WHY ARE ALL YOUR DISCIPLES VEGETARIAN?
I do not believe in vegetarianism, because I do not believe in anything.
My disciples are vegetarian not as a cult, not as a creed. They are vegetarians because their meditations make them more human, more of the heart, and they can see the whole stupidity of people killing living beings for their food. It is their sensitivity, their aesthetic awareness that makes them vegetarians.
I don’t teach vegetarianism; it is a by-product of meditation. Wherever meditation has happened, people have become vegetarian, always, for thousands of years.
The oldest religion in the world is Jainism. It is a small religion, that’s why not much is known to the outside world; it exists only in India. Jainism has no God; hence, there is no possibility of prayer.
When God and prayer are discarded, then what is left for a religion? God is somewhere outside, your prayer is addressed to someone outside. Discarding God and prayer you are really saying, ”I would like now to go inward.” And meditation is a way of going inward.
For thousands of years Jainas have been vegetarians. You have to know this fact, that all their twenty-four teachers – they call them tirthankaras, their messiahs – came from the warrior caste. They were all meat-eaters. They were professional warriors. What happened to these people?
Meditation transformed their whole vision. Not only did their swords fall from their hands, their warriorhood disappeared, but a new phenomenon started happening: a tremendous feeling of love towards existence. They became absolutely one with the whole. Vegetarianism is just a small part of that great revolution.
The same happened in Buddhism. Buddha did not believe in God, did not believe in prayer.
I want you to understand it: the moment God and prayer are discarded, the only thing that is left is to go in. Buddha also was from the warrior caste, son of a king, trained to kill. He was not a vegetarian. But when meditation started blossoming in him, just as a by-product the vegetarian idea came into his being: you cannot kill animals for eating, you cannot destroy life. While every kind of delicious food is available, what is the need to kill living beings?
This is nothing to do with religion. This is simply to do with your sensitiveness, your aesthetic understanding.
Jainism and Buddhism are the only religions without God and without prayer, and both automatically became vegetarian. The same is happening to sannyasins.
Christianity is not vegetarian, Mohammedanism is not vegetarian, Judaism is not vegetarian – for the simple reason that these religions never came across the revolution that meditation brings. They never became aware of meditation.
They went on praying to a fictitious God – which brings no transformation in life, because he does not exist. Your prayers are just addressed to the empty sky. They never reach anywhere, they are never heard by anyone, they are never going to be answered. There is nobody to answer them. All the religions that have remained hooked with the idea of God have remained meat-eaters. So this is a simple phenomenon to understand.
Why are my sannyasins vegetarians? We don’t enforce vegetarianism, we are not concerned with it. My Sannyasins are not like George Bernard Shaw and his Fabian Society, where vegetarianism was a religion. Neither George Bernard Shaw knows anything about meditation, nor does his Fabian Society. They are just eccentric people who want to do something different from everybody else so they look better, they look higher, they look holier. Vegetarianism is their philosophy.
It is not my philosophy, it is simply a by-product. I don’t insist upon it. I insist upon meditation. Be more alert, more silent, more joyful, more ecstatic, and find your innermost center. Many things will follow of their own accord; and when they come of their own accord, there is no repression, there is no fight, no hardship, no torture.
But if you live vegetarianism as a religion or a philosophy, you will be continually hankering for meat, continually thinking, dreaming of meat, and your vegetarianism will be just a decoration for your ego.
With me, meditation is the only essential religion.
And everything that follows it is virtue, because it comes of its own accord. You don’t have to drag it, you don’t have to discipline yourself for it. I have nothing to do with vegetarianism, but I know that if you meditate you are going to grow new perceptivity, new sensitivity, and you cannot kill animals.
Have you observed one fact? – that the vegetarian societies have the most delicious kinds of foods. The Buddhists, the Jainas – they have the best dishes in the world, for the simple reason that through their meditations they had to drop meat-eating. They became more inquiring into delicious food so they didn’t miss meat, on which they had been brought up from their childhood – it had become almost their second nature.
Excerpted From Death To Deathlessness CH: 32