|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
Vegetarian World Forum
LOUDSPEAKERS AND THE STlLL SMALL VOICE
IN a tormented inconclusive period of high-pressure salesmanship, puffed up paper money, inflated, moral currency, bursting trial balloons, and test-bomb explosions, all knitted together by a network of loudspeakers, how are we to hear the still, small voice?
Fortunately man continues to have within himself a centre of quietness to which he may retire whenever he really wants to know the truth. But selfishness is a masquerader and often even in the centre of quietness when one appears to be hearing the still small voice he is in fact listening to his own ego.
If one listens to his ego, he is inevitably led to a tragic error in self-knowledge. For the ego, so proud of its practical common sense, ignores both the smallness of man and the greatness of God. As long as the ego is in charge it will continue by false promise and broken pledge to isolate not only man from his better self, but man from man and nation from nation. Small-scale personal jealousies and struggles which collectively over and over again take the shape of large-scale international warfare have their origin in egotism, the first and most treacherous offshoot of ignorance.
In order to unmask the ego, which is not fitted to make wise decisions and should never be listened to, we must turn to the Jains of India or to other men and women who like the Jains can tell us how to cultivate the mysterious intuitive Faculty, behind and above the mind, that serves as a channel for the inflow of perfect truth. In their experiments with truth saints, and sages of all religions, fulfilling the basic requirement of Jainism, have reached extraordinary heights of consciousness. And whatever the saint or sage has done, others eventually may also do, for the exceptional man or woman is merely a forerunner of a more and more enlightened human race playing a creative role in its own evolution. Such a role has already been played by countless Jains from Lord Rishhabha, who is said to have flourished right after the Stone Age, to Mahatma Gandhi in our own Age of Atoms and Anxiety. At present, fulfilment of the Jain fundamental is an almighty possibility open to every man, woman, and child from East to West regardless, of race, colour, or religion.
As the Mahatma has pointed out, knowledge in its highest forms must remain inaccessible to a mind agitated by flesh-eating and as a result out of tune with the eternal Law of Universal Kinship. Such an agitated mind, instead of making wise decisions based on principle step by step in the present, rushes anxiously ahead into the unknown future, armed only with egotistical plans and specifications that time and again prove painfully inadequate. On the other hand, fulfilment of the basic requirement of Jainism creates a state of tranquillity and confidence in the face of the unforeseen. Except for its fundamental ethic, Jainism resembles the majority of other major religions. The vital difference is that the other religions profess respect for life in words of loving-kindness, but on many occasions find it inconvenient to put these words into practice. Consequently so-called civilized man has arrived at the brink of a dark abyss between idealism and action out of which come all the horrible noises and nightmares of the 20th century.
HAVING switched off the loudspeakers and withdrawn into the centre of quietness, as a turtle into his shell, how, then, may we be sure to know the difference between the voice of egotism and the voice of truth? The answer is we cannot know until we project into our daily living the basic principle of Jainism, which is, of course, Ahimsa or non-hurtfulness. It is not by intellectual cunning that the urgent social problems of our troubled 20th century will be permanently solved, but by a we-feeling, a will to all goodness. This is so, because goodness and understanding are one and the same. As the poet who wrote the Book of Job put it: “To depart from evil is understanding.” There must be ‘actual departure. Pious declaration without departure does not lead to understanding. To speak of peace in a military pact, for example, does not take the place of peace, itself. The word is not enough to reduce the cruelty that must be reduced before we shall have reduction of armaments. For it is the inner spirit which determines the outer form. This is the simple lesson the Eastern statesman should never forget and the Western has yet to learn. If we want to avoid isolationism, instead of building battle-stations at the weak circumference in the hope of stopping a so-called enemy from doing the same things we are trying to do, each one of us should confidently withdraw to the strong centre of quietness. Remember, no matter how still and small the voice may pretend to be, if it speaks of matters that have no meaning except to the I, the Me, and the Mine, it is not the voice of truth but egotism.
Sensitivity and mutual aid may appear to be lacking in the jungle, but in higher states of consciousness all of us obviously are members of the same world-family and we cannot gain happiness for ourselves by hurting our neighbours. The law of the brute may be violence, but the Law of Man is Love. There is nothing wrong with the world, materially, economically, politically, except that we do not love one another. Everywhere in the world to-day man is dying of heart failure. Not so
In our day quite recently a sensational revolution in history has taken place, noted in Gerald Heard’s preface to The Recovery of Culture, by Henry Stevens of the University of New Hampshire. At last science substantiates what the Jains have known all along. Modern scientific research, basing its conclusion on discoveries of archieologist and paleontologist, now upholds the ancient Jain belief that man flourished in full vigour for millions of years without killing his fellow creatures and eating their dead bodies and without suffering the inevitable consequence: WAR.
In the light of the latest research, pre-historic “weapons of warfare” have turned out to be harmless agricultural implements, and “military fortifications” to be barricades around garden-plots and orchards to protect man’s garden-culture against the aggression of wild animals.
Like his old arborial neighbour the anthropoid ape, man lived for millions and millions of years as a friendly fruitarian at peace with his fellow man. And like the anthropoid ape, man has the digestive system of a fruitarian with a long intestinal tract, and to avoid the development of cancer and other degenerative diseases, which no modern miracle drug can ever cure, he will have to dissolve his ill-fated partnership with the slaughter-house. Compared to his total time on earth, man’s carnivorous period has been very short. But already extinction stares him in the face. To arrest physical and mental and moral degeneration coupled eventually with famine he must begin again to live in harmony with the law that governs his life.
Such celebrated nutritionists as Lord Boyd Orr and others associated with the international Food and Agricultural Organization at Rome, have concluded that the starving masses of mankind in under-developed countries can be fed only on vegetarian food as the products of the meat-packing industry cost too much in terms of land as well as time and money. The barren deserts of the world are on the march toward river and ocean and as the world-population increases, mankind will be forced more and more to eat less and less meat. Added to former sanctions of ethics and health, the Jain way of life now has the sanction of sound economics.
Meanwhile in a potential paradise on earth, rich and poor alike are confronted by the dark abyss of fear and want simply because on the path to perfection at a signpost marked “Ahimsa” mankind took a wrong turn. It is by no means too late to turn again toward the light of understanding. Correction of direction is our only hope. But in order to leave the dark abyss behind, reformation of eating-habits is not enough. In addition we shall have to re-educate our hearts. Like it or not, we must all love one another. It’s the only way to get back home to paradise.