Baba’s story continues from last post (John, a staunch vegetarian, is faced with eating meat or offending his hosts):
It flashed into my mind, a story about a hero of mine, somebody that I really, really respect. He’s passed over now, long since, but he’s called Swami Vivekananda. He was a great devotee of a man called Ramakrishna, and Ramakrishna was an Indian whose thing was to integrate western and Indian spirituality, Christianity and Hinduism. The system of philosophy that he taught is actually known as Vedanta. Anyway, Swami Vivekananda was a great person. He came to the USA in 1945, to a world religious conference in Chicago. It was the first time that a Hindu had ever spoken at one of these world conferences.
He told this story in his memoirs. An American couple asked him to dinner, and they gave him roast beef. Well, he’s a Hindu, and cows are holy. So he was sitting there eating the roast beef, saying,” This is really nice, what’s this?” He’d never tasted it in his life before. They said, “It’s beef.” And he said, “What’s that?” And they said, “It comes from cows.” Whoops. He said that his immediate reaction was to run away from the table and be sick. And he said, then “some kind of sanity came to me. And I realized that these people had given me their hospitality, that they really liked me, and they’d gone out of their way to give me this food. So I ate the food.”
So that’s what came into my mind as I sat there, Swami Vivekananda in my head saying, “Remember the story about Chicago?” And I said, “Yeah.” So I ate the food. Later in the night I was laying on my bed, and I was processing. I was thinking, “Shit, Das, you’re going backwards! God! Why did you do that (etc.).” And then there was a flash of light, and Germain was standing there, not an unusual occurrence. So he went, “What’s the matter with you then, my brother?”
“Aw man, I’m freaking out. I’ve been eating meat and all that, and it’s really terrible. What a terrible day it’s been, slipping away, slipping away to the darkness, eating cows!” And all the rest of it.
He said, “So you think you’re qualified to judge the level of consciousness of the beings on planet Earth?”
I said, “What do you mean?”
He said, “Don’t you realize that everything is life? Vegetables are alive. You’ve been eating vegetables. Are you saying that they have a lower level of consciousness than animals? Do you think you’re qualified to judge this?”
Then I thought, “I’m getting a working over now for sure!”
He said, “Everybody’s got habits on planet Earth, and it’s about time you got over this vegetarian habit of yours.” So then he went on to point out to me about different blood groups needing different food. He said, “Now and in the coming years you won’t be able to live on a vegetarian diet. You’ve managed to get by with it so far, but you’re going to be doing so much traveling and so much work that you would just lose your body in no time if you try to keep this up. So I suggest that you actually kick the habit.”
I said, “You reckon it’s a habit then, Germain?”
He said, “Yeah, it’s just the same as the other habits that human beings have. Which leg do you put in your trousers first every morning?”
I said, “Uh, I think it’s the right one.”
He said, “Well, that’s a habit. Why don’t you try putting the left one in, for a change now and again. That will help you to break the habit. Which arm do you first put in your shirt, when you put it on? Change it. Which shoe do you put on first? Change the habit. You’re all full of habits, you humans. You should start to understand that.”
The rest of it goes into a joke, really, because after that, I said to him, “Well, OK Germain, I totally understand what you’re saying.”
So the next day when I left there, I went to Burger King and ordered a double whopper with cheese and bacon. And since then, I haven’t looked back.
[from Living in Freedom and Love Without Conditions, pp. 73ff]