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the great vegetarian debate - Page 6 - Dhamma Wheel

the great vegetarian debate

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Jechbi
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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby Jechbi » Sun Mar 08, 2009 9:34 pm


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kc2dpt
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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby kc2dpt » Sun Mar 08, 2009 11:26 pm

- Peter


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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby Dhammanando » Mon Mar 09, 2009 1:31 am


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Jechbi
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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby Jechbi » Mon Mar 09, 2009 1:51 am

Thank you, Bhante. :anjali:

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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Mar 09, 2009 2:10 am

And the award for comprehensive reply goes to... :clap:
Thank you, Bhante, for that thorough answer. I was most intrigued by this bit:

"The Vinaya principle that applies here is that the mere knowing about the probable outcome of an action does not in itself constitute the willing of that outcome."

This was a salient point in recent discussions of this topic between and my wife.
- Peter


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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby Dhammanando » Mon Mar 09, 2009 2:33 am


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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby jcsuperstar » Mon Mar 09, 2009 3:56 am

สัพเพ สัตตา สุขีตา โหนตุ

the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat

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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby Prasadachitta » Mon Mar 09, 2009 4:55 am

"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby Dhammanando » Mon Mar 09, 2009 6:47 am


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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby cooran » Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:40 am

Hello all,

As promised - here is Peter Harveys 'Meat Eating in early and Theravada Buddhism' from pps. 159-163 of Introduction to Buddhist Ethics, Cambridge University Press. 2000.

"Meat eating in early and Theravada Buddhism

It is often seen as surprising that vegetarianism (Prasad, 1979;Ruegg, 1980) is not more widespread among Buddhists than it is, given Buddhist teachings. In fact, the Buddha's emphasis was on the avoidance of killing. So it is worse to swat a fly - an immediate act of killing - than to eat the carcase of an already dead animal. Only in certain Mahayana texts is vegetarianism advocated. The position in early Buddhism, and Theravada lands, is as follows.

In the Buddha's day, vegetarianism was practised by Jains, though Jains see the vegetables eaten by them as containing a life-principle or soul (jiva). On one occasion, Jains accused the Buddha of knowingly eating an animal that had been specifically killed for him. The donor denied this, and the Buddha explained that a monk may eat meat provided it is 'pure in three respects': if the monk has not seen, heard or suspected that the animal has been killed specifically for him (Vin. 1.237-8). The commentary (on Vin. 111.172) explains that, if a monk has suspicions, because of his having seen or heard of the donors hunting, fishing, or slaughtering an animal recently, he should ask about the meat and can only eat it if the being was not killed in order to feed him (Vin. A. 604-6; Bapat and Hirakawa, 1970:395-6). Elsewhere, the Buddha explains that a monk receives food as a gift from a donor, and his lovingkindness for donors and other creatures is not compromised by such eating, if it is 'blameless' by being 'pure in three respects' (M.1.386-71). He goes on to emphasize, though , that a donor generates much bad karma by killing a being so as to give alms to himself or a monk, through: (1) giving the order to fetch the animal, (2) its pain and distress as it is dragged with the rope around its neck, (3) giving the order to kill the animal, (4) its pain and distress while being killed, (5) the offering of the meat to a monk if it is of a type not allowable for a monk. Here, it can be noted, the evil of the act resides both in the actual actions of the killer and in the suffering of the killed.

Non-allowable food for monks, perhaps offered at times of scarcity, are: the flesh of elephants or horses, as people regarded these animals as royal emblems; dog-flesh and snake-flesh, as people saw them as disgusting; the flesh of lions, tigers, panthers, bears and hyenas, as such animals would smell the eaters and attack them (Vin. 1.219-20). These prohibitions were both to preserve people's faith in the Sangha, which was good for both monks and lay people, and to protect monks from danger, a prudential, not moral, reason.

It is clear from the above that the Buddha would have frequently eaten 'blameless' meat given as alms. Thus the debate (for example Kapleau, 1981) over whether his last meal, literally 'pig-mild' (sukara-maddava; D.11.127), was pork, or truffles dug up by pigs, is rather beside the point. It is notable that the Buddha actually resisted an attempt to make vegetarianism compulsory for monks (Vin. 11.171-2). This was proposed by his cousin, the monk Devadatta, who is portrayed as having been proud and jealous of the Buddha's influence. In order to foment a schism, he proposed to the Buddha that all monks should both be vegetarian and follow a number of previously optional ascetic practices, such as living at the root of a tree. The Buddha refused, reaffirming that the practices were optional and meat was acceptable if it was 'pure in three respects'. Devadatta then attempted to lead his own order, under these rules, seeking to gain support from those who 'esteem austerity'. Elsewhere,such a purely external way of assessing someone's spiritual worth is seen as unreliable. (A.11.71). Prior to his enlightenment, in his ascetic phase, Gotama had himself tried the teachings of those who taught 'purity through food', i.e. living off small amounts of only one type of food, be it jujube, beans, sesame or rice. Such externally orientated practices only made him thin and weak, though (M.1.80-1). The link between vegetarianism and extreme asceticism is also found in another passage, where it is included among the practices of self-tormenting ascetics, along with such things as nakedness, eating once a week, never sitting down, and pulling out hair (M.1.342-3). Such ascetic acts are not seen to 'purify' a person (Sn.249), and meat is not what is to be seen as 'tainted fare' - breaking the precepts is 'tainted fare' (Sn. 242).

It is notable, above, that the Buddha did not even regard vegetarianism as an optional ascetic practice for monks. If they were given flesh-food, and it was 'pure' as described above, to refuse it would deprive the donor of the karmic fruitfulness engendered by giving alms-food. Moreover, it would encourage the monks to pick and choose what food they would eat. Food should be looked on only as a source of sustenance, without preferences. To believe that being a vegetarian is itself spiritually purifying would seem to be an example of the spiritual fetter of 'attachment to virtues and vows'. It is certainly the case that a feeling of moral superiority is a common danger among vegetarians: though it can be avoided! Likewise, vegetarians can in time become disgusted with meat, which can be seen as a form of negative attachment. In any case, as the above suggests, there are many worse actions than eating meat.

The preceding discussion is concerned with what what is acceptable for a monk or nun, who must, with few exceptions, eat what is given to him or her. The considerations for a lay Buddhist are similar, but not identical. A lay person has more control over his or her food supply; ingredients much be directly obtained or bought. Lay people, within the limits of their means, make many preference-directed choices over what they eat. So for a lay person to avoid flesh-food (except, perhaps, when a guest) is not to refuse what someone has graciously offered, and not, as such, more 'picking and choosing' than is normal for a lay person. A lay vegetarian mus, though, be wary of feelings of judgemental moral superiority, and negative attachment to meat. The latter is best dealt with by not refusing meat if one is someone's guest. While it is in some ways more feasible, then, for a lay person to be a vegetarian than a monk, one feature of Buddhism weighs against this leading to vegetarianism being more common among the laity. Normally, higher standards of behaviour are expected of a monk than of a lay person. If even monks are not expected to be vegetarian, a lay person might well think, 'why should I?'

In Theravada countries, vegetarianism is universally admired but little practised. [3] There is a minority witness of vegetarians, however - such as the one-time governor of Bangkok - and most people have an uneasy conscience when they think about meat eating. Most lay people eat meat, though some abstain on observance days, or during periods of meditation. In Thailand, a few monks let it be known that they would prefer vegetarian food (Bunnag, 1973: 69-70). In Burma, Mahasi Sayadaw recommends vegetarianism as the safest way for monks to ensure that their food is 'pure in three respects' (Mahasi, 1981:45-), and some nuns are vegetarian in periods of more ascetic practice (Kawanami, 1990:27). In Sri Lanka, most nuns are vegetarian (Bartholomeusz, 1994:140), many 'Protestant Buddhists' (see p. 112) have recommended vegetarianism, as does the Sarvodaya Sramadana movement (see pp. 225-34) (Bond, 1988: 280), and some see meat eating as hindering success in meditation (Bond, 1988: 200-4).

In general, it is seen as preferable to eat the meat of an animal which is less intelligent, and/or smaller (cf. p. 52), than the opposite. Thus it is worst of all to eat beef (in Burma prior to British colonization, it was a crime to kill a cow, as it was in the period 1960-2). It is seen as less bad to eat pork, then goat-meat or chicken, and less bad again to eat eggs. Nevertheless, eggs are always regarded as having been fertilized, so to boil or crack an egg is seen as killing a living being (Terweil, 1979:188).

This means that, in Sri Lanka at least, no eggs are used in Buddhist monasteries, and pre-cracked "Buddhist eggs' are sold to the middle-class pious Buddhists. It is seen as least bad to eat fish, an unintelligent form of life that needs little effort to kill. Fish is by far the most common form of flesh eaten, as is reflected in a saying on the abundance of feed in Thailand, 'There are fish in the water, there is rice in the fields.' Nevertheless, the Buddhist ideal rules out even killing fish. This is expressed in one Jataka story, where the Buddha in a past life is said to have been a crane who only ate fish when he found them already dead (J.1.206-8).

It is clearly the case, though, that any lay Buddhist should not kill an animal for food, or tell someone else to do so. Either action clearly breaks the first precept. The question arises, though, whether buying meat from a butcher is participating in wrong action by encouraging it. One passage (A.11.252) says that a person will be reborn in hell if he kills and encourages others to do so. 'Encouraging' alone is not specified as having this effect, but in any case, such encouraging would normally be seen to be of a direct form, for example 'why don't you go hunting?', or ordering a carcase from a butcher (Mahasi, 1981: 46). Clearly, to ask a butcher to kill an animal for one is to break the first precept. In the West, most food animals are killed in large abattoirs, and 'butchers' only sell the meat. Buddhist countries lack such large-scale slaughter-houses (they would be seen as hells on earth), and so obtaining meat is more likely to have the attendant danger of direct involvement in an animal's death. This probably helps to reduce the extent of meat eating.

To make one's living as a butcher, hunter or fisherman clearly comes under the category of 'wrong livelihood' (A.11.208), to be avoided by all sincere Buddhists. Certainly one finds that, in Buddhist societies, butchers (slaughterers and meat salesmen) are usually non-Buddhists, often Muslims (Spiro, 1971:45). By making a living by or from killing, they are seen as depraved people, and are often treated as outcasts. Buddhist fishermen are more common, though they have a low status in society on account of their livelihood. In Sri Lanka, the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress recommended, in 1985, that the government should not support commercial fishing through having a Ministry of Fisheries (Bond, 1988:118). Yet, as fish are seen as a lower form of life than land animals, it is seen as less bad to kill them. The excuse is sometimes mad that they are not killed, but just die when taken out of the water. This is evidently a case of trying to distance oneself from what is recognized as an unwholesome action. In South-east Asia people often catch their own fish, which clearly breaks the first precept; but if a living is not mad from this, it is not seen as 'wrong livelihood'."

metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Mar 09, 2009 2:48 pm

- Peter


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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby kc2dpt » Tue Mar 10, 2009 3:53 pm

- Peter


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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby Prasadachitta » Wed Mar 11, 2009 5:55 am

"Beautifully taught is the Lord's Dhamma, immediately apparent, timeless, of the nature of a personal invitation, progressive, to be attained by the wise, each for himself." Anguttara Nikaya V.332

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Eating Meat...check out the stats...

Postby appicchato » Thu Apr 02, 2009 11:04 am

If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would save: :pig:

● 100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months;

● 1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock, enough to feed the state of New Mexico for more than a year;

● 70 million gallons of gas--enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico combined with plenty to spare;

● 3 million acres of land, an area more than twice the size of Delaware;

● 33 tons of antibiotics.

If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would prevent:

● Greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1.2 million tons of CO2, as much as produced by all of France;

● 3 million tons of soil erosion and $70 million in resulting economic damages;

● 4.5 million tons of animal excrement;

● Almost 7 tons of ammonia emissions, a major air pollutant.

My favorite statistic is this: According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads. See how easy it is to make an impact?

Other points:

Globally, we feed 756 million tons of grain to farmed animals. As Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer notes in his new book, if we fed that grain to the 1.4 billion people who are living in abject poverty, each of them would be provided more than half a ton of grain, or about 3 pounds of grain/day--that's twice the grain they would need to survive. And that doesn't even include the 225 million tons of soy that are produced every year, almost all of which is fed to farmed animals. He writes, "The world is not running out of food. The problem is that we--the relatively affluent--have found a way to consume four or five times as much food as would be possible, if we were to eat the crops we grow directly."

A recent United Nations report titled Livestock's Long Shadow concluded that the meat industry causes almost 40% more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world's transportation systems--that's all the cars, trucks, SUVs, planes and ships in the world combined. The report also concluded that factory farming is one of the biggest contributors to the most serious environmental problems at every level--local and global.

Researchers at the University of Chicago concluded that switching from standard American diet to a vegan diet is more effective in the fight against global warming than switching from a standard American car to a hybrid.

In its report, the U.N. found that the meat industry causes local and global environmental problems even beyond global warming. It said that the meat industry should be a main focus in every discussion of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortages and pollution, and loss of biodiversity.

Unattributed statistics were calculated from scientific reports by Noam Mohr, a physicist with the New York University Polytechnic Institute.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathy-fre ... 81716.html

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Ben
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Re: Eating Meat...check out the stats...

Postby Ben » Thu Apr 02, 2009 11:26 am

That is incredible Bhante!

i wonder how difficult it is to make the US go vegetarian for a day?
We've got 'Earth Hour', why not a global 'veg day'?
Thank you for sharing!
Metta

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Eating Meat...check out the stats...

Postby Cittasanto » Thu Apr 02, 2009 12:32 pm

where do the animals go for these statistics to be realised?


He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.
But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion …
...
He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them … he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.

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Re: Eating Meat...check out the stats...

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Apr 02, 2009 6:59 pm

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Re: Eating Meat...check out the stats...

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Apr 02, 2009 7:01 pm

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nathan
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Re: Eating Meat...check out the stats...

Postby nathan » Fri Apr 03, 2009 12:16 am

Any farmer, hunter or fisherman living 150 years ago would have seen all this coming. They were the one's who actually wept. All of us, us with our many comforts and amusements, we all think everything has never been better than since we began driving the whole earth ahead of us straight into hell. What could possibly slow us down as we continue to accelerate now?

Yes it's a house of cards but I'm not laughing.

Escape now.
But whoever walking, standing, sitting, or lying down overcomes thought, delighting in the stilling of thought: he's capable, a monk like this, of touching superlative self-awakening. § 110. {Iti 4.11; Iti 115}

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Re: Eating Meat...check out the stats...

Postby pink_trike » Fri Apr 03, 2009 3:41 am

Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.


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