El·e·na [el-uh-nuh, uh-ley-nuh; It. e-le-nah] /ˈɛlənə, əˈleɪnə; It. ɛˈlɛnɑ/ –noun a female given name, form of Helen // A proud student of His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche // Personal assistant with a BSc (Hons) Psych from Uni of Warwick // These are snapshots of my life, in words and pictures

Breakfast

March 3, 2011 0

(Taken with my iPhone)

I can’t remember when it was but sometime last week, I woke up and realised that being vegetarian had become effortless.

There was a time when I would say “omg I miss meat” and really mean it but now, meh – the feeling’s 99% gone.

I started my slow journey in 2006, when I first cut out land-based animals. Since I’d never eaten beef in my life, and rarely ate lamb or mutton, cutting out chicken and pork weren’t too difficult. It wasn’t until 2010 that I cut out seafood too.

To be honest, I didn’t become vegetarian for animal welfare, for health reasons or for economical reasons. I’m not saying those reasons aren’t valid; I’m saying they weren’t the reasons why I did it. I didn’t actually have a reason at all, which is probably why it took me much longer to get into it.

I remember when I first decided to cut out the meat – I was frying up some bacon for a sarnie when I looked at the packet. I mean, I really looked at the packet. With the ripples of fat, and being a foodie and knowing pig anatomy, I immediately visualised where from the pig the flesh had come off…and I was totally grossed out.

That packet of bacon got dumped.

Fast-forward four years, and one day I just decided not to eat seafood anymore. No reason to it whatsoever, I just decided. Now you have to understand, I LOVE food and of all the food there is, I loveloveLOVE(d) seafood. Deciding it just like that was difficult; in the first week, I thought about turning back more than once.

My commitment to being meat-free must not have been very strong because a couple of weeks later, something very perception-shattering happened for me.

I found myself in a car alone with Rinpoche and Seng Piow. I remember it clearly – together with Su Ming and Wendy, we had taken Sara and Aunt Matza to Starhill, had dinner there, and we were on our way back to the Ladrang.

We were talking about other things when out of the blue, Rinpoche said, “You know, it’s okay if you want to slip once in a while and eat meat.”

Uhhh say WHAT?

Aside from the fact the statement was totally unrelated to the conversation, the Buddhist teacher who encourages everyone NOT to eat meat, is telling ME it’s okay for me to slip?!

Rinpoche continued, “I know you can’t do it all the time, so it’s fine if you slip once in a while. You don’t have to feel guilty about it.”

Since that day, never once have I considered eating meat.

I really don’t know why or how it worked, but it put into context for me my teacher’s skilful means. Knowing how my mind works (and knowing it better than I know it myself!), he has never told me outright that I need to stop eating meat.

In fact, never once has he ever directly pushed me to drop meat. He knew such direct methods wouldn’t work. All Rinpoche had to do was say the right thing at the right time, ever so subtly, so I would commit myself to a meat-free lifestyle.

HE adjusted himself for stupid, selective ME, to save me from MYSELF.

Talk about compassionate.

So what makes a real teacher? To me, that’s just it. Those experiences with Rinpoche, though they may seem like passing remarks or insignificant to the rest of the world, shows me he’s a real teacher.

And thus, just from breakfast alone, I am reminded of the kindness of my lama, and the gratitude I will practise for the rest of the day, and the rest of my life.

, , , , , , , , , Reflections and Teachings, Vegetarianism, Tsem Rinpoche

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