Vegan Jains appreciate the embodiment of ahimsa in people of all faiths, including the sister traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism. Madhulika and her husband run a small sanctuary in CA, flying under the radar of the farmers around her. On former hunting grounds, they support cows, chickens, goats and other animals, in the hot and dry Northern CA environment. We had the opportunity to tour the sanctuary, speak to her and hear her sing soothing Indian songs to the animals in her care. What a treat! And an inspiration. Photos below. In the video she explains how caring for the animals is spiritual service, consistent with the Hindu teaching that all living beings are a family (Vasudhaiva Kutambukam) and how they teach her great lessons of love, forgiveness and trust.
Yesterday, the Global Jain Network hosted a special program to pray for Thanksgiving. The full recording is here. Many Jains shared stories and reflections, including the meal contemplation that we’ll discuss in this post.
These meal reflections are adapted from The Five Contemplations in the Plum Village tradition, a Zen Buddhist practice led by the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh. They have been continually revised by a thoughtful community and the latest version is described as the New Contemplations before eating. We have added #5 and #6 in keeping with our Jain sentiments. Through the years, the “Jain version” has changed a little (event a little different in the recording compared to what’s written below). The Thanksgiving version calls out turkeys in #6 as objects of large scale slaughter for Thanksgiving. The everyday version includes the animals that are tortured and killed everyday in the form of meat, eggs and dairy products.
Even as we express our sorrow at how the animals and our earth are harmed, we can find joy in a community that shares our purpose to transform our relationship with all beings. Perhaps this joy motivates us to take even more care in our diet and lifestyle to follow our highest ideals of non-violence. Happy Thanksliving! Happy Thanksvegan!
1. This food is the gift of the whole universe: the earth, the sky, numerous living beings and much hard, loving work.
2. May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude to be worthy to receive it.
3. May we recognize and transform our unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed, and learn to eat with moderation.
4. May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that we reduce the suffering of living beings, stops contributing to climate change, and heals and preserves our precious planet.
5. May we ask for forgiveness from all living beings that we may have harmed, intentionally or unintentionally. May peace and compassion grow in ourselves and extend to all around us.
6. May we pray that all the people everywhere in the world will avoid inflicting harm on animals and fellow human beings and practice nonviolence and compassion.
7. We accept this food so that we may nurture our sisterhood and brotherhood, strengthen our community, and nourish our ideal of serving all living beings.
I recently participated in a very interesting conference call organized by a Buddhist organization, Dharma Voice for Animals, featuring Bruce Friedrich as a speaker on how to be an effective advocate for animals. For me the most valuable his points was that by being effective advocates, we multiply the effect we have in the world. As individual vegans, we save many animals, and the more we persuade others, the more we may influence policies and markets that have the potential to save many more animals. This is a link to his talk: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9HcKdrP4xcPZ1NSWWRLaGVxczg/view?ts=5999fb11
How to make the biggest impact in conversations? He recommended to have a truly interactive engagement by asking questions and staying empathetic when talking with non-vegans, using the Socratic method. Another participant shared this YouTube video by another activist on using the Socratic method.
These Five Contemplations by Thich Nhat Hanh resonate so much with me as a Jain that i wanted to share it on this blog:
This food is the gift of the whole universe: the earth, the sky, numerous living beings, and
much hard, loving work.
May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive it.
May we recognize and transform our unwholesome mental formations, especially our greed,
and learn to eat with moderation.
May we keep our compassion alive by eating in such a way that we reduce the suffering of
living beings, preserve our planet, and reverse the process of global warming.
We accept this food so that we may nurture our sisterhood and brotherhood, strengthen our
community, and nourish our ideal of serving all living beings.
Dr. Will Tuttle writes here about why so few spiritual teachers are vegan and mentions the two that have influenced us, as the hosts of this blog, the most: Chitrabhanuji, our foremost teacher of Jainism in the US and Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk teaching mindfulness with Westerners, Vietnamese and others around the globe. See our other posts for more about both of these revered teachers and we would like to acknowledge, too, the teaching of Pramodaben Chitrabhanu, who continues spreading the message of veganism among Jains.
We know of the other vegan spiritual teachers that Dr. Tuttle mentions as well: we’ve eaten at the Loving Hut restaurants that Master Ching Hai inspires. We’ve also been amazed by the videos produced in multiple languages with vegan cooking lessons. And Dr. Gabriel Cousens has inspired friends to run a program to reverse diabetes based on a raw vegan diet based on their experiences at his healing center. Continue reading →
Ajahn Guna of Berkeley Buddhist Monastery discusses how good health and beauty are not commodities but the consequences of generosity, compassion and virtue. Next to him is the producer of the documentary “Got the Facts on Milk?”, an informative and provocative film that we watched and discussed with a break for mindful walking, allowing for people to process the information they received with a fresh state of mind.
This is a prayer that has been used at Vegan Thanksgiving Events. I hope it is meaningful to you on this day.
Tonight we give thanks for the many lives that have contributed to our lives. We also ask for forgiveness from the living beings that we have harmed, intentionally and unintentionally in our food and in other activities of our life.
We give thanks for this vegan meal and the people who have labored to harvest, process, transport and prepare this meal for us. We thank all of our teachers in ancient and modern times who have taught us lessons beneficial for life.
We are grateful for our health and the opportunity to eat with others on this day. We aspire, with compassionate hearts, to use the energy that we gain from this meal and our friends to contribute to the peace and happiness of all living beings.
We hope that all the people of the world will avoid inflicting harm on animals and practice nonviolence and compassion. We express our sorrow at the suffering of all the turkeys and other animals that have died. May peace grow in ourselves and extend to all around us.
At the JCNC 10th Anniversary celebrations a couple of Jain leaders expressed their intention to change the food served at the next JAINA convention to become vegan. They didn’t addressing the styrofoam issue. Both aspects would enable us to realize our practice of ahimsa. Communities from our sister traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism provide some inspiration. Continue reading →