This morning I was preparing the Ekadaśi staple of the day, potatoes, while Chandaneśwar prabhu transfixed on something else than me when I started thinking carefully about my actions and suddenly asked him, "Isn't it horrible how I'm stabbing this poor potato all over? Do you think he feels pain? I mean, the scriptures say that plant-life have consciousness though extremely diminished. Are they aware of their suffering the way we're aware when in pain or hurt?" My husband joked around about it then became very somber. "Maybe he feels it like... acupuncture." He chuckled lightly then became very grave and the room went quiet, "They don't feel anything the way we feel; they're alive but not conscious, like in a coma." I thought about it "Coma?" and reflected on terminology I was well-acquainted with from my past, 'vegetative state', 'diminished brain function', 'paralysis' and rephrased aloud, "They're alive but barely, not aware of their surroundings, their entire existence is pain, they don't know anything besides suffering." I felt bad again, not because I was stabbing potatoes, rubbing them with olive oil and sea salt only so I could foil them up and throw 'em in the oven but because I realized how variegated were the consciousness of living entities and how we interact with each other. "Jiva jivasya jivanam. What choice do I have, it's a dog eat dog world... " thoughts of the food chain sped around my brain like a twister through a trailer-park. It unnerved me but then I caught myself. I was only looking at this situation from the material perspective. What about the spiritual perspective? The only thing I could do to survive is eat another living entity, how I go about it is my choice; Krishna is here, in my home, waiting for me to offer whatever I have with love and sincerity. How could I be so upset with myself, when in reality I was taking the potato out of his miserable existence and offering it back to the Supreme Lord? Whatever suffering he's undergone is in the past, maybe that soul will be reunited with Krishna in the very near future, maybe I can pray for that jiva to find his way back home. Maybe that jiva can put in a good word for me, too. Maybe I need that jiva more than he needs me... who is benefiting whom exactly?