International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
IVU logo

19th World Vegetarian Congress 1967
Delhi/Bombay/Madras, India

From The British Vegetarian, May/June, 1968:



A presidential address at the I.V.U. Congress in India

The world is getting newer every day. New clothes, new food, new shelter, new art, new music, new dances, new means of transportation, new presidents, new deals, new frontiers, new allies, even a New Delhi! Everything newer by the minute with one outstanding exception.

To match the new world I have just mentioned, how about a new model of man able to answer some of the questions which baffle the brains of present-day society? Such questions as: How to feed the starving millions? How to integrate the black and the white? What should be done about the population explosion? When if ever is it right to wage war? Who is the real enemy? Why should we be in such a hurry to reach the moon when we've already got the Sahara Desert and other wastelands?

In comparison to some of these major problems, capitalism versus communism is a minor matter. The chief issue of the 20th century is kindness versus cruelty. Everything else, it seems to me, is a side-issue.

To make a new and more effective form of man, you need building material. It goes without saying you can't make something out of nothing. Many people have been tricked by publicity and advertising into thinking that newer and better houses will auto-matically produce healthier and happier people. Of course nothing could be farther from the truth. To find the proper building material for man we must look within man himself. New housing, new plumbing. new electrical appliances, are not making man newer and better. The machine is destroying man instead of renewing him. Just take a look at the big cities of the world. They are being choked by automobiles. Man is being pushed aside to make room for more and more cars. Nobody knows where to park them.

No matter how many new automobiles, new television sets, and new iceboxes full of canned goods we may have, unless we are animated, sustained, and renewed by the mysterious inner spirit, neither mind nor body can function. Of this there can be no doubt. At the present moment, on account of a world-shortage of spiritual experience and the consequent lack of Self-knowledge, society is sick, having poisoned itself with the deadly fumes of material progress.

Instead of continuing to spend most of his time and money perfecting machines and other material objects, why doesn't man wake up to the truth of being and begin to do something about perfecting himself? What's the matter with man? The answer, it seems to me, is that man in his old form has been sidetracked towards specialization. Today every man wants to be a specialist A good anything except a good man.

What is the principal mark of human goodness? Isn't it respect for life? Faith, hope, and charity, flow from a spiritual source which animates, sustains, and renews every living thing on earth There is no charity higher than respect for life, or Ahimsa, and like all forms of charity Ahimsa begins at home. In order to be a truly good man or woman, you must show respect for the cells of your own body by not poisoning them with unnatural food, water. and air. If you are now abusing the faithful hard-working inhabit-ants of your own inner kingdom, they will one day revolt against you, as individuals everywhere always revolt sooner or later against an unjust tyrant.

Obviously the world is going through a painful period of transition. Nevertheless, except in certain areas where antiquated and unwise leadership has resulted in violence and bloodshed, I believe we are slowly moving from darkness towards the light, especially those who have chosen the Gandhian way of life. In any even here are some encouraging facts about India that appeared a few weeks ago in the international New York Herald Tribune in an article written by Chester Bowles, the present U.S. Ambassador to India: More than thirty million acres have been added to the fifty million under irrigation in 1953, and this year sixteen million acres of farmland are being planted with new high yielding wheat and rice-paddy seeds. Four times as many young people are now going to school, while a vigorous nation-wide programme is being launched in hopes of reducing India's annual population growth from the present 2.4 per cent. to 1 per cent. by 1971. These and other facts I could mention lead me to believe my optimism about India and the world in general is not unfounded.

Come what may, we should never lose sight of the fact that we are all living in a universe of cause and effect and therefore in order to establish a good social order we need good men and women. The question is: Can good men and women be manu-factured wholesale by any given political or economic system in existence at the present time? Evidently not. It seems to me quite clear that goodness is a homemade product, the quality of which
determined by the extent of individual self-knowledge. You may increase the current sum of your own self-knowledge by bringing into play the potential might-be in make-believe.

Educated in the West to put things to practical use, I have worked out the following system based on the world-famous Indian rope trick. The system is effective anywhere, but it works best if you are in a quiet place high above the smoke and fumes of modern materialism. I made my first experiment in South India a number of years ago, while my wife and I were spending the winter at Coonoor. To begin with I threw a make-believe rope up into the pure fresh air of the Nilgeri Mountains. Next I climbed up the rope to the top of my imagination. Then, instead of dis-appearing into thin air, I broke the orthodox rules by remaining in view up there on the highest level of my understanding, where I have tried to live ever since. Not being perfect I often find myself slipping down the rope towards one or another of my old earthly desires. But as soon as possible I climb hand over hand up the rope again to ever higher and wider states of consciousness.

To let you behind the scenes, my type of rope trick is very easy to do. In the wonderful world of the inner spirit, nobody can stop you from doing whatever you really want to do. Even though at start you may seem to be quite selfish, if you choose to act as if you are a man or woman of good will, you are sure to become better and better as times goes on, and little by little in perfect accord with the law of cause and effect. Good things will begin to happen to you that never happened before you started to climb the rope.

To be at peace with himself and other members of the world-family man must listen to the voice of pain, instead of trying to stifle it with aspirin tablets and sleeping pills. In reality, pain in conjunction with the healing force of nature is a friend of man and it ought to be listened to. This is not an idea 1 got out of a book. It is a logical conclusion derived from my own actual every day life, starting from the time the friendly voice of pain said to me: "You can never hope to be healthy, happy, and at peace. by harming yourself and others. Put a stop to your depraved cravings for the flesh and blood of dead animals, birds and fish."

As a matter of scientific fact man is not naturally a flesh-eater but a harmless fruitarian like the other great apes to whom he is linked in many interesting ways. Only by living in obedience to his true and natural self can man play a constructive role in his owr evolution towards a newer and more peaceful form of being human Awareness of his creative inner spirit would enable man to re-invent himself. By using true self-knowledge as building material he would just as well re-construct a less dangerous man as a less dangerous automobile. For this sort of re-construction work I have found words and deeds to be much more useful than thought and feelings. If you take care of your words and deeds, your thoughts and feelings will take care of themselves. For the average man and woman direct thought-control is more or less impossible. In my own case I noticed that the more I tried to better my nagging negative thoughts and feelings the worse they got. So I tried translating them into positive muscular action. That is to say, I began to speak and to act as if I were in reality a kind-hearted spiritual being, which is the potential truth about everybody. Doesn't it seem reasonable to assume that man is capable of growing into something better than a material target for super-salesmen, activated at present by commercial and political greed, rather than divine intelligence?

It is easy to issue high-sounding manifestoes about what those in authority ought to do in order to save the world from destruction. But why waste your time trying to control others when the one person you can hope to control is you? Self-control is the height of unselfish patriotism. He who relies on others for his own salvation is not an asset to any nation.

Vegetarianism embraces the total problem of how to make the world a more healthful and peaceful place to live in. Based scientific self-knowledge, its solutions are both spiritually and economically sound. Many of the best and wisest men of history -were vegetarians. Deliberate planned-in-advance-murder of man and animals will never bring peace and happiness into the world. If man in his present form cannot comprehend this simple truth, a new form of man will have to be invented.