Learning Archives

This post comes originally from http://www.radiantcore.co.uk.

 

“Know yourself” sounds trivial but asks for the truest devotion to the process of learning who you are, including the Shadow Self. It is necessary for personal growth and, in my opinion, it is necessary for a meaningful life.

Knowing is recognising and accepting yourself, your both sides. There is one that comes from “light” and there is the other one that comes from “darkness”. What is “light” and what is “dark” is based on your own moral judgement.

Striving to be good

I used to think that my goal in life was to become spotless. As a young adult, after years of teenage rebellion, I finally come tot he point where I wanted to become honest and moral, living in praise to God. I spent years to approach the ideal, yet I was far from it.

What surprised me was this. The more pure I strived to be, the less holy I was.

How could it be? I could not understand it at all.

I did my best to improve myself.
I spent hours on internal practices.
I put all my heart in.
I dearly cherished the intention to love and do good to others. But …. there was a basic dissonance in me, an incongruence which led astray.

How could it be? I could not understand it at all.

It has taken me countless hours of reading, thinking and testing ideas. Until … one day …. I finally got it.

I “saw” the fault in my reasoning, which was this. I wanted to live by highest morals, but I chose to do it either by fighting or rejecting the shadow in me.

It did not work.

Why?

The answer seems to be a paradox. But … let me explain.

Duality

Our world is co-created by polarities. The duality is ever present.

Day and Night.
Work and Rest.
Heaven and Earth.
Fire and Water.
Individuality and Commonness.
Similarity and Difference.

Do you reject a night and decide to accept a day only? Can you choose not to rest or not to sleep? Can you work 20h a day? You can pretend you are doing it for some time, of course, but it will not work long term. Day and night define a rhythm and the natural way is to live in agreement with it.

There is a duality in us. As a start. The problem begins when you and I choose to fight it.

Shadow and the fight

Every Saint, every Holy person describes the fight with his or her Shadow. And again, the more holy they attempt to be, the more temptations they have. Read any of their texts and you will see it clearly. The Shadow (or Sin, or Alter-Ego, or however we name it) exists, whether you and I like it or not.

Yes, many years ago I used to think that I was called to fight the Shadow and conquer her. But with years and experience I’ve understood that Shadow is a part of me and I cannot truly defeat my Shadow, hence myself.

What Shadow needs is understanding not a fight.

Shadow is part of me and contains all unprocessed fears, expectations, imaginations and wishful thinking. It also contains disapprovals, dislikes, disappointments, perhaps also anger, hatred, social conditioning or traumatic experiences. Or more.

Shadow is part of me which is ugly and I don’t like it.
Shadow only grows in power because I have casted her away and marked as bad.

The truth is that Shadow is a part of me and needs recognition. It does not mean that I need to accept wrong doing that Shadow feels attracted to, perhaps. Instead, I need to give permission to my own negative feelings (as judged by myself) and outlooks, without extra emphasis or importance.

Let go

This is the key.

I simply notice and observe that, say, I am angry or furious at a given time. I allow my unholy thoughts to be there without any unnecessary excitement. I allow emotions to flow. I give permission to myself to find safe ways to let go of whatever comes.

Every emotion is healthy when it flows in a proper way. Sometimes it is necessary to shout and show anger. Sometimes it is necessary to cry. Sometimes it is necessary to be super sad, or furious.

As a therapist, I can testify how emotions (which often contribute to the Shadow) tense the physical bodies. I know how digestion is impaired because of grief, disappointment or stress. The emotions that are either repressed or in overflow. I know because I palpate the body and find the knots, stagnation or blocked valves (say between stomach and duodenum). Once I release the tension, the body fully relaxes. The person extends, smiles and often falls asleep.

It is a powerful moment when healing begins.

The paradox

The paradox is this.

If you want to know yourself, you need to see who you really are. From the tiniest level to the grandest perspective. This includes accepting yourself from all the angles you may pretend they do not exist.

Say, accepting the one who is afraid and small.
The one who is jealous or nasty.
The one who sits in the self-pity pit, mumbles and complains all the time.
The one who is constantly anxious what others would think of her.
The one who constantly blames others for her lack of progress.

So, the paradox is this.

You cannot fight your Shadow.
You cannot reject your Shadow.
You cannot neglect or cast away your “bad” part.
You cannot work on improving yourself by focussing on doing the “good” only.

Similarly, like you cannot pretend the night does not exist, by pretending there is only a day available to you.

You accept both a day and a night and live in congruence to what they bring. You live actively during a day and you calm down and rest at night.

Similarly, you accept both your (Light) Self and your Shadow Self. You choose to become your best active Self, but you also give a calm attention to your Shadow Self.

Shadow and Light

If you want to grow, if you want a lasting change, you need to shine light (which is conscious attention) on your Shadow Self to help her integrate with the Self.

Shadow lives in ignorance and kicks because she demands attention.

The attention is acceptance and understanding.

When this happens, the Self relaxes because she becomes an integrated Whole.

Who shines Light.

Story, being gives rise to Doing

Being and Doing

Sometimes you decide to take a specific challenge in life, such as a pilgrimage to a Holy Place, writing and publishing a book, or finishing a marathon. Other times, the challenges will find you, whether you welcome them or not ;): How to raise a child as a happy and independent thinker? How to overcome crisis? How to support your recovery from a serious illness?

What is common is the underlying process. You are encouraged to open up and be transformed.

When a challenge is a real one, it usually involves a search or understanding about the meaning of life. What is it all about? As a result, the purpose of the journey (writing a book, taking part in a triathlon, solving a crisis) is to discover the importance of the road. And it will take time, experience, rebellion, disasters and tragedies, successes and disappointments, as well as appreciation for simple things in life: meal and shelter or sun rays on your face.

The challenge is not about what you want to achieve or what you have or have not achieved so far.

The challenge is about whom you are becoming.

Being gives rise to Doing. This is the first important sentence in this piece of text :).

If you focus on Doing mainly (which gives rise to Having), you may push beyond limits, reach fame and glory, but stay unfulfilled and empty inside. This often happens with people who have not learned to appreciate the road but focus on the Goal. Once the Goal is reached, the thrill is gone.

The Emptiness may become overwhelming and the person feels lost. Of course, there is another goal or summit to reach, so the road will continue. But…unless you learn to enjoy the ride, moment by moment and embrace the pains, you will stay unsatisfied.

It is so easy to miss the obvious. Being is content from What-is and in What-is. With all the pitfalls, pains and problems as well as the “I love you, mum” statements, beautiful moments and joy of being alive.

The obvious is this: my life and your life exists in this moment. This very moment, thanks to continuity, gives rise to eternity.

My challenge is life is that I feel I am in hurry. There are so many things I want to learn, practise and master, but so little time! I want to understand more. Are you with me on this?

In a sense, I want more but I also know that this is impossible. Perhaps, I am now taught to be patient and do one thing at a time.

Let me share my understanding, which I keep forgetting to apply to my own life.

Being in the Moment

Skills originating from Being are transcendental. This is the second most important sentence in this piece of text.

What is means is that they transcend a single application and can easily be applied in a different context.

If you cook well, for instance, your Being knows how to integrate individual products (principles, ideas, parts) to make a result, a totality, that is thrilling to the taste. Such a Being principle is easily enhanced or re-directed to become the Being who designs well, crafts well or writes well. Why? Because there is an intrinsic grasp of relations between the individual parts, as well as ways they influence each other, that you recognise on a deep level. It is a part of whom you have become.

Of course, it may take some learning to adjust to different type of material (say words instead of food) to enhance the understanding of relations and develop intuition, but as such, it is a transferable skill.

It means once your Being enjoys cooking, or writing, or designing, for the matter, your Being is able to enjoy any other task that is based on a holistic synthesis. You only need to trust the process of re-alignment.

Now comes the final part.

Life is a story

Your Being is realised through the story you are telling yourself. This is the third most important sentence in this piece of text.

What I mean here is a narration, thoughts and images you have with yourself and about yourself. As it is a daily narration, over the years, it becomes a story.

This is an insight I have got thanks to coaching.

Everything in my life and your life is a story, a comparison in a context or a metaphor.  There is a story you keep preserving for your own sense of homeostasis.

Whatever you think about your children, marriage, the car you choose to drive, brands of products you buy, your job or friends – it is a story. It doesn’t even have to be a wordy narration, it can be a silent movie. Most of stories (comparisons, metaphors) you hear multiple times, while others are re-hashed or re-invented from the collection of experiences, or modified by your reflection.

If in any day you carefully observe your thoughts or images or listen to the voice in your head/heart, you will find out that most of the stories do not stem from what you see or based on some objective truth. Instead, they are interpretations.

This is something I clearly realised when I was listening to a story from a life-threatening experience of my two friends.

Winter climb

Some years ago, they attempted a dangerous winter climb of one super difficult summit (in winter conditions and full snow) in French Alps. It was a remote summit, with the nearby village being closed and evacuated at the time (because of too much snow, but they did not know about this). The experience was tough and transformational, because it played with their survival. They could lost their lives.

They barely made it because they seriously underestimated the severity of conditions and their insufficient preparation in terms of food supply and equipment. Instead a 15h climb up and down, it took them more than two days with hardly any help available, no helicopters possible and no mobile phone reach. Just two guys relying on each other.

I heard the individual story from them both, one day after their coming back, after 20h sleep or so. There were completely two different stories, so different that I was unsure they were telling about the same climb. Both of them remembered things differently. Each of them was the hero to help the other. So, there were two stories, to begin with.

Because it was such a dramatic experience, both guys were telling this story to other friends and co-workers as we were eating lunch together at work. I heard the stories every day for nearly two weeks. What surprised me, however, was that both guys, after the second or third narration, began to alter the story.

The changes were significant. For instance, some key facts were replaced by other ones, or some decisions were totally opposite to the ones I heard in the first story. Not to even mention the timing of decisions, responsibilities they took, how they used equipment and so on. The stories began to live their own life, continually evolving.

I was shocked by this and when I pointed it out to both of them, they had no clue what I was talking about. They both thought I was bringing false notes to their cherished story! They both believed that the say 5th story I heard was the truth they experienced, yet in my view, paramountly different to what I heard for the first time.

This is really amazing to realise that even false stories of experience we have not had or imagined facts, we can take as granted to have been parts of our life. If somebody keeps suggesting them long enough or you simply like to believe them, your brain may not only consider a particular experience a fact, but it will also fill any missing gap to make it into an image or story to make it feel true.

Of course, you may also suspect that it was me not remembering the details correctly especially that the stories were different to begin with. But even if this was a case, one insight was appalling. The “touch and feel” of the stories have changed significantly over the two weeks. First, it was more of a story “I was terrified, I am lucky to be alive” changing later into a story “I had courage and intelligence to hack the life circumstances”.

But also,  with the narrative over the days, the two hero stories shifted slightly into a common effort of wining.

Interesting, isn’t it?

In that sense we can be tricked. But such an experience tells us that we believe in the truth with respect to the way we interpret the experience.

***

There is a deep context to any of your experience which strongly colours what you perceive. It is called bias in science.

There are per-conceived notions,well-defined terms, either heard or preached to you over time, which direct your interpretation to keep the story coherent. This is also why advertisements work and we may prefer Coke to Pepsi, or choose a particular washing powder to another one. It is a story in which you are a believer that a particular product is better or more effective.

Repetitive experiences, preaching, imperative rules of do’s and don’ts or news headlines train our brains daily to make associations and, with time, strong patterns. So, at some point you may believe that the best coffee is dark Arabica, necessarily drank as double espresso with the Channel Island milk, the mobile phone can only be iphone, and a standard for a marriage is a partnership where both partners split their tasks and responsibilities half-half. These are examples of stories (patterns, ideas) we accept as truths.

The brain likes the information to travel the well-known paths, because the processes are efficient and fast process. The brain doesn’t like gaps and open questions, so it will fill the gap from the information or feelings it can reach to.

(This is also why creativity may be hard to spark, as in order to be creative, we need to forget what we know. We need to unlearn the known correspondences and causalities and look far beyond, down or above. Some will say that we have to keep an ignorant mind, or a child mind whose notions are not yet well established.)

What is the story you keep telling yourself?

There is a story about you, how you feel about yourself and how you perceive yourself. Do you talk to yourself to empower or dis-empower? Do you see yourself as a looser or a winner? As you know, the glass is either half empty or half full ;).

What I am saying here is not about imposing affirmations such as “I am the champion”, or “I am the best at X”, but focusing on the very process of whom you are becoming as a person. This includes drive and disappointments, sadness and joy, with appreciation how they all take part in a jigsaw of You.

Your past exists and has helped you to become who you are.

Do you appreciate your Conscious Self?

There is your Being, transcendental, to live in the moment and use all the skills whom you have already become. Just start to enjoy your Being in a different field, context or group.

Recognise your path. Know who you are.

If there is a story to tell to yourself, choose the one which inspires you to become a more fulfilled You.

***

Immunity soup

This post was originally published on www.radiantcore.co.uk.

***

Nourishing soups are perfect for the season. It is a good time to boost the immunity 🙂

Immunity

In the western medicine, immunity is understood as a network of cells, organs and chemicals which work all together to protect the body against invaders. Two mechanisms are considered here: specific cellular immunity and nonspecific deference.

The two most important types of white cells on guard are lymphocytes and macrophages, while the most important molecular chemical components are antibodies and cytokines. Lymphocytes work with antibodies to destroy specific antigens in the cellular immunity. Macrophages work with cytokines for a general destruction of invaders, damaged cells and debris in the nonspecific immunity. In addition, there are also natural killer (NK) cells which respond rapidly to viral infected cells in the absence of antibodies. They are critical to the so-called innate or natural immunity.

T-lymphocytes (T-cells) mature in thymus (and somewhat in the tonsils as the new research suggests). Each T-cell has a programmed receptor to recognize a specific invader. There are three basic T-cells: killer T-cells, helper T-cells and suppressor T-cells (which turn off killer cells days or weeks after the infection to prevent the inflammation).

B-lymphocytes (B-cells) are produced in the bone marrow (in adults) and distributed to the lymph tissues (spleen, tonsils, etc). When B-cells attach to foreign antigens they are transformed into plasma cells and produce antibodies (IgG, IgA, IgE, IgM) specific to the particular offender. Other B-cells become memory cells which patrol the body for the future possible invasion.

While many people believe that herbs have either a weak action on the immune system or stimulate it in a wishy-washy way, the opposite is true. Individual herbs have powerful and usually specific effects on the immune system. There is a good amount of research studies showing the effectiveness of many herbs.

When it comes to the consolidated action which enhances immunity, there is hardly any other herb so powerful as astragalus (except for Siberian ginseng perhaps) and medicinal mushrooms such as shiitake.

Astragalus membranaceus

I am a big fan of this herb because it has proven invaluable for me. The root is used in cooking, decotion and tincture.

The action of astragalus is comprehensive. It enhances the body’s own natural killer cell activity, as well as the activity of T-cells and macrophages. It stimulates immunity by increasing the production of antibodies, and encouraging the transformation of stem cells into immune cells. Astragalus also restores immune function in cancer patients with impaired immune function.

Robyn Landis and K. P. Khalsa (see below) note that ”astragalus stimulates phagocytosis (mechanism to remove invaders), increasing the total number of cells and the aggressiveness of their activity. Increased macrophage activity has been measured as lasting up to seventy-two hours. It increases the number of stem cells (the ‘generic’ cells that can become any type needed) in the marrow and lymph tissue, stimulates their maturation into active immune cells, increases spleen activity, increases releases of antibodies, and boosts the production of hormonal messenger molecules that signal for virus destruction.”

It is used both as a prevention (i.e. immune tonic) and a direct immune mobilisation when infections occur. It is helpful for cold and upper respiratory infections, and the prevention of flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia. It has a protection function for the liver both from viruses and side effects of medication. In China it has been used along side of chemotherapy and radiation thanks to its ability to stimulate the production of bone marrow (hence red and white cells).

Contraindication for using Astragalus is when you are on immunosuppressive drugs or a nursing mother. Caution is needed, and a careful dose, in case of high fever.

Shiitake mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are also all-round mobilisers and strengtheners of the immune system against viruses, bacteria, cancer, and parasites. Lentinan, one of the major “ingredient”, stimulates both the production of T-cells and their aggressiveness, as well as boots the action of natural killer cells, and macrophages.They also have anti-cancer activity, preventing metastasis of cancer to the lungs.

Immunity boosting soup

To make the soup you need at least dried astragalus, ginger root, and vegetables, especially the root vegetables. Shiitake and reishi mushrooms are great but you can stay with the astragalus only.

Immunity boosting soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Ingredients
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 bulb garlic (at least 10 cloves), minced
  • 2-5 vegetables of choice, e.g. parsnip, a piece of swede, carrot, celery, beetroot, sweet potato
  • 1 piece of fresh ginger root (1½-inch, 3½ cm)
  • 5 pieces sliced dried astragalus root or 3 Tbsp of cut astragalus root
  • 1-2 cups fresh, sliced shiitake mushrooms (or 1 cup dried)
  • 1 large reishi mushroom, if available
  • 1-2 cups of broth or stock
  • 1.5 -2 litres of water
  • Herbs: marjoram, thyme, basil, curcuma powder and cayenne powder, if desired
Instructions
  1. Dice garlic and onion. Shred ginger. Melt butter (or heat oil) and sauté garlic, onion and ginger until soft and aromatic.
  2. Bring water and broth to boil in a pot.
  3. Add the sauted mix, astragalus, shiitake and reishi mushrooms to the pot. Cover with a lid and simmer for 1h 30min hours.
  4. Dice vegetables and add to the pot together with salt and the herbs of choice, e.g. marjoram, thyme and rosemary. Cover with lid and simmer for further 30min.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 2 hours more.
  6. Remove astragalus and reihi mushroom.
  7. Reheat, add additional salt, pepper, curcuma and cayenne if desired.
  8. Serve.

Important:

Since ginger is very warming and opening the pores in the skin, please stay warm after the soup. It is ideal to eat it as an afternoon or evening meal. If you go outside into a windy/cold weather, please dress warmly with a scarf on the neck.

Where to buy:

If you want to buy astragalus or Shiitake use JustIngredients, Amazon, herbal store, health food store or a Chinese market. Shiitake mushrooms have also been sold fresh at Tesco and AbelandCole.

References:

  1. A list of more than 600 references on Astragalus can be found here.
  2. David Hoffman, Medical Herbalism – the science and practice of herbal medicine. Healing Arts Press, 2003.
  3. D. Winston and S. Maimes. Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief. Healing Arts Press, 2007.
  4. P. Holmes The Energetics of Western Herbs: A Materia MedicaTIntrgrating Western and Chinese Herbal Therapeutics: p.1, Snow Lotus, 2007.
  5. R. Landis, Robyn, and K. P Khalsa. Herbal Defense. New York: Warner Books, 1997.
  6. J.A. Duke, The Green Pharmacy. 1998.
  7. Plants against liver cancer.

Ego and non-duality

Courtesy of DP, age 6

I like jazz, by the way, but these thoughts are about Ego. Jazz is here though ;).

Ego

Some think that Ego is an unwanted part that you and I need to get rid off in order to reach enlightenment or be saved. This was certainly a trap I fell into when I was young.

With years and some grey hair I have come to understand that Ego exists for a purpose. Ego is an integral part of the whole being. It cannot be just cast away as a bug, which happens to wander in your body.

For me, Ego is an individual consciousness from the (W)holy Being (who is both holy and whole, i.e. complete :)), perceived through the “eyes” of self-consciousness.

Ego makes both you and me unique. It gives us color, shape and structure. Perhaps it gives us tasks and challenges too 🙂

It makes the Self possible to exist within time and space. It helps you and me to think and act as an entity not as a mass. And I like it this way, I must say 🙂

Ego is the difference and makes the difference.

It is a part from the whole, which is both similar and different at the same time.

You may pretend that Ego does not exist. You may train yourself to neglect him/her, but You cannot abandon a part of yourself. Deep down you know
he/she is there.

Spirit

Some meditation schools focus on the experience of being an undifferentiated part of the whole, where you stop existing as a physical entity and become unbounded spirit. The Self is united to the whole and you feel as if a drop in an ocean and yet the ocean at the same time. They may also emphasize an experience of being a part of vibrating consciousness which is all around us.

Some schools of thought, say, non-duality, encourage the understanding of the I who is an illusion once its importance is lost.

Such schools focus on the experience of a Spirit, the idea we are all deeply connected, a part of One.

Non-duality

The roles of Ego ans Spirit are both necessary, I think. Even, perhaps, Ego and Spirit are not different creature, ultimately.

How to see that?

Consider a metaphor of a particle. We know that the particle has a dual character, it can present itself as a wave (undifferentiated information/potential)
or collapse to a physical measurable particle. And although we talk about duality in science, for me there is no duality. They are one and the same. It is only the lens of observation which makes the particle the tangible thing.

Similarly, Ego is the filter of perception through which Spirit experiences reality at any given moment, while Spirit is the connection to the Creator,  the Consciousness-Who-Is.

Are they one and the same depending on the lens of perception/observation, which can make consciousness an individual?

Ego allows Spirit to have unique experience. Ego gives boundaries, but these boundaries allow you and me to have specific experience.

Without Ego there is no independent thinking and no independent action. (And I love those too.)

Life purpose

Spiritual development is therefore not about getting rid of Ego, but embracing it, instead. Ego is a vehicle, a mean to your life purpose.

And what is life purpose?

In the daily scheme of events life purpose is self-development through (or thanks to) the integration all parts into one complete you. (Note that in the grand scheme of events you may choose your purpose as being saved or achieving enlightenment). You may make it as specific as you like.

Perhaps being ego-istic serves a purpose, too.

When you talk to great teachers, leaders or achievers, you will learn that their power to make a difference comes from their individual passions which are
shamelessly acted on.

When you talk to great scientists you will learn that their discoveries came as the result of them chasing their own intellectual pleasure of understanding how
things tick.

When you talk to great industrial minds you will learn that their technological advancements came as the result of them chasing their own pleasure of making things work.

When you read interviews with great artists, e.g. Beksiński, you will learn that they create their amazing art purely out of the personal needs to satisfy
themselves, to transform their dreams into tangible form.

It becomes One who chooses to satisfy Self, yet serves to Many.

Seemingly a paradox. But … No. No. No.

This is exactly the key: you can pursue your egoistic dreams, which although realized to satisfy a single mind, will ultimately deliver to many. Perfect deal!

The path

Perhaps the greatest minds choose the path of ultimate self-serving (egoism), which ultimately becomes the path of serving others. Why? Because in order
to walk this path you need to choose to serve others too, as without the interplay between similarity (selflessness, being a part of the whole) and difference (selfishness, being individual), there is no reward.

This is also why great minds and people, with experience deeply enjoy to teach others or to share what they have or know.

The pleasure of Self, of Ego, comes from serving the Others.

And sometimes it is hard to know the direction in which you walk. From Self-Service to Service-to-Others (or from difference to similarity) or the other way around.

Of course, you may also choose the path of seemingly neglecting Ego, the path of service to others, such as Mother Theresa or Kerrie from The Footprints Orphanage.  However, ultimately you can only reach your purpose once you embrace Ego by serving yourself the way you need, as without self-service you will soon become empty, unable to give.

So, we are back to what we know.

The task is to maintain the flow of abundance from giving to receiving or vice versa.

…all that jazz

To finish all these rumblings in the jazzy style now, I will say now:

The best thing you can do in life is to pursue your own dream, go after your own needs, embrace who you are and shine your own light. And in doing so, make the best to help others on your path to grow.

Choose to be the difference not the norm.

vegan_recovery

Photo credit Heather Kennedy available on Flickr under Creative Commons.

 

I have been on and off short bursts of vegetarian / vegan / raw food diets in my life. The longest, 100% vegetarian dedication lasted for about a year. Nevertheless, I do understand the arguments about the slaughter of animals, bred for food in horrible conditions.

I also know that eating little or no meat will enhance personal changes for those who are willing to take them. This is not necessarily about the motivation or moral aptitude but the fact that a plant-based diet asks for a different type of digestion, providing body with different fuel.  This, as a result, will lead to specific thoughts and emotions being awaken. Such a path is or might be beneficial for spiritual leaders, thinkers, writers and others who live from their thinking skills.

I know from my raw food  journey that raw food has been very demanding to digest, against the initial expectations. While the arguments to eat unadulterated plants sound very compelling, our digestive system does not deal well with breaking up the cellulose walls of leafy greens. Raw food stirs raw emotions up, leading a person to deal with all kinds of feelings buried deep and perhaps dark. Not everybody is ready, or prepared to work on them in such an intensive way.

I personally believe that vegan/vegetarian/raw food diet is special and suitable for some people or perhaps at specific times in life to help with personal transformation or a learning journey. Despite the ethical arguments I don’t think that vegetarianism is for everybody. Some people do need grass-fed meat (or fish), not necessarily the muscle meat, but more importantly the organs such as liver, kidneys, gelatine broth made from bones and so on.

I know that the arguments in favor of vegetarianism / veganism seem sound for many intelligent people. At least, human omnivores/carnivores need to question their motives for indirect killing for food. I am also aware of studies, such as the China study, by Campbell and Campbell, which argues that cancer, heart attacks and other diseases are caused by animal protein. There are hundreds of various correlations presented in the book, but again correlations are not causations. There is also a strong criticism of the validity of this research, e.g. here. It may be useful to study both views.

I personally think that a diet rich in muscle meat may lead to health problems in a long term perspective. However, the situation changes dramatically when one eats a varied diet, including majority of fruits and vegs and a substantial amount of glycine (gelatin) or taurine available from organ meats. Offal is of course what poor people used to eat: lard, tallow and broth, and in generation after generation they have been healthier than the rich ones (who mostly ate muscle meat). When glycine is consumed in abundance, a person will enjoy a good health, I think. This asks for another post 😉

***

The choices between lifestyles and diets can easily lead to emotional disputes. This is not my intention is here. We all make choices based on what we find appealing, convincing or informative at the given time. As long as we develop and make progress long term, the choices make sense.

The point, however, is to be open-minded and think for yourself. It’s easy to subscribe to a dogma, especially when a particular choice becomes a daily habit or practice and we really want it to make it work. Once a choice is being made, say to be a vegetarian or omnivore, one can stick to this for decades. Yet, even good morals are not enough to justify a self-chosen perpetuation of the approach.

How do you know whether you have become dogmatic? When you feel very emotional about your choice and uneasy to respect others with their different choices.

My approach to life is to test everything. I periodically question my own assumptions and test them anew. Only then I can encourage good progress and shed the skin of beliefs which don’t serve me any longer. I do encourage you to test your beliefs too.

***

Since I am interested in health and nutrition I read many books on the subject. I know many people who are inspired to become herbivores, but I only know a few who did the other way around. I find it truly interesting when a long-term vegan/vegetarian starts to eat meat. There is usually a profound understanding or a new perspective when such a breakthrough takes place. And I’m all ears to learn Why.

Joey Lott is one of such people who:

After 17 years as a vegan, Lott knows all about the fear, shame, and guilt that can go along with wanting to quit being vegan. But having come out the other side, wiser and healthier, he shares his perspectives on life and what it really means to “do no harm.” With compassion and plain old good sense, this book will appeal to both your emotions and your intellect. As Lott points out, “we might seek to take our place in the cycle of life rather than trying to step outside of it,” which is precisely what veganism attempts to do.

If you are open to a fresh perspective on the both moral and health sides of veganism, I recommend you read his kindle book, Vegan Recovery. It is cheap, short and to the point. And above all, it may intrigue you if you have committed to the vegan/vegetarian path.

For me this book proposes an interesting view on ethics and life cycle, certainly the points which deal with killing animals. I am well informed about the benefits of eating a full spectrum of animal proteins, so the health concerns were never mine. I wonder what you will think.

Enjoy the book. Let it be inspiring!

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