer, love suffers, Christianity suffers, religion suffers, our planet suffers, truth suffers, mercy suffers, one’s spiritual maturity is retarded, and everyone implicated in the slaughter suffers.
The problem, again, boils down to behavior. What was it that Jesus Christ said about behavior? Didn’t he descend upon this earth to encourage everyone to walk in love? In fact, starting with The Greatest Commandment, Jesus tells us to love God, completely, all the time, with every ounce of our heart. Then he encourages us to become even more loving—loving everyone we meet, just as we love ourselves. What does that exactly mean, and to what degree can the Second Commandment be applied in our lives?
Thinking about this, I easily remembered a family I had noticed parked alongside the road. One of my customers had wanted me to stop by her house to give her an estimate. She wanted to know how much I would charge to panel a wall with my old barnwood. I was driving into San Antonio to meet with her when I saw the family pulled over. Perhaps they ran out of gas or had a flat tire. Although I saw that they needed help, because of the appointment I had, I drove right past them (along with everyone else).
As it turned out, getting the paneling job was insignificant compared to the anguish I felt from not having helped those folks out—the guilt just hanging there until eventually, after considerable thought, I remembered what Jesus had said about loving others. It was very clear that I had missed the whole point.
What does, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, mean? Although this is one of those things from the Holy Bible I had heard all my life, what does it really suggest?
Everyone cares deeply about themselves and naturally included with this, is that person’s love and devotion for his immediate family. Who doesn’t instinctively love their parents, spouse, children, and even the family dog?
I then considered what I would have done, if, on my way to that lady’s house, I had spotted my wife and children pulled alongside the road—or a close friend, or relative. Would I have stopped? Well, of course I would have! I would have immediately pulled over, taken them to the gas station, and called the lady to tell her that I would be a little late. And still I would have been hired to install the barnwood! But why would I stop for my wife and children, but not the family alongside the road? Well, clearly I would stop to help my family because I love them as much as I love myself.
Trying to understand all of this—yes, I do love myself, inasmuch as my wants and needs have always been very dear to me. I also love my wife and my children very much. I also love my father as much as I love myself. Come to think about it, I have several close friends that I love dearly – as I love myself – and sure enough, if any of them had been pulled over I would have stopped in an instant.
So this is what Christ is asking us to do—how he wants us to behave. He wants us to walk in that kind of love, a love that knows no boundaries, a love that recognizes the face of everyone we meet (man and animal alike) as part of our immediate family.
Jesus Christ: “Can you not see that this is what God asks of you—to love one another regardless of who or what you are—to love one another as part of the same family, the family of God? Love is the healing power of God, for God is love. If you try to love one another then you will find the world beginning to be healed by the power of God’s love. Today if you are Jew or a Roman or a Greek or a Samaritan, throw away those names. Say, ‘I am a child of God, and those around me are also children of God.’ Then see you are one family, and treat each other as you would your brother or your sister. Love is a great gift from God, a gift that brings happiness and peace.” (This is a direct quote from Jesus Christ, from the wonderful book, Through the Eyes of Jesus, by C. ALAN AMES—see note #7)
You see, the path leading to heaven is difficult to find. It’s like that just to keep the heartless out. But let us not despair. There are three great lanterns lighting the way, each a divine beacon.
The first lantern, called “the greatest” by Jesus, shows us who to love—”Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.” This is exactly what Shrila Prabhupada said is the goal of life. Awakening our love for God is the message taught by every saint.
The second great light, “like unto the first,” illuminates the need to love each other. A wonderful future lies ahead for those who will walk down this sacred path because it’s this kind of love that propels us into the waiting arms of our All-merciful Lord—”I long for no other treasure but love, for it alone can make us pleasing to God” (St. Therese of Lisieux).
(Note: The Third Lantern is the title of the last chapter.)
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Part of my message is “to love one another as I love myself.” Does this mean that I am to love the animals God has created, too? Are they counted as “others,” or is the Second Commandment referring only to “human others?” No, even in the Holy Bible the equality between men and animals is established: ISAIAH 66:3—”He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man.”
Who else do we love as much as ourselves, besides people? I have definitely known many people who love their pets. Just about everyone has a dog or a cat that they love, not to mention all the people who own horses, birds, fish, etc. Out of love I once watched my wife cry when her parakeet died. So doesn’t it stand to reason, then, that if God has given us the capacity to love our pets, we should apply this commandment to animals as well? True, not everyone is part of our immediate family, nor is every pig, turkey, deer, or cow our beloved pet. Nonetheless, the Bible is encouraging us to be holy in our actions and to include within our hearts room for all God’s creation (man and animal alike)—loving all.
The Pilgrim: “Not only was I experiencing deep interior joy but I sensed a oneness to all of God’s creation; people, animals, trees, and plants all seemed to have the name of Jesus Christ imprinted upon them.” (The Way of A Pilgrim, HELEN BACOVCIN, p. 85, Image Books, 1978)
What is the depth and scope of the kind of love that Jesus taught? What would Jesus do? These are more numbers to the combination—parts of “my message” that Lord Krishna and Jesus Christ have so kindly shown me.