Today we have some reflections from Darran Biles, a long time meditator and vegan:
“A few reflections about veganism, guilt, separation and control… Something that I read the other day in Charles Eisenstein’s The Ascent of Man got me thinking about how we communicate the vegan message to others, and how we implement it in ourselves. Eisenstein suggests that for several thousand years we’ve been living in an “Age of Separation”, where we see ourselves as fundamentally separate from nature and also (linked with a notion of original sin) fundamentally bad and in need of control, by guilt and punishment among other methods. But the truth, according to him, is that we aren’t separate and are fundamentally good and trustworthy; indeed, that goodness and trustworthiness flow naturally from recognising our non-separation.
In several of his recent talks, Jack Kornfield has cited Gary Snyder as saying, when asked what advice he would give us in the current state of global crisis, something along these lines: ‘Don’t feel guilty. If you’re going to save it, save it because you love it – because it’s you. Guilt and separation are what’s got us to this point in the first place.’ I remember when reading Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown’s Coming Back to Life, an idea that spoke to me most clearly was that exhortations and efforts to be good may be misplaced when it comes to ‘saving the planet’; rather, let us come to see we are the planet, then saving it is effortless.
Eisenstein advises: ‘Those who rely on guilt or shame to persuade us to limit our participation in the destruction of the planet and its people are, in a very subtle way, perpetuating some of the deep axioms that drive the destruction in the first place. They are resorting to a form of control, control over an iniquitous human nature. In a subtle way, they reenact and reinforce the same war of conquest that has left the planet in tatters.’ Applied specifically to communicating about veganism, the questions that I ask myself from this are: In relation to both others and myself, am I coming from a place of guilt and shame, thus perpetuating an idea of human separation, badness and need for control? Or am I rather affirming our identity with all that is, including other beings, such that compassion for those being may naturally begin to flow?”