Eating Meat vs. Drinking Alcohol--Which is worse?

Anything goes (almost).

Which do you think is worse?

Eating meat
10
36%
Drinking alcohol
12
43%
Neither: They are equally bad
6
21%
 
Total votes : 28

Eating Meat vs. Drinking Alcohol--Which is worse?

Postby Luke » Wed Nov 25, 2009 3:48 pm

Image VS. Image


I'm curious to find out how people view drinking alcohol in comparison to eating meat. Which one do you think is worse? Why?

Personally, I feel that eating meat is worse because it requires the taking of life (someone had to kill the animal). I don't think that drinking alcohol is as bad as long as a person doesn't kill or harm any type of creature as a result of drinking it.
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Re: Eating Meat vs. Drinking Alcohol--Which is worse?

Postby ground » Thu Nov 26, 2009 7:30 am

The best is to stop both.

Drinking alcohol goes against sila 5 and - most important - jeopardizes ethical conduct in terms of body, speech and mind and harms concentration and wisdom.
Eating meat is no problem if - and only if -
1. the meat is offered by others as a gift (dana) to nurture one's own body
2. the corresponding animal that provides the meat is already dead at the time the offer is made and it has not been killed by the offerer based on the motivation to provide meat for oneself after having been informed directly or indirectly that oneself is going to accept the meat.

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Re: Eating Meat vs. Drinking Alcohol--Which is worse?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Nov 26, 2009 11:08 am

Greetings TMingyur,

Out of interest, are you able to point to the text or scripture that explains this particular approach to meat eating (or lack thereof)? No drama if you can't, it's just that I'm curious because it's quite similar to the Vinaya rules concerning meat found in the Pali Canon.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Eating Meat vs. Drinking Alcohol--Which is worse?

Postby ground » Thu Nov 26, 2009 8:20 pm

Hello retrofuturist

honestly I am not able to point to a scripture or commentary.
As you perhaps know in Mahayana we are not as text-focused as our Thervada friends are. We are very much looking what one teacher or several teachers are teaching, whether they agree or where the differences are and some of us are trying/learning to apply logical reasoning to find answers in given contexts.

My approach is as follows:
One of my basic commentaries is Lamrim of the great Tsongkhapa. IMO this Lamrim comprises all what I consider to be Pali Canon based Theravada. Therefore I am in principle very open towards Theravada teachings as far as sutrayana aspects are concerned.
Now as far as ethical conduct is concerned there is a strong focus on ethical conduct in the Lamrim. However some of the rules laid down there are limited in terms of informative value considering our present time and culture. Therefore when it comes to interpretations of what to abandon and what to practice (ethical conduct) and the Lamrim leaves too much questions open then I am seeking additional orientation in the area of Theravada and pali canon too.

Now the topic "eating meat" is imo a good example where rules of the Lamrim which refer to "not killing", "wholesome motivation", "avoiding to harm other beings" and avoiding "wrong view" and "giving fearlessness" very logically combine and entail the interpretation I have given above which may match quite good with what can be found in the area of Thervada.
However "eating meat" is also a topic discussed very controversially among tibetans who are known "meat eaters".

And in terms of "drinking alcohol" this (voluntary) precept for lay practitioners is identical to other traditions and what I have stated above conforms to the reasons given by Mahayana teachers for this precept.

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Re: Eating Meat vs. Drinking Alcohol--Which is worse?

Postby retrofuturist » Thu Nov 26, 2009 11:42 pm

Greetings TMingyur ,

Thanks for the explanation. Very interesting approach!

Yes, I concede I do have a very text-driven approach as well as an inherent wariness of the inconsistencies that arise from each teacher having their own unique interpretation of the Dharma, and in turn, concern over the ability to rely and commit solely on a single one of these unique interpretations.

Hence why I was hoping this may have some grounding in traditional Mahayana or Vajrayana scriptures, but it's certainly interesting to see how you came to this position.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Eating Meat vs. Drinking Alcohol--Which is worse?

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Nov 27, 2009 5:42 am

retrofuturist wrote:Yes, I concede I do have a very text-driven approach as well as an inherent wariness of the inconsistencies that arise from each teacher having their own unique interpretation of the Dharma, and in turn, concern over the ability to rely and commit solely on a single one of these unique interpretations.


I agree with retro, but then again I'm a Theravadin too. I prefer textual analysis too, for the same reasons that otherwise you will have a plethora of views, while textual analysis can get closer to the Buddha's original intent.

The Mahayana text -- Lankavatara Sutra is very explicit in its condemnation of meat eating:

"Bhagavan, people who eat meat are destroying the great merciful seed of their own, thus the people who practice the holy Way should not eat meat. "


"Those who renounce the flavor of meat can taste the flavors of the true Dharmas, truthfully practice the Bhumi(stage)s of Bodhisattva, and attain Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi quickly. They can then make all living beings enter the resting-place of Sravaka(voice-hearer) and pratyeka-buddha(self-enlightened one), and after that make them enter the stage of Tathagata."


Therefore, Bodhisattvas practice according to the truth, in order to enlighten all living beings, they should not eat meat."


http://yzzj.fodian.net/World/671_16.html
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Re: Eating Meat vs. Drinking Alcohol--Which is worse?

Postby ground » Fri Nov 27, 2009 6:55 am

David N. Snyder wrote:The Mahayana text -- Lankavatara Sutra is very explicit in its condemnation of meat eating:

"Bhagavan, people who eat meat are destroying the great merciful seed of their own, thus the people who practice the holy Way should not eat meat. "


Ah, yes. Thank you for that, I forgot it.
But here again there are discussions about the Lankavatara Sutra, since this is a sutra which is very untypical and seems to have different text layers amended during the course of time and then there are those who simply argue that this passage has been amended later and does not belong to the "original core" ... which may be correct but somehow sounds odd if we consider that all of the Mahayana sutra are of a later date anyway ... so why then differentiate between different times of origine?

In the context of conduct today what I find more challenging is the argumentation that "eating meat" is ethically fine since the meat is "offered" in the local supermarket, the corresponding animals are already dead and that one does not commit the act of killing and that this complies to even what the Buddha said to his monks. But this does not comply since it is not offered as dana by the supermarket and the chain of causation is evident and everbody can know (learning in school, press, TV) that my buying meat causes the killing of animal. The argumentation of "if I do not then others will do" is not valid in the context of buddhist conduct and is self-centered and self-delusive beyond that.
If we consider e.g. the rules laid down in the Lamrim then this attitude is actually a transgression since it is an instance of "wrong view": It is denying causes and effect that are conventionally valid. And if we further consider the other rules valid for bodhisattvas (as already mentioned above) and partially laid down in the teachings of the paramitas like "wholesome egoless motivation", "not harming other beings" and "giving fearlessness" it can be validly inferred that "eating meat" under the present circumstances of our modern life is incompatible with the conduct of a bodhisattva. It is not an act of killing but it is actively causing harm to other beings (animals and the butchers) and denying this is definitely wrong view since the chain of causation is utterly evident.

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Last edited by ground on Fri Nov 27, 2009 7:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Eating Meat vs. Drinking Alcohol--Which is worse?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Nov 27, 2009 7:07 am

Greetings TMingyur,

Under that approach, theoretically, what would be the outcome if your wife buys meat from the supermarket, despite you claiming to have a preference for non-meat-based meals?

OK... maybe not quite so theoretical. 8-)

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Eating Meat vs. Drinking Alcohol--Which is worse?

Postby ground » Fri Nov 27, 2009 7:18 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings TMingyur,

Under that approach, theoretically, what would be the outcome if your wife buys meat from the supermarket, despite you claiming to have a preference for non-meat-based meals?

OK... maybe not quite so theoretical. 8-)

Metta,
Retro. :)


He he ... yes it is theoretical since I am single.

But I do not want to evade anyway.

In that case an honest and open talk may be a try.

Another topic concerned in the context of this question is: Is the wife buddhist?

And still another topic in the context of this question is: If there cannot be an agreement as to avoid meat, can there then be an agreement about different meals? The point is that one's own eating should not add to the overall consumption of meat, but - and I think this is a buddhist principle - you cannot force other people to a better ethical conduct if there is no insight. And as a Mahayana practitioner one of course would not finally give in since one would continue to care about the karma of one's wife and the butchers. so one would keep on trying to convince applying skillful means.

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Re: Eating Meat vs. Drinking Alcohol--Which is worse?

Postby retrofuturist » Fri Nov 27, 2009 7:23 am

Greetings,

Another topic concerned in the context of this question is: Is the wife buddhist?


No.

And still another topic in the context of this question is: If there cannot be an agreement as to avoid meat, can there then be an agreement about different meals?


I don't want to be an inconvenience, but as in the way the Buddha of the Pali Canon did not want to be 'difficult' about the offerings that were made by the laity, and thus meat could be offered under certain conditions similar to those you stated in your earlier post (e.g. not specifically requested, not specifically killed for...)

The point is that one's own eating should not add to the overall consumption of meat, but - and I think this is a buddhist principle - you cannot force other people to a better ethical conduct if there is no insight. And as a Mahayana practitioner one of course would not finally give in since one would continue to care about the karma of one's wife and the butchers. so one would keep on trying to convince applying skillful means.


I'm Theravadin myself, but I'll take that on board. Thank you.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Eating Meat vs. Drinking Alcohol--Which is worse?

Postby ground » Fri Nov 27, 2009 7:38 am

Dear Retro
retrofuturist wrote:
And still another topic in the context of this question is: If there cannot be an agreement as to avoid meat, can there then be an agreement about different meals?


I don't want to be an inconvenience, but as in the way the Buddha of the Pali Canon did not want to be 'difficult' about the offerings that were made by the laity, and thus meat could be offered under certain conditions similar to those you stated in your earlier post (e.g. not specifically requested, not specifically killed for...)


Well yes, but the situation of a couple is different: Usually they are one economic entity. There is one or a common income. So if the wife prepares food this is completely different from a housholder giving food as dana to a monk. Like a monk should not indicate directly or indirectly to the housholder that he enjoys meat so not to motivate him to kill the husband can say to his wife that he does not want meat and state the reasons for that. Once it is openly stated then it would be inconsequential to eat meat if - and only if - considered from the perspective we are discussing here.
But: We are not able to consider all other aspects that may have an impact on the overall situation! and here we are at a very important point which is exactly the reason why ethical conduct is on the one hand very important in Mahayana but on the other hand the rules are not seen as definitive and final as they are usually seen in Theravada: We accept in Mahayana that despite of of the rules that have to be followed in order to achieve the best for all beings there still may be aspects in certain contexts that may entail deviation from those rules being compliant with the way of the bodhisattva. But if complient then these deviations can only be driven by love and compassion for others and never by egocentric motivations. As an example I may mention the use of meat and alcohol in tantric rituals.

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Re: Eating Meat vs. Drinking Alcohol--Which is worse?

Postby Luke » Fri Nov 27, 2009 6:22 pm

TMingyur wrote:We accept in Mahayana that despite of of the rules that have to be followed in order to achieve the best for all beings there still may be aspects in certain contexts that may entail deviation from those rules being compliant with the way of the bodhisattva. But if compliant then these deviations can only be driven by love and compassion for others and never by egocentric motivations. As an example I may mention the use of meat and alcohol in tantric rituals.


Yes, I think that tantric rituals are the most important reasons to deviate from those rules.

I wonder what the Buddhist analysis of this situation would be:
I'm attending a meeting of a social club whose members meet in a bar. I order one beer and drink it slowly for two hours in order to fit in while I chat with people.

Am I "driven by love and compassion" here, or by egocentric motivations? My guess is that it is a mixture of both.

I suppose that I could have some juice and ice in a glass that looks like a mixed drink, but if someone asked me what I was drinking, I would have to answer honestly (lying is not Buddhist!) and that would be awkward.

In general, I avoid bars and find that to be the better solution.

Or another situation:
You're at an office party and you are offered some champagne. Are you showing "love and compassion" by accepting the drink, thanking the person who gave it to you, and drinking it?
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Re: Eating Meat vs. Drinking Alcohol--Which is worse?

Postby ground » Sat Nov 28, 2009 4:02 am

Luke wrote:
TMingyur wrote:We accept in Mahayana that despite of of the rules that have to be followed in order to achieve the best for all beings there still may be aspects in certain contexts that may entail deviation from those rules being compliant with the way of the bodhisattva. But if compliant then these deviations can only be driven by love and compassion for others and never by egocentric motivations. As an example I may mention the use of meat and alcohol in tantric rituals.


Yes, I think that tantric rituals are the most important reasons to deviate from those rules.

I wonder what the Buddhist analysis of this situation would be:
I'm attending a meeting of a social club whose members meet in a bar. I order one beer and drink it slowly for two hours in order to fit in while I chat with people.

Am I "driven by love and compassion" here, or by egocentric motivations? My guess is that it is a mixture of both.

I would say driven by delusion. Because what's the purpose of visiting "social clubs" and "chatting"?

Luke wrote:In general, I avoid bars and find that to be the better solution.

That's wise.

Luke wrote:Or another situation:
You're at an office party and you are offered some champagne. Are you showing "love and compassion" by accepting the drink, thanking the person who gave it to you, and drinking it?

An office party isn't a tantric ritual, right?
I do not know what you are trying to get at. Do you accept any drug just because it is offered to you by some other person? What has this to do with "love and compassion"? Don't you think that not accepting an offer can be done in a friendly and warm way?

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Re: Eating Meat vs. Drinking Alcohol--Which is worse?

Postby hungryghost » Sat Nov 28, 2009 7:30 am

As far as meat eating is concerned, i'm going to take all of the pali canon and mahayana sutras and :toilet:
(sorry thats the ikkyu in me speaking)
Meat eating in this day and age doesnt usually involve someone going out into the woods and killing an animal to feed his family. Its more about huge concentration camps where animals suffer horribly for their entire lives and are then brutally killed. "first world nations" such as the US have huge grain surplus that could be used to ease the hunger of just about everyone on earth, and we feed it to animals so we can kill them and make them into food, because they 'taste good'. Anyone who thinks they can justify this atrocity, I challenge them to watch this documentary: http://www.watchearthlings.com
then tell me the Buddha would condone meat eating in the 21st century.
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Re: Eating Meat vs. Drinking Alcohol--Which is worse?

Postby ground » Sat Nov 28, 2009 9:18 am

Dear hungryghost

pali canon and mahayana sutras side with your view. Purchasing meat in the 21st century having plenty of alternatives in our western societies is unwholesome conduct.

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Re: Eating Meat vs. Drinking Alcohol--Which is worse?

Postby Luke » Sat Nov 28, 2009 2:53 pm

TMingyur wrote:An office party isn't a tantric ritual, right?
I do not know what you are trying to get at.

I was trying to find some examples of other situations besides tantric rituals in which you think deviations from the standard Buddhist rules are acceptable. Sorry, I wasn't trying to annoy you. I just find your opinions interesting.

TMingyur wrote:Do you accept any drug just because it is offered to you by some other person?

No, of course not. Only alcohol.
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Re: Eating Meat vs. Drinking Alcohol--Which is worse?

Postby ground » Sat Nov 28, 2009 3:17 pm

Luke wrote:
TMingyur wrote:An office party isn't a tantric ritual, right?
I do not know what you are trying to get at.

I was trying to find some examples of other situations besides tantric rituals in which you think deviations from the standard Buddhist rules are acceptable.

Well here we are. Obviously for you there are plenty (s. below) and for me there are none.

Luke wrote:
TMingyur wrote:Do you accept any drug just because it is offered to you by some other person?

No, of course not. Only alcohol.


:namaste:
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Re: Eating Meat vs. Drinking Alcohol--Which is worse?

Postby enkidu » Sat Nov 28, 2009 4:04 pm

I accept meat when it is offered to me or prepared for me, because it is food and will nourish me, and is in my opinion akin to accepting or rejecting a well-intentioned and sincere gift or wish of long life. I will later inform them, if opportunity arises, that I avoid meat.

I do not accept alcohol when it is offered to me. Although, I do sip in toast at weddings and so on, since neglecting to do so would likely cause disturbance in the minds of those around me. In America at least, there is no compulsion to empty a toast-serving of champagne for instance, as merely tasting the alcohol is sufficient for participating in the toast, though if pressed afterwards I can simply explain that I do not take alcohol.

In this way the minds of those around me are protected from any disturbance I may cause, in the efforts of keeping my vows, practice and mind pure.
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Re: Eating Meat vs. Drinking Alcohol--Which is worse?

Postby BFS » Sat Nov 28, 2009 10:48 pm

Imbibe that most sublime of drinks,
the ambrosia of mindfulness
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Re: Eating Meat vs. Drinking Alcohol--Which is worse?

Postby Clueless Git » Fri Dec 04, 2009 11:45 am

Luke wrote:I'm curious to find out how people view drinking alcohol in comparison to eating meat. Which one do you think is worse? Why?

Righto ...

If we were weaned onto alcohol as babes, as we are onto meat, and maintained it as a daily practice, we would not know what is like to have a mind unsullied by alcohol?

Those who were weaned onto meat as babes, and have maintained it is a life long practice, do not know what it is like to have a mind unsullied by meat.

Those who know what is like to be free of alcohol but not do not what it is like to be free of meat will say alcohol is worse.

Those who know what it is like to be free of both will undoubtedly vote that the worse of the two is meat.
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