With ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan and violence now overflowing in Venezuela and about to explode in Ukraine; and with Hollywood action movies and the latest video games spilling blood all over the screen, it is no wonder that those looking from the outside in, are so desensitised by all the madness and escalating violence in the world today. But violence in the real world hurts deeply. Ask any mother that has had to deal with their child losing an arm or a leg from a land mine explosion, or a father that has lost his young son to a war against an unknown enemy. It hurts deeply.
Every day we see violence posted on Facebook timeline feeds; whether it is violence against humans or innocent animals, violence is violence and it hurts deeply all those connected with the victims.
Why is there so much violence and hate in the world and how can we convert this hate energy to something more loving and beneficial?
Look at this picture published by the Guardian the other day.
Beirut (AFP) – Gaunt, ragged figures fill the streets for as far as the eye can see in the besieged Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmuk outside Damascus, where some 40,000 are said to be slowly starving to death.
The United Nations distributed shocking images this week of thousands of people, their faces emaciated, desperately flocking to receive food aid that only a few were lucky enough to collect.
The walls of “isms” that keep us weak and divided
John Lennon famously asked us to imagine a world with no religion, no possessions and no countries, and all the people living life as one. “It’s easy if you try,” he sung. The essence of his message was that all these material things divide us and make us weak. And that is exactly what the ruling elite want — to divide us so they can easily rule over us.
Nationalism, racism, sexism, and even speciesism all serve to keep us divided, when the truth is we are all energetically connected. As I wrote in my new book, FOOD YOGA – Nourishing Body, Mind & Soul:
“While there is much we still don’t understand about the universe, the most important concept to grasp is that everything is interconnected. For example, if we could freeze time just before the so-called “Big Bang,” we would see that for a brief instant only one common energy existed. Everything in the universe emanated from that singular energetic event. Whether we accept that in the beginning, the universe was created by a great cataclysm, or by the seed of a pure sound, as in the name of God, it makes no difference because ultimately in both scenarios, energy is the clear impetus. Every tangible thing we experience in this universe, whether it be mountains, trees, insects, fish, animals, humans, planets, or galaxies, etc., are in essence different forms of the same stuff which stars are made of.”
This is scientifically verifiable and yet we are never taught this in school. Children today are trained from the beginning of their lives to identify with their school, nation, race or religion. Later in life they are encouraged to choose a political party or sectarian ideal to help them fit in with the people they wish to socialize with. From the beginning to the end, we are faced with a plethora of choices to help us find our part to play in keeping this impersonal and desensitized social machine functioning.
Food for Life’s simple answer to the madness
At Food for Life Global, we don’t have any grand delusions of saving the world, but we are confident that what we do is making a significant difference for the better. By good fortune, our affiliates have succeeded in becoming the most efficient food relief organization in the world, serving upwards of 3 million meals a day. To our knowledge, no other charity can match that number, not even the United Nations World Food Programme. However, what is more important is Food for Life’s mission and it may surprise you.
The fact is we are not aiming to solve world hunger by mass distribution of free food because we’ve seen that approach does not work. The United Nations has been doing that for decades. What Food for Life Global aims to do is change the intention behind the act of serving food to serve a much more powerful and long lasting solution to world hunger. And this begins with understanding food’s central role as the great uniter. Again from my book:
“Uniting the World Through Pure Food” One may wonder why an international food relief organization has a slogan – Uniting the world through pure food – that essentially talks more of peace than hunger relief. The answer is simple: Food for Life Global is not only a food relief organization but also a social change organization that uses pure food and all things related to the production of pure food as its principle medium.
Food for Life Global projects represent a complete solution for world peace, prosperity and health. We believe that, because food speaks all languages, the purest food – food that is grown, prepared and served with pure intention – can nourish not only the body but the mind and soul as well. It is the kind of food that can uplift the spirit and illuminate the consciousness; pure food will unite people while healing past hurts.
Pure food, by nature, is also good for the planet, as it is grown without chemical fertilizers and herbicides and with full consideration for the long-term health of the soil, the protection of natural wildlife, and the environment as a whole. Rather than contribute to global warming as the intensive factory farms of the meat industry do, pure food cultivation nurtures and actually improves the planet over time.
All food prepared and distributed by Food for Life is first energetically purified with loving intention and then sanctified, a practice rooted in Hindu tradition that is similar to the Food Offering Meditation discussed earlier. Sharing food has been a custom in many cultures since the beginning of civilization, however, and people of all faiths are familiar with the spiritual practices of thanksgiving and offering to God the first of the earth’s yield. The meals provided by Food for Life are prepared and served in this manner to nourish both body and soul.
Fundamental to the Food for Life program is the belief that all beings are spiritually equal. Without this understanding, none of Food for Life’s projects could prosper, nor could the program embrace such a diverse, yet interdependent set of programs. For example, by promoting a plant-based diet, Food for Life not only seeks to reduce the damage caused by factory farming of livestock but also to demonstrate that animals should be respected and loved as much as any human child. Similarly, the forests and rivers that help to grow the food are living with as much or more importance as any human entities. After all, the earth was here long before humans began populating it.
Seeing the spiritual equality of all living beings is essential to cultivate the compassion and purity to evolve beyond the shackles of our material bodies and to spiritualizing our eating, for those who eat the rotting flesh of animals are nothing but cemeteries on legs. Or, as George Bernard Shaw put it:
A man of my spiritual intensity does not eat corpses.
Various religious traditions have a great deal to say about spiritual equality, as seen in these passages from some of the world’s holy books.
Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us? (Judaism and Christianity )
The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a priest, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater. (Hindu )
Have you not seen how that God sends down water from the sky, and therewith we bring forth with it fruits of diverse hues? And in the mountains are streaks white and red, of diverse hues, and pitch black. Men, too, and beasts and cattle are of diverse colors. Even so only those of His servants who have understanding fear God. (Islam).
Light is good in whatever lamp it is burning. A rose is beautiful in whatever garden it may bloom. A star has the same radiance if it shines from the east of the west….all are members of one family – children of one Heavenly Father. Humanity may be likened unto the multi-colored flowers of one garden. There is unity in diversity. Each sets off and enhances the other’s beauty. (Abdul-Baha)
The Sutta Nipata:
So what of all these titles, names, and races? They are mere worldly conventions. (Buddhism )
With a hint of sarcasm, Gandhi once said: “I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers.”
If you look at the outer dress of humans or any other species, you can easily see the differences. To see the spiritual essence and equality of all beings, however, requires contemplation and a higher sense of knowing. Such vision, according to the Gita, is only afforded to those who are both pure and humble. Spiritual knowledge must be earned.
Universal Respect for All
Atithi Narayana, another concept derived from the ancient Vedic culture, is also a central belief of the Food for Life program, instilled by Srila Prabhupada as the program’s fundamental purpose. Atithi means unscheduled or unannounced, and Narayana is one of the many names of Vishnu (God). Atithi Narayana, therefore, means that the unannounced visitor to one’s home should be respected like God.
It’s hard to imagine such hospitality in Western countries today, with so much crime, distrust, and fear. In ancient Vedic times, however, it was common for the householders to call out into the streets for those who were hungry to come and be fed. Indeed, it was a common practice to call out three times, and only after all others had been satisfied did the householder himself enjoy his meal.
John Robbins, the author of the bestselling Diet for a New America, writes, “The existence of so much hunger in the world is a reality we cannot deny. It is a reality that challenges us deeply: it asks us to become more fully human.” From his contemporary perspective, Robbins sees finding a solution to world hunger as the responsibility of every human being on the planet:
“When we remember those who are without food, something is awakened within us. Our own deeper hungers come to surface – our hungers to live fully, to bring our lives into alignment with our compassion, to make our lives expressions of our spirits.”
Spiritual equality, elimination of hunger, world peace…while Food for life recognizes that these are lofty ideals; the organization is founded on the principle that these ideals are attainable.
Thabo Mbeki, the former deputy President of South Africa once said:
“FOOD FOR LIFE is the real Reconstruction and Development Programme. The understanding that if I have a plate of food, let me share it with my neighbor . . . let those who are feeling sad come together with us, and together we can share this burden. This understanding should be taken from FOOD FOR LIFE and transmitted to the entire country.”
The simple act of sharing food with love it the most universally powerful way to say: “I love you. I respect you as part of my family.” This is true with any kind of food, what to speak of the purest food made from pure ingredients and prepared with loving intention. That is the kind of food we serve at Food for Life Global and it is our hope that more and more people take up this solution. When there is a liberal distribution of such pure food, the “isms” that keep us separated and weak will crumble and all the prosperity of the world will be equally shared, as it would be in any loving family.
Children learn from our example. Start setting the right example and respecting all living beings as you would your close family members.
We encourage you to get behind our projects to help us deliver this real solution to the madness in the world. You can make a tax-deductible donate through Food for Life Global if you are a US citizen, or you can donate directly to one of our affiliates around the world, most of whom are listed here.
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