What it means to live a conscious life?
It’s an interesting life that we live. The fact that we can exist to experience something is strange in it itself.
We often take our existence for granted. We do not appreciate the time that it took, to get us to where we are right now. We have evolved our thinking, our tools, our language and continue to evolve every single passing day. For humans, this act of improvement falls under one common goal that unites all the species on this planet. The instinct to survive.
Because of this instinct, our predecessors have invented and used fire to fight off predators at night. We have made tools from stone to help us kill animals previously untouched by humans. We created farms to sustain our growing population. We made fortresses and castles to guard us off from other humans trying to scavenge resources for their own survival. We have used the environment provided to us by our planet to fulfil our human wants and needs, very often at the cost of other animals lives. We self pronounced us, humans, the kings of this planet and to this day we disregard everything that does not help us with this goal of fighting for our own survival.
But things have changed. With advent of steam power and then electricity, we can for the first time, be free from this environmental impact and all the damage that we keep inflicting to our future selves and the living organisms around us. We have a choice. And it is now, more than ever, we can use this ability that differentiated us from most other animals. The ability to make a conscious choice, not based on our primal instincts of self interest and survival but out of compassion.
Compassion — a deep awareness of and sympathy for another’s suffering.
I put this definition there because I have heard the word, compassion, many times before but never really looked at what it meant or really asked myself what this word means for me.
My personal journey with bringing compassion to my life had started about three years ago in 2013. I have watched a documentary called Earthlings. It was about exposing some of the horrors of the meat industry and how lost the value of an animal’s life can be. It was brutal to watch and it made you sick watching it. The most important thing I have gotten from watching it, was awareness. I have asked myself, how can you do this to another living creature? Why would you do this? And as I asked these questions and read more and more about it, I felt like a blindfold that I never thought I had before, had been raised.
Now if I go to the supermarket and see meat on the corner shelf with a smiling chicken and a price tag below. It brings a question of why would another human being buy it? Why would you pay money for slaughter of another creature? Are they just not conscious of the choices that they make? Or they are, and still decide to essentially pay money to kill another living creature for their own pleasure.
I find this whole situation absurd. How can we get ourselves so desensitised. How can we think it is normal to put living creatures on a conveyer belt to their death. A chicken can be born, in a slaughter house right now with all its life planned out for it down to every second. It will live its life in a cage with many other prisoners like it, fighting for space and survival, only to then get killed on a mass scale for the sake of economies of scale and efficiency. Humans have created a machine for killing on a scale that was never seen before and the whole world purposefully or unknowingly closes their eyes. We look at the horrors of Auschwitz and the concentration camps with horror and sickening that such a thing can happen and be orchestrated by another human being but history repeats itself and we again unknowingly or consciously play a role in it all.
What is more absurd though, for me, is how a person who is actually presented with these facts and information can still defend his position by saying that these animals are born to be killed. They think it is absurd to imagine a life of another non human living being, to be of similar or same worth as our life, human’s life. I can understand where before, you might not have had the luxury of choice that we have now, it was a lot more difficult to live your life pain-free and I can understand how if one actually kills an animal on his own right, he has the right to eat or do with it as he likes because he killed it, he took the burden of seeing another living organism die because of his own action right before him. He did it and he understood the consequences. But I do believe, it is mind numbingly wrong that we think it is okay to go to a supermarket and buy a nicely packaged pack of meat not knowing the consequences of how it came to be sitting on that shelf.
So three years ago I became vegetarian. I took a conscious choice that I don’t want to eat another animal’s life. I don’t want to pay a cent for another living organism’s pain and suffering. It has been one of the best decisions that I have made in my life.
Living a conscious life does not just boil down to the food that you eat. It is also being more compassionate and understanding of your own actions and seeing how they affect your surroundings. Living a conscious life, means living a life being aware of your own ego. It means taking a step back and looking at things from a different perspective, one that is not yours. You can meditate or journal to help you achieve this clarity of perspective in your life. I choose to journal and I have written in my journal evaluating myself and my actions every evening for the past 500 days. Not a single day missed. I know what I have done on every single one of these days. I know what and how I felt. I ask myself the question of what it is I am doing and why. Does my idea of reality fit in with what the actual reality is. I ask myself these questions daily as I get into habit of being more and more conscious and aware of the effects my decisions and thoughts have on me.
You often cannot control your thoughts, but you can control your actions.