Thursday, September 19, 2019

An Exquisite Article on Animal Minds

"There now appears to exist, alongside the human world, a whole universe of vivid animal experience. Scientists deserve credit for illuminating, if only partially, this new dimension of our reality. But they can’t tell us how to do right by the trillions of minds with which we share the Earth’s surface. That’s a philosophical problem, and like most philosophical problems, it will be with us for a long time to come

"Apart from Pythagoras and a few others, ancient Western philosophers did not hand down a rich tradition of thinking about animal consciousness. But Eastern thinkers have long been haunted by its implications—especially the Jains, who have taken animal consciousness seriously as a moral matter for nearly 3,000 years."

I hope you will read and enjoy this beautiful piece.

May all beings be well and happy. 

Saturday, June 29, 2019

A Philosphical Mistake

When considering our relationship with (or "to") animals, many people make this common philosophical mistake: asserting that humans are in some meaningful way more important than animals.

In her new book, “Fellow Creatures: Our Obligations to the Other Animals,” Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Philosophy Christine Korsgaard makes the case that humans are not inherently more important than animals and therefore should treat them much better than we do.

In an interview about her new book, the professor explains:

“Some people think that humans are just plain more important than other animals. I ask: More important to whom? We may be more important to ourselves, but that doesn’t justify our treating animals as if they’re less important to us, any more than the fact that your family is more important to you justifies you treating other people’s families as if they are less important than yours.”

Very glad she’s written a book about the equality of animals. May more and more people wake to this reality we all share.

May all beings be well.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Two Articles

Here is an article about switching to a vegan diet without pressure or guilt. This might be helpful to you or someone who may be considering taking up veganism.

And here, a thought-provoking article on advocating for animals in terms of "animal welfare" and "animal rights".

Whatever your own views, I know you wish and pray as I do...

May all beings be well and happy, free of suffering and the causes of suffering.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Saint Thomas Aquinas and Biovinity

Thomas Aquinas - whom the Catholic Church regards as a saint and model teacher for the priesthood - insisted that “A mistake in our thinking about nature results in a mistake in our thinking about God." Further, “The opinion is false of those who assert that it makes no difference to the truth of the faith what anyone holds about creatures, so long as one thinks rightly about God. For error about creatures spills over into false opinion about God, and takes people’s minds away from God, to whom faith seeks to lead them.” For Aquinas meditation on creatures leads us to behold the wisdom of God.

Biovinity is the acknowledgement that all creatures, great and small, are living manifestations of the One All-Pervading and Divine Reality (God, or Unity). To intentionally harm any being, directly or indirectly (such as happens by supporting industries that harm animals) is equivalent to intending to harm Divinity itself.

May all beings be happy and well.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

A Message from RZA

I hope you feel moved, as I feel, watching this brief video (no harm to animals shown)

May all beings be well and happy.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Finally Free

Friends, please see this brief (2 min.) video of animals being freed.

Inspired by it, Parvati posted to Facebook:

"Living and loving live beings...  Not your mother, not your meal, not your entertainment, not yours to test on and abuse! Respect for the life of one is respect for the lives of all. Lack of respect for one life is lack of respect for all lives!"

May all beings be happy and free of suffering and the causes of suffering. SVAHA

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

This Will Make You Vegan in 2 Minutes

Watch and see. (No animals harmed, no violence against animals shown.)

If you love your pets, if you love animals, please consider not harming other animals.

May all beings be well and happy, free from suffering and the causes of suffering.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


Do I believe in ‘reincarnation’ in the sense of a being, her/his personality, reappearing in another body after death, as if the true being is not the body, but a bodiless and lasting being that has desires or a destiny yet unfulfilled?

I generally plead agnostic. And, I feel confident that no one who does not have that kind of direct experience of continuity can know for certain, either.

True, I have tendencies and interests that seem inexplicable by this life’s experiences alone. And there are examples – like child prodigies – that are even harder to explain. Then there are the many Tibetans who have died, left signs about where they would come again, and then have been found and their identities verified through quite rigorous tests given by those who knew them before. I have no direct experiences like this.

But there is one thing that cuts me to the quick.

Every orphaned dog that comes to my attention, I gaze deeply into his/her eye, looking hard for any sign it could be Tenzin trying to come home. If it’s true and he were – and I missed it because I didn’t want to believe it – that would be a great tragedy.

I guess this means love has made me a believer.

May all beings be well and happy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Happy Holidays?

Let's make Happy Holidays for ALL beings!

May all beings be well and happy.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Parliament Speaks for Animals

I am so happy to report that for the first time in the 125 year history of the Parliament, there was a clear and strong emphasis on Veg/Veganism from start to finish. Some 7,500 people attended and heard these messages delivered from Unitarians, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs and many other representatives of Wisdom Traditions.

The Sikh community again served veg langar each day and were warmly appreciated, receiving the greatest gratitude from the all attendees.

In one well attended session concerning an exploration of ethics relative to addressing climate change, clear cases presented from each panelist ranged the spectrum from animal agriculture’s devastating effects on our planet's and our human health, to the need to recognize all living beings as sacred and treat them accordingly. A special emphasis was on being clear that we include animals every time we pray for “all beings" in whatever way we make such prayers. In an especially passionate speech, the Rabbi David Rosen referenced Hebrew scripture as he called for us all to rise to meet “our religious responsibility” to not abuse animals and to adopt a strictly plant-based diet for the sake of the Earth and all its inhabitants. Among this power packed panel that included the Rev. Michael Beckwith and Dr. Vandana Shiva – each in turn amplifying the case for vegetarian/veganism - the Hindu Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati (who serves on the Parliament Board) got the crowd of hundreds to stand and vow that we will work toward making the next Parliament the first to be all Veg/Vegan, in order to show the strongest commitment to the Parliament’s efforts toward protecting our declining Earth’s health and her animal and human populations.

Many felt it to be among the most moving, compelling and important sessions of the week.

May all beings be well and happy.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Tibetan Dharma and Animals

I just completed a 7-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat.

This Drikung Kagyu lineage retreat center hosts many Buddhist groups, including Spirit Rock Insight Meditation retreats. In the dining hall, I was interested to find a laminated document on the wall over the tea and coffee service suggesting 10 Virtues to cultivate.

Number one is "Protect the lives of all sentient beings."

During a Q & A period, I asked the retreat master if he would say more about protecting sentient beings.

He answered that it means to have the wish that all beings be happy and therefore to offer help to human beings as well as to animals. He gave examples about how humans can protect animals, including purchasing cows destined for slaughterhouses in order to give them sanctuary and save their lives. In the same breath, he described putting fishes back into water if their water home has dried to the point they may be exposed to the air, unable to live.

Another retreatant said that this made her wonder about vegetarianism, about eating animals who are sentient beings.

The Kkenpo's answer to this was unequivocal on the Dharmic view. He explained that it is not ethical to take the lives of living beings, certainly not because of any "desire," so "best thing, we don't want to eat meat." He offered that he himself is vegetarian, then went on to explain that in cases where eating animals is medically or otherwise necessary for a person to survive, then in that case, that person should feel great compassion for the animal's suffering, thank the animal and make strong prayers for it (OM mani padme hum, for example).

Khenpo Tenzin added that we should not criticize those who eat meat, and he summarized his answer by restating: "Best way is to be vegetarian."

The Venerable Khenpo Tenzin

The title of Khenpo is given to those who have a degree for higher Buddhist studies in Tibetan Buddhism. The Venerable Khenpo Tenzin has a PhD. in Buddhist philosophy, among other accomplishments.

May all beings be happy and not be separated from the causes of happiness.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Animals And The Buddha

This film includes interviews by several Buddhist teachers from many traditions sharing perspectives on the Dharma, on what Buddha taught about the ethics of eating animals.

The film contains some images that viewers may find disturbing, but these are few and not the focus of the film.

May all beings be well and happy, free of suffering and the causes of suffering.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Dharma Voices for Animals

"Dharma Voices for Animals (DVA) is an organization of those committed both to practicing the teachings of the Buddha (the Dharma) and to speaking out when animal suffering is supported by the actions of those in Dharma communities and by the policies of Dharma centers. We want to be the voice of the animals who cannot speak..."

"DVA Chapters play a vital role in fulfilling Dharma Voices for Animals’ mission of bringing awareness of the suffering of animals to the Dharma community. Located throughout the world ..."
I joined without hesitation.

Recently, two retreat opportunities arose for me. 

I asked the registrar for one whether the retreat would be veg only. The reply: No, there will be some "animal protein" [read: meat]. I explained that I no longer attend events for which animals are killed (meaning, meat is served), and I received a kind, understanding reply.

Hours later, I asked the same question of the other registar, again explaining my position. This time, much to my surprise and delight, the registrar said she would ask the retreat master and get back with me. About 20 minutes later, she called back to report that the Khenpo had agreed to make the entire retreat veg only!

In later discussion with the leader of the first retreat, during which I described the above, he said he'd consider making it veg if I were to decide to come.

Both of these are spiritual retreats at which prayers are made daily: "May all beings be well and happy...."  It's sad that I have to ask that no animals be killed, but I feel happy that one agreed and that the other would consider it.

In that conversation, the leader offered: "You could attend, but not partake [of eating meat at meals]." I countered: If I invited you to an event I was hosting and explained that we will be serving humans, would you come? It feels like that for me when animals are on the table.

This is true But my greater objection centers around the fact that if I pay to attend an event for which animals are killed, even if I do not participate directly by eating them, my money has gone to support that violence. I can no longer do that.

Mostly, I feel that conducting a retreat without harming animals should not be about whether I will be there, but whether harming animals is consistent with the purpose of the retreat and its greater message, which - in both of these cases - I understand to be about awakening Compassion and actualizing kindness in order to be of greater benefit to all beings. 

May all beings be happy and well, free from suffering and the causes of suffering.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Breath of Fresh Air

This is refreshing. Here's an exchange on Twitter that went really well for a change!

Someone tweeted: Do vegans get hungry while mowing lawns??

Another replied: Do carnists get thirsty when drawing blood?

I said: Spot on! Do carnists look at animals and think "yum"? ...Cows? Pigs? Horses maybe? Dogs? All probably pretty tasty!

Shane replied (and continued with me in this) > Well I know hunters that do.

I replied: Probably deer, but not cats and dogs would be my guess. I bet they never wonder about that.

> Deer, Moose and Reindeer. I guess fisherman would look at some fish and shrimp this way too. But no not things like cats and dogs. I’m from Alaska where hunting can be a way of life.

"Way of life" sounds like a way to live that is necessary. Why would hunting, fishing - or, for that matter, eating animals - be necessary? My guess is that it comes closer to habituation, enculturation...or business. When those things cause suffering, we need to look closer.

>It’s culture and tradition, some see things as a rite of passage, then there is subsistence hunting and fishing. Which not everyone is familiar with.

Yes, surely. How many of those ideas involve careful consideration of the animals' feelings, or how their deaths may affect their mates or offspring, or their pack?

If a person kills an animal without sincere consideration for the animal's feelings (pain, fear, suffering) and the loss this may cause to dependent offspring or mate, it is not conscious and therefore can't be "humane" in any sense.

> So do you expect that everyone should change their cultures and customs? I’m genuinely curious, no argument and I’m not bashing at all. I have several friends that are vegan and I don’t give them any grief, it’s their choice and I respect that.

If someone asks the animal being killed whether they want to be killed, and they agree, then it's ok. If not, it is unethical. It's not about what I expect. It is that an unethical person cannot be happy, and I want all beings to be happy.

Taking the life of another may be conscious if it is directly necessary for survival in that moment, and no other unneeded killing or harm takes place. It could only be "humane" if it is some kind of mercy killing intended to directly help that being. How many think of this?

I don't support murder in any form. Killing only in the very rare case that it would be the last resort to help relieve the suffering of either an animal or a human. Killing someone who does not want to die is indeed murder, which is a crime.

Hard to give vegans grief, because they are trying to limit harm. The one who kills a being that does not want to be killed... it's not their "personal" choice, because [their choice] does not take into account the wishes of the one being killed. I can't respect that, if done unnecessarily.

> I can respect that answer so much, and I sincerely appreciate your consistency with your convictions. It’s far too often people are not consistent, but you, you very much are and that’s very admirable. I don’t know you, but I sense you are good people.

Thank you, Shane, for your kind words. I also feel that sense about you, based upon your thoughtful and considerate messages, ideas and questions. This is a breath of fresh air on an internet rife with so much animosity. Thank you!

PS: Since we are discussing hunting I feel it is important to recognize that some people may need to kill to survive. Many - such as most (if not all) Indigenous people - do have intimate connections with the animals and do understand the effects on their relations. There is much we can learn from them.

May all beings be free of suffering and the causes of suffering.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

What Do You Think?

Which is more effective to save the planet and protect animals in the long run? 

Go vegan, or don't have children?

If we do all we can to help vegan, reduce plastic use, etc...then we have children, if those children do not do the same or better, in effect it cancels out our own best efforts, no?

One of my mentors says more people are comfortable with the idea of not having kids (to help save the planet, etc.) than to consider being vegetarian or vegan.

These are important questions we need to consider.

May all beings be well.

Monday, June 25, 2018

No Feelings

May all beings be well and happy.

A Friend's Questions

A dear friend asked about my vegan perspective, specifically:

No wool, unless from your own personal sheep? How does one survive freezing temps with cotton and hemp?

My replies:



A sincere and caring person, she asked some other great questions. This is the rest of my response to her:

Workers being harmed is not a specifically vegan issue. It’s a human issue,
so I try to be careful about that, too.

We probably shouldn’t stop being concerned about the well-being of others.
That is a kind of death of the heart. (There’s a lot of that going around.)

We can’t have 100% information, but we can have enough to make ethical/moral
decisions – enough to at least illuminate our trajectory – then we do the
best with can with ample forgiveness for our shortcomings, and those of
others, too.

Awfulness against animals stops when humans stop being awful to animals.
There will be no endpoint to my own advocating for that, so long as I am
able. At the very least, I refrain from perpetrating harm as best I can,
toward all beings. Living by example turns out to be great advocacy – and
actually, directly saves lives, harm and suffering -, without much
additional effort needed.

Yes, anything we can/may choose to do! We can’t do it all, we do what we can
with what we have to offer. We can hope to be of greater and greater
benefit, then be at ease that our intention is good.

My two cents, anyway. :-)

May all beings be well and happy.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Which Ones Are Okay To Eat?

We abhor the killing of dogs for food at the Yulin Dog Meat festival, in part because the dogs are tortured before being killed and eaten.

I don't watch a lot videos, and yet I have seen many videos with people willfully torturing animals large and small in factory farms. From the dog, cow, pig or chicken's perspective, it is all misery. 

Why do we want to help some but not all? We need to ask ourselves hard questions.

May all beings, without exception, be happy and free.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

We'll Miss You, Koko

Koko the gorilla, who is said to have been able to communicate by using more than 1,000 hand signs, has died in California at the age of 46.

Koko forever changed the way we think about animal intelligence, sensitivity and feelings.
Rest in Peace, Koko.

See Koko with Mr. Rogers in "Won't You Be My Neighbor" and "It's You I Like."

All gorillas are "Kokos" and have the same natural capacity for communication and empathy. Visit

May all beings be free.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

William Blake

William Blake understood "Biovinity" where he wrote:

“Everything that lives is Holy 

 Life delights in life." 

May all beings be well and happy.