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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Temper Passion with Compassion

Just a quick vegan-themed post today as a sort of response to this NPR blog piece and my subsequent Twitter exchange with the lovely A. N. Devers.

I read Sharon Gannon’s Yoga and Vegetarianism several months ago, and I will blog about it eventually, but for now here’s a passage that speaks to the attitude vegans must adopt if they actually hope to convince anyone. (Boldface mine.)

When people learn of the horrible animal abuse that goes on day after day, they typically react in one of two ways. Either they feel despairing, overwhelmed, or helpless, or they get angry and want to attack the perpetrators.

Neither one of these reactions will bring about a positive transformation that will benefit the animals. It will take intense passion of the best type: compassion. Only through active, conscious compassion can you affect people’s minds and hearts, with the result that they find it in themselves to be compassionate and to extend that compassion to all beings, including animals. In other words, change must start with you; you must become the embodiment of compassion. You must treat the people you are speaking with in a compassionate manner no matter how outraged you may feel. Even though you now know the facts about how animals are abused and how this is causing mass destruction of the planet as well as our spirits and our health, you must use yogic self-control and temper your passion with compassion. If you come across as preachy, angry, or judgmental, you most likely will not be able to hold an audience long enough for them to begin to hear the truth of what you are saying.

As you begin to speak of the truth you have experienced about how animals are treated, you will likely be ridiculed by others at first, even by friends and family members. Accept this as a natural phase in the process for people whose lifelong conditioned assumptions are being challenged. Hang in there, and stick with your principles. Patanjali suggests that when you find yourself in a difficult situation, turn it upside down. See it as an opportunity, not as an obstacle, and, most importantly, don’t get angry.

There’s a great deal I could write on the subject of nonjudgment—an aspirational practice for me, as you know!—but I’ll leave it here for now, and link back later.

Next week: how to assemble a shoe-wardrobe that’s every bit as cute and breathable as leather.


1 Comment to Temper Passion with Compassion

  1. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    July 25, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    I had “The Vegan” sandwich for lunch today–it was a start.

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.