|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
Vegetarian World Forum
PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS OF WELCOME
It gives me very great pleasure, as the President of this Fourteenth World Vegetarian Congress, to welcome you all to this beautiful city of Paris and this momentous Congress of world importance. We vegetarians believe that we belong to one human family and that this world is, creatively, one single unit, in which all noble aspiring souls are working for the progress of established and universal Law.
In the thought of your kinship with each other and with all created things, we welcome you, who represent and express purity and kindness, the noblest in human kind. We trust our deliberations will help all nations and will penetrate into the Congress Halls of the Nations meeting at Geneva.
We who are inspired in our humanitarian ideals, and we who yearn to see human progress and prosperity, and we who pray day and night for a lasting peace are convinced that the Destined Plan toward this end is definitely unfolding. The ugliness and darkness, the greed and materiality, the exploitation and the spoliation of life, must become effaced from the planet by virtue of the very law of the despoiler's own nature, then the goodness, kindness and deeper consciousness which are in the heart of each and every human being, will shed their luster - and, thus, will illumine the minds of all and lead humanity toward a better, nobler, higher pattern of life.
We rejoice and thank that Guidance, which has made it possible for us to remain on the constructive side of life to-day. We invoke the guidance, protection and blessings of the universal and unseen powers in our profound deliberations and trust that we may be strengthened by this Congress in our resolve to spread the message of non-violence, non-hurt, non-harming, non-killing, and radiate the spirit of Peace and Good-will to all that lives.
We desire and trust that our visit to this noble city of Paris will be very pleasant and that we shall enjoy the culture and refinement of the French people, who are noted for their delicate, deep and superb spiritual understanding. We who have assembled here have a great responsibility to discharge, and that is to bring humanity back to a thoughtful way of life, that will result in peace, progress and prosperity to one and all.
We are, indeed, delighted to meet so many of our valued friends and co-workers and to see their bright and radiant countenances and their earnestness for the cause for which all of us stand united. Everything that is created grows day by day, there is nothing static in nature. Just so do we, as beings of Nature, grow in life, grow in our ideals, in our concepts; we meet here in that thought of growth, in that thought of acquiring up-to-date knowledge and understanding regarding right living.
Here in this Congress, we shall hear learned men and women from many countries who have devoted their lives to this great and sacred cause. They will tell you in words of wisdom their own experiences by which we will be greatly benefited. Again there are experts who will give us the benefit of their years of patient research and we shall learn new and useful things for our practical application. We wish to derive the greatest benefit from this Congress, so that our work may spread into all the countries you represent throughout the world.
Vegetarianism is not merely a question of food, it is the question of man's well being in every way - physically, mentally, morally, spiritually, socially and economically. It is a science of the best way of living which leads, step by step, to higher and nobler expression, on and on, forever reaching toward our goal - that of the human being behaving as one in the "Divine Likeness."
We have met here at a very crucial period of human history. We live in momentous times. We are passing through a transition materiality to a higher consciousness, from deep sleep to awakenment, from a life of cruelty to one of human kindness. This is verily the time of decision for human beings. We shall have to offer our all to attain our goal. Soul-force has never failed, it is that which has sustained human progress through the centuries. In the words of that first prophet of humanity "Righteousness and Goodness will ultimately triumph over wrong and wickedness." So let us, through that law of non-killing, non-injuring, and non-harming, accumulate the power of good to dispel suffering and misery from the face of the earth. Surely humanity, country by country, has suffered enough and it is our earnest wish that light may come to the nations, through our International Vegetarian Union, and that France and all those represented here will march towards humanitarian ideals so that all may attain their true greatness through new consciousness and greater enlightenment.
IN reviewing our movement since we last met at Sigtuna, in Sweden, 1953, it it is really heartening to see our ideals spreading all throughout the world, for everywhere there is an activity regarding this primary teaching of "Thou shalt not kill." Every one is seriously seeking security and peace. It is essential that we come to realize that as long as we do not cultivate a universal respect and love for all life - man and animals - we shall remain internally insecure, and thus, externally, be in perpetual dread of war and annihilation. Those who believe in the Law of Cause and Effect know that the causes of our degredation and downfall, misery and suffering, war and bloodshed are within ourselves. Not until we wipe off the stain of blood from our hands in killing innocent animals, and the impurities in our blood through polluting our beings with death-vibrations, shall we attain to that peace for which all are so intensely yearning - nor shall we attain to its natural results - universal progress and prosperity.
The Vegetarian Movement is as old as humanity. For thousands of years groups of people have voluntarily lived as vegetarians. In India, one observes that, for generations, even for thousands of years, the kitchens have at remained pure, unstained and untainted by the blood of animals; that a meat-eater never is allowed to enter their homes and certainly not their kitchens.
Thousands of years ago, there were those who observed the laws of cleanliness and purity and abstained from unclean animal food. The Magian Brotherhood, of whom we all know as for their wisdom and piety, are stated, by the Greek Classical writers, to have had as their food, fruits, vegetables and cheese. The Essenes were vegetarians. There were other religious groups in the East and in the West who remained vegetarians all this time. Most of the great Prophets, Saints and Sages taught humanity kindness towards animals and the non-killing of living things. In Asia a very large majority of people were always vegetarians and so also the descendants of the ancient Aryan people living in the West. Even to-day in India a very large majority of people thrive on a fleshless diet. In modern Europe thoughtful people with deep spiritual insight have been vegetarians. Thise who have grown in their spiritual consciousness cannot possibly, according to the law of nature, eat blood and decaying flesh. A Christ, Zoroaster, a Buddha or a Gandhi, could not possibly partake of flesh as food.
A number of vegetarian societies were started in Europe during the last century. In India there was no need to start such societies as each family of clan was a vegetarian society unto itself.
The International Vegetarian Union was started in the West, 47 years ago, in 1908, to bring together all vegetarian, humanitarian, peace loving people, and to bring to the consciousness of humanity the forgotten message of love, kindness and tenderness of heart. Congresses were held in Germany, England, Holland, Denmark, Belgium and many other countries. The first world war interfered with the work of the I.V.U. which exposed the European civilization to be based on material power and cruelty.
Again after the first world war five other Congresses were held in the West. Then came the second world war which caused untold miseries to mankind. Humanity is still, in its ignorance, not able to find the root-cause of all wars and all disturbances in the world. The root-cause is cruelty. Cruelty to our own kingdom of Nature, to the younger brothers, the animals, and, in our degradation, even to feed upon the blood and bodies of these slain. Until we stop killing innocent speechless creatures and stop devouring them we shall have to pay the penalty in like measure of human blood spilt in the waging of wars. As long as we create war every day on our dining table, by consuming the flesh of murdered animals, that long we cannot establish peace in the world - for such a peace would be false.
After an interval of many years, the International Vegetarian Union met again at Oosterbeck, in Holland, and the revival of the whole movement started. I rejoice to-day, that our noble work is moving forward with great zeal, and I am happy to announce that during such a short period of five years very splendid work has been achieved by the I.V.U. Not only Vegetarian Societies in Europe are revived and activated but our message has reached far off countries and there is a very encouraging response from everywhere. This new wave of enthusiasm is a very hopeful sign for the world and for its survival. Our Union can justly be proud of having secured recognition of the F.A.O. and U.N.E.S.C.O.; it can be proud of having helped to insist on vegetarian meals from the principal air-lines and railway-systems and steamship companies of the world.
During the last two years, since we met at Sigtuna, Sweden, our work
Vegetarianism, taken from any point of view, be it spiritual, ethical, scientific, health, dietetic, economical, is a very rational and practical philosophy of Life. But some people are not yet aware that, according to the great laws of nature, every act of injustice brings its own condemnation. If we choose to sustain our natural being upon slaughtered innocents, then, when sickness, sorrow, poverty enter our homes, we reap only what we have sown. The voice from the realm of the heart will call out to the culprit: "The blood of thy brother-beings cries out to Heaven for Justice." It is really strange to hear people talk on humanitarianism and the prevention of cruelty to animals and children, yet not following a merciful diet. The animal kingdom must be redeemed by the higher and nobler species, that is by man, not by eating the animals, but by loving them and by recognizing in them the reflection of our own ideas, which in their case, have not yet been completely developed, for the animal form is not yet mature. It is necessary to remind mankind that - "He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man."
We must, in this age of science, understand the law of evolution. The human being is merely one particular kind in the variety of the animal kingdom. We must recognize the responsibilities of superiority, for we are, consequently, expected to protect everything of an inferior kind. The individual, having reached self-consciousness, is the culmination of all of animal creation, and the destruction of that immature creation is a violation against the collective thought of existence and is equal to a criminal offence. To subsist upon the lower species is to perpetuate the lower order of animal existence, with all of its animalistic tendencies and characteristics. A piece of corpse in the stomach of a civilized man seems to us revolting. It is now a proven fact that a well-arranged vegetarian diet nourishes the body better than flesh as food. Man to-day is a brain-being, he. is endowed with intelligence to choose his food so that he may properly nourish his body and mind, that he may be able to solve the many complex problems of life which confront him. There are, indeed, great weapons of destruction, but the greatest of these are meat, alcohol and tobacco, they eat away the very vitals of man and leave him helpless in the face of individual or collective calamity. Without a simple and complete method of dietetics, it will be impossible for humanity to arrive at a state of absolute physical health, with mental creativeness, and spiritual realization. Appalling as are the results of flesh eating to the physical body, the blighting effects upon the mentality and upon idealistic nature are still greater.
We claim to stand at the head of creation, but how have we fallen - in killing, in thoughtless bloodshed, and in wars! Again, the intelligence of these prematurely-killed dead creatures continues to live, in spirit, within man and to drag him down to their brute nature. He no longer lives a life of a being noble and sublime, but merely exists as a phenomenon of the brute reflecting through the human form. We will continue to live in fear and trembling, as was the poor creature before slaughter, until the time we wake up to the stark reality and follow a humane and humanitarian way of living.
MAN is beginning to realize the causes of the troubles in the world to-day. Profound thinkers and scientists come nearer to the understanding of our "universal kinship" and "reverence for life." They all are desperately labouring to find a solution for the problem of Peace in the world. We are faced to-day with a completely new situation, for war to-day is an instrument of total death and destruction of humanity and even of the planet. Now we know what a terrible evil war is, we should neglect no effort to prevent this cataclysm. The scientific inventions which the minds of men have created must not be used for the destruction of humanity. Was it that the brave struggle of the human mind for its great achievements, throughout eons of time, was it for self-annihilation? What the human mind has produced should be used for human welfare, progress and happiness.
Man has grown into a superman in his material power, but he has neglected his superhuman reason and moral and spiritual and even divine potentialities. With our superhuman material power we have become inhuman in the same degree. The Nobel prize winner of last year, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, has rightly said: "It is the spirit which is manifest throughout the history of humanity. It is the spirit which has created humanitarianism which is the origin of all progress towards a superior form of existence. Animated by humanitarianism we are true to ourselves and capable of creation. Compassion, in which ethics have their roots, can only achieve full scope and depth, if it is not limited to men but extended to all living things."
Let us all, as vegetarians, imbued with compassion, go out-to the four corners of the world and ignite that spark in each and every heart to bring forth the glory of all of creation. Let us take to our hearts the words: "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably." Do we desire Peace whole-heartedly? Then the vegetarian way of life is the only solution to Peace. It gives health to the body, clarity to the mind, ceases to exploit living sentient creatures; refuses to poison man through his food, prevents pastures from becoming deserts and generates in man the sublime emotion of love and compassion. The cause of all suffering is wrong desires and base appetites; mankind shall stop receiving hurt when he ceases giving hurt.
From the economic point of view, it is admitted by experts that the world can no longer be fed by the wasteful method of flesh eating. It takes five times the land for feeding cattle, which are artificially raised for slaughter purposes, as it does for food grown in the soil. We are forced, by the law of nature, to admit that in vegetarianism lies the only solution of the world's feeding problem.
There is now a changing trend of world-consciousness. We believe that
in spite of ignorance, selfishness and obstructions the human spirit will
ultimately triumph. From the gloom of darkness a light, the glory of the
spirit's own light, will brighten the world atmosphere and humanity will
march forward triumphantly on the path of the highest good, with love
and compassion for all created things. To bring this about - is our responsibility.