When empathy arises, apathy falls away.
When compassion arises, cruelty falls away.
While having a vegetarian lunch with Geshe Dorji Damdul (an appointed translator of H.H. the Dalai Lama) last Sunday with the good company of Dharma friends, the strictly vegetarian Venerable shared an interesting account of how he urged someone at a hospital to turn vegetarian instantly. Once, during a medical check-up, there was the need to insert a long needle into his lungs from the chest. Despite there being anesthesia used to minimise the discomfort, there was still intense pain felt. What made it more frightening was that a wrong insertion would warrant another – till the position is just right. After the procedure, as there was remnant pain, he had to lie down to rest for a while. A nurse was tending to him, with whom he chatted.
He remarked that the pain made him think about how much more pain animals have to suffer when they are being slaughtered for human consumption. What he experienced was just the prick of a single thin needle point, and it was already very difficult to endure. How much more horrifically painful it must be, for, say, chickens, who gets their throats slashed with a butcher knife… without any anesthesia! He must have shared his sentiments in a very sincere and heartfelt manner, because the nurse promised him to become a lifelong vegetarian on the spot! Geshela’s relating of his personal pain to the immeasurable pain of many other animals was compassionate indeed, as most would only be wallowing in their misery in such a situation.
The needle versus knife comparison is a powerful one – because many meat-eating friends already know, but are unfortunately numb, to the truth that animals are killed for their meats to be possible. While they might not be able to easily imagine how they are killed, which might be very ‘abstract’ to them, they can surely imagine the unbearable pain of the long needle, when they see Geshela grimace in pain to illustrate it. He ended the story perfectly, just as I hoped, by asking a non-vegetarian friend present, if he would still eat animals. Visibly shaken by the story, Geshela might just have gotten another instant vegetarian convert! I sincerely hope Geshela (and those present, which includes you now!) will share the story with more. In fact, I’m sending this article to him as the request!
What difference does it make to the animals,
who you do not kill them personally,
who you pay others to kill for you instead?