It’s what they say in Buddhism: you can’t be an activist until you’ve tamed yourself, or you just create further aggression in the world.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Apr 28, 2010
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Allen Ginsberg, an activist with few equals in his day: “Aggression only begets Aggression.”

Vegans love animals. Do they love humans, too?

I showed the above Facebook comment to my colleague Lindsey. “Who are these people?!” she smiled.

“It’s intense,” I agreed. “I don’t even know if they watch the video before commenting.” I get about 20 of these personal comments a week. Fun!

Funny thing is, I mostly agree with the comment above. I’m vegetarian (though not Update: vegan). I consider the killing of animals for health or pleasure to be a moral issue, not just a health or environmental no-no. It’s just hard to convert folks with aggression. It’s much easier, post-Hinayana (taming one’s own root poisons of aggression, attachment and ignorance through the daily practice of meditation, which trains us to come back from our thoughts to the present moment)…it’s much easier to convert others to our cause with peace, and humor.

I’m working on it, personally. It’s tough. But it’s much easier than the alternative.


PS: the bad side of Buddhism is that we meditators never stop navel-gazing, never get out there to try and change the world for the better (as vegans and PETA do so enthusiastically)…we become afraid of effing up and creating further aggression or neurosis.

The good news is there’s a middle ground: as Pema Chodron says, get out there. Don’t wait to be perfect.

Not too tight, not too loose—as the Buddha once said in advising a musician that tuning his instrument and training his mind were analogous.


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


7 Responses to “It’s what they say in Buddhism: you can’t be an activist until you’ve tamed yourself, or you just create further aggression in the world.”

  1. Perfect truly is the enemy of the good.

  2. Ari Pliskin says:

    Buddhists don't get out there and act! Speak for yourself! 🙂

  3. David says:

    "Vegans love animals. Do they love humans, too?"

    "Vegans" are a group of individuals, as distinct from each other as a moment is to the next moment. A better question may be, "does love of animals lend directly to love of humans?"

  4. Greg says:

    Good opening into the concept of right action. Such a challenge to discern if one is acting out of karmic imprint reality, in which case one is adding to the karmic storehouse of samsara, or if one is acting from pure compassion, pure being. And then there is the question of when does it matter, when does it not matter.

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