the great vegetarian debate

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby wisdom » Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:38 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:Is the sentient being still there in the meat, or did it already leave?
If it is in the meat, then where was it before the animal existed?
Using Buddhist logic to justify attachment?


I don't think its a matter of attachment in all cases. For example I was vegetarian for months, without any craving or real desire for meat during that whole time. I became completely indifferent to food, and the only way I enjoyed it is if I made it hot (Sriracha) so I deprived myself of that for awhile until I got a point of complete indifference about whether or not I ate at all, only doing it in order to sustain the health and energy of my body.

Then I heard of Ganapuja, so I asked on another thread why practitioners ate meat and drank wine. Between that thread and this one, I've come to a completely different view. Some of it was things I was already considering. One question I asked myself was- "If I am ever offered meat, and my refusal to eat it means it will be thrown away, is that worse than eating the meat?" my conclusion was that yes, it is worse, because not only has the animal died, but it died in vain. For no reason. Just to become garbage because of my attachment (or aversion) to not eating meat. It was bound to happen that eventually I would be at a restaurant, order food, and get meat in it. And in fact it did happen eventually.

There is the view for example that if I eat meat with the intention of not only liberating the animal by forming a link with it, but also by turning its death into a sacrifice to sustain my life, that I liberate its karma. If in my mind that cow died specifically for me, its horrible death has become a noble cause. Since it was going to be slaughtered by quota anyways, I've turned its slaughter into a sacrifice to sustain the life of a seeker of Dharma. Not as a justification for eating meat, but as a real practice of helping that being.

On the other hand, walking past the meat aisle will do what? Reduce suffering by how much? If all truths are relative, how much meat do I have to personally eat to contribute to a significant portion of the suffering of animals?

To begin with, we can ask how much meat is in a cow. How many steaks, hamburgers, and so forth.

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_hamburgers_can_be_made_with_one_cow

So even on the low end, thats 300 hamburgers. If you eat meat in moderation (and its probably not all beef anyways) 300 hamburgers worth of cow is a lot. Thats potentially years worth of eating. Think about if you had a single cow, killed it, and froze all the meat, then ate it in moderation. Thats clearly not what happens, my point is this. By refraining from eating meat, that cow is dead anyways. Its meat is on a shelf, and someone will buy it. If I buy it, form this link with it, and have these intentions, there is a chance of helping its karmic situation. Furthermore, if I do it again the next week, its going to be a different cow. So rather than one cow dying and producing 300 meals for me, I can eat the equivalent of a single cow worth of meat and potentially help liberate 300 beings from suffering by doing so.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:51 pm

Point one, the cow is dead not coz it just keeled over, but because it was killed in order to fill the supermarket shelf. The reason there is another cow in the shelf the next time, is because somebody (including you) paid money and took its flesh to eat it.

Okay, you are not buying the the whole cow, though over a period of time you might, but you are one of the reasons it is dead. You are part of the chain of causes and conditions that lead to the cow being murdered. You might give me some logic about how infinitely small your contribution to its murder and consumption is, I will agree, but I am not willing to take even that part of the responsibility on the off chance that (during daily consumption of flesh) that I am be liberating the animal by consuming it.

With ganapuja I spend at least two hours to reach a state where I can say that I am in the position (maybe) to be able to generate "positive" conditions around the substances I am about to consume. Now, I neither have the time or ability to do this for every meal, so I just avoid flesh (oh, and alcohol too, I observe the precept) during meal time until the next ganapuja, where I am (not 100%, but anyway) sure that I am acting as a means of liberation for the sentient being.

Now if that means I have been able to be involved in saving just one sentient being from being murdered for consumption during the entire length of my lifetime, then that is fine by me.

And in the meantime, when I am with my lama, we do the practice "Essence of Benefit and Joy" where one liberates live animals destined for murder and consumption. There's more than one way to skin a (soya) cat you know? ;)
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:10 pm

I think there are a few points left aside that concern this debate.

What most Buddhist practitioners who eat meat, or let me be more precise, those I ever talked with, don't accept is that they are less compassionate than vegetarians.
They don't claim that having a vegetarian diet is wrong.

1- The most common argument used against them is that they propitiate a very cruel industry, meat production.

However, this gigantic industry is not a soccer match or a chess game. In the last two, if you choose not to participate, you really affect the outcome.
In the case of meat production in modern societies, it really doesn't make an iota of difference if I eat meat or not in terms of the numbers of slaughtered animals as they are killed by quotas. If someone can prove otherwise, that if I don't go to the supermarket and buy the flesh of the dead animal, that action lessens the number of animals killed, then the argument becomes futile. Of course one is free not to eat meat because just imagining all the suffering involved disgusts them. However, the claim that any real suffering is lessened seems baseless in our modern society.

2- The second argument is that if all people thought like that, we would still have slaves and so on and so forth.

The problem is that this is a non sequitur. First, there are still slaves. But that's not the point. Slavery didn't end because of ethics. It ended because of the industrial revolution and a tremendous amount of circumstances, ethics being only a part of it. The world's population at large always ate meat and eats meat regularly without feeling any constraint. It's not seen as a bad thing and this is unlikely to ever change. There's no way to know if all Buddhists became vegetarians, meat industry would suffer. Less demand, cheaper prices, again more demand. People who want to eat meat and can't because of its price would now have more access to it. Besides, "if all Buddhists, if all people", and so on are fantasies. Those aren't our actual circumstances and it's important to know how to practice according to our circumstances.

It's not that Buddhists who eat meat don't want meat production industry to stop. They do! It just won't happen because of them becoming vegetarians. I can't count the number of petitions I sign and projects I've supported to hinder meat production industry and other sorts of animal exploitation. I give a substantial part of my income to associations that tend abandoned animals. No results so far or in the future at sight. Gimme a button or a way to make it stop, not actions without real and palpable consquence, and I will do it, happily never eating meat again in my life. The same goes for all Buddhist practitioners who eat meat that I know.

So, eating meat doesn't mean agreeing with the meat production industry. Anyone who says that is being extremely unfair! It's knowing that it's not by stopping that the slaughter of animals will even decrease. Or increase, if we decide to gorge on meat. Our action in this context is mainly irrelevant.

3- Last point, people who eat meat are less compassionate.

It's a moot point. If by buying meat from a supermarket shelf has no influence in the number of animals killed, in our society (I keep saying this as it is not the same for people who live in small communities and raise cattle for consumption), in fact we won't diminish suffering. On the other hand, if we can create a connection with the dead being by eating it's flesh so that if we ever attain enlightenment such being becomes our student, it seems less compassionate not doing it because of noble, yet ineffective ways of practicing compassion.

The main point is that nobody here says vegetarianism is a bad choice. It's wholesome. However, those practitioners who eat meat see the subject differently. It's not that they want the slaughter and suffering of animals, as sometimes they are accused. I'm sure HHDL among many other excellent teachers doesn't want animals to suffer. There are more ways than one to put compassion at work and truly benefiting beings. This understanding should help those Buddhists who eat meat and those who don't to better understand each other, instead of endlessly fighting.

I hope I made my points clear.

Best wishes.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby ronnewmexico » Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:40 pm

This is absolutely true..."The main point is that nobody here says vegetarianism is a bad choice. It's wholesome. However, those practitioners who eat meat see the subject differently. It's not that they want the slaughter and suffering of animals, as sometimes they are accused. I'm sure HHDL among many other excellent teachers doesn't want animals to suffer. There are more ways than one to put compassion at work and truly benefit"

A teacher such as HHDL in a land of meateaters, of course a teacher of dharma cannot be vegetarian.

ON this issue also has been introduced at time, the environment. Some buddhists hold what they call bodhisattava vows, which involves helping others till all are free. Some do not but want to cause less harm.
Just hearing on TV show, the chairman of the IPCC the intergovernmental panal on climate change a group formed from the World meterological organization and the UNEP, both un directed groups to address this issue, is a vegetarian. As it causes less harm in a environmental way.
Global warming will result in the drastic reduction of habitual places on earth and the untimely deaths of billions eventually(ameicans this will probably be quite lost on you others know this)....

Any way the Chair...... Rajeadra Pachauri, a winner of the 2007 nobel peace prize, a indian by birth, a engineer and scientist by training is vegetarian for reasons of less climate change impacf.
Clearing forest for cattle, petrochemicals in fertilizers for grains for cattle, refrigeration for the meat obtained being absolutely necessary, and the transport costs associated with this, are his scientific rational. More energy and thusly produced more carbon with meat than vegetarian fare.

So if we want earth to be more conducive for dharma with human... it must be a place of most people with those here being able to be free from disease starvation catastrophy or other cause which would make dharma practice imporrible.

So on that basis also one may prefer to be vegetarian if one holds that vow, or thinks that way of causeing less harm.

Again one may certainly be buddhists and eat meat, and one is not saying a vegetarian is more good or intending greater than any other, but they buddist may make this choice not in association with attachement in a gross manner.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:02 pm

if I am eating a meatless meal i am eating vegetarian food.
if i am eating meat then I am eating non-vegetarian food.
But if I say I am this or I am that
this asserts permanent quality, thus, a 'self'.
That isn't dharma. That's just an ego trip.

Some people say meat is murder.
If you kill 20 people and you stop, are you still a murderer, or no longer a murderer?
If you quit eating meat, are you still a murderer, or no longer a murderer?
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby ronnewmexico » Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:07 pm

Well..I think we may establish term useage in a conventional sense for discussion of this subject. Yes ultimately one is not vegetarian nor any other thing of singular notion.

I'd say most are useing the term for ease of use in this discussion rather than to say a impossible thing.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Jikan » Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:18 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:if I am eating a meatless meal i am eating vegetarian food.
if i am eating meat then I am eating non-vegetarian food.
But if I say I am this or I am that
this asserts permanent quality, thus, a 'self'.
That isn't dharma. That's just an ego trip.

Some people say meat is murder.
If you kill 20 people and you stop, are you still a murderer, or no longer a murderer?
If you quit eating meat, are you still a murderer, or no longer a murderer?


This is a useful point. How about language like this:

I make a practice out of avoiding meat in order to avoid causing harm to animals through the industrialized meat business

or

I used to be a murderer, but seeing the harm that caused, I stopped doing that and instead I attempt to practice peace now
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:46 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:If you were stranded on hypothetical island with a cat and a rat
and the cat was starving to death,
would you kill the rat to feed the cat, and thus incur the negative karmic results yourself,
and endure a lower rebirth for the sake of the cat,
or would you let the cat kill the rat and continue to be reborn in lower realms?
if you care so much about the cat, what would you do?
.
.
.


That's pretty good, it even has some rhymes with the cat and the rat.

I'd let the cat decide. Not killing is for the human realm, the Buddha made no such precept for animals, who are in a woeful, lower realm (but impermanent).
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:41 pm

Where does consciousness rest?
If I eat meat, the meat (proteins, carbon, calcium, etc) becomes part of me.
Well, it becomes part of this body.
Does it become part of my mind as well?

If the answer is yes,
then if "I" have an opinion about vegetarianism and meat eating,
who has the opinion, me or the meat I ate?
If I eat more meat, is it the previous meat consuming the new meat?
or
has the cow's body, which was previously co-emergent with the cow's mind
now become co-emergent with the mind that I call my mind?

and what if the answer is no?

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby catmoon » Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:18 pm

Moo!
Sergeant Schultz knew everything there was to know.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby ronnewmexico » Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:22 pm

The answer ultimtately considered is no.
The conception that one may eat another thing arises on the basic fundamental error of self and other and aversion and attachment.
REally no self or other exists one may not add to or detract from what one is....cognition essentially. Nothing may ultimately be eaten dead or alive.

That we know this is error in basis does not infer conceived real suffering does not occur, nor that things may not die be killed eaten or not .
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:44 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:Where does consciousness rest?


ronnewmexico wrote:That we know this is error in basis does not infer conceived real suffering does not occur, nor that things may not die be killed eaten or not .


Anatta (no-self) is a deep and profound teaching of the Buddha. It is not meant to be used as a rationale to avoid precepts. For example, if someone steals from someone, he cannot (or should not) say that I didn't really steal, since the victim has no self and I also have no self.

As ron mentions, there is still real suffering involved when a being is killed. And that is why the Buddha laid down precepts against killing and his teachings are permeated with teachings against killing or causing to kill.

1. So the real question in this debate is does purchasing meat kill the being? I don't think so, the animal is already dead.

2. And another important question is does purchasing meat cause the killing of another being? Yes, I think it does. (simple supply & demand, to replace the meat)

3. And then the final question is does the direct cause in #2 above break the First Precept against killing? (and that is for each of us to decide with our study & practice)
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:50 pm

Yes, I agree with Ron in this point.
I think seeing this from an absolute perspective doesn't make much sense since all this is concerned with conventional reality. Otherwise if we kill, ultimately nothing really dies. However, this doesn't mean killing is right nor that there is no karmic effect from killing.
It's definitively one of those cases in which one needs to know what to accept and to reject and why.
More than choice itself, for me counts the intention, the consequences and the reasoning/feelings that lead to such choice.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby ronnewmexico » Wed Dec 07, 2011 9:56 pm

Certainly that is true.
To add..the question of the environment I introduced on the prior page(certainly none can read all these posts) :smile: .

Environmental destruction consequent to global warming is considered a form of killing as well it may.
Much lesser in direct effect this killing and with lesser intention of course but the ultimate effect of environmental destruction is killing before their time many sentient beings and variant species of life.

Meat eating as I refernce in that post...is by science...found, producing of more carbon than not. So it produces more warming effect.
Minor perhaps...but that may be ones basis in this thing.

Again noone is less buddhist for doing or not doing this thing. It is a personal choice.
"This order considers that progress can be achieved more rapidly during a single month of self-transformation through terrifying conditions in rough terrain and in "the abode of harmful forces" than through meditating for a period of three years in towns and monasteries"....Takpo Tashi Namgyal.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Dechen Norbu » Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:13 pm

ronnewmexico wrote:Certainly that is true.
To add..the question of the environment I introduced on the prior page(certainly none can read all these posts) :smile: .

Environmental destruction consequent to global warming is considered a form of killing as well it may.
Much lesser in direct effect this killing and with lesser intention of course but the ultimate effect of environmental destruction is killing before their time many sentient beings and variant species of life.

Meat eating as I refernce in that post...is by science...found, producing of more carbon than not. So it produces more warming effect.
Minor perhaps...but that may be ones basis in this thing.

Again noone is less buddhist for doing or not doing this thing. It is a personal choice.

I heard that cattleImage farts a lot and those gases have a green house effect. This seems to be true, although seemingly unbelievable. It seems that their farts do have an impact in the environment. Go figure!
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Blue Garuda » Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:29 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:Where does consciousness rest?


ronnewmexico wrote:That we know this is error in basis does not infer conceived real suffering does not occur, nor that things may not die be killed eaten or not .


Anatta (no-self) is a deep and profound teaching of the Buddha. It is not meant to be used as a rationale to avoid precepts. For example, if someone steals from someone, he cannot (or should not) say that I didn't really steal, since the victim has no self and I also have no self.

As ron mentions, there is still real suffering involved when a being is killed. And that is why the Buddha laid down precepts against killing and his teachings are permeated with teachings against killing or causing to kill.

1. So the real question in this debate is does purchasing meat kill a being? I don't think so, the animal is already dead.

2. And another important question is does purchasing meat cause the killing of another being? Yes, I think it does. (simple supply & demand, to replace the meat)

3. And then the final question is does the direct cause in #2 above break the First Precept against killing? (and that is for each of us to decide with our study & practice)


A good summation.

In number 1 'purchasing' is not the issue, as it is in number 2. The issue is perhaps best illustrated thus: Is it likely that a poor villager would have surplus meat to put in a Bhikkhu's bowl, and that the monk could therefore claim the animal was not killed 'for them'?

In number 2, if we buy meat we create the causes and conditions for other beings to be bred and killed - I agree that this is basic marketing. The caterers to the next Olympic Games are already breeding the animals for slaughter. The sole cause for this is the market for meat, predicted from current meat-eating and expectations based on research.

In number 3, I simplify this - if we understand that our action has either caused a killling in the present or in the future, it does break the First Precept.

I don't understand that a person can see a clear connection between detergent and market demand and yet deny (perhaps angrily) that the same market forces apply to meat.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Dechen Norbu » Thu Dec 08, 2011 2:14 am

Blue Garuda wrote:A good summation.

In number 1 'purchasing' is not the issue, as it is in number 2. The issue is perhaps best illustrated thus: Is it likely that a poor villager would have surplus meat to put in a Bhikkhu's bowl, and that the monk could therefore claim the animal was not killed 'for them'?

You see things upside down. In a small village being a vegetarian makes a difference. My grandparents lived in a village. People raised cattle for consumption there.
If a group of let's say 100 people became vegetarian, that would have a real impact in the amount of slaughtered beings. So, in a situation where being a vegetarian could make a difference you are saying that eating meat would perhaps be acceptable. :lol: This is poor reasoning, I'm afraid.

Even so, in the case of small villages this too is not as cut and dry as it may seem, unfortunately. There are places in the world where meat consumption means the difference between life and death. So, in those cases, if humans didn't consume the flesh of animals, they would die. In those circumstances, even if monks wanted to be vegetarians, they couldn't.

In number 2, if we buy meat we create the causes and conditions for other beings to be bred and killed - I agree that this is basic marketing. The caterers to the next Olympic Games are already breeding the animals for slaughter. The sole cause for this is the market for meat, predicted from current meat-eating and expectations based on research.

So as you say animals will be killed based on statistics, not on the fact of you or I refuse to eat meat. The fact that you go there and don't eat meat won't make a difference as the animals will be slaughtered based on quotas. This makes your point inaccurate and supports previous ideas that I've presented. Animals are killed by quotas and the fact that an irrelevant part of the population doesn't eat meat is not sufficient to change the number of slaughtered animals. This is why supermarkets never run out of meat. They make calculations based on average consumption based in demographic data. They end with results likely expressed in grams of meat for person per day. To have a more precise average, they eliminate outliers , since average is affected by these values numerically distant from the rest of the data which could skew the result. Imagine who are the outliers in a random sample of the population who happens to include a few vegetarians. Do you get it now? The intention is good, but it has no practical results.

In number 3, I simplify this - if we understand that our action has either caused a killling in the present or in the future, it does break the First Precept.

I don't understand that a person can see a clear connection between detergent and market demand and yet deny (perhaps angrily) that the same market forces apply to meat.

Now, here we have an example of an idea that seems correct, yet it wasn't well thought. If a campaign against a certain detergent is successful, people will not stop using detergents. They will change the brand they use. But they will still use detergent.
There are recent examples that show this point when it comes to meat consumption. The Creutzfeldt-Jakob syndrome and the aviary flu. When cow meat was perceived as dangerous, the meat consumption didn't diminish. People didn't think "hey, meat is bad... I'l become a vegetarian instead!". No, people ate more birds and more pork. When the perception of danger diminished, we had the aviary flu episode. Again, people bought more bovine and pork meat instead of birds.
So, no, it is not the same connection.
For meat consumption to diminish, a huge percentage of the population would have to become vegetarian. That is a fantasy for the time being.

By all the above, our action didn't cause the killing in the present or in the future. If you become a vegetarian, you become an outlier so you disappear from the stats when it comes to the calculation of slaughtering quotas.
You never had the intention to kill, you didn't kill or ordered the kill and you don't rejoice in the death of the animal. Thus, no karma attached to your action when you pick the flesh from a supermarket shelf in our society.

Besides, there's a bonus when you eat that meat. You can create the causes to benefit that being in the future. If you are a vegetarian, you neither benefit that particular being, neither prevent its death or the death of any other animal in the future, at least in our society.

I could say, humorously and to satirize your above remark, that I don't understand why vegetarians can't see a clear connection between their diet and having lack of compassion by not helping beings whose death wasn't avoidable and (perhaps angrily- as you said, but this is no more than a projection) continue attached to lofty, yet utopic and of no real consequence ideals. :shock:

The difference between me and you is that I don't say such thing.
I say their intention is wholesome and worthy of appraisal. I try to understand the other side, if you will. You, by not doing it and presenting this issue as if it was as a simple matter, very simple to understand, make of all Buddhist practitioners and teachers who eat meat a bunch of short sighted idiots who can't see such a simple thing. Perhaps you should widen your horizons and build bridges instead of walls. At least that's what I try to do, even when I don't agree with others.
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Ahimsa, Veganism, and Existing Food/Supplements

Postby SittingSilent » Thu Dec 08, 2011 3:05 am

I am learning more about Buddhism, although I'm not sure which school I feel comfortable in. However, as I am learning more about the concept of ahimsa, I am feeling drawn to become a vegan, especially considering the horrific conditions other sentient beings are raised and then slaughtered under simply to provide food for us. I am not comfortable with this. My difficulty however, is with what I am supposed to do with the chicken and beef in my freezer, as well as the medications that are in capsules made with gelatin (animal-sourced), etc. I feel I shouldn't consume them because that would be contributing to all four negative intentions, but if I dispose of them, how is that any better?

Thoughts please!

E
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Re: Ahimsa, Veganism, and Existing Food/Supplements

Postby Adamantine » Thu Dec 08, 2011 3:31 am

SittingSilent wrote:I am learning more about Buddhism, although I'm not sure which school I feel comfortable in. However, as I am learning more about the concept of ahimsa, I am feeling drawn to become a vegan, especially considering the horrific conditions other sentient beings are raised and then slaughtered under simply to provide food for us. I am not comfortable with this. My difficulty however, is with what I am supposed to do with the chicken and beef in my freezer, as well as the medications that are in capsules made with gelatin (animal-sourced), etc. I feel I shouldn't consume them because that would be contributing to all four negative intentions, but if I dispose of them, how is that any better?

Thoughts please!

E


The Buddhist approach is generally more of a middle-path, recognizing that in samsara suffering pervades everything... and it is impossible to completely avoid unintentional harm even if it is possible to at least minimize it and to avoid intentional harm. So for Buddhist monks practicing at the time of Shakyamuni with full Bikshu vows meat-eating was allowed since they were begging for their food door-to-door, as long as it was certain that the meat was not from an animal killed for them specifically. So there would be no contribution to that animals death, and assuming the monks would not continually go back to the same house to get more meat-- there would not be a supply-demand chain contribution to the death of a future animal either. In Mahayana Buddhism, the Buddha's teachings are more strict about avoiding meat altogether-- but in Vajrayana Buddhism it again can be used in certain conditions with the right motivation and using skillful means that will benefit the animal in the long-run.

I am vegetarian myself, and share your ethics to the point I tried to be completely vegan twice before in my life-- eating a well-balanced vegan diet too-- but I got very sick both times I tried. Not everyone's constitution can handle a strictly vegan diet, and this is not just a cop-out, I know from experience. I may try again since bodies do change with time. So I am a reluctant lacto-ovo-vegetarian, and I try to restrict my dairy to the most 'humane' sources as much as possible. I also finally succumbed to taking fish oil capsules for Omega 3's after suffering from chronic joint pain. So I don't feel pure at all from an ahimsa perspective. But practicing Vajrayana Buddhism I at least have some practices I can do before ingesting these things that can help create a Dharma link to the animals and hopefully benefit them, more than if someone who cared less bought the same packages at the marketplace. If you already have meat and gelatin caps I don't see how throwing them out would help anybody. Just eat them, with awareness and compassion. And be very careful about your diet.. it is never healthy to make extreme transitions suddenly.. it is better to wean yourself onto a new diet, and you can use your leftover meats for this, eating smaller and smaller amounts for a week or two and finding adequate replacements for protein and fats..

Best Wishes!
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby wisdom » Thu Dec 08, 2011 3:38 am

gregkavarnos wrote:Point one, the cow is dead not coz it just keeled over, but because it was killed in order to fill the supermarket shelf.


True. However the cow is also alive due to the same conditions which cause its death. In other words it would never have been born as a cow at all if the conditions didn't exist to allow it to incarnate as a cow. So there is its karma to consider in taking birth as a cow destined for a slaughterhouse. On some level its dead before its even born. Not to mention, in the end, we are all born to be food for something, even though we try to deny this by embalming our bodies and sealing ourselves into steel caskets.

So how does its karma play into its situation, as well as my own. I mean from the perspective of karma I can't blame the conditions I'm born into for creating me and my suffering. I can only blame myself. I can only assume that whatever the case, I am what I am (or as is often the case what I'm not) because of the choices I've made. If I begin to blame external conditions there is no more accountability. Unless my understanding of karma is wrong (and it may well be) then the cow is incarnate in that condition and situation for a reason.

Since the karma of western humanity is not at a place where it can give up eating meat out of compassion for all sentient beings, then I have to consider what my role is in terms of the most compassionate action available to me. Is it to try to live in the future (if such a future exists) where humanity is enlightened enough to not treat animals like this, even though that time is not yet come and people generally do not care, nor do they even see animals as beings worthy of our attention?

Or is it to act within the situation I am in, which is that of a culture that doesn't give a f%#@, and transmute that situation for the betterment of all beings?

Does refraining from eating meat benefit all sentient beings?
Does it benefit anyone I know, any of my fellow man?
Given the culture I live in, and that the average individual is simply not ready to accept that doctrine of compassion, does my refraining from eating meat benefit any sentient beings?
Does it even benefit the cow in question, who has incarnated in that situation based on its karma in the first place?
Or is the benefit entirely my own (that is, is being a vegetarian just about what I want and how I want to see the world)?

The point is that in my view, we don't live in a situation where its realistic to refrain from eating meat based on the precept of not killing (after having given it a good deal of consideration from many points of view) . Dechens post about the small village is a good analogy. If you are one of 100 people, not eating meat for 20 years would have a huge impact on saving local life, as well as helping feed other people. Yet in a different situation, say living in a big city, the situation is different. That meat is going to come in by the truck load every day, tens of thousands of pounds a day, dozens or hundreds of cows a day. I can refrain from eating meat, but that won't change the mentality of the tens of thousands of people who only think certain forms of animal life are worthy to be spared torture (cats, dogs, and so forth).

But maybe if I get involved, and eat the meat with a different intention, I can bring about some positive change. And if it means I incur negative karma but indeed bring about that positive change, then that's fine. In my view that's what it means to be a Bodhisattva (at least in part). You take on birth, samsara, suffering, financial difficulties, all kinds of things to benefit sentient beings.

And I'm not saying this to try to change your view, just sharing the view I've developed as a result of these conversations.

gregkavarnos wrote:You are part of the chain of causes and conditions that lead to the cow being murdered. You might give me some logic about how infinitely small your contribution to its murder and consumption is, I will agree, but I am not willing to take even that part of the responsibility on the off chance that (during daily consumption of flesh) that I am be liberating the animal by consuming it.


This is true. No matter what, buying meat contributes to the causes of the meat industry, even if only fractionally.

gregkavarnos wrote:And in the meantime, when I am with my lama, we do the practice "Essence of Benefit and Joy" where one liberates live animals destined for murder and consumption. There's more than one way to skin a (soya) cat you know? ;)


I like that idea very much.
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