Book Excerpt: Chapter One.

This is a large exerpt from the original version of Vegan Paradise/Chapter One.

Chapter One. The Vegan Paradise Paradigm

Elegant Design, Biophilia and the Animal Caretaker Within

 

 “Though Science dreams not as yet of her goal, her feet are on the road from which there is no turning back—the road which Vedanta on a different plane has already trod before it.”

—Sri Aurobindo

Life was meant to be a paradise, a place of daily wonder, peace and happiness for all living creatures—and humankind is coming dangerously close to destroying it. We all know this deep down inside, in the golden inner place which houses our emotions and our souls, although it may be repressed and unconscious. In recent years, as our world’s awareness of the worth and value of all life has grown this past fifty years, more and more people have chosen a vegan lifestyle.

Veganism is the philosophy that the unnecessary torturing and slaughtering of living creatures (including people) is wrong and that one must do whatever one can to save animals (including people) from dying. People who believe this are known as “vegans” (generally pronounced “vee’-gun”, although many prefer it with a short “e” , to rhyme with “pagan”) and have lifestyles which include strict vegetarianism, the humane treatment of animals, protection of wild animal’s natural environments, pacifism and not purchasing/consuming anything created through the unnecessary suffering or dying of animals (or of people).

Donald Watson, who became a strict vegetarian after time  spent as a child on a meat-producing farm, coined the term “vegan” in 1944, in part to explain the reasons he chose to be a conscientious objector in World War Two. He risked time in jail for resisting—but he chose this alternative because he valued life and not being involved with the killing of any living creature, whether human or animal.[1] When he started the Vegan Society to help others learn about the strict vegetarian diet and vegan philosophy, veganism was unheard of, but in recent years it has exploded around the world. Watson was ahead of his time.

Many people have chosen the vegan lifestyle over the past twenty-five years for the same reason as Watson. Other reasons are: animals’ rights, spiritual, mental health (related to the first two, as we shall see), physical health and ecological. Additionally, people in general appear to be achieving higher states of awareness about the value of animal life and about our own inner human needs for mental, physical and spiritual fulfillment thorugh living in harmony with nature and animals. This new psychological or spiritual awareness  is indicative of a cultural paradigm shift which parallels a related shift in science, and which may help save our health, our souls, and our planet.

                                                                                   

BIOPHILIA, THIRD MILLENIUM SCIENCE, AND THE VEGAN REVOLUTION

The recent discoveries regarding the true origins of the universe and the deceptive nature of reality–known variously as New Science or New Age Science (or what we could call Third Millennium Science, to distinguish it from other kinds of relatively new scientific eras)–have caused a profound paradigm shift in science. New discoveries in metaphysics and physics—as well as the new science about altered state of consciousness experiences (epiphanies) in psychology—have lead many with scientific worldviews to believe that a higher power of some kind exists. It is not important to this understanding whether one names that “higher power”–to list only a few–the “Great Spirit”, “Source”, “Mother Nature”, “God”, “Brahma,” the “Tao”, “Gaia”, “Earth Goddess”, “Mother”, “ Divine Consciousness”, “Buddha”, etc).

Psychologists and psychiatrists such as the first American psychologist William James[2][i], Carl Jung[3], and more recently William Miller and Janet c’DeBaca[4] have noted that certain important psychological phenomena, such as spiritual or “peak” experiences, and universal human belief in such a reality, are unexplainable without positing the existence of a “God” of some sort.  Jung also described human emotions, wisdom and behavior which seem to be universal (and which he termed “archetypes”), which are connected to what is often called our “spiritual” element.[5] Similarly, because of unexplainable phenomena such as the “observer effect” , and disappearing-“string”-like realities, many physicists have posited an underlying reality that could be termed a conscious unifying energy or spirit–in other words, a higher intelligence of some kind.

Additionally, and significant for the point to be made here, many highly respected scientists such as Amit Goswami, David Bohm, William Dembski (The Design Inference) [6]and others from disciplines such as biology, neuroscience, and deep ecology would most certainly agree, as it is an assumption of what is often called Elegant Design Theory, or a sort-of natural world “systems theory”—the idea that the  extreme logic and beauty of much of how nature operrates demands that we believe that a higher intelligence of some kind creatively and elegantly designed it.  The “discovery” of this new, higher intelligence, or natural wisdom, indicates a dramatic paradigm shift in science, but has actually—in a different, but significantly similar fashion—been recognized by the spiritual (and their religions) since the dawn of history. Perhaps ,therefore, we are experiencing a change in the way humans view life and reality—hence a new “zeitgeist” or paradigm shift.

Along with the new revolution in science, spiritual teachers of  the modern world also theorize that there is logic in spirituality–and spirituality in logic. Under this new paradigm, there is an underlying consciousness in all matter including biological systems and this higher consciousness is akin to the religious and spiritual concept of an ultimate divine “maker” who designed all natural things. At the same time, religion in the West is beginning to be encouraged to be more open to being logical and scientific in how it explores the possibility of a “Divine” reality (and hence more similar to Eastern religious teaching) .

WHAT WOULD AN INTELLIGENTLY-DESIGNED FOOD SYSTEM LOOK LIKE?

 Because intelligently-designed systems are successful (they “work”),  we can assume that the natural world was designed to “work”.  In other words, our world and biological systems were designed with needs built in (such as animals having fatigue, and thirst), and possibilites for built-in fulfillment of needs (e.g., sleep and water).  Presumably, by living in the ways in which we were designed to live, in harmony with nature, all humans and other species could achieve fulfillment of their needs—material and psychospiritual happiness and a harmonious union with each other and the natural environment, as in the proverbial “paradise” .

This concept is not new, if looked at in a general fashion. In the 1960’s famous psychiatrist Erich Fromm wrote extensively on the subject of our separation from nature and its effects on our psyches (see for example The Humanist Credo) .[7] Then, in the 70’s and 80’s…

…How can we know how we were designed to live? One way is simply through meditation…

…Further, generally, archetypes guide our behavior—how to recognize and behave toward one’s elders, how to be a good lover, friend, and/or teacher—as long as they are not repressed (we will discuss their repression further in a later chapter). The biophilia archetype leads (or motivates) us to desire to live harmoniously with the natural world. Hence, it may be  that through a process of self-reflection or meditation we can “prove” to ourselves the validity of  the theory that we have an archetypal desire to want others (be they people or animal) to live, and live happily, with us.

When I became vegan, it was through a meditation process, following having had my own epiphany as a teenager. I had been meditating informally about various aspects of my life for several years. One day, I simply decided to meditate on how I was meant to eat. In doing so, I had a peak experience in which I realized that a benevolent, and wise food system was in place in our world: the natural food system of plants. It was wise in part because we can receive all of the nutrition we need from plant food and kind because a diet of plant foods–nuts and seeds, legumes, vegetables, grains, and fruits–would not involve the suffering of a sentient being. 

Generally, Indian gurus and yogis recommend that their followers give up meat and anything which causes suffering to other living beings, if they wish to attain enlightenment through meditation and/or yoga. They also teach the Indian concept “ahimsa” which means the philosophy that it is wrong to use violence against other lving beings. Yogis such as Sri Aurobindo also have stated that when one achieves higher states of consciousness through meditation, one naturally becomes more compassionate and so desires to eat less meat[10].

THE ANIMAL-CARETAKER WITHIN OR “FAUNOPHILIA”

Let us discuss here briefly also how we may have been meant to behave towards animals–how we feel inside about that. If we were able to access our deepest emotions, we would probably discover that we all have an archetypal/innate desire/need to live in harmony with animals, as part of our biophilia (innate love of living things).

 

That part of the biophilia archetypal need which pertains to animals (as opposed to trees or plant-life) could possibly be termed faunophilia (taken from the Greek words for love—philia–of animals—fauna) or the “animal-caretaker archetype”, meaning that innate motivator which calls us to want to be in the presence of, and care for–and certainly not to eat–animals.

John Robbins[11], Dr. John McDougall[12], Dr. Will Tuttle and Dr. Peter Singer[13] (among many others) also published prize-winning books over the past twenty years about “going vegan”. They discuss veganism as it relates to ethics, social harmony, and health, beginning a public discussion of how our eating habits interact with animal rights, and social, environmental, and health factors.  These and dozens of other modern thinkers have shown how, often in our complicated modern world, we as individuals suppress our biophilia and/or our faunophilia—which has led to many of our modern health and ecological problems. Our emotional desire to rid ourselves of these problems will call us to begin again living in a natural way, in harmony with all living creatures.

THE BENIGN (DIVINE) DESIGN PARADIGM

This entire bold new philosophic (and/or spiritual) paradigm or theory which could be called the Benign (Divine) Design Paradigm/Theory  (or the Vegan Paradise Paradigm)  for convenience, could help scientists, spiritual leaders and all of us to understand our world better, and could be stated this way:

The earth was designed to be a literal paradise by a higher reality which was both wise and benevolent. Humans and animals were designed to live peacefully with nature and with each other, respecting each others’ rights to life. We will not be happy, or healthy, until we begin to return to our natural paradise.

 

We can also state two facts related to this theory that could be termed “corollaries” of it.

 

Corollary One: The primary implication of the Benign (Divine) Design Theory (if true) is:  A natural food cycle was beautifully designed so that we (and all animals) would thrive eating only plant food—no animal-eating was necessary for human or other animal survival. This system design included a complicated interdependent relationship between humans and animals, plants and seed, water and sunlight, air and soil, (and other parts of the natural world) to produce nourishing plant food. Killing and eating animals and animal products  is a huge digression from our natural state of living in a paradise, the most significant one today, perhaps.

That is, our carnivorism may be the prime example of our disassociation with nature (our paradise). Our separation from nature has theoretically included not only an ancient separation from (and dominance over) animals, but also a theoretical, dramatic ancient switch from an animal-friendly to an animal-eating culture. And the consequences of such slaughter of animals and suppression of our biophilia, in particular our animal-caretaker archetype, have created much human and animal suffering—physical, mental, and social.

We are often admonished by spiritual leaders to think about the deeper reasons for suffering. The Benign Divine Design Theory might help explain the reasons for much current suffering. For example, much of our massive health crises (e.g., the growing rates of heart disease world-wide), mental health problems, and ecological crisis (e.g., global warming) could be seen as a part of a message to our culture to stop ignoring our own inner wisdom, to recognize an underlying intelligent design to the patterns of nature, to meditate upon the nature of our relationship with this higher designing power and with the natural world, and how to improve it. Most importantly perhaps, it is meant to compel us to end the destruction of nature and ALL its living creatures.

In other words, we should be ending the creation and consumption of animal products, or face possibly disastrous consequences (some of which are already occurring). This book will focus on that aspect of the Paradise Paradigm (as opposed to discussing world peace, ending nuclear dangers, or saving the rainforests of our earth at length, although they would also be part of saving paradise). In this workbook, we will work on understanding and saving our relationship with animals, particularly with regard to how we eat. In conclusion, by converting to the vegan diet, humankind would be taking an important step towards recreating paradise on earth.

 

Corollary Two:   Humans were designed to know how we should treat animals, in general; killing them and eating them does not actually come naturally to us. And, although we know the truth of the Paradise or Benign Divine Design theories innately, through the biophilia and faunophilia archetypes, that knowledge is too-often unconscious. It is unconscious, generally,  because of societal repression. By repressing the knowledge that it is generally wrong to kill animals (and humans) as we have for millennia, but expecially so in the past 150 years, we have created a lifestyle which has included, without remorse, the killing of animals (and each other) on a massive scale, and the destruction of the natural world. Further, the suffering associated with animal product consumption will continue to happen with disastrous consequences until we begin to search for, and find within ourselves, wisdom and guidance in the matter of animals and our food, and the meaning of life itself.

In short, The Benign Divine Design Paradigm (more simply, “ Benign Design” or “Vegan Paradise Paradigm”)  hopefully helps bridge the gaps between the spiritual, the scientific and the psychological and could be considered Elegant/Intelligent Design on a “macro” level. Much scientific medical, psychological, anthropological and historical evidence supports it. It is actually a theoretical paradigm which could become a guide stone for psychology, but also possibly to many other scientific and cultural entities.

In summary, human society must begin to accept this paradigm shift and make the changes necessary to create, once again, paradise on earth—for the sake of animals and for peace, as well as for our health, our environment, our collective peace and our peace of mind—to avoid further disaster. One of the first changes may have to be in our diets. If we do not take the first steps soon, we may face unimaginable horrors.

 

SAVING  PARADISE

 

If our culture would truly understand and accept the Benign Design Paradigm, there would be a new philosophical framework for science (which has already naturally started a paradigm shift), as well as for a new ethics and a new religion—a new paradigm that can help save our world, rather than contribute to its destruction. Of course as Eckhart Tolle has stated, we do not want to make anything into an entrenched religion, philosophy or “doctrine”, as dogmas lead to their own problems; we must all be “open to,” or accepting of, others’ perspectives, even if we know that committed veganism is right for ourselves.

If we try to imagine how the Benign Design Paradigm could be evidenced in our current world and in our everyday lives, we discover many interesting facts. We have discussed some of the evidence for the existence of an “intelligent designer”, or an underlying consciousness behind our reality (akin to God, Brahma, the Source, the Great Spirit, etc). Further expansion of,  the theory of Paradise or Benign Divine Design Paradigm would include also these facts and theories, in general:

  • Our bodies —our physical selves—were designed to perform optimally and be most healthy when we are living in harmony with nature and animals. The prime example of this (although there are other examples) would be not killing and eating animals; we avoid diseases this way (such as how veganism helps us avoid major disease killers). The health statistics on heart disease, cancer and diabetes (among many other diet-related diseases) offer overwhelming proof of this (and hence, of the Paradise/Benign Design Theory). (See Chapter 6)

 

  • Furthermore, our natural environment was beautifully, and logically (elegantly) designed to support us abundantly. This might be true, however, only if we would eat plant food as we were meant to. It is the only sustainable way to eat. Raising animals for food is leading not only to immense animal suffering, but also to soil depletion,  soil erosion (desertification), and is a top cause of air and water pollution. Further, world hunger in the developing world is related to the wastefulness of using these areas’ lands to raise animals for food. .(See Chapter 4.)

 

  • Also, many experts are predicting a collapse of the world’s farmers’ ability to feed the planet in the coming years if we continue to farm inorganically and produce animal products the way we do.

 

  • All living creatures (and everything in the cosmos) are connected through this higher reality (we could also here use the terms:  spirits, souls, unconscious, connected consciousness, emotions), and this is one reason we “know” it is wrong to kill animals. Quantum physics, Jungian psychology, radical ecopsychology, and deep ecology all teach us about this unifying energy (as most religions have for millennia)—just in different terms.  That is, our minds—our psychological and spiritual (and to some extent, social) selves—were designed to perform optimally— to be happy and whole—when we are living in harmony with (i.e., not harming) animals—including people, animals and all the beings of the natural world. Humans also have the capability to connect with a “Higher Power”, which is one reason that people can suddenly become painfully aware of all of the feelings about nature and animals that we traditionally suppress in the West. (See chapters 2 and 3.)

 

  • Animals have thoughts and feelings much as humans do, as psychologists are proving. They seem to have been meant to be able to live and be happy—just as much as humans were—without human enslavement. It seems probable that humane cooperation with animals was theoretically part of the design. We appear to have an archetypal understanding of how to cooperate with, and live harmoniously with, animals—an archetype which could be named the animal-caretaker archetype and is part of our biophilia. For example, we naturally desire to take care of orphaned animals, nurse injured animals, to play with animals, to ride on animals such as horses (in a humane way), etc.(See below and Chapter 2 for more on this.)

 

  • It is possible that if we return to the humane use of animals to replace some of our energy needs, the natural world would benefit greatly. Obviously, we would help reduce our dependency on artificial and non-renewable energy. We would also help stop air and water pollution. And through the wise management of animal manure we can create healthier food for ourselves; animal manure, has been shown to be one of the best fertilizers in the world, adding nutrients to our plants that are required for proper nutrition (e.g., Vitamin B12).

 

  • Furthermore, just as meat-eating among humans is bad for our health and mentality, it is bad for animals. Vegetarian species have been shown to be healthier than meat-eating species. It seems difficult to believe, but it may be that the killing of animals and people that is happening in increasing amounts, in the world and in the wild, is not inevitable–it is, put simply, the result of choices, and the learned behavior of the beings of this part of natural history. ..

 

…In conclusion, the truth about the fundamental nature of reality has become one of the ultimate goals both of science and religion, and hence we may need to expand our scientific paradigm to include evidence formerly seen as irrelevant…

…Unfortunately, we have to recognize that the drive for power and money has often perverted not only our true human wisdom and passions, but also valid science, and that this corruption is not to be extinguished easily under the current paradigm. ..

…In all of the darkness that we are experiencing—in increasing physical and mental illness in the world, in tragic childhood disorders such as autism (which we will discuss in the health chapter), and in the traumas of the consequences of environmental destruction and social discord —we can find a beacon of hope to guide us on our way. That is, we can choose to take these lessons to heart—and collectively decide to change our world.

 

 

Questions and Activities

In your opinion, how probable is the truth of Benign Divine Design Theory (the Paradise Principle); i.e., that people were meant to be vegan? What evidence do you have to support your answer.

 

Meditate briefly about how we may have been designed to behave towards animals. Because many of us traditionally have eaten animals and animal products (meat, fish, milk, dairy, and eggs), this meditation must also include thinking about how we were meant to eat, as well as how we were meant to interact with the animal kingdom…

[2] James, The Varieties of Religious Experience

[3] Jung and Jaffe, 1962

[4] Miller and c’De Baca. 2001

[5] Jung, 1934-1954.

[6] Demske, 2009

[7] Fromm, Erich

[8] Wilson, Donald

[9] Macy, Naess, et al

[10] Sri Aurobindo, as quoted on Pondicherry Ashram website

[11] Robbins, John. 1987. Diet for a New America.

[12] McDougall, John. 1991. The McDougall Program.

[13] Singer, Peter. 2006.  In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave.


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