Author Topic: A cow or a sardine fish - for food  (Read 22757 times)

jeremyg

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Re: A cow or a sardine fish - for food
« Reply #15 on: April 08, 2012, 05:48:11 PM »
Of course the cow. If we really were in a situation where we had to kill the cow, feeding many more with 1 life, would spread out the negative karma of the action. It is like in Tibet where they kill the biggest animal when they need to so that they can feed more, so that they receive less bad karma. But then again there is the debate as to which animal is more useful, because the cow could give milk, and could help more? So there is that. Karma is hard to quantify,

Q

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Re: A cow or a sardine fish - for food
« Reply #16 on: April 08, 2012, 09:04:52 PM »
I have been thinking about this for quite a while, not that I eat meat (been a vegetarian since last April!!), but it is an interesting to see how this is being debated upon:

Which scenario created more negative karma for a single meat eater?
1. One hundred meat eater sharing the meat of ONE cow, or
2. One meat eater having 5 sardine fish for dinner?

Both are killing right? does this mean a single beef eater in (1) above commit less negative karma than the one who eats 5 sardine fish in (2) above??

The simplest is to not eat meat, then we won't need to debate on this haha!

But this question is interesting. A life is a life, no matter how small it is... after all, how do we weigh the value of a cow's life compared to a fish (using the same example as stated).

However, I know for a fact that killing, no matter what the form is collects demerit (for both the person we instruct to kill and us). But I have read Dharma books that states, killing a dog collects more bad karma compared to us killing an ant. I'm not saying in the sense that we accidentally step on the ant and kill it, but really intentionally.

So supposing between a dog and an ant, why is it that killing a dog creates more bad karma? Personally, I don't know the real answer, but if I think about it... a dog has more life years compared to an ant; also if we base the population, there are less dogs compared to ants, a dog also has more potential to be of 'use' compared to an ant (ie working dog, companion dog etc).. so to kill a dog that could have potentially bring 'happiness' to a certain person is what causes us to collect the bad karma. That's why killing a human is the worst of all, as a human has so much potential to bring much benefit to countless of beings if he/she wants to.

As for the question, personally, I would rather 1 cow dead for 100 people rather than 500 fishes dead... Which generates more bad karma? I don't know... and I hope I'll find the answer in this forum post.

DS Star

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Re: A cow or a sardine fish - for food
« Reply #17 on: April 09, 2012, 05:57:27 AM »
Well... personally killing is bad enough, why go into how many we killed really! The karma of killing even one sentient being is heavy let alone many. However in this scenario, the cow being more beneficial alive could mean that the karma of killing such a being could outweigh the 5 in the can (sorry sardines).

It is like the example of killing one's mother/father versus killing a stranger. Both are killing and very bad but killing the former is certainly the worse! So for me there are other factors apart from just the numbers. Buddhism teaches us to think and not merely make mathematical equations I feel!

Yes that's right, in Buddhism there is no hard and fast rule, we have to look at the case and to gauge the level of consequences.

Positive Change put it very clearly, the weight of the karma depends on many factors e.g. the benefit the cow can contribute rather the sardines and also between the 'karma debt' of our parents' vs a stranger's.

Contributing to killing indirectly, like in this case (by eating meat), as compare to taking the lives directly by spraying pesticide poison onto ants is definitely less in term of the karma weight. Then we have the most popular vegetarian Adolf Hitler who ordered killing of millions of Jews; this of course being use widely by meat eater as their EXCUSE to continue to fulfill their own attachment selfishly.

Having say that I though this is a valid question that many who try to reduce suffering of other beings is being considered. As many argued, yes why not just be vegetarian then we do not need to bother about this issue but in real life some people still not able to make the 'switch' immediately and yet is trying to do their best. So skillfully we must at least give them a logical answer for them to slowly switching to vegetarian.

Buddhism teaches us to have compassion for other sentient beings, this include those people who still can't change their old habit. While it is our responsibility to help them make the 'switch' so that they can avoid collecting negative karma of causing death to animals, we also cannot be judgmental and unskillful.

The point is, cultivating compassion not depending on only one factor, there are many factors and many methods. Being kind and not using harsh speech also important.

p/s: I go meatless for the last 2 years, so I'm not the defender of meat eater ;)

hope rainbow

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Re: A cow or a sardine fish - for food
« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2012, 10:40:00 AM »
Sometimes we face situations that only offer evil solutions to chose from.
In such situations we chose the lesser evil.

By no mean is the choice between eating 15 sardines of 1 cow such a situation.
Because the lesser evil here is not to eat 1 sardine, or 15, or the cow.... the lesser evil here is to not eat flesh.

To be vegetarian is not to be an angel.
to be a vegetarian is a lesser evil.

And if you are a vegetarian, you have heard people telling you that to grow a salad, bugs have been killed, to build the place where the salad is being packaged up, beings were killed, to transport it, many flies and mosquitoes were killed on the road.
So being a vegetarian is not being an angel, it is a lesser evil bringing us one step closer to angel-hood.

negra orquida

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Re: A cow or a sardine fish - for food
« Reply #19 on: April 12, 2012, 05:57:03 PM »
I'm going to be a little "controversial" here by saying that I don't think eating meat in itself always mean it incurs the karma of killing.  If this was the case, why are there monks in certain Buddhist traditions who are "allowed" to eat meat?  Why do certain tantric practices involve eating meat (if I am not mistaken)?

So eating meat per se, may not be totally negative.  But eating meat because you only think about satisfying your own taste buds, and not caring about the animals (who were your past mothers) that suffer and get killed to be on your plate, not caring about the butcher who incurs the karma of killing because he did the dirty job of killing the animals for you... that fuels our habit of thinking of ourselves only and make us sink deeper and deeper into our delusion of attachment (to ourselves and food).

For those who turned vegetarian, did you find yourselves less fussy / picky about food since becoming vegetarian?

bambi

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Re: A cow or a sardine fish - for food
« Reply #20 on: April 14, 2012, 09:57:30 AM »
Logically I would think that scenario no 2 will create 'extra' negative karma.
Killing one life (cow) and sharing among 99 people and yourself sound more logical
OR
Killing 5 lives (sardines) for your own?

Of course we shouldn't even be killing, especially those who have taken vows of not killing.
I have heard that because certain countries so cold and poor, there was nothing much to eat to keep themselves warm, they had to sacrifice an animal for the whole village!

Jessie Fong

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Re: A cow or a sardine fish - for food
« Reply #21 on: April 20, 2012, 04:23:04 AM »
Dear Bambi - in that case of the animal sacrificed in the village, it was killed for the sake of helping the lives of many more others.  In countries where the climate does not support the growth of greens and mainly animals are the ones surviving, it would not be logical to not have to depend on meat.  In such a place, would you not have to eat meat then?

Up in the furthermost North Pole and down in the South Pole, would you be able to survive if you do not eat meat?  Where are you going to get your greens - apart from the tin that it came in?


WisdomBeing

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Re: A cow or a sardine fish - for food
« Reply #22 on: April 20, 2012, 06:02:32 PM »
This is an interesting discussion but I still am not sure which incurs more negative karma. Previously I had thought it would be less karma incurred if it is one life versus several – eg cow vs shrimp. However, I do take note of the point that there are different levels of sentience – I guess an oyster may feel less pain than a cow, for example. Though we will never really know how a mollusk feels. I’m just glad I’m vegetarian so I don’t have to ruminate over which animal I should consume!!
Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being

DS Star

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Re: A cow or a sardine fish - for food
« Reply #23 on: April 21, 2012, 03:50:04 AM »
I'm going to be a little "controversial" here by saying that I don't think eating meat in itself always mean it incurs the karma of killing.  If this was the case, why are there monks in certain Buddhist traditions who are "allowed" to eat meat?  Why do certain tantric practices involve eating meat (if I am not mistaken)?

So eating meat per se, may not be totally negative.  But eating meat because you only think about satisfying your own taste buds, and not caring about the animals (who were your past mothers) that suffer and get killed to be on your plate, not caring about the butcher who incurs the karma of killing because he did the dirty job of killing the animals for you... that fuels our habit of thinking of ourselves only and make us sink deeper and deeper into our delusion of attachment (to ourselves and food).

For those who turned vegetarian, did you find yourselves less fussy / picky about food since becoming vegetarian?

negra orquida, it is not controversial, you are right that in some Buddhist traditions eating meats is allowed but with conditions. These conditions are to be completed then eating the meat will not be considered as committing the karma of killing, otherwise we're not allowed to eat it:-

1. The animal was not being slaughtered specifically to serve us;

2. We should not see the killing/ slaughtering process;

3. We should not hear the animal being slaughtered;

However, when we live in a country that is difficult to grow vegetables like in Tibet, then we're left with no choice but to eat meat. The living conditions are the determining factors here.

During Buddha's time, his disciples at the time cannot choose their food because they go round begging for alms, thus they only take left-overs. That being the case, the household may had cooked meat for their meals then they offer some to the monks/nuns. So, the above 3 conditions still apply.

As for tantric practice, it is not that they're allowed to eat meat but during their ritual, they will only take a tiny bite for tantric meaning which I'm not qualify to explain. I was told that their intention is to benefit the animal and other beings. Perhaps a tantrika can contribute here.

If eating meat is to bless the animal like what a Buddha can do, then the act is definitely not killing. So, ultimately, it is the motivation that count.

Aurore

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Re: A cow or a sardine fish - for food
« Reply #24 on: April 22, 2012, 03:22:44 AM »
If you look in the context of killing alone, killing is killing whether or not it's for food consumption or something else. Hence, killing 5 lives creates more negative karma in comparison to killing one cow. Like what Triesa said, there is 5 lives versus 1 life. However, if it's 1 cow versus 1 fish, then killing the cow would collect more negative karma than the fish. It's not because the fish is smaller and insignificant, it's because of what the particular animal can contribute towards others.

Example, if one is to kill their birth mother, one would collect more negative karma than killing someone random on the streets. It's how much this person has done and can do for you. Someone who gave you life and if you take hers, my my. Can you imagine the amount of negative karma one collects?

Btw, if you are a vegetarian, would you eat meat if there is no other choice? Or would you take on the suffering and possibly starve by not eating meat?

negra orquida

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Re: A cow or a sardine fish - for food
« Reply #25 on: April 23, 2012, 04:34:51 PM »
Quote
negra orquida, it is not controversial, you are right that in some Buddhist traditions eating meats is allowed but with conditions. These conditions are to be completed then eating the meat will not be considered as committing the karma of killing, otherwise we're not allowed to eat it:-

1. The animal was not being slaughtered specifically to serve us;

2. We should not see the killing/ slaughtering process;

3. We should not hear the animal being slaughtered;

Thanks DS Star for clarifying.  I have a question... nowadays animals are mass killed in slaughter houses, where the consumers do not see or hear the animals getting killed.  However would such mass slaughter of animals to feed meat eaters in general constitute killing the animals to specifically serve any given consumer? Or can we say if I choose to buy and eat meat, the animal is considered to have been killed specifically for me?

Also, if one sees and hears a video of animals in another country being killed for food (e.g. I eat beef imported from Australia, and I watched a video on cows getting slaughtered in Australia), would that not meet condition #2 and #3?

As for the karma incurred in killing different types of animals.. I read that killing animals which are bigger in size or more complex in its make up would incur more bad karma than killing animals that are smaller size / less "evolved" e.g. buffalo vs ant.  This is because the buffalo suffers more due to its mass and more developed sense consciousness compared to an ant.

DS Star

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Re: A cow or a sardine fish - for food
« Reply #26 on: April 24, 2012, 12:23:50 AM »
negra orquida, you're getting more complicated now... anyway, your questions are valid as I'm sure many do have such concerns.

In my opinion, technically, when we eat/buy meat from wet markets/ shopping malls or processed meat from fastfood outlets like McD; 2nd and 3rd conditions are "safe" but the 1st condition is still in question.

Many argued that whether we buy or not, those animals will be slaughtered anyway so should consider as not specifically slaughter for us individually. However since the animals are being slaughtered specifically to serve consumers/customers and we are consumers/customers, so the 1st condition still stay...

Then again if we're to argue further, we can say that the real direct customers of slaughter house are the shops, malls, chain outlets etc. not the buyers who eat the meat :P

I would view these arguments as lame excuses for them to eat meat minus the guilt feelings. We can cheat ourselves that we are not 'guilty' for the killings yet we can't cheat our own karma.

As for the video, I don't think the 2nd and 3rd conditions are affected by this but I do think the videos should wake up our deep consciousness to avoid unnecessary killings for the sake of our selfish enjoyment.

The results of Karma for killing does include different factors such as karma weight (heaviest like 5 heinous crime), intelligent levels (understand pains and fear of pains), sizes (sense consciousness), karmic debt (people kind to us vs stranger), etc. So we can safely say that a buffalo will suffer more due to its mass and more developed sense consciousness compared to an ant.

Now, I am seem to be contradicting my own statement from my earlier post.
Contributing to killing indirectly, like in this case (by eating meat), as compare to taking the lives directly by spraying pesticide poison onto ants is definitely less in term of the karma weight.

Actually I am not. Like I mentioned before, there is no hard and fast rule in Buddhism, we need to analysis case by case basis.

Bigger animal like buffalo suffers more than tiny little ants but we must not discount another factor here; when one acts or orders the killing of ants, one has stronger and specific motivation to want those ants die, whereas when one takes meat, one does not have the motivation to kill (except to fulfill one's own attachment to that specific taste).

So in this case, the 4 conditions of karma (for a complete karma) have to be taken into considerations;

1. Intention,
2. Object (the person/animal),
3. Action,
4. Completion and Rejoicing.

Thus when one has intention to kill, has the object = the ants, the action = killing, completion = the ants died and one rejoices in the killing, then it is a complete karma.

vajrastorm

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Re: A cow or a sardine fish - for food
« Reply #27 on: April 24, 2012, 09:34:22 AM »
Just to add to what has been said and discussed at length and in great detail already re the karma of eating a cow vs the karma of eating a sardine fish, the karma multiplies by the second. So purification practices are very important, less the karma becomes as heavy as killing a human.

I also agree with the view that one should show equal compassion to all animals who have been our mothers before, by becoming a vegetarian.

Last but not least, even if one were not directly involved in the killing of an animal whose meat is served to us for dinner, one has created the cause for the animal to be killed by being its consumer. It's the consumption that creates the demand and the demand that fuels the supply.

Midakpa

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Re: A cow or a sardine fish - for food
« Reply #28 on: April 25, 2012, 04:34:20 AM »
As Buddhists and dharma practitioners, it is important to realise that eating meat is actually contrary to the teachings. People do come up with reasons why certain nationalities need to consume meat, eg, difficult to grow vegetables etc. but does this reason make them less guilty? Do they collect less negative karma? I don't think so. The law of karma applies to all. 

In "Food of Bodhisattvas", Shabkar Tsogdruk Rangdrol says that there is no such thing as "pure meat". The "three-fold purity" normally invoked to justify meat-eating (even by Tibetan monks) cannot be applied in places where there are market forces of supply and demand.  He quotes the Vajradhara Reting Trichen: "Bodhisattvas who crave the taste of meat weaken their compassion."

Khedrup Je, in his commentary on the "Three Vows" said that "...all who have taken the vow of bodhicitta, whether they be monks, nuns, or lay people, must abstain from meat. For if Bodhisattvas, who have thus become an object of praise, eat meat, a strong desire for the taste of it will grow in them. As a result, their compassion will wane. Therefore the fully ordained, the shramaneras, kings, ministers, leaders, and lay people who practice the Mahayana should refrain from eating meat."


dondrup

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Re: A cow or a sardine fish - for food
« Reply #29 on: April 26, 2012, 11:13:10 AM »
Before we form any correct conclusion we must gather the facts or if there is no available facts, to make some assumptions thereon. 

1)   If the cow and sardine fishes had died of natural causes, then there is no negative karma when these meat eaters consumed the beef or fish meat.

2)   If these meat eaters did not order the cow or sardine fishes to be slaughtered for their consumption and they had eaten the meat unknowingly, then there is no negative karma for them.

3)   What was the state or power of the delusion involved when these meat eaters killed the cow or sardine fishes for their meat? The more negative the delusion, the more negative the karma.  For example, if these meat eaters killed with a violent rage the cow or sardine fishes, then their negative karma is much higher than with a mild dislike for the cow or sardine fishes.

4)   If the method used to kill the cow or sardine fishes inflicted more harm and pain on the animals, then the negative karma is greater.

5)   The frequency of our action of killing.  If we are so attached to consume meat, each time we kill the cow or sardine fishes for their meat, we will reap even more negative karma. When there is the demand for meat, there would be the supply of meat.  Each supply of meat leads to more killing and hence greater negative karma.

6)   If these meat eaters hold vows, e.g. the Pratimoksha, Bodhisattva or Tantric Vows, then they will accumulate greater amount of demerits or their negative karma are much greater than those who do not hold any vows.

7)   What was the motivation of eating the beef and sardine fishes? The negative karma is heavier if these meat consumers have eaten with mind of attachment than for health reason.

On the outset it seems that every single beef eater here commits less negative karma than the single sardine fish eater because killing one cow involves one life only whereas killing five sardine fishes involves five lives.  Both actions are still killing irrespective of the severity of the effects. In the final analysis, we should stop eating meat to avoid creating negative karma.