Are We Eating Our Children?

I know this title sounds kind of brutal. I wanted to get your attention.

PetraThere is a story told by the Buddha in the Son’s Flesh Sutra. It is the story about the couple who ate their son’s flesh. Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, known as Thay by his followers, tells this story often. Here is what he tells in a Letter from Thầy from the Blue Cliff Monastery. October 12, 2007:

This couple, with their little child, on their way seeking asylum had to cross the desert. Due to a lack of geographical knowledge, they ran out of food, while they were only half way through the desert.

They realized that all three of them would die in the desert, and they had no hope to get to the country on the other end of the desert to seek asylum. Finally, they made the decision to kill their little son. Each day they ate a small morsel of his flesh, in order to have enough energy to move on, and they carried the rest of their son’s flesh on their shoulders, so that it could continue to dry in the sun.

Each time when they finished eating a morsel of their son’s flesh, the couple looked at each other and asked: “Where is our beloved child now?”

Having told this tragic story, the Buddha looked at the monks and asked: “Do you think that this couple was happy to eat their son’s flesh?”

“No, World Honored One. The couple suffered when they had to eat their son’s flesh,” the monks answered.

The Buddha taught: “Dear friends, we have to practice eating in such a way that we can retain compassion in our hearts.  We have to eat in mindfulness. If not, we may be eating the flesh of our own children.”

Are we eating our children these days? It seems to me the if we do not practice mindful consumption, we will soon be eating our children or we will not have any children at all.

We must unite about practicing mindful consumption in order to save our children and our children’s children. We need to take positive stands and take massive action about these issues:

  1. GMO foods – we must insure the GMO foods get appropriate labels so we can decide if we want to eat them. In my opinion, they should be avoided entirely, as the pesticides used to produce them are ruining the soil and killing livestock.
  2. Global warming – we must do something to encourage our leaders to find alternative sources of energy that do not rely on fossil fuels that are poisoning the atmosphere and depleting the ozone layer. Anybody who doesn’t believe in man-made climate change should read Five Frightening Facts About Fracking and Is Global Warming Real?
  3. Land degradation – we need to discourage large and small scale deforestation for the sake of raising cattle for meat production. Thay reports,
  4. Presently, livestock production accounts for 70 percent of all agriculture land and 30 percent of the land surface of the planet. Forests are cleared to create new pastures, and it is a major driver of deforestation. For example, in Latin America some 70 percent of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing. From these figures, we can see that the livestock business has destroyed hundreds of millions acres of forest all over the world to grow crops and to create pastureland for farm animals. Moreover, when the forests are destroyed, enormous amounts of carbon dioxide stored in trees are released into the atmosphere.

  5. Water pollution and scarcity – Thay writes that over half of the water consumed in the US goes to animals for food. In addition, fracking is known to destroy water resources wherever it is allowed.

Thay says in the same letter, “Eating meat and drinking alcohol with mindfulness, we will realize that we are eating the flesh of our own children.” Also,

Just as the Buddha cautioned us, we are eating the flesh of our children and grandchildren. We are eating the flesh of our mothers and our fathers. We are eating our own planet earth. The Son’s Flesh Sutra needs to be available for the whole human race to learn and practice.

The U.N.’s recommendation is clear: “The environment impact per unit of livestock production
must be cut by half, just to avoid increasing the level of damage beyond its present level,” (page
XX)1. We need to reduce at least 50 percent of the meat industry products, and that we must
consume 50 percent less meat. The U.N. also reports that even if cattle-rearing is reduced by 50
percent, we still need to use new technology to help the rest of cattle-rearing create less pollution, such as choosing animal diets that can reduce enteric fermentation and consequent methane emissions, etc. Urgent action must be taken at the individual and collective levels. As a spiritual family and a human family, we can all help avert global warming with the practice of mindful eating.

Going vegetarian may be the most effective way to fight global warming.

So, are we eating our children? Shouldn’t we do something to prevent this from happening?

Here are some things that you can do right now. It is important to take action.

  1. Buy only non-GMO foods and urge your family and friends to do so also. Inform your senators and congressmen of how important it is to label GMO foods.
  2. Begin to divest yourself of fossil fuel stocks. If this is difficult to do,try to estimate how much you profit from these stocks and donate the money to a charity active in the field such as
  3. Urge President Obama to stop fracking altogether and concentrate on alternative forms of energy production. Make sure that the Keystone XL pipeline project is rejected.
  4. Consider a vegetarian diet. If you have to eat meat, get organic meat raised on non-GMO grains.
  5. Support the Institute for Responsible Technology and the Non-GMO Project.
  6. Attend rallies about topics covered in this article.
  7. Get your free copy of Weight Loss Guided Meditation and learn about mindful eating.

Your help is urgently needed to spread the word about these important issues.

What will you do today to make this happen?

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