Text size: A A A

Please Click Here
to Return to
Love and Light

Spiritual Wing - Lent

Aum Sri Sai Ram

How beloved Swami turned me into a Vegetarian...

The forty day period from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday in the Christian calendar is known as Lent. During this time, devotees are encouraged to look God wards and pray daily, remembering the days Jesus himself wandered alone for forty days in the desert contemplating his mission, without food and water. During this ti me, for those who observe Lent, it is customary provided they are in good health, for each to give up something dear to them as an offering to God.

I was a keen meat-eater in those days and couldn't go through a day without my steaks, chops etc.

Our Sathya Sal Group in Bristol decided to undertake service helping our local Salvation Army with their regular feeding programme. On our request, they provided us with a list of specific items, ideally non-perishable food, for their kitchens across Bristol. This was especially at weekends as for many homeless people, this was their only hot meal in a week.

Somewhere along the way the conversation came around to very practical issues, such as how much money we would need to be able to purchase the list of items Sally Army had requested. While our desire to help was strong, due to the smallish size of our group, and some qualifying as pensioners, we did not wish to overstretch and disappoint ourselves. We decided to follow Baba's 'ceiling on desires' programme and any money saved that way each week, would go towards buying the required items. From the spiritual perspective, we felt this would also help us alter our habits and allow transformation from within. From my own perspective this meant only one thing. I would have to, for forty days, divert all money I saved on the meat component of my diet and channel this towards our group funds. Luckily, my wife agreed to do this as well and it was quite striking just how much we were spending on meat! Incidentally, my daughter who was then aged around 9 years decided to give up crisps to save money towards the funds, and my little son aged 5 announced he would give up his sister!

we visited our previous next-door neighbours, having not seen them for years, and they had prepared a traditional Christmas meal with all the trimmings. I remember worrying that if I ate any of this, whether it would completely undo my ‘karmic-bank account’ or convert me to being a non-vegetarian again.

As it happened, after this, I continued to be a vegetarian again. It happened once again last year on our most recent trip to Greece. I had not seen my friend for so long and we arrived in his home to find a magnificent spread of seafood, which he himself had prepared in memory of our college days. I thanked him and made no issue, partaking in the meal that was so lovingly prepared by him.

I see these as a tiny example of how my experiences with Swami operate. It starts with His grace of some sort and an internal mini-desire to improve oneself. Then, with a conscious effort and a dedicated prayer for support from Baba Himself, what looks difficult initially is made easy. I must stress here that I hold no opinion against anyone who themselves is a meat-eater as I was like that myself and I have now moved on for my own reasons. I believe I have no grounds to expect others to be vegetarian and my children still enjoy their meat. I have every faith that Swami will help them make their own decision when the time is right for them.

I will forever thank Baba for His presence in my life and His daily help and guidance. I hope this article gives some encouragement to others to reflect on ‘ceilings on desires’ and how this can play a role in one’s own personal and spiritual development. I now look forward to Easter every year as it reminds me of what I have achieved and inspires me to better myself more.

Sai Ram