the great vegetarian debate

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Garrib
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Eating meat vs doing the killing

Post by Garrib » Sat Jul 22, 2017 2:31 am

I am aware that killing is an unwholesome action. And I understand that eating meat is not forbidden by the Buddha (for monastics) - so long as one does not kill the being, or request that food, or eat it knowing that the being was killed specifically for the purposes of feeding them. Personally speaking, I have settled on not seeking out meat, not purchasing it, and generally trying to keep away from it. But sometimes, my father will buy some seafood dish and I will partake. This evening, he has acquired two living lobsters and is preparing to cook them (to death) - I will not partake in this meal...

And I could be imagining this, but it seems that he is in a somewhat rude mood this evening - kind of amping up for the act. And it occurs to me: It is impossible to kill unless you have an unwholesome mind state. And so on for all other violations of precepts. Is this the basic reason why these precepts have been given by the Blessed One?

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Re: Eating meat vs doing the killing

Post by santa100 » Sat Jul 22, 2017 2:53 am

Garrib wrote:Is this the basic reason why these precepts have been given by the Blessed One?
AN 11.1 puts moral precepts as the very first condition in the chains of factors that lead to Nibbana.

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Dhammarakkhito
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Dhammarakkhito » Sat Jul 22, 2017 3:07 am

is this the only place we can post about ontological veganism
well, it's against the 1st precept to kill and also, if i recall correctly, to encourage someone to kill. when you pay for an animal product -- meat, leather, anything (animal products are in many, many things), you're promoting the murder of animals for profit. if you're conscious about this process, you face a moral crisis. monks are of course exempt given they don't use money (unless seen, heard or suspected...)
buddhism leading to uncomfortable conclusions isn't an excuse to go easy on the rules
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Garrib
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Re: Eating meat vs doing the killing

Post by Garrib » Sat Jul 22, 2017 8:02 am

santa100 wrote:
Garrib wrote:Is this the basic reason why these precepts have been given by the Blessed One?
AN 11.1 puts moral precepts as the very first condition in the chains of factors that lead to Nibbana.
Thank you, Santa. Virtue is the foundation for the path...

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Re: Eating meat vs doing the killing

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Jul 22, 2017 8:32 am

Garrib wrote:And it occurs to me: It is impossible to kill unless you have an unwholesome mind state. And so on for all other violations of precepts. Is this the basic reason why these precepts have been given by the Blessed One?
Yes, and I think this relates to the development of Right Intention.
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ieee23
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Re: Eating meat vs doing the killing

Post by ieee23 » Sat Jul 22, 2017 2:16 pm

Garrib,

My own opinion is that the Early Buddhist/Theravada/Historical Buddha's view about meat eating hasn't arrived to us in 2017 as complete. As it is, I don't think it is ethically workable and consistent.

For example, there is this sutta on Wrong Livliehood
Vanijja Sutta: Wrong Livelihood

AN 5.177 PTS: A iii 208

"Monks, a lay follower should not engage in five types of business. Which five?

1. Business in weapons
2. Business in human beings
3.Business in meat
4.Business in intoxicants
5.Business in poison.

"These are the five types of business that a lay follower should not engage in."
Obviously, you can't have a business without customers. This is what I mean by there being a suspicious incompleteness/consistency on an ethical level. It can't work as it is incomplete, so my opinion is that there is something missing.

The advice against going into a business of intoxicants is consistent and workable as the 5th precept advises against consuming such intoxicants. Again, no customers, no wrong business.
Whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. - MN 19

Garrib
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Re: Eating meat vs doing the killing

Post by Garrib » Sat Jul 22, 2017 2:38 pm

Thanks for the response ieee,

It does seem plausible that some (a considerable amount?) of the Buddha's advice, especially for lay people, has been lost to us. That being said, we do have a lot to work with. I know that monks and nuns were allowed to consume meat given to them by lay people, provided certain conditions were met- Devadatta was the one who proclaimed that the Sangha should be fully vegetarian, though the Buddha did not agree. Devadatta caused a schism in the Sangha, one of the 5 heinous crimes. Apparently , Hitler was a vegetarian - of course that doesn't make vegetarianism wrong, but it does at least suggest that it is not an ethically sufficient stance. More important than not eating meat is that one doesn't kill or cause to kill.

Perhaps the Buddha had a different code (more strict) for lay followers regarding the consumption of meat? The first precept conducive to freedom from remorse is non-killing. However, it is possible to eat meat (even to purchase it) without killing any living beings. Although it may seem inconsistent/illogical to us (eating meat though being against killing), in my opinion, there is a clear cut distinction between the two. Killing is an unwholesome act and requires an unwholesome intention, it is damaging to the mind and brings painful results. Merely eating meat does not fall into that same category of action.

That being said, i tend to veer towards vegetarianism nowadays (I don't purchase or request meat). I think a lot of Buddhists are vegetarian, and some meditation centers serve only vegetarian meals.

Metta,

Brad'

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Re: Eating meat vs doing the killing

Post by binocular » Sat Jul 22, 2017 3:49 pm

ieee23 wrote:Obviously, you can't have a business without customers. This is what I mean by there being a suspicious incompleteness/consistency on an ethical level. It can't work as it is incomplete, so my opinion is that there is something missing.

The advice against going into a business of intoxicants is consistent and workable as the 5th precept advises against consuming such intoxicants. Again, no customers, no wrong business.
The two cases are not the same.
Consuming intoxicants is avoidable.
Harming and killing are inavoidable; simply by breathing, we kill millions of tiny organisms. The only question is whether there was an intention to harm or kill or not.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

ieee23
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Re: Eating meat vs doing the killing

Post by ieee23 » Sat Jul 22, 2017 7:09 pm

binocular wrote:
ieee23 wrote:Obviously, you can't have a business without customers. This is what I mean by there being a suspicious incompleteness/consistency on an ethical level. It can't work as it is incomplete, so my opinion is that there is something missing.

The advice against going into a business of intoxicants is consistent and workable as the 5th precept advises against consuming such intoxicants. Again, no customers, no wrong business.
The two cases are not the same.
Consuming intoxicants is avoidable.
So is buying meat or killing animals on your own.

The only question is whether there was an intention to harm or kill or not.
There is an intention to ignore harm and killing to satisfy a desire for a sense pleasure.

I remember reading a sutta on kamma explaining the general karmic effects of particular habits. Caring for people gives you a longer next life, not asking questions promotes being dull in the next life, etc.

Given my experiences in this life so far , I don't think I would want to know what the kamma is of a habit of intentionally ignoring consequences for the sake of an indulgence. I don't think it is anything anyone would want.
Whatever a bhikkhu frequently thinks and ponders upon, that will become the inclination of his mind. - MN 19

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lyndon taylor
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Re: Eating meat vs doing the killing

Post by lyndon taylor » Sat Jul 22, 2017 7:30 pm

How does one make the step from "I kill insects when I drive my car" to "I pay people to kill a cow so I can eat its flesh" Anyone that thinks the former justifies the latter is not applying logic IMHO.
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, sincerely former monk John

http://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/

Garrib
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Re: Eating meat vs doing the killing

Post by Garrib » Sun Jul 23, 2017 12:49 am

lyndon taylor wrote:How does one make the step from "I kill insects when I drive my car" to "I pay people to kill a cow so I can eat its flesh" Anyone that thinks the former justifies the latter is not applying logic IMHO.
Yes, but what about when you don't pay people to kill the cow, but someone offers you a dish with meat in it...or you are at a party with a lot of meat based food, which will go to waste unless consumed. Would letting the dead animal's flesh rot, rather than be consumed, be of any benefit to said creature?

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Re: Eating meat vs doing the killing

Post by lyndon taylor » Sun Jul 23, 2017 1:11 am

If its going to go to waste I will eat meat, but another question is just how healthy is it to eat meat in the first place, I think you have every right to refuse it, eating meat just to make you host happy seems kind of spineless to me, its a good opportunity for you to "witness" a bit about vegetarianism, if that offends your host then they have the problem, not you IMHO
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, sincerely former monk John

http://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/

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retrofuturist
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Re: Eating meat vs doing the killing

Post by retrofuturist » Sun Jul 23, 2017 1:14 am

Greetings Lyndon,
lyndon taylor wrote:you have every right to refuse it, eating meat just to make you host happy seems kind of spineless to me
So according to your logic, the Buddha was "kind of spineless"...?

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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Re: Eating meat vs doing the killing

Post by lyndon taylor » Sun Jul 23, 2017 1:34 am

i don't think there's any solid evidence that the Buddha ever ate meat, but a vegetarian is a vegetarian, they don't have to be doing it the exact same way the buddha did, even if we knew what way that was. Maybe they just don't like being involved in the killing of animals for food, I stand by my statement. One of the main reasons for being a vegetarian is for your health, how does it help your health to eat meat every time it is offered to you. You're wrong if you think everyone has to follow the Buddha's instructions for accepting food, all throughout the history of Buddhism there have been monks and laypeople that refused to eat meat, its a personal decision, and that should be respected by hosts and family IMHO We had a vegetarian monk at our Cambodian Therevade temple. He just ate only the vegetarian dishes brought by the lay people.
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, sincerely former monk John

http://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/

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Re: Eating meat vs doing the killing

Post by retrofuturist » Sun Jul 23, 2017 1:38 am

Greetings,
lyndon taylor wrote:You're wrong if you think everyone has to follow the Buddha's instructions for accepting food....
No, I don't think that. I just wanted to understand the logical implications of your accusation that "eating meat just to make you host happy seems kind of spineless".

Metta,
Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)

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