Posted by Meditation USA on August 24, 2020
Chul-ki Kim / Self-employed
In my early thirties, I had someone in my life that I thought of as a mentor. He had a lot of experience practicing yoga and meditation and even just to look at him, you could see that there was something different about him. One day, he suggested that I start a vegetarian diet. I wanted to listen to his advice out of respect, so I immediately became a vegetarian. Since that time, I have not eaten meat or fish or eggs. I have a breakfast that includes miso soup and vegetables and my lunch is also vegetarian. The reason why I wanted to do this is because I thought that I could find peace of mind by not eating living creatures and it would also help the world to be a better place.
I Became a Vegetarian and Quit Drinking Alcohol Because I Wanted to Hide My Inferiority
I read a lot of books to find the justifications for my actions. I quit drinking alcohol, naturally. My friends usually teased me, saying things like, “Are you going to live for ten thousand years all by yourself?” I kept my new diet for more than a decade, always thinking that I am different from “others” who simply pursue the pleasure of eating and living and that I am not an animal that lives for one taste.
When I began meditating in 2010, it completely changed the way I thought about food and how to find peace of mind.
I was overweight, so I had an inferiority complex. To show people around me that I wasn’t simply living to eat, I tried all kinds of exercises like hiking, working out, and scuba diving. When I looked back on my life, I realized that all of these things, including becoming a vegetarian and abstinence from alcohol, were meant to cover up my inferiority. I really felt ashamed of myself.
Only When We Let Go of the Self Can True Peace of Mind Begin
“I am different from you.” This is the way I always lived and saw the world. The decades passed and I lived thinking I was superior and this thinking eventually hardened into a very strong standard that I held the world to. I thought I had a great relationship with my wife and children, but I couldn’t even think of one time when my family enjoyed a dinner together. I suddenly felt so sorry and ashamed that I was a father who didn’t even know that I had taken away my family’s enjoyment of eating together with dad.
I also realized that truth does not depend on what I eat. On the contrary, I found out that my life was far from the truth while saying that I was vegetarian. I meditated and threw away my thoughts of the vegetarian diet, the standards and frameworks I saw and learned in my life and the “me” who did these things. Since then, my eating habits stopped effecting others. It was a comfort that was only possible because I was free from my “self.” The minds of the people around me also became more peaceful and comfortable.
No matter what other people eat, I was wrong to think that I was better than others for being vegetarian. When I began to understand how I was living, I realized that I should live for the world, not just for my body. Now I am grateful that, before pursuing any higher ideals, when I let go of my thinking, true peace of mind is possible.