When we buy a piece of meat, doesn’t the supply-chain economy react to replace it in the grocery aisle, where it otherwise would not? If hundreds of tantric Buddhists shopped in the same Whole Foods outlet, perhaps that would be the case. But if we relatively few tantrikas are thoughtful and selective, we not only are very unlikely to add to the toll of lives lost to consumption of meat by our twice-monthly small purchase, but likely will be substituting our purchase for that of another person who lacks our motivation and purpose in forming a compassionate and aspirational karmic connection with the being whose flesh has been slaughtered.
The thought of extraordinary individuals has the power to shift what we conceive of as possible in this human realm. It also changes what we think of our teachers, ourselves, and our brothers and sisters. A saint, both in the East and in Western traditions, is something more than a good person, or someone of exemplary character. Moving past this mundane conception, we enter into a supernatural framework for understanding the lives and influence of a saintly person.