Compassion is the main ethical principle of one’s relationships with other people and with all living beings, even with non-incarnate ones. This is the main aspect of love on the Earth and the first criterion that God uses to assess whether to allow us to approach Him or not.
Doing unnecessary harm to people or to other beings can never be justified in the eyes of God.
But what harm can be considered as “necessary”? For example, to cause pain or other damage to criminals when we repel their criminal deeds or defend other people from them. Another example is to punish children who frolic dangerously for themselves and for others, or to restrict mentally ill people. And so on.
But revenging oneself cannot be justified: this is an egocentric reaction of the offended lower self that must not be allowed.
The one who realized the true love cannot cause pain to an animal for a meaningless reason. Such a person cannot eat corpses of killed animals: in their dead bodies there is the pain of their death.
For example, Jesus expressed discontent, when He was hinted about an opportunity to taste a “sacrificial” lamb at Passover: “Do you think that I am going to eat with you meat at Passover?” (Epiphanius, Haer., 22:4; citation from ). Neither He nor His disciples ate bodies of animals except for fish, this follows from the words of Apostle Peter (Acts 10:10-14).
However, they did kill and eat fish. This is understandable: Jesus did not suggest to people too hard “upheavals” in the stereotypes of their lives. If He had said to fishermen “do not eat fish!”, they would have stopped listening to such a preacher!
Yet, for modern people it is possible to accept the principle of Love-Compassion as an ethical concept and to follow it as widely and completely as possible within reason.
For example, it makes no sense to ponder over whether it is allowed or not to kill a rabid dog or a wolf that attacks man, to kill mosquitoes, gadflies, ticks, etc. If we can kill them but do not do it, then they will attack others and it will be our fault, our transgression of the principle of Love-Compassion in relation to their victims.
There is also no point in hesitating whether one has a right to kill plants for food, for building a fire, for construction, or to use milk products and eggs for food — we cannot develop on the Earth without doing this. And our food must be adequate, with a complete set of indispensable amino acids.
However, killing or maiming plants for no meaningful reason is a different thing: for example, to pick “automatically” a leaf and throw it, to make a bouquet of flowers, or to buy (to cut) a fir-tree for New Year or Christmas and admire how it dies. This is a meaningless death: people kill these plants not for the reason of survival and development but out of fancy, because “everybody does this”, or because “I want it!”.
… Even at the time of Moses, God gave the commandment “you shall not kill!”. The same was repeated by Jesus (Luke 18:20). Yet, human egoism, the habit of discarding all principles which prevent satisfaction of one’s own whims, inability to compassionate, to co-experience the pain of others make people invent various justifications for transgressing this commandment of God or pretend that they do not know it.
Paul, by the way, in the First Epistle to Corinthians (10:27) permits: eat whatever is set before you! But at the same time, he says that he is an imitator of Christ and calls others to become imitators of Christ even as he (Paul) is (11:1)… However in this respect he was not an imitator of Christ…
Though, in the Epistle to Romans Paul writes a different thing: “It is good not to eat flesh…” (Rom 14:21).
And to resolve the last doubts about this matter, let us see what Jesus Christ said: “Not only abstain from consuming human sacrifices, but immolate no creature to which life has been given!…” (The Life of Saint Issa, 7:14).
The true compassion originates from the awareness that all of us — even vegetal creatures — are God’s children of different age, brothers and sisters of His one family. We all have objectively equal interests in the universe, we all are one. By helping others, I help Him in His Life-Evolution, all this is one Life, the Life of One Organism of the Absolute, where there is nothing that is “mine”, there is only one common Life full of His Meaning. My role — as a part of His Organism — is to help others on this Path of Growth. There is nothing that is mine, there is only the Common — His.
“Do not look to your own interests, but let each of you look to the interests of the others! Let the same disposition be in you which was in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:4-5).
This can be realized when one masters living according to His interest and thus — according to the interests of others. There is no one’s own interest then, and there is no one’s “self”, “ego” — it gets dissolved first in others and then — in Him.