One of the main lessons in the BKs is soul consciousness. This less encourages deep self-reflexive inquiry into one's mind and one's heart. The life aim for BKs is, with the support of Raja Yoga meditation, to clean the self inside and out, and to cultivate the deepest levels of purity. Purity in the BKs is understood as a return to what is innate, true and original. A restoring of spiritual consciousness or 'soul consciousness'. Soul consciousness is considered to be the highest form of consciousness that was widespread and inherent throughout the human race before the fragmented and divisive nature of body consciousness came in more than 2,000 years ago. Body consciousness is a kind of separatist thinking caused by identifying with the body, and is a consequence of rebirth; An "I and thou" kind of attitude where the "other" becomes less of a concern to me, and the focus and preference is always "I".
Considering this, I suggest it is incumbent upon us to seek to apply our spiritual principles at the deepest and truest possible level. This can be a challenging ask, but one that is asked of us. Indeed we are asked for profound levels of honesty, through the teachings we receive.
BK Teachings on Animals
There are few teachings on animals, other than there is no transmigration of species - a human souls will always be a human soul, a cow soul a cow soul. Our friends of other species will enjoy the Golden Age of time along with the presence of human souls. There are fond stories of the founder waiting for a sparrow he knew, before he began to teach. In the daily teachings however, animals are rarely mentioned other than through metaphor.
Given the philosophy of honesty and purity, I wonder whether it is a form of spiritual laziness to continue to consume an animals milk. Especially while adhering to strict instructions not to consume her eggs or her (or his) flesh. Milk, meat and eggs seem to be distinctions without differences. After all, animals must suffer and die for all three.
Animals are not ours. They are here for their own purposes. Nowhere are we taught that we can use them for food, drink, clothing, entertainment or experimentation. They are an intrinsic and inherent part of the Drama and the Wheel of Time. The Drama comprises souls, matter and God. BKs learn that God Shiva is the father of all souls and Brahma Baba is the father of human souls. These are the teachings. We are taught to give happiness and receive happiness. We are taught not to give sorrow or take sorrow. We learn to take great care with our karma to ensure we don't participate in the suffering of others. This is so we can keep ourselves free of potential heart-breaking regret. This is all part of our lesson on the cultivation of virtue of "dharna".
So then what do we make of it when BKs continue to eat and drink animal milk (or derivates)? Those same ones do not want to hear of the slaughter and suffering that was caused to others so that they could eat and drink those animal products. Rather than the power to face, they turn away and quote "Baba's system".
Tremendous energy is expended by BKs who aim to be pukka. These discplines include vows of celibacy, daily 4am meditation, daily spiritual class, daily evening meditation, the dedication of body, mind and wealth in the task of world upliftment, not having relationships outside the realm of sister and brother. From a dietary perspective, the disciplines include not eating flesh or eating eggs, onions or garlic, not consuming alcohol or drugs and not eating food that hasn't been prepared by another BK. Truly, it is quite an undertaking. Considering all these principles, and the exhaustion that may ensure, it becomes somewhat understandable that many BKs must suffer a form of spiritual laziness that reduces their ability to feel empathy with another.
By using the imagination, and aiming to cultivate a true understanding of another, we stimulate empathy by placing ourselves in [another’s] situation. In the BKs there is a practice of adhering to certain lifestyle practices because they are purportedly the highest, and change the world. However, it becomes easy to follow disciplines with engaging actively anymore. With active empathy, we put aside spiritual laziness and re-commit to deeper principles. We re-imagine our spiritual lives as an exercise in self-mastery. We truly imagine ourselves in the mind, body and life of another. When we do that with another human, it can make us pause before we speak and hurt another. When we do that with the mother cow whose baby is taken and killed, who is forcefully impregnated, who is injected, who is worked and who is exhausted and reimpregnated every year, we identify with her pain and suffering. It, therefore, becomes impossible to partake in her systematic suffering and slaughter. Nevertheless, some BKs actively look away.
By activating purposeful empathy, we bring alive the Power to Face. Therefore, we reduce the stress and exhaustion that can occur through following a prescribed series of disciplines and measures and activate a more consistent level of virtue that is key to living a more nourishing empathic life. When the deeper principles come alive in us through purposeful empathy, we automatically facilitate deeper and more authentic change in our lives. This change is happening among many BKs, particularly those who have the power to face, who refuse to look away and who activate the deeper teachings rather than following a prescribed life.
Photo Credit: http://www.sciencealert.com/review-of-more-than-200-papers-finds-there-s-clear-difference-between-organic-and-non-organic-animal-products