Every day is host to so many lifestyle decisions. From food to washing, from the towels one uses to the clothes one wears to the way one does work, gets to work, goes to school, practices enjoyable activities…
Spiritually, I am a bit anxious because I worry about the philosophy of the microcosm affecting the macrocosm profoundly. Buddhists say that everything that appears externally is just a manifestation of mind. I tend to agree based on my personal experience that at least much of what appears externally is a manifestation of mind–or at least manipulated by mind.
Sometimes I torment myself about this… I wonder to what degree I can practice being on Earth in a nonharmful way.
I mean, even though Buddhists call external reality illusion, in my mind this does not mean that the illusion is something to be disposed of or not cared for. In my opinion, if one is seeing the illusion, there is a reason for it, and it can be a reflection of the way one is tending one’s own mind, sure–and perhaps gardening the exterior–this illusion, and taking care of it, is to take care of one’s own mind, and vice versa.
The Jainists are at one extreme when it comes to the philosophy and practice living in this reality (be it illusion or pure material). Some Jainists wear masks so that they don’t unnecessarily breath in bacteria, in order to save the lives of the bacteria. They also don’t, for instance, eat root vegetables because again, they want to save the lives of the bacteria that lives in the dirt.
Although I sympathize with this, I just feel that it seems unnatural not to eat root vegetables, although perhaps some time in my life I’ll try it.
And on the other extreme, that of extreme consumption, there is the typical U.S. resident. According to this article from 2009, if everyone in the world ate like a U.S. resident, we’d need two planet Earths to produce enough animals for meat to feed everyone.
Actually, meat is worse than that… we are eating too much meat, period. It’s unethical because:
- Animals are sentient beings with feelings. It is wrong to harm something that feels except to the extent one has to in order to survive and be happy.
- People do not need to kill animals in order to obtain protein. We have even more intelligence than many other animals and thus this intelligence translates into responsibility to care for the other species on this planet.
- To raise so very many animals in order to kill them for food takes a lot–an EXTREME–amount of resources, including a lot of energy. Eating meat contributes significantly to global warming, and not eating meat it can be one of the most effective things an individual can do to stop global warming. Going vegan is even more effective.
I’ve pretty much stopped eating meat… it’s been 18 months. There’s so much more I could do, I’m sure, to help the climate, but at least I’ve stopped being neglectful in that way.