Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Wise Words: Eating From The Tree

In pagan stories around the world, there is usually no original sin; human beings as a species are not guilty. Neither are they perfect, and there is no final judgement. There is death and resurrection or reincarnation, but it happens every day, through making love, bearing children, telling stories, killing animals, eating their flesh, wearing their clothes, and leaving animals enough, and fish enough, and trees enough, that they will be here next year and the next and the next without end. There is, I think, an implicit understanding in these stories that you must eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, a little every day, and that you can eat from the tree day after day, but what you mustn’t do is cut down the tree or sell the ground on which it grows. 

(Robert Bringhurst, ‘The Polyhistorical Mind’, in The Tree of Meaning: Language, Mind and Ecology, Counterpoint: Berkeley, 2006/2008, p. 34) 

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Beings eat one another. This is the fundamental business of the world. It is the whole, not any of its parts, that must prevail, and this whole is always changing. There is no indispensable species, and no indispensable culture. Especially not a culture that dreams of eating without being eaten, and that offers the gods not even the guts or the crumbs.

(Robert Bringhurst, ‘The Persistence of Poetry and the Destruction of the World’ in The Tree of Meaning: Language, Mind and Ecology, Counterpoint: Berkeley, 2006/2008, p. 44)

6 comments:

  1. great quotes - dare i say, interesting food for thought :-) as someone who would be vegan but health issues stop me, i do think that eating other living beings is necessary (even a carrot is a living being) but that the way we raise animals that we eat ... the way we care for animals from which we get our dairy food ... therein in lies the real problem.

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    1. I agree. It's not eating animals that is wrong (though many would still disagree), but how we treat the animals (and the plants too!) within a commercialised food industry. But I think change is happening. I heard a story recently about the first 'travelling abattoir' in Australia, to hopefully begin operating in Victoria. It would enable the slaughtering of animals to happen on the farms, instead of requiring transport of the animals, and all of the stress that entails. I think that's a step in the right direction.

      I went through several years of not eating meat, but like you, for health reasons (and because of other dietary restrictions I have), I realised that I had to eat it, and that's okay.

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  2. i was pregnant when i first read the phrase "the one life eats itself"...at the time i was vegetarian, and had been for over a decade, and it really made me think! whatever one's dietary choices, one IS eating other life, truly...as do all creatures in some way. and that creature i was growing inside me was 'eating' her mother-to-be, in some sense. life feeds life which feeds life, and even when we die we become food for more life...an unending cycle with many variants. interesting! may we all be grateful and conscious about it...

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    1. Life requires death. There's nothing inherently wrong in that. In fact, I think it is profoundly generous—beings continually giving their bodies to be eaten, and turned into some new form of life, to again be eaten. We do need to be much more conscious of it, though. That's the hard bit.

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  3. Yes! Exactly that. In a world where everything is connected and everything is made up of the same stuff we cannot eat anything that is not alive. It is our attitue to this that defines us... are we in reciprocity with all of life? Or are we just a blight of thoughtless consumption? I'm so glad I've found your lovely blog!

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Suzi. :)

      I agree, everything is alive. Even the plants we eat deserve our respect.

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