"You can take a human to knowledge but you can’t make him think."
Some people recognize themselves in everyone they see, realize everyone is their mirror. The other 99.9% need something a little less subtle
Last Supper Slap-down
Entering through the back door of the restaurant, Joshua saw the seating arrangements hadn’t changed from the night before: the carnivores sat at one end of the wooden table, the herbivores at the other. The accustomed bitchasode was full in session.
Pahd, the Indian, was seated in the middle looking the image of Jesus in Da Vinci’s, Last Supper. To his right sat Max, to his left, Armond. Composed, he gazed into space as if engaged in an open-eyed meditation.
Lili grabbed for the bread basket, her glaring eyes on Hans. “Did you realize that the farts of cattle raised to put meat on your plate are doing more to destroy the ozone than the exhaust of all the cars on the planet?”
Fotis, their host, was standing at the left of the table with a steaming plate of Greek stew in his hands, stymied as to where he should set it. Joshua looked down at the chunks of shredded meat swimming in the sauce.
“I suggest you set that down on this end,” he whispered in the Greek’s ear. “Unless you want to get crucified.” He patted the Greek on the back before taking up the seat opposite Pahd.
As Hans ladled the stew over his portion of boiled potatoes, a sarcastic retort to Lili’s comment was sitting on the tip of his tongue. Not wanting to add fuel to the fire, he simply raised his middle finger and smiled.
Cheeks aflame, she leaned into the side of the table.
“Fuck you too, fokken idioot!”
Max jerked his head to look at him, eyes wide in warning.
“What’s wrong with the color of her dress,” asked Jessica, who had chosen the sari for Lili.
“Nothing, if you’re on acid,” whispered Magnus loud enough
for all to hear.
“So, you’re going to start on the ‘gay’ thing again?” shouted Magnus, his mouth full of meat.
“Oh, oh!” Carlene couldn’t resist a stab. “For someone so butch, you’re awfully sensitive.”
Hans looked up from his overfilled plate. “So, being masculine and sensitive aren’t compatible with another?” He still couldn’t get over their breakup weeks before.� He looked at her, eyes narrowed, not attempting to hide his contempt. “Your idea of a perfect man would drive Krishna to distraction.”
Carlene’s face shot red. Vanessa put a restraining hand on her arm.
“I heard you can really fuck up your karma by eating meat. They say you take on all the suffering of the animal just before it was slaughtered.”
Max rolled his eyes.
Vanessa pretended not to notice. “Besides that, it causes cancer.”
“Give me a break.” said Hans, picking at something stuck
between his teeth.
“Oh, super! If it tastes so good we can ask Yiorgos to roast a human being for tomorrow!” retorted Vanessa, her face fluxing red in anger. “After all, it’s the same thing, isn’t it?”
Hans held up his arm and flexed his prodigious biceps. “But, if we stop eating meat what are we going to feed these little babies?” He turned his head to plant a kiss on his left upper arm.
“There are a lot of other ways to get protein,” offered Jessica. “I mean, aren’t beans full of protein?”
“Which brings us back to the farting problem,” laughed Armond, hoping this was the end of it.
Lili raised her eyes to Joshua, their leader. “But, doesn’t eating meat go against Patanjali’s foremost rule of yoga: Ahimsa? Not to injure or do harm?”
Before he could say anything, Pahd looked up and cleared his throat. His eyes swept across the entire group. “But isn’t that what you are doing right now?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” spat Lili, obviously irritated that the one time Pahd chose to speak up about something, it was directed at her. “Anyway, I thought you, coming from India, were a vegetarian.”
“Ahimsa is about nonviolence, Lili,” Joshua reminded her. “Not diet.”
Max put his hand on Lili’s as if to silence her. “What he means to say is that you’re being a continued pain in the ass.”
Lili pulled her hand away and glared at both of them.
“Why don’t we let Pahd speak for himself?” asked Joshua, interested what the Indian had to say.
All eyes turned to Pahd, who continued to eat as if nothing had happened. After finishing his bite of food, he put down his fork and cleared his throat.
“Animals are not the only creatures who suffer from man’s violence.”
“Huh?” blurted Lili, curling her upper lip.
“Man’s injustice to his own kind is also a form of violence.”
“Here, here,” said Jessica, who’d learned the truth years ago just after the war.
Silence. No one moved. As if a video had slowed to one frame a minute.
“We really are about as far away from ahimsa as yin is from yang.” Armond wasn’t trying to sound like a smart ass, but just stating it as it was.
Lili looked down at her hands. Both were balled into fists. She willed her fingers to relax
“Kind of like that ‘fighting a war for world peace’ thing.” Carlene hadn’t wanted to get involved in the altercation, but couldn’t help herself.
“So, what are we supposed to do as responsible yogis?” asked Vanessa more curious for Pahd’s response than for an answer.
“Be true to yourself,” offered Pahd, quietly but assertive.
“And the suffering animals?” she said, picking up her fork again.
Getting no response, she tried a new tactic. “Didn’t Gandhi fight against injustice?”
“I don’t think ‘fight’ is the right word.” Pahd’s tone was balanced and composed.
"Gandhi countered injustice and violence with non-violence. He preached that peace can only be brought about with peace, not with violence.”
He leaned back against the wall and folded his hands in his lap. His face was relaxed, he turned to look at Joshua as if to ask permission to continue. Seeing the smile on Joshua’s face, he continued. His words were steady and clear.
“There’s a tendency to take any belief, good or bad, and turn it into a cause, or ideology. It then becomes an issue of ‘we’ versus ‘them.’ Whether that be in war, in politics, in relationships or, in this matter, with herbivores against carnivores. It’s us against them; every group is certain their belief system is the correct one, that their cause is the right cause, that their cause better than the others. What we seldom realize is that we create these ‘games’ to support the fundamental belief in our own inadequacy.
“Someone who knows he is great needs not fight to prove he is so. It is only those who are uncertain of their grandeur who need to prove they are.
“Once we locate the problem within ourselves we recognize that the war is not without, but within. We have feelings of inadequacies, things we hate about ourselves, shadows we can’t handle and so project onto another person or group of people, and now we have an opponent with whom we can do battle. True peace comes from realizing these conflicting perceptions are projections.
“Handle the violence you are feeling against yourself and see that it is not real. It is just a false belief you are hanging onto, nothing more than a memory, a thought. Realize you are OK and then act from that point out. Not from a feeling of inadequacy. But from a feeling of wholeness and peace.”
The group had dropped into silence. Even Fotis, who had taken a seat beside Joshua was mesmerized by Pahd’s voice and reason.