I am not religious. For more than twenty years I have frowned upon, scorned and mocked religion due to the misery it causes around the world and the billions of people that seem to me duped by ancient scrits. However, there has been one religion whose principles I naturally lean toward with a philosophy that appeals to me: Buddhism.
After a brush with a very bad mental episode at the tail end of 2016, I vowed to spend a large part of 2017 actively seeking the secret to happiness. I may be a naive fool but I do believe that the answer for me is out there. It was through that search that I discovered Mindfulness which appears to me to be Buddhism dressed up in different robes, the main difference being that there is no religious connotation attached to it.
The more time I have spent endeavouring to practice Mindfulness, the more helpful I have found it. It became clear to me that I needed to find, then explore, the more spiritual aspect to life, for want of a better term. This awakened in me, quite unexpectedly, shortly after moving to an isolated property in the middle of the northern Pennines. All of a sudden, I was face-to-face with nature. It was unavoidable, unescapable and my lightbulb moment was when I understood that I was part of this nature thing, not just a viewer.
A few years ago, I read Goldie Hawn’s autobiography. I have always been a fan and figured it would be a good jape through her life. That it was but, what I was not expecting was how spiritual she was. I can honestly say that it changed my life in one beautifully simple sentence: The smile you give is the one you get back. It hit me over the head like a bag of bricks and, since that moment, I have tried really hard to act upon that. Of course, I don’t get it right all the time, but more often than not.
Last year I read the Dalai Lama’s book “The Art Of Happiness”. Apart from being a jolly humorous fellow, he is extremely wise asking many thought-provoking questions throughout the book, encouraging the reader to seek their own answers.
All of this has played a large part in my eventual turning into a PBMF. To some, it may sound goofy and I am not necessarily a proponent of karma but, maybe, what comes around goes around. There was something that struck me about the stress, pain and suffering endured by animals solely to feed me that I was not comfortable with. Could that stress, pain and suffering somehow enter the meat itself to then be ingested by me? Well, biologically speaking, yes. When any living creature gets stressed, hormones are released throughout the body, into the blood stream and into the muscles. Although we may not be able to actually see these stress hormones, they are there.
So my eating – along with many other aspects of my life – has gotten more Zen. Becoming a PBMF is a growing trend in the west, expanding as more and more westerners explore eastern philosophies and religions. Coincidence? I doubt it.