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

 Reflections

Reflections from previous months.

Oh! Hidden Life, Vibrant in Every Atom,

Oh! Hidden Light, Shining in Every Creature,

May Each of Us, Who Feels as One with Thee,

Know that We Are Therefore, One with Every Other!

Universal Invocation, by Annie Besant, British theosophist, women rights activist and writer

May all beings everywhere be happy and free. May the thoughts, words, and actions of our day contribute to that happiness and freedom for all.

Ahimsa Prayer for All Beings

All beings tremble before danger; all fear death. When a person considers this, they do not kill or cause to kill. All beings fear before danger; life is dear to all. When a person considers this, they do not kill or cause to kill.

From The Dhammapada

The fact that humans are in the habit of eating meat is not an ethical argument. It is a simple fact that tells us nothing whatever about its moral worth. Tradition can explain things, but it cannot justify anything.  

From A Plea for the Animals, by Matthieu Ricard, writer, photographer and Buddhist Monk

When our hearts are authentically open to universal communion, this sense of fraternity excludes nothing and no one … We have only one heart, and the same wretchedness which leads us to mistreat an animal will not be long in showing itself in our relationships with other people. Every act of cruelty towards any creature is “contrary to human dignity” … The Catechism firmly states that human power has limits and that “it is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly”.

From Laudato si, by Pope Francis

We cannot have peace among people as long as we deny it to all other living beings. We cannot heal our mother earth as long as we enslave, trap, poison, and kill her children. We cannot live by religious proclamations that refuse to honor all God’s creation, nor can we follow the guidance of spiritual teachers who claim enlightenment while ordering the massive killing of innocent, sacred beings for their meals, entertainment, and clothing.

From Homo Ahimsa, by Judy McCoy Carman, activist for peace, the environment and animal liberation

Veganism is not really about giving up anything – it’s about opening up to new things: new foods, new flavors, new friends. Yes, you’re abstaining from meat, dairy and eggs, but to focus on what you’re not eating is to deny yourself the full pleasure of veganism while also sending the message that you’re missing out on something. The only thing a vegan misses out on is contributing to the intentional killing of animals. Being vegan means you don’t have to apologize to your food

From A Vegan Ethic, by Mark Hawthorne, animal rights advocate and writer

By ethical conduct toward all creatures, we enter into a spiritual relationship with the universe.

From The Teaching of Reverence for Life, by Albert Schweitzer, theologian, writer, humanitarian and physician

The environmental crisis we face today is also a spiritual crisis. We don’t so much need new technologies, as a different idea of what it means to be human. Modern civilization fosters an economy of “more” and accustoms us to a lifestyle of “more”. Whatever we have is not enough, and this excuses all the violence towards nature and the domination of people … who are different from us. All of our intellectual structures, from social morality to religion, are bent toward service of this ideology of domination.

From Disciples, by Keith Akers, writer, Biblical scholar and animal rights and environmental activist

There’s nothing wrong with spirituality that supports abundant human life, a healthy relationship with the earth, and a sustainable balance between people and planet. In fact, this must become one of religion’s main functions in our time. We are called to watch over the earth. To protect. To guard. To maintain. To preserve. Not to destroy.

From Green Faith, by Rev. Fletcher Harper, Episcopal Priest, spiritual writer and founder of Green Faith

Intersectionality: A spiritual person should regard all exploitation, cruelty and injustice as unacceptable. If there is a moral parity between humans and nonhuman animals, then vegans in particular must address these wrongs not just as they relate to nonhuman animals, but also as they relate to our fellow humans. All exploitation, cruelty and injustice, whether directed at humans or non-human animals, derives from the same culture of domination, supremacy and entitlement that too often is characteristic of our society. The most serious threat to both humans and nonhuman animals alike is human nature itself.

From the Compassion Consortium

Animals and Profit: Anytime an animal is used in an industry that generates profits for humans, the abuse of the animal is always intensified. This is because, whether it is the food, fashion, racing, entertainment or any other industry, humans know that profits will rise if production is increased, costs are lowered, and customer demand expands. And it is always the voiceless animals, unable to protest their cruel treatment, who suffer the most from this drive for profits.

From the Compassion Consortium 

Today, When I Could Do Nothing

(A Reflection by Jane Hirshfield from One Year Ago)

Today, when I could do nothing,
I saved an ant.

It must have come in with the morning paper,
still being delivered
to those who shelter in place.

A morning paper is still an essential service.
I am not an essential service.

I have coffee and books,
time,
a garden,
silence enough to fill cisterns.

It must have first walked
the morning paper, as if loosened ink
taking the shape of an ant.

Then across the laptop computer — warm —
then onto the back of a cushion.

Small black ant, alone,
crossing a navy cushion,
moving steadily because that is what it could do.

Set outside in the sun,
it could not have found again its nest.
What then did I save?
It did not move as if it was frightened,
even while walking my hand,
which moved it through swiftness and air.

Ant, alone, without companions,
whose ant-heart I could not fathom —
how is your life, I wanted to ask.

I lifted it, took it outside.

This first day when I could do nothing,
contribute nothing
beyond staying distant from my own kind,
I did this

By Jane Hirshfield, an American poet, essayist and translator. Her ninth book of poetry, Ledger, was published March 10, 2020. She wrote this poem March 17, the day that the San Francisco Bay Area’s six-county shelter-in-place protocol went into effect. 

To be ‘for animals’ is not to be ‘against humanity.’ To require others to treat animals justly, as their rights require, is not to ask for anything more nor less in their case than in the case of any human to whom just treatment is due. The animal rights movement is a part of, not opposed to, the human rights movement. Attempts to dismiss it as anti-human are mere rhetoric.

From The Case for Animal Rights (2004) by Tom Regan, an American philosopher and author of numerous books on the philosophy of animal rights.

Animals are God’s creatures, not human property, nor utilities, nor resources, nor commodities, but precious beings in God’s sight … Christians haven’t got much further than thinking that the whole world was made for us, with the result that animals are only seen in an instrumental way as objects, machines, tools, and commodities, rather than fellow creatures.

From Creatures of the Same God: Explorations in Animal Theology (2009) by The Reverend Andrew Linzey, an Anglican priest, theologian and founder and Director of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.

Animals run no risk of going to hell. They are already there.

By Victor Hugo, French dramatist, novelist and poet.

Since I and other beings both, in wanting happiness are equal and alike,

What difference is there to distinguish us that I should strive to have my bliss alone?

Since I and other beings both, in fleeing suffering are equal and alike,

What difference is there to distinguish us that I should save myself and not the others?

From A Guide to the Bodhisattva Path (“The Bodhicharyavatara”) by Shantideva.

Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement … to get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is amazing; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.

By Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the leading Jewish theologians and philosophers of the 20th century.

Kindness and compassion towards all living things is a mark of a civilized society. Conversely, cruelty, whether it is directed against human beings or against animals, is not the exclusive province of any one culture or community of people, Racism, economic deprival, dog fighting and cock fighting, bullfighting and rodeos, are all cut from the same fabric: violence. Only when we have become nonviolent towards all life will we have learned to live well ourselves.

From a letter written in 1990 by Cesar Chavez, an American labor leader, community organizer, civil rights activist and, together with Dolores Huerta, founder of the National Farm Workers Association.

Animals and humans suffer and die alike. Violence causes the same pain, the same spilling of blood, the same stench of death, the same arrogant, cruel and vicious taking of life. We shouldn’t be a part of it.

From Callus on my Soul: A Memoir (2003) by Dick Gregory, American comedian, civil rights and anti-war activist.

Compassion is a verb.

From Love is Compassion in Action (2012) by Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Master, global spiritual leader, poet and peace activist.

One thing to remember is to talk to the animals. If you do, they will talk back to you. But if you don’t talk to the animals, they won’t talk back to you, then you won’t understand, and when you don’t understand you will fear, and when you fear you will destroy the animals, and if you destroy the animals, you will destroy yourself.

From My Heart Soars (1989) by Chief Dan George, Chief of Tseil-Waututh Nation, actor, musician, poet and author.

There is a Green Faith religious revolution underway. It is taking place on every continent, within every faith tradition. It is changing the way people of faith understand and experience God, and what it means to have a moral life. It is changing the ways in which people worship and pray, eat, travel, and use resources like energy and water. It is adding a new dimension to the policy advocacy that faith communities have done for decades. And it is drawing a small but growing number of people of faith into various forms of public witness and nonviolent civil disobedience. The religious-environmental movement is ready for prime time.

From Green Faith: Mobilizing God’s People to Save the Earth by Rev. Fletcher Harper, Episcopal Priest, spiritual writer and founder of Green Faith.

Four Daily Goals:

1. Wake up alive every morning.

2. Treat every living being with compassion and make the world a better place for all. 

3. Go to bed at peace with the day’s thoughts and actions.

4. Wake up alive the next day and start again.

From the Compassion Consortium