the great vegetarian debate

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
[james]
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by [james] »

Dhammanando wrote:
Wed Apr 08, 2020 7:09 am
binocular wrote:
Tue Apr 07, 2020 5:24 pm
According to Buddhist doctrine, does knowledge affect intention/volition?
It's a case of 'may' rather than 'does'. In both Buddhist kamma theory and Vinaya case adjudication the relationship between one's anticipation of the likely outcomes of an action and the intention that prompts the action doesn't involve the kind of inevitability that some simple-minded vegetarian Buddhists insist on assigning to it. Why? Because though agents may have foreknowledge of a plurality of likely outcomes of their actions they are held to intend only one of these and it is this, and this alone, that determines the action's moral tone.
Yes, this is very similar to the self serving notion of “collateral damage”. Clearly one does not need to be a vegetarian Buddhist to be simple-minded.
For example, when a vegetarian drives to the supermarket to buy some frozen peas, if it's a hot summer's day it might occur to her that if she goes ahead with her decision it will most likely result in a host of bugs coming to their death on her car windscreen. If she's a scrupulous Jain this thought will stop her in her tracks. If she's a Buddhist it won't (or at least it needn't). The vegetarian Buddhist, if she understands kamma doctrine correctly, knows that by proceeding as planned she will not be breaking the first precept if any bugs do get splattered, for her intention is to go and buy frozen peas, not to splatter bugs.
Having discerned that the car trip to buy peas will possibly involve the deaths of some or many bugs, bunnies, a turtle or the neighbor’s cat, the vegetarian Buddhist, who values the first precept and accepts its guidance, will understand the need to re-evaluate her intention to high tail it to market and will perhaps consider other means of getting there ... driving slowly and cautiously, cycling, walking. Having adopted the mandate of the first precept and being cognizant of the consequences of her actions, why would the vegetarian Buddhist give priority to the need to buy peas (or even the needs of an emergency) rather than the necessity of harmlessness?
The Vinaya is quite explicit on this: when bhikkhus sweep the leaves on a forest path they know that their sweeping, however carefully done, will be sure to kill an insect or two. But provided their intention is merely to sweep the path and not to kill insects they will not be required to confess a breach of the training rule against killing animals.
Given that sweeping the forest path will surely result in the deaths of an insect or two, is it not worth asking oneself why the forest path even needs to be swept? I have yet to meet a forest path that needed to be swept. There are occasionally fallen branches to be stepped over or walked around, sometimes a fallen tree after a windstorm. These can, if desired, be carefully moved aside.

binocular
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by binocular »

Dhammanando wrote:
Wed Apr 08, 2020 7:09 am
binocular wrote:
Tue Apr 07, 2020 5:24 pm
According to Buddhist doctrine, does knowledge affect intention/volition?
It's a case of 'may' rather than 'does'. In both Buddhist kamma theory and Vinaya case adjudication the relationship between one's anticipation of the likely outcomes of an action and the intention that prompts the action doesn't involve the kind of inevitability that some simple-minded vegetarian Buddhists insist on assigning to it. Why?

Because though agents may have foreknowledge of a plurality of likely outcomes of their actions they are held to intend only one of these and it is this, and this alone, that determines the action's moral tone.
That's kind of simpletonish, but seems realistic. As in: people generally eat because they don't want to feel hungry, and at the time of buying the food and eating the food, probably have only one concern on their mind (and it may not even have anything to do with the food).

When one sits down and reflects on one's dietary practices, one can probably list a number of needs, interests, and concerns regarding food. But when one actually buys food or eats it (ie. at the time when one directly "makes kamma" about some particular food), that list probably isn't on one's mental radar.

However, if one frequently reflects on that list of needs, interests, and concerns regarding food, this possibly does translate into what one actually intends on the spot when buying, preparing, and eating food.

Not that people generally do that. Even the most outspoken, politically engaged vegan who promotes veganism for ethical reasons can still be just a plain old hedonist when he actually sits down at the table to eat (and this is when he makes "food kamma").
The vegetarian Buddhist, if she understands kamma doctrine correctly, knows that by proceeding as planned she will not be breaking the first precept if any bugs do get splattered, for her intention is to go and buy frozen peas, not to splatter bugs.

The Vinaya is quite explicit on this: when bhikkhus sweep the leaves on a forest path they know that their sweeping, however carefully done, will be sure to kill an insect or two. But provided their intention is merely to sweep the path and not to kill insects they will not be required to confess a breach of the training rule against killing animals.
Sure, and for what I'm talking about, this has never been the issue. When I talk about the effect of knowledge on volition/intention, I mean that knowledge directly affects or shapes volition/intention. How can one be passionate about something if one knows how it works? How can one feel good about eating meat and continue to want to eat meat, when one knows what it takes to produce it?

Presumably the Buddhists who defend meat eating do feel good about the meat eating. This is what I don't understand. Do they not reflect on how the meat industry works when they buy and eat meat?

When one buys and prepares meat, one actually does (or at least has the opportunity to) reflect on how he animal was fed, raised, and killed. For example, when buying chicken, it's possible to tell whether the animal struggled a lot when it was being killed, because then there are characteristic reddish and bluish spots on the skin, and that meat tastes differently, more "wild" than the meat of chickens who seemed to have a more "peaceful" death. A cook must know, notice, and consider such things.
Of course, it's possible that there are people who just plain don't know or notice such things ... I'm just finding it impossibly difficult to believe that Buddhists could be such people.

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Sam Vara
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Sam Vara »

binocular wrote:
Wed Apr 08, 2020 3:39 pm

However, if one frequently reflects on that list of needs, interests, and concerns regarding food, this possibly does translate into what one actually intends on the spot when buying, preparing, and eating food.

... When I talk about the effect of knowledge on volition/intention, I mean that knowledge directly affects or shapes volition/intention. How can one be passionate about something if one knows how it works? How can one feel good about eating meat and continue to want to eat meat, when one knows what it takes to produce it?
This is I think the key point. It might be that one's thinking about meat means that one's intention, when buying meat, is always unwholesome. "May these beings be killed so that I can eat". But the unwholesomeness is that they are intending harm. If they don't have that intention, then their volition is towards something else, and therefore not dark kamma. If a person finds that they are unable to eat meat without that bad intention, then their best option is to simply refrain.

Unlike complicity in the case of harmful outcomes, that intention cannot be "transferred" to one who benefits from that intention.

The Buddha frequently advised lay followers not to kill, of course, and this is elaborated to varying degrees in different versions in the suttas. But according to the most elaborate formulation, unless the person does the killing themselves; or unless they instigate the killing; unless they approve of the killing; and unless they praise it - then they are not generating bad kamma. This applies, presumably, even if they benefit from it, and are aware that they benefit from it. Followers might want to go further, of course, and enjoy the benefits of not themselves killing or instigating killing, and in addition approving not killing, and praising not killing: which is what you are doing here, and which I think is admirable.

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Dhammanando
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Dhammanando »

[james] wrote:
Wed Apr 08, 2020 12:23 pm
Given that sweeping the forest path will surely result in the deaths of an insect or two, is it not worth asking oneself why the forest path even needs to be swept?
Yes, I suppose it's worth asking. There are two reasons for it.

Firstly, in a SE Asian forest monastery if the paths are not swept daily then leaves will accumulate on them. Snakes and centipedes will then hide under the leaves, making the paths hazardous to walk on.

Secondly, the sweeping of certain parts of the monastery on certain occasions is a Vinaya requirement and not a matter of choice. On these occasions bhikkhus are not at liberty to not sweep, no matter how averse to sweeping they might be. For example, in a monastery where the bhikkhus eat together, the bhikkhu who returns first from the morning almsround is required to sweep the dānasāla before the meal. The bhikkhu who returns last is required to sweep it again after the meal (by which time there may well be a lot of ants on the ground). On lunar observance days there's a requirement to sweep the place where the Pāṭimokkha recital will be held, along with its surroundings. When a bhikkhu first moves into a hut there's a list of duties to be performed before he does anything else. One of these is to sweep it. Etc., etc.
[james] wrote:
Wed Apr 08, 2020 12:23 pm
I have yet to meet a forest path that needed to be swept.
That's probably because you live in a country where most of the snakes are non-venomous.

Now before I address the rest of your points, I should like to ask if you would mind clarifying the purpose of your post. Is it your contention that, (1) I am misrepresenting the Theravādin teaching on kamma, sīla and ahiṃsā, or (2) that the Theravāda is misrepresenting the Buddha's teaching on these matters, or (3) that the Buddha himself was in error and perhaps should have taught these things differently?
“Keep to your own pastures, bhikkhus, walk in the haunts where your fathers roamed.
If ye thus walk in them, Māra will find no lodgement, Māra will find no foothold.”
— Cakkavattisīhanāda Sutta

[james]
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by [james] »

Dhammanando wrote:
Thu Apr 09, 2020 5:06 pm
[james] wrote:
Wed Apr 08, 2020 12:23 pm
Given that sweeping the forest path will surely result in the deaths of an insect or two, is it not worth asking oneself why the forest path even needs to be swept?
Yes, I suppose it's worth asking. There are two reasons for it.

Firstly, in a SE Asian forest monastery if the paths are not swept daily then leaves will accumulate on them. Snakes and centipedes will then hide under the leaves, making the paths hazardous to walk on.
So what is hazardous to the snakes and centipedes and bugs is of less concern than what is hazardous to the humans? Buddhists must expect better of themselves and approach this and any situation with all possible caring respect for living beings affected. Do you disagree?
Secondly, the sweeping of certain parts of the monastery on certain occasions is a Vinaya requirement and not a matter of choice. On these occasions bhikkhus are not at liberty to not sweep, no matter how averse to sweeping they might be. ... Etc., etc.
One may be in fact be averse to harming others. How does the Vinaya address this?
Now before I address the rest of your points, I should like to ask if you would mind clarifying the purpose of your post. Is it your contention that, (1) I am misrepresenting the Theravādin teaching on kamma, sīla and ahiṃsā, or (2) that the Theravāda is misrepresenting the Buddha's teaching on these matters, or (3) that the Buddha himself was in error and perhaps should have taught these things differently?
My purpose is to express my thoughts arising in relation to your recent comments in this thread.

(1) No idea. It is possible isn’t it? I am uncomfortable with the manner and tone with which you present your own understanding. I look forward to hearing more from you. I’m probing.

(2) Yes, I think that may be the case. My participation in this thread is helpful to me in broadening my understanding and challenging the understanding/misunderstandings I currently hold.

(3) No, not in error. However he might have taught these things, humans would find ways to misconstrue for their own comfortable benefit.

binocular
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by binocular »

[james] wrote:
Wed Apr 08, 2020 12:23 pm
Having discerned that the car trip to buy peas will possibly involve the deaths of some or many bugs, bunnies, a turtle or the neighbor’s cat, the vegetarian Buddhist, who values the first precept and accepts its guidance, will understand the need to re-evaluate her intention to high tail it to market and will perhaps consider other means of getting there ... driving slowly and cautiously, cycling, walking. Having adopted the mandate of the first precept and being cognizant of the consequences of her actions, why would the vegetarian Buddhist give priority to the need to buy peas (or even the needs of an emergency) rather than the necessity of harmlessness?
This seems to conflate notions of harmfulness/harmlessness with feeling guilty for existing. In turn, feeling guilty for existing can be related to feelings of samvega.

It is impossible to be human and not have one's very existence cause harm to and death of other beings. Already breathing and standing on the ground kills other beings.

Complete harmlessness is impossible while in the human form. As far as I understood, the Buddhist inference to this fact is that complete harmlessness is not a reasonable/realistic goal to set for oneself. Instead, one is supposed to look at the bigger picture and aim for not taking birth at all. Of course, this is a conceptual framework that requires belief in rebirth (mundane right view).

"Why were you born?" is not a question that would be discussed often, not even in Buddhist circles. I think it's a vital question. It points in the direction of taking responsibility for being born, and only once one takes responsibility for being born, can one hope to work on not being born again.

binocular
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by binocular »

Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Apr 08, 2020 4:09 pm
This is I think the key point. It might be that one's thinking about meat means that one's intention, when buying meat, is always unwholesome. "May these beings be killed so that I can eat". But the unwholesomeness is that they are intending harm. If they don't have that intention, then their volition is towards something else, and therefore not dark kamma. If a person finds that they are unable to eat meat without that bad intention, then their best option is to simply refrain.

Unlike complicity in the case of harmful outcomes, that intention cannot be "transferred" to one who benefits from that intention.
I don't understand what you mean by that.

Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Apr 06, 2020 11:07 am
binocular wrote:
Mon Apr 06, 2020 8:21 am
In the context of the modern meat consumer, there is a conclusion:

The modern meat industry, due its sheer size, complexity, and customer anonymity is a kammic safe haven for the meat eating Buddhist who wants to eat meat but who has no intention to kill the animal whose meat he/she eats.

I contend that this is a repugnant conclusion.
I'm sympathetic towards anyone who lives with repugnance, but help is at hand. If it's an invalid conclusion, then it may not be repugnant. What are your premises from which you derive the conclusion, and the form of your argument?
You mean what makes it repugnant, or what makes it a valid conclusion?


As far as the clause on not killing and not ordering others to kill goes:
As the Buddhist defenders of meat eating often point out: when one buys meat at a modern supermarket, one isn't killing the animals oneself nor is one ordering others to do the killing.

This is true, in a superficial, literal sense. But in the modern industry, the very act of buying a product is 1. an approval of the product, and 2. an indirect order for the producer of the product to produce more of it. This is the industry-specific feedback system, and it is the way it is (ie. complex and largely anonymous) because of the sheer number of people it employs and serves.

So when one buys meat in the supermarket, one is 1. approving of killing animals.
And 2., one in fact is ordering others to kill, even as one does so indirectly, via an industry-specific feedback system.

Arguing otherwise is akin to claiming that if one orders something in a foreign language, one hasn't really ordered it.


Of course, one could argue for some kind of ignorance or ineptitude and that people who participate in this modern industry system, whether as producers or customers, shouldn't by default be taken as understanding the workings of this system and engaging in it deliberately, and so for them, it's perfectly possible that the modern meat industry is a kammic safe haven ...
Last edited by binocular on Fri Apr 10, 2020 9:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

binocular
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by binocular »

Ceisiwr wrote:
Mon Apr 06, 2020 12:17 pm
/.../
One should go about
guarded
with regard to those things,
one’s faculties understood,
standing firm in the Dhamma,
delighting in being straightforward
& mild.
https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/KN/StNp/StNp2_2.html
This is so ironic, coming from you, in a discussion of ethics.

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Sam Vara
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Sam Vara »

binocular wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 8:25 am
Sam Vara wrote:
Wed Apr 08, 2020 4:09 pm
This is I think the key point. It might be that one's thinking about meat means that one's intention, when buying meat, is always unwholesome. "May these beings be killed so that I can eat". But the unwholesomeness is that they are intending harm. If they don't have that intention, then their volition is towards something else, and therefore not dark kamma. If a person finds that they are unable to eat meat without that bad intention, then their best option is to simply refrain.

Unlike complicity in the case of harmful outcomes, that intention cannot be "transferred" to one who benefits from that intention.
I don't understand what you mean by that.
When a person knowingly benefits from the wrongdoing of another, the legal blame might be said to be shared between them. But the intention to commit the act - good or bad - cannot be the property of anyone other than the one who commits the act. We alone are the inheritors of our kamma.
You mean what makes it repugnant, or what makes it a valid conclusion?
If it's not a valid conclusion, there's no reason to bother about finding it repugnant. So let's see whether it is valid or not.
As the Buddhist defenders of meat eating often point out: when one buys meat at a modern supermarket, one isn't killing the animals oneself nor is one ordering others to do the killing.
Correct.
But in the modern industry, the very act of buying a product is 1. an approval of the product, and 2. an indirect order for the producer of the product to produce more of it.
Incorrect. An approval of the product is not an approval of the killing; and there is no "indirect order". If the gap in the meat-vendor's stock caused by the purchase is taken by him/her to constitute such an order, then that is their decision alone. They are solely responsible for any further killing they do in order to pursue their livelihood.
Arguing otherwise is akin to claiming that if one orders something in a foreign language, one hasn't really ordered it.
Whatever language one instigates killing in, one breaks the precept. If one falls short of instigating killing (e.g. one merely buys meat that has been killed by someone else, and who then has the option of killing or refraining from killing to replenish their stock) then regardless of language one honours the precept.
Of course, one could argue for some kind of ignorance or ineptitude and that people who participate in this modern industry system, whether as producers or customers, shouldn't by default be taken as understanding the workings of this system and engaging in it deliberately, and so for them, it's perfectly possible that the modern meat industry is a kammic safe haven ...
One could, of course, and there may be people who do that. Personally, I don't find it convincing, as the interface between the meat industry and the suttas on killing is not so complicated.
Last edited by Sam Vara on Fri Apr 10, 2020 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Ceisiwr
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Ceisiwr »

binocular wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 9:00 am
Ceisiwr wrote:
Mon Apr 06, 2020 12:17 pm
/.../
One should go about
guarded
with regard to those things,
one’s faculties understood,
standing firm in the Dhamma,
delighting in being straightforward
& mild.
https://www.dhammatalks.org/suttas/KN/StNp/StNp2_2.html
This is so ironic, coming from you, in a discussion of ethics.
Why is that ironic?

Metta

:)
“For that is false, bhikkhu, which has a deceptive nature, and that is true which has an undeceptive nature—Nibbāna. Therefore a bhikkhu possessing this truth possesses the supreme foundation of truth. For this, bhikkhu, is the supreme noble truth, namely, Nibbāna, which has an undeceptive nature.” MN 140

Pulsar
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Pulsar »

Binocular, with an uncommon brilliance you wrote:
It is impossible to be human and not have one's very existence cause harm to and death of other beings. Already breathing and standing on the ground kills other beings.
Complete harmlessness is impossible while in the human form. As far as I understood, the Buddhist inference to this fact is that complete harmlessness is not a reasonable/realistic goal to set for oneself. Instead, one is supposed to look at the bigger picture and aim for not taking birth at all. Of course, this is a conceptual framework that requires belief in rebirth (mundane right view).
"Why were you born?" is not a question that would be discussed often, not even in Buddhist circles. I think it's a vital question. It points in the direction of taking responsibility for being born, and only once one takes responsibility for being born, can one hope to work on not being born again.
Comment reminds me of the attitude of monk that interacted with me on a Buddhist website. He was an American soldier who had killed a human being in the ME war, later filled with remorse he became a Theravadin monk, he was a rebel. I admired his forthrightness. Hypocrisy was unknown to him. He would explain Pali words to me, when I struggled, lived in Cambodia. Once he posted a video with an image of Buddha giving middle finger, a bit funny, sort of shocking?
His point was Buddha was telling us "Once you get born, you are screwed". We all know how true this is, It is impossible to be entirely harmless, even if you are vegetarian.
Pl read the commentary to Son's flesh SN 12.63. I hate making comments too long, for I too do not read comments that are too long.
Thanks Binocular, your take on life, matches the take of a Theravadin monk, something to be
said for that.
With love :candle:

[james]
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by [james] »

binocular wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 8:16 am
This seems to conflate notions of harmfulness/harmlessness with feeling guilty for existing. In turn, feeling guilty for existing can be related to feelings of samvega.
My point is that in any situation we have the opportunity to recognize and undertake the lesser and least harmful of options. There are many ways to get to market, many ways to tend the forest path, many ways to conduct one’s life activities that are less harmful or harmless to others. Of course there may be “opportunity costs” to undertaking (or trying to) harmlessness. As Buddhists espousing an ethic of non-violence such costs are necessarily greater and, I think, should be borne with gratitude and courage.
It is impossible to be human and not have one's very existence cause harm to and death of other beings. Already breathing and standing on the ground kills other beings.
I am not advocating that anyone should stand still and starve in place. The ebb and flow of life is where we are. We nonetheless can (almost) always make choices that lessen the harm our life necessarily entails.
Complete harmlessness is impossible while in the human form. As far as I understood, the Buddhist inference to this fact is that complete harmlessness is not a reasonable/realistic goal to set for oneself. Instead, one is supposed to look at the bigger picture and aim for not taking birth at all. Of course, this is a conceptual framework that requires belief in rebirth (mundane right view).
The only way to no longer take birth is to do what is wholesome and to not do what is unwholesome. If complete harmlessness is impossible, more harmlessness is always possible.
"Why were you born?" is not a question that would be discussed often, not even in Buddhist circles. I think it's a vital question. It points in the direction of taking responsibility for being born, and only once one takes responsibility for being born, can one hope to work on not being born again.
I completely agree with you.

binocular
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by binocular »

[james] wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 3:26 pm
If complete harmlessness is impossible, more harmlessness is always possible.
I'm not disagreeing, but a problem I see with this outlook is that it focuses on being harmless, rather than on making an end to suffering. Ie. it focuses on not harming others, but possibly at the cost of causing suffering (and harm) to oneself; and along with this, this cost is being trivialized away.
This is not a sustainable state of affairs. It seems more like martyrdom in the name of compassion.

And this backfires. Religions/spiritualities that emphasize compassion (such as Mahayana or Christianity), also have tenets with which they justify killing and other forms of harming. As if to balance out the focus on compassion.

binocular
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by binocular »

Sam Vara wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 10:20 am
But in the modern industry, the very act of buying a product is 1. an approval of the product, and 2. an indirect order for the producer of the product to produce more of it.
Incorrect. An approval of the product is not an approval of the killing; and there is no "indirect order". If the gap in the meat-vendor's stock caused by the purchase is taken by him/her to constitute such an order, then that is their decision alone.
From the perspective of the producer, buying their product is an approval of the product, and an indirect order to produce more of it.
It might be called their decision, but it's a decision they are not making in some kind of socio-economic vacuum; it's a decision that other producers make as well; in fact, it's so common that it's taken for granted and isn't even considered an individual's decision, but is simply a matter of "how the market works", the principle of demand and supply.

And since the modern meat industry was there before me, I take for granted that this industry dictates the terms and meanings, and that my intentions as a (potential) customer are secondary or irrelevant. The moment I walk into a grocery store, I am on someone else's turf, and they dictate the terms, not I. As long as I am [freely] on someone else's turf, my actions mean whatever the owner of that turf says they mean.

Theories of economics aside, you seem to be advocating for some kind of absolute, decontextualized individualism that I cannot relate to.
Whatever language one instigates killing in, one breaks the precept. If one falls short of instigating killing (e.g. one merely buys meat that has been killed by someone else, and who then has the option of killing or refraining from killing to replenish their stock) then regardless of language one honours the precept.
Whatever arguments the Buddhist defenders of meat eating propose to make it look innocent, I remain unconvinced and I still don't feel good about meat eating.
If one falls short of instigating killing (e.g. one merely buys meat that has been killed by someone else, and who then has the option of killing or refraining from killing to replenish their stock) then regardless of language one honours the precept.
IOW, the modern meat industry is a kammic safe haven for Buddhists who want to eat meat but who don't want to kill the animal whose meat they are eating.
One could, of course, and there may be people who do that. Personally, I don't find it convincing, as the interface between the meat industry and the suttas on killing is not so complicated.
Dispersion of responsibility is the bane of large and complex social, political, and economical systems. In such a system, the individual person is neither guilty nor innocent. As always, I prefer to err on the side of caution: if one buys meat, in whatever type of market, one is involved in the killing of animals.

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Sam Vara
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Sam Vara »

binocular wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 8:30 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Fri Apr 10, 2020 10:20 am
But in the modern industry, the very act of buying a product is 1. an approval of the product, and 2. an indirect order for the producer of the product to produce more of it.
Incorrect. An approval of the product is not an approval of the killing; and there is no "indirect order". If the gap in the meat-vendor's stock caused by the purchase is taken by him/her to constitute such an order, then that is their decision alone.
From the perspective of the producer, buying their product is an approval of the product
Yes, the product is meat.
and an indirect order to produce more of it
No, the approval is expressed by the buyer, but the interpretation of the purchase as an instigation of further killing is (unless explicitly made by the buyer) entirely up to the vendor. If they choose to kill another animal to replace the sold one, that's entirely their decision, and that intention is not attributable to anyone other than themselves.
It might be called their decision, but it's a decision they are not making in some kind of socio-economic vacuum; it's a decision that other producers make as well; in fact, it's so common that it's taken for granted and isn't even considered an individual's decision, but is simply a matter of "how the market works", the principle of demand and supply.
Nobody ever makes a decision in a socio-economic vacuum, regardless of the type of kamma that is made. War criminals are subjected to all manner of socio-economic influences, but their kamma remains resolutely theirs. It's simply how war works, the principle of kill or be killed.
And since the modern meat industry was there before me, I take for granted that this industry dictates the terms and meanings, and that my intentions as a (potential) customer are secondary or irrelevant. The moment I walk into a grocery store, I am on someone else's turf, and they dictate the terms, not I. As long as I am [freely] on someone else's turf, my actions mean whatever the owner of that turf says they mean.
Your intentions as a customer are your kamma, and the interpretations others give to it are not your kamma. If you innocently go into a shop to buy organic tofu, and the owners start screaming that you are attempting to rob them, does that mean your intentions were unwholesome? Their kamma is their stuff, yours is yours. Have another look at the Paññobhasa article I posted on another thread about consequences. Kamma is what you intend, not what other people claim you intend. That's their problem.
Theories of economics aside, you seem to be advocating for some kind of absolute, decontextualized individualism that I cannot relate to.
I'm not advocating anything, and don't care what you can relate to. I'm just explaining why lay people buying and eating meat does not breach the first precept.
Whatever arguments the Buddhist defenders of meat eating propose to make it look innocent, I remain unconvinced and I still don't feel good about meat eating.
That's fine!
IOW, the modern meat industry is a kammic safe haven for Buddhists who want to eat meat but who don't want to kill the animal whose meat they are eating.
If you mean that lay Buddhists can buy and eat meat without breaching the first precept, then yes, but this is something that has been so since the Buddha's time.
Dispersion of responsibility is the bane of large and complex social, political, and economical systems. In such a system, the individual person is neither guilty nor innocent.
Yes, I personally don't find the concepts of guilt and innocence as useful in understanding the Buddha's position as notions such as kamma and the precepts.
As always, I prefer to err on the side of caution: if one buys meat, in whatever type of market, one is involved in the killing of animals.
Obviously. If you eat the meat, the animal ends up quite literally involved in you! The issue for the lay person eating meat, though, is that the "involvement" does not constitute a breach of the first precept.

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