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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unveiledartist
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Re: The spirit of five precepts

Post by unveiledartist » Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:38 am

DNS wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:15 pm
befriend wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 1:55 pm
Sorry wrong sutta but there is a sutta forget the name that explains why Buddhists can eat meat but some ways in which a Buddhist can't eat meat like if the animal was killed for them if they heard the animal scream when it died or if they killed it themselves etc.. Anyone know the name of the this sutta?
You were correct, it is the Jivaka Sutta, MN 55.5

"I say that there are three instances in which meat should not be eaten: when it is seen, heard, or suspected that the living being has been slaughtered for the bhikkhu. I say that meat should not be eaten in these three instances. I say that there are three instances in which meat may be eaten: when it is not seen, not heard, and not suspected, that the living being has been slaughtered for the bhikkhu."


Some context for the passage:

https://dhammawiki.com/index.php/3_fold_rule

:twothumbsup:

:namaste:
(Buddha said), "Monks, do not wage wordy warfare, saying: 'You don't understand this Dhamma and discipline, I understand this Dhamma and discipline'; 'How could you understand it? You have fallen into wrong practices: I have the right practice."~AN 4.183. Dont speak ill of other people and traditions with whom teach The Dharma. Right speech is respect in agreements and disagreements alike.

:anjali:

Ruud
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Re: The spirit of five precepts

Post by Ruud » Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:57 am

As dharmacorps said, the precepts are not compulsory to be a lay follower:
“In what way, Bhante, is one a lay follower?”

“When, Mahānāma, one has gone for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Saṅgha, in that way one is a lay follower.”

“In what way, Bhante, is a lay follower virtuous?”

“When, Mahānāma, a lay follower abstains from the destruction of life, from taking what is not given, from sexual misconduct, from false speech, and from liquor, wine, and intoxicants, the basis for heedlessness, in that way a lay follower is virtuous.”
(https://suttacentral.net/en/an8.25)
That does not mean the Buddha didn’t urge his followers to try and follow them as best they can. But they are indeed trainings one takes on voluntarily.

When the Buddha was asked how many people would gain enlightenment in his teaching, he didn’t answer (Ānanda gave a simile afterwards to explain):
“And, Master Gotama, when having directly known it, you teach the Dhamma to your disciples for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow & lamentation, for the disappearance of pain & distress, for the attainment of the right method, & for the realization of Unbinding, will all the cosmos be led [to release], or a half of it, or a third?”

When this was said, the Blessed One was silent
https://suttacentral.net/en/an10.95
So then, living in an imperfect world, where not everyone is enlightened or even virtuous, the question becomes whether you think the eating of meat is harmful to you or others. The Buddha did not prohibit it for the monks, even when challenged be Devadatta, and a sutta like the Āmaganda Sutta (“Carrion-stench Sutta”) also shows that there are far worse things than eating meat (even contrasting it with the precepts):
Taking life, torture, mutilation too,
binding, stealing, telling lies, and fraud;
deceit, adultery, and studying crooked views:
this is carrion-stench, not the eating of meat.
https://suttacentral.net/en/snp2.2
So I think the eating of meat is not inherently wrong and does not break the precepts of killing(if we don’t slaughter the animals ourselves). Would being vegetarian or even vegan be less harmful and more compassionate to other beings? Yes, but I feel that would be a further training to take on, based on ones own intentions.
Bhikkhus, this spiritual life is not lived for the sake of deceiving people and cajoling them; nor for the benefit of gain, honor, and praise; nor for the benefit of winning in debates; nor with the thought: ‘Let the people know me thus.’ But rather, this spiritual life is lived for the sake of restraint, abandoning, dispassion and cessation. —AN 4.25

Whatever is will be was. —Ven. Ñānamoli, A Thinkers Notebook, §221

justindesilva
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Re: The spirit of five precepts

Post by justindesilva » Thu Jan 04, 2018 2:30 am

dharmacorps wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 7:15 pm
OK, but does that have anything to do with them being compulsory?
To.my knowledge Lord Buddha never compelled any body , not even to his son Rahula, to follow his teachings. Kalama sutta very well explains the view of lord budda that it is upto the desciple to understand the darma from within.

D1W1
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Re: The spirit of five precepts

Post by D1W1 » Thu Jan 04, 2018 4:43 am

dharmacorps wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 7:15 pm
OK, but does that have anything to do with them being compulsory?
Only Buddhists take the five precepts. It's the basic precept for all Buddhists. If someone wants to develop further, s/he can practice eight precepts. The guideline for lay Buddhists is five precepts hence it's compulsory. If it's not then it's like saying 227 precepts of monastic rules are not compulsory either, monks can just practice 10 precepts only. But this is not the case, of course nothing is compulsory even commandments from God highly depends on the individual whether s/he wants to practice it or not. Five precepts is the standard Buddhist ethics for lay people.

D1W1
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Re: The spirit of five precepts

Post by D1W1 » Thu Jan 04, 2018 5:55 am

Ruud wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:57 am
As dharmacorps said, the precepts are not compulsory to be a lay follower:
“In what way, Bhante, is one a lay follower?”

“When, Mahānāma, one has gone for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Saṅgha, in that way one is a lay follower.”

“In what way, Bhante, is a lay follower virtuous?”

“When, Mahānāma, a lay follower abstains from the destruction of life, from taking what is not given, from sexual misconduct, from false speech, and from liquor, wine, and intoxicants, the basis for heedlessness, in that way a lay follower is virtuous.”
(https://suttacentral.net/en/an8.25)
That does not mean the Buddha didn’t urge his followers to try and follow them as best they can. But they are indeed trainings one takes on voluntarily.

When the Buddha was asked how many people would gain enlightenment in his teaching, he didn’t answer (Ānanda gave a simile afterwards to explain):
“And, Master Gotama, when having directly known it, you teach the Dhamma to your disciples for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow & lamentation, for the disappearance of pain & distress, for the attainment of the right method, & for the realization of Unbinding, will all the cosmos be led [to release], or a half of it, or a third?”

When this was said, the Blessed One was silent
https://suttacentral.net/en/an10.95
So then, living in an imperfect world, where not everyone is enlightened or even virtuous, the question becomes whether you think the eating of meat is harmful to you or others. The Buddha did not prohibit it for the monks, even when challenged be Devadatta, and a sutta like the Āmaganda Sutta (“Carrion-stench Sutta”) also shows that there are far worse things than eating meat (even contrasting it with the precepts):
Taking life, torture, mutilation too,
binding, stealing, telling lies, and fraud;
deceit, adultery, and studying crooked views:
this is carrion-stench, not the eating of meat.
https://suttacentral.net/en/snp2.2
So I think the eating of meat is not inherently wrong and does not break the precepts of killing(if we don’t slaughter the animals ourselves). Would being vegetarian or even vegan be less harmful and more compassionate to other beings? Yes, but I feel that would be a further training to take on, based on ones own intentions.
Thanks for your reply.
But there are many interpretations regarding this particular precept. For example, in Buddhist country like Sri lanka vegetarian Buddhists is not uncommon, they see it as an inseparable extension of the first precept, but in Thailand it's a bit rare compare to Sri lanka. Same Dhamma but different answer. I would even say their answer doesn't correspond with each other. This of course creates confusion, does Tipitaka say anything in particular about the correlation between first precept and vegetarianism?

Should we just interpret the first precept according to our own personal understanding, I thought this precept is universal not personal? If we just be on the safe side we could end up practicing extremism.
Maybe experience Buddhists (teachers) can clear up this confusion? Many thanks!

Ruud
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Re: The spirit of five precepts

Post by Ruud » Thu Jan 04, 2018 7:41 am

For as far as I have heard, traditionally (in the Vinaya and commentaries), five conditions are needed to break the precept/rule of not killing:

- A living being
- An awareness that it is a living being
- An intention to kill
- Making an effort to kill
- Death of the creature through that effort

If any of these are missing there is no breaking of the rule. I feel that when we buy or eat meat we do not have, for example, the actual intention to kill the animal. We want to eat (to nourish our bodies, or for enjoyment etc.).

I agree that this view seems rather legalistic and does not as much keep the spirit of harmlessness in mind. But my point is that the intention in what one does is really important. So if you feels that when you eat meat, you are fully responsible for the killing of that animal, then not wanting to contribute, you can choose to be vegetarian. If you feel that killing (by a butcher) is one act, and eating is another, you can make your choices based on that. The actual act of killing (stealing, sexual misconduct, lying) itself is universally unwholesome but I think the interpretation comes in to determine where one action ends and another starts. And I do feel that that can be based (at least partially) on personal view (through ones intention).

This, like I said before, is not to say that a vegetarian lifestyle is not praiseworthy if done in order to prevent harm to living beings. I just think it is a further training one can take on, not one necessarily contained within the first precept. Even though the Buddha had the direct opportunity to lay down the rule (when challenged by Devadatta), he did explicitly not do so. To me that seems to show a difference between killing a living being and the eating of meat.
Bhikkhus, this spiritual life is not lived for the sake of deceiving people and cajoling them; nor for the benefit of gain, honor, and praise; nor for the benefit of winning in debates; nor with the thought: ‘Let the people know me thus.’ But rather, this spiritual life is lived for the sake of restraint, abandoning, dispassion and cessation. —AN 4.25

Whatever is will be was. —Ven. Ñānamoli, A Thinkers Notebook, §221

dharmacorps
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Re: The spirit of five precepts

Post by dharmacorps » Thu Jan 04, 2018 7:43 pm

D1W1 wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 4:43 am
dharmacorps wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 7:15 pm
OK, but does that have anything to do with them being compulsory?
Only Buddhists take the five precepts. It's the basic precept for all Buddhists. If someone wants to develop further, s/he can practice eight precepts. The guideline for lay Buddhists is five precepts hence it's compulsory. If it's not then it's like saying 227 precepts of monastic rules are not compulsory either, monks can just practice 10 precepts only. But this is not the case, of course nothing is compulsory even commandments from God highly depends on the individual whether s/he wants to practice it or not. Five precepts is the standard Buddhist ethics for lay people.
Who will enforce these rules? The dhamma police? While technically the 5 precepts are the best practices by the advice of the Buddha for lay people, there is nothing compulsory in them. To me, that takes away how special and powerful the act of renunciation is. It is a choice you undertake. Again, no Sutta based evidence the precepts are seen in this way.

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Re: The spirit of five precepts

Post by samsarictravelling » Fri Jan 05, 2018 3:10 am

D1W1 wrote:
Mon Jan 01, 2018 5:43 am
Hi all,

Happy New Year 2018!!

Just a simple question about five precepts.
The first precept tells us to refrain from killing living beings. If everyone in a city practices five precepts, no one will kill animals, everyone will become vegetarian. Is it true the spirit Buddha wants us to develop is vegetarianism? Thanks.
Just from things I read in the past (I could be incorrect in my details, or incorrect):

The monks who go on almsround once a day would be rude if they did not accept whatever is offered to them. Also they might starve if they were that selective.

The Buddha did not accept Devadatta's wish that Buddha have the monks become vegetarian.

But there is one rule the Buddha had for eating meat for both monks and laymen: If the meat was not seen, heard or suspected of being killed for one specifically, the monk (or layman) can eat it. If it was seen, heard, or suspected of being killed for one, one cannot.

P.S. I just did a google search of Devadatta's wish that Buddha rejected and got this. I looked a bit at it, did not read the whole thing:

http://leavesinthehand.blogspot.ca/2010 ... anism.html

Dinsdale
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Re: The spirit of five precepts

Post by Dinsdale » Fri Jan 05, 2018 12:03 pm

dharmacorps wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 7:43 pm
Who will enforce these rules? The dhamma police?
Buddha save me from new-agers!

jmccoy
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Re: The spirit of five precepts

Post by jmccoy » Fri Jan 05, 2018 9:55 pm

dharmacorps wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 7:43 pm
D1W1 wrote:
Thu Jan 04, 2018 4:43 am
dharmacorps wrote:
Wed Jan 03, 2018 7:15 pm
OK, but does that have anything to do with them being compulsory?
Only Buddhists take the five precepts. It's the basic precept for all Buddhists. If someone wants to develop further, s/he can practice eight precepts. The guideline for lay Buddhists is five precepts hence it's compulsory. If it's not then it's like saying 227 precepts of monastic rules are not compulsory either, monks can just practice 10 precepts only. But this is not the case, of course nothing is compulsory even commandments from God highly depends on the individual whether s/he wants to practice it or not. Five precepts is the standard Buddhist ethics for lay people.
Who will enforce these rules? The dhamma police? While technically the 5 precepts are the best practices by the advice of the Buddha for lay people, there is nothing compulsory in them. To me, that takes away how special and powerful the act of renunciation is. It is a choice you undertake. Again, no Sutta based evidence the precepts are seen in this way.
If practicing the five precepts isn't a minimal lay Buddhist criterion then what the heck is?

dharmacorps
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Re: The spirit of five precepts

Post by dharmacorps » Fri Jan 05, 2018 11:12 pm

Who knows. Maybe taking refuge in the triple gem would be the most basic. I am only stating they aren't compulsory.

jmccoy
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Re: The spirit of five precepts

Post by jmccoy » Sat Jan 06, 2018 12:48 am

dharmacorps wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 11:12 pm
Who knows. Maybe taking refuge in the triple gem would be the most basic. I am only stating they aren't compulsory.
It seemed that taking refuge was always a statement of practical intent and that undertaking pancasila was a minimal, foundational pledge by which to execute that intent. I thought taking refuge was always inclusive of the commitment to precepts. What does it mean to take refuge in the triple gem without practicing sila?

dharmacorps
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Re: The spirit of five precepts

Post by dharmacorps » Sat Jan 06, 2018 1:16 am

Both the 3 refuges and the 5 precepts are practical intents-- it is said often in Asia that what makes one a Buddhist as an identity (as opposed to a non-Buddhist) is the 3 refuges, but what makes you a devoted Buddhist is the precepts. Also many Buddhists in asia would mention trying to master the paramis is what they focus on, not the precepts.

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Kim OHara
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Kim OHara » Sat Jan 06, 2018 1:28 am


Ruud
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Re: The spirit of five precepts

Post by Ruud » Sat Jan 06, 2018 1:40 am

jmccoy wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 9:55 pm

If practicing the five precepts isn't a minimal lay Buddhist criterion then what the heck is?
dharmacorps wrote:
Fri Jan 05, 2018 11:12 pm
Who knows. Maybe taking refuge in the triple gem would be the most basic. I am only stating they aren't compulsory.
Indeed. Like I quoted before:
“In what way, Bhante, is one a lay follower?”

“When, Mahānāma, one has gone for refuge to the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Saṅgha, in that way one is a lay follower.”

“In what way, Bhante, is a lay follower virtuous?”

“When, Mahānāma, a lay follower abstains from the destruction of life, from taking what is not given, from sexual misconduct, from false speech, and from liquor, wine, and intoxicants, the basis for heedlessness, in that way a lay follower is virtuous.”
jmccoy wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 12:48 am
What does it mean to take refuge without practicing sila?
A good question. But I think the point here is to show that precepts are voluntary not compulsory. They are not commandments, but a training one takes on.
Bhikkhus, this spiritual life is not lived for the sake of deceiving people and cajoling them; nor for the benefit of gain, honor, and praise; nor for the benefit of winning in debates; nor with the thought: ‘Let the people know me thus.’ But rather, this spiritual life is lived for the sake of restraint, abandoning, dispassion and cessation. —AN 4.25

Whatever is will be was. —Ven. Ñānamoli, A Thinkers Notebook, §221

jmccoy
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Re: The spirit of five precepts

Post by jmccoy » Sat Jan 06, 2018 4:39 am

dharmacorps wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 1:16 am
it is said often in Asia that what makes one a Buddhist as an identity (as opposed to a non-Buddhist) is the 3 refuges, but what makes you a devoted Buddhist is the precepts. Also many Buddhists in asia would mention trying to master the paramis is what they focus on, not the precepts.
Hmm, ok. One can follow the precepts and also not identify as Buddhist. It is strange to me that there would be a difference between a devoted Buddhist and a non-devoted Buddhist.
Is the mastery of sīla pāramī a separate or distinct issue from mastery of pancasila?
Ruud wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 1:40 am

A good question. But I think the point here is to show that precepts are voluntary not compulsory. They are not commandments, but a training one takes on.
Fair enough, but then would this also mean that attaining arhantship and escaping samsara isn't the compulsory goal or point of practicing Buddhism? Up to this point I have always considered the accumulation of virtue to be an essential aspect of Dhamma.
Sorry, I'm not trying to get off topic, it's just that this has been running around in my mind for quite a while and this was the first "well timed / well placed" thread for me to jump in on the dialogue about.

Ruud
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Re: The spirit of five precepts

Post by Ruud » Sat Jan 06, 2018 9:13 am

jmccoy wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 4:39 am
...
The ultimate goal of the Buddha-Dhamma is indeed the end of suffering, which is reached at arahantship. But before that it reached, many steps on the path are taken. Virtue is an important step on this path, and indeed usually one presented as very early and basic to the practice. But many intermediate goals can be taken on the way. And the Buddha adjusted his teachings based on the inclinations and abilities of his audience.
He saw Suppabuddha the leper sitting in the assembly, and on seeing him the thought occurred to him, "This person here is capable of understanding the Dhamma." So, aiming at Suppabuddha the leper, he gave a step-by-step talk, i.e., he proclaimed a talk on generosity, on virtue, on heaven; he declared the drawbacks, degradation, & corruption of sensuality, and the rewards of renunciation. Then when the Blessed One knew that Suppabuddha the leper's mind was ready, malleable, free from hindrances, elevated, & clear, he then gave the Dhamma-talk peculiar to Awakened Ones, i.e., stress, origination, cessation, & path.
https://accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn ... .than.html
So in that step-by-step progression, it would be possible to take refuge because one recognizes that the path the Buddha points out ultimately is the right one and because one has the aspiration to eventually follow it all the way to its end. And practicing generosity can be a first step in that direction. This practice is not a very fast or energetic one, but it moves the practitioner in the right direction. And then, when one has enough confidence, can one out of ones own volition take on the next step of for example virtue.

This is not to say that the Buddha didn’t urge all disciples to keep the precepts and praise those who did. But he never imposed them. They were always kept out of the disciples own volition.
Bhikkhus, this spiritual life is not lived for the sake of deceiving people and cajoling them; nor for the benefit of gain, honor, and praise; nor for the benefit of winning in debates; nor with the thought: ‘Let the people know me thus.’ But rather, this spiritual life is lived for the sake of restraint, abandoning, dispassion and cessation. —AN 4.25

Whatever is will be was. —Ven. Ñānamoli, A Thinkers Notebook, §221

Ruud
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Re: The spirit of five precepts

Post by Ruud » Sat Jan 06, 2018 11:07 am

By the way, I feel that the above idea of gradual path can also be applied to the question in the OP. Regarding the interpretation of precepts, one can initially take a simple and basic interpretation, like the first precept means to not kill by oneself. And then further down the path, based on our further interpretation that making others kill is also included in the precept, we can choose to embrace for example vegetarianism. In that way we are slowly, over time, developing our path factor of right action and our sila-parami.
Bhikkhus, this spiritual life is not lived for the sake of deceiving people and cajoling them; nor for the benefit of gain, honor, and praise; nor for the benefit of winning in debates; nor with the thought: ‘Let the people know me thus.’ But rather, this spiritual life is lived for the sake of restraint, abandoning, dispassion and cessation. —AN 4.25

Whatever is will be was. —Ven. Ñānamoli, A Thinkers Notebook, §221

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Sam Vara
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Sam Vara » Sat Jan 06, 2018 4:56 pm

Kim OHara wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 1:28 am
Another reason to avoid meat - https://secure.avaaz.org/campaign/en/meatless_day_13/

:coffee:
Kim
:thumbsup: And dairy!

jmccoy
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Re: The spirit of five precepts

Post by jmccoy » Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:28 pm

Ruud wrote:
Sat Jan 06, 2018 9:13 am
So in that step-by-step progression, it would be possible to take refuge because one recognizes that the path the Buddha points out ultimately is the right one and because one has the aspiration to eventually follow it all the way to its end. And practicing generosity can be a first step in that direction. This practice is not a very fast or energetic one, but it moves the practitioner in the right direction. And then, when one has enough confidence, can one out of ones own volition take on the next step of for example virtue.
It seems like you just diagnosed the very phase I'm in. Thanks! LOL

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