For many years meat-eaters have tried to cure me of my vegetarian views by advising me that animals, unlike people, have no souls and therefore it is OK to kill and eat them. “God put them on this earth for us to eat. That’s what animals are for,” they conclude.
Rational people, on the other hand, know that the animals on the earth today evolved over millions of years and are with us because they were able to fill a niche in the ecosystem and survive. There is no evidence for the proposition that a highly intelligent creator-being created cows, pigs, chickens, fish and other such animals for the purpose of providing a food supply to humans. Fantastic claims require fantastic proof and the religionists offer no proof whatsoever to support their fantastic beliefs.
But there is plenty of proof that people who treat animals with kindness are much healthier and live longer than animal eaters. But those of us who practice Zen don’t avoid animal food for that reason. We let animals and people live because kindness is our religion.
The Pope is infallible and when he speaks, he speaks for that sky-god that irrational people believe in. The sky-god is all powerful but not powerful enough to speak to us directly so he is channeled through the Pope.
And now (during the Christmas season of 2014) we have learned from their sky god, as channeled by their infallible Pope, that animals have souls and that they will be with the saved in heaven. (Only a body with a soul, they have been teaching for centuries, can die and return to life to receive a reward or a punishment).
The Pope is therefore leaning toward Zen because one of the central teachings of Buddhism is that all sentient beings have Buddha nature. All sentient beings are capable of enlightenment. The Zen school takes a more radical approach and teaches that all sentient beings are already enlightened (without realizing it; like having a stack of gold bullion in a closet and being unaware that we are rich).
But if it was OK to kill animals because they had no soul, doesn’t that mean it is no longer OK to kill them, now that the all-knowing sky god has revealed that he created the animals with a soul so that they, too, could die and be resurrected thereafter?
And if it is now not OK to kill animals because they have souls, what new theory can the Church advance to justify the slaughter, in the prime of life, of perfectly healthy, soul-filled animals? The new theory is disclosed in the penultimate paragraph of this post. (“Penultimate” means next-to-last, for our West Virginia readers…that’s where I’m from, so I’m allowed to kid them).
Why do people feel troubled when they see a dog or cat mistreated yet don’t blink an eye over the slaughter of ten billion “food animals” per year in the United States?
Why do highly paid celebrities show mistreated dogs and cats in cages and beg TV viewers to send in $19.00 per month to put an end to such mistreatment? Why do they deny “food animals” the right to life that they grant to dogs and cats?
There is no such thing as a “food animal” and there is no sky-god who created them for the purpose of being eaten by humans. If the Pope was a great man, that would be his message. Instead his message is that “pet” animals have souls, not non-pet animals. And that’s the new theory that will allow religionists to continue slaughtering soulless animals, i.e., animals that are not pets. But at least the Pope has leaned a little toward kindness, and such leaning is in the direction of Zen wisdom.
So if you raise a cheetah from birth so that it doesn’t eat you when it’s full grown, you have conferred a soul upon your pet cheetah, but the wild cheetahs remain soulless. If that is the way the latest revealed truth about animals works, the Pope and the sky-god are nuts. But we knew that already…