In 1934 Paramhansa Yogananda wrote this rousing letter to his students on Thanksgiving. He did not mince words!
Every day should be a day of Thanksgiving for all the gifts of Life–for sunshine, water, and the luscious fruits and greens which we receive as indirect gifts from the Great Giver. He makes us work so that we may consciously and thankfully deserve to receive His Gifts. The All-Sufficient One does not need the benefit of our thankful hearts, but when we are grateful to the Fountain of all gifts, our attention is concentrated, for our own highest benefit, upon the only Great Source of all supply, which alone can unfailingly, undeceivingly bestow upon us the lasting gifts of wisdom, abundance, and Spiritual treasures without the confinement of any mundane measure.
There are millions of people today who are drunk with egotism, who think that they keep themselves alive because they feed themselves with their self-earned magic gold of delusion. They never stop to think that man can neither make a grain of wheat, nor a leaf of green, nor the illusory, glittering, yellow gold, nor the paper and ink of which greenbacks are made; neither can he create first life independently of God–the life that gives power to the precious green papers. For these people, Thanksgiving Day, although soiled with the blood of unthankful turkeys, is a great day of awakening and of thinking of the most important and the most forgotten Molder of our Destiny.
People, drunk with delusions, eat meat almost every day, and at the same time forget the Savior who saves them from all sorrows. It doesn’t matter how many turkeys are sacrificed in order to offer thanks to the Giver of all Life, if only meat eaters may have their meat and think of the Most Adorable One at the same time. However, it is better to eat meat and think of God, rather than add to meat-eating the highest sin: God-oblivion. But many of you could thank God in meditation more consciously and better while munching on the meat of peace, than while dipping your lips in the gravy and the flavor-camouflaged flesh of a turkey, where once sensitiveness guarded the throne of Life.
Millions of people who eat turkey forget to thank God at all, and think more of the turkey than of God. A few people thank Him for the taste of savory turkey. If you eat turkey, be sure to stuff it with the best Bliss-spiced dressing of thankful remembrance of God for all His highest gifts of wisdom, peace, power to accomplish, and also for His other inconsequent gifts of turkey dinner, and so forth. Be sure to thank God for forgiving you for compelling the quickening of the turkey’s evolution against its own will. And also thank God that you are not the turkey, to be used for the festivity of Thanksgiving.
I am glad for you if you can find Heaven just by not forgetting God while partaking of your august turkey dinner, and I shall have to be happy for the turkeys, that they have found Heaven, and freedom from the misery of daily gobbling and the fear of waiting their doom through all of you, even though they were unwilling that it should happen.
Anyway, don’t mind my sympathy for the turkey, for I am more sympathetic toward you, who are superior to the turkey, lest you bring greater trials upon yourselves by forgetting God. He is waiting to hear your unceasing knock of devotion and to open the Gates of Omnipresence to receive you. Whether you eat turkey or not does not matter if you will only knock hard with devotion on the doors of your heart. He will open the Gates of Omnipresence to receive you.
Make every day a day of Thanksgiving without regular feasts, and continuous contentment will sparkle in your body, mind, and Soul. If you eat turkey, be sure to search for the all-freeing God from then on until you find Him on the brink of unceasing seeking.
Source: Ananda Sangha Weekly