by Tinako
[The opinions expressed in these essays do not necessarily reflect the position of ARAUNY.]

I would like to tell you a story:

zen stone

(cc) R. Patton

There once was a nun named Eshun who was very beautiful, and one day during lecture a young monk secretly fell in love with her.  He wrote her a love letter in which he said that he wanted to meet with her in private.  The next day, as soon as the master ended his lecture, Eshun stood up and said to the monk who wrote the letter, ‘If you really love me, then come up here right now and embrace me.’

The narrator continues,

“If your mind is torn by two conflicting desires, the contradiction will destroy your mind’s unity and tranquility.  Just remember, when you should grab something, grab it.  When you should let it go, let it go.” – Zen Speaks

When I was considering going vegan, I agonized over the decision.  I was torn between the food I wanted to eat and the suffering I knew it was causing.  I twisted and turned, I rationalized, I whined.  “I don’t eat that much,” “It won’t make any difference,” “I buy ‘humane’ products and how can I be blamed if they aren’t?” and all the rest.

But the answer always returned, the answer I didn’t want to hear, unimpressed with my excuses.  Finally I realized that this epic battle going on inside of me was between unfathomable, obscene suffering and… restaurant cake.   And I laughed out loud at myself.

A short time after becoming vegan, I realized how much that disconnect had broken my spirit.  I only became aware of it when it healed.  For the first time in my life, I could fully embrace my compassion.  I no longer reigned it in, or shackled it with rationalizations.  I didn’t allow people to make me feel ridiculous for loving Bambi and Wilbur.  I was free.

I know that even friendly people look on my food and my lifestyle with pity.  They feel that I am restricted by self-imposed rules about what I can’t eat, that I am cut off from many foods which form the basis of their own diets.  From the inside, being vegan is not about restriction, it is about freedom of spirit, and the wholeness of a mind that was once Torn.

Now I can look at you in peace; I don’t eat you any more. – Franz Kafka