Jigme Tsultrim wrote:What western philosophy refers to as contextualism and individualism are the very essence of the Buddha's teachings IMO. This in no way contradicts the importance of developing Boddicitta.
Having a history which includes a period of activism, I have sympathy/admiration for those who band together to fight the good fight, as they see it.
Getting back to the point of this thread, it is entirely ok to be vegetarian. Having been one myself for a considerable period, I get it. My objection is to anyone who claims that this is a Buddhist view. It certainly can be practiced from a Buddhist perspective. The practice of it could be seen to be a step in one's personal development, but based on the scriptural references both pro and con have offered here as well as the teachings I have received I see no justification for viewing the practice as being doctrinal. I maintain my obligation to consider anything I do or abstain from doing taking into account the conditions I find present.
To say that anyone arrives at their views as a result of yielding to temptation may trivialize and demean the well considered choices they may have made in response to their conditions. Regardless of how cleverly it is couched, dogma is still dogma.
To say that any idea applies to all situations is to reject Sunyata. As Nagarjuna pointed out, even emptiness is empty. Nagarjuna rejected causes. To establish a cause is to establish an essence. One has every right to do so of course but to do so is rejected as error by Madhyamika
A well written review of some the work of Nagarjuna
It is a well written article. There is a long running debate in contemporary Madhyamika scholarship about this (and related) issues. Some great exchanges between Huntington (who defends a similar Rortyian position) and Garfield in Phil East & West. I think Garfield has it right, principally because of chapter 24 in the MMK and many statements in the Vig - Nagarjuna is clearly defending the relationship between the four noble truths, dependent co-arising and emptiness, and this relationship is nonsensical without reference to causation. i.e. does duhkah have a cause? The Buddha says it does, and I take Nagarjuna to be defending this very foundational proposition (in the Vig for example, against realists who claim that his doctrine of emptiness refutes the Buddha's own soteriological message). Moreover, if this cause had an essence, it could not be eradicated/relinquished.
Your claim that to establish a cause is to establish an essence is quite strange. It is rather that to establish that an entity has an essence, is to deny that it is subject to causes. i.e. the ontological definition of svabhava is that an entity is what it is in lieu of is primary qualities, and not on its dependent causes and conditions.
Nonetheless, I see how certain traditions - Dzogchen, Zen - can read Nagarjuna as denying all forms of causation. I have no issue with that, but I do not agree with that interpretation.
On the question of vegetarianism, I have not made any claims suggesting that it is a doctrinal Buddhist position.