The Sacredness of Life (and why I’m not a vegan)

 

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Stone Guardian of a Mountain

 

This is a post I have been wanting to write for quite some time, but have put off because it can be such a controversial topic. I don’t wish to offend or demean anyone, and I think this is why I also feel so compelled to write this. There are such strong opinions on this topic that it often spurs a “holier than thou mentality” for some and a defensive response in others.

I do not believe, morally speaking, one is better than the other. Some of the wisest and most reverent individuals I know are omnivores. I don’t believe they are better than anyone else, and they don’t either. They share a belief in the Native cultures on Earth, which is one that I share as well: That all life is sacred. The consciousness of Life moves through each of us, just as it moves through the animal kingdom, as well as the plant kingdom, and the mineral kingdom. It moves through water and fire. When you live in reverence for all Life, you realize all life becomes an eventual sacrifice to continue the existence of Life itself, yet the essence of all Life never dies.

“When you eat, do you give thanks to the life you are consuming,” were the words spoken to a group of us over a meal. They came from a shaman who had been chosen and trained not for monetary reward, but because he was destined to share ancient, sacred teachings. He is not a vegan, nor is he a vegetarian, but each time he places nutrients in his mouth he gives thanks to the sacrifice, whether it be the water he drinks or the body of the plant or animal life that has been sacrificed so his life can be continued.

When Native Americans, for example, take the life of a deer, they connect with the spirit of the animal by looking in its eyes and offering a prayer of gratitude. No part of the body of the deer is waste but repurposed with reverence for the life that has been sacrificed.

I have found, through my own journey in life, that I cannot place a hierarchy on the value of one life over another. I feel the energy of a tree as acutely as I do a dog. I have discovered that an apple tree shares different wisdom than a hemlock, just as a tiger does versus an ant. When I place my hands on rocks, I am often graced with the wisdom they hold. In fact, the most profound and humbling experiences I have felt have been through this very act. Water, which is recycled over and over again as the life-giving force in each of us, is also, to me, sacred. I have learned more through my conversations with water than I have through most people I have met. Therefore, who am I to place a value on one consciousness over another?

As I learn and continue my journey of Life, I have had to face the sacrifice that is Life, over and over again. There is guilt, along with reverence. When I feel the life force leave a tree, it can bring me to a state of intense sorrow, even though I realize that the essence of that Lifeforce still lives on. When I first learned Reiki, I instinctively hit a mosquito, then Reikied its body back to health. It’s not an easy lesson to learn: That all life is ultimately a sacrifice to Life. That we are born into life and death and exist through many deaths.

It is my belief that all life is sacred, and when we strive to honor it as such, we realize how connected we are to everything. That the consciousness that flows through you flows through a beetle, a cat, a daisy, a rock, a tree and the water that is recycled through the body of Earth and in you. Living in gratitude and awe of Life is something I try to practice with each breath, as even the air we breathe carries Life. Without it, I would not exist in this body.