Man looking out over body of water - Image by Clément Falize

 Reflections

These 12 Reflections are refreshed monthly.

Click here to see archived Reflections from previous months.

Love animals: God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled. Do not trouble their joy, don't harass them, don't deprive them of their happiness, don't work against God's intent. 

Love all God’s creation, both the whole and every grain of sand. Love every leaf, every ray of light. Love the animals, love the plants, love each separate thing. If you love everything you will perceive the divine mystery in all things. Once you perceive this, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.

From The Brothers Karamazov (1880) by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Russian novelist and philosopher

The first two-thirds of my life were devoted to the world. The last third will be devoted to my soul.

By Sister Mary Joseph. Previously known as Ann Russell Miller, a wealthy and well-known San Francisco socialite who hobnobbed with the likes of Nancy Reagan and Bob Hope. At the age of 61, after her husband died, she relinquished all her wealth and joined the Carmelite Monastery in Des Plaines, Ill. Sister May Joseph passed on June 5, 2021 at the age of 92.

Every year we kill more than 60 billion animals, excluding fish, who numbers are so great we only measure their lives by weight. What about their thoughts and feelings? Some animals plan for the future, forge friendships that last for decades. They play, they help each other, they show signs of what we call empathy. But 70 % of animals we farm live inside of factories. In the United States, that number is 99%. Their lives are short and terrible. How will we be judged? It is heartbreaking to know all this, but it is also our opportunity. We know what we can do. We can change the way we farm. We can change what we eat. We can change how we treat nature. Some of us have lots of choices, while some have none at all. Those with the most power have the most responsibility, and most of us can do something. So, what will you do?

By Greta Thunberg, in a video sponsored by Mercy for Animals

As individuals and as a culture, our ability to heal, transform, and evolve beyond this old defiling mentality is tied to our food choices more than to anything else. To meditate for world peace, to pray for a better world, and to work for social justice and environmental protection while continuing to purchase the flesh, milk, and eggs of horribly abused animals exposes a disconnect that is so fundamental that it renders our efforts absurd, hypocritical, and doomed to certain failure.

From The World Peace Diet: Eating for Spiritual Health and Social Harmony (2004) by Dr. Will Tuttle, American writer, speaker, musician, and educator

He who for the sake of happiness hurts others who also want happiness, shall not hereafter find happiness.

From The Dhammapada

What are the implications of recognizing animals as persons or selves with inviolable rights? In the simplest terms, it means recognizing that they are not means to our ends. They were not put on earth to serve us, or feed us, or comfort us. Rather, they have their own subjective existence, and hence their own equal and inviolable rights to life and liberty, which prohibits harming them, killing them, confining them, owning them, and enslaving them. Respect for these rights rules out virtually all existing practices of the animal-use industries, where animals are owned and exploited for human profit, pleasure, education, convenience, or comfort.

From Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights (2013) by Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka

You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.

By Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, philosopher, abolitionist, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century.

There can be no great triumph over racism without addressing capitalism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, the environment that we live in, and the food that we consume. We have to recognize all of these connections.

By Angela Davis, American political activist, philosopher, academic, author, and recipient of the Lenin Peace Prize

Waking up this morning, I smile,

Twenty-four brand new hours are before me.

I vow to live fully in each moment

And to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.

From Mindfulness Gathas by Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Master, global spiritual leader, poet, and peace activist

As we welcome this new arrival into our lives,

We ask that this being and all beings,

Shall live a life filled with joy,

A life filled with love,

A life free from violence and suffering.

 

As we welcome this new arrival into our lives,

We ask that our Divine Force, 

By whatever name and form It manifests itself to us,

Helps us affirm the sanctity of all life,

Helps us recognize that all life is precious.

Blessing for a New Arrival, anonymous

Is there any one maxim which ought to be acted upon throughout one’s whole life? Surely the maxim of loving kindness is such: What I do not wish others to do to me, I also wish not to do to others.

From Lau V: IX, Analects of Confucius

Carnivores sometimes say that eating the flesh of other living beings should be considered a matter of “personal choice”. Whose choice? Certainly not the one being chosen. Having the ability to make a personal choice does not mean that the choice made is not immoral, cruel, and uncompassionate. 

From the Compassion Consortium