Yes he does, according to his partner Kim Eng.
It’s such a curious question isn’t it: “Are spiritual people, truly enlightened people, vegetarians?” And the answer is clearly “not necessarily.”
If you look at the great spiritual masters, there’s no common theme with regards to meat eating. Buddha wasn’t rigid about it and said it was okay if you were offered it, the Dalai Lama follows this path and is vegetarian at home but will eat meat if away.
Jesus fed the 5000 fish and loaves which he magically produced. Jesus said “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” Matthew 15:11. And “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.” Luke 12:22
And enlightened master Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, of “I AM THAT” fame, had no issue with meat eating or even smoking. Here’s an excerpt from I AM THAT…
Q: My body influences me deeply. In more than one way my body is my destiny. My character, my moods, the nature of my reactions, my desires and fears — inborn or acquired — they are all based on the body. A little alcohol, some drug or other and all changes. Until the drug wears off I become another man.
M: All this happens because you think yourself to be the body. realise your real self and even drugs will have no power over you.
Q: You smoke?
M: My body kept a few habits which may as well continue till it dies. There is no harm in them.
Q: You eat meat?
M: I was born among meat-eating people and my children are eating meat. I eat very little — and make no fuss.
Q: Meat-eating implies killing.
M: Obviously. I make no claims of consistency. You think absolute consistency is possible; prove it by example. Don’t preach what you do not practise.
Similarly, here’s what Ramana Maharshi had to say on the subject:
M: Habit is only adjustment to the environment. It is the mind that matters. The fact is that the mind has been trained to think certain foods tasty and good. The food material is to be had both in vegetarian and non-vegetarian diet equally well. But the mind desires such food as it is accustomed to and considers tasty.
D: Are there restrictions for the realised man in a similar manner?
M: No. He is steady and not influenced by the food he takes.
Eckhart Tolle sees life as one dynamic whole; an inter-connectedness, an inter-action, oneness. Life eats life, everywhere…
I saw on TV the other day, whales hunting. They pincered a shoal of fish and then came from underneath to catch thousands in one mouthful. Does that make a whale evil?
Having had my head into nutrition for over 20 years, I’m uncomfortable from a health point of view with pure vegetarianism (and the dairy industry is crueler than the meat industry so I’m told by vegans).
Interestingly, I’ve seen Eckhart Tolle dodge this question many times in seminars and TV interviews. He just advises to…
Be present with whatever your food choices are and then the right food choice will happen for you… it needs to come from within rather than as something from without.
This view is perfectly echoed by non-physical beings Abraham, channeled by Esther Hicks…
Imagine if you could let being aligned be your first priority — a lot of vegans would be inspired to a lot of eating that their veganism would not allow, but the source within them would call them toward.— Abraham-Hicks
Yet another echo of the same perspective from Adyashanti:
Safransky: Could killing animals to eat them come from wholeness?
Adyashanti: Sure. Life is killing. If we eat a vegetable, we’ve killed it. If we eat an animal, we’ve killed it. To be a living organism is to kill. There is no life without death. When we die, we’re going to be nutrients for something else.
I don’t see life as “anything goes,” but I have seen wholeness move through different people in different ways. That’s why I’m always talking about action that comes from wholeness, not from division, nor rejection, nor grasping, nor pushing away. What motivates us when we’re not pushing or grasping, not relying on conditioned concepts of right and wrong, good and bad? Is there something else that can move us? And what is that? Action that is an expression of a clear and undivided state of consciousness is what the Buddha meant by “right action.” To exercise right action we must be functioning from a place outside of all egoic self-interest. We must be awake within the dream and be able to express that perspective.
The take-home message…
…from these spiritual masters is clear: Be whole, then see what you do.
People’s pre-judgement on the basis of this issue would be detrimental to their own enlightenment. Because if you saw as Eckhart does, life as oneness, then you would probably also not be overly concerned about any particular FORM, as all the forms are continuously morphing and changing. In fact, there is only life and it is ONE life, there is no death anywhere to be seen! And… life eats life, everywhere. My cat isn’t evil for eating mice.
What do you think? Do you think vegetarians are more spiritual? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.
Michael Kinnaird is the author of Happy Guide, the result of a 20 year exploration into what works for health and happiness.
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221 thoughts on “Does Eckhart Tolle eat meat?”
Most modern humans eat meat and dairy because it’s been normalized and because they like the taste. Causing the suffering and death of animals in order to meet these selfish desires is not an enlightened act. Looking away while talking about “wholeness” and “right action” instead of behind the doors of the slaughterhouse, is disingenuous.
The eating of meat and farming practices are two different subjects.
I’m a vegan-leaning vegetarian myself, and I’ve heard many of Eckhart Tolle’s recorded talks. I think meat-eating people in Tolle’s belief system might say that the part of an animal that is butchered and eaten is the impermanent part, and that the enduring part rejoins the Greater Consciousness once the animal’s spirit is released. Some followers of this type of belief system are vegetarian or vegan, though probably most of them eat meat. I think basically the ones who eat meat would say that if you object to using animals as food you’re not taking the bigger picture into consideration. Who knows why a little scrap of consciousness would manifest as a food animal, or as a culled male baby chick. Maybe it’s a practice run for doing a lifecycle later on as a more complex and longer- living life form. Maybe it’s the most complicated thing they’ve done so far, being many steps up from a single-cell organism!
It seems to me that if you were going to incarnate as a chick that lives less than a day, it might be a baby step toward a longer and more complicated commitment later. Maybe it’s like sticking your toe into the cold ocean water in contemplation of committing more of your body if your toe can stand the temperature. I haven’t read anything real firm coming out of Tolle about whether creatures reincarnate and come back again and again, or if the one ride is it. Both of those possibilities seem to be entertained in different readings. The idea of entering physical reality as a food animal would suggest that there will be other lives building from that one, or else that there is one highly specific type of lesson to be taken from that experience and folded into the greater consciousness. But it seems really odd to think of a creature intentionally choosing such a short and brutalized existence.
What I personally think is that there is more than one path toward enlightenment, and that some people find it easier to make progress as vegans because being any other way would hold them back by making them feel hypocritical. And I think other people are more highly attuned to how human beings treat and mistreat one another, and that they focus their attention on that. Obviously, one doesn’t rule out the other, but individual vegans and individual meat eaters have many things to show one another about compassion and kindness.
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I suggest people be more aware of their food in general. It’s all spiritual if you can acknowledge the source and know your farmer, fishermen, and understand the culture from where it is actually produced. Bless every meal with this in mind. All farm fields kill foreign animals with plows and unforeseen circumstances. There are farms in your area where you can purchase mindful products such as meat, chicken, dairy and produce. Be aware of that.
Totally agree. Farming actually kills by displacement as well. Imagine the ecology of nature that would be there.
I’m afraid you are trying to have your cake and eat it too. Can you be enlightened while causing abuse and death that are inherent to animal food production? Dairy requires taking a baby from mother cow as they cry for each other for days, and then the calf might be slaughtered shortly after. That’s just one of many examples. I understand that the animal eating issue is like an eyesore for people who try to reconcile the idea of enlightenment with their disregard for animal abuse. Ekhart Tolle INCLUDED.
How convenient it is to sit there and talk about mind and what comes from within while creating demand for unthinkable abuse of living beings.
And what’s the point of comparing humans to whales and wild carnivores? Lions also would eat their own kind of a fellow lion is injured, for example. We aren’t going to follow their lead in that as well, are we?.. Cherry picking our points of enlightenment and animal world parallels, are we?..