A path to Inner peace and optimism – without ignorance

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There is a widespread misconception that evolution has made us selfish.  In fact even Darwin himself did not see it that way and it is now widely understood that cooperation and compassion are natural human traits. Our society dupes us into believing otherwise which helps us justify making harmful choices which lead to inner conflict and long term dissatisfaction.

The power of compassion is well known but the messages we receive almost from birth lead us to reject our natural instincts.  Our innate instinct for compassion is not something we can switch off or be selective about without serious personal ramifications.  Natural compassion will extend to all people and all sentient beings.  Anything else creates disharmony and discontent. We can fix this simply with self-awareness and acting accordingly.  The following is a relevant story from my own journey.

11 years ago my wife and I both had jobs in the CBD of Sydney. The daily walk home to Coogee had become a routine.  One day we came across a white rabbit beside a very busy Sydney road. As we approached, she ran away and hid in the roots of a large oak tree so we continued our walk home. We knew nothing at all about rabbits but we knew that she would not survive long there so we decided to return with some carrots and a small cage to attempt a rescue.  The rescue was successful and she lived out the rest of her life in our house, with our two cats. For six years we cared for her through sickness and health and in return we received copious amounts of joy and laughter.  At the end we had to make the heartbreaking decision to put her to sleep.  I now recognize this was an important experience on the road to living in harmony with my human nature.

Shortly after this I became motivated to take a deeper interest in the state of the earth.  I quickly learned that life on earth was being recklessly destroyed by human activity. This in turn led to more learning about animal agriculture and a decision to stop eating meat, and then later all animal products.  These sorts of decisions based on natural compassion felt right and kept me on the path towards inner peace and contentment.

I was learning more and more shocking realities but at the same time I was finding real happiness.  I am now at the point of feeling more optimism and energy than at any time since my childhood. I credit this to my willingness to face reality and to fostering my natural compassion.

So I learned that we humans are causing unprecedented destruction that will before long lead to the earth becoming uninhabitable for most species, including our own.  Three such examples of this, each a catastrophe in its own right, are the decimation of the oceans, species extinction and climate change.  I will elaborate further on species extinction but first a quick pause for some more optimism.

There is a realistic, practical solution to all of these man-made catastrophes that we can all happily participate in.  All we need to do is become self-aware and take steps to allow our true compassionate nature to flourish.  More on this below.

Here are a few current facts about species extinction:

  • We lose 150 – 200 species per day. That’s 1000 to 10,000 times the natural rate.
  • The rate is predicted to snowball.
  • At the current rate we will lose 30% of our species by 2050.
  • With the current direction, before long most life including human life will no long be able to live on earth.
  • Animal agriculture is the main driver of species extinction.
  • We grow enough food today to feed 10 billion people yet we fail to feed 7 billion. One big problem is a huge proportion of our crops directed to animals grown for meat.

Human civilization is now dominated by faceless, heartless corporations.  It is best for them if we remain dissatisfied and continually looking for a remedy, usually in the form of one of their products.  So, brilliant multimillion dollar marketing campaigns are aimed at keeping us wanting more which is often in complete conflict with our nature.

The most shocking example of this is the huge animal exploitation industries like seafood, meat, eggs and dairy.  Together they systematically abuse and slaughter 70 billion very young land animals and more than 1 trillion fish annually.  It is not just the vast scale of this cruelty and violence but also the huge disproportionate destruction to the environment.  Consider that a plant based diet requires 29 times less land than a standard meat based diet or that some studies suggest our oceans will be dead by 2050.  As long as we buy their products we support the cruelty and harm which conflicts with our natural compassion.  We pay a very heavy price.

There are now healthy food alternatives readily available so why do naturally compassionate people support these industries?  At least part of the answer is we have been duped.  With every purchase we deny our nature and our power is taken from us.

I will finish with these positive ideas.

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Adopting a vegan lifestyle is not the answer on its own.  It is just a natural human response in today’s world. It is not just for animal lovers or haters of violence and injustice. It is for every rational person who wants to be compassionate, and would like to enjoy inner peace, empowerment, and great health. The decision to be vegan stops our support for this unnecessary violence and destruction.  It also gives us back our power and enlightens us. This leads to contentment but what is really exciting is this natural way of being is contagious.

For more information, check out our web site www.eversanctuary.org.

Rick – EVER


How Meditation changed my life.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Rick – EVER