People talk of God—"In God we trust"—but how can I say I trust God if I do not follow His laws?
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[Posted April 14, 2006]

Meat Eating, Animal Protection and Good Friday

Interviews and Conversations with Hansadutta das

Hansadutta das - 13 April 2006 - Vienna: Row over 'crucifix' protest
A row erupted on Thursday over plans by animal protectionists to symbolically "crucify" three activists with animal masks in a Good Friday protest outside Vienna's St. Stephan's Cathedral. The militant pro-animal group PETA said the activists would be suspended from crosses with crowns of thorns on their heads. The slogan of the protest action would be "We suffer and die for your sins of nourishment."

... The Archdiocese of Vienna said: "It's a completely unacceptable falsification of the religious dimension of Good Friday." As well-intentioned as the animal protectionists might be, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was not suited "to transport secondary messages."

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Did Christ say what he meant and mean what he said?

Guest: I don't think God intended us to take "Thou shalt not kill" so literally.

Hansadutta: What is the use of Jesus talking, if you are going to interpret everything he says? He must be intelligent enough to say what he means. Why should you assume that he did not mean what he said? It is disrespectful to make Jesus the object of everyone else's opinion. In that way the Bible becomes meaningless.

Everyone is very quick to interpret the Bible to suit his convenience. The law cannot be interpreted by the citizens. If there is a disagreement over some point of law, it goes before a judge, and then he will decide. Similarly, the tenets of the Bible or the Bhagavad-gita should be taken literally, strictly, as they are.

What is the harm in refraining from killing animals? Nonviolence is very good. Even Saint Francis, who was one of the greatest saints in the Christian Church, never killed animals. He was so saintly that he would not even kill a bug. Nonviolence is a saintly quality. In the modern age it has become standard practice to kill animals for food, but it is not at all saintly; it is uncivilized and barbaric. You can't create an animal, so why should you kill it?

The difference between a priest and a construction worker

Hansadutta: Love of God includes love of everything, because everything comes from God. If you love God, you must also love His creation. If you want to return to your original state, living in harmony with all of God's creatures, you have to stop killing them. Christ says, "Whatever you do unto the least of my brothers, you do it unto me."

Guest: Some of the world's most renowned religious leaders eat meat. I can think of one who eats veal. [Here referring to the late Pope John Paul II.]

Hansadutta: Meat eating makes men vile. That makes them animal killers.

Guest: This seems awfully hard to take. I mean, these people are very holy men.

Hansadutta: What is the definition of holy? What makes them holy?

Guest: Well, they are kind.

Hansadutta: What makes them kind?

Guest: Everyone regards them as great gentlemen.

Hansadutta: What is a gentleman? Give me a definition.

Guest: A gentleman is a God-fearing man, a man who lives by high moral standards.

Hansadutta: What is a God-fearing man? What are high moral standards?

Guest: A God-fearing man is someone who recognizes that God is the Father, that God is great.

Hansadutta: How do we know that a man recognizes this? How shall we know whether this person has recognized God? What are the symptoms?

Guest: He is always talking about God. Yesterday a great religious leaders arrived on a nationwide tour, and he said that the youth of America should learn to love God and avoid temptation.

Hansadutta: What is temptation? This so-called religious leader is eating flesh and drinking alcohol. What are the temptations he is talking about?

Guest: He said that we should reject fads.

Hansadutta: What kind of fads?

Guest: We should reject the possibility of sinning.

Hansadutta: What is sin?

Guest: Sin is transgression of God's laws.

Hansadutta: God's law is "Thou shalt not kill". Does your religious gentleman follow this law? Does he kill, or does he not kill? He is eating animals that have to be mercilessly killed. Is he following the law of God or not?

Guest: He is very concerned that young people are losing their feeling for God and morality. It is a very deep concern that is shared by virtually all religious leaders, priests, rabbis and born-again Christians.

Hansadutta: If they are so concerned, why don't they set the example? If they have no idea what religion is, if they set no example, then how can they expect the young people to become religious and moral? The priest is smoking, drinking, and eating meat. What is the difference between him and the layman working on a construction site, also getting a salary, taking a vacation, smoking, drinking and eating meat?

Guest: I think you are demanding an awfully high standard.

Hansadutta: We are not demanding the standard; God is demanding it. What is the difference between a priest and a construction worker?

Guest: The priest can point the way to the mercy of God.

Hansadutta: How can he do that if he hasn't got any mercy? If he is eating animal flesh, where is his mercy? What is your idea of mercy?

Guest: Only Christ could be perfect.

Hansadutta: If only Christ could be perfect, then why did he say, "Be ye perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) Why don't these so-called followers of Christ become perfect also? If the priest is as imperfect as we are, why should we follow him? What benefit shall we get?

Guest: It is a long-standing Christian teaching that no one can be perfect except Christ, and we just have to accept the blood of Christ. How can we be perfect? We are all sinners.

Hansadutta: You can become perfect by surrendering to the perfect: the bona fide spiritual master, who is God's representative. The Bible confirms this: "The disciple is not above his master, but everyone that is perfect shall be like his master." (Luke 6:40) If a teacher writes "A", then all the student has to do is follow and write "A". By doing so, the student will be perfect.

Guest: The mercy of God seems so great that even though we are sinners we can be saved.

Hansadutta: What do you mean by "the mercy of God"?

Guest: We all make mistakes, but somehow God will wipe them out.

Hansadutta: Why should He? Suppose you get 20 speeding tickets. Is the judge going to wipe them out? You have to pay. If you do not pay, you will be arrested. Why should God wipe out your mistakes? You are here to become perfect.

Guest: I was under the impression that we are here to manifest God's love.

Hansadutta: Do you know what love is? What is God's love? People talk of God—"In God we trust"—but how can I say I trust God if I do not follow His laws?

Guest: The Bible says, "Do not add to these teachings."

Hansadutta: I am not asking you to add to them. I am asking you to follow them! The Bible says, "Thou shalt not kill," so do not kill anything, not even the animals. The Bible says that meat eating, intoxication, illicit sex and gambling are forbidden. There is no sanction for these. Anyone who says there is sanction is mistaken. You must stop these things; then only will there be a possibility of understanding and loving God.

Stop Bringing Meat

Guest: I read in the Bible that it is not what goes into a man's mouth, but what comes out of it. In Krishna consciousness, it is said that one should not eat meat, fish or eggs.

Hansadutta: The Bible also says that you should not kill.

Guest: But isn't that a contradiction in the Bible?

Hansadutta: What is the contradiction?

Guest: If you say, "Thou shalt not kill" means that we should not eat meat, then why did Jesus say that it doesn't matter what goes into a man's mouth?

Hansadutta: You are quoting out of context. If you read the verse in context, you will see that it has a completely different meaning. In the Bible it says:

Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem, saying, "Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? They do not wash their hands before they eat their bread." And calling to the throng, he said to them, "Hear and understand! Not that which enters into the mouth contaminates a man, but that which comes out of the mouth—this contaminates a man." Now answering, Peter said to him, "Please explain this parable to us." Then Jesus said, "Are you also ignorant of this point? Do you not yet understand that everything that goes into the mouth becomes the contents of the bowels and is finally evacuated into the latrine? Now these things which come out of the mouth come out of the heart, and these things contaminate a man. For out of the heart come wicked reasonings, murders, adulteries, prostitutes, thefts, false testimonies and calumnies. These things make a man impure. But eating bread with unwashed hands makes no man impure." (Matthew 15:10-20)

He was not talking about eating meat, but about eating bread with unwashed hands. What goes into the stomach does indeed determine what comes out. The book of Daniel tells the story of Daniel as a child. When Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem, he ordered that the talented children of the princely order should be raised in the palace and taught the language of the Chaldeans so that in the future the King could avail himself of their services. He specifically ordered that they should be given a share of his own stock of meat and wine.

Amongst these children were the four great devotees of the Lord: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishel and Azariah. Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the meat and wine of the King; therefore he requested his guardian not to feed him these things. But the guardian replied taht if they did not eat it they would surely not be as robust and healthy as the other children, and the King, seeing this, would have him beheaded for his negligence in the matter. Then Daniel turned to the servant who was directly responsible for feeding them and said, "I beg you just give us a 10-day trial, and feed us vegetables and water. After 10 days, compare our appearance with that of the other children who have been eating the meat and drinking the wine, and as you see, deal with us."

The guardian consented to their request. After 10 days, they appeared healthier and better fed than all the children who had been eating meat and drinking wine. Therfore the servant stopped bringing them meat and wine, but fed them only vegetables.

The story ends by saying that God gave these four children knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom, and Daniel especially had understanding in all visions and dreams. It is also said in the Old Testament, "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean thing? Not one." (Job 14:4)

The King will not Eat His Subjects

Guest: The Bible says that God gave all animals to man to eat. What I'm referring to is in the Old and New Testaments. I would like to know what you feel about this.

Hansadutta: Where do you find the word eat? In Genesis, on the first page, it says that God gave to man dominion over all the beasts and fowl of the earth. Dominion does not mean that they were given to man to eat. The king has dominion over his subjects, but does that mean he is going to eat them? The king's duty is to protect the citizens. Similarly, the reference in the Bible to God giving man dominion over the lower species of life means that it is man's business to give them protection.

Guest: In Chapter 9 of Genesis it says, "Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb I have given you all things."

Hansadutta: According to the same book of Genesis, before man committed sin, he dwelt happily in paradise and was strictly vegetarian; he ate only fruits, seeds and herbs of the earth. After his fall, man lost his right to paradise and became habituated to many kinds of vices, including meat eating. If you want to return to paradise, you must do this: after having been purified of all sin by accepting Christ, you must show that you are actually pure by exemplifying life as it was in paradise. Become a pure vegetarian like Adam. In the New Testament the Apostle Paul has given numerous instructions regarding meat eating:

For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. (Romans 14:20-21)

Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat not flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. (I Corinthians 8:13)

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. (I Corinthians 10:23)

Paul says that it is better not to eat meat. The showy acceptance of Christ does not mean that one is so pure that he can do or eat whatever he likes, because although all things may be lawful for him, they may not necessarily be expedient or edifying. We must therefore always choose that which is better, and Paul says that it is better not to eat meat or drink wine. Many so-called Christians are not fully accepting the teachings of the Bible. They only accept those parts which are convenient for their sense enjoyment. On the other hand, the devotees of Krishna follow all the teachings of Christ; therefore they are the real Christians.

Meat Eating, Animal Protection and Good Friday/ WORLD SANKIRTAN PARTY
©2004 - Hansadutta das
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