Da Vinci’s fables and prophecies show him to be deeply aware and highly sensitive to the suffering of animal-people. Referring to “Of things which are eaten and which first are killed” he wrote: “Those who nourish them will be killed by them and afflicted by merciless deaths.”
Leonardo da Vinci (vegetarian) was an incredibly talented man. As we have learned in previous episodes, he was prolific in all aspects of investigation, invention, and creation. He had an intense and lifelong love of learning, keeping constant notes which covered various themes ranging from plans for his day, recording ideas for new paintings and creations and periods of deep thoughts.
From his prodigious writings one can witness the extent of Da Vinci’s great intellect. He often used wit and jest to entertain, and fable-like storytelling to relay his meaning. Additionally, he is renowned for writing in mirror image, which meant the majority of viewers could not interpret his notes – at least without the help of a mirror, and even then, his words were often written in his less well-known Florentine dialect. Such literary techniques allowed Da Vinci to shroud his writings in wrappings of intellect and poetic genius, requiring those of superior intellect to also contemplate a broader and deeper meaning to his works.
In today’s episode, we will explore the Universal Genius’s perspective on nature and animal-people, specifically in relation to the human interaction and their treatment of these.
That Da Vinci loved animal-people is well known. Famed Italian Renaissance master artist, architect, historian and biographer, Giorgio Vasari says of Leonardo da Vinci’s love for animal-people: “He took an especial delight in animals of all sorts, which he treated with wonderful love and patience. For instance, when he was passing the places where they sold birds, he would often take them out of their cages with his hand, and having paid whatever price was asked by the vendor, he would let them fly away into the air, giving them back their lost liberty.”
Da Vinci’s fables and prophecies show him to be deeply aware and highly sensitive to the suffering of animal-people. The following references are found in his notes under prophecies on this topic.
Referring to “Of things which are eaten and which first are killed” he wrote: “Those who nourish them will be killed by them and afflicted by merciless deaths.” “Of Oxen, which are eaten: The masters of estates will eat their own laborers.”
“Of Sheep, Cows, Goats and the like: Endless multitudes of these will have their little children taken from them ripped open and flayed and most barbarously quartered.”
“Of Eggs which being eaten cannot form Chickens: Oh! how many will they be that never come to birth!”
Regarding fish-people embryos deplorably stolen as caviar before they could hatch, he said: “Endless generations will be lost by the death of the pregnant.” And of their ill-fated fish-parents being boiled as food: “The natives of the waters will die in boiling water.”
The maestro was even aware of the torment inflicted onto the bees in the stealing of their honey: “And many others will be robbed of their store of provisions and their food, and by an insensate folk will be cruelly immersed and drowned. O justice of God! Why dost thou not awake to behold thy creatures thus abused?”
Sadly, 500 years later, humans have not awoken to the senseless brutality of using animal-people for food. Such absence of compassion at the ill-treatment of God’s creations is far from the teachings of the Christian biblical passages that the church and society of Da Vinci’s Renaissance period so avidly proselytized. It was no wonder that the Great Artist was a vegetarian. His fondness for animal-people is well known, from canine-folks to feline-friends seen through his art.
Da Vinci also had great respect and love for equine-people, with many drawings of those magnificent specimens living around his various residences. He simply did not draw a distinction between the need to treat both domesticated animal friends and all animal beings with respect, compassion, and empathy.
Da Vinci also commented on other ways in which various animal-people were treated. This includes using parts of their dismembered bodies in everyday life such as using feathers as ink quills for writing, and horns from animal-people used as lanterns. He also lamented at the horrific use of animal-people for war and sport.
“Of the Tongues of Pig-people and Calves in Sausage-skins” he stated: “Oh! how foul a thing, that we should see the tongue of one animal in the guts of another.”
“Of the Soles of Shoes, which are made from the Ox-people” he stated: “And in many parts of the country men will be seen walking on the skins of large animals.”
“Of Asses, meaning working equine-people” he stated: “The severest labour will be repaid with hunger and thirst, and discomfort, and blows, and goadings, and curses, and great abuse.”
Da Vinci’s writings regarding the suffering enforced onto animal-people are interspersed within his writings entitled “prophecies.” One may ask, why did he include these lamentations under this title, especially when these practices were already so prevalent during the Renaissance period?
By looking at “The Division of The Prophecies” we gain some insight. Da Vinci suggested that there was a thematic division of the written material, though the reader discovers that different information regarding maltreatment and suffering of animal-people was mixed together with other problems of societies including biblical scale disasters. Is it possible that Da Vinci was foreseeing the interrelatedness of these seemingly different issues, especially in relation to cause and effect?
THE DIVISION OF THE PROPHECIES. “[...] And reserve the great matters till the end, and the small matters give at the beginning. And first show the evils and then the punishment of philosophical things.” We can see this with his approach to writing “Of Metals.”
Of Metals. “That shall be brought forth out of dark and obscure caves, which will put the whole human race in great anxiety, peril and death. To many that seek them, after many sorrows they will give delight, and to those who are not in their company, death with want and misfortune. This will lead to the commission of endless crimes; this will increase and persuade bad men to assassinations, robberies and treachery, and by reason of it each will be suspicious of his partner. This will deprive free cities of their happy condition; this will take away the lives of many; this will make men torment each other with many artifices deceptions and treasons. O monstrous creature! How much better would it be for men that you should return to hell! For this the vast forests will be devastated of their trees; for this, endless animals will lose their lives.” This passage seems to outline the various layers of corruption that humans experience when tempted by money or fortune.
Gold and silver have been common forms of money throughout history, while the Romans used bronze as a credit system. To what levels are humans willing to debase themselves for money? We can see this with our current societies, and it fuels the suffering of animal-people.
Supreme Master Ching Hai (vegan) has also spoken about this. “I told you, these meat corporations are very powerful. (Oh, yes, it’s true. That’s true.) They bought many of the governments in the world, most of them. (Wow.) Most of the workers for the government, they bought them all. (Wow.) What do they call it? They don’t say blackmail, they don’t say corruption, they say what? Lobby! (Oh. Lobby, yes.) Lobbying many kinds of things. You know, pressure. (Oh, yes.) Hinting of bribery, or hinting of contributions, etc., etc. They have a lot of money – they can bribe, they can contribute. (Yes, Master.) So, if any politician takes those money to run for office, then they owe them. (Oh, yes.) They owe the debt to these contributors.”
“Media Report from Now This World Oct. 29, 2015: The massive flood of cash and jobs have made the meat lobby one of the most influential legislative groups in Washington. In 2014, they spent more than $4 million lobbying Congress. The meat industry has also been closely tied to the US Department of Agriculture, which releases dietary guidelines for Americans. Understandably, the relationship between meat manufacturers and the US government has many questioning whether those guidelines are actually in American’s best interests, especially considering that the USDA even runs programs which are intended to fund advertising for meat and dairy.
The Atlantic reports that at least since 1977, efforts by the USDA to suggest decreasing meat consumption have been repeatedly derailed. Due to pressure from the meat industry, instead of telling consumers to eat less, they’ve been told to eat more lean meats. But the meat industry hasn’t just influenced the USDA to keep meat amounts the same – it’s also intervened in food safety. In the 1990s, attempts to start testing for salmonella in ground beef were opposed by the meat industry. A congressman with financial ties to the meat industry called for more hearings and delays against new food safety guidelines.”