Author Topic: Vegetarianism - A Buddhist practice?  (Read 27282 times)

Big Uncle

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Vegetarianism - A Buddhist practice?
« on: July 26, 2011, 04:07:30 AM »
I have not read much about vegetarianism in Buddhism. I don't recall that the Buddha was ever vegetarian and I don't think it is even part of the Vinaya (monk code of conduct). I know there are some Buddhists who are vegetarian, there are some Buddhists who are Vegan and there are some who eat meat. So is it an essential, recommended or unnecessary practice?

In the practice of Tantra, the lower Tantric practices require initiates who are about to receive a particular empowerment to refrain from the 5 black foods including meat. However, in Higher Tantric empowerments, there is no such restrictions. Then, there is the Tantric Tsoks (Ritual Feasts of a particular Yidam) that one have to perform every fortnightly after receiving higher Tantric initiations. This ritual includes partaking of meat and alcohol.

The message seemed to be conflicting... Perhaps, I have not research well enough to conclude but maybe someone would like to comment on this?

KhedrubGyatso

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Re: Vegetarianism - A Buddhist practice?
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2011, 05:34:51 AM »
I think  the advice of the Buddha ,re vegetarian,  is one of recommended practice rather than it being  essential or deemed unnecessary.
Although the first of the five precepts, is to refrain from intentional acts of killing, it does not address  eating meat ( animals that are already dead).Theravadan monks have choice to not eat any meat offered  in their alms round. In those parts of the world  where vegetarianism is impractical due to the environmental conditions vegetarian monks would have to decide : eat meat or starve.
The scriptures seem clear  that one may  receive, cook, and eat meat that either was freely offered by others, or that came from an animal who died of natural causes.
The Buddha did say that one should not specifically order animals to be killed for one's consumption, should not eat  meat that one is aware was slaughtered specially for oneself and eat  animals like cow which benefit humans. From this it does seem like buying meat from local butchers is ok as the animals were not killed with the purchaser in mind. But then again, the meat is  meant for /directed at meat eaters even though it may not be for any particular  person.We also end up with another issue, supporting a wronglivelihood - being a butcher/ or trading in meat is one of the  5 wrong livelihoods. I also hope to receive more inputS on this very interesting topic opened by BU.

I am happy to be vegetarian for the reason that my conscience do not agree with the thought that so many animals have to suffer slaughter for my eating pleasure esp when I have alternatives.

KhedrubGyatso

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Re: Vegetarianism - A Buddhist practice?
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2011, 12:49:52 PM »
The Buddha,  according to the Pali Canon, is not against eating meat ,even for monks. The scriptures  mentioned that he rejected Devadatta’s  suggestion to ban meat from the monks diet. On the other hand, the Buddha did  ban eating meat that was "seen, heard or suspected" to have been killed specifically for the benefit of monks. Lay people can also adopt this as guideline.
In the Lankavatara Sutra, the Buddha lists several reasons for not eating meat:
1. Present-day animals may have been one's kin in the past.
2. One's own parents and relatives may in a future life be born as an animal.
3. There is no logic in exempting the meat of some animals on customary grounds while not exempting all meat.
4. Meat is impure as it is always contaminated by body wastes.
5. The prospect of being killed spreads terror amongst animals.
6. All meat is nothing other than decaying flesh .
7. Meat eating makes the consumer to be cruel and sensual.
Above are the popular pro vege views. There are also the opposing vege views citing that in our interdependent eco world , eating vegetables also entails the sacrifice of many insects and animals albeit smaller ones. Another argument is that there is no causal link between eating meat to fill one’s stomach and  negative result of killing as the factor of intention is absent. When we eat meat, our intention is to eat and the object is not a living thing. If its about indirect killing, then the same argument will hold for vegetarians because farmers will have to kill many insects and pests when ploughing their fields, spraying weed killers , pesticides etc in order for us to have our vegetables. It seems  whatever arguments for and against apply to both sides. After all there is no perfection in samsara.
I guess the choice is still ours to make.  It is not about simply not to eat meat or go vege .It should be a conscientious decision.

Positive Change

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Re: Vegetarianism - A Buddhist practice?
« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2011, 05:46:28 PM »
I reckon the very fact that the motivation not to kill to feed ourselves is surely a compassionate act. However one might say, "but I did not kill the animal on my plate, am merely eating what was already dead!"... well someone did and if we eat that, are we not condoning the act? It is in my humble opinion wrong on many levels. What is really wrong is we able to delude ourselves into thinking there is nothing wrong buying a cling wrapped piece of dead animal from an air conditioned aisle in a supermarket. Yes I digress, but this is a very real issue that we have to live with every day of our lives. So yes, I do think being a vegetarian/vegetarianism is a Buddhist practice. A practice of compassion and making a decisive choice to not harm.

kurava

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Re: Vegetarianism - A Buddhist practice?
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2011, 12:35:05 PM »
When I visited Nepal sometime back, the tour guide who's a Hindu; explained that for the Hindus , animal sacrifice is to help the animal to collect merits since in its animal form the poor animal can't perform any virtuous action to collect merits.

I had also read in a book - The Spiritual Traveler (if I remember correctly), that some Buddhists claim eating meat is a way to help the animal killed for its meat to end its animal life and thereafter take a more fortunate rebirth.

The above two views sound bizarre to me. What do the rest think ?

Tammy

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Re: Vegetarianism - A Buddhist practice?
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2011, 12:54:05 PM »
I am a new-kid-on-the-block as far as Buddhism is concern and recently I have became a vegetarian.. my reason is really really simple - partaking meat contradicts to Buddha's teachings. If becoming a Buddhist and embarking in the path of spirituality to seek enlightenment is to HELP OTHER SENTIENT BEINGS, we should take the first step of not hurting and killing them.

 
Down with the BAN!!!

dsiluvu

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Re: Vegetarianism - A Buddhist practice?
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2011, 05:02:32 PM »
When I visited Nepal sometime back, the tour guide who's a Hindu; explained that for the Hindus , animal sacrifice is to help the animal to collect merits since in its animal form the poor animal can't perform any virtuous action to collect merits.

I had also read in a book - The Spiritual Traveler (if I remember correctly), that some Buddhists claim eating meat is a way to help the animal killed for its meat to end its animal life and thereafter take a more fortunate rebirth.

The above two views sound bizarre to me. What do the rest think ?


I personally feel Animal sacrifices in a religion or spiritual practice is very barbaric and even Buddha put a stop to this ancient tradition in India.

As for Buddhist I only ever heard from teachings that the meat partaken by the higher practising practitioners, Lamas and sagha like the Tantrikas who actually eat a little meat and because they self-generate themselves as their Yidam, say Yamantaka. It is the prayers that blesses the meat taken of that particular animal. But it does not justify us eating meat daily for our own pleasure and taste.

Definitely by eating meat will still collect  part of the negative karma and daily when we forget to do our purification practice it can multiply to be as much as we directly killing the animal. Hence better not eat it in the first place.

Big Uncle

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Re: Vegetarianism - A Buddhist practice?
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2011, 05:27:06 PM »
When I visited Nepal sometime back, the tour guide who's a Hindu; explained that for the Hindus , animal sacrifice is to help the animal to collect merits since in its animal form the poor animal can't perform any virtuous action to collect merits.

I had also read in a book - The Spiritual Traveler (if I remember correctly), that some Buddhists claim eating meat is a way to help the animal killed for its meat to end its animal life and thereafter take a more fortunate rebirth.

The above two views sound bizarre to me. What do the rest think ?


Dear Kurava,

This is not bizarre, I think it is a very arrogant to think that we have the attainments of a Buddha to be able to benefit the animal by eating it. I certainly do not think we have that power as our spiritual practice is bare minimum, we don't even hold our vows properly, which reflects on our lukewarm motivation. Since our motivation is like that, how do we even bless the poor dead animal?

Some people overcome their guilt of eating meat by reciting Medicine Buddha mantra or the other mantra - Om Abhira Te Zara Soha. However, I think it is like cutting an animal up, then we stitch and nurse the animal back to health again so we can repeat the same process. There's no doubt the mantras do benefit the animals but doing that to the animals doesn't help our karma of eating the animal.

dsiluvu

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Re: Vegetarianism - A Buddhist practice?
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2011, 09:35:28 PM »
If we can't even be compassionate towards animals and although we are born in a place spoilt by choices and yet we still choose to eat dead corpse of another sentient being. Then that to me is truly not compassionate. We cannot be saying we are practising kindness and compassion and then go out and stuff ourselves with a piece of steak sorry.

It is definitely not hard to quit eating meat if you just put yourselves in those animal's you're eating shoes.

It is not a religious act, it is just an act of kindness from one being with another being.

http://www.earthlings.com/

 

WoselTenzin

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Re: Vegetarianism - A Buddhist practice?
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2011, 04:00:46 AM »
Although being a vegetarian is not spelt out explicitly in Buddhism, it is only logical that if we practise the Buddha's teachings, being vegetarian should be part of the practice.  If we claim to practise kindness and compassion which is the core of Buddhist teachings but we eat meat pretending that the meat on our plate did not come from the suffering of another being, we are contradicting ourselves.

Of course being vegetarian per se does does make us all holy smoly or an epitome of compassion.  It all boils down to our motivation in becoming vegetarian.  However, as Buddhist especially if we are following the Mahayana path of wanting to free all sentient beings from sufferings and lead them to enlightenment, being vegetarian is in fact the very basics of our practice.

Not eating meat with the awareness that the meat we eat came from the pain and the suffering of another being is the preliminary of developing kindness and compassion.  Not eating meat with the thought for the person who actually kills to bring the meat to our plates is to have compassion for another being who will potentially commit more negative karma because of us eating meat. 

Whether we choose to be aware of the facts, eating meat is creating negative karma because harm is inflicted on other beings.

Therefore, if we are Buddhist and especially if we are following the Mahayana tradition, it only makes sense to be vegetarian. 

vajrastorm

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Re: Vegetarianism - A Buddhist practice?
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2011, 02:56:34 PM »
I agree with WT that if we follow the Mahayana tradition. we will not eat meat. When we eat meat, we're eating the remains of our mother in a previous life. That mother being was killed to satisfy our appetite for meat. That being went through much pain and suffering before it died.

If we are Buddhists and we believe in Karma and we believe that all beings have been our mothers before, we will not eat meat. Buddha did say it was alright if the animal had died naturally. But I have not heard of animals being allowed to die naturally and then their meat consumed afterwards. Every day, innumerable animals are horrendously slaughtered for their meat. If people stopped eating meat, animals would not be killed as there would be no demand for the meat. Hence there is a direct correlation between the demand for meat and the killing of animals to satisfy this demand.

pgdharma

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Re: Vegetarianism - A Buddhist practice?
« Reply #11 on: August 28, 2011, 10:45:19 AM »
As a Buddhist, we believe in reincarnation. If the present days animals have been our kins in the past, that means we are eating our kins from a previous life!

By not eating meat is an act of compassion irregardless of whether one is a Buddhist or not. When we understand how much pain and sufferings the animals had to go through to satisfy our palate,  we will definitely cut down or stop eating meat. There are many videos showing how animals are bred in unconducive environments, tortured and the fear they experienced before being killed. When we reflect on that, it will definitely give us the motivation to be a vegetarian.

dsiluvu

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Re: Vegetarianism - A Buddhist practice?
« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2011, 06:06:05 AM »
I guess if we really did believe in reincarnation... most of us "Buddhist" would naturally adopt to vegetarian cos seeing the animal as our mother's, it would automatically turn us off. Well we could start with this visualisation when we go out to order our steaks?

But you are not Buddhist and is aware of the global harm the meat industry is causing as it produces the highest green house gasses... more then car fumes! Then perhaps we can think about saving our planet. Go google it and the stats will shock you.

On a global level it does not help. On an individual level it does not help.

Eating meat is not the way of the future from what I see. More education needs to be implemented and awareness created... should probably start from schools...educating the younger generation as they will be the future.

Aurore

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Re: Vegetarianism - A Buddhist practice?
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2011, 11:54:41 PM »
Yes of course vegetarianism is a Buddhist practice. The core teaching of Buddhism is not to harm all sentient beings. We could be eating our mothers is the common saying. Killing another being for our taste buds is definitely not a spiritual act because animals do feel pain. In fact, we can collect negative karma from doing so even if we do not kill directly. Another person killing for our food is still indirect killing. There are monks who eat meat because it was offered up to them. However, an enlightened being who consume meat can actually bless the meat because an enlightened mind do not have attachments to taste as we do.

If being a vegetarian helps reduce the pain of an animal during our each meal, that is buddhist practice.

Klein

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Re: Vegetarianism - A Buddhist practice?
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2011, 09:23:10 PM »
I have not read much about vegetarianism in Buddhism. I don't recall that the Buddha was ever vegetarian and I don't think it is even part of the Vinaya (monk code of conduct). I know there are some Buddhists who are vegetarian, there are some Buddhists who are Vegan and there are some who eat meat. So is it an essential, recommended or unnecessary practice?

In the practice of Tantra, the lower Tantric practices require initiates who are about to receive a particular empowerment to refrain from the 5 black foods including meat. However, in Higher Tantric empowerments, there is no such restrictions. Then, there is the Tantric Tsoks (Ritual Feasts of a particular Yidam) that one have to perform every fortnightly after receiving higher Tantric initiations. This ritual includes partaking of meat and alcohol.

The message seemed to be conflicting... Perhaps, I have not research well enough to conclude but maybe someone would like to comment on this?

It is not compulsory to be vegetarian as a Buddhist. However, since practising compassion is part of the Buddhist practice, it would make sense for us to promote non killing. In addition, we're praying to save all sentient beings. So why are we killing beings in the animal realm just to satisfy our senses? We can still be healthy when we do not eat meat. So is eating meat then an act of compassion?