PYTHAGORAS AND VEGETARIANISM
THE REVENGE OF THE COWS!!
Enlightenment is Your Birthright
PYTHAGORAS’ CONTRIBUTION TO WESTERN PHILOSOPHY IS IMMENSE. It is incalculable. For the first time he introduced vegetarianism to the West. The idea of vegetarianism is of immense value; it is based on great reverence for life.
The modern mind can understand it far better now we know that all forms of life are interrelated, interdependent. Man is not an island: man exists in an infinite web of millions of forms of life and existence. We exist in a chain, we are not separate. And to destroy other animals is not only ugly, unaesthetic, inhuman—it is also unscientific. We are destroying our own foundation.
Life exists as one organic unity. Man can exist only as part of this orchestra. Just think of man without birds and without animals and without fish—that life will be very very boring; it will lose all complexity, variety, richness, colour. The forests will be utterly empty, the cuckoo will not call, and the birds will not fly, and the water will look very sad without the fish.
Life in its infinite forms exists as one organic unity. We are part of it: the part should feel reverence for the whole. That is the idea of vegetarianism. It simply means: don’t destroy life. It simply means: life is God—avoid destroying it, otherwise you will be destroying the very ecology.
And it has something very scientific behind it. It was not an accident that all the religions that were born in India are basically vegetarian, and all the religions that were born outside India are non-vegetarian. But the highest peaks of religious consciousness were known in India and nowhere else.
Vegetarianism functioned as a purification. When you eat animals you are more under the law of necessity. You are heavy, you gravitate more towards the earth. When you are a vegetarian you are light and you are more under the law of grace, under the law of power, and you start gravitating towards the sky.
Your food is not just food: it is you. What you eat, you become. If you eat something which is fundamentally based on murder, on violence, you cannot rise above the law of necessity. You will remain more or less an animal. The human is born when you start moving above the animals, when you start doing something to yourself which no animal can do.
Vegetarianism is a conscious effort, a deliberate effort, to get out of the heaviness that keeps you tethered to the earth so that you can fly—so that the flight from the alone to the alone becomes possible.
The lighter the food, the deeper goes the meditation. The grosser the food, then meditation becomes more and more difficult. I am not saying that meditation is impossible for a non-vegetarian—it is not impossible, but it is unnecessarily difficult.
It is like a man who is going to climb a mountain, and he goes on carrying many rocks. It is possible that even when you are carrying rocks you may reach to the mountain peak, but it creates unnecessary trouble. You could have thrown those rocks, you could have unburdened yourself, and the climb would have been easier, far more pleasant.
The intelligent person will not carry rocks when he is going to the mountain, will not carry anything unnecessary. And the higher he moves, the lighter and lighter he will become. Even if he is carrying something, he will drop it.
When Edmund Hillary and Tenzing reached Everest for the first time, they had to drop everything on the way—because the higher they moved, the more difficult it was to carry anything. Even very essential things were dropped. Just to carry yourself is more than enough.
Vegetarianism is of immense help. It changes your chemistry. When you eat and live on animals…. The first thing: whenever an animal is killed the animal is angry, afraid— naturally. When you kill an animal… just think of yourself being killed. What will be the state of your consciousness? What will be your psychology? All kinds of poisons will be released in your body, because when you are angry a certain kind of poison is released into your blood. When you are afraid, again a certain other kind of poison is released into your blood. And when you are being killed, that is the utmost in fear, anger. All the glands in your body release all their poison.
And man goes on living on that poisoned meat. If it keeps you angry, violent, aggressive, it is not strange; it is natural. Whenever you live on killing, you don’t have any respect for life; you are inimical to life. And the person who is inimical to life cannot move into prayer—because prayer means reverence for life.
And one who is inimical to God’s creatures cannot be very friendly towards God either. If you destroy Picasso’s paintings, you cannot be very respectful towards Picasso — it is impossible. All the creatures belong to God. God lives in them, God breathes in them, they are his manifestation, just as you are. They are brothers and sisters.
When you see an animal if the idea of brotherhood does not arise in you, you don’t know what prayer is, you will never know what prayer is. And the very idea that just for food, just for taste, you can destroy life, is so ugly. It is impossible to believe that man goes on doing it.
Pythagoras was the first to introduce vegetarianism to the West. It is of profound depth for man to learn how to live in friendship with nature, in friendship with creatures. That becomes the foundation. And only on that foundation can you base your prayer, your meditativeness. You can watch it in yourself: when you eat meat, meditation will be found to be more and more difficult.
Buddha was born in a non-vegetarian family. He was a kshatriya — — belonged to the warrior race — but the experience of meditation slowly slowly transformed him into a vegetarian. It was his inner understanding: whenever he ate meat, meditation was more difficult; whenever he avoided meat, meditation was easier. It was just a simple observation.
You will be surprised to know that the greatest vegetarians in the world have been Jainas — but all their twenty-four Masters were born into families of non-vegetarians. They were all warriors; they were brought up as fighters. All the twenty-four Masters of the Jainas were kshatriyas.
What happened? Why did these people who were brought up, conditioned from their very beginning to eat meat, create one day the greatest movement in the world for vegetarianism? Just because of their experiments with meditation.
It is an unavoidable fact that if you want to meditate, if you want to become thoughtless, if you want to become light—so light that the earth cannot pull you downwards, so light that you start levitating, so light that the sky becomes available to you—then you have to move from non-vegetarian conditioning to the freedom of vegetarianism.
Vegetarianism has nothing to do with religion: it is something basically scientific. It has nothing to do with morality, but it has much to do with aesthetics. It is unbelievable that a man of sensitivity, awareness, understanding, love, can eat meat. And if he can eat meat then something is missing—he is still unconscious somewhere of what he is doing, unconscious of the implications of his acts.
But Pythagoras was not heard, not believed—on the contrary, he was ridiculed, persecuted. And he had brought one of the greatest treasures from the East to the West. He had brought a great experiment—if he had been heard, the West would have been a totally different world.
The problem that has arisen today, that we have destroyed nature, would never have arisen. If Pythagoras had become the foundation for the Western consciousness, there would not have been these great World Wars. He would have changed the whole course of history. He tried hard, he did whatsoever he could—it is not his fault. But people are blind, people are deaf; they can’t hear a thing, they can’t understand a thing. And they are not ready to change their habits.
People live in their habits, mechanically they live. And he had brought a message of becoming aware. Great meditative energy would have been released in the West. It would have become impossible to produce Adolf Hitlers and Mussolinis and Stalins. It would have been a totally different world. But still the same old habit persists.
We cannot change human consciousness unless we start by changing the human body. When you eat meat you are absorbing the animal in you — and the animal has to be transcended. Avoid! If you really want to go higher and higher, if you really want to go to the sunlit peaks of your consciousness, if you really want to know God, then you will have to change in every possible way.
You will have to look all around your life, you will have to observe each small habit in detail—because sometimes a very small thing can change your whole life. Sometimes it may be a very simple thing, and it can change your life so totally that it looks almost unbelievable.
Try vegetarianism and you will be surprised: meditation becomes far easier. Love becomes more subtle, loses its grossness—becomes more sensitive but less sensuous, becomes more prayerful and less sexual. And your body also starts taking on a different vibe. You become more graceful, softer, more feminine, less aggressive, more receptive.
Vegetarianism is an alchemical change in you. It creates the space in which the baser metal can be transformed into gold.
THE SECOND THING that Pythagoras also introduced into Western consciousness was the idea of reincarnation. That too is somehow related with vegetarianism. You will be surprised again: all the vegetarian religions believe in reincarnation, and all the non-vegetarian religions believe only in one life. This can’t be just a coincidence.
In India, Brahminism, Jainism, Buddhism are the three great religions. They differ in every possible way—their ideologies are so different that you cannot find more different ideologies anywhere. Hindus believe in God, they believe in the soul. Jainas don’t believe in God—a tremendously fundamental thing—a religion without God. Buddhists don’t even believe in the soul—no God, no soul. You cannot imagine a religion without God and without the soul. Such are their differences.
But about one thing they are all agreed, and that one thing is the idea of reincarnation, rebirth. Even Buddha, who does not believe in the soul, agrees with it. It looks very absurd— how can there be rebirth if there is no soul? He does not believe in a soul but he believes in a continuum. He says: Just as you light a candle in the evening, in the morning when you are blowing it out can you say it is the same flame that you had started in the evening? It is not the same— and yet somehow it is connected. The flame has been changing the whole night, the flame was disappearing the whole night —it was disappearing into smoke and a new flame was replacing it each moment. In fact the movement was so quick, that’s why you couldn’t see the gaps. There has been a continuum—a constant change, but very quick and fast—one flame being replaced by another, the whole night.
So when in the morning you are putting the candle out, it is not the same flame that you had started—although it looks almost the same. The first flame and the last are connected— they are part of one chain, one process—but you cannot say that there has been one flame, one soul.
That is the Buddhist idea of reincarnation: the continuity continues but individuals disappear—there is no individual soul. But still Buddha believed in reincarnation. Jainas believe in reincarnation, Brahmins believe in reincarnation.
But Jews, Christians and Mohammedans don’t believe. Those are the three great religions which were born outside India. How did it happen that all three Indian religions stumbled upon the fact of reincarnation?—although they don’t agree in any other matter. Why do they agree about one thing? They could not disagree. From where did this experience come to them?
And you will be surprised—the answer is vegetarianism.
When a person is utterly vegetarian he can easily remember his past lives. His clarity is such that he can look into his past lives. He is not gross, his energy is not blocked, his energy moves easily. His river of consciousness can penetrate to the ancientmost times; he can go backwards as much as he wants.
The consciousness of a non-vegetarian is blocked—in many ways. He has been accumulating gross matter in himself. That gross matter functions as a barrier. That’s why all the three religions that were born outside India, and have remained non-vegetarian, could not come to the idea of reincarnation. They could not experience it.
Pythagoras lived in India, lived the life of a vegetarian, meditated deeply, became aware of the past lives, could see himself moving backwards. He could understand what Buddha means when he says, “Once I was an elephant, once I was a fish, once I was a tree.”
The idea of evolution has been here in the East for ever— and in a far more subtle way than it has been given to Western science by Darwin. Darwin’s idea is very raw: he says monkeys have become man— although Darwinians have not yet been able to prove it, because they are still searching for the link between the monkey and the man. And the problem arises: why did only a few monkeys become men? What happened to other monkeys? And monkeys are basically imitators — if a few monkeys had become men then all the monkeys would have imitated. What happened to the other monkeys? Great imitators they are—why only a few men?
And the monkeys are still there! Thousands and thousands of years have passed and monkeys are still monkeys. And you don’t come across a monkey suddenly becoming a man…one fine morning he wakes up and he is a man. Nobody has ever seen this miracle happen.
The question is: where are the links between monkey and man?—and the difference is great, it is not small.
Just the other day somebody asked, “John Lilly has said that man is not the only being on the earth who has consciousness; there are other beings too who have more consciousness than man.” The questioner has asked, “Is it true? Is John Lilly right?”
But those other animals have not discovered man yet—it is John Lilly who discovers those other animals. It is man who goes on discovering. Certainly the discoverer has more consciousness than the discovered. Even if we find some day that some animal has a great, evolved brain, we are the discoverers. That great brain has not discovered us just.
There are animals who are very evolved, but nobody is as evolved as man. And the difference is big! John Lilly has been working on dolphins, and he thinks that dolphins have a far better evolved consciousness. If you just meet John Lilly some time, tell him that dolphins have not discovered him— he has discovered dolphins. And the discoverer has more consciousness, obviously.
Dolphins are not saying anything about themselves—it is a man who is saying something about dolphins. They cannot even prove something about themselves. Dolphins are beautiful people, and Lilly is on the right track, but dolphins don’t have a higher consciousness than man. They have not produced Buddhas, Patanjalis, Pythagorases—not even a John Lilly.
The Western concept of evolution, the Darwinian concept of evolution, is very gross. The Eastern idea of evolution is very subtle. It is not a question of the body of a monkey becoming the body of man—it has never happened; of the body of a fish becoming the body of man—it has never happened. But the inside of the fish goes on growing; it goes on changing from one body to another.
The growth, the evolution, has not happened from body to body: the growth has been happening in consciousness. When a monkey attains to a certain consciousness, the next birth will be that of man not of a monkey. He will die as a monkey and will be born as a man. The evolution is not going to happen in the body of the monkey itself. That body has been used by the soul—or whatever you call it, the continuum— the body of the monkey has been used, now the soul is ready to take a better body, a body where more possibilities of growth will become available.
The soul moves from one animal to another animal. The bodies are not evolving, but souls are evolving. The candles are not evolving, but the flames go on jumping from one candle to another. The flame goes on rising higher and higher. The evolution is of consciousness, not of the material, physiological body. That is where Darwin missed the whole point.
But in the East for at least ten thousand years we have been aware of it. The awareness came through meditation and the awareness was based in vegetarianism—because people started remembering their past lives.
It was a basic technique with both Buddha and Mahavira: whenever a disciple was to be initiated, the first thing that both Buddha and Mahavira required was that he had to go into his past lives. Great methods were developed so that one could move into past lives.
And once you start moving into past lives, this life will be utterly transformed. Why? Because once you see that all the stupid things that you are doing now, or wanting to do, you have been doing for many many lives… you have done those same things many times, and each time nothing was attained.
For example, if you are mad after money and then you remember that in the past life also you were mad after money, and you had succeeded, and you had become a rich man, a very rich man, and then you died… and all that richness and all that wealth was of no use. It was taken away by death, and you died as empty as ever, as poor as ever. And you remember even before that: you were a king and you had a great kingdom. And still you were frustrated, and still you lived in misery, and you died in misery. And again you are doing the same and hankering for more money? It will become impossible. The longing will simply fall flat on the ground. How can you go on repeating the same stupid thing again and again if you can remember? You can go on repeating the same stupidity again and again if you cannot remember.
The idea of reincarnation is not a philosophical idea: it is an experience, it is utterly scientific. People have remembered their lives.
When you have grown a little deeper into meditation… we are going to do all those techniques here too. But those techniques will require that you be absolutely vegetarian, otherwise you will not be able to go beyond this life. Your mind cannot move—it has to be so light, featherlight, that it can simply pass from one existence into another. And the lighter it is, the deeper it goes.
It can not only remember that you were a man in the past life—slowly slowly, you will remember that you have been animals. And, sometimes, when the depth grows, you will remember that you have been trees, rocks. You have lived for millennia in many forms. And if you remember that once you were a fish, it will become difficult for you to eat fish.
Vegetarianism leads you into remembering your past lives. And knowing your past lives, you become more and more a vegetarian—because seeing that all are brothers and sisters, the whole existence, you cannot kill animals. It becomes simply impossible! Not that you have to prevent yourself; it simply becomes impossible.
Pythagoras was a real adventurer. Alexander the Great also came to India, he also took away many things from India, but they were useless things—diamonds and emeralds and gold. That’s what Alexander the Great took away from India—useless things. Pythagoras was a real seeker. He gathered real diamonds, real emeralds: diamonds of consciousness, emeralds of consciousness. And these were two tremendously significant, tremendously pregnant approaches—that of vegetarianism and the idea of reincarnation.
Once it happened: Pythagoras saw somebody hitting a dog. He said, “Do not hit him!” to the man who was beating the dog. “It is the soul of a friend of mine. I recognized it when I heard it cry out.”
Now this looks utterly ridiculous to a Western mind, to the Western scientific attitude. Even in those old days, people must have laughed: “What nonsense he is talking about! — ‘Don’t beat the dog because I have recognized a friend.'” He was simply trying to teach the idea of reincarnation in every way possible.
And the third thing: he was, again, the first to introduce the concept that life is a wheel—a wheel of birth and death. The wheel goes on moving and we go on clinging to the wheel. And the wheel is repetitive; again and again it will move on the same track. Nothing new will ever happen. Birth will come, you will become young, you will be full of sex and great desires, and then you will be spent and you will be old, diseased, ill, sick, frustrated, tired. And then death… and again birth… and so on and so forth.
Each birth brings a death, each death brings a birth. It is a vicious circle, and the wheel goes on moving. In India the word for the world is samsara. Samsara means ‘the wheel’. Youth or childhood or old age are just spokes of the wheel, and we go on clinging to the wheel and the wheel goes on moving — as everything else moves in the world. The earth moves around the sun, and the sun also moves around some unknown sun. And the moon moves around the earth, and earth and moon both move around the sun, and the sun around some other sun, and so on and so forth. And all the stars are moving…. And everythingis moving in a circle! Seasons move in a circle.
Life is a wheel and the wheel is repetitive. You will never reach anywhere if you go on clinging to the wheel. In the East it has been a known fact that we have to jump out of the wheel — only then are we free. To be free from this wheel of birth and death is to have freedom. Then you simply are. Then you are not moving.Then there is no past and no future but only the present. Then now is the only time and here the only space.
That is the state of nirvana, moksha—freedom. That is the real kingdom of God. One simply is… all turmoil gone, all storms finished, and there is absolute silence. In that silence there is a song, in that silence there is music—unheard music, unstruck music. In that silence is joy, in that silence is bliss. And that bliss is eternal, it never changes.
All change is if you are clinging to the wheel. If you drop out of the wheel, all change disappears. Then you are here and always here.
That state is the real search of all trueseekers: how to get out of this wheel of birth and death, how to enter into life eternal where no birth ever happens and no death either, where nothing begins and nothing ends, where all simply is—how to enter into this God. Just the other day, I was saying God means ‘that which is’… how to enter into that which is? These are the sutras by which to enter into that which is.