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 Virgo » Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:13 am

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
Namdrol wrote:
PadmaVonSamba wrote:There is a story about the Buddha in a former life who is on a boat with many people, and he knows that one of the people is going to kill the others, so he kills that person out of compassion (before he kills anybody else) because he is aware of the suffering that person would otherwise reap from killing all the people on the boat.



That is not killing, that is liberation.

Thank you, Chairman Mao!! :rolling:

The point here is that the Bodhisattva saved the lives of all the crewmembers that would have died that day, he also killed the would be killer, however, he saved the would be killer from accumulating the karma of killing all those folks.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Virgo » Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:18 am

About the post about milk and so on addressed to Loppon, I know that sounds crazy, but I was just interested because I just very recently came across these Vedic remedies.

Anyway, probably off-topic but please PM me if you come across any connections in Tibetan Medicine, etc.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Kilaya » Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:05 am

Yes, NNR often explains how offering meat during a ganapuja can become the cause of liberation for the animals whose meat is offered. But I remember him telling how this principle applies to eating meat in a contemplative state. Eating meat in the ordinary distracted way like people usually do has nothing to do with liberating the animal. NNR does not propagate meat eating, what he does propagate is making the act of eating a ganapuja, an offering, and then it is beneficial to eat meat. It all depends on our state of mind and our intentions.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Mr. G » Sun Jan 01, 2012 1:31 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote: Thank you, Chairman Mao!! :rolling:


In that story, the Buddha is a bodhisattva that was able to see other people's karma:

    The captain, a bodhisattva himself, saw the man's murderous
    intention and realized this crime would result in eons of torment for
    the murderer. In his compassion, the captain was willing to take
    hellish torment upon himself by killing the man to prevent karmic
    suffering that would be infinity greater than the suffering of the
    murdered victims. The captain's compassion was impartial; his
    motivation was utterly selfless.

This is important to emphasize so the story can't be co-opted and used to justify violence by ordinary people.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby LastLegend » Sun Jan 01, 2012 3:30 pm

Namdrol wrote:That is not killing, that is liberation.


What you are talking about there is for Bodhisattvas. For an ordinary human being to pray for the animals before they are killed, that is very compassionate. Usually, people just kill the animals mindlessly.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Mr. G » Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:41 pm

LastLegend wrote:
Namdrol wrote:That is not killing, that is liberation.


What you are talking about there is for Bodhisattvas. For an ordinary human being to pray for the animals before they are killed, that is very compassionate. Usually, people just kill the animals mindlessly.


Hi LL,

I think you may have members quotes mixed up.

Anyhow, BG brought up this point:

Blue Garuda wrote:It's 'halal' and a crude method of slaughter. They pray to their God so unless you believe that an animal has a soul and will be treated well by a God which likes this fashion of killing, it is very far from compassionate. It is regarded by many as cruel:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/2977086.stm
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby wisdom » Sun Jan 01, 2012 7:14 pm

I was vegetarian when I discovered Buddhism in May. Like many I interpreted "Non killing" as being straightforward, and including the idea that eating meat was contributing to killing.

Then I read this thread and in November became an omnivore again. Of course I also received transmission from ChNN. Interestingly, while I knew about the karmic link practice, I didn't know about the mindfulness of the animal sustaining me and thereby generating merit for helping give life to a Dharma practitioner, but I have been including that in my mindfulness as well just because it made logical sense.

Those who think that a Tibetan Buddhist who eats meat somehow revels in the death of an animal are wrong. Those who think that just because meat is involved there is some "gruesome appetite" being fulfilled are also wrong. This would be like saying anyone who has sex is fulfilling some twisted fetish, or anyone who enjoys working out has an obsession with their body image.

Personally when I eat meat I fully contemplate its conditions, its suffering, the life it probably lived, its death. I actually meditate on the flesh itself, attempting to merge my mind with its essence and thereby get an idea of the sufferings that being actually felt, to see the world from its eyes, to understand what it was like to live like it lived, up to the moment of its death. I even go so far as to think about the part of the animal involved, how the animal was slain and then has this piece of its flesh lopped off, processed in this or that way. Sometimes the contemplation brings me to tears. Then with the aforementioned mindfulness I take my first bite of meat. So anyone who thinks that there is this total lack of compassion in such a practice, that one is just some disgusting gluttonous monster reveling in consuming flesh and blood is wrong, at least as a generalized sweeping statement. There are people like that, but they are never Buddhists. They are the ones who are proud to be carnivores, who have no thought for the fact that life that doesn't think is also sentient and also wants happiness. They hunt, and enjoy killing less fortunate beings. They smash bugs with zeal, and they think anyone who looks upon non human life as worthy of compassion are just nutty tree hugging hippies, weaklings who aren't "Man enough" or whatever.

Now of course I paint this compassionate picture of myself, but the truth is that while I strive to do this whenever I eat meat, and I strive to be mindful of many different things whenever I eat at all, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I am just hungry and distracted, and start eating whatever is in front of me without any mindfulness. I usually realize within a few bites and correct myself. But I am just saying that sure, selfishness can be involved in this as well as anything. Its hard to be mindful 24-7. When we eat vegetarian, we are equally in the wrong if we do not consider the food we eat as being causes for different kinds of suffering. In fact we should always be mindful of our food, from where it comes, the process involved, the suffering involved.

Think about it like this. Non local, non organic food has many harmful elements. Pesticides for example are used with the specific intention to kill. Now, in terms of the AMOUNT of beings killed, pesticides kill far more. Hundreds of thousands in a single sweep? Who knows. Not to mention whole areas of land are cleared in order to make room for crops, in south america the rainforest is clearcut in order to plant things that are shipped around the world. When you look at vegetarian food, a lot of it, if its not local and organic, destroys countless lifeforms, and much of it is done with the intention to kill. Then there is the toll on mother nature. The shipping, the trucks being driven, the packaging and so forth. So whatever we do, we can't avoid contributing to countless deaths. Its not just some fancy way of excusing eating meat, its true. Pesticides are used with the intention to kill, the action is fully carried out.

Furthermore what the teachings state is that all composite entities are bound to become food for other composite entities. There is no way to escape this fact. Composite entities (Which includes everything we see, even the sun) are only sustained by consuming something. If you were to kill some animals and even humans, throw them in the ground, put dirt on them and wait for them to decompose, that soil would become rich with nutrients. Plant some plants there, and the plants will consume it. So even plants ultimately can be considered meat eaters in this respect. Its a cycle of life and death, which are not different but actually just different stages of the same thing, like youth and old age, or seed and fruit. Finally if there is any chance that my eating meat will be a cause for a being to hear the Dharma teachings and to increase its merit, then I will do it despite my wish that there was no killing of animals at all.

I understand the argument of contribution, if you eat meat, you contribute to there being a meat industry. Yet the basis of this argument is flawed. To say that if everyone "stopped eating meat" there would be no industry can be applied to anything wrong with our samsaric world. It would be like saying "If only everyone would practice Dharma with good intentions, the world would become enlightened" and then being upset at someone specifically for not practicing Dharma, and blaming them as being the cause of the sorrows of this world. Or it would be like saying "If only everyone would give to others, there would be no poverty" except that will not happen, peoples delusions won't allow that kind of generosity on a scale to make an impact. So you can give to others and think "That person over there is not giving generously, they are the reason there are poor people in the world". In the end though, all of these arguments come down to a single essential point.

The reason there is any suffering at all is because of ignorance. So, whatever you seek to accomplish in terms of removing a defect of our samsaric existence, seek to remove peoples ignorance. If everyone stopped being ignorant, then all these problems would stop existing.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Malcolm » Sun Jan 01, 2012 7:26 pm

wisdom wrote:
Think about it like this. Non local, non organic food has many harmful elements.


I agree with pretty much everything you have said. I just wanted to add one clarification.

Most organic farms use pesticides when necessary, they also employ insects like ladybugs and wasps to kill "pests". Organic pesticides are used to protect human and livestock health, not to protect the lives of "pests".

When someone uses one being to kill another being on purpose, how is this different than asking a butcher to kill a steer for your family?

If someone should argue that buying meat encourages the killing of steer, and so on; is it not also true that buying vegetables encourages the killing of "pests"? And if it is argued that one is participating in the killing of steer through buying meat in a market, is not also true that one is participating in the killing of pests by buying say apples and other fruit in the market?

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Acchantika » Sun Jan 01, 2012 7:56 pm

Namdrol wrote:When someone uses one being to kill another being on purpose, how is this different than asking a butcher to kill a steer for your family?


Because unlike higher-order mammals, insects lack pain receptors, a thalamus and all the other necessary structures to enable them to experience pain and, thus, suffer.

If someone should argue that buying meat encourages the killing of steer, and so on; is it not also true that buying vegetables encourages the killing of "pests"? And if it is argued that one is participating in the killing of steer through buying meat in a market, is not also true that one is participating in the killing of pests by buying say apples and other fruit in the market?


Even eating fruit that has fallen off a tree by itself kills microbes and other bacteria in your stomach acid. Killing cannot be avoided. The point is suffering, not killing. You imply this yourself when you call a Buddha's killing "liberation", i.e., you acknowledge that because the act lessens suffering it is not karmically negative. So the question is whether it creates more suffering to indirectly encourage the killing of highly evolved mammals versus encouraging the use of organic pesticides.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Pero » Sun Jan 01, 2012 8:11 pm

Acchantika wrote:
Namdrol wrote:When someone uses one being to kill another being on purpose, how is this different than asking a butcher to kill a steer for your family?


Because unlike higher-order mammals, insects lack pain receptors, a thalamus and all the other necessary structures to enable them to experience pain and, thus, suffer.

By this logic it would be then ok to also kill humans and any other being in their sleep or make them unconscious and then kill them, since they wouldn't experience pain. Ridiculous.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Malcolm » Sun Jan 01, 2012 8:12 pm

Acchantika wrote:
Namdrol wrote:When someone uses one being to kill another being on purpose, how is this different than asking a butcher to kill a steer for your family?


Because unlike higher-order mammals, insects lack pain receptors, a thalamus and all the other necessary structures to enable them to experience pain and, thus, suffer.



Insects do not suffer? They do not feel pain? Of this you are certain?




So the question is whether it creates more suffering to indirectly encourage the killing of highly evolved mammals versus encouraging the use of organic pesticides.


I don't recall anywhere in Buddha's teaching where he says "You can kill all the bugs you like, there is no problem".

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Blue Garuda » Sun Jan 01, 2012 8:20 pm

Namdrol wrote:
wisdom wrote:
Think about it like this. Non local, non organic food has many harmful elements.


I agree with pretty much everything you have said. I just wanted to add one clarification.

Most organic farms use pesticides when necessary, they also employ insects like ladybugs and wasps to kill "pests". Organic pesticides are used to protect human and livestock health, not to protect the lives of "pests".

When someone uses one being to kill another being on purpose, how is this different than asking a butcher to kill a steer for your family?

If someone should argue that buying meat encourages the killing of steer, and so on; is it not also true that buying vegetables encourages the killing of "pests"? And if it is argued that one is participating in the killing of steer through buying meat in a market, is not also true that one is participating in the killing of pests by buying say apples and other fruit in the market?

N



On the surface I see the argument that insects killed accidentally in crop production present a different karma than the act of deliberately spraying them with insecticide. In other words, the second case has a clear intention to kill and so is arguably no worse than the slaughter of cattle.

However, one could also argue that it was the insect being's karma which led to its rebirth and death.
Yet again, one could argue that the steer's karma led it to its rebirth and subsequent death.

I know a few Jains who are meticulous at home about avoiding insect deaths - and then jump on a plane and kill huge numbers. In buying their tickets they can be pretty certain they will cause deaths, but do so using the 'intention' argument, as they cannot know which insects the plane will kill so there is no specific intent to kill.

It seems to be all shades of grey with regard to the individual behaviour and how the person understands 'not killing'. Receiving teachings from a Guru and accepting empowerments, vows and practice commitments from them may well help a great deal in driving our actions.

We can perhaps have 'doing least harm' as our personal motivation, or to put it more positively, 'doing the most good' for other beings.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Jan 01, 2012 8:29 pm

Just gonna have to face the fact that all karma (actions) cause suffering, but some actions cause more suffering than others. It's really that simple. Everything else is just intellectual justifications (from both "sides") for one's actions. When people cause less suffering they should be applauded not bamboozled. If one is happy with eating meat and can justify it to oneself through a complicated series of reason and logic, go for it!

To say that vegetarianism, veganism or fruitarianism does not reduce suffering though, is just plain old BS.

But if one feels that one has to jump on a pedastal just to overcome their supposed sense of inferiority, well... gimme a break please!

Maybe, just maybe, some of us can eat the flesh of murdered animals with complete mindfulness, excellent! I find that, right now, I can only do it within a ritual context, so I don't take the risk. Hell, I have enough problems trying to eat my veges with full mindfulness. By the same token a Bodhisattva, through full awareness of causality, can even kill a sentient being without generating karma vipakka. I can't. For the same reason...

Should I continue? Should this thread be put out of its misery? Should I be put out of my misery (liberate me please!)?
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Dave The Seeker » Sun Jan 01, 2012 8:35 pm

So what you are saying is that killing of insects doesn't go against the first Precept of Not Killing, since they don't feel pain, hence they don't suffer?


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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Acchantika » Sun Jan 01, 2012 8:37 pm

Pero wrote:
Acchantika wrote:
Namdrol wrote:When someone uses one being to kill another being on purpose, how is this different than asking a butcher to kill a steer for your family?


Because unlike higher-order mammals, insects lack pain receptors, a thalamus and all the other necessary structures to enable them to experience pain and, thus, suffer.

By this logic it would be then ok to also kill humans and any other being in their sleep or make them unconscious and then kill them, since they wouldn't experience pain. Ridiculous.


"Because insects don't experience pain, it is ok to kill them" would need to have been what I said for your criticism to be meaningful. However, I didn't say that.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Acchantika » Sun Jan 01, 2012 8:49 pm

Namdrol wrote:
Acchantika wrote:
Namdrol wrote:When someone uses one being to kill another being on purpose, how is this different than asking a butcher to kill a steer for your family?


Because unlike higher-order mammals, insects lack pain receptors, a thalamus and all the other necessary structures to enable them to experience pain and, thus, suffer.



Insects do not suffer? They do not feel pain? Of this you are certain?


No, I am not certain of it.

I don't recall anywhere in Buddha's teaching where he says "You can kill all the bugs you like, there is no problem".

N


He encouraged actions which reduced suffering. So, if we have to choose between killing an aphid and killing a steer, we should choose whichever creates less suffering.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Acchantika » Sun Jan 01, 2012 8:52 pm

The Seeker wrote:So what you are saying is that killing of insects doesn't go against the first Precept of Not Killing, since they don't feel pain, hence they don't suffer?


Kindest wishes, Dave


No, only that I think it would create less suffering to kill something that cannot experience pain. Keeping in mind that something will necessarily die, since the first precept cannot physically be kept whether we eat meat or not.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Mr. G » Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:08 pm

    Regarding insects, the Buddha promulgated the rule for monks against going on a journey during the rainy season because of possible injury to worms and insects that come to the surface in wet weather (Vin. I, 137), and the same concern for non-violence prevents a monk from digging the ground (Vin. IV, 125). Once a monk who was a potter prior to ordination built for himself a clay hut and set it on fire to give it a fine finish. The Buddha strongly objected to this as so many living creatures would have been burnt in the process. The hut was broken down on the Buddha's instructions to prevent it from creating a bad precedent for later generations (Vin. III, 42). The scrupulous nonviolent attitude towards even the smallest living creatures prevents the monks from drinking unstrained water (Vin. IV, 125). The Karaniyametta Sutta enjoins the cultivation of loving-kindness towards all creatures timid and steady, long and short, big and small, minute and great, visible and invisible, near and far, born and awaiting birth (Sn. vv. 143-152).

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Mr. G » Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:24 pm

Buddhism expresses a gentle non-violent attitude towards the vegetable kingdom as well. It is said that one should not even break the branch of a tree that has given one shelter (Petavatthu II, 9, 3). The more strict monastic rules prevent the monks from injuring plant life (Vin. IV, 34)
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Pero » Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:29 pm

Acchantika wrote:
The Seeker wrote:So what you are saying is that killing of insects doesn't go against the first Precept of Not Killing, since they don't feel pain, hence they don't suffer?


Kindest wishes, Dave


No, only that I think it would create less suffering to kill something that cannot experience pain. Keeping in mind that something will necessarily die, since the first precept cannot physically be kept whether we eat meat or not.

Ah, sorry.
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