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#1 mavrica

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 02:51 PM

Hello everyone,

a friend asked me today why His Holiness still eats meat if he is a buddhist.
Apart from saying "for health reasons", I had no other explanation, and I must say that it was rather confusing to explain why buddhism supports vegetarianism and the highest representative still eats meat; even more inexplicable, he does it "for health reasons". We usually hear that people stop eating meat and animal products for health reasons, not vice versa. This almost seems like "eating meat would bring health".

How could I give my friend an answer that wouldn't be too abstract for her, considering she knows very little about buddhism?

Thank you,

ana

#2 m_v

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 05:14 PM

http://tsemtulku.typ...3/my-entry.html


nice animal liberation video. worth watching the whole video.
a partial answer to your question from 16.25

#3 mavrica

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 07:19 PM

Thank you! I will show her this video.

best wishes,
ana

#4 Wangmo

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 11:56 AM

I heard about the health reasons before too, and as I heard, His Holiness fell ill when on a vegetarian diet and was advised by His doctors to take some meat.

But here is the official website:
http://www.dalailama...ers/routine-day

And there it is clearly written:
"His Holiness's kitchen in Dharamsala is vegetarian. However, during visits outside of Dharamsala, His Holiness is not necessarily vegetarian."
That could also mean that HH accepts any food that is offered to Him.

Then, I have a small question - why is the general expectation that all Buddhist people need to be vegetarian, otherwise they are not good Buddhists? It surely is important, but it isn't the one and only decisive point. There are for example 10 non-virtuous actions one should avoid ... the Eightfold path to follow etc. This isn't automatically done just by abstaining from meat.
Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless - like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend. (Bruce Lee)

#5 dani

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 07:52 PM

How could I give my friend an answer that wouldn't be too abstract for her, considering she knows very little about buddhism?

I heard a story once which makes sense in a way and I find it useful sometimes when in situations like yours...

One great master (I forget which, as usual, now dead) traveled teaching round Europe and most of the time in a restaurant he would only order a beef stake to great surprise of many students, most vegetarian...so they asked him, why he eats meat, isn't that a being, isn't that uncompasionate...and he said on the one hand one being was killed and with its meat you can feed a whole family for some time, on the other, for your plate of salad countless little beings like flies and insects and worms and snails...are killed...(I just write as much as I remember, don't take my word for it)

Keeping this in mind, I have worst time with a plate of seafood, if you know what I mean, while lots of 'vegetarians' would still eat 'seafood' for 'health reasons' :-) It is all just a matter of motivation, I think & eating or not eating meat can both be virtuous or non-virtuos, selfish or compassionate...   




#6 Shenpen.Rinpoche

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 12:45 AM

Keeping this in mind, I have worst time with a plate of seafood, if you know what I mean, while lots of 'vegetarians' would still eat 'seafood' for 'health reasons' :-) It is all just a matter of motivation, I think & eating or not eating meat can both be virtuous or non-virtuos, selfish or compassionate...

It all depends the reason for which people are vegetarian ie. mostly "health" or "ethical".
Health, indeed, we find lot of inconsitency such as still eating sea food, fish, thinking this is more healthy - which is not even true as shells anf fishes are concentrating lot of chemicals and heavy metal found in water...
For ethical reasons, nothing that requieres to be killed should be eaten, flesh of any kind.

Animal flesh falls in the two categories anyhow, as it's not good for health and not good for ethical reasons...

And, to eat a steak you *surely* need to kill, while to eat a salad you could be careful not to kill insects or worms.
Lama Shenpen Rinpoche
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"For as long as space endures, And as long as living beings remain,
Until then may I too abide, To dispel the misery of the world." (Arya Shantideva)

#7 dani

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 03:04 PM

For ethical reasons, nothing that requieres to be killed should be eaten, flesh of any kind.

I ethics really so rigid, black/white?

I was just CONSIDERING yesterday, next time I find myself at a fancy 'buffet' lunch…you know at conferences when allfood is put out on tables and we go round with our plate, strugling to get abite… instead of trying to dig out my little veggie pieces under a bunch ofcorpses, I'll go straight for the corpses, preferably seafood for the follwing reasons:

1.       'events' (Irefer to) are infamous for there always being too little food (recession, Iguess) and people always struggle for their bite, 'cos once it's gone it'sgone' – so the corpse was not killed becasue of me and my eating it does notlead to more killing (it could be argued in this way I am somehow, thoughindirectly, supporting meat or fish industry, but this could equally be said ofanimal liberation practices, as described in the video by Tsem Tulku)

2.      If i don't eat them, others will…others will not recite mantras for the benefit of the dead beings, even more, others might eat with greed and create further attachment and negativities, so maybe I save some from crating negativities :-), while I can recite mantras and make prayers for thedead and the living and maybe even create some merits (I could just recite mantras withouth eating them, I've seen some teachers going into the malls and spend loooong time with their malas at the frozen meat compartment, but they'd be eaten, maybe with greed, by others if I don't eat them  and I'd miss the oportunity for my next point...

3.      Just the taught of doing it upsets my stomach (unlike other meat, fish and the alike I find absolutely digusting in taste), so besides the mantras for the dead beings and prayers for the living eventually greedy bunch, I get to reflect about true, non-dual nature of reality…preferably intensly, 'cos if not the corpses might not stay in…grouse…

It seems beyond ethicalor non-ethical, it's almost like my responsibility, for the benefit of the dead,the living and the ignorant me, wouldn't you agree? 

And then also, I have no garden, I can't grow my own veggies, eco veggies can cost a fortune, but even'eco' doesn't mean the farmer is careful not to kill a warm, so in his working the land and growing veggies still many beings die, but in most cases I am doomed to buy regular veggies, so on the top of it I am supporting the pesticides industry etc. etc. etc.

This might sound as if Iwere anti-vegetarian, but quite to the contrary, I've been vegetarian for quitesome years, I am now just reconsidering my choices, not in the direction of eatingmeet, but rather in the direction of looking also into my attachment to what I reject, in line with the observations made above…


Since this is just my 'considering' in the working (and I do not have a craving for meat, so end result doesn't upset me one way or the other), I would happily listen to your further comments and observations...

Thank you in advance! 

#8 Shenpen.Rinpoche

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 10:26 PM

Is ethics really so rigid, black/white?

Is it to me that you are asking this question? :))

I considere myself as vegetarian, since 25 years. Yet, if i would be invited somewhere where people didn't know I was vegetarian, I would eat was is served (oysters excepted, I surely can't live alive beings!). This, to do not upset the person who invited me, which could even turn against the faith I uphold (Buddhism). Or someone orders a pizza, and there are little pieces of ham or anchovy; I won't take them out with a pincette! Instead, as you mentioned, I will recite mantras and prayers for the dead being(s) :)
It can also happen that I decide to order a salad with chicken in it, if comes to my understanding that it should be so, there and then, either to pray for that animal, or to adjust the vibration level of my organism in accordance with the activity I'm in, or will enter in.

Supporting the pesticide industry by being vegetarian? First, what do animal eat? Second, on top of pesticide used anyhow for feeding these animals, you are supporting the antibiotics and hormons industries! Add to this that antibiotics and hormons will be ingested by consumers, creating resistance of some germs to many antibiotics... Antibiotics and hormons might infiltrate also into the water system, and be absorbed by all, meat-eater or not, generating new diseases and systemic dysfunctions.
Meat industry remains one of the main cause of pollution of water, and cause of global warming.
In Slovenia, if not mistaken, beside the Bio label, you have also the label 'Green Agriculture', with less pesticids and nearly same price than other vegetables.

There is a parameter that you missed in your logic, is the evolution level of the animal. A bit hard to understand may be, but there is a difference between a pig and a worm in term of level of evolution towards spiritual evolution. This makes me say that I would rather acknowledge that my meal is the consequence of twenty worms dead than a pig.

Plus, eating only meat will lead you quicker to death, than only vegetables. And if your wish is to help as many beings as possible, you should take care of the longevity of this precious human rebirth, right?

Then, if in a buffet some people see you are vegetarian and ask you why, you can explain about the respect of life, and that 'might' make them think, may be reduce or end their consumption of meat, and less people eating meat, less animal killed.

I have no reluctance to eat meat (given it is cooked in an healthy way ie. not to fat, and except liver) or to refrain from it. But for the above reasons, I remain vegetarian, far from being rigid about it.
Lama Shenpen Rinpoche
---
"For as long as space endures, And as long as living beings remain,
Until then may I too abide, To dispel the misery of the world." (Arya Shantideva)

#9 dani

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Posted 30 March 2010 - 07:37 AM

Is it to me that you are asking this question? :))

Thank you very much Rinpoche! You are answer is very helpful and makes a lot more sense now. 

I have one more question about this 'potetial for mind development/practice' of beings. Theachings I have heard so far were quite clear about the potential of the 6 realms in general. Are there more detailed explanations in Dharma texts about individual realms...I mean, you mentioned pigs and worms...is this common sense logic or there is some explanation (insects, then worms, then pig- chicken-cow-deer,  horse-dog-cat?) 

Would then animal liberation practices also be of more 'benefit' if done with fish rather than warms, for ex. (we should try to find the most developed of species)?

Could you also explain a little bit more why a dead chicken yes, and why a live oyster, which if not 'killed' by you will definitely be killed within minutes by sbd else (so you would not acumulate karma of killing, but sbd else there would in front of your eyes), and on the other hand, also why a live oyster (which given its state might be far under the level a warm?) here put before a live host, who might end up in very 'disturbed emotional' situation having offered the most expensive of foods if then faced with a 'vegetarian debate'? 

I hope I am making sense and not going too far with my questions!

Thank you all very much for putting up with me!

#10 Shenpen.Rinpoche

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Posted 30 March 2010 - 09:14 AM

Theachings I have heard so far were quite clear about the potential of the 6 realms in general. Are there more detailed explanations in Dharma texts about individual realms...I mean, you mentioned pigs and worms...is this common sense logic or there is some explanation (insects, then worms, then pig- chicken-cow-deer,  horse-dog-cat?)


I do not know a Text which you could read about this. Doesn't it make sense the difference between a chimpanze (who can learn from you, observe your attitude, pacify his mind seing you calm, etc...) and a worm? Between a dog you can train to save other's life, to be kind with other animals and people, and a snail?

Would then animal liberation practices also be of more 'benefit' if done with fish rather than warms, for ex. (we should try to find the most developed of species)?

This practice can be done for all kind of animals, it's basis is: whenever an animal is facing direct threat of death, you save him, recite blessing prayers and mantras, and place him in a safe place. And the practice can be done for many animals at once.

Could you also explain a little bit more why a dead chicken yes, and why a live oyster, which if not 'killed' by you will definitely be killed within minutes by sbd else (so you would not acumulate karma of killing, but sbd else there would in front of your eyes)


It's about karma, and how it works. You cannot take the karma of others; you cannot make choices instead of others. If that would be possible, we would already all be liberated, because Buddhas and Bodhisattvas would do instead of us all mistakes, leaving us doing only positive choices,leading us to Enlightenment quickly. Unfortunately, it can't work this way. Killing instead of someone else will bring us negative karma, and might not change the choice of killing of someone else.

and on the other hand, also why a live oyster (which given its state might be far under the level a warm?) here put before a live host, who might end up in very 'disturbed emotional' situation having offered the most expensive of foods if then faced with a 'vegetarian debate'? 


I would personally have no problem to say that I do not like the taste of oyster, or that my organism doesn't deal well with sea food. Ideal anyhow, is to inform your host of your diet. Actually, it's been ages (over 20 years) that being invited, the host doesn't ask before if I do not have special diet...
Lama Shenpen Rinpoche
---
"For as long as space endures, And as long as living beings remain,
Until then may I too abide, To dispel the misery of the world." (Arya Shantideva)

#11 dani

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Posted 30 March 2010 - 09:52 AM

 Thank you Rinpoche! Your observations have satisfied my thirst!:bow:

After some years I just was a vegetarianand full stop, I'd kindly ask for my veggies or quietly starve if necessary…but this black/white, good/bad, flesh NO attitude sometimes makes a divide between me, the good hihi   :angel: , and others the bad flesh eating beings, surely not for me, but others do sometimes feel this way (not only in this field), and then when sometimes there is a 'valid' situation in which that 'chicken salad' is eaten with suitable motivation, like you explained, those very people could come to point out the inconsistency of our words and actions (which was the original question in this thread), which might surely serve as an opportunity to 'explain' and'eventually leave a footprint', but is just as likely to tigger ridicule and further disbelief in the validity of Dharma…that's why I 've been questioning this a bit 'rigid  :blush: ' approach to explaining/applying rules and ethics…and wandering if saying things as they are, with the chicken salad included, wasn't a valid option…now if I have understood you correctly, it could be… 




#12 Shenpen.Rinpoche

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Posted 30 March 2010 - 11:09 AM

After some years I just was a vegetarianand full stop, I'd kindly ask for my veggies or quietly starve if necessary…but this black/white, good/bad, flesh NO attitude sometimes makes a divide between me

If someone serves you a dish with some meat inside, and another one knows you are Buddhist reacts like: "oh but I though Buddhist do not eat meat!". You can then explained that on your own you wouldn't buy or prepare meat, but here someone offered to you, and you prefer to respect the context rather than being too rigid or extremist. It can show that Buddhism is far from extremism, open minded, not rigid. People usually appreciate.

I wouldn't take a chicken salad in presence of people whom I know might not understand my motivation, and could misinterpret my action, leading to disbelief in the seriousness of Dharma. Some could take this as hypocrisy, I see this as common sense, trying to adapt to the people I am with, for their own benefit.

We indeed can't devide in good/bad simply on basis of food habit. You have some vegetarians so "tight" on their believes, criticising everyone who eats meat, "bitter" in life, dry in mind. And some other people eating meat reseanably, without much craving on it, more by habits or because served that way, with very good heart and mind. So, no black/white division in a middle way mind :)

It's important to be honest with oneself, understand the "why" of what we believe in, and be subtle-minded enough to adapt, according to motivation, places, and time, while respecting the Words of Wisdom of Buddhas and Bodisattvas of the past and present.
Lama Shenpen Rinpoche
---
"For as long as space endures, And as long as living beings remain,
Until then may I too abide, To dispel the misery of the world." (Arya Shantideva)

#13 Sincerity

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Posted 03 January 2011 - 09:53 AM

Hmm,.. Buddha Shakyamuni made a point to not make it a rule to not eat meat, he refuted and spoke out against Devadatta on this. My thinking is that vegetarianism is not always practical, especially for monks. We are humans, it is a horrible part of being human that we must eat. If you become vegetarian, I will support your decision, especially if it is to hold a high standard of ethics, that's very precious. But I will follow Buddha on this and say,.. I don't support mandatory vegetarianism right now,.. it just doesn't seem practical.




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