Reverence For All Life
The Cosmic Key to Inner Peace, World Peace, Environmental Healing, and Animal Liberation
Presented by Judy Carman at the Vegetarian Summerfest--Closing Plenary, summer 2002
This conference is a glimpse of heaven on earth don’t you think? Heavenly vegan food; happy, compassionate people; beautiful views of mother earth. I want to thank Brian and everyone else who made this heavenly event possible.
However, what we have here at this conference goes way beyond just having a heavenly time over these last few days. Being here gives us hope for the future. Yes? And being here helps us see more clearly what the compassionate world we want to create actually looks like.
Just think—if we had all eaten dead animals at this conference, (500 people x 13 meals=6500 meals, about 3,000 pounds of meat) anywhere from 3000 to 5000 animals would have died for us without dignity, without anyone caring. But we didn’t do that, and those animals did not die for us.
And we did not participate in the agricultural overuse of our earth’s precious water. At an average of 1600 gallons of water to produce a pound of any farmed animal, together, we saved 5 to 8 million gallons of water just during these five days.
We did not contribute to the erosion nor the water, land, and air pollution that would have been caused by the factory farms and slaughterhouses involved.
And there’s more. It is estimated that one person who eats a vegan diet potentially releases enough grain, water, and land to feed 20 starving people over a year’s time. (1 person for 365 days saves 20; 5/365=.014. 500x20 = 10,000 people. 10,000 x .014=140.) That means that in five days at this heavenly vegan conference, we released enough grain, water, and land to feed 140 people.
For five days all of us together refused to commit such violence. In so doing, we have created a space and an energy field here at the conference that is truly hallowed, peaceful, and in harmony with all our brothers and sisters of earth.
This energy field does not stop at the borders of this campus. Scientists and mystics agree that we can expand this energy field out to all the world. The power of intention coupled with the energy of joy and compassion makes that happen. Just by being here today and holding the passionate intention to bring love to the world, you are inspiring the spirit of humanity to live more ethical, compassionate, vegan lives.
Being here gives us a feel for what it would be like to live in a compassionate world. And getting a feel for it helps us hold this powerful vision. It makes it more real and more concrete. Take this vision, this energy field of compassion home with you along with all the good memories. Keep it close to your heart and share it with others. The more people who join us in holding this vision, the closer we come to reaching the critical mass of consciousness needed to manifest it into our physical world on a grand scale. Each one of us is an energy field constantly interacting with all other vibrational fields. Every one of our thoughts, words, and actions affects the entire cosmic energy field, every strand in the sacred web of life.
One practical way to help keep your vision alive is to daily repeat the Universal Peace Prayer for Animals. This short, powerful prayer, when repeated once a day by a growing number of people will add to the strength of our vision immensely. The prayer is a vision, and it says “Compassion Encircles the Earth for All Beings.”
Peace is a vibrational frequency. When we synchronize ourselves with the peace/love frequency, we become synchronized with the most powerful force in the universe. That’s when miracles happen.
Remember the radically bold vision of the civil rights movement, of women’s suffrage, of Gandhi’s dream for Indian independence. Do not underestimate the power you have to change the world with your actions, your joy, and your vision of freedom and reverence for all life. This is a big dream, and you do not dream this dream alone. We are all dreaming it together.
And, don’t forget--we are living it together. After we leave here, over the coming year, all of us together, not even counting all the other vegans in the world, create the possibility for 10,000 starving people to become well fed, the possibility to save 365 million gallons of water, and the possibility for 50,000 land and sea animals not to suffer and die for food. Each one of us also, by our activist work and our living example, will awaken many people to the beauty and peace of living vegan.
Jane Goodall tells the story of JoJo, a chimpanzee who was captured for a zoo. He watched as his captors murdered his mother, then spent 10 years alone in a small cage. Eventually, he was moved to the Detroit Zoo and placed in a larger enclosure with other chimps, but he was having trouble socializing with the others since he had been alone so long. Somehow, one day JoJo fell into the moat at the front of the enclosure. Many zoo visitors and a zoo keeper watched as JoJo floundered and sank beneath the surface. It was clear that he was drowning, but no one was helping. Suddenly a man named Rick Swope jumped over the guard rail and into the moat. The other chimpanzees made threatening gestures at him. The crowd yelled at him to retreat. But he refused to give up. It took several tries, but finally Rick was able to push JoJo to the surface and out of the moat to dry ground. When asked by the news media why he had done this, he replied, “I looked into his eyes and his message was ‘Won’t anybody help me?’”
JoJo’s story is your story. You are all the same kind of hero that Rick Swope is. You have had the courage to look into the eyes of the suffering animals and bear witness to what is happening to them. You have had the courage to hear them crying out, “won’t anybody help us?” You have had the courage to say, “This is wrong, and I’m going to do what I can to stop it.” The crowd is telling you not to do it, to come back and be a safe bystander. Our culture programs us to ignore the billions of animals who suffer and die all around us while the earth groans under the destructive weight of humanity. But you go forth anyway with courage to do what is right and noble. Gurdjieff said “To be a spiritual being we must be able to come out of the personal trance at will… in the midst of the incredible daily pressure to be hypnotized by the collective trance.”
Alex Hershaft says there is no nobler cause than this. I could not agree more. Because you have made what Andrew Linzey calls the “great moral and spiritual discovery” that animals are not here for our use and exploitation, you are among the first of our kind to understand who we really are. We are spiritual beings sharing this glorious planet with many brothers and sisters. We have come here to live in peace together. Our species is not the center of the universe. The current world-view of human supremacy is morally, ethically, and spiritually immature and based in fear and a deep, pervasive ignorance of our true place in the sacred web of life. This old world-view is passing away because of people like you living noble and ethical lives. We are dreaming a new dream of a new way to be, and we do not dream this dream alone. JoJo dreams with us. All the animals dream with us.
You all are carrying the torch and lighting the way toward the new world-view. We are moving away from the treacherous paradigm of human conquest and exploitation and toward embracing a compassionate communion with all life. The peace and social justice, environmental, and other movements are also walking deliberately in the direction of mercy, compassion, and reverence for life. Although their emphasis may be different, and some of them may not yet understand that animals must be included in this new world-view, their hearts are open and their spirits are tuning in. We do not dream this dream alone.
The mystical scientist Teilhard De Chardin, believed passionately that we are right now evolving upward toward greater consciousness which is greater love. He said “The present chaos is not the end of the world but the labor pains of a new earth and a new humanity coming into new form.” Our path is to flow with this great work, this great dream and move ever upward in the direction of more and more compassion and love in everything we do and everything we imagine. Teilhard de Chardin dreams with us; Jesus, Buddha, Rachel Carson, St. Francis, Albert Schweitzer, Gandhi, Peace Pilgrim, and many others--they all dream with us
Being vegan means being a visionary. You are among the vision keepers of the greatest vision humanity has every known, the vision of the peaceable kingdom. This dream prophesied by many religions and prayed for by people all over the world, can become a reality because of people like each one of you.
Whatever we do after we leave here, no matter how discouraged we may get, no matter how hopeless our vegan work may seem at times, nor how mainstream society tries to dissuade us:
Let us hold the vision of the number of vegans in the world constantly rising toward 100%, while the number of animals being killed steadily declines to 0.
Let us hold in our hearts the beautiful thought of all animals and all people living free and joyful in the peaceable kingdom.
Here is a riddle for you. I will give you four questions that all have the same answer. Here they are: What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for? And What is worth dying for? The answer to each question is the same—Love—Only Love.
We are all here for that reason—Love. When we look at the very essence of why we are here, it is love that motivates us to break away from the mainstream, to challenge the dominant world-view of exploitation, to question authority no matter what the cost, and to compassionately guide those who do not yet understand. Love. Love for all that lives; Love for the Great Spirit of Life itself.
In closing, I offer you another true story that symbolizes what you are doing. It has been titled “God’s Wings” and was described in National Geographic several years ago. A forest ranger was checking out Yellowstone National Park after a terrible forest fire. Along his way he happened to see what appeared to be a dead bird with her wings spread out and leaning against the base of a tree. She was charred completely black from the fire. The ranger poked at her body with a stick and, as he dislodged her, three tiny chicks ran out from under their dead mother’s wings. She could have flown to safety, but instead she gathered her chicks and held her ground as the fire crept toward her.
As the fires of speciesism, prejudice, greed, and fear rage around you, you have stood steadfast to protect those who cannot protect themselves from human exploitation. You are God’s wings. I stand in awe to see your beautiful faces, and I thank you for dreaming this grand and joyful dream.
May the force of Love be with you all. May we all hold the vision of compassion encircling the earth for all beings.© Judy Carman, 2003
Judy Carman, M.A. is an activist for animal rights, peace and justice, and environmental protection. She is the author of Born to Be Blessed: Seven Keys to Joyful Living, and her new book Peace to All Beings won the Spirituality and Health award as one of the best spiritual books of 2003. She is co-founder of Animal Outreach of Kansas and of the Universal Prayer Circle for Animals.