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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lyndon taylor
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Fri Sep 23, 2016 2:49 am

samseva wrote:
lyndon taylor wrote:You don't get it, if I do a good thing like feed starving children for bad reasons, It is still a good thing for the starving children, likewise with not eating animals, it is still a good thing for the animals you're not eating.

For the action to be good, it must first be acted upon by a wholesome intention. Yes, with a third-person perspective, having fed starving children can be considered "good", and the children will be happy to eat some food. However, if the person did this with intentions based on greed, hate or delusion, the action is unwholesome.


You don't get it either, the action is still good for the starving children irrespective of the intention of the giver.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby davidbrainerd » Fri Sep 23, 2016 6:21 am

samseva wrote:
lyndon taylor wrote:You don't get it, if I do a good thing like feed starving children for bad reasons, It is still a good thing for the starving children, likewise with not eating animals, it is still a good thing for the animals you're not eating.

For the action to be good, it must first be acted upon by a wholesome intention. Yes, with a third-person perspective, having fed starving children can be considered "good", and the children will be happy to eat some food. However, if the person did this with intentions based on greed, hate or delusion, the action is unwholesome.


This reminds me too much of Calvinists saying that if you rescue a baby from a burning building without faith in Jesus then its a sin. Especially since you included "delusion" in your list.

Ok, so a rich guy takes a kid in for the publicity, I can see why he gets no merit out of that (compare with Jesus saying those who pray on the street corner to be seen of men have their reward in full). But delusion? So if the guy isn't an arhant perfectly free of delusion then he cannot earn merit by any good deed? Sounds fishy.

However, if the person did this with intentions based on greed, hate or delusion, the action is unwholesome.


For himself only though. Its not unwholesome in the absolute. Its 'unwholesome' only in that he cheated himself out of merit he could have made if his intentions had been right.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Cittasanto » Fri Sep 23, 2016 9:06 pm

(i) dark with a dark result,
(ii) bright with a bright result,
(iii) dark and bright with a dark and bright result,
(iv) neither dark nor bright with a neither dark nor bright result.
MN 57
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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.
John Stuart Mill

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samseva
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby samseva » Sat Sep 24, 2016 3:27 am

lyndon taylor wrote:You don't get it either, the action is still good for the starving children irrespective of the intention of the giver.

There is no action without a doer; there is no such thing as an action that floats in the air of which is considered "good". There has to be an intention from an individual, and if that intention is unwholesome, then that is unwholesome kamma. No matter if the children are happy to eat food, or some onlooker tells him or herself "Oh, how good of him to have done that", it's still unwholesome kamma (if the action was rooted in greed, hate or delusion).
Last edited by samseva on Sat Sep 24, 2016 3:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby samseva » Sat Sep 24, 2016 3:33 am

davidbrainerd wrote:This reminds me too much of Calvinists saying that if you rescue a baby from a burning building without faith in Jesus then its a sin. Especially since you included "delusion" in your list.

Ok, so a rich guy takes a kid in for the publicity, I can see why he gets no merit out of that (compare with Jesus saying those who pray on the street corner to be seen of men have their reward in full). But delusion? So if the guy isn't an arhant perfectly free of delusion then he cannot earn merit by any good deed? Sounds fishy.

However, if the person did this with intentions based on greed, hate or delusion, the action is unwholesome.

For himself only though. Its not unwholesome in the absolute. Its 'unwholesome' only in that he cheated himself out of merit he could have made if his intentions had been right.

You very much misinterpreted what I said.

It's basic teachings on kamma. What determines the quality of an action is the intention. And it's not because someone isn't Enlightened that this person is deluded 24 hours a day.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Coëmgenu » Sat Sep 24, 2016 6:39 am

samseva wrote:
davidbrainerd wrote:This reminds me too much of Calvinists saying that if you rescue a baby from a burning building without faith in Jesus then its a sin. Especially since you included "delusion" in your list.

Ok, so a rich guy takes a kid in for the publicity, I can see why he gets no merit out of that (compare with Jesus saying those who pray on the street corner to be seen of men have their reward in full). But delusion? So if the guy isn't an arhant perfectly free of delusion then he cannot earn merit by any good deed? Sounds fishy.

However, if the person did this with intentions based on greed, hate or delusion, the action is unwholesome.

For himself only though. Its not unwholesome in the absolute. Its 'unwholesome' only in that he cheated himself out of merit he could have made if his intentions had been right.

You very much misinterpreted what I said.

It's basic teachings on kamma. What determines the quality of an action is the intention. And it's not because someone isn't Enlightened that this person is deluded 24 hours a day.
Saying that it's "basic teaching" is not skillful. I recently argued with davidbrainerd, on the subject of Christian theology, not Buddhadharma, and appealed to authority by saying that it was "basic/elementary theology", and in hindsight, it was not skillful. Saying something is "basic/elementary" is not skillful, IMHO, and I don't claim to be an expert on Buddhadharma. Instead, I try to calmly present the relevant information in question and make them available, without condemnation. I won't pretend that my attachment to tradition, and my attachment to "Buddhism" doesn't cloud my judgement, but that is what I think is the best method. Not condemnation of someone as failing to understand "basic" (i.e. simple) teaching.
Bhagavā arahaṃ sammasāmbuddho:
Svākkhāto yena bhagavatā dhammo / Supaṭipanno yassa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
Tammayaṃ bhagavantaṃ sadhammaṃ sasaṅghaṃ / Imehi sakkārehi yathārahaṃ āropitehi abhipūjayāma.
(Dedication of Offerings)
此等諸法,法住、法空、法如、法爾,法不離如,法不異如,審諦真實、不顛倒。These many dharmāḥ, the residence of these dharmāḥ, the emptiness of these dharmāḥ, these dharmāḥ self-explain, these dharmāḥ are thus, these dharmāḥ do not depart from their self-explaining, these dharmāḥ are not different than their self-explaining, judged as truly real, not delusional. (SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶

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lyndon taylor
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Sat Sep 24, 2016 10:31 am

samseva wrote:
lyndon taylor wrote:You don't get it either, the action is still good for the starving children irrespective of the intention of the giver.

There is no action without a doer; there is no such thing as an action that floats in the air of which is considered "good". There has to be an intention from an individual, and if that intention is unwholesome, then that is unwholesome kamma. No matter if the children are happy to eat food, or some onlooker tells him or herself "Oh, how good of him to have done that", it's still unwholesome kamma (if the action was rooted in greed, hate or delusion).


You seem to be under the illusion that actions only effect the doer and are of no consequence to the persons acted upon, the children eating that where starving will consider it a good deed no matter what the kamma of the doer.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby chownah » Sat Sep 24, 2016 12:13 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:
samseva wrote:
lyndon taylor wrote:You don't get it either, the action is still good for the starving children irrespective of the intention of the giver.

There is no action without a doer; there is no such thing as an action that floats in the air of which is considered "good". There has to be an intention from an individual, and if that intention is unwholesome, then that is unwholesome kamma. No matter if the children are happy to eat food, or some onlooker tells him or herself "Oh, how good of him to have done that", it's still unwholesome kamma (if the action was rooted in greed, hate or delusion).


You seem to be under the illusion that actions only effect the doer and are of no consequence to the persons acted upon, the children eating that where starving will consider it a good deed no matter what the kamma of the doer.

So are you saying that if a pedophile gives a child some candy (or maybe some pizza if you want to get nit pickey about what constitutes food) with the idea that the result will be a sexual encounter then there could be wholesome kamma coming from it?
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Sat Sep 24, 2016 12:40 pm

No ones talking about pedophiles(except maybe you), we were talking about people that do things like be vegetarian or recycle their garbage for self aggrandizing motivations, you're argument is that no good comes of it.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby chownah » Sat Sep 24, 2016 2:13 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:No ones talking about pedophiles(except maybe you), we were talking about people that do things like be vegetarian or recycle their garbage for self aggrandizing motivations, you're argument is that no good comes of it.

Are you saying that your idea about wholesome vs. unwholesome does not work for pedophiles?
I used an extreme example because it makes it more difficult to just throw out some answer without thinking of what it really means. With an extreme example just throwing out some answer can often clearly be seen to have some aspect that wasn't considered before....so....why not consider my extreme example and see where it points or else I think you should make some case for why my extreme example somehow falls outside your construct....just saying no one talks about it is wrong of course and cerainly not a rational of any kind for its exclusion from discussion.
I very well may be wrong but it might be that perhaps considering this extreme example doesn't point in the direction you want and so does not support your ideas so you want to just dismiss it without considering it but I am probably wrong and have no way of knowing what your motives might be.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Sep 24, 2016 6:22 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:No one's talking about pedophiles (except maybe you), we were talking about people who do things like be vegetarian or recycle their garbage for self-aggrandizing motivations, your argument is that no good comes of it.

That is not what is being argued. Even in the extreme example of the paedophile, the child's hunger gets appeased so one cannot say that no good comes from it.

What is being argued is that it is the motivation that makes the action wholesome or unwholesome. It is even possible that the peodophile's mind is wholesome at the moment of feeding the child, but only unwholesome at other times, while plotting to entrap them, and whatever he does later.

When a vegetarian's sole purpose in not eating meat is self-aggrandizement, then it is not wholesome at all. Whether any good comes from it is a moot point, since the meat that he would have bought would be bought by someone else, or maybe given away to a homeless charity if not sold. Either way, the animal will still be dead.

If enough meat-eaters become vegetarians the demand for meat will fall. Since the supply is fixed in the short term, all that will happen is that the price will drop. In the long term, farmers will switch from meat production to dairy, or maybe raising horses for riding or sheep for wool. If they switch to dairy, all of the beef cattle will be slaughtered, and the male heifers will also be slaughtered.

It really is nothing but wishful thinking to hope that not eating meat will benefit animals. There is little or no connection between the two activities. The kamma of the farmer, the trader in livestock, the slaughterman, and the butcher each is their own property. The kamma of meat-eaters or vegetarians is also their own properties.

Whenever you are able to, urge others not to kill living beings. That is wholesome kamma. Where you have no influence, abide in equanimity.

Sallekha Sutta wrote:“Other people may harm living beings. However, we will not harm any living thing. Thus, you should practise effacement that will lessen the defilements.”
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Sat Sep 24, 2016 8:36 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
lyndon taylor wrote:No one's talking about pedophiles (except maybe you), we were talking about people who do things like be vegetarian or recycle their garbage for self-aggrandizing motivations, your argument is that no good comes of it.

That is not what is being argued. Even in the extreme example of the paedophile, the child's hunger gets appeased so one cannot say that no good comes from it.

What is being argued is that it is the motivation that makes the action wholesome or unwholesome. It is even possible that the peodophile's mind is wholesome at the moment of feeding the child, but only unwholesome at other times, while plotting to entrap them, and whatever he does later.

When a vegetarian's sole purpose in not eating meat is self-aggrandizement, then it is not wholesome at all. Whether any good comes from it is a moot point, since the meat that he would have bought would be bought by someone else, or maybe given away to a homeless charity if not sold. Either way, the animal will still be dead.

If enough meat-eaters become vegetarians the demand for meat will fall. Since the supply is fixed in the short term, all that will happen is that the price will drop. In the long term, farmers will switch from meat production to dairy, or maybe raising horses for riding or sheep for wool. If they switch to dairy, all of the beef cattle will be slaughtered, and the male heifers will also be slaughtered.

It really is nothing but wishful thinking to hope that not eating meat will benefit animals. There is little or no connection between the two activities. The kamma of the farmer, the trader in livestock, the slaughterman, and the butcher each is their own property. The kamma of meat-eaters or vegetarians is also their own properties.

Whenever you are able to, urge others not to kill living beings. That is wholesome kamma. Where you have no influence, abide in equanimity.

Sallekha Sutta wrote:“Other people may harm living beings. However, we will not harm any living thing. Thus, you should practise effacement that will lessen the defilements.”


Sorry but that is not logical, if you spend your whole life not eating meat, some animals will benefit, some will live longer lives, and some will not be bred born into a life of suffering because there is no more demand for the baby animals to be grown for meat, its not simple like if you don't eat one animal it will live along and healthy life, but over a lifetime of not eating thousands of animals, a difference is made.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Coëmgenu » Sat Sep 24, 2016 10:52 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:Sorry but that is not logical, if you spend your whole life not eating meat, some animals will benefit, some will live longer lives, and some will not be bred born into a life of suffering because there is no more demand for the baby animals to be grown for meat, its not simple like if you don't eat one animal it will live along and healthy life, but over a lifetime of not eating thousands of animals, a difference is made.
One could also analyze the situation and conclude that there is the possibility that by choosing not to purchase meat, wether one is in the practice of eating it or not, you create less incentive for the owners of 'factory farms' to go about the business of what they do for a living, which seems to be to be something that causes unwholesome karma, but I am not a Buddhadharma expert. And the amount of decreased incentive is very small. Certainly it affects how much the producer of the karma profits from their karma. Surely to profit greatly on account of bad karma is just more bad karma. On the grounds that such profit is conducive to the mindset to continue actions that produce said karma, which lead to said profit.

The lessening of someone else's karmic load seems like it is a good action in-and-of itself. Maybe there is a sutta that addresses this kind of action, the action of preventing someone else's negative karma, I wouldn't be the one to ask.
Bhagavā arahaṃ sammasāmbuddho:
Svākkhāto yena bhagavatā dhammo / Supaṭipanno yassa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
Tammayaṃ bhagavantaṃ sadhammaṃ sasaṅghaṃ / Imehi sakkārehi yathārahaṃ āropitehi abhipūjayāma.
(Dedication of Offerings)
此等諸法,法住、法空、法如、法爾,法不離如,法不異如,審諦真實、不顛倒。These many dharmāḥ, the residence of these dharmāḥ, the emptiness of these dharmāḥ, these dharmāḥ self-explain, these dharmāḥ are thus, these dharmāḥ do not depart from their self-explaining, these dharmāḥ are not different than their self-explaining, judged as truly real, not delusional. (SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶

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samseva
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby samseva » Sun Sep 25, 2016 6:02 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:
davidbrainerd wrote:This reminds me too much of Calvinists saying that if you rescue a baby from a burning building without faith in Jesus then its a sin. Especially since you included "delusion" in your list.

Ok, so a rich guy takes a kid in for the publicity, I can see why he gets no merit out of that (compare with Jesus saying those who pray on the street corner to be seen of men have their reward in full). But delusion? So if the guy isn't an arhant perfectly free of delusion then he cannot earn merit by any good deed? Sounds fishy.

However, if the person did this with intentions based on greed, hate or delusion, the action is unwholesome.

For himself only though. Its not unwholesome in the absolute. Its 'unwholesome' only in that he cheated himself out of merit he could have made if his intentions had been right.

Saying that it's "basic teaching" is not skillful. I recently argued with davidbrainerd, on the subject of Christian theology, not Buddhadharma, and appealed to authority by saying that it was "basic/elementary theology", and in hindsight, it was not skillful. Saying something is "basic/elementary" is not skillful, IMHO, and I don't claim to be an expert on Buddhadharma. Instead, I try to calmly present the relevant information in question and make them available, without condemnation. I won't pretend that my attachment to tradition, and my attachment to "Buddhism" doesn't cloud my judgement, but that is what I think is the best method. Not condemnation of someone as failing to understand "basic" (i.e. simple) teaching.

It is a basic teaching. He compared me to a Calvinist with extreme beliefs and said my opinions sounded fishy. I replied that it was a basic Buddhist teaching (of which I believe) and not of my own making.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Coëmgenu » Sun Sep 25, 2016 6:04 pm

samseva wrote:It is a basic teaching. He compared me to a Calvinist with extreme beliefs and said my opinions sounded fishy. I replied that it was a basic Buddhist teaching (of which I believe) and not of my own making.
Fair enough. I have argued with this user many times, often invoking "this is basic teaching" with little result. That is all I meant. I wanted to share my experiences.
Bhagavā arahaṃ sammasāmbuddho:
Svākkhāto yena bhagavatā dhammo / Supaṭipanno yassa bhagavato sāvakasaṅgho
Tammayaṃ bhagavantaṃ sadhammaṃ sasaṅghaṃ / Imehi sakkārehi yathārahaṃ āropitehi abhipūjayāma.
(Dedication of Offerings)
此等諸法,法住、法空、法如、法爾,法不離如,法不異如,審諦真實、不顛倒。These many dharmāḥ, the residence of these dharmāḥ, the emptiness of these dharmāḥ, these dharmāḥ self-explain, these dharmāḥ are thus, these dharmāḥ do not depart from their self-explaining, these dharmāḥ are not different than their self-explaining, judged as truly real, not delusional. (SA 296, 因緣法)
揭諦揭諦,波羅揭諦,波羅僧揭諦,菩提薩婆訶

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samseva
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby samseva » Sun Sep 25, 2016 6:16 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:You seem to be under the illusion that actions only effect the doer and are of no consequence to the persons acted upon, the children eating that where starving will consider it a good deed no matter what the kamma of the doer.

I never said that actions only affect the doer. I said that the quality of an action—of being wholesome or unwholesome—is determined by the intention of the doer.

Yes, if you do something that has positive effects on someone else, then people around you will consider this "good", and in the way that it fed a child for example, it is "good". However, if you did the action with unwholesome intention, then this is unwholesome action/kamma—regardless if the child is happy that his stomach is full or not.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Mon Sep 26, 2016 2:42 am

It is an unwholesome action for you, not for the child, that's the difference.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Mon Sep 26, 2016 3:03 am

If you are doing good actions for bad reasons, you shouldn't stop doing good actions, you should change your reasons to good reasons.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby chownah » Mon Sep 26, 2016 6:19 am

lyndon taylor wrote:If you are doing good actions for bad reasons, you shouldn't stop doing good actions, you should change your reasons to good reasons.

Yes, people should not have bad reasons....I think we all agree on this.
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samseva
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby samseva » Mon Sep 26, 2016 4:02 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:It is an unwholesome action for you, not for the child, that's the difference.

It obviously isn't an unwholesome action for the child. The action of the man has inherently no effect on the child's mind. The actions and intentions of mind of the child after or during the time of receiving the food will be his own actions, whether they are wholesome or unwholesome.


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