Science and logic was always my thing. I loved the book, “the Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins. It reinforced my view that life and its meaning can be explained by science. Also, no doubt it helped me feel ok about living what was largely a selfish life. Dawkins was able to explain in a language I understood, how all examples of altruism in nature are derived from a selfish underlying drive from our innate genetic makeup. I felt liberated and validated by this
The day I decided to go vegan was a step into the unknown for me. Leading up to this day, I had started to question everything and think for myself. A new real liberation was beginning. Going vegan was a big whole life decision. It was based on a concern for the well-being of others, who would never be able to thank me. There was nothing selfish about the decision other than to say that I would feel more comfortable not supporting the violence and cruelty inherently part of the production of meat, dairy and eggs. The fact that I was able to make such a decision, was a critical moment in my life.
The decision opened my mind to the possibility that true altruism is a natural and hugely important human behavior. I have since noticed how this is somewhat smothered by our society, or more to the point, the media. This change in my life was quite mind blowing. It was a bit like I had been blind all my life and then opened my eyes for the first time. Truly it was nothing like I had ever imagined but I knew now that all my previous ideas needed to be questioned. How was I going to cope?
Spirituality was never really my thing but I decided I needed to open my mind to help me cope with my new vision and avoid being led astray again. It seems it is a natural path, when you start to question things and look for answers where the media and cold science has failed. The easiest path growing up was to remain blind and just to agree with what I was being told. Like most boys, I wanted to be like my dad and so dived into science and chemical engineering. All seemed to be well. The day my eyes opened, it dawned on me that in this wonderful world, the earth was rapidly dying, and it was standard human activity that was the cause. The penny really dropped hard when the cold cruelty of industrial farming and slaughterhouses sneaked through my filters. There I was thinking all was well and most people were fundamentally good, suddenly realizing that we were all actively participating in this mammoth atrocity directed at all life on earth. Many would say I am being too negative and melodramatic and I understand why they don’t want to hear this. But the numbers and facts don’t lie. I have chosen to face the truth, and not bury my head in the sand. The big question was, how can I face reality when reality includes horror and cruelty on an unimaginable scale? The story gets much more optimistic and better from here when I found meditation.
So, my interest in meditation grew and I made the decision to register at the 10 day Vipassana. This is a meditation course in the blue mountains west of Sydney and is run all around the world. I highly recommend it for anyone who is ready. A few words of warning, it’s not what I would describe as a fun 10 days. In fact, it was probably the hardest I have ever worked on anything in my life. It is a silent course. For 10 days there was no chatting (or even acknowledging others), no reading, no phones, TV etc. There was a 4am wakeup call every morning and we received daily instruction along with about 10 hours of meditation. Also for vegans, be aware they serve some dairy products, (which in my view is a complete hypocrisy for a place that speaks sincerely of compassion for all beings). There were two full meals per day, including delicious basic vegan food, and for dinner you would get two pieces of fruit. Yes, it’s a drastic course but the stakes are high and I am so glad I did it.
I did the course 4 months ago. I now use the meditation practice daily. It fits in perfectly with my new approach to life and desire to face the truth. The more I work on this practice the more positive results I get. The meditation gives me a greater understanding of who I am, and helps me let go of what is out of my control and so focus on what I can change. I am now more comfortable with myself and facing the truth, which is an essential part of inner peace and making a difference……and… having fun is again possible, and I think essential.
Rick – EVER