AUSTRIA, January 2010

Last night, I couldn’t sleep. I lay awake for about an hour, all the time feeling a voice growing louder in my mind, urging me to get dressed and go outside for a walk. I resisted this for as long as I could (we are in Austria skiing, and it’s -5 outside, whereas my bed is pretty warm!) but eventually realized that this was no ordinary voice.

When I finally got outside, I walked for about a kilometer across the mountain. I could hardly see a thing. The ground was a blur of white; black trees on either side; few stars up above. I walked for about 30 minutes until I was suddenly and inexplicably compelled to sit.
I heard the forest around me, whispering in the wind. I saw the universe above me, cold and vast. I felt something indescribable watching me - compassionately. It was an animal of some kind, and I felt it's intelligence; it’s patience; it’s absolute comfortable at-home-ness.
I sat there as an alien. Out of place, out of time. Every cell in my body was telling me that I shouldn’t be there – in a forest, in the dark, at 4 am.
I realized that we human beings have isolated ourselves so much from nature. We are trapped in our houses, in our cars, in our daily routines. We think that we are free, but we have imprisoned ourselves – our own jailers. We think that we are intelligent, but we are surely the laughing stock of the universe. We are at the top of the food chain, but live in tight little bubbles of terror and stress. There truly is an emergency on planet Earth. It is not about the desperate state of the environment. It is not about the 50 billion or so land animals that are produced and slaughtered each year by the meat industry. It is not about the proliferation of crime, poverty, disease, and war. These are all mere symptoms. It is about the terrible state of our human consciousness that has caused all this.

As I sat there, being watched by this creature without judgment, I felt such a sorrow for humankind welling up inside me that I began to cry.  I forgave myself for all of our crimes, and decided to continue doing what I am doing despite such hopelessness.
I will continue to advocate vegetarianism, knowing that every person who stops eating meat saves countless lives and suffering. I will continue to observe my mind, cleaning my consciousness bit by bit, in the hope that one day, my children may know absolute peace. I will continue to speak out, and to write, and to heal, and to teach, in the belief that “he who saves one man, saves all mankind” (as is written in the Koran).

And I will continue to walk in the night, knowing that only when I am comfortable there, will I be free in the daytime.