Q.495 ahiMsA

Q: Lord krishna advises Arjuna that Anatma alone is killed. Can meat eaters extend the argument to their killing for food?

A: Matter is anAtma and is inert. It depends for its existence on Brahman.

All life forms manifest Consciousness to some degree. Man is unique in having an intellect that ‘reflects’ Consciousness, enabling self-awareness.

Everything is brahman, being just name and form. Nothing is ever born in reality. Nothing can be ‘killed’ in the sense of destroying Consciousness, which is eternal and unchanging. It is only anAtma that can change its form but it cannot be destroyed either (c.f. conservation of mass-energy).

Within the context of that understanding, therefore, it is a question of ethics, custom, upbringing and so on that dictates one’s attitude to the ‘right to life’ of the various species. Man has to eat to maintain the body and everything that is eaten for that purpose either is or has been alive.

The topic of ahiMsA is key to Jain and Buddhist philosophies. It is not a particular issue in Advaita. Its mention in the Gita is probably rather due to its significance for Yoga philosophy.

Consciousness and Mythology (or, Consciousness, Nausicaa and Ulysses)

“Mythology is the penultimate truth… Its ‘worlds’ and ‘gods’ are levels of reference and symbolic entities which are neither places nor individuals, but states of mind realizable within you.” — Ananda K. Coomaraswamy

If memories are nothing but thoughts, one after another, in the present moment, where alone they can exist, there is no loss – one feels – if most of them, even all of those which are merely personal, disappear altogether as into a dust-bin of useless personal history, a dark corner or recess of things readily forgotten, unclaimed and uncried for. But there are other thoughts, memories, that resist being forgotten. The deeds and trials of valiant, resourceful and noble Ulysses; the feminine beauty and candor of Nausicaa when she first encountered him; the ten years’ efforts and sufferings of the Aecheans (and the Troyans) seemingly helpless in front of the inexpugnable walls of Troya, which ended finally in the destruction of that legendary city; the prowess of swift Achilles, the prudence of Telemacus and the steadfastness, ingenuity and devotion of Penelope.The battle-field of Kurushketra, both armies arrayed for battle while Arjuna ponders what to do in such a painful dilemma… and so many other great deeds of heroic adventure and courageous example – the word epic describes the meaning of it all – whether fact is mixed with fiction, imaginations from the fertile minds of poets… but still unforgettable. Are these, and many others, not imprinted indelibly in mens’ minds across millenia? Are all these also to be lost for ever, thrown into utter oblivion? Can Consciousness Itself bear to ever be separated from such stupendous, towering events as have remained in the minds of men from time immemorial; in men (or minds) who refuse to forget them as the inheritance to which they lay claim – exploits they.aspire to emulate, even if in a lesser, or symbolical form? Well,  this is the lower realm, the realm of contingency, of men’s passions and narrow vision – of deeds of fallible men, even if they be heroes. Things in this world are error-prone, deceitful and ephemeral. And yet… beauty cannot be removed from the best of human acts, feelings, and aspirations. And Beauty is of the eternal. Is this, are these real questions?   A.M.

Reply:

You are preaching to the choir. The beauty of the book 6 of the Odyssey, the encounter of Ulysses and Nausicaa, the first verses and their enchanting rythm
are forever engraved in my memory since I discovered them at age 15. They emanate directly from the Source, to which we return, and which contains them, and all the heroes and gentle souls they speak of. Nothing gets ever lost. There are many rooms in our Father’s mansion, and there is room for all.  Francis Lucille.