Annie@SHVC: Hi Jivan, where do you come from and how long have you been in Shanghai?
Jivan:I’m originally from the US, a small state called Vermont in the Northeast, and before I came to China I was living in the San Diego area for about 4 years. I’ve been in China about 5 years, and Shanghai about 2.
Annie@SHVC: So are you a vegetarian or vegan?
Jivan:I’m a vegan-leaning vegetarian. I don’t have a problem with the consumption of unfertilized eggs, dairy, and honey of itself, but the conditions that farm animals are subjected to in todays factory-farming are terrible and I don’t want to support that kind of treatment. I became vegetarian about twenty years ago, when I was seventeen years old.
Annie@SHVC: What exactly turned you into a vegetarian?
Jivan:Originally it was an interest in yoga. One of the core requirements of yoga practice is ahimsa, or non-violence. This includes not eating meat. A few years later I revisited the practices that I’d inherited unquestioningly, and vegetarianism still made sense. There are simply too many costs associated with eating meat. For starters there’s the fairly senseless killing of the animals, the poor treatment and suffering they receive during their lives. There are also social consequences. Farming a piece of land to produce feed for an animal which then becomes a single meal of meat could, using the same land producing food for humans, would result in 5-15 vegetarian meals. If you want to help the people in the world that don’t have enough to eat, cutting back on your meat consumption is a good way to do it. There’s also environmental consequences. Animals produce methane, which is a greenhouse gas many times stronger than carbon dioxide. Animal wastes are also very high in nitrogen, which causes severe overgrowth of algae in the rivers and lakes near farms, and often contributes to the pollution of groundwater in the area.
Annie@SHVC: Yeah I totally agree, too much sacrifice, life and resources… hey, I noticed you have a special name, tell us a bit more about it, please.
Jivan: In India, there is a tradition of taking on a new name when you meet a spiritual teacher called Sanyas. Traditionally it includes vows of renunciation, but there was a spiritual teacher named Osho that emphasized that the traditional renunciation of a some objects (personal possessions) and behaviors (earning money, sex) can have very little spiritual relevance and that it is the detachment within the mind that is most important. He still gave a new name to his students, but they were still expected to live relatively normal lives and called the tradition neo-sanyas. When I went to India, Osho had passed away, but one of his students was teaching and I did a meditation retreat with him. He was still offering this tradition, and I took on this name which he gave me.
Annie@SHVC: Since you mentioned meditation, I always think it’s extremely hard, especially living in a big crowded noisy city, how do you manage that?
Jivan: It’s important to remember that like learning most anything well, it’s important to practice regularly. If you can find a good teacher, you’ll improve more quickly. If you take just ten minutes a day for meditation, but do it consistently, you should start to notice benefits within about three months. There are many techniques for meditating and it’s important to remember that it’s not about forcing the mind to be quiet. Even if you succeed at that, mental and/or emotional energy will just build up and explode at another time. A simple but effective technique is to give your attention to your breathing and each time you notice that you’ve been distracted, gently bring your attention back to your breathing.
Annie@SHVC: Is there any meditation events or groups people can go to in Shanghai, and is it free of charge?
Jivan: There are a number of meditation events and groups in Shanghai, and a few of them are free of charge. A good place to find them is on the Spiritual Shanghai website calendar. I host a Sunday evening meditation group free of charge at 5pm every Sunday. If anyone is interested, they can contact me at SundayMeditation_Info@JivanAmara.net.
Annie@SHVC: That sounds great! Alright…last but not last least, what is your fav vegan dish or restaurant in Shanghai?
Jivan: No question at all, my favorite restaurant is Lucky Zen and Veg. The place has a great atmosphere, pleasant staff, interesting patrons, great food, and reasonable prices.
一场与Jivan A 的启发性对话
Jivan: 最初，只是对瑜伽的兴趣。瑜伽练习的核心要求之一是不杀生，或者说是非暴力。这包括不吃肉。几年后，我重新审视我毫不犹豫地执行的习惯，素食主义仍然是有意义的。吃肉的代价真是太大了。首先，动物还活着的时候，受到的待遇就很惨，它们也一直在受苦，然后被无情地杀掉。 其次，社会也得付出代价。耕种一块土地，生产动物饲料，然后成为一餐肉食，用的是同样可为人类生产食物的土地，能解决大约5-15个素食者的一餐。如果你想帮助世界上没有足够食物的人，减少肉类消费是一个很好的方法。当然还有环境意义。动物产生甲烷，这是一种温室气体，比二氧化碳危害多许多倍。 动物粪便中的氮也非常高，这会导致耕地附近的河流和湖泊中藻类生长过茂，往往还导致该地区的地下水污染。
Jivan: 重要的是要记住,学好任何事情,重要的是要定期练习。如果你能找到一个好老师,你会进步得更快。即使你每天只花十分钟冥想,坚持这样做下去,三个月后你就会开始注意到成效。冥想技巧有很多种, 最重要的是不要迫使头脑安静下来。即使你强迫自己做到了，心理和/或情感能量只会累积起来，在另一个时期爆发。一个简单而有效的方法是,你把注意力放在呼吸上,每当你意识到自己开始走神时,慢慢将注意力重新转移到你的呼吸上来。