dharmagoat wrote:Eating meat on rare occasions not only increases my awareness of the suffering of animals, but also allows me to better relate to other meat eaters, something that I was unable to do as a strict vegetarian.
Everything we do provides an opportunity for awareness.
Yes, that is what I was saying in a nutshell. Except now I eat meat regularly. When I had to eat meat for ganapujas as a vegetarian, my feelings were "this really seems gross and wrong, I guess that's the point of it (?), to go beyond limitations..." and I never really got past my superiority complex. When I finally had to eat meat as a last resort to see if it would solve my health problems, it was like eating crow every time I had to eat meat. Not only eating crow, but almost like licking maggots off a dying dog as per the story of Asanga because I found it absolutely disgusting. I was forced to do something I absolutely did not want to do and was picturing all the disgusting slaughterhouse videos I'd ever seen, imagining the meat mixed with fecal matter and pesticides and hormones and whatever else. Not only did I feel sorry for the animals, I felt sorry for myself and for all of humanity to a greater degree than typical. I have found this has lessened with time, but I still vividly picture the animals being slaughtered every time I eat meat and I say a mantra and eat with the intention of connecting the animal to the dharma. I think it has been one of the most important developments of my practice, actually, as far as softening me up... before, I was quite content to feel sorry for myself and sorry for the animals, but it was fueled by a kind of righteous indignation and fed-upness about society at large, which of course you see in all of Thras's comments plain as day, too.
Sometimes I wonder if the paradoxes people see in their own lives reflects the multifaceted perfection of the dharma. Were these different ideas we find in Buddhist texts really just 'mistakes' or 'later additions' by scribes or were all these teachings put out there by the Buddhas on purpose as part of the 84,000 different teachings for different mindsets? And maybe those of us who need a lesson develop health problems pertaining to the issue we need most instruction on?