by Jeff Stanford
My dad introduced me to meditation about the time I left for college. He gave me books written by or about Ramana Maharashi, G.I. Gudjieff, and others. At the time, he was reading J. Krishnamurti. I began reading him, too. Krishnamurti talked and wrote about developing a sensitive and inquiring mind and my dad and I exchanged letters about what that meant.
These letters laid a foundation for future meditation. How that happened was that we exchanged our often total bewilderment. At least I was always measuring, judging, thinking about Krishnamurti’s approach to the very nature of life. After more than 9 years “developing a sensitive and inquisitive mind” used in what I later called “thoughtful meditation” I tripped over a key aspect:
Making insight real.
Joan cooking: the smell of braising chicken coming into our living room/dining room/bed room (we lived in two units and the living room was the dining room and our bedroom). I thought of the chicken; that it had been killed – somebody had killed this chicken, doing something that I wouldn’t do. For me it is unethical to allow another to do such a thing for me; something I would not do. My mind whirls yet today with guilt for all the animals I had eaten – all the harm I caused. And my mind reeled with “considerations” – “I didn’t know better.” “If I had become vegetarian earlier it would have upset my family, friends.” “Everyone else eats life; eating plants is eating life.” “It is the animal’s purpose.” “God gave us dominion over the animals.” “How is paying for meat not the same as hiring a killer?” “By hiring a killer, am I creating a killer?” And against those considerations – the animals suffer. They don’t want to die. Endless dancing and growing explanations and rationalization.
STOP: Animals suffer, if even for a minute. I don’t want to be the cause of suffering. No animals in my diet.
Action that’s real. The internal dialogue silenced until someone asks, “Why?”
Sound familiar? Tying oneself up to explain the inexplicable. It was easy to stop eating meat. Eating it was eating me. I already knew, and had chosen not to know; chosen not to act.
Action opened doors to deeper understanding of life and myself that I could not have anticipated. Action led to beauty and freedom.