Veganism is Not an Option
Rev. Will Tuttle, Ph.D.
Ram Dass popularized the saying, “We are not human beings endeavoring to have a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings endeavoring to have a human experience.” These words point to a truth that can help us reorient our approach to living, and recognize the basis of our own nature: that we are fundamentally whole, complete, and perfect expressions of the infinite Source of all life, which manifests as all of us—all beings of all dimensions and universes—All of Us.
Because cultures have universally intuited this truth, prohibitions against harming other human beings have always been established, protecting peoples’ right to explore and express for the brief time they are here on this earth. Anthropologists refer to these prohibitions as the four universal taboos, which cross-culturally prohibit, against other humans, the actions of killing, stealing, lying, and harming through improper sexuality. In our culture today, we are evolving toward an understanding of these prohibitions that includes animals as well: seeing that just as it is a violation to harmfully interfere with Spirit’s experience of being a human, it is also a violation to harmfully interfere with Spirit’s experience of being an animal.
As we evolve spiritually, we become more awake to the truth of interbeing, that all living beings are profoundly interconnected, and that by harming others, I harm myself because the life in that apparent ‘other’ is the same life that lives in this apparent ‘me.’ As our hearts open to deeper understanding, our circle of compassion thus automatically enlarges, and spontaneously begins to include more and more ‘others.’ Not just our own tribe, sect, nation, or race, but all human beings, and not just humans, but other mammals, and birds, fish, forests, and the whole beautifully-interwoven tapestry of living, pulsing creation. All of Us.
When love is thus born in our hearts, we want only the best for others, for we directly see them as ourselves. The imprisoning illusion of a fundamentally separate self, struggling against other selves for its own rewards, is transcended, and our life becomes dedicated to bringing peace, joy, and fulfillment to others. This brings us our greatest joy, and is the flowering of the highest form of love, which is compassion.
We must, if this process is actually happening in us, be drawn toward veganism, and it is in no way a limitation on us, but the harmonious fulfillment of our own inner seeing. We realize that veganism is not an option that we can choose, but that it is the free expression of the truth of what we are. It is not an ethic that we have to police from outside, but our own radiant love spontaneously expressing. Caring is born on this earth and lives through us, as us, and it is not anything we can personally take credit for. It is nothing to be proud of. Veganism is the natural result of seeing that is no longer confined to the dark and rigid dungeon of narrow self-interest. It is not even “veganism.” That’s all looking from the outside. We live, serve, and give thanks for this precious life arising through All of Us. It may look like and be called veganism, but it is not an option. It is simply the expression of our own true nature.
Will Tuttle, Ph.D., composer, pianist, Zen priest, and author of The World Peace Diet, is cofounder of Karuna Music & Art and of the Prayer Circle for Animals and Circle of Compassion ministry.