Bringing Heaven Down to Earth
Some people believe that a beautiful existence awaits
us only after we depart this earth and that misery is
simply a part of the basic human condition. Although
it is true that much woe surrounds us, we are each responsible
for the suffering we create within ourselves and for
the distress and sorrow we bring to others. Every moment
we make choices that have a positive or negative impact
on us and those around us. Each of these choices is
like a boomerang -- the love or heartache we give away
is always returned back to us.
Because veganism espouses a reverence for life -- all
life -- it requires practitioners to think about the
impact of their actions and the good or harm their deeds
will cause. Although veganism is not a theology, does
not postulate religious ideology, and welcomes everyone
regardless of spiritual affiliation or belief, veganism
comprises the basic principle of compassion that all
the world's major religions espouse. Beyond this, however,
it provides a clear and practical path for infusing
compassion into every area of daily living, not just
our interactions with other people. Consequently, vegan
practice expands the traditional view of compassion,
taking it out of the realm of theory and putting it
into everyday practice. Veganism was not designed to
be a gateway to the heavenly hereafter. Instead, it
was brought about to help create nirvana in the midst
of our ordinary secular lives.
When compassion is our life's guiding force, it becomes
inconceivable to cause suffering for ourselves or any
other living being. Of course, vegans harbor the same
foibles as other human beings and are no less fallible.
Consequently vegans can make unwise choices, be narrow-minded,
or cause pain unintentionally. Nevertheless, the prime
directive of veganism is to do no harm, and this concise
guideline makes causing harm less likely.
Except for natural disasters, virtually all problems
that we encounter are instigated by our own species.
If we are the root of our struggles, it makes sense
that we must also be the antidote. Veganism offers a
cure for suffering by respecting all life and rejecting
the assumption, regardless of how it may be rationalized,
that some living beings are less valuable than we are
or more or less valuable than others. As a result, not
only does veganism promote peace through eliminating
exploitation, but it fosters harmony by encouraging
practitioners to be charitable and kind. In addition,
because veganism asks followers to include all life
in their circle of compassion, vegans are free from
conflicts of conscience and can avoid the paradoxical
thinking that typically leads to dissension and remorse.
Heaven is often thought of as the most serene place
imaginable and a state that is unattainable on earth.
Still, abundant acts of loving-kindness can create the
tranquility we expect of a paradise, and it can be done
here in the realm of mortal reality. Because veganism
does not relegate compassion to only human beings or
limit it to particular behaviors, it provides the most
viable route for establishing unity among all people,
all nations, and all other species. Also inherent in
the vegan ethic is respect and concern for the earth
and her intricate systems, cycles, airways, waterways,
and abundant plant life.
If we think of heaven in terms of serenity, respect,
cooperation, fairness, and equality, the vegan outlook
and lifestyle combine to make such a place a real possibility.
In fact, it is the only philosophy that takes into account
such a sweeping totality of life. Thus veganism is essential
if universal peace is ever going to evolve. Without
such a perspective, we are doomed to continue living
in the hell of strife and struggle that we humans have
created. However, with a conviction to vegan principles
of compassion and a broad implementation of vegan practices,
people everywhere can allow all living beings to experience
and share in their own piece of heaven -- right here,
right now. In this very moment we have all the tools
we need to transform this earthly plane into a heavenly
delight. It is up to each one of us to create a world
of nirvana for others. In this way we will experience
our own personal bliss and can actually bring heaven
down to earth.
Copyright © 1998-2013 by Jo Stepaniak
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