My New Sangha…or: Why it Took a Buddhist to Convince Me to Give Up Meat for Lent

I’m a flexitarian.

I say that with pride because there are other flexitarians in the world (Michael Pollan) that are flexitarians for the right reasons.

In reality I’m flexitarian for the wrong reasons: I’m just lazy.

I know all the reasons to be vegetarian (which I won’t go into here, for fear of making it a post about vegetarianism) but the truth it when I’m at a restaurant and I see someone at the next table with a very attractive burger, all of my ethics go out the window.

This happens to most of us in our lives.  Think about five things you could do to help the planet, the country, or your fellow man.  Listing five things that we could do to make the world a better place is easy; it’s actually doing them that’s hard.  We know the right thing to do, and we think we want to do it…but we don’t.  It’s just too hard to start, so we don’t do it at all.

That’s when I came across this interview with Jeff Bridges in Tricycle (Fall, 2010).

I have so much resistance to this [Christian stuff and] Buddhist stuff.  I’m attracted to it, but I’m a human being.  I’m attached to myself, and I kind of dig it.  You know?  This hunger thing, for instance.  It’s a mind-set.

Here we have this condition that doesn’t have to be this way; we can end it.

And I noticed I had a residence, because I wanted to do other things with my time besides help people.

So I said, “Well, maybe let both of those things [my desire to help people and my selfishness] exist at the same time.”

Its like this. Preparing for a role, sometimes I’ll have to get in shape fast, lose a lot of weight. But I don’t want to work out too hard the first couple of days that I’m sore and I don’t like it.  [I have to ease into it because I know it’s something I need to do, but I also recognize that I don’t want to do it.]

I thought I would adopt the sane thing to this hunger work.

I would go towards the light, so to speak, but if it got too bright and to intense [I will back off.  Because it’s asking a lot.  It’s asking too much.]  What it’s asking you is “be Jesus, be Buddha.”

And I’m not there. I’m not light . . . yet.

[changes to a higher voice]

“So just because you’re not there yet, are you not going to do it?”

No.  I’ll go towards the light, and if my selfishness comes up too much, I’ll stop for a second.  And then I’ll change to little baby straps towards it.

It’s like taking a shit.  Sometimes its best to just pick up a magazine and get in there and sit, rather than [makes straining noises as if constipated] “AAAAaaaaaaarrrggggggghhhhh!!!!”.

It’ll kink up that way.

So, this Lent I’m taking a baby step.  Forty baby steps in fact.  Taking one thing in my life that I know I should do, and not committing to do it for the rest of my life…because I’m not there…but committing to do it for forty days.

I’m not light.


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