Tag Archives: vegetarianism

Wanting The Other To Be

CatAndDogI was particularly impressed by Jivamukti Yoga co-founder Sharon Gannon’s recent Focus of the Month essay, Bhakti Trumps All, in which she made a point of saying that animal rights activism, Jivamukti’s de-facto calling card, is subordinate to devotion to God. She unequivocally states that veganism, environmentalism, and other forms of social activism are not ends unto themselves but, from the standpoint of yoga, are meant to be an expression of something higher, namely, the desire to act in a way that’s pleasing to Krishna.

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Beyond Ethical Vegetarianism

RadhaGopinathPrasadam_USEAt a recent hearing about gun control legislation in Hartford, Connecticut, Mark Mattioli, whose 6-year-old son James was killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, urged lawmakers to address America’s culture of violence. “It’s a simple concept. We need civility across our nation,” he said. “What we’re seeing are symptoms of a bigger problem. This is a symptom. The problem is not gun laws. The problem is a lack of civility.”

Mr. Mattioli’s point may have been lost on the gun rights advocates who interrupted his testimony with shouts about their 2nd amendment rights. Be that as it may, it’s become clear that America has reached a tipping point on the issue of guns: a sufficient number of people are so dissatisfied with the results of the status quo that they feel motivated to change it. Continue reading

Culture of Violence

McDonaldsGun_USEAfter the shock wears off what remains is a desire for understanding; we long for something that will explain the inexplicable. Convenient rationalizations like “it was God’s will” or “it was just their karma” top the list of platitudes that no one wants to hear. And with good reason: such banal consolations trivialize unfathomable depths of grief and anger by decorating God with causeless cruelty or blaming victims who are entitled to a presumption of innocence.

This most recent and particularly horrific tragedy has, predictably, been blamed on the ease by which ordinary citizens can acquire military-grade armaments, a collective indifference to the scourge of mental illness, and the glorification of violence in everything from video games to news coverage that relentlessly sensationalizes the very events from which we wish to be spared. Continue reading

The Yoga of Cow Protection

I spent last weekend in rural West Virginia. Although my main reason for going was to participate in the annual 24-Hour kirtan organized by my friends at Mantralogy, a trip to the New Vrindaban community always gives me a chance to visit our cow, Dwadasi. Of course, Dwadasi’s not really our cow: we adopted her, which just means that we pay for her annual expenses. She’s 14 years old, about twice the age that most cows live since cows are routinely slaughtered as soon as they are no longer producing milk, and therefore a profit, for the farmers that own them.

Old as she is, Dwadasi is hardly the eldest of the herd: the real old-timers are enjoying a happy retirement in what’s called the “Geriatric Barn”. Dwadasi and many other cows and bulls are lovingly cared for by a wonderful family through their amazing organization, the International Society for Cow Protection (ISCOWP). Continue reading

The Straw Man of Happy Meat

Recently, The New York Times invited readers to submit an essay that describes why it’s ethical to eat meat. After reviewing thousands of submissions, one essay, by agroecologist Jay Bost, was selected for publication.

I wasn’t surprised that a former vegetarian who returned to meat-eating wrote the essay. Nor was I surprised that the essay failed to offer a compelling argument. But I was surprised to see yoga teachers expressing support for Bost’s argument. Yoga is, among other things, a moral philosophy that places primacy on the recognition of all sentient beings as purusas; spiritual persons of equal standing with inalienable and self-evident rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This philosophical principle is the foundation of any serious yoga practice. Continue reading

Beyond ‘Scampi’: Q & A with Dan K, Part 2

Returning to my dialogue with Dan K, here are Dan’s next questions and comments:

“… when did the classical text become divine? I took it to heart when David Life proclaimed to hundreds of yogis at the Catholic Monastery in DC that yoga is not a religion.”

I’ve heard David say that on several occasions. Now let’s contrast his statement with this one from the Jivamukti Yoga book, which he co-authored with Sharon Gannon:

“To serve and get closer to God is the only reason to practice or teach yoga. Without the desire for God, asana is meaningless exercise. Without devotion, Yoga cannot be attained.”

This appears to be a contradiction. Continue reading

Beyond ‘Scampi’: Q & A with Dan K, Part 1

My thanks once again to my friends who commented on my last blog post, particularly Dan K, whose thoughtful and challenging questions have given me a launching pad for the next few entries. I’ll approach the broad, underlying issues that Dan’s comments raise by addressing his specific questions in reverse order:

… if self-realization is the goal (of yoga), why does it even matter to you how other people are living? Continue reading

Why ‘Om Scampi’ is Full of Baloney

Some time ago I was out to eat with a fellow yoga teacher. The restaurant, naturally, had both vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. As we discussed the menu, my companion, a teacher of far greater experience with the goings on inside the yoga community than I, shared some surprising insights. Thereafter ensued an illuminating discussion about what many yoga teachers eat when other yogis, particularly those from the vegan-activist sector of the yoga world, aren’t looking. Last year, one such yoga teacher came out of the meat-eating closet with a vengeance.
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