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H.h. Karmapa Urgyen Trinley On Not Eating Meat

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Kagyu Monlam, Bodhgaya, January 3, 2007


I want to talk about vegetarianism.

Since I have about half an hour, so I thought I should talk about being vegetarian. It is not easy to talk too much about being vegetarian, to give up meat. It is very important nowadays to give up eating meat. I think it is very important to know how to think about eating meat and how to put it into practice.

(H.H. Karmapa reciting prayers)

Now I should start to talk about this because half an hour is about to finish.

Again to begin with we say the prayers:


(Prayer recitation)


Generally, those who are ordained, if you ask whether the eating of meat is allowed for the monks or not, when you ask this question, some people say that it is not allowed, because if there is some people who are eating meat, then there will be people who will kill those animals and if there is nobody eating this meat, then there will be nobody who would kill animals for having meat. So therefore eating meat is very much related to killing and therefore the negative deed of killing is very much caused by eating meat. Now whether that is true or not is something different.

That is the situation.


If there are people who are using the pearls, then these people who use the pearls cause the killing of the shellfish. And also those people who wear certain kind of dresses, people who wear brocades - silk is also made by certain animals or certain insects - so anybody who is wearing these clothes or anything that is coming from animals [is also killing animals].

And also if there is nobody who eats meat, then because of the eating things like grains and so forth, also this causes lots of insects under the earth to come up on the earth and then all those beings living on top of the earth go below and therefore cause a lot of beings to die.


Because there are sheep, there will be people who are killing the sheep. So therefore, being a sheep is also a problem, a kind of source of the negative deed. Just being one cause cannot be the same as being the actual deed of negative things.

There was once a person in China, who used to butcher pigs. Each day he used to kill a pig and used to make his sword red. Sometimes he thought, "Why should I do this? Each day I am killing a pig." And he thought, "It's not because I want to kill the pig but because other people want to eat [the meat] and need the pig and therefore that's why I'm killing it," and so he was consoling himself that it's not too bad.


There was a monastery nearby and in the monastery there was a big bell and every morning when the bell rang he got up went to kill the pig. And then one morning, he overslept and woke up late. And when he went late to kill the pig, the pig that he was supposed to kill already had 10 piglets. Then, because that morning there was no bell rung, he went to the Khenpo [of the monastery] and he asked him, why was it that this morning there was no bell rung and he asked the Khenpo, why he did not ring the bell. And then the head monk told him that he had a dream last night and in the dream he met ten beings and they came and asked the monk, "Please save ten of us." And then the monk asked, "How do I save you piglets?"

And the piglets said, "The only thing you need to do is not to ring the bell this morning and then you save all of us." "And for this reason I did not ring the bell," the monk said to the butcher. When the butcher heard this, he was very moved and stopped killing any pigs from that time onward.


So what I am saying is that ringing the bell became a cause for killing the pigs. And so therefore, sometimes it may also happen that we should not ring a bell because otherwise somebody might kill a pig. So only being one condition, cannot become the real cause of the problem. That is not logical.


But whether the Buddha allowed the monks to eat meat or not, in the Vinaya it is mentioned that there are certain ways of being able to eat meat, and certain kinds of meat cannot be eaten and it is also mentioned that those kinds of meat that usually cannot be eaten, can be eaten in some circumstances. There are things like that. But generally, I think, it is very important in the Mahayana, not to eat meat.


In the Vinaya they talk about the three kinds of pure ways of making meat. That eating meat should be free from three kinds of ???, then it is allowed to be eaten.


For example if is not killed for yourself and things like that. But because you are so much attached and so much craving for the taste of the meat, you might not know whether this meat is especially dedicated for you or not. Because sometimes people are so much attached to the meat that they go and ask other people, "Please give me some meat."


When I was young I was also very attached. I liked meat very much. My meat and that of the Labrang finished very quickly. And then sometimes there was still some meat in the monks' kitchen because the monks were more careful.

Then I went and asked them to send some meat from the monks' kitchen. Because I was eating meat I also influenced other people to eat meat. If I like meat then people around me are also kind of influenced by me, because I give meat.


I said, "I would like some momos. Let's go and have some meat momos." And so other people would also eat meat momos.

So therefore the Buddha said that Bodhisattvas should not eat any meat. Because we have so much strong attachment and habitual tendencies to eat meat, therefore, for the beginner Bodhisattvas, it is very good not to eat meat.


When we go to a restaurant and order some chicken, then we do not know whether they already have some chicken prepared for us or they have to kill the chicken. And therefore it is said that a Bodhisattva should not eat meat. That's how it is said.

And when you talk about Bodhisattvas here, we are not talking about the great Bodhisattvas like Chenresig and Chana Dorje and great kind of Bodhisattvas who are in higher bhumis, but just ordinary Bodhisattvas like ourselves who can be called Bodhisattvas and who wish to work for the benefit of sentient beings.


According to the Bodhisattvayana, it is said that even if à¯Ã‚›meatà¯Ã‚ is pure from the three ways as allowed in the Vinaya, even those kinds of meat, the Bodhisattvas or the beginner Bodhisattvas should not eat. Because of our having too much attachment to the taste therefore unknowingly we will kind of commit mistakes. Therefore it is not good to eat meat. Therefore it has been prohibited to eat meat in the Bodhisattvas Way of Life.


When you say this, it is not that because eating meat is allowed in the Vinaya, it does not mean that the Vinaya is not good. It is not like that.

We have to see every being as our own son, our own child, and therefore, when we eat meat, it is like, just for our food we are giving up the sentient beings whom we are supposed to treat like our own children. And for this reason this way of using the meat for our food, is a little bit like not only something that is prohibited or something looked down from the Bodhisattva's point of view, but it is also something that is regarded à¯Ã‚›asà¯Ã‚ÂÂÂà¯- not good from the Shravakayana's point of view.

First, maybe, I should drink the tea.




Meat that you have either seen or you have heard or you are doubtful about whether this animal is killed for your consumption: That is not pure. That meat is impure. Meat that is not killed for you, as we said before, the three reasons, even if à¯Ã‚›the animalà¯Ã‚ÂÂÂà¯- was not killed for you and you haven't seen or heard the animal, or you have no doubt, that the à¯Ã‚›à¯- animalà¯Ã‚ was not killed for you, even then it is not permitted to eat à¯Ã‚›meatà¯Ã‚ in the Bodhisattva's Way of Life.


But in Tibet, of course, we usually eat the meat that is dedicated for us. In Tibet, if a big lama or some lama goes to the village, they will immediately kill a sheep or kill a yak and then the lama says some mantras and everybody thinks that's okay. That is not good. Even if the lama is very good and thinks that it is okay, it is not okay because the Buddha said that one should not eat any meat that has been specially dedicated for oneself and especially killed for the consumption of oneself. That is why.


There was once a lama in Amdo, a Jonang Lama, and one man came to have his chang blessed. Chang means alcohol. This man came to the lama with some alcohol and then asked him to bless it because he thought that if it is blessed, then he can drink it.

The lama said, "I do not know how to that. I don't know how to bless it."

Then the lama said, "If that is the case, in Tibet sometimes they kill a yak by suffocating it and if you suffocate an animal and then bless it, does it not die? In the same way, I cannot bless the alcohol in such a way that you can drink it without having any problem." Therefore, whether it is in Tibet [or somewhere else], whether the lama or the person is very highly realized, even then one has to act according to the law and the precepts that have been prescribed by the Buddha.


There are also many great masters and very realized beings in India, and there have been many great realized beings in Tibet also, but they are not saying, "I am realized, therefore I can do anything. I can eat meat, I can drink alcohol." It is nothing like that. It should not be like that.


According to the Kagyupa school, we have to see what the great masters of the past, the past Kagyupa lamas, did and said about eating meat. Drikung Kyoba (name???) Rinpoche, master of Drikungpa, said like this, "My students, whoever is eating meat or calling it Tsog, then these people are completely deserting me, à¯Ã‚›theyà¯Ã‚ are completely going against the dharma."

I cannot explain each of these things, but he said that anybody who is using meat and saying that this is something good, this is completely against the dharma and against him, they have nothing to do with the dharma. He said it very, very strongly.


Other great masters also said this. And each of them said that if anybody eats meat and thinks that this is allowed, that this is nothing bad, you cannot even dream like that, because this is something that is never good and never right. In some places it is said that if somebody has a great method by which he can liberate beings whose meat he eats, only then might that person eat [meat] according to the Vajrayana. Otherwise, other than that, you cannot eat meat.


According to Karma Chagme Rinpoche, we talk about using the five meats and the five amritas, "If somebody is completely realised, then only can one eat meat." And then, if you say that many things are mentioned about this in the Vajrayana, in Vajrayana lots of things are mentioned about the five meats and the five amritas and things like that. What is this? He said that this is only for the most advanced people. For instance, if you put some excrement and some urine on the altar, then that it is very bad. It smells [bad], we do not like it and we feel like vomiting.


Making offerings is not for the fulfilment of the great masters, [something to please the great masters], that they are hungry and thirsty and then we have to give things to them. It is not like that. Why we have to offer is to accumulate positive deeds for us. Mikyo Dorje, the Karmapa Mikyo Dorje, also said that if you offer meat during the Gyutor??? and things like that, for the Mahakala Puja, [if] you put some meat or some alcohol and things like that, he very strictly prohibited that. He said, "If you do that, then I am not your lama. Then you are not my disciples or my followers. Completely not."


In all our monasteries, wherever, in all Kamtsang monasteries, the Karmapa said like this, you do not need to make any offerings of meat and alcohol, maybe you can put some fruits.

I have heard, that in Sikkim during the Gyutor??? or the Mahakala Puja, you must put some meat. If Mahakala himself comes, maybe, he will eat some meat, maybe that's okay. But if we do that for Mahakala, make an offering of meat and alcohol to Mahakala, that's completely useless, that is not good.


Again, Mikyo Dorje said in Tuton Gytsa??????? that there are eight things to be given up by the monks, like meat, alcohol, weapons, and things like that. I can't remember all of them, but this is what has been described in Do Palmo Che?????, Most important about this is the meat, alcohol, and weapons. These you can't even look, he said.


If you don't give up these eight things, then you don't belong to Kagyupa, he said. Then you just go away or sit somewhere else. That is how it's said. If you eat meat, you are not included in Kagyupa. So we don't know whether we are Kagyupas or not.

Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye also - [The Fourth] Jamgon Kongtrul is here-, said again and again before he died, that he is always praying that he will be reborn as somebody who would not eat meat anymore. There are lots of things to read, there are lots of quotations. We should put it into action. How to put it into action?


???, ???, ???three Sutras, in all of these sutras, eating meat has been very clearly prohibited. And even those places, where eating meat was just merely allowed, it was not that it was encouraged to eat meat. Nobody said that eating meat is good or eating meat is no problem. It was just said, that those people who have too many difficulties not to eat meat, then eating meat was kind of merely allowed. Something like that.


Then in Tibet, Kagyu, Nyingma, Sakya, Gelug, and the Jonang, I haven't read too much about Bonpo, but all these places, eating meat was very strongly prohibited.

There is something that I want to tell about myself personally:

When I was young, about 11 or 12, someone who knew palmistry looked at my hand: "When you are 23, 24, there will be a big obstacle." At that time I was young and did not think about it. I forgot about it. Then I came to India, about 5 or 6 years ago. It happened after.


Then I had a dream. [in that dream] a lama said that somebody who did palmistry also told me, that there is an obstacle. "Don't you remember?" he asked me. I said, "I remember." Then he said, "There is an obstacle for your life." Usually I am not very afraid of death. I am a Khampa, so I pretend to be a little bit brave. In that dream [however] I was very scared. When I woke up, my heart was just beating very fast. That was a dream. I feel also that there is some obstacle.


And also for people like me, if I live long, I do not know, whether it is of much use or not, but from eight years of age until now, I have been raised by the monasteries and the dharma and my only intention is to be able to serve a little bit the dharma, and the Sangha, and the monasteries. All my intentions and actions have not been too negative so far. If everything goes well, I would like to, I aspire to serve the dharma and the beings. To get rid of this obstacle, I feel that the most important thing is to save lives and therefore not to eat meat. So I feel that is the most important thing. Whether you look at it from the general point of view or from the specific point of view, it is very important not to eat meat. And also, this year or next year, the obstacle year of H.H. Dalai Lama also is happening. Especially last year he completely prohibited wearing the skins of wild animals and things like that. Now it is very important to do those things.


But how can we do this? I have some proposals:

First breathe out, breathe out strongly. If you are Kamtsang, whether you are a monk or nun or whether you are a layperson, you should not do business in meat, through buying animals, and killing them and then selling the meat. So never make a business by selling meat. That's one thing. That's very important. That is not only for those who are in India. There are lots of people in Tibet who are doing this. I have heard that even some tulkus are doing this kind of business.


Regarding Tsurphu-Monastery, everything got destroyed but the slaughterhouse is still there, that still remains. There should not be a slaughterhouse. We should make every effort that there is no slaughterhouse wherever there is a Kamtsang Monastery. I usually think about the whole Kagyu, but first thing we have to talk about is Kamtsang. So there should not be a slaughterhouse in the compound or anywhere which is belonging to the monastery. That should not be.

That is not only for the monks or nuns, but for anybody who is claiming to belong to or to follow the Kamtsang tradition. Everybody should keep this in mind.


Now for the monks and nuns: Again you have to breathe.

[Monks and nuns should not] cook meat in a big way. I was looking at a western magazine, and I saw about ten monks cutting meat. And it looks as if they making so much meat and cooking so much meat. Sometimes you have to do a little bit, but to cook lots of meat for big gatherings, especially wearing the robes, this should not be done. That doesn't look good also.

Usually we say that there is no being who has not been our father or mother, and then going to the butcher, wearing robes and buy meat, when you go to the butcher, the only reason is to buy meat. We should lessen going to the butcher. If you really, really need to buy some meat, then you should ask some other people to buy it. Monks in their robes going to the butcher and buying meat look very bad.


And then you should lessen the eating of meat. Generally, we eat three times a day. So therefore, we should eat meat only once a day and not with all the meals. Or something like that. Or we should say something like "I will eat meat only once a month," or something like that.


Tibetans usually think that kind of special days are very important, like the 15 th day, or full moon day, or new moon day, or Chotrul Dawa, or Saga Dawa. There are people who do not eat meat on those days.

Some people give up meat altogether, but some people cannot. But at least one should reduce it. Because in the society, if everybody is eating meat, then it is very difficult to give up meat, but if there is a society and the whole environment is not eating meat, then it is easy not to eat meat. But if everybody is eating meat, then it is not easy to give up eating meat.

In the next session I will ask you, how many of you will eat meat for only one meal and not in the two other meals. Those who will do that, should raise their hands. I don't have to see all of them, but you have to make the promise to yourselves.

Then, [i will ask] how many of you would like to give up meat on special days and then how many of you would give up meat for all the time? So you have to think. [but] there is nothing much to think about. You just have to decide. Thinking too much is not very useful, you just have to decide.


I thought that I will talk about this [eating meat] on the first day [of the Kagyu Monlam] and then give some time for you to think it over, but I think it is not really necessary to do that, there is not much time.


Another thing I have forgotten is that any monastery that belongs to Kamtsang Kagyu, the monastery kitchen cannot and should not make any food with meat. And if you bring meat and cook it in the monastery kitchen, then that means that you are not taking me as your teacher, your are not belonging to Karma Kagyu. And there is nothing to discuss about that. That's finished. That is very important.

Especially in Tibet, before it was very, very difficult, but now, because of the kindness of the Chinese, it is not so difficult. It is not that there is only meat you can eat, there are some other things also. There are vegetables and things like that. You have to think, eating meet is not good, eating meat is dirty, eating meat is bad for your health. This kind of way of looking at it has to be cultivated. It is good for the long life of H.H. the Dalai Lama and also for Apo Gaga. You can use my name also. If you want Apo Gaga to live a little longer, then it is useful not to eat meat.


And your own Tsawai Lama, your own root guru, and all the great beings, if you want them to live long, the best way, the best method is to reduce meat or not to eat meat.

In the next session, once you make the commitment, then you should really keep it. If you make the first commitment very clearly and very strongly, then your second commitment will be good and the third also, and so on. So you have to make the first commitment extremely clear. [However] you should not make the first commitment unless you can really keep it or you are determined to really keep it.

(Prayer recitation)



Kagyu Monlam, Bodhgaya, January 3, 2007


So we dedicate for the dead people all the positive things that the person who died performed in his life and before and after and all the positive things that his survivors, his relatives and his friends have done or are doing. So we dedicate all of them for the person who died. So with that understanding let us concentrate on this dedication.

This time we have no break.


So have you thought about it [not eating meat]?


How many of you don't want to eat meat more than once a day?


Out of the three meals [per day], how many of you will eat meat only once a day, not more than once a day?


How many of you don't want to eat meat more then once a weak? Eat meat only once a weak, don't make it less.


How many of you will not eat meat on auspicious days? Like Saga Dawa and so forth.


And how many of you don't want to eat meat for a certain number of years, like for one year or for three years?



How many of you want to reduce eating meat slowly, slowly and then eventually stop eating meat [completely]?



That's good.

Regarding the monasteries and the Dharma Centres, please give me a list of the monasteries and the centres outside Tibet and in the western countries, or wherever, please give me a list. I am very happy that you could do so much. I am very delighted.



Now you have seen who has raised their hands besides you. Please keep them in your mind. Don't forget them.


That's all.

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Hi to everybody,


Here is some more to this topic " not eatig meat". I know it is an already well discussed topic within this forum, but I thought it won`t be bad to revive the topic again.


So for anybody who is interested in becoming a vegetarian, staying a vegetarian, this may be as well beneficial to read in order to get an additional inspiration.


Let us love all animals, insects, who are part of all sentient beings, not just with our mouths but also by our deeds!


Best wishes




Chatral Rinpoche's

Steadfast Commitment to Ethics

By Zach Larson



Chatral Rinpoche is renowned in the Tibetan community for his peerless spiritual discipline,

especially when it comes to refraining from eating meat. Meat eating is an entrenched aspect

of Tibetan culture and there are very few who can do without it for long. His Holiness the

Dalai Lama became vegetarian in 1966, but when he got Hepatitis B the Tibetan doctors who

support him insisted he start to eat meat again, which he continues to do today in moderate

quantities. A few contemporary mastersà¢-â€Âsuch as Kangyur Rinpocheà¢-â€Âwere also known for

being strict vegetarians, but they are the exception.

When I was on the University of Wisconsin-Madison College Year in Nepal Program in 2000,

I was studying how Tibetans view the cultural convergence of Buddhism and meat eating

and Chatral Rinpoche was one of the main people I interviewed. Here are some excerpts

from that interview:


Question: Why did you decide to stop eating meat? How old were you when you made this decision?


Answer: It is written in many Theravadayana and Mahayana texts that one should not eat

meat. There is also a Vajrayana text that says the same thing, that one should not enjoy meat

or alcohol. Because of this I am following the instructions of Shakyamuni Buddha. Being a

religious person, I don't take meat or alcohol and at the same time I try to tell other people

not to consume these things. This is my reasonà¢-â€ÂI'm just trying to motivate other people. I

was 47 years old when I went to Bodhgaya and made a vow to all of the Buddhas and

Bodhisattvas to give up meat and alcohol.


Question: Why do you think vegetarianism is an important aspect of practicing the Dharma?


Answer: If you take meat, it goes against the vows one takes in seeking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Because when you take meat you have to take a being's life. So I gave it up.


Question: Some claim that one can help the animals one eats by praying for them, and thus eating meat is compassionate. Other than for the most accomplished yogis and lamas, what do you make of this claim?


Answer: With supernatural powers gained through certain meditations, it is true that there

are some realized beings who can revive animals from the dead and help them reach a

higher rebirth or enlightenment by consuming small amounts of their flesh. But this is not

done for sustenance, only for the purpose of helping that animal. I personally do not have

that power and because of that I never eat meat. Eating meat in one's diet is much different

than eating flesh to liberate a being through supernatural powers. I am just an ordinary

practitioner who really doesn't have these qualities. So, if I ate meat it would be the same if

you or any other lay person ate meat. I would be committing sin and I would be getting

negative karma. I don't pretend as if I have special powers and eat meat, I just avoid it



From Compassionate Action: The Teachings of Chatral Rinpoche

By Zach Larson (ed.) | Shechen Publications | New Delhi, 2005

Chapter II, published at Shabkar.Org with kind permission of the author



Question: Do you know other lamas who are vegetarian?


Answer: I know many of them from Tibet. There are Nyingma, Sakya and Gelukpa

vegetarians in Tibet. Compared to the many meat-eating lamas, vegetarian lamas are very

few though. I'm 88 [in 2000] and during my experience I have come across many lamas in

Kham, Amdoà¢-â€Âall parts of Tibetà¢-â€Âwho don't eat meat. There are lamas who eat meat and

those who don't. At my monastery in Tibet there are also lamas who take meat and those

who don't.


Question: Many Buddhist practitioners in the United States eat meat because their Tibetan lamas eat meat. What do you make of this?

Answer: Many great siddhas in India drank enormous amounts of alcohol and developed

magical powers. One of these mahasiddhas (Virupa) kept drinking alcohol all day and

suspended the sun in the sky and kept it from setting. Naropa, Tilopaà¢-â€Âthese were great

masters. If you can acquire supernatural powers, you don't need to follow the same

standards of normal people and you can drink alcohol and eat meat. Those who have

supernatural powers can still give great teachings and benefit all sentient beings. So, if the

teachers in America are of that level, ask all your friends to join them in drinking alcohol and

eating meat. * It all depends on the level of realization one has achieved. A lama who enjoys meat and alcohol can still bring people on the right path, so long as they have developed supernatural powers.


Question: Do you see Tibetan Buddhists in exile making a sincere effort to reduce their meat consumption and become vegetarian, or has meat eating become an entrenched aspect of Tibetan culture?


Answer: In Tibet, there's only meat and tsampa**à¢-â€Âthere is no other staple food. Tibet is at ahigh altitude and the climate is tundra-like. There are not many fruits and vegetables. After coming to South Asia, you really don't have to follow the Tibetan custom of meat and

tsampa. There are many types of fruits and vegetables, nutritional supplementsà¢-â€Âall kinds of

good foods. Everything is available. So there is really no need to talk about the customs of

Tibet as an excuse for eating meat. From my experience, not eating meat has many benefits.

I'm 88 and ever since I stopped eating meat, I haven't had any major sickness. When I sleep, Isleep well. When I get up, I can walk right away. When I read religious texts, I can see themproperly. I have very good hearing and can listen attentively. These are the qualities I haveexperienced from not eating meat. I didn't get sick or die when I stopped eating meat; nonegative consequences came to me. I can travel by vehicle, airplane or train without gettingnauseous or dizzy and I never get headaches. I am a human being formed with flesh and blood like anyone else and am proof that giving up meat does not make one ill like many Tibetans seem to think. I'm telling you from my own experience; only good things have happened to me from giving up meat.


Question: Many Tibetans quote a sutra passage that says if one does not hear, see, or suspect that meat has been obtained especially for you, then it is acceptable to eat. How do you respond to this?


Answer: If the animal being killed is unseen, then it is something like stealing something

without being caught. That would also be deemed acceptable if you used this rationale. You

could say something dirty without being heardà¢-â€Âas if you need evidence to judge whether it

is a sin or not. What they say is not right. Killing, stealing and other negative actions can

never be gotten away with. Even if other people don't see you do them, the deities, Buddhas

and Bodhisattvas see you doing these things. There is a Tibetan saying that even if one does

not get caught committing a sin, that the gods catch you every time. It is impossible to do

anything without being seenà¢-â€Âyou're always being watched by the deities. They see and

understand what you didà¢-â€Âthey know that you helped to kill an animal by buying meat.


From Compassionate Action: The Teachings of Chatral Rinpoche

By Zach Larson (ed.) | Shechen Publications | New Delhi, 2005

Chapter II, published at Shabkar.Org with kind permission of the author


This is my answer.

Question: Some monks have told me that since insects are killed in the production of rice and other vegetables, then there is really no difference in eating those things and eating meat. What do you think about this?


Answer: This would mean that you wouldn't eat anything and would starve to death. If you

say you were going to go for a month without killing insects through the food you eat, then

you would die. If you die, this precious human life is wasted. So if you just let your body be

destroyed, that means you are taking your own life, which is killing in itself. You can always

take the insect from the rice when you see it and let it free outside. You don't necessarily

have to kill beings to eat. Although, when we walk we crush many insects under our feet.

We may not see them or observel we must be killing them. Not being aware doesn't mean

that we haven't created any sin, because after all, cause and effect are always there.[ii]

After the interview, Rinpoche said to me,

Today you came to ask me these things and I answered them. It is very good. I am very

happy. You have recorded my conversation, so you should relate it to the people. We are

here at the place of Guru Rinpoche's cave. At this place, we are exchanging questions and

answers. It will be nice for other people to hear this. When you make your book, put my

interview at the beginning. Thank you.

Rinpoche's monastery at Yangleshöd has two signs posted on it related to meat eating. The

first is in Tibetan, Nepali and English and is one of the first things you see when you

approach the monastery.


The sign, a full four square meters in size, reads:





One of the principal vows in Buddhism is to refrain from consuming intoxicants, along with

refraining from killing, stealing, lying and sexual misconduct. Not many Tibetan Buddhists

outside of the monastic tradition take this vow seriously and Nyingma practitioners are

known to drink alcohol. Rinpoche does not tolerate this at all among his disciples. There was

an incident a few years ago where a photo of a late lama was placed in Rinpoche's room by

the disciples of this lama, who were asking Rinpoche for blessings. When Rinpoche saw the

photo, he said, “This person was an alcoholic and had broken his precepts, don't leave this

photo in my room; take it away!†When the attendant removed the photo from the wooden

frame, there was another photo beneath. Rinpoche asked who was in the picture and was

told it was the son of the late lama, who was also a heavy drinker. Rinpoche proclaimed,

“Like father, like son. Take away both of their photos!â€[iii]


In regards to smoking, Rinpoche said,

The major defect of smoking is that it will close the Brahma's door at the top of one's head.

So at the moment of death, it will be extremely difficult for one's practice of phowa,[iv] in

trying to let one's consciousness out from there, either to liberate oneself from cyclic

existence or to go to the three upper realms.It is most advisable for all Dharma practitioners

à¢-â€Âfor the sake of both themselves and othersà¢-â€Ânot to smoke at all![v]


The second sign is posted outside of the main worship area and reads in Tibetan and

English, How can we practice true compassion while we consume the flesh of an animal to fatten our own flesh? Stop this filthy habit for your health, for the environment and for the animals. This large poster placed in a protective frame was made by an animal rights group at Dzogchen


From Compassionate Action: The Teachings of Chatral Rinpoche

By Zach Larson (ed.) | Shechen Publications | New Delhi, 2005

Chapter II, published at Shabkar.Org with kind permission of the author


Monastery in South India and shows how highly Rinpoche values this ethic.

The daughter of the great Nyingma figure Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche named Pema is a close

friend of Chatral Rinpoche's family. She gave me some insights on the importance of

vegetarianism in Rinpoche's practice of compassion in my interview with her in 2000. She

said, Meat eating is high on Chatral Rinpoche's spiritual radar. Rinpoche is so connected with

animals. He loves animals. He loves watching wildlife videos on TV. His great compassion

caused him to stop eating meat. He gives all his money to save 70 truckloads of fish in

Calcutta. It is his most important yearly activity. He prays for every bucket-full he dumps

into the ocean, trying to bring them to a higher rebirth. In the Dharma, it is not just a matter

of not doing somethingà¢-â€Âeating meat for instanceà¢-â€Âbut actively protecting life. Rinpoche

lives this. He is so connected on a vast level to sentient beings and their suffering.Rinpoche is drawn to dark, sinful, murderous placesà¢-â€Âto Hindu animal sacrifice areas. He took his

daughter Saraswati and myself to one once. It was beautiful on the outside, with flowers and

carvings. He bought some birds in a cage and released them at the top of the roof. Then we

came to the goat sacrifice place. At first I had my eyes closed, but then I saw ità¢-â€Âinnocent

goats being murdered and blood everywhere. I was horrified. Rinpoche calmly walked over

the goat blood as if he was doing walking meditation. He wasn't a bit fazed by it. I think he

was trying to teach us the lesson of being fearless and patient in the face of suffering.

* Rinpoche was being sarcastic with this response.

** Roasted barley flour.


The great master Virupa was drinking one evening at a tavern and the bartender told him that he could drink as much as he wanted for free until sundown. As he didn't have any money on him, he stuck his purba (ritual dagger) in the ground at the confluence of the shadow and the sunlight, causing both to stay where they were and preventing the sun from setting.

[ii] Tsetan Chonjore assisted in the translation of this interview, which was recorded.

[iii] Light of Lotus Volume 3. p. 34

[iv] Phowa is the practice of ejecting one's consciousness through the central channel of the body out through the

top of the head, known as the “Brahma's door.†The consciousness is then envisioned as entering the heart of

Amitabha Buddha.In this way, one can better control the nature of one's next incarnation at the moment of death.

[v] Light of the Lotus Volume 3. p. 34

From Compassionate Action: The Teachings of Chatral Rinpoche

By Zach Larson (ed.) | Shechen Publications | New Delhi, 2005

Chapter II, published at Shabkar.Org with kind permission of the author


A Powerful Message by a Powerful Yogi

Kyabje Chatral Rinpoche


Kyabje Chatral Sangye Dorjee Rinpoche is one of the most accomplished Tibetan Buddhist Yogis alive today. He was born in June, 1913 in Kham, Tibet. He rescues millions of animals each year and has been a strict vegetarian for over forty five years. Now in his 90's, he is as active as ever, helping humans and animals alike with an unfathomably deep compassion.

Tibetan Volunteers for Animals (TVA) had an exclusive interview with the

Yogi himself on 29th May, 2005 in Nepal.


I was the first to become vegetarian since we came to India. The first year of the Nyingma

Monlam in Bodh Gaya was non-vegetarian. In the second year I came there and spoke at a meeting of all the high Nyingma Lamas. I told them that Bodh Gaya is a very special place which is holy to all Buddhists, and if we say we are gathered here for the Nyingma Monlam and yet eat meat, this is a disgrace and the greatest insult to Buddhism. I said they should all give up meat from now on, during the Nyingma Monlam. Even the Tibetan lamas and monks eat meat!


What a shame if even the lamas can't give up meat! First the lamas should commit themselves to being life-long vegetarians. If the lamas become vegetarian, and then you can address the lay people. Then also you should urge the monks to become vegetarian. Otherwise if knowledgeable religious people eat meat, how can one expect the ignorant public, who follow along just like sheep, to become vegetarian?


Earlier in the Sakyapas, Sachen Kunga Nyingpo abstained from meat and alcohol. From then on gradually in the Nyingmapas there was Ngari Pandita Pema Wangyal, an emanation of King Trisong Detsen. He was a vegetarian all his life. Also the non-sectarian Lama Zhabkar Tsogdrug Rangdrol: he was born in Amdo and was a heavy meat-eater, but when he went to Lhasa and saw the many animals being slaughtered in the butchers' district of Lhasa, he became vegetarian for the rest of his life. Many of his disciples also

became vegetarian.

Many others - Sakyapas, Gelugpas, Kagyudpas and Nyingmapas - have done like this and become vegetarian.


In Kongpo, Gotsang Natsog Rangdrol told his monks to abstain from meat and alcohol. Because the Kongpo Tsele Gon monks wouldn't obey his orders, he became angry with

them and went to Gotsang Phug in lower Kongpo, and stayed there in isolated retreat for 20-30 years. Abstaining from non-virtuous actions such as eating meat and drinking alcohol, he attained realization and became known as Gotsang Natsog Rangdrol, a highly qualified teacher.


Similarly, Nyagla Pema Dudul abstained from meat and alcohol. He meditated in isolated hermitages for 20- 30 years, not relying on people's food but rather nourishing himself on the essence of rocks and earth, and attained rainbow body. He is known as "Pema Dudul who attained rainbow body." He lived at the time of Nyagke Gonpo Namgyal. It happened like that.


Interview by Tibetan Volunteers for Animal Rights (TVA) on May 29th, 2005, in NepalTranscribed by Ven Khenpo Dorjee Tsering and Jamphel Rabten | Translated by Chonyid Zangmo

Published at www.shabkar.org with kind permission of TVA


When I was in Bhutan, sometimes meat would be served during big ceremonies or pujas for dead people. This killing of animals for the dead person is an obstacle for the spiritual evolution of the dead and an impediment on the path to liberation. It is of no benefit to the dead person.


The people in the Himalayan region are all Buddhist. Some of the Tamang and Sherpa lamas are ignorant. Because they want to eat meat and drink alcohol, they say that it is necessary since they are followers of Guru Rinpoche, who ate meat and drank alcohol. But Guru Rinpoche was born miraculously, not like those Lamas who were born from human parents. Guru Rinpoche is known as the Second Buddha. The teacher of the Sutras is Shakyamuni and the teacher of the tantras is the omniscient Guru Rinpoche, who prophesied exactly what will happen in the future.


Abstaining from meat is a means of attaining world peace. I have given up meat, and I also don't eat cake since it contains eggs. Eating meat and eating eggs is the same. An egg will hatch into a chicken. A chicken is a sentient being.

For example, there is no difference between killing the unborn fetus in a pregnant woman and killing the child after it is born; the killing is the same negative action. This is the reason why I don't eat eggs.


Your work [see www.semchen.org] is not useless - it is very useful. This message is not just for Buddhists; everyone who thinks and reasons can understand it. Especially all the learned scientists and doctors should think about this: are smoking and meat-eating beneficial? As an indication of this, who has a longer life span, smokers or non-smokers? Who has more illnesses, smokers or non-smokers?


You university students can think about all the reasons and figure it out. I only

speak Tibetan; I don't speak other languages. But I have studied the Buddha's outer vinaya and inner vajrayana teachings. Especially I have studied the Dzogchen writings of many scholars and yogis. They all say that abstaining from meat is good for longevity.

If I consider my own family, there is no one else who has lived beyond 60; all my relatives are dead. But because I left my homeland and abstain from meat and smoking, I am now 93 years old.


I can still walk, sit and get around everywhere by car and plane. A few days ago I went to

Lhakhang Gon in Helambu, where they are building a new Sherpa monastery.

You asked me to talk about the reasons for becoming vegetarian, and what I have told you may be publicized. What I have told you is all true, not a lie. It is based on the Buddhist scriptures, the teachings of the gurus, and on my own experience, not on the words of a few people who claim to be scholars.


That is why you should publicize this message. I also rejoice in your virtue. Your actions are

definitely virtuous. You should continue your campaign to educate the lay people, and also the ordained people. You should tell it to the lamas and Tulkus who sit on high thrones and think they are important, and also to those of the lowest rank, to the monastic communities and also to the public, to those worldly people in high position with common sense who can reason for themselves and also to those without common sense.


This is what I have to say. You have asked this frail old man to speak, so I have told you my heart advice. There is a need for this message and the reasoning to be publicized; there is nothing in this message that should be withheld.



May all sentient beings be happy.

May all the lower realms be empty forever.

Wherever the Boddhisattvas live,

May this prayer be realized.

Interview by Tibetan Volunteers for Animal Rights (TVA) on May 29th , 2005, in Nepal

Transcribed by Ven Khenpo Dorjee Tsering and Jamphel Rabten | Translated by Chonyid Zangmo

Published at www.shabkar.org with kind permission of TVA

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