We have a special video greeting for all of you from Ms. Live Kleveland. She is the Information Director of the Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance, who will share with all of us the need for humankind to co-exist with nature.
Greetings to all of you who are participating in the conference. This is Liv Kleveland. I work for the Norwegian Animal Protection Alliance. As a lawyer, I'm working to try to give animals the rights that they deserve in our society. I'm a vegan and that's because of the animals and also because of the environment. In our society, animals are kept in factory farms where they have no possibilities at all to live like what they are made for. Young babies are taken from their mothers. Mutilations are common. The animals are fed intensively. Many of them never see sunlight. They are kept indoors all their lives. And they are transported to slaughter in thousands, in millions.
So the animals are forced to live in a way that is detrimental to their health and welfare and that is a major reason for me not to eat their meat. Also I don't eat meat because of the environment. Meat production is actually one important reason why our climate is changing so rapidly. To stop eating meat is something everyone can do to help stop the changes in the climate. And a lot of the energy in that plant food is lost in the animal to keep the animal alive and as manure from the animal. So it's much better to eat the plants directly because then you use less energy than if you eat meat. So one way to fight world hunger is actually to eat less meat. Animals are in many ways like us.
Stop eating meat. I think that everyone that has been so lucky as to get to know an animal as an individual knows that an animal like a dog or a cow, or a pig, or even a hen is a person. I wish a lot of luck to the conference “Protect Our Home with L.O.V.E.” in Taichung, Formosa and I hope that everyone who participates will extend their love to animals too. Be veg! Go green! Save our planet!
S(f): Thanks, Ms. Live Kleveland. We are so touched by your love for this Earth and animals.
B(m): Yes, it's truly very inspiring and that is also one of our next topics; to live in harmony with nature. Everyone knows our theme, love, or “L.O.V.E.” and we hope that all of us can live simple, healthy and of course vegan lives.
B(m): Our next speaker is someone most of you are familiar with, Ms. Tan Ai-Chen. She is a true animal lover, who has rescued many stray cats and dogs and beleaguered animals. A famous movie and TV actress, Ms. Tan is also a vegetarian cooking show host.
S(f): Let's warmly welcome Ms. Tan Ai-Chen.
TAC(f): Thank you, thank you. Hallo, everyone! Thank you. I thank the many people in the audience who have been watching my “Modern Heart” vegetarian show every day. It's on air daily at 5PM, 11AM, and 1:30AM. I have been hosting this show for 7 years. Every day, we introduce one or two vegetarian dishes. So far we have introduced over 2,000 dishes. Who can say that vegetarian food lacks variety? Right? Q(all): Right.
TAC(f): Thank you. I have been a vegetarian for 21 years. The vegetarian diet is really wonderful. It makes us healthy, and it gives us more stamina and, of course, we become younger. I'm 56 years old now, and thank Heavens I don't look like I'm 65. This is the biggest benefit the vegetarian diet brings us. Many people ask me, “How did you become a vegetarian?” In Chinese tradition, vegetarianism is often associated with religions, because this compassionate act of non-killing has been advocated by Buddhism.
However, the reason I am a vegetarian is that I don't have the heart to eat small animals. It has nothing to do with religion at all. In fact, I grew up in a Christian family. I'm a Christian. My parents-in-law are both devout Christians. So, before I became a vegetarian, I had never heard of Buddhism. I started to learn about Buddhism since becoming a vegetarian. And because of Buddhism, I got to know the phrase “sentient beings,” which means that animals, just like us humans, also have feelings and desires. We have our likes, we know fear, and so do the animals.
Similar to us humans, animals also have romantic love, family love, and friendships. They even have ethical concepts and ranking among the young and the old. I totally agree with what Supreme Master Ching Hai says, “Many animals are nobler than humans.” Only when you have lived with animals will you understand this. Today, because of our time constraint, I will just share with you the pictures of these little sentient animals that made me become a vegetarian.
These are the stray dogs I adopted; there are more than 60 of them. It is very hard to get them together to take one picture, so I only have photos of small groups.This also shows some of them. If you think they are all dogs, you are wrong. What's the one in the middle? He likes to mingle with the dogs and he sees himself as a dog. Why? You see, he is very affectionate towards the dogs. He even kisses them. He thinks that this female dog is his mother. He is very smart. I have about 60 dogs, many of them are stray dogs.
This little piglet is called “Philly.” Upon his arrival, he attached himself to this most beautiful dog called “Queen” and he thinks “Queen” is his mother. Once, he even screamed when he saw a pig, because he had never seen such an animal in the world. People told me that he is a mini-pig. He is very nice to the dogs. He is also very friendly to humans. As soon as I sit down, he is sure to come up to kiss me. He is very affectionate. In fact, it feels quite strange when a pig keeps kissing you with his snout. This pig is very smart.
When I first adopted him, people told me he was a mini-pig. Now the mini-pig has grown to this size. Fortunately, the Taipei Zoo believes he has educational value, so they adopted him. After he moved to the Taipei Zoo, he grew even bigger. He only lies there and eats. But if you say pigs are stupid, I must restore their reputation. Two years after he was sent to the Taipei Zoo, I had time to visit him. I stood next to him and said, “Philly, Mom is here. Let Mom touch your little face.” As soon as he heard me, he immediately stood up, because he loves me touching his big snout. He still thought he had a small face. So when I touched him, he immediately stood up. People asked me, “How come he knows you?” I said, “Of course! He is my son!” After two years he still recognizes my voice. If you think pigs are stupid, you are really doing them an injustice. If you think I'm only raising dogs and pigs, you are wrong. All these dogs are raised by me.
This is a mastiff. Everyone knows that mastiffs could bite people, right? They are fierce. But actually, this dog is proof that, after listening to the Buddha's chants daily for half a year, he will not bite people anymore. He even lets my neighbor, a child whom he doesn't know, take him out for a walk. So animals are just like humans. They can also improve their personalities through education and good influences. All these animals have been miraculously influenced by Buddhist teachings. These are also blind dogs that I adopted at that time.
Okay, what do you see here? A squirrel! She was abandoned by her mother. When we found her in the grass, she was less than 10 centimeters long. Her eyes were not yet open. So, I used syringes to feed her rice soup. Little by little she grew up. I don't confine animals when I raise them. I just raise them in the yard. By the 7th month, one day while I wasn't home, she brought her boyfriend back to my yard. He was a big, handsome squirrel. Every day after she finished eating, she would carry a couple of grapes in her mouth and sneak them out of the fence and give them to her boyfriend.
Then, I started to prepare double portions so she could bring some to her boyfriend after she finished eating herself. It was like this every day. During the day, she would go out to stay with her love, and at night, she would come back to sleep. But gradually, she stopped coming back to sleep. But she would still come back every day to get food for her boyfriend since I always prepared food for her. One day, when she was 8th months old, to our surprise, she didn't come back for food. I was very worried, so I called a veterinarian at the Taipei Zoo. After I told him the situation, he asked me how old she was. I said she was 8 months old. He said to me frankly, “Congratulations, you are now a grandma.” So do you think they have romance? Yes. I'm very happy for her new family.
Let's move on to the next picture. Doesn't she look like my baby? She looks so much like me. Twenty years ago, unfortunately, there was no animal protection law or wildlife shelters in Formosa (Taiwan). In those days, people liked to keep wild animals as pets, but sometimes they abandoned them, perhaps because they couldn't raise them anymore.
I happened to have a husband who was a busybody. He would always say, “My wife knows how to raise them,” so he would bring them home. That's why I have such experiences with these animals. Of course, as long as you live with them, the animals will treat you as their mother. Let's look at the next picture. Okay, what's this? It's a flying squirrel. After she was born, her mother was not willing to nurse her. Her caretaker didn't know how to raise her either, so she grew up little by little under my care. Eventually, I had to teach her how to fly. She thought she was a dog, and she liked to stand on her feet and walk on the ground. Then we thought, what is a flying squirrel most scared of in the forest? The eagles, right? But in our home, the flying squirrel gets along with the eagle very well.
Let's look at the next picture. At that time, I adopted a Formosan (Taiwanese) crested goshawk. This is an owl I adopted at that time. In the forest, one would say to the other, “You are my food.” The other one would say, “Please don't eat me.” But in our home, they get along peacefully. Every day, they stand on the cabinet and watch us. Their favorite pastime is to stand next to each other on the back of the chair and watch the dogs outside the window. This is their everyday routine.
This big eagle used to be an eaglet when I just adopted him. Do you know why he is looking at my mouth? It is because birds feed their nestlings with their beak, right? He treats me as his mom. Every time when I was about to enter the house, he would start to squeal as soon as he heard me open the door. Every day he would check to see if I had food in my mouth. So sometimes I put some food in my mouth and feed him with my mouth, so he can enjoy the affection of a mother.
These are a pair of geese. In the mother and father goose, I see a kind of indescribable love and also the affection between parents and young ones. They really touch my heart deeply. I hope in the future I'll have the opportunity to share with everyone the stories of these animals. Do you think a snake can recognize people? Let me tell you, even cold-blooded animals can recognize people. When we approach the fish tank, do the fish you feed every day swim towards you? Do they swim away from strangers? Right? So cold-blooded animals also recognize people. Of course, he recognizes me because he always feels very comfortable when he sits on me.
Okay, here, I was interviewing a gorilla. He was locked in a cage. I went in to interview him. There used to be an animal program called “The Funny Family,” right? They said I was risking my life to film the show; but I was very sad.
It is because from the eyes of this gorilla, I see the extreme sadness of a mother. We all know that wild animals are locked in the zoos, away from their family. But do they have emotions? Yes, like we humans, they also love their family, so I can never forget the sad expression in her eyes. That's why we should love and protect animals. As humans, the most direct way to love them is to protect them. Yesterday someone said to me, “Many people say that they are animal lovers while they are holding their dog or cat. But if they say they love animals, how do they have the heart to keep eating animal flesh?” Right?
So we should put ourselves in the animals' shoes. Like us, animals also have emotions. So don't afflict what we fear on the animals and make them suffer. This is why I'm a vegetarian. Thank you for the opportunity to share my story. Thank you.
B(m): Thank you, Ms. Tan Ai-Chen, for your very heart-warming and moving stories. Very inspiring. Thank you. Have you watched Ms. Tan's movies?
S(f): Yes. Since I was a little girl.
B(m): You know, I think it's great that celebrities get involved in good causes because they are able to influence other people to do good deeds as well - for nature, for the animals, and for the environment. Don't you think so?
S(f): Yes, I totally agree. And I love mini-pigs because of her and many people and most friends of mine are paying more attention to animals and stray cats and dogs.
B(m): That's great to know. Our next speaker is Mr. Lin Hung-Rui who is the President of Suiis, the first website promoting vegetarianism in Formosa (Taiwan).
S(f): So let's all welcome Mr. Lin.
LHR(m): Good afternoon, friends. Today I'm very honored to be here to share with you how to be a care-free vegetarian. First, I'll share with you my vegetarian experience. It has been 13 years since I became a vegetarian. The reason I became a vegetarian was because I learned that animals were just like us humans. Because of this, when I was in high school, I started to learn to be a vegetarian. Although I look very young, I am already close to 40. Many people say, “Mr. Lin looks very young.” Actually, it is because of my vegetarian diet. From the very beginning until now, I have experienced the evolution of the vegetarian environment in our society.
In the early days, it was very difficult to be a vegetarian. I remember when I had my vegetarian meals, my best company was a can of mushrooms, or a can of soy protein plus a bowl of white rice. This was my lunch or even my dinner. Of course, thanks to my dietary habit, I weighed only 59 kilograms. In the past few years, vegetarian food has evolved, and I find being a vegetarian in Formosa (Taiwan) now is a big blessing. Our vegetarian food can be simple and basic, or it can be very fancy. It's also available in cuisines from around the world. Our fellow practitioners have opened quite a few Loving Huts in Formosa (Taiwan). They are really great blessings to our vegetarian friends. Let's give them a warm round of applause.
From the previous talks, we know that global warming has already made a huge impact on our environment. The August 8 typhoon disaster and the typhoons some days prior caused tremendous damage. So we made up our minds to switch to the vegetarian diet. We will start with reducing the proportion of meat in our meals. Everyone asks us, “Why eat vegetarian?” “What's the benefit of eating vegetarian?” Right?
Everyone has an ultimate goal. We should try to deal with others with a non-judgmental mind. For the time being, they may not be able to understand our good intention, but we don't have to provoke them. We just need to show them some facts now and then. We can say to them, for example, “Three days ago, I heard a lecture from a professor.” We also learn some information from Supreme Master TV, so once in a while we can send the information to them. Slowly, they will start to understand.
Let me give you a simple example. My father used to be very opposed to my being a vegetarian. The approach I took was not to argue with him. I kept on being a vegetarian. Whenever he was criticizing me, I would always prove to him that his arguments were wrong. For example, he said that vegetarian food was not nutritious. So I showed him how big and strong I had become. He said vegetarians wouldn't get married, but I did get married. I kept resolving his confusions. Slowly, in our family meals, we started to have vegetarian dishes, one dish at a time, and slowly it got to the point that half of the dishes were vegetarian. In recent years, most of our dishes have become vegetarian.
Each time my father's friends make fun of him, saying, “How come this son of yours eats vegetarian? It's not very manly,” etc. My father recently started to reason back to his friends, saying, “What are you talking about? Look, he looks so handsome, so youthful.” So I think when we are on this path, difficulties and frustrations are unavoidable, but our goals and faith should stay firm. In addition, we should also keep in mind that we should have some flexibility.
For example, a while ago we were promoting “Meatless Mondays,” so they can start by eating vegetarian every Monday. You can say, “Today is Monday, I invite everyone to have a vegetarian meal.” This way you give them a topic, or point to them a direction, and you guide them slowly this way. When we are guiding them in this process, if we find that some of their concepts aren't clear we can promptly give them some help or point them in the right direction, and tell them about the correct vegetarian concept.
I think when we guide others to become vegetarians, the most important thing is to be in harmony with people. Only this way can we make people realize that being vegetarian is such a wonderful, joyful, and care-free way of life. Whenever we are together with them, it is an opportunity for us to sow a vegetarian seed. We never know when it will start to sprout, but one day it will surely grow. They will start to have this feeling, this realization that they can choose an alternative dietary habit, or they can have a different approach to change our world. This is the best way. Thank you for this opportunity to share with you. Thank you.
B(m): Thank you very much, Mr. Lin Hung-Rui. Our next speaker is Mr. Lin-Hsu Wen-Er. He is the Chief Editor of Persimmon Books, which is the leading vegetarian book publisher in Formosa (Taiwan). They published the Chinese version of “The Mad Cowboy” by Mr. Howard Lyman and “The China Study” by Dr. T. Colin Campbell. Let's welcome Mr. Lin Hsu Wen-Er.
LHW(m): Hallo, distinguished guests. I want to share with everyone how to live harmoniously with nature. I think there is only one simple rule for living harmoniously with nature, that is to treat nature like a human being. You don't need to see it as a god or something. I think nature is actually a “good person.” It gives us the four seasons, which arrive at predictable times - spring, autumn and summer come with fixed schedules. But occasionally nature also has temper tantrums. Sometimes it shows you some humor, like dropping some rain on you while you are all dressed up and on the way to a party, then you may become soaked. But after a while, it may become sunny again.
Nature actually has a timetable. If you do things according to its schedule, then you will receive plenty of protection from nature. But right now, nature seems to have changed. There is a saying in Chinese, “Harmony between humankind and nature.” This is such a wonderful state. But if we have truly experienced the state of “harmony between humankind and nature,” we wouldn't intentionally cause harm to nature, because harming nature is no different than harming ourselves. But actually, we often do things that harm ourselves. So actually, we have not lived up to such a good teaching.
So, I feel the first rule in dealing with nature is to treat it like a person. A person needs respect, and a person needs to be loved and protected. So if we use this attitude toward nature, we don't need complicated theories or philosophy. We will know how to be close to nature. So, how can we befriend nature? I just mentioned one principle, and there are three steps to follow.
The first step is not to rush to a conclusion about what nature is. We should first find out who we are, what is the most important thing in ourselves, and what is the most precious thing in our life. Some may say it's love, and others may say it's money; but actually, within all these topics, if there is no life itself, love or money will become nothing. So I think, first of all, we should be clear about whether nature is truly very important to us. If you truly think it's very important, naturally you won't harm it. But nowadays, people are too removed from nature, so they may not truly think this way. So I think, only when we truly understand this point can we truly realize that our survival is closely associated with nature. Only then can we face up to this question.
What's the second step? After we realize that nature is truly very important for us, and that we are so removed from nature, we should start learning about nature. I often see that some parents or older people are anxious to make their kids learn the piano or other things. But actually, the person who needs education the most is we, ourselves, because we may not even know nature that well. So as adults, we should relearn and ask ourselves if we really know nature. The best way to know it is to learn from our children. If you observe children at 4 or 5 years old who are still learning to speak, you will find that they have no fear of nature. They would touch a dog, or even animals you think are more fearsome such as a snake or a lizard.
In contrast, we would be scared to see these animals. Once in a park, a kid saw a tree lizard, so he said to his grandma, “Grandma, grandma, there is a tree lizard over there!” When the grandmother saw the lizard, she immediately backed up 3 steps. She hurriedly made him come back, “That's a chameleon. Come back or it will bite you.” Everyone feels scared upon seeing unfamiliar things in nature. If we truly want to regain the heart of a child, we should learn from our children. When we were born, we weren't scared of these things.
If we are willing to rediscover nature, the question of what we should eat will come up. If you don't believe me, go watch a child. If you give him a piece of orange or an apple, he will eat it very happily. But if you give him a piece of meat or a shrimp, he needs to learn to eat it. If you bring your child to a supermarket, you may observe and see if he will linger in front of the fruit or vegetable stand, or a poultry or pork stand. Actually, the smell of all kinds of food already tells us the answer. Children and newborn babies tend to like colorful, beautiful things.
Meat is either red or white, unlike the fruit in nature, which has many colors. So I think if we sincerely regain the heart of a child and observe, the answer of what we should eat is actually very clear. I want to mention another concept of how to live harmoniously with nature. Nature is like our lover. We have been asking too much from it. When we are in love with a person, of course sometime we demand, but sometimes we also give; so we keep a good balance. But humans have been taking too much from nature. If one of the lovers demands too much, what will happen? Perhaps the other one will turn against his or her partner. When they are breaking up, the best scenario is that they talk and forgive each other.
If you don't live with nature harmoniously, the situation will be exactly the same as what happens between a couple. Nature may give us a storm today or snow tomorrow in an unexpected place. For no reason, an earthquake may occur. If we don't live in harmony with nature, the result of nature turning against us is much more terrible than breaking up with a lover.
So I think the third step is when we wake up and realize that nature is very important, and we start to learn what nature is teaching us in our life, the next thing we need to do is to give. It is because only when we give, can we gain. It is the same with a couple in love. You can't keep asking for things from your boyfriend or girlfriend; you must give. To give is to sacrifice. The love of parents to a child often involves sacrifice. They must sacrifice their time to take care of the child. It is the same between us and nature. We need to sacrifice the desire of our palate and stomach, because giving up certain foods is really difficult.
So there is only one word that can make a person willingly change his habit, and that's the theme of today's event - “love.” Only love can make a person willing to sacrifice. So we need to reflect if we really love nature so much. When you realize that this is a matter of life and death to us, I believe you will think that a little sacrifice is actually not a big deal. Today, I shared with you how we can give back to nature and how to put it into practice. This is the hope for humanity. I'll stop here. Thank you.
S(f): Thank you, Mr. Lin Hsu, for your beautiful message.
I used to be a pig farmer, but now I'm a vegetarian. This seminar is very meaningful to me. I hope when those livestock farmers and non-vegetarians hear my little story and see the way I've changed, they'll change too.
Right now the most feasible way to halt global warming is for people to adopt a vegetarian diet. This diet is also the best for our health. If everyone eats vegetarian meals, we can immediately change the food chain and have an impact on the agriculture and livestock industry. I think this is the current and future trend. The direction that the Supreme Master International Association is advocating can definitely reduce global warming and climate change.
Supreme Master Ching Hai: In the Amazon, the world's largest rainforest, 91% of the land that was deforested since 1970, is used for livestock pasture. This is a devastating way to make a cheap profit at the cost of our planet's and our people's survival. We are eating our planet by consuming meat.
VOICE: Tune in to Supreme Master Television this Tuesday, December 22, for part 4 of the rebroadcast of the videoconference “Protect Our Home with L.O.V.E.” on Words of Wisdom.
Tune in to Supreme Master Television today for the rebroadcast of the videoconference “Protect Our Home with L.O.V.E.” on Words of Wisdom.
Supreme Master Ching Hai: Please help. Please help each other, please help us. Because many of our world co-citizens are not aware that many of our other co-citizens are dying because of lack of water, and lack of water means lack of food, lack of security. We must do everything we can. And the first step to begin is to be vegan.
VOICE: Join us on Supreme Master Television this Friday, December 25, for part 6 of the rebroadcast of the videoconference with Guest of Honor, Supreme Master Ching Hai, entitled “Protect Our Home with L.O.V.E.” on Words of Wisdom.
Tune in to Supreme Master Television today for the rebroadcast of the live videoconference “Protect Our Home with L.O.V.E.” with Guest of Honor, Supreme Master Ching Hai, on Words of Wisdom.