Pythagoras’ contribution to western philosophy is immense. It is incalculable. For the first time he introduced vegetarianism to the West.
The idea of vegetarianism is of immense value; it is based on great reverence for life.
The modern mind can understand it far better now we know that all forms of life are interrelated, interdependent. Man is not an island: man exists in an infinite web of millions of forms of life and existence. We exist in a chain, we are not separate. And to destroy other animals is not only ugly, unaesthetic, inhuman – it is also unscientific. We are destroying our own foundation.
Life exists as one organic unity. Man can exist only as part of this orchestra. Just think of man without birds and without animals and without fish – that life will be very very boring; it will lose all complexity, variety, richness, colour. The forests will be utterly empty, the cuckoo will not call, and the birds will not fly, and the water will look very sad without the fish.
Life in its infinite forms exists as one organic unity. We are part of it: the part should feel reverence for the whole. That is the idea of vegetarianism. It simply means: don’t destroy life. It simply means: life is God – avoid destroying it, otherwise you will be destroying the very ecology.
If you eat something
which is fundamentally
based on murder, on violence,
you cannot rise above
the law of necessity.
And it has something very scientific behind it. It was not an accident that all the religions that were born in India are basically vegetarian, and all the religions that were born outside India are non-vegetarian. But the highest peaks of religious consciousness were known in India and nowhere else.
Vegetarianism functioned as a purification. When you eat animals you are more under the law of necessity. You are heavy, you gravitate more towards the earth. When you are a vegetarian you are light and you are more under the law of grace, under the law of power, and you start gravitating towards the sky.
Your food is not just food: it is you. What you eat, you become. If you eat something which is fundamentally based on murder, on violence, you cannot rise above the law of necessity. You will remain more or less an animal. The human is born when you start moving above the animals, when you start doing something to yourself which no animal can do.
Vegetarianism is a conscious effort, a deliberate effort, to get out of the heaviness that keeps you tethered to the earth so that you can fly – so that the flight from the alone to the alone becomes possible.
The lighter the food, the deeper goes the meditation. The grosser the food, then meditation becomes more and more difficult. I am not saying that meditation is impossible for a non-vegetarian – it is not impossible, but it is unnecessarily difficult.
Osho, Philosophia Perennis Vol. 2, Q 6