I do not believe in vegetarianism, because I do not believe in anything.
My disciples are vegetarian not as a cult, not as a creed. They are vegetarians because their meditations make them more human, more of the heart, and they can see the whole stupidity of people killing living beings for their food. It is their sensitivity, their aesthetic awareness that makes them vegetarians.
I don't teach vegetarianism; it is a by-product of meditation. Wherever meditation has happened, people have become vegetarian, always, for thousands of years.
The oldest religion in the world is Jainism. It is a small religion, that's why not much is known to the outside world; it exists only in India. Jainism has no God; hence, there is no possibility of prayer. When God and prayer are discarded, then what is left for a religion? God is somewhere outside, your prayer is addressed to someone outside. Discarding God and prayer you are really saying, "I would like now to go inward." And meditation is a way of going inward.
For thousands of years Jainas have been vegetarians. You have to know this fact, that all their twenty-four teachers -- they call them tirthankaras, their messiahs -- came from the warrior caste. They were all meat-eaters. They were professional warriors. What happened to these people? Meditation transformed their whole vision. Not only did their swords fall from their hands, their warriorhood disappeared, but a new phenomenon started happening: a tremendous feeling of love towards existence. They became absolutely one with the whole. Vegetarianism is just a small part of that great revolution.
The same happened in Buddhism. Buddha did not believe in God, did not believe in prayer. I want you to understand it: the moment God and prayer are discarded, the only thing that is left is to go in.
Buddha also was from the warrior caste, son of a king, trained to kill. He was not a vegetarian. But when meditation started blossoming in him, just as a by-product the vegetarian idea came into his being: you cannot kill animals for eating, you cannot destroy life. While every kind of delicious food is available, what is the need to kill living beings?
This is nothing to do with religion. This is simply to do with your sensitiveness, your aesthetic understanding.
Jainism and Buddhism are the only religions without God and without prayer, and both automatically became vegetarian. The same is happening to sannyasins.
Christianity is not vegetarian, Mohammedanism is not vegetarian, Judaism is not vegetarian -- for the simple reason that these religions never came across the revolution that meditation brings. They never became aware of meditation.
They went on praying to a fictitious God -- which brings no transformation in life, because he does not exist. Your prayers are just addressed to the empty sky. They never reach anywhere, they are never heard by anyone, they are never going to be answered. There is nobody to answer them. All the religions that have remained hooked with the idea of God have remained meat-eaters. So this is a simple phenomenon to understand.
Why are my sannyasins vegetarians? We don't enforce vegetarianism, we are not concerned with it. My sannyasins are not like George Bernard Shaw and his Fabian Society, where vegetarianism was a religion. Neither George Bernard Shaw knows anything about meditation, nor does his Fabian Society. They are just eccentric people who want to do something different from everybody else so they look better, they look higher, they look holier. Vegetarianism is their philosophy.
It is not my philosophy, it is simply a by-product. I don't insist upon it. I insist upon meditation. Be more alert, more silent, more joyful, more ecstatic, and find your innermost center. Many things will follow of their own accord; and when they come of their own accord, there is no repression, there is no fight, no hardship, no torture.
But if you live vegetarianism as a religion or a philosophy, you will be continually hankering for meat, continually thinking, dreaming of meat, and your vegetarianism will be just a decoration for your ego.
With me, meditation is the only essential religion.
And everything that follows it is virtue, because it comes of its own accord. You don't have to drag it, you don't have to discipline yourself for it. I have nothing to do with vegetarianism, but I know that if you meditate you are going to grow new perceptivity, new sensitivity, and you cannot kill animals.
Have you observed one fact? -- that the vegetarian societies have the most delicious kinds of foods. The Buddhists, the Jainas -- they have the best dishes in the world, for the simple reason that through their meditations they had to drop meat-eating. They became more inquiring into delicious food so they didn't miss meat, on which they had been brought up from their childhood -- it had become almost their second nature.
There are millions of people who have never thought of vegetarianism. From the very childhood they have been killing living animals. It is not different from cannibalism. And since Charles Darwin it is absolutely a scientific fact that man has come, evolved, from the animals -- so you are killing your own forefathers and eating them joyously. Don't do such a nasty thing!
And the earth is capable, man is capable of creating enough vegetarian food -- vegetables, fruits, new fruits which have never existed before. Just crossbreeding is needed, and we can have the best kind of food available for everybody.
Your sensitivity and perceptivity, your aesthetic understanding is immediately understood by the animals. Here you can find so many deer -- they have come because this is the only place in the whole of America where they are absolutely safe. Nobody is going to hunt them.
In Oregon, for ten days per year, the government allows people to hunt deer. The deer are such beautiful animals, so agile, so lovely.... We stopped hunting on our own ground, so from other ranches deer have moved to our place. And now they must be the best-fed deer in the whole world, because we are taking care of them. We are growing grass that they like, specially for them. They would never have thought that people would be so considerate. They like a certain grass called alfalfa, and I have told my people, "Grow as much alfalfa as possible, so all the deer of the whole of Oregon by and by start moving to our commune. And they will be respected as members of the commune."
And they already understand it. They stand on the road -- you go on honking your horn, they don't care; they are meditating in the middle of the road. And they understand one thing: that you are not going to do harm, so there is no need to be in a hurry.
In my garden I have three hundred peacocks. The moment they see my car, they all start moving in front of it. They know that they cannot be hurt, that nobody is going to run over them. They will not move; sometimes Vivek has to get out and push them. They are enjoying!
There are a few really crazy ones -- the moment they see my car they come running from far away, just to stand in front of my car. I will move slowly, and they will move slowly backwards, but they will not move away from the road. They understand something, their hearts have felt something, that "these people are not enemies; these people are part of us, friends."
And the whole animal kingdom is part of us, even the trees. Now the scientists have come to an established conclusion that trees are living beings. Not only that, they have a very fine sensitivity, far more sensitive than you have.
They have placed machines around trees, plugged wires into the trees -- machines like a cardiograph which shows your heartbeat. It shows the heartbeat of the tree, and if somebody is coming to chop the tree, immediately the graph on the cardiogram goes crazy. The tree is feeling really afraid and trembling.
Not only that, other trees around also go crazy, although they are not going to be cut. But someone, some friend is going to be cut and they have a great feeling for it. And the most strange thing that has come to the knowledge of the scientists is that if the person who is coming with an axe is just pretending -- he is not really going to cut the tree -- the graph remains harmonious. This is something unbelievable, that the tree knows whether the man intends to cut it or is just pretending.
They are more sensitive than you. You will not be able to figure it out: if somebody comes with a sword at you, you will not be able to figure out whether he is really going to hit you or is just pretending, acting. You will not be able to find out through your sensitivity. The reason is, man has lived for millions of years so insensitively that he has lost one of the greatest qualities of his being. Meditation slowly slowly gives you back your sensitivity; and a man who has reached to the ultimate ecstasy of meditation is as sensitive as any tree, any animal, anything in the whole existence.
This sensitivity makes my people vegetarians. And it is a gain, not a loss. It will make you simultaneously more loving, more compassionate, more feeling, more understanding of beauty. It will make you aware of great music, even the music that happens when the wind blows through the pine trees, or the sound of the running water-even the music that happens, that is happening, in this gap, in this silence.
Silence is the highest music.
It is soundless, but it can be felt.
Can't you feel the silence here?
Can't you feel that the people who are here are all one, pulsating in the same rhythm, their hearts beating in the same rhythm?
Vegetarianism is a small thing. We have to create a world of really sensitive people, who can understand music, poetry, paintings, who can understand nature, who can understand human beauty, who can understand the world that surrounds them: the stars, the moon, the sun. Just a bird on the wing can fill you with immense rejoicing. The freedom of the small bird, the song of the small bird, may make you dance, sing.
Humanity has lost its heart, and we have to give it back to everyone who is willing.
That's the meaning of my sannyas.