|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
Vegetarian World Forum
NOSTALGIA FOR PERFECTION
Two score and seven years ago our vegetarian fathers brought forth on this continent a new kind of union, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that animals as well as men are created to be free, both having one and the same breath of life. To-day we have met in Paris, the beautiful city of liberty, fraternity and equality, as proof that the International Vegetarian Union, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure - even in a dangerous world of chemical fertilizers, poison sprays, soil depletion, deforestation, erosion, soot-saturated air, polluted water and radio-active rain.
Fortunately for the future of animals as well there is a better world close at hand waiting to be lived in, a world fortified by something far more effective than atom bombs and mass-injections of serum that attack the symptom but leave untouched the deep hidden cause.
Some of us are already citizens of this better world. Others suffering from enervation and toxemia due to ignorance of the laws of natural hygeine, have been somewhat slow about applying for naturilazation papers. The chief requirement is to know yourself.
Almost all of us who have been brought up in the dangerous inorganic gardening world, perfumed with insecticide instead of flowers, go on making a basic error in self-knowledge, thinking of ourselves as something separate from the rest - especially fromwhat we call the enemy, sometimes a microbe, sometimes a man. In either of these two cases weare closer than brothers, both being a part of one and the same whole.
For this logical reason we cannot poison or blow up even the enemy without in the lng run destroying ourselves. As soon as we recognize this fundamental truth of being, we see that no nation, no community, no man, no individual cell, can remain disconnected except in theory. Because we all belong to one another, professional fighters are for more impractical than pacifists. As a matter of record, war for the liberation of man alone is always waged in vain, just as religion which overlooks the slavery and suffering of animals is no religion at all - only a form of egotism wrapped in saintly robes.
The One already knows itself as the Many. It is for us, the Many, to know ourselves as the One. Everything and everybody on earth belongs to the same world-family. Nothing ethically unjust to man or monkey is ever scientifically sound. This is the scientific fact of facts as well as the eternal reality. And yet all over the so-called civilized world we find a church at one end of the street and a slaughter-house at the other, and out of this gap between the word and the Deed come the horrible nightmares of our fear-ridden 20th century.
ON earth and in the sea, life as we know it through our five senses, appears to be a cruel clash of opposing forces, each seeking its own selfish fulfilment. However, in the fate of every material fact and photograph to the contrary, the wisest men of this or any other age are all agreed that life has an indivisible unity and therefore no man can gain by harming his neighbour. If we are inclined to be on the side of the angels, let us explore together for a few moments the possibility of elevating ourselves above transitory fact and photgraph to a higher level of consciousness where unity of life can be clearly comprehended.
Since all the sages as well as the saints have testified that life is not as it seems to be, what then in reality is life? To many of us life is an elaborate pictorial review, changing its subject with the rapidity of a newsreel. But the kind of life we are now exploring is not an illustrated digest of world news here to-day and gone tomorrow. It is an everlasting force at first hidden from the human eye but at length revealed as an emerged consciousness not yet master of itself because - relying on impermanent iaterial facts and photographs - it thinks of itself as a separate individual personality. The tragic error in self-knowledge has led to the invention and manufacture of many ghastly gadgets from poison spray-guns to atom bombs.Explosion at any price can destroy people and property; it can never change falsehood to truth or turn an enemy into a friend. Only love can prform such miracles in our shrinking little world of vanity, illusion and self-satisfied obsolescence. Not love for an ego-centric particle of life, but love for all life, human and sub-human. Love and respect for all life - animal, vegetable, mineral - is the lesson the statesman has yet to learn.
He who is still in complicity with the slaughter-house frequently tries to soothe his troubled mind-body mechanism by stating the undeniable scientific fact that vegetables before cooked to death are also part of the oneness of life. However, everything on earth is relative and therefore the man who kills a carrot is far less troubled in spirit han the man who kills a cow. If for the sake of logic he chooses not to kill even a carrot, he can still live in good health on fruit and nuts given to him as gifts by friendly plants and trees. The oneness of life, behind unevolved ideas and unintegrated actions that appear to confirm the disjointed newsreel outlook, can be realized here and now by anybody with a taste for spiritual adventure and a willingness to cultivate vigilance, discrimination, and self-control. In our time Mahatma Gandhi put these three virtues into practice with amazing results, and by his good example inspired countless others everywhere to follow in his footsteps up the spiral staircase toward enlightenment and liberation.
As man climbs higher and higher on the spiral staircase his knowledge of himself becomes broader and more unified until he understands that his own true nature is not flesh but spirit, that here and now he has the almighty possibility of realizing his true nature, and that all religions which teach the oneness of life are good.
An inevitable upward step tward health, happiness, and peace is vegetarianism firmly based on an understanding friendship with the land. At the level of the land all individual national and international regeneration must begin, for sick soil cannot produce healthy people. To heal the soil every able-bodied man, woman and child on earth should join the Men of the Trees and begin at once as world-forresters to plant and care for trees - especially fruit an nut trees - wherever the desert is on the march. Friendship with the land is the greta unifying idal of the future. An unantagonizing ideal that everybody, young and old, can easily grasp and in some measure put into practice. Out of friendship with the land comes friendship with animals, and at length, friendship between man and man, until the enlightened of all nations are united in a bond of love, which is the only answer to man's nostalgia for perfection.