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Why did the Buddha allow his monks to eat meat?

karmablueskarmablues Veteran
edited July 2013 in Diet & Habits
The Pali Canon and Mahayana texts agree that the Buddha allowed his monks to eat certain kinds of meat.

In the Pali Canon, the Buddha said:
"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."
Such allowance of meat eating is acknowledged in the Mahayana texts but these texts also declare that the permission is being revoked and henceforth no meat eating is to be allowed whatsoever. In the Pali Canon there is no mention of Buddha revoking this allowance.

So why was meat eating allowed? In the Pali Canon it is clear that meat eating is not regarded as defiled behavior. In the Amagandha Sutta, a vegetarian Brahmin confronts Buddha Kassapa in regard to the evil of eating meat to which Buddha Kassapa replies as follows:
"Taking life, beating, cutting, binding... adultery; this is uncleanliness and not the eating of meat.

When men are rough and harsh, backbiting, treacherous, without compassion.... this is uncleanliness and not the eating of meat.

Anger, pride, obstinacy, antagonism.... this is uncleanliness and not the eating of meat.

When men are of bad morals, refuse to pay their debts.... this is uncleanliness and not the eating of meat.

When men attack living beings either because of greed or hostility and are always bent upon evil, they go to darkness after death and fall headlong into hell; this is uncleanliness and not the eating of meat."
So as far as the Pali Canon goes, the Buddha sees no direct connection between defiled states of the mind and meat eating which is, I believe, the main reason he allowed his monks to eat meat (with a few exceptions).

However, when we look at the Mahayana texts to determine why meat eating was allowed, the answers seem unsatisfactory.

In the Nirvana Sutra:
Kasyapa said: "Why did you first allow the bhiksus to eat three kinds of pure meat?" "O Kasyapa! These three kinds of pure meat were so instituted following the need of the occasion."
Here the Buddha is saying that there was some kind of necessity for the allowance. Unfortunately there is no elaboration of what this necessity was. One possibility is that in the mountainous areas there was a scarcity of fruits and vegetables. But if that was the case then surely the rule would have been formulated differently and be limited to monks living in areas where fruits and vegetables were not readily available.

Since the Buddha is also revoking the allowance there is thus the question of how the situation has suddenly changed so as to make the allowance no longer necessary. This question is also left unanswered by the sutra.

Now when it comes to the Lankavatara Sutra, this is said:
Some people will say: 'In other sutras, the Tathagata has allowed eating of three kinds of meat', they simply do not understand that the meaning of precepts is to stop meat eating gradually, so they will say that meat eating is allowed.
Here, the reason is no longer about necessity, but rather to "stop meat eating gradually". This reason also seems unsatisfactory. First, limiting meat allowed to the three types would probably not prevent the monks from eating meat most of the time. It may have been more effective to restrict the times when meat eating would be allowed, eg. allowing pure meat to be consumed only on the first day of each week or something like that. Secondly, given that meat eating is considered as very evil behavior that could send one to hell, it doesn't make sense why the Buddha would opt for gradual elimination rather than an immediate, total ban. Were monks really so addicted to meat eating that it required gradual elimination? What about the ban on sexual intercourse? What's more difficult for a man, a celibate life or a vegetarian diet? I would say that in most cases it is a celibate life, but the Buddha set a total ban on sexual intercourse. Why not go for gradual elimination and specify certain types of pure women whom the monks would be allowed to copulate with?

So the reason for the allowance given in this sutra also seems unsatisfactory.

As for the Surangama Sutra, this is stated:
"I permit the bhiksus to eat only the five kinds of pure meat. Such meat is actually the product of my transcendental power of transformation and not of animal slaughter. You, Brahman, live in a country where vegetables do not grow because it is too damp and hot and because of all the gravel and rock. I use my spiritual power of compassion to provide you with illusory meat to satisfy your appetite. How then, after my nirvana, how can you eat the flesh of living beings and so pretend to be my disciple?"
So there is yet another different reason given for the allowance of pure meat. Here, the Buddha is saying that the meat the monks have been eating are actually magic meat created by him ie. fake meat that didn't really originate from a slaughtered animal. He says he does this out of compassion to satisfy the appetites of monks. This doesn't seem to be the way the Buddha usually teaches. While he does have limitless compassion, nonetheless, it is not usual for him to express this compassion by satisfying the sensual desires of his monks.

Another curious element is the assertion that India was a country where "vegetables do not grow". Is this an accurate description of India at that time? I think it should only apply to the mountainous areas of India. Even if there were no vegetables, then why didn't Buddha create magic vegetables for his monks to eat. By creating magic meat, wouldn't the Buddha cause the monks to think they were eating real meat and wouldn't that produce defiled states of mind in the monks as described in the Mahayana texts?

Again, the reason for the allowance given in this sutra is unsatisfactory.

In fact, when we look at the Mahayana texts' treatment on the issue of meat eating and use of animal products we can find a number of other inconsistencies and even conflicts. For example, let's take the issue of animal products.

In the Surangama Sutra, it is said:
"Bhikshus who do not wear silk, leather boots, furs, or down from this country or consume milk, cream, or butter can truly transcend this world... Both physically and mentally one must avoid the bodies and by-products of living beings, by neither wearing them nor eating them. What I have said here is Buddha’s teaching. Any explanation counter to it is the teaching of Papiyan (demon king)"
However, in the Nirvana Sutra the following is stated:
Kasyapa said: "If the Tathagata means to prohibit the eating of meat, such things as milk, cream, fresh butter, clarified butter, and sarpirmanda, all kinds of clothing, silk cloth, horse-shoe shell, hide and leather... should not be received."

[The Buddha replied:] "O good man! Do not muddle things up with what the Nirgranthas [Jains] say. Each of the prohibitions which the Tathagata lays down has a different meaning."
So in this case, we have a direct conflict between two sutras. One says that animal products such as milk, leather and silk must be avoided while another says that believing so would be muddling up the teachings of the Buddha with that of Jainism. So which is correct?

We can take another example which is whether meat eating can be considered as equivalent to killing.

In the Lankavatara Sutra, it is said that:
"Mahamati, if no one eats meat, then no one kills living beings for food. Because there are people who wish to eat meat, if they have no meat to eat they will go everywhere to buy meat, then the others who wish to earn money will kill living beings and sell the flesh to the meat eaters. The killings are for the buyers, thus the buying is the same as the killing."

.....

"Hunters, butchers, meat eaters and the like are atrocious and hardhearted, they can do what others cannot have the heart to do. When they see the living beings whose bodies are fresh, fat or fleshy, they would think of eating them."
However, in the Brahma Net Sutra, meat eating is listed as one of the 48 secondary precepts while killing is listed as one of the 10 major precepts. The major precept of killing is described as follows:
"A disciple of the Buddha shall not himself kill, encourage others to kill, kill by expedient means, praise killing, rejoice at witnessing killing, or kill through incantation or deviant mantras. He must not create the causes, conditions, methods, or karma of killing, and shall not intentionally kill any living creature."
Therefore, since meat eating entails just a breach of a secondary precept, it follows that meat eating does not amount to killing otherwise, meat eating would have to be listed as a major precept rather than just a secondary precept. Therefore, this is in conflict with the Lankavatara Sutra which sees meat eating as equivalent to killing.

So what does all of this imply? We see that there are inconsistencies and sometimes direct conflict among the various Mahayana texts dealing with the issue of meat eating and the use of animal products. Explanations given in the Mahayana texts about why monks were permitted to eat certain types of meat also seem to be unsatisfactory. So if one were to rely on the Mahayana texts to determine what were actually the Buddha's words on these matters, the existence of inconsistencies and conflicts could cause some confusion. And in answering the question of "Why did the Buddha allow his monks to eat meat" we could say that this question can be more satisfactorily answered by reference to the Pali Canon.
personInvincible_summerPatrJasonfedericamisecmisc1DharmaMcBum
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Comments

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran
    Well reasoned and written, not the usual critique of Mahayana teachings. :thumbup:
    karmabluesDharmaMcBum
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    He had to allow meat-eating, because the monks never knew what they'd be given in their begging bowls. It would be rude to refuse a donation.
    Inc88
  • ArthurbodhiArthurbodhi Veteran
    edited July 2013
    I totally recommend this text that is about this exact issue:
    The Question of Vegetarianism and Diet in Pāli Canon

    karmablues
  • Dakini said:

    He had to allow meat-eating, because the monks never knew what they'd be given in their begging bowls. It would be rude to refuse a donation.

    If vegetarianism was made into a rule then the lay followers would soon learn about it and would stop offering meat dishes to the monks which is what I suppose has happened in those areas where vegetarian temples are prevalent these days. So the refusal would only happen temporarily before the lay community realizes that they should not offer meat dishes.

    Also, it could have been possible to allow the monks to accept meat, but then to avoid eating it once he is back at the temple. If he doesn't get enough vegetable almsfood then perhaps an exception can also be made for monks to be cook their own vegetable dishes for meals in the case that insufficient vegetable food is gathered during almsround. However, I think the Buddha didn't bother with any of this because since meat eating is not seen as a direct cause for defiled states of the mind, then he might as well just allow the monks to eat the three types of pure meat.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    Dakini said:

    He had to allow meat-eating, because the monks never knew what they'd be given in their begging bowls. It would be rude to refuse a donation.

    If vegetarianism was made into a rule then the lay followers would soon learn about it and would stop offering meat dishes to the monks which is what I suppose has happened in those areas where vegetarian temples are prevalent these days. So the refusal would only happen temporarily before the lay community realizes that they should not offer meat dishes.

    Also, it could have been possible to allow the monks to accept meat, but then to avoid eating it once he is back at the temple. If he doesn't get enough vegetable almsfood then perhaps an exception can also be made for monks to be cook their own vegetable dishes for meals in the case that insufficient vegetable food is gathered during almsround. However, I think the Buddha didn't bother with any of this because since meat eating is not seen as a direct cause for defiled states of the mind, then he might as well just allow the monks to eat the three types of pure meat.
    I agree with Karmablues, and would add that if the Supreme Sangha of Thailand told the Thai people that there was sufficient reason for monks not to eat meat, the Thai people would stop giving meat to the monks (it's a fairly compliant population overall). And, in Thailand, fruits and veggies are readily available in street markets all over Thailand, including in Bangkok, and are MUCH cheaper than buying meat.

  • DaozenDaozen Veteran
    The question to ask is, why would YOU eat meat, given that we know it's bad for: a) the animals, obviously, b) your health, c) the environment.

    Boom!
    karmabluesInvincible_summerriverflow
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Because I believe man is a carnivore.

    Boom!
    KundoInvincible_summer
  • But due to our higher reasoning we can chose not to act on this impulse, just as we can chose not to act on our sexual urges. Animals don't have this choice.
    karmabluesInvincible_summer
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    @rivercane, I understand your belief.
    karmabluesInvincible_summer
  • karmablueskarmablues Veteran
    edited July 2013
    Jeffrey said:

    I think the mystery of contradicting scripture is solved by the fact that Buddha did not pen the sutras..... So since there are different authors there are different views on vegetarianism... It is not hidden that there are different authors...

    Jeffrey, are you suggesting that the authors of these Sutras are in fact expressing their own personal views on vegetarianism and trying to pass these off as the words of the Buddha?
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    @karmablues, perhaps. But remember the nature of a canon is that it excludes material. So Buddha might have told some people not to eat meat and some that it was ok. Or it could all be later writings including the Pali Canon.
    karmabluesKundoInvincible_summerriverflow
  • PatrPatr Veteran
    Think initially, the Buddha did not want to impose any conditions which might have required his lay followers to prepare special dishes for him and his monks. So they would have accepted leftover food, just as they took discarded garments.

    This would have been the case for when he travelled to new places to teach.

    Certainly things would have been slightly different once he was well known.

    In the Mahayana, the Dharma travelled to different countries with a better framework of support, some monasteries cooked their own food and some had lay communities bringing them daily meals, no more alms trips. So then they were better placed to suggest the omission of meat.

    Vegetarian diet brings a lot of advantages, one developes a much clearer frame of mind, essential for better meditative practices. Also, humans reek of their diet, in any interaction with beings of the other realms, a more neutral smell would be advantageous :)

    In Chinese folklore, we often hear tales of smelling the departed first before all else.
    karmabluesrivercaneInvincible_summer
  • DaozenDaozen Veteran
    vinlyn said:

    Because I believe man is a carnivore.

    Boom!

    I think you mean omnivore :) Carnivore eats ONLY meat, omnivore eats meat and other stuff too.

    Bam!

    PS What do you means, man "IS" a carnivore? Clearly, many people AREN'T (and are healthier as a result - here's just one of many many studies: http://yhoo.it/14M1yjo). What's your reasoning, or is it more a gut feeling kinda thing?
  • DaozenDaozen Veteran
    lobster said:
    One angry man with no qualifications and little research vs 100s of valid studies that say the opposite.

    :scratch:
    federicaInvincible_summer
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    Many people eat balanced meals including meat and are healthy, too. Balance is always key. It's not as simple for everyone in every locale to simply not eat meat. I know that's hard to believe in today's world, but it's true.
    KundoDharmaMcBum
  • DaozenDaozen Veteran
    Yes, you certainly can be perfectly healthy eating meat. You can also be perfectly healthy - indeed according to science, more healthy - without it. OK ... so, considering a vegetarian diet is at least as healthy as meat-eating AND better for the environment AND causes less suffering to innocent sentient beings ... well, you do the maths :)
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator
    And you come to where I live and do the shopping in the middle of winter (which lasts 6-7 months) where we have about 5 inedible options for fresh produce and groceries that cost 2-3x as much as they do in most other areas :D I'd be happy for someone to work variety that doesn't exist and money that doesn't exist into our 5 person budget. I'm not saying what you say isn't true. I'm just saying, not all situations are the same, and worrying about what others do is a waste of time. Just like some Buddhists feel it is their duty to inform others of not eating meat, so Westboro Baptist Church feels it their duty to inform others of not being gay. Best off worrying about our own lives.
    KundoMaryAnneDharmaMcBum
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    Daozen said:

    vinlyn said:

    Because I believe man is a carnivore.

    Boom!

    I think you mean omnivore :) Carnivore eats ONLY meat, omnivore eats meat and other stuff too.

    Bam!

    PS What do you means, man "IS" a carnivore? Clearly, many people AREN'T (and are healthier as a result - here's just one of many many studies: http://yhoo.it/14M1yjo). What's your reasoning, or is it more a gut feeling kinda thing?
    Yes, you're right, I should have said omnivore, but of course, that includes carnivorous behavior.

    As far as my reasoning, that's one of the few things I prefer not to respond to.

    Your link led to nothing, but I've read any number of such reports.

    As far as, "Clearly, many people AREN'T" -- 95% of the people in the world are not vegetarians.

    If you gave me the choice, I'd prefer to sit and chat with an "evangelical Christian", rather than an "evangelical vegetarianism".





  • DaozenDaozen Veteran
    5% of the world is about 300 million - I call that many people :)

    People get very defensive about this, not sure why :) Vegetarianism and Buddhism have a long and happy relationship. People have endless debate on all manner of arcane subject here, and yet if I put down a few valid points pro-vegetarian, I get called "evangelical". Oh well, each to their own excuse I say. (Including me.)

    Namaste
  • DaozenDaozen Veteran
    karasti said:

    And you come to where I live and do the shopping in the middle of winter (which lasts 6-7 months) where we have about 5 inedible options for fresh produce and groceries that cost 2-3x as much as they do in most other areas :D I'd be happy for someone to work variety that doesn't exist and money that doesn't exist into our 5 person budget. I'm not saying what you say isn't true. I'm just saying, not all situations are the same, and worrying about what others do is a waste of time. Just like some Buddhists feel it is their duty to inform others of not eating meat, so Westboro Baptist Church feels it their duty to inform others of not being gay. Best off worrying about our own lives.

    It's not my "duty", it's just part of a thread. And thanks for comparing me to some of the most bigoted people on the planet. Geez!

    Namaste
    Invincible_summer
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited July 2013
    Daozen said:

    5% of the world is about 300 million - I call that many people :)

    People get very defensive about this, not sure why :) Vegetarianism and Buddhism have a long and happy relationship. People have endless debate on all manner of arcane subject here, and yet if I put down a few valid points pro-vegetarian, I get called "evangelical". Oh well, each to their own excuse I say. (Including me.)

    Namaste

    Yes, veggie and Dharma do have a long and happy relationship... And Buddhism has a long and happy relationship with omnivores too. Including some of its best known teachers..like HHDL , Ajahn Sumedho, Ajahn Chah ( who I once saw eat two Big Macs ) Dudjom Rinpoche et al.
    It is a personal choice. Not a Buddhist choice. Unless you belong to one of the Chinese sanghas where a vegetarian diet is a condition of membership
    karmabluesChazInvincible_summerriverflow
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited July 2013
    seeker242 said:



    So what does all of this imply? hat this question can be more satisfactorily answered by reference to the Pali Canon.

    It implies that when you try to interpret Mahayana sutras from a Theravada standpoint, you are concocting a recipe for disaster.

    :lol:
    Which in turn implies that all Mahayana teachers restrict themselves to a vegetarian diet. Which simply is not the case. HHDL is a Mahayana monk and eats meat. As do the majority of Vajrayana teachers both monastic and lay. Most Japanese Zen teachers both monk and lay, eat fish.
    karmabluesriverflow
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    That's a ridiculous response.

    Any interpretation of Mahayana sutras from any different standpoint is going to be able to find and question the contradictions and inconsistencies - Interpretation of Mahayana Sutras from a Mahayana standpoint is going to arrive at a different (and understandably biased) slant!
    karmablues
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    Citta said:

    seeker242 said:



    So what does all of this imply? hat this question can be more satisfactorily answered by reference to the Pali Canon.

    It implies that when you try to interpret Mahayana sutras from a Theravada standpoint, you are concocting a recipe for disaster.

    :lol:
    Which in turn implies that all Mahayana teachers restrict themselves to a vegetarian diet. Which simply is not the case. HHDL is a Mahayana monk and eats meat. As do the majority of Vajrayana teachers both monastic and lay. Most Japanese Zen teachers both monk and lay, eat fish.
    The HHDL recommends that everyone become a vegetarian.

  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited July 2013

    So what does all of this imply? hat this question can be more satisfactorily answered by reference to the Pali Canon.


    It implies that when you try to interpret Mahayana sutras from a Theravada standpoint, you are concocting a recipe for disaster.

    :lol:

    The HHDL recommends that everyone become a vegetarian.

    </blockquot


    Maybe. But he himself eats meat. I went to a reception hosted by the Dean of Westminster the last time that the Dalai Lama spoke at Westminster Abbey and we all ( including the DL ) tucked into a chicken dish prepared by His Holiness's chefs.
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited July 2013
    So why is the life expectancy of the average westerner the highest that has been in recorded human history ?
  • Citta said:

    So why is the life expectancy of the average westerner the highest that has been in recorded human history ?

    Better medicine mainly.

    People are living longer, but they're also living longer with problems such as obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure. We're also surviving the consequences of our unhealthy lifestyle, such as heart attacks, strokes and cancer.
    riverflow
  • The following is an interview excerpt of the His Holiness the 101th Ganden Tripa,
    Supreme Head of the Gelug Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism (the first Ganden Tripa was Tsongkapa). Monks of the Gelug school, such as HHDL, hold 253 Vinaya rules which happens to be the most amongst all lineages of Vinaya still in use.
    Q: Is vegetarianism compulsory? It has been suggested that cultivating crops kill untold numbers of insects whilst the slaughtering of only one yak in old Tibet can feed the whole family for a week. Therefore, from the numerical point of view, this group of people suggests that we should consume meat of big-size animals rather than eating vegetables which inevitably entail the death of countless creatures. Moreover, some masters have insisted on vegetarianism as compulsory for a Buddhist whilst others quoted Buddhist texts to the contrary. What is Your Holiness point of view?

    A: In general, Lord Buddha has taught 3 differing points with regard to vegetarianism.
    In the first one, in the Theravada tradition, it is taught that we cannot take the so-called three categories of “Impure Meat”: a) we perceive through our eyes or ears the killing of the meat; b) we suspect that the meat is killed for ourselves; c) we know that the meat has been killed for us. Besides these 3 categories of meat, we are permitted to partake of the rest.

    In the second one, in the Mahayana tradition, it is taught explicitly that the taking meat is necessarily unskillful and wrong. So vegetarianism is compulsory here.

    In the third, in the Vajrayana tradition, it is taught that practitioners of this path should take meat. The reason for this is given in the texts and requires extensive explanations. It is not appropriate for me to elaborate here.

    Students of Buddhism can choose to follow any of these 3 points. It is not possible for me to dictate which points students should follow.
    vinlynriverflow
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    In comparison to whom? Other cultures have higher life expectancies. Japan - until the dreadful tide of 'western food' hit their shores - had an extremely high rate of longevity. The Sino-Asian population in general, seems to be blessed with many extremely long-lived people....

    The regime I'm following at the moment (and in all likelihood, will continue to adhere to for good) seems to suggest, through accredited trials and global research, that those following a similar regime will prolong their lives considerably....
    Hell, I'll still be Moderating here when I'm 120! :lol:
    rivercaneKundo
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    Its true that Japan leads the life expectancy list of nations complied by the W.H.O. in 2011. But of the top twenty all are western nations apart from Singapore and Kuwait.

    We are all individuals with different metabolic needs.
    I have had several long periods as a vegetarian and did all I could to research the most healthy diet for myself..my wife is perfectly healthy as a veggie..but every time I have tried I have become ill. I went vegan for two years. I went macrobiotic. I followed a veggie mediteranean diet. Every time I suffered chronic, vague, ill health, until I added meat to my diet again.
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited July 2013
    federica said:

    In comparison to whom? Other cultures have higher life expectancies.

    With regards to life expectancies, there is an interesting program by National Geographic where researchers identified pockets around the world where people lived measurably better. In these "Blue Zones" as they call them, they found that people reach age 100 at rates 10 times greater than in the United States. Okinawa, Japan is one of them! On the list is also Sardinia, Italy, Loma Linda, CA (Seventh Day Adventists), Ikaria, Greece and Nicoya Costa Rica.

    They identified 9 common traits of the lifestyle of these people. A mostly plant based is one of them, along with natural exercise, stress reduction activities, some type of spirituality, close family relations and some others. It's an interesting program I think! www.bluezones.com


    misecmisc1
  • I get lost in most buddhist texts.
    Especially when I start comparing them.

    I'm kind to myself, so I eat meat.

    I'm kind to myself, so I don't eat too much meat, just what my body needs.
    personKundo
  • Citta said:


    We are all individuals with different metabolic needs.
    I have had several long periods as a vegetarian and did all I could to research the most healthy diet for myself..my wife is perfectly healthy as a veggie..but every time I have tried I have become ill. I went vegan for two years. I went macrobiotic. I followed a veggie mediteranean diet. Every time I suffered chronic, vague, ill health, until I added meat to my diet again.

    I can see the truth in that, I tried veganism for about 6 months and suffered various problems, mainly fatigue and memory related. I do have to wonder whether it was not partly in my mind though, having eaten dairy all my life and then suddenly going without. Also, many of the books I based my diet on seemed to me (in retrospect) to be almost pseudoscience, or based on opinion rather than evidence.
    I think going veggie was easier for me because I hadn't eaten red meat since I was 7 or 8 anyway, so cutting out the chicken and fish wasn't so big a deal.

  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited July 2013
    But of course the health benefits or otherwise of a particular diet do not, I would suggest address the OP..I think we can assume that the Buddha did not allow meat eating for health reasons.
    The fact is though that he DID allow it.
    And by allowing it he made eating meat a lifestyle choice open to all of those Buddhists, and they are a majority, who do not belong to a Sangha where vegetarianism is prescribed and normative.
    On the other hand he did not make the eating of meat, or any other foodstuffs compulsory.
    For his Sangha he said for them to eat what they are given...including in one famous case using the illustration of eating a leper's finger if one happened to fall into the begging bowl !
    For laypeople he had no dietary guidelines at all that we know about apart from not eating too much or too little.
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran



    In the third, in the Vajrayana tradition, it is taught that practitioners of this path should take meat. The reason for this is given in the texts and requires extensive explanations. It is not appropriate for me to elaborate here.

    Students of Buddhism can choose to follow any of these 3 points. It is not possible for me to dictate which points students should follow.



    At the same time, HHDL says animals have the same rights to live and not be killed, as humans do. In other traditions, it is dictated quite strictly for this reason.
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited July 2013
    Whether the DL says that I know not. Perhaps he does. Perhaps you could even produce references.
    I do know that he eats meat. No ifs. No buts. It is a fact.
  • lobster said:
    I agree with this and I'm glad someone has been the first to say it (I see there are similar opinions further down). As many times as I've tried to become vegetarian, and as many times as I've planned it, I've failed that many times. I can't live on grains and legumes for the same reasons stated in the link to the book. Additionally, cereal grains don't cut it for me because I am non-celiac gluten intolerant and insulin resistant. I don't think such self-torture in the name of religion or philosophy complies with the Middle Way. When I return to a "hunter-gatherer" diet (meat, leaves, berries, nuts, seeds, eggs), my health improves.

    It may very well be this is the price I am paying for something in a past life, and for which I may continue to pay. Who knows? We all have our individual struggles, and one size does not fit all. In my estimation what the Buddha, Jesus and Krishna taught are ideals and goals to be striven for as best we can. Where one man excels another man fails. If we could all excel, we wouldn't be here to bandy it about. We'd all have reached nirvana, moksha, Heaven or whatever one calls it.


    Kundo
  • Chrysalid said:



    Biologically speaking, humans evolved to eat meat, but we don't actually require it in our diets, it's just that our ancestors couldn't find enough veg to sustain themselves on the savannas of Africa, they needed to eat meat to survive. Ideally, if you want to eat meat, then it should be the side dish and veggies the main part of the meal, in Western culture though it's the other way around which is why so many of us are unhealthy.

    Bouncing off this to what I said earlier about my own health, I can't pound down enough vegetables to keep going, especially because I cannot eat cereal grains. I think it's the sugars, salt, refined foods and selectively bred foods in western culture that is the basis for unhealthiness. Modern corn, maize, is nothing like its wild ancestor, which resembled wheat, with small kernels; fruits today are nothing like their wild ancestors. But that aside, it was actually the fat that humans preferentially ate, when they could get animals. Consider the > double energy value per gram of fat compared to carbohydrate or protein. A little fat goes a long way.

  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited July 2013
    A simple hunter-gatherer diet best suits me too.
    Little or no dairy. ( I love cheese but it makes my nose run ) grilled fish or meat,or seafood with conservatively cooked veg and salads dressed with oil and a little lemon. Lots of fruit, honey. The odd glass of wine or beer. Lots of Yorkshire Gold tea...
    If I stray far from that I sneeze and fart and feel lousy.
    Which is not condusive to meditation practice...and not much fun for the longsuffering Mrs Citta either... :)
  • karmablueskarmablues Veteran
    edited July 2013
    Yes, @seeker242, we shouldn't kill animals. I personally am very strict in keeping with the first precept. But I don't believe that eating meat is the same as killing animals either. When I eat meat, my mind is absolutely free of any intention to kill. Also, whenever I eat a salad instead of a meat dish, which I often do, I don't believe I am saving the lives of any animals either. If I was living in some tiny, remote village and I could see that my abstention of meat would in fact prevent my neighbour from killing his cattle to sell the meat to me then I would never eat meat as long as I was living in that kind of situation.
    riverflow
  • seeker242 said:


    At the same time, HHDL says animals have the same rights to live and not be killed, as humans do. In other traditions, it is dictated quite strictly for this reason.

    It's not mutually exclusive to believe and say that all animals have a right to live, and still eat meat. The HSUS and ASPCA are animal welfare organizations that fight for animals to be treated as humanely as possible but they are neither pro- nor anti-meat eating. HHDL does eat meat, though his personal kitchen is vegetarian. One anecdote (the truth? who knows?) tells that when HHDL said his doctors told him he needed to eat meat for health reasons, Sir Paul McCartney wrote to HH and said "your doctors are wrong".
    Chaz
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    Having seen them at work @Jainarayan I can assure that you that HH's personal kitchen was not vegetarian 18 months or so ago....
    I can well believe that McCartney would consider that he has a mission to tell everyone that they are wrong. He has been at it for years. Its what Freud called ' Reaction Formation' it became more noticeable following the death of his veggie wife.
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran
    Citta said:

    Whether the DL says that I know not. Perhaps he does. Perhaps you could even produce references.
    I do know that he eats meat. No ifs. No buts. It is a fact.

    I often wonder why people invoke the Dalai Lama as if we are all bound to blindly obey whatever he says. This not the case. I'm Kagyu and don't see myself as being subordinate to HHDL in any way. I would look to the Karmapa before HH, and even then, my samaya is with my Guru and not the Karmapa. My Guru has given me no instruction regarding diet. That leaves me free to choose and I choose not to restrict my diet. I'm fully aware of health issues and I don't care much about the ethical ones. It's my karma, and I'll deal with that as my guru instructs or I feel best.

    Period.

  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran

    One anecdote (the truth? who knows?) tells that when HHDL said his doctors told him he needed to eat meat for health reasons, Sir Paul McCartney wrote to HH and said "your doctors are wrong".

    And, of course, Sir Paul is far more knowledgeable than HHDL's physicians. If Paul says S##t we should all squat.

    vinlynkarmabluesKundo
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