Many people believe it is wrong to kill anything that is alive. However, what do you do when there are vermin in the house?
The Guide: This view of not killing something, even if it is destructive, like vermin for instance, would be extreme fanaticism, and an utter misunderstanding of truth.
There is a lower kind of animal life that is destructive, and if you would all abide by the rigid rule that nothing must be killed, you would destroy yourselves. You would not kill germs either. Germs too are life-organisms, only smaller. You cannot see them with your ordinary eyes, but life is there. Now where does it all end?
If a small, destructive life-organism is maintained because of such a rule, it would eventually destroy the bigger, more important life-organism. By allowing an organism to live due to a rule not to kill, you would kill just the same, though you would not see the act, since the procedure is drawn out. Here you have a typical example of how dangerous and fallacious it is to follow rules blindly. By doing so, you end up doing the very thing the rule forbids.
This applies to any truth. Truth carried too far unthinkingly, necessarily becomes an untruth. Truth is never a rigid rule that can be pursued to the end. It is dynamic and flexible and therefore always requires the middle road, which can only be attained by responsible thinking and evaluating.
Rigid dogma is based on such rules. The life has been extracted out of the living spirit of truth, and the letter of the law has been substituted. Because people are too lazy to think and too cowardly to make their own decisions based on their own evaluations, they want to adhere to a dead ruling. Then they feel good about doing the right thing.
Truth is not that comfortable. It has to be fought for constantly through accounting, thinking, deciding, weighing. It requires a sense of self-responsibility and courage. This applies to everything, including the subject you asked about.
I can foresee another question. It is: on what level of animal life are we to stop? How do we know? There are so many considerations, so many factors we ignore. How can we decide which animal life is predominantly destructive and which is predominantly constructive?
This also depends on conditions of a particular civilization and on environmental factors. There is no easy answer here. But again, fanaticism and rigidity will not be the answer. The answer is evolutionary development. The time has not yet arrived when humankind is ready to give up killing higher animal species, but it is not too distant, at least from our point of view.
The time will come when humankind will no longer need to eat meat. However, until such time, many other things will first have to change. The next step will be the strict observation of avoiding unnecessary cruelty. This step cannot be skipped by forbidding meat eating.
Until such time, you can only find within yourself the answer to such questions. Probe yourself. Where do you tend toward rigid fanaticism? Where do you tend to be irresponsible? Every issue demands a different attitude, a new accounting, and a thinking through.