the great vegetarian debate

No holds barred discussion on the Buddhadharma. Argue about rebirth, karma, commentarial interpretations etc. Be nice to each other.

Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby corrine » Sat Jan 12, 2013 8:19 pm

I am old. I have been vegetarian for decades. For ethical, not health, reasons. I cannot imagine eating another living creature. No need to. My health is excellent. I do not suffer from obesity, heart disease, cancer or the many other ills that befall so many my age. My 'numbers' are all great. My friends, even the thin ones, all have a variety of health problems. I cannot prove it is from eating meat as they all also eat much processed food. I do not.

Just saying that from a health stand point alone, I have personally seen no down side whatsoever to being vegetarian. I am not anemic because I do not eat meat. I never quite understood why people think that this occurs in all vegetarians.

I have a high energy level. I work (volunteer) full time and what I do is very physical. Not sitting. Standing, walking and lifting.

All in all, my doctor says I am in extremely good physical condition. I quit smoking in 1980. No drugs or alcohol either, so that probably helps.

I cannot say that my vegetarian diet is the reason for my robust good health, but it certainly has had no negative effects at all. This is my experience.

I have read that Oscar Wilde once said that he did not eat animals because animals were his friends and he did not eat his friends. I agree.

corrine :smile:
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby greentara » Sun Jan 13, 2013 6:43 am

Corrine, "Animals are my friends...and I don't eat my friends.”
This is a quote by George Bernard Shaw
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby ocean_waves » Sun Jan 13, 2013 9:02 pm

nothing in life escapes the food chain! it is more about your intention and attention... than your diet.

my food chain haikus

"eat or be eaten"
not according to nature!
"eat and... be eaten!"


vegetarians...
live, suffer, die, get eaten...
by vegetables!
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False seeing is worldliness:
Set aside both right and wrong,
And the nature of enlightenment is clear."
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby seeker242 » Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:06 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Being a vegetarian or a vegan, in Samsara, is a very nice thing to do, but that's really about all it is. So, thanks anyway, but don't act like it's some big deal, because it isn't.


Would a cow or pig consider it to be a big deal? I think they would.

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Then, they argue vegetarianism under the pretext of arguing some sort of "correct" Buddhism.


Which is not entirely unfounded. It has a scriptural basis in the Nirvana sutra, the Shurangama sutra, the Brahmajala sutra, the Angulimaliya sutra, the Mahamegha sutra, the Lankavatara sutra and the Karma Sutra. It's not entirely unfounded to consider these sutras to be "correct".

Chapter 7 of the Nirvana Sutra (translated by Kosho Yamamoto and edited by Dr. Tony Page) states:

"One who eats meat kills the seed of great compassion... O Kasyapa! I, from now on, tell my disciples to refrain from eating any kind of meat."

PadmaVonSamba wrote:The fact is, some Buddhists eat meat and some do not. And then, they die. And I think, to argue vegetarianism as the only true way a Buddhist should eat misses the whole point of the Buddha's teachings, and reduces Dharma to a set of dietary laws. And since the act of chewing and swallowing anything takes up less than 2% or 3% of a person's whole life, maybe the issue is blown out of proportion. If the Dharma is only available to vegetarians, then it is a very narrow and limited path.


Agreed for the most part. And yes other Pali scriptures contradict the above. But it's not "the act of chewing and swallowing". It's the act of not killing nor causing to kill, and exhibiting compassion and harmlessness to all living beings. A fundamental and necessary component of cultivating Bodhicitta.This really does not miss the whole point of the Buddha's teaching. In fact, it is an integral part of it.
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:24 pm

Agreed for the most part. And yes other Pali scriptures contradict the above. But it's not "the act of chewing and swallowing". It's the act of not killing nor causing to kill, and exhibiting compassion and harmlessness to all living beings. A fundamental and necessary component of cultivating Bodhicitta.This really does not miss the whole point of the Buddha's teaching. In fact, it is an integral part of it.


Sure, but the point is that the argument that simply not eating meat does any of the above is not shared by all Buddhists, not even by all Buddhists who accept Mahayana scripture. I doubt you'd find any Buddhist that thinks ahimsa isn't important, but you would find Buddhists who disagree on whether or not simply observing dietary laws is any kind of substantial demonstration or practice of ahimsa. I tend towards this side of the argument because as mentioned before, being a vegetarian, even have a large range of dietary choice at all is something that is made easier or harder by one's environment..again there are people who choose to NOT do things like paying taxes that fund war too, but of course fewer people do them as they are more difficult. Certainly it would be fair to say this kind of decision isn't any less a practice of ahimsa than not eating meat is.
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is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:49 pm

seeker242 wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Being a vegetarian or a vegan, in Samsara, is a very nice thing to do, but that's really about all it is. So, thanks anyway, but don't act like it's some big deal, because it isn't.

Would a cow or pig consider it to be a big deal? I think they would.

But if you ask a cat or dog, they would say eating meat is fine.
And if you ask the insect who drowns when you water the vegetable garden, what would they say?

Really, it's a great thing to be a vegetarian.
But if it puts one up on a "high horse"
you are better off eating that horse.

The interesting thing is that we have two sets of criteria at work.
One for animals, one for humans.
On the one hand, we are humans,
and can construct all sorts of moral and ethical justifications
for doing--or not doing certain things.
So, we live by those rules.
But, we are also animals.
So, how does one justify the rules we set up for ourselves as humans
without condemning ourselves for the opportunities we enjoy as animals?

"Why is it wrong to eat meat?"
"because it causes the animal to suffer".
"is it ethically wrong for a lion to kill a zebra?"
"no, because that's what they do. To condemn a lion for killing would be to force a human value system on another species. But it is wrong for humans to think they are superior to animals and can just kill them and eat them if the want to."
"why is it wrong?"
"because, as humans, we can make ethical choices
(in other words, we are still superior to animals)".
"What if the animal is already dead?"
"you are still contributing to the killing."
"how?"
"because all these activities are linked together."
"what if my kid grows up and becomes a butcher?
Since I raised that kid, am I also responsible for the death of that cow?
How far does the chain of blame extend, especially if we are all interconnected"


Moo!
:rolling:

So, that's why I say if a person doesn't eat meat, that's great,
but don't give yourself a medal for it.
As soon as you think "oh what a good buddhist I am"
you should drop that.
(just my opinion)
.
.
.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby seeker242 » Wed Jan 16, 2013 1:11 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
seeker242 wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Being a vegetarian or a vegan, in Samsara, is a very nice thing to do, but that's really about all it is. So, thanks anyway, but don't act like it's some big deal, because it isn't.

Would a cow or pig consider it to be a big deal? I think they would.

But if you ask a cat or dog, they would say eating meat is fine.


If it was cow meat, then yea probably. If it was meat from their own body where cats and dogs are harvested for their body meat, like what happens in China, I doubt it would be considered fine with them.

And if you ask the insect who drowns when you water the vegetable garden, what would they say? So, how does one justify the rules we set up for ourselves as humans without condemning ourselves for the opportunities we enjoy as animals?


With regards to food, it is justified by considering the alternative to eating meat or vegetables, which would amount to eating no food at all, AKA suicide. But since suicide is completely unreasonable and abstaining from meat is often quite reasonable. It's quite easy to justify eating vegetables because it's necessary.

So, that's why I say if a person doesn't eat meat, that's great,
but don't give yourself a medal for it.
As soon as you think "oh what a good buddhist I am"
you should drop that.
(just my opinion)


Agreed! That should be dropped if it is there. However, saying that it is unethical to unnecessarily kill and eat animals, is not equivalent to putting yourself on a high horse or giving yourself a medal. Especially when the statement has nothing whatsoever to do with yourself. Some people mistakenly believe that all statements on behalf of animals emanate from "myself" and the "high horse" as you call it. But nothing could be further from the truth.

:namaste:
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Jan 16, 2013 3:36 pm

seeker242 wrote:With regards to food, it is justified by considering the alternative to eating meat or vegetables, which would amount to eating no food at all, AKA suicide. But since suicide is completely unreasonable and abstaining from meat is often quite reasonable. It's quite easy to justify eating vegetables because it's necessary.


No argument there, and from a vegetarian viewpoint, it makes sense ethically.
My point (again) is merely that from the buddhist point of view,
one shouldn't think that if they don't eat meat that they are generating "less bad karma" or whatever,
or that by consuming meat if it is offered to them, or if that is what is available,
that they are generating "more bad karma".
Most of us are not ready to throw ourselves off a cliff in order to feed a pack of hungry tiger cubs
(a reference to a story about one of the Buddha's past lives)
although starving to death rather than harming any living creature certainly would be the selfless thing to do.
But it is often recommended that we sort of "make up the difference" whenever possible,
by acquiring animals that are destined for slaughter (such as worms at a fishing bait shop)
and releasing them.
.
.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby seeker242 » Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:41 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
seeker242 wrote:With regards to food, it is justified by considering the alternative to eating meat or vegetables, which would amount to eating no food at all, AKA suicide. But since suicide is completely unreasonable and abstaining from meat is often quite reasonable. It's quite easy to justify eating vegetables because it's necessary.


No argument there, and from a vegetarian viewpoint, it makes sense ethically.
My point (again) is merely that from the buddhist point of view,
one shouldn't think that if they don't eat meat that they are generating "less bad karma" or whatever,
or that by consuming meat if it is offered to them, or if that is what is available,
that they are generating "more bad karma".

.
.
.


Of course you are entitled to your opinion. However, the Nirvana Sutra, and others disagree with that. So by saying "one shouldn't think that if they don't eat meat that they are generating "less bad karma", is essentially saying "You should not believe the Nirvana Sutra". There is a reason why the Brama Net Sutra declares it to be a secondary offense. The reason is karma.

Brahmajala Sutra The Forty-eight Secondary Precepts #3. On Eating Meat

A disciple of the Buddha must not deliberately eat meat. He should not eat the flesh of any sentient being. The meat-eater forfeits the seed of Great Compassion, severs the seed of the Buddha Nature and causes [animals and transcendental] beings to avoid him. Those who do so are guilty of countless offenses. Therefore, Bodhisattvas should not eat the flesh of any sentient beings whatsoever. If instead, he deliberately eats meat, he commits a secondary offense.


See also the following passage from the Lankavatara Sutra:

all meat-eating, in any form, in any manner, and in any place, is unconditionally and once for all, prohibited for all. Thus, Mahamati, meat eating I have not permitted to anyone, I do not permit, I will not permit. Meat eating, I tell you, Mahamati, is not proper for homeless monks (D.T. Suzuki, Lankavatara Sutra, p. 219).


Karma is the reason behind those statements. You said

"My point (again) is merely that from the buddhist point of view,
one shouldn't think that if they don't eat meat that they are generating "less bad karma" or whatever,"


I think it would be more appropriate for you to change the statement "the Buddhist point of view" to "my Buddhist point of view". Millions of Buddhists take the view that just eating meat makes bad karma, because of what it says in these scriptures and these are certainly Buddhist scriptures. If someone wants to try to discount the Nirvana Sutra as not Buddhist, sure they can try to do that. Good luck with that though!
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby ocean_waves » Thu Jan 17, 2013 3:30 am

As long as the dialogue remains about this or that the middle way is not open [even for discussion].

Life is sustained by death, both are illusions.

The Buddha said to Subhuti, "This is how the bodhisattva mahasattvas master their thinking. However many species of living beings there are--whether born from the womb, from moisture, or spontaneously; whether they have form or do not have form; whether they have perceptions or do not have perceptions; or whether it cannot be said of them that they have perceptions or that they do not have perceptions--we must lead all these beings to the ultimate nirvana so that they can be liberated. And when this innumerable, immeasurable, infinite number of beings has been liberated, we do not, in truth, think that a single being has been liberated.
"Why is this so? If, Subhuti, a bodhisattva holds on to the idea that a self, a person, a living being, or a life span exists, that person is not an authentic bodhisattva."
~The Diamond Sutra



We are all being eaten. Right now there are microbes and bacteria dining on our bodies as we speak/type [some of these bacteria help the bodies function, some may cause it dis-ease and produce suffering]. Some function in a very intelligent manner and could be defined as "sentient". When the many elements that compose our bodies dissipate we will be feasted upon by many of life's forms. Resistance is futile. :meditate:

Nothing and no one escapes the food chain because life as we define it is a result of interdependent co-arising/dependent origination.

Keep in mind... I am not advocating one dietary choice over the other. I am saying that they are simply dietary choices, when we cling to either one we often lose sight of the dharma

Question: Has the Dalai Lama severed the seed of his buddha-nature by eating meat?

Sometimes we spend so much time looking at the "pointing fingers" and trying to decipher their meaning we forget to look at the moon, denying ourselves its light and beauty!
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False seeing is worldliness:
Set aside both right and wrong,
And the nature of enlightenment is clear."
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby uan » Thu Jan 17, 2013 4:13 am

ocean_waves wrote:As long as the dialogue remains about this or that the middle way is not open [even for discussion].

Life is sustained by death, both are illusions.

The Buddha said to Subhuti, "This is how the bodhisattva mahasattvas master their thinking. However many species of living beings there are--whether born from the womb, from moisture, or spontaneously; whether they have form or do not have form; whether they have perceptions or do not have perceptions; or whether it cannot be said of them that they have perceptions or that they do not have perceptions--we must lead all these beings to the ultimate nirvana so that they can be liberated. And when this innumerable, immeasurable, infinite number of beings has been liberated, we do not, in truth, think that a single being has been liberated.
"Why is this so? If, Subhuti, a bodhisattva holds on to the idea that a self, a person, a living being, or a life span exists, that person is not an authentic bodhisattva."
~The Diamond Sutra



We are all being eaten. Right now there are microbes and bacteria dining on our bodies as we speak/type [some of these bacteria help the bodies function, some may cause it dis-ease and produce suffering]. Some function in a very intelligent manner and could be defined as "sentient". When the many elements that compose our bodies dissipate we will be feasted upon by many of life's forms. Resistance is futile. :meditate:

Nothing and no one escapes the food chain because life as we define it is a result of interdependent co-arising/dependent origination.

Keep in mind... I am not advocating one dietary choice over the other. I am saying that they are simply dietary choices, when we cling to either one we often lose sight of the dharma

Question: Has the Dalai Lama severed the seed of his buddha-nature by eating meat?

Sometimes we spend so much time looking at the "pointing fingers" and trying to decipher their meaning we forget to look at the moon, denying ourselves its light and beauty!


:good:


"Why is this so? If, Subhuti, a bodhisattva holds on to the idea that a self, a person, a living being, or a life span exists, that person is not an authentic bodhisattva."
~The Diamond Sutra


This about sums it up (the all encompassing "it" of pretty much anything - at least from a Mahayana pov).
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Fri Jan 18, 2013 8:39 pm

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Former US President Bill Clinton turns to Buddhism

Postby plwk » Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:54 pm

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According to thebuddhism.net news site, in an article dated January 10th, 2013, former US President Bill Clinton has hired his own personal Buddhist monk to teach him how to properly meditate.

Bill is learning to meditate and has reportedly turned to a vegan diet as well. All this change has apparently been influenced by his recent heart scare where in February 2004 when he was rushed to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City because he started experiencing some awful chest pains.
More here
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Re: Former US President Bill Clinton turns to Buddhism

Postby Madeliaette » Mon Feb 04, 2013 2:20 pm

Let us hope that health-concerns leads to spiritual wealth and not just physical improvement! :twothumbsup:
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Re: Former US President Bill Clinton turns to Buddhism

Postby Jikan » Mon Feb 04, 2013 2:21 pm

hired his own personal Buddhist monk to teach him how to properly meditate.


just when did Buddhist teachers become health care professionals?
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Re: Former US President Bill Clinton turns to Buddhism

Postby plwk » Mon Feb 04, 2013 2:51 pm

Jikan wrote:
hired his own personal Buddhist monk to teach him how to properly meditate.


just when did Buddhist teachers become health care professionals?

Uh Malcolm Smith aka Namdrol is a Doctor of Tibetan Medicine.

Some have also told me that some Chinese monastics have knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine but I guess that may be a case of how in the olden days' Chinese education, medicine was one of the standard field of studies? One that come to mind is the late Ven Master Xuan Hua of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in California...
http://cttbusa.org/founder/biography.htm
At fifteen, he took refuge under the Venerable Master Chang Zhi. That same year he began to attend school and mastered the Four Books, the Five Classics, the texts of various Chinese schools of thought, and the fields of medicine, divination, astrology, and physiognomy.
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Re: Former US President Bill Clinton turns to Buddhism

Postby Yudron » Mon Feb 04, 2013 4:57 pm

Jikan wrote:
hired his own personal Buddhist monk to teach him how to properly meditate.


just when did Buddhist teachers become health care professionals?


First of all this is old news about Bill, the story cited can be traced back to a gossip web site early last year. Whether Clinton is "embracing Buddhism" or whether it was really a Buddhist monk who taught him to meditate is open to question.

That being said, at least here in California, Mindfulness meditation ala Jon Kabat Zinn has gone mainstream in the U.S. and is profoundly improving countless people's well-being and health for the better. It has been and is being extensively studied as a medical intervention--and there are even posters on the walls of my Health Maintenance Organization (a common way folks get healthcare now in the U.S.) advocating meditation, along with eating right and exercising.

Although to us, these programs that take shamatha meditation and divorce them from Buddhism, may seem light weight--and for me utterly uninteresting--we really should not ignore them. For example, there are 1400 people signed up for the upcoming Wisdom 2.0 conference in San Francisco. I went to a pre-party to meet some of them this week. The people I met there were mostly tech industry people who unplug themselves from their devices for some period each day and do some kind of practice, and mindfulness is the most popular practice in my informal pole. One person I met actually works for a company in SF with a one hour PAID meditation time each morning before the they start work. This guy had learned to meditate for his job! The main thing that struck me about these people was that they looked really happy--and there was no alcohol served.

It seems to me that, having calmed their minds, a percent of these people are really ripe for the Dharma.
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Re: Former US President Bill Clinton turns to Buddhism

Postby Jikan » Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:04 pm

I'm writing my dissertation right now (well not right NOW exactly... ) on instrumental uses of "mindfulness": in the workplace, as therapy, in schools, and so on. I agree, it's really interesting. It does pose some tricky questions though: if this expertise in this practice becomes a professional qualification (cue Trungpa's Myth of Freedom on the topic of accumulating credentials), then how does one demonstrate competence? and so on. It's a remarkable thing.
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Re: Former US President Bill Clinton turns to Buddhism

Postby rachmiel » Mon Feb 04, 2013 6:20 pm

Per Wikipedia:

In 2012, U-T San Diego estimated U.S. practitioners at 1.2 million people, of whom 40% are living in Southern California.

SoCal ... yous guys! ;-)
No one really knows anything. (I think.)
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Re: Former US President Bill Clinton turns to Buddhism

Postby Yudron » Mon Feb 04, 2013 8:31 pm

Jikan wrote:I'm writing my dissertation right now (well not right NOW exactly... ) on instrumental uses of "mindfulness": in the workplace, as therapy, in schools, and so on. I agree, it's really interesting. It does pose some tricky questions though: if this expertise in this practice becomes a professional qualification (cue Trungpa's Myth of Freedom on the topic of accumulating credentials), then how does one demonstrate competence? and so on. It's a remarkable thing.


Well, you certainly know a lot more than I do about the topic. My yawn button is pushed by the whole mindfulness thing, big time.

I don't think Trungpa Rinpoche's warnings apply here because they do not consider themselves to be on a path to enlightenment.

The chair of Ford Motor Company called the Wisdom 2.0 conference wanting to be added to the program because he is a meditator. This movement is certainly unique in history.
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