Not so very low beneath the surface, our modern lives are built on a bedrock of sacrifice.
We expect to give things up, not least our precious time, because we tell ourselves we want other things more.
We teach our children they’ve got to work long and hard (the longer and harder the better) to get to where they want to be “someday”; and we devalue routes that seem easier.
We’re told that blood sweat and tears (and more than a little suffering) is what it takes to be what we want to be, to look how we think we should look or to be considered “deserving”. So we diligently stick to that mantra all our lives, under the gaze of the “no pain, no gain” taskmaster monkey, who drives us on even when we can’t remember why we are doing these things for ourselves anymore.
We sacrifice our values….daily…to do our jobs or “get by”. Or we sacrifice to a cause, taking it way beyond enjoyment or health levels of involvement.
Then we so-carelessly sacrifice our health in so many ways that I daren’t even get started on this vast topic but I watch health being thrown away all the time for such trivial addictions and a moment’s pleasure.
We even sacrifice our dreams, like they were a childhood fiction. Or we compromise them, telling ourselves its “normal” to work ridiculous hours or commute every day to pay for the house of our dreams, where we spend all our weekends recovering.
In fact, everything becomes a barter, a transaction, an acceptable trade-off to get something we don’t currently have and because we tell ourselves we need it to survive or be complete. This suggests a perpetual state of lack and puts us into hock to the concept of an ideal future, which we never seem to get to.
Then we think we have to give things up that we would prefer to be doing in order to be a good spouse, good parents or good children (in ways that our shambolic relationship track-records fail to give good reason for; you would think so much sacrifice would make us into model families). Often, just as we reach a juncture in our life when it might be possible to claim that longed-for freedom of routine, to have those experiences, to travel or move to the country, we trade those aspirations in order to do the right thing for others in our immediate family, again because its expected. Because, of course, our society is structured on separate family units which must fend for themselves in a way that indigenous people…who tend to take care of children and the elderly as an entire community…would think is bananas. Yet, often fueled with resentment and a martyrish amount of disappointment for our own lives, we still do it, expecting our children to do it for us…and repeat.
Of course, this sacrificial mentality pours out of our TV sets. Arch villains (and children mimicking them) declare “You’ll pay for that!” and we may laugh, but our entire corporal system is based on tit-for-tat punishments that deliver very poor results, doing little to rehabilitate people back into society or set a better example. Then, of course, people take the idea of sacrificial pay-off into their own hands….and repeat that too, as we keep seeing in the news…and these ideas are horribly contagious. I was sat with friends outside a vegan restaurant in Italy a couple of weeks ago when a little boy holding his daddy’s hand walked past us and pretend machine-gunned us all with the plastic weapon in his hand. We seem to be in such a bloody mess with it all.
Why is that the case? Flip back to that last post I wrote (A short account of the evolution of humanity…and where we are now) and, about half way down the page, take a look at that distorted intersection we made, a l-o-n-g time ago, between matters of head and heart (we moved our centre right away from the heart…) and there it is – sacrifice mentality. Religion formalised its message (“we have to give something up in order to get into heaven”) and we bought it for a very long time. Many of us say that we’re over that mind trap now, but are we really? Where are the results? Why are so many people still running around on errands of sacrifice?
I know this is becoming a hobby-horse of mine but only for the reason that it feels just too important and relevant not to say. I do wonder if we are encoding the concept of sacrifice so deeply and unshiftably into our mindset because of the diet we eat, taking it so deep into our cells with our food that we just can’t seem to break free from its shackles, even when we see it and want to be rid of it in our ideals. Its like there is a fundamental miss-match of intentional frequencies going on within ourselves, and it has to come from somewhere.
If you doubt this is possible them bear with me as I was just reading about the gut-brain connection and (yet again, as I wrote about the other week in my post The vagus nerve: leading us back to our health) the amazing vagus nerve. I learned that the gut and brain are just so closely connected that they grow out of the very same clump of cells as the foetus takes shape in the womb; and that connection continues in ways we are only just starting to fathom but I suspect its at the root of why so many people are developing severe reactions to certain foods. I learned, 95 per cent of the vagus nerve’s fibres run upwards towards the brain, suggesting the gut is telling the brain how to behave more so than the other way around…in fact, many people now consider the gut to be a kind of second brain in its own right. What we eat determines our moods and our mindsets in some very intricate ways. It contains its own self-contained nervous system known as the enteric nervous system which acts independently of the brain or spinal cord and this thing is huge – containing far more nerve cells than the spine. Its language is the language of neurotransmitters and these communicate with the brain fluently and constantly in an arrangement now refered to as the brain-gut axis, facilitated by the vagus nerve. (Paraphrased from The Spiritual Anatomy of Emotion: How Feelings Link the Brain, The Body, and the Sixth Sense, Michael a Jawer & Larry Dossey).
From personal experience, with several years of intense neurological challenges behind me, those neurotransmitters disseminate messages from molecules in the food we eat to the cells of the body in virtually no time at all; it’s like a digital radio signal, heard “live” and clear as the broadcaster says the very words, as though he is in the room with you. When I accidentally eat something that doesn’t agree with me, my head and the rest of my nervous system knows about it pretty instantaneously; and one of the effects is that my mood suddenly drops significantly. I can be perfectly fine one minute, then suddenly its like rewinding the clock five or ten years…I feel hopeless and, somehow, small and limited in my options, I get snappy with other people, my high-vibe is gone out the window. It doesn’t happen very often these days; I’m too much on the ball with what I consume!
Now I may be the extreme but its fair to say I demonstrate what everyone else’s gut is also doing, whether they notice or not. In other word, the gut unpacks the food, reads the messages held in those nutrient molecules and distributes them liberally and instantaneously to the body, as frequency. It’s why we are finding that the source of our food, how it was grown, whether it was factory processed or modified by chemicals, whether given pesticides or organic, and so on is just so important. So what if that food came from living flesh, a sentient being with an instinct, like you or I, to be natural and alive…and that that this creature was held captive, mistreated, tortured and sent to a terrifying and traumatic death? While it was going through all this, the animal’s own neurotransmitters were in full-throttle, disseminating messages of trauma to every cell in its body…and then we eat it. What I’m proposing here isn’t rocket science, nor is it woo-woo…in fact it seems very logical indeed. When we eat meat, we read all those messages of trauma via our gut; we hear all about the animal’s sacrifice, even if we choose (as most people do) to shut it out from our conscious mind or rationalise it away with excuses as to why we continue to do this. The gut bypasses that completely…it is its own mind…and it tells the story of that sacrifice to each and every one of our cells. Cells which become us.
I believe that the meat and fish that people choose to eat is heavily encoded with such messages, all of them holding the frequency of sacrifice (which incorporates ideas such as unkindness, fear, loss, bloodshed, murder, loss of freedom, torture, slavery, domination…etc). If you eat meat then your gut fluently interprets those messages and distributes them to become YOU. In an instance, your body knows exactly what those meat cells experienced and that part of you that already knows we are one with every other living being in creation takes that as though we have experienced the sacrifice ourselves. Gradually, wearily, over years and years of hearing this same message drummed out by our food, we become this message and we think it is our own lot in life, sacrificing ourselves to its mindset of inevitable bloodshed and trauma. And like all sacrifice, there’s no need for it; we can call a ceasefire. We no longer believe we have to sacrifice other people’s lives to the gods to get what we want (that’s where the whole meat industry started, encouraged by dire lack of food in times other than the ones we currently live in). There’s simply no justification for meat as food any more, either nutritionally or in terms of food lack, though the territory is riddled with myths. It is broadly demonstrated now, across the world, that
“it takes more land to grow plants that we feed to animals we eat than it would take if we consumed plants directly. And the production of meat has the largest impact on the destruction of the world’s biodiversity due to its pollution, deforestation, soil erosion, land degredation, greenhouse gas emissions and so on”. (Eat Like You Care: An Examination of the Morality of Eating Animlas – Gary L Francione, Anna Charlton).
Yet where one falsehood is maintained as a prop to all our behaviours around it, we can be sure there are many other falsehoods lurking in the shadows. Equally, when we expose that flaw in our thinking, those old limiting mindsets come tumbling down, which is why choosing not to eat meat is so much bigger than it looks, evolutionarily speaking. It can be like removing a lynchpin that was holding together a soaring tower of false mindsets about who we are and what we are really capable of. The irony is that tower of falsehoods, to which we seem to so willingly sacrifice ourselves, is something that those eating meat are complicit in maintaining, even though it goes against their core values. To quote Melanie Joy, author of “Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows”:
“The way that is maintained is by continuing a wider narrative that validates it. These oppressive and dominant belief systems condition people to act against their core values of compassion and justice and to disconnect from their natural empathy. Carnism depends on maintaining a mythology about veganism and vegans and the central myth is that veganism is abnormal, unnatural and unnecessary. But vegan values are all of our values, and most people don’t want animals to suffer so intensively and unnecessarily. Most people would be deeply offended if they were aware of animal agriculture and how carnism has shaped how we act against what we would normally be opposed to.” (Melanie Joy, Author of Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows – in an interview with The Independent)
Yet as I’ve said, eating meat is more than just a mindset or something that (mis)represents our values, though it is that; because it quite literally takes our whole body over with a frequency of “the necessity to sacrifice life”. You could say, it lowers our own vibration from one where we feel empowered to one where we (ironically, for all the meat industry’s claims), feel subliminally weak and helpless. Once you are out of it looking back in, it feels like an intrinsic part of a sinister machine designed to keep us small and quaking in our boots. So when we eat meat, we encode that message of sacrifice into our own cells…and then we subliminally expect the same degree of sacrificial trauma to happen to us as a sort of inevitability that we surrender to…and repeat. Its almost like we are sacrificing ourselves to the pain of going against our very natures, as some sort of punishment or payment…but for what? Its a whole other level of self-harm.
In fact, we can’t seem to get out of it, until, for some of us, it just happens and thank goodness. For me, it was an instant decision…I just stopped consuming meat one night, though I loved its taste, with no forewarning, not a single clue I was about to do it (it was ten days before Christmas and I had all my butcher’s food on non-cancellable order; a still-living turkey on that farm had my name on its neck). Something just shifted like a rock rolled away from the door and I saw a different quality of light coming in. I simply knew, very suddenly, that eating flesh was out of sync with where I had got to and, more importantly, where I was headed, though I had no idea where that was. Something just told me that I wouldn’t be going there if I continued to do it so I had a split second choice to make, with no guarantees, and I just stopped there and then.
And yes, its been a real eye-opening few years (six now); quite the different trajectory to what I imagine would have predictably happened if I had continued down the old path. Things that have unfolded for me simply wouldn’t have along that other path since there are direct links to other circumstances that have monumentally altered my experiences for the better. Yes, I feel so much lighter, more capable of joy and far less prone to sudden dives in my vibration. Most of all, my mindset around sacrifice has never felt more blown wide-open. Even where it persists, I see it there and I look it straight in the eyes, which keeps me on my evolutionary toes. Where I still find it, I stop and take the cue to examine what my real motives are, including any that are fear driven, and to notice where there is a better feeling option, which often takes me towards a higher outcome. Let’s just say I feel generally more aligned with my heart these days because it feels more straightforward to attune to it and then use it to navigate, which is such a powerful place to be. Though I notice how sacrifice mindsets are still prevalent all around me, I don’t feel succumbed to them or like there is literally no way around their obstacle except to give in.
You could say that, like meat, I just don’t buy it anymore!