I'm in a dark place. Not the worrisome kind but the kind that naturally comes up when you allow yourself to look at the uglier sides of life. And they are there for everyone; anyone who tells you different is lying.
I almost put down the book I am reading, Eating Animals, because I didn't want to be preached at. I still don't but I allowed myself to open up to the questions being raised in regards to eating animals. It is touching something bigger deep inside my heart, mind and soul. Something Derrick Jensen didn't touch with all his radical environmental truism and insight. It is making me think and it is turning my world upside down.
The main question is, how do we live ethically? In Zen we have the Noble Eight Fold Path. "It is a practical guideline to ethical and mental development with the goal of freeing the individual from attachments and delusions; and it finally leads to understanding the truth about all things." (HandfulofSand.com) It includes things like right action, right intention, right speech and so on. So as I think about the question of eating meat I consider all these questions. If I vow not to eat factory farmed meat or I decide to become vegetarian (as these are the two options I feel compelled to consider) can I really know what the outcomes will be? The answer is no, so then I can only make the choice based on what my heart tells me is right. But how do I listen to my heart in a world that inundates us with stimulation of the mind?
So I consider right speech, action and intention in regards to sharing my choices with people. Do I practice within and just let people come to their own decision? Or do I owe it to the animals being violently abused for fun by the exploited workers in factories farms to share what I know? Can I do that in a way that does not preach or offend? Or do I simply pass on the sickly chemical filled chicken at a BBQ and forage whatever veggie options they have or bring my own meat choice?
The author of the book I am reading seems to be writing from a place that implies there is a right answer (be vegetarian), that there is one truth that can be seen in the right light. I do not have the words to explain that this cannot and is not true. I have spent countless hours reading, thinking about my responsibility and talking about it with my loving husband and a few people who have open ears to this sort of thing. But today I may have been shown another piece of the puzzle, or proof to something I only suspected. I was driving home from a Whole Foods run to Mill Valley and I am driving down Highway 1, arguably one of the most beautiful places in the world, especially on a sunny day like today, and in front of me a white Mustang convertible with four young people in it is probably heading to Stinson Beach. And right before my very eyes I see them throw a beer bottle out the car window onto the side of the road. I cannot believe that in a place as beautiful as this, my home, a human being would consider throwing such trash. I honked and yelled and all I got was the finger. No choice I will ever make will prevent such acts of violence from happening again. I cannot make choices based on what I think might happen but what I know in my heart to be right. And the only way to hear my heart is to go to meditation and quiet my mind.