Could there be a meat-eater in your future? Could it be you?
I just finished reading a book about an incredible young woman who, under hypnosis, can remember in intimate detail many of her 86 past lives. Wow! I can't even remember what happened yesterday.
The book, Many Lives, Many Masters, was written by the woman's psychiatrist Brian L. Weiss, and he thought it would be "comforting" for people to know that their soul lives on after death through reincarnation. According to the author (and his patient) we learn new lessons in each of our lives. In between, we hang out for a while in a murky spiritual world with a bunch of old dudes called "Masters," who spout off helpful platitudes of new-age wisdom. When we've finally learned enough, we move on to the next "level," wherever and whatever that may be.
Well I, for one, am not particularly "comforted" by this idea of reincarnation. The idea of suffering through 85 or so more lives sounds pretty darned tedious. (I've been awfully lucky in this life, and I figure the odds won't be so good in the future.) Dying that many times doesn't hold a lot of appeal to me either. (Like Woody Allen, I don't mind dying; I just don't want to be there when it happens.) And then there's that one awful, nagging question: Suppose I come back as a meat-eater?!
I know a number of people who strongly believe in reincarnation. A few of them have even told me that, because of my ethical veganism, I must already be at an advanced stage—nearly ready to move on to that coveted next "level."
These people obviously don't know me very well. In reality, I feel more like Albert Brooks' character in the terrific movie about reincarnation, Defending Your Life. Like him, I'm filled with neurotic fears and anxieties, and much more likely, I think, to be kicked out of the universe entirely than to be promoted to any higher plane. With my luck, I'm destined to spend my next 85 lives as a slaughterhouse worker, or the dorky kid with the bad acne behind the counter of the local hamburger joint. Doesn't that sound delightful!
Okay, I shouldn't make fun of anyone in the meat industry here, because maybe—just maybe—it wouldn't be so bad to be reincarnated as a meat-eater. Indeed, I've spoken with many ethical vegetarians who have said—not entirely in jest—that they wished they could be like everyone else and "not get" the connection between meat-eating and disease, suffering and environmental degradation. Maybe reincarnation is a way to do that. Maybe as we learn more from our past lives and from the "Masters," we'll lead our future lives blissfully chomping down corn-dogs without a concern in the world. And maybe, after a few lives of that, we'll then move on to the next "level," where we'll all be rewarded by being able to eat as much meat as we want without ever getting heart disease, or even fat.
I hope reincarnation doesn't really happen. After I die, I'd much rather go live on a cloud somewhere for eternity, playing golf with St. Peter and having someone serve me peeled grapes and single-malt Scotch. If reincarnation does happen, though, vegetarians should fare pretty well. I think there's a darned good chance that one of those things we have to learn before we can move forward is that eating by the Golden Rule will take us to a higher spiritual place. I hope we vegetarians have already learned that lesson in this lifetime.
If I'm reincarnated, I want to go to a world where we get our energy directly from the nearest star and our nutrients directly from the ground, without having to kill anything for "food." If that doesn't work, I want my next life to be way out in the future, when everyone has decided to adopt a vegan diet and they've finally stopped showing reruns of Friends. If I can't have either of those choices, I guess I'll have to give in to the forces of the universe. In that case, I want to be a dog living in some gorgeous mansion in Beverly Hills. I'll sleep most of the day, be lazy all the time, and scarf down scraps of ham and roast beef from the table. Yeah, I'll be a meat-eater, but that's okay. The "Masters" will be happy, and at least I won't know the difference.