Friday, January 06, 2006

Not Essential!?

Last night I was cooking up a little offering, trying to wash some dishes "en route". I must have been in the grips of the mode of passion - not good - cuz' I sliced a nice bit of my thumb while washing one of my new kitchen knives. Extra sharp. Extra ouch. Aside from lots of blood - which made cooking and offering a little more complicated - I didn't think it was such a big deal at the time, but when I woke up for a little transcendental sound vibration this morning the rest of my hand was feeling similarly un-fantastic.

Just to make sure I hadn't damaged an important part of the apparatus I scheduled a doctor's appointment today. Having moved recently I decided to visit the clinic just down the street from my apartment instead of the old one. Same network, different location... different doctor.

I'm not wild about going to the doctor. When I first started using this particular health network a few years ago, I had been feeling pretty out-of-sorts: light-headed, weak, chest pains, etc., and looking like your average 20-something devotee male - read: emaciated - I figured my first visit with my new doctor would include a conversation that started with something like "So, you're a vegetarian..." But I was pleasantly suprised when my new super-nice doctor turned out to be a vegetarian herself, with two under-ten vegetarian kids. Hari-bol.

So, fast forward two years later, new doctor, no longer out-of-sorts, probably still emaciated - today's visit had a few twists as well.

First, the "important" stuff, my "thumb laceration" is not so serious. The doctor - "Jill" - suggested putting a little super-glue on it, because it would help to seal it and because it was basically the same as the medical version but considerably less expensive. Just need to keep it bandaged and it should be fine in a couple days - just in time to chop veggies for the Sunday feast. Also, my visit was FREE OF CHARGE. Another, Hari-bol.

At some point during the visit my doctor noticed the two kavacas I wear around my neck (with mud from Ganga Mata and dust from Govardhana) and started a little conversation with me about religion. She said she was "really curious" about religion lately. She and her husband were raising their two kids Presbyterian, mostly because they wanted them to have a religious background, but didn't think it was fair to be raising them in a tradition that they didn't yet understand themselves.

I told her that I had been raised Catholic but that I had been more attracted to Vaishnavism. I also mentioned to her how I found that a lot of the things I first liked about Krishna consciousness were the same things that I liked about Catholocism - ritual, monotheism, faith in and love for God - but that I had become uninterested in going to church because it seemed like no one really wanted to be there.

She agreed, and went off on a minor anti-Catholic rant. She had also been raised Catholic, but she felt she "couldn't support the institution right now". She mentioned something about not allowing women to be priests, but then qualified herself by saying that maybe that particular detail "wasn't essential". To which I both agree , and disagree. Perhaps that's another post.

At any rate, as she was leaving I gave her a card for the temple and invited her to the Sunday feast saying "if nothing else, it's a delicious free meal. I don't know if you're a vegetarian..." And as I trailed off, and as she walked out the door and down the hall, she replied "Again, not essential." Ouch.

Thus ends my anecdote and begins my rant...

The idea that one's diet is "not essential" to one's spiritual practice is not a very intelligent one. I keep remembering a couple minutes of a Chris Rock routine I caught on tv recently. He was basically ridiculing vegetarians. At one point he said "I don't think God gives a sh@t what I eat". Not much of a punch line, so I'll add my own... Yeah, I'm sure God wouldn't mind if you ate your little brother, or maybe your grandma, right?

To which our two-legged carnivore no doubt replies "It's not the same thing!" True enough. Eating your family members, or your neighbors for that matter, is not the same as eating a pig or a cow that someone else killed and "prepped" for you. But then eating a pig or a cow isn't the same thing as eating a cucumber, is it? You wouldn't dream of eating your dog, would you? Well, what distinguishes fido from flank steak? And while we're at it, be honest, if you were driving down the road and you accidentally ran over a head of lettuce, would you feel quite as bad as if you hit a deer, or ran over someone's cat?

There's just no logic. All prejudices aside a well-trained health professional in this day and age should have some conception of the fact that a meat-based diet is just not as healthy as a vegetarian one.

But I digress, and so I'll go home tonight, boil some pasta, and warm up some of the brocoli-tomato sauce I made last night, and hope that I didn't get any of my thumb in there.

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