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Life in its infinite forms exists as one organic unity. We are part of it: the part should feel reverence for the whole. That is the idea of vegetarianism. It simply means: don’t destroy life. It simply means: life is God — avoid destroying it, otherwise you will be destroying the very ecology.
Ma Tzu insisted on vegetarian food. In his monastery non-vegetarian food was absolutely prohibited. It takes me back to Gautam Buddha. Gautam Buddha was a vegetarian, strictly vegetarian. And all his followers were vegetarians. That was a revolution in a way, because man had lived as a non-vegetarian for millions of years. And according to Buddha, he would remain a barbarian unless he became vegetarian. Killing life is destroying your own possibility of growth. You have to respect life; a reverence for life will help your growth of consciousness. And he was absolutely right.
Vegetarianism functioned as a purification. When you eat animals you are more under the law of necessity. You are heavy, you gravitate more towards the earth. When you are a vegetarian you are light and you are more under the law of grace, under the law of power, and you start gravitating towards the sky. Your food is not just food: it is you. What you eat, you become. If you eat something which is fundamentally based on murder, on violence, you cannot rise above the law of necessity. You will remain more or less an animal. The human is born when you start moving above the animals, when you start doing something to yourself which no animal can do. Vegetarianism is a conscious effort, a deliberate effort, to get out of the heaviness that keeps you tethered to the earth so that you can fly -- so that the flight from the alone to the alone becomes possible. The lighter the food, the deeper goes the meditation. The grosser the food. then meditation becomes
more and more difficult. I am not saying that meditation is impossible for a non-vegetarian -- it is not impossible, but it is unnecessarily difficult.
Remember, I am not against non-vegetarian foods for any other reasons. If a man is not meditating, if a man is not trying to grow inwards, if a man is not in search of God, then it is perfectly okay -- he can eat whatsoever he wants to eat. The higher you are trying to reach, the more and more you will have to drop any unnecessary luggage. Only then you can fly. This is unnecessary luggage.
The change of food is bound to change the qualities of your physical body. Food is not just energy, it is also a qualitative thing. Food is not just a fuel, it contributes more than fuel -- it gives you either transparency, or non-transparency. The insight into this phenomenon can mutate, and you can have altogether a different type of body. And it is not so difficult to change this body, because the body is a flux, every moment changing itself; it is a process, it is not a static thing. The moment you came here, you had another body; now the body has changed. It is changing constantly, every moment; it is riverlike, moving and changing -- it is not a static thing.
If you change direction, the body takes a jump; only the direction has to be changed. One should become aware, that whatsoever one is eating must be such that it doesn't make one's body heavy. This heaviness is not concerned with weight: sometimes you feel that you are weightless, as if you can fly. So the food that can give you the feeling of weightlessness is the right food. The food that gives you the feeling of being burdened is not the right food. All non-vegetarian foods make you more rooted in the earth; you cannot fly. Vegetarian foods give you wings; you have an inner feeling that you can just levitate, you can just go out of gravitation. Food is right if it is non-gravitational. If you can feel non-physical in it, it is good. Really, the body is felt only when it is heavy; when you have the feeling of heaviness inside, only then you feel the body. When the body is not heavy with wrong foods, you are bodiless. That's why when the body is
diseased, when the body is ill, you feel it; when it is healthy, you don't feel it. You feel your head only when there is a headache; when there is no headache, there is no head.
I say Patanjali is scientific. If you want to change the body posture, Patanjali will say change your food habits, because every food habit creates subtle body postures. If you are a meat eater you cannot sit Buddha-like. If you are non-vegetarian your posture will be different, if you are vegetarian your posture will be different -- because the body is built by your food. It is not an accident. Whatsoever you are putting in the body, the body will reflect it.
So vegetarianism for Patanjali is not a moralist cult, it is a scientific method. When you eat meat you are not only taking food, you are allowing a certain animal from which the meat has come to enter in you. The meat was part of a particular body; the meat was part of a particular instinct pattern. The meat was the animal just few hours before, and that meat carries all the impressions of the animal, all the habits of the animal. When you are eating meat your many attitudes will be affected by it. And if you are sensitive you can become aware that whenever you eat certain things, certain changes immediately come. You can take alcohol and then you are not the same. Immediately a new personality has come in. Alcohol cannot create a personality, but it changes your body pattern. The body chemistry is changed With the change of the body chemistry, the mind has to change its pattern and when the mind changes pattern a new personality has come in.
A violent diet does not only mean that a man eats non-vegetarian food. It is also a violent diet when a man eats with anger. Both of these things are violent. While eating in anger, in suffering, in worry, man is also eating violently. He does not realize at all that just as he is violent when eating the flesh of something else, so when his own flesh burns up inside due to anger and worry, violence is present there too. Then the food which he is eating cannot be non-violent.
The other part of right food is that you should eat in a very peaceful, a very joyful state. If you are not in such a state, then it is better to wait until you are and not to eat for a while. When the mind is absolutely ready, only then should one take his meals. For how long will the mind not be ready? If you are aware enough to wait then at the most it can remain hungry for only one day -- but we have never bothered to listen to it. We have made eating food a completely mechanical process. One has to put food into the body and then leave the dining table. It is no longer a psychological process -- that is dangerous. On the body level, the right food should be healthy, non-stimulating and non-violent; on the psychological level the mind should be in a blissful state, graceful and joyous; and on the level of the soul there should be a feeling of gratefulness, of thankfulness. These three things make food the right food.
You should know, we have The Art of Living throughout the world today. You go to the South Pole, tip of Argentina, and you will find The Art of Living. You go towards the North Pole, you will find The Art of Living there. You have a family which is spread across the whole globe, and each one of you is a very important member of the family. We have such a big family, and we have a responsibility too, to work for a happy and celebrative society, a society which is free from violence, and a society which is spiritually uplifted. I want each one of you to multiply 100 times, reach out to schools and colleges and make life a celebration.
And be assured that your needs will be taken care of. You do for the Society what Society needs, and leave the rest on me. You will see, your needs will naturally start getting fulfilled. Whatever you wish, will happen.
"It is not possible to have a peaceful society unless this knowledge reaches everybody. If each one takes responsibility to spread this knowledge, how beautiful this society will be. Isn't it?" - Sri Sri