Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Post by Agmanellium » Sat Oct 02, 2010 1:50 am

I am not a vegetarian. As I meditate my thoughts go to harmlessness and I wrestle with the question of the need to forswear meat in order to be harmless. If i think "what if I try not eating meat?', then the question of wearing leather arises. I know that meat was not forbidden as long as it was not slaughtered specifically for the monks, so my question is this: Since our meat delivery system in the United States is not aimed at any individual, and therefore no animal was slaughtered specifically for me, can I eat it and still consider myself to have done no harm? I have not killed. It was not killed for me, and the killing will continue whether I eat it or not. Most leather is a byproduct of meat slaughter. The skin would only go to waste were it not made into leather. This I have less problem with. To eat a plant is to kill it. To eat a part of a plant is to kill the cells that make up that part. It is not possible to live without killing. Is it therefore the pain that animals suffer that is the harm or are plants merely "second class citizens" of our planet? How do you practice harmlessness?

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Re: Harmlessness

Post by Ben » Sat Oct 02, 2010 1:58 am

Hi Agmanellium

Its certainly a vexed issue for many practitioners and you'll find no shortage of threads on the subject here.
Firstly, plants are not considered sentient within Buddhist traditions.
To live and to eat, even as a vegetarian, is to subsist on the death of others. However, the crucial issue is whether the killing was done by you and whether that killing was intentional. If it is not intentional, then there is no kammic load.
What many people find is that after some sustained integration of the Dhamma into their daily lives and according to individual circumstances, there is a tendency to adopt a lifestyle which is closer to the ethical ideals embedded within the precepts. And for some people that may involve becoming less dependent on animal products.
kind regards

“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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