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Response (1) to "The Invisible Conveyor Belt of Meat & Murder"

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  • NamoAmituofo
    ... Response to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheDailyEnlightenment/message/547 ... Response (1) to The Invisible Conveyor Belt of Meat & Murder This is an
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 20, 2006
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      Response to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheDailyEnlightenment/message/547
      Response (1) to "The Invisible Conveyor Belt of Meat & Murder"



       
      This is an informal dialogue between a TDE-Reader and the TDEditor -

      Beginning of Part 1:

      TR: Dear Daily Enlightenment, This is a comment to the piece entitled "The Invisible Conveyor Belt of Meat & Murder," published in TheDailyEnlightenment.com Weekly on September 29, 2006.  My understanding is that the Buddha allowed the consumption of meat purchased at the market, by monks, by laypeople and himself.   

      SS: Can you help to locate any sutta quote where the Buddha taught the above? We need to note that one of the definitions of Wrong Livelihood in Buddhism involves the slaughtering of animals. And this trade is only possible when there are buyers of slaughtered animals. In this sense, even if there was no objection against buying post-butchered meat at the market, surely, the Buddha does not encourage the continual support of any trades founded upon violence to sentient beings. The article "The Invisible Conveyor Belt of Meat & Murder" thus discusses the deeper implications of what constitutes "not suspecting an animal was slaughtered for the consumer". If every consumer assumes blamelessness for the millions of animals killed for all consumers, who is guilty? All the consumers, none or each individual one? The article also explores the possibility of the Buddha hinting against the purchase of meat at the market through the teaching of "pure meat". He could have hinted as the masses were attached to meat. But in teachings for the path of the Bodhisattva, he explains to those who wish to further actualise perfect compassion that they should not support meat-eating at all. This is sensible due to the supply-demand loop, as explained in detail in the article.

      TR: Permission to consume meat was not limited to monks begging for food, because the Buddha did not restrict lay followers from consuming meat, either.  
       

      SS: As mentioned, in the Mahayana, the Buddha taught against meat-eating for those who wish not to harm any being directly or indirectly.

      TR:
      The Buddha himself allowed meat to be purchased at market for his own consumption.   

      SS: Can you help to locate a sutta quote where the Buddha taught the above? To illustrate the problem of regular meat purchasing, let's imagine a person called Tom. Because chicken is his favourite meat, Tom buys fried chicken everyday from the same fast-food restaurant. Because of this, Tom supports the slaughter of chicken everyday. We can't say no chicken was ever slaughtered for Tom, even if indirectly, because he buys slaughtered chickens everyday. The Buddha surely does not encourage the harming of any sentient being indirectly on a regular basis. Obviously, the chicken Tom buys is not "pure meat', because even though Tom did not hear or see any chicken killed for him, he must surely suspect chickens are killed for him (and other consumers). In the Pali Canon, "pure meat" is the only meat that the Buddha allowed his monks, and "pure meat", if based on the above analysis, does not refer to meat at the market that consumers consume regularly. One of the only sources of "pure meat" is random almsfood, and there is nothing random about a consumer choosing to support the meat trade out of his own free will. This is a point of contention for some Buddhists - but it is impossible to refute the case of Tom's regular meat-eating being linked to regular slaughter of animals.

      To see the big picture, Tom is not the only consumer, and chicken is not the only meat he buys. Tom, Dick and Harry and millions of other humans are also meat consumers, who consume many more other kinds of animals. This in no sense absolves any meat consumer from being linked to the slaughter of millions of animals everyday - because they ARE slaughtered SPECIFICALLY for these meat consumers altogether. Well, they are certainly not slaughtered for any vegetarians.

      TR:
      The Buddha could have asked his wealthy patrons to prepare any sort of food he wished.   

      SS: Can you help to locate a sutta quote where the Buddha was offered meat by wealthy patrons?

      TR: 
      The Buddha had no trouble refusing meat of certain wild animals, such as tigers, and imposing this restriction on monks who beg for food as well, so he could have refused all other meat as well if he wished.   

      SS:
      The Buddha also rejected any meat that is not "pure meat."

      TR: The Buddha did not attach any moral reproach to consumption of already butchered meat purchased at market.   This matter was directly addressed by the Buddha when his cousin Devadatta proposed, among other things, to impose on monks a requirement to practice vegetarianism.  The Buddha flatly refused, although he permitted monks to do so if they wished.  
       

      SS: The Buddha flatly refused to make it a universal probably because monks were surviving by random almsfood that they could not choose. Many monks today are not surviving by random almsfood any more - even Theravadin monks.

      TR:
      Since the Buddha permitted vegetarianism, he was thinking of monks who were able to practice it, and not only monks who had to accept whatever they were given.  Nonetheless, the Buddha never made any requirement of vegetarianism, even for monks who were able to practice it. 

      SS:
      As mentioned, in the Mahayana, the Buddha taught against meat-eating for those who wish not to harm any being directly or indirectly.

      TR:
      One however should not be attached to meat.  When we are offered a meal at a vegetarian home, we should be indifferent to the absence of meat.  Furthermore, the Buddha said that we should not kill or engage in the occupation of butcher.  If everyone on the planet were to follow this, then there would be no more butchers, and thus little if any meat for consumption.  

      SS: This seems to point the finger at butchers being responsible for all the killing of animals. But the onus is not wholly on the butchers that they quit their jobs. At least half of the responsibility (if not more), of the killing of animals lays on those who support their livelihood, those who indrectly demand them to kill animals on their behalf. It is more logical for all to quit meat-eating in time, to force butchers to quit in turn, than to just ask butchers to quit, when it is obvious that their business is doing "good". Likewise, to stamp out drug-trafficking, the most immediate way is to educate the masses on the ills of taking drugs, not to arrest all drug-dealers, which is difficult, since they have extensive business networks with equally extensive network of customers demanding drugs.

      TR:
      This however does not mean that we should be attached to vegetarianism.  Someday we may be able to grow steaks like we grow corn, and not have them taken from animals.  Animal muscle cells grown separately and that were never a part of any animal.  The technology may already exist.  Imagine the label, "No animals were killed in the production of this beef," or chicken, or fish, or whatever.  Would vegetarians still refuse?  Would any condemn those who eat it? It may be the future. 

      SS: There should not be any attachment to anything. But as long as we are not enlightened, we should practise as much compassion as we can, for the benefit of all beings - unless one chooses not to walk the Bodhisattva path. The Buddha lefe this as an open option. Not everyone must walk the Bodhisattva path if they don't want to. Not sure if meat produced without animals is a good idea, because a balanced vegetarian diet is still healthier than a meat-based diet.

      TR: Nevertheless, the Buddha did not recognize any karmic consequences to purchasing meat at market, of animals butchered for no one in particular, or for someone else, but not specifically for the particular individual consumer.  If the Buddha suspected that meat was from an animal that was butchered specifically in order to give to him, then he refused to accept it.  However, he did allow meat already previously butchered for anyone or no one in particular to be purchased at market in order to be given specifically to him, and he ate it.  

      SS:
      Can you help to locate a sutta quote where the Buddha said he did not recognise any karmic consequences to purchasing meat at markets? It is not entirely true that the carcasses at markets were animals murdered for no one in particular. As mentioned, they were slaughtered ONLY for meat-eaters collectively. If meat-eaters are absolutely free from any connection to animal deaths, are vegetarians even less connected? Are there any positive karmic consequences to deliberately being less connected to animal deaths? If yes, it means there are some negative karmic consequences to deliberately being connected to animal deaths. If meat-eaters are totally free from blame, are the butchers solely to blame, for murdering all the animals they do - for their anonymous customers? Obviously, this is not logical at all. If I were a cannibal, and if I were to mask myself anonymously to buy an anonymous human corpse regularly from a murderer, will this not urge the murderer to keep up with his murdering to keep up to my demands for dead humans? Making myself anonymous does not free me from blame - because he knows someone always wants corpses - me. This applies to meat-purchasing too. Ironically, the faces of meat-eaters are not not masked. There is nothing really anonymous about who are meat-eaters. It cannot be more specific - because everyone already knows if he is a meat-eater or not.

      If you look at the original article again, it mentioned that we don't even need any religious rationale to know that meat-eating is connected to animal-killing. The issue of "pure meat" was only brought in to question what it means by "suspecting an animal was killed for you".

      :End of Part 1

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