Response (2) to "The Invisible Conveyor Belt of Meat & Murder"
Response to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheDailyEnlightenment/message/547
Response (2) to "The Invisible Conveyor Belt of Meat & Murder"This is an informal dialogue between a TDE-Reader and the TDEditor -
Beginning of Part 2:
TR: I would also be interested to see the Mahayana passage which you say supports universal vegetarianism
SS: Pls see the chapter on meat-eating in the Lankavatara Sutra ( http://www.moonpointer.com/bvf.php?itemid=385 ), read the Shurangama Sutra ( http://www.moonpointer.com/bvf.php?itemid=384 ), and the Mahayana Brahma Net Sutra for Bodhisattva precepts ( http://www.moonpointer.com/bvf.php?itemid=392 ) See also www.moonpointer.com/bvf.php for other quotes. It does not say everyone must universally be vegetarians - but that those aspiring the Bodhisattva path should.
TR: I am not in any way saying that it is wrong to choose vegetarianism if one wishes, and it may indeed be beneficial for certain people for certain purposes at certain times, but I have seen nothing where the Buddha says it is necessary for everyone. The Buddha himself was vegetarian at one time.
SS: When? You mean he ate meat for every other meal? Any sutta quote on this? Nowhere in the article was it mentioned that the Buddha was vegetarian, but there is an alternative take on this - see http://www.moonpointer.com/bvf.php?itemid=384
TR: Vegetarianism may very well help many people focus on compassion, and I respect their choice, however it is not a requirement for everyone.
SS: The Buddha never made any requirments for everyone. But he did advise base on the individual's aspirations. Eg. Practising Bodhisattvas should be vegetarians - unless there are very good reasons not to be.
TR: As far as I know the Buddha himself ate meat.
SS: It was nowhere mentioned in the article that the Buddha did not eat meat. He ate "pure meat" only. Is consumer meat the same? Does he really have no regard for vegetarianism? See http://www.moonpointer.com/bvf.php?itemid=384
TR: Later in life, at the height of his popularity, he was not at a loss for food offerings. He could have accepted only vegetarian ones, and I'm sure his patrons would notice and offer what he liked to receive. I'll look for passages regarding this.
SS: Yes, please find the sources. I'd never come across any sources that he was offered excess food, or that he didn't choose vege food when given a chance, or that the patrons never noticed and offered what he liked.
TR: If you have any passages stating that the Buddha was vegetarian, I would be interested in seeing them. If the Buddha ate meat, this really should be enough in itself to show that vegetarianism is not a requirement. The Buddha certainly did not have to eat any meat whatsoever.
SS: See http://www.moonpointer.com/bvf.php?itemid=384
TR: The Buddha rejected to impose vegetarianism at a time when monks were no longer poor. The Buddha was popular and his monks received many gifts. Monks no longer made robes from rags, but wore robes made of new cloth. Monks no longer lived in homemade huts in the forest but in permanent buildings near cities. The Buddha and many of his monks had enough food to eat.
SS: Food from? Still random alms food?
TR: Even if they had enough vegetarian food options, the Buddha still did not forbid them from accepting and eating meat.
SS: Please find a sutta quote saying that given choices, there is no need to choose.
TR: The Buddha asked monks not to kill for meat, not to order an animal to be killed for them to eat, and not to accept meat from animals that they suspect were killed specifically for them. What you are saying is that one must always suspect that an animal was killed specifically for oneself, and therefore all meat must be rejected.
SS: It was nowhere mentioned that ALL meat must be rejected. It was mentioned that the Buddha advised only 'pure meat' should be accepted for monks, and that non-random surplus food from devotees (almsfood), such as consumer meat, does not meat the last condition that makes "pure meat".
TR: What I am saying is that the Buddha did not say this.
SS: Neither did i :-]
TR: I understand your economic argument.
SS: Do you agree with it?
TR: However, I also believe the Buddha was aware of this argument when he allowed consumption of meat under certain conditions.
SS: So do i :-]
TR: I do not believe his conditions were intended to forbid all consumption of meat by anyone who is not a begging monk without other options.
SS: Once again, the Buddha never forbade all. It was nowhere mentioned in the article. Previously mentioned that I believe the Buddha was hinting in the Pali Canon through the teaching of "pure meat" that consumer meat does not meet the conditions. But he could have left it up to the individual's wisdom to decide if it meets the condition. As the main article explored on this, it is very sensible (to me at least) that consumer meat fails to meet the third condition.
TR: The Buddha did make a distinction among types of meat, and forbade many types of meat. The Buddha did forbid to eat human flesh. Your argument about purchasing human corpses therefore does not apply to whether the Buddha allowed the consumption of permitted meat purchased from food vendors.
SS: You took the example too literally - it was an example on economics. Do you agree with the example? You might like to reread it?
TR: I disagree that a vegetarian diet is necessarily better than a diet including meat. Either one can be unhealthy. Either one can be healthy. There are vegetarians with a poor diet who are unhealthy, pale, thin, weak, with hair falling out. There are fat oveTReight vegetarians. A healthy balanced diet can include meat and not be inferior to any vegetarian diet.
SS: It was mentioned that a BALANCED vegetarian diet is healthier. So all the above examples you mentioned fails to meet the mark. Please watch this video at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6603580570697459568 for World Health Organsation's quotes on the effectiveness of a vegetarian diet. A vege diet is always healthier because what you eat is NOTjust about you - it is healthier for the animals and the planet's environment, and starving children in the long run. See http://viva.org.uk/goingveggie/index.html
TR: Certain people may do better on a vegetarian diet than others. Certain people may do better on a diet including meat than others. The Dalai Lama, I hear, eats meat for health reasons, because it is healthy for him.
SS: There are reports that it was due to a misunderstanding on nutrition. As WHO mentioned, a vege diet is complete.
TR: If you feel very strongly about being vegetarian, then it may be best for you to be vegetarian.
SS: i feel strongly for the cause - because I have found absolutely no way to refute the facts at http://viva.org.uk/goingveggie/index.html to go vege. Even if the Buddha forbade vege diet, I would still be a vegan. As mentioned, it doesn't take any religious reasons to go vege.
TR: Please do not interpret any of the above to intend to disrespect or discourage anyone from being vegetarian if it is their conviction to do so, and they can do so in a healthy way. Vegetarianism is an intelligent choice and a worthy cause. It is not a requirement in order to achieve enlightenment, nor was it followed by the Buddha.
SS: Can you find a single story in the Jataka tales where the Buddha as a Bodhisattva ate meat? He even cut his own meat (flesh) to feed a bird about to feast on the meat of a smaller bird.
TR: I do not agree with trying to argue that killing plants for food (and in the process of farming, killing insects) is equivalent to killing animals, thus making vegetarians seem similar to animal butchers.
SS: Eating meat requires about 50 times more pesticides in the process of creating crops to feed animals humans feed upon.
TR: However, I also do not agree with trying to equate the purchase of already dead meat of certain animals with the murder of humans. This is what you are doing.
SS: There was no equating. What done was to put considerable responsibility for butchers' slaughtering on the consumers who are their customers.
TR: I have done some further research... The Nipata Sutta underlines this point when it says that it is immorality that makes one impure (morally and spiritually), not the eating of meat. The Buddha is often described as eating meat, he recommended meat broth as a cure for certain types of illness and advised monks for practical reasons, to avoid certain types of meat, implying that other types were quite acceptable."
SS: "What you eat cannot purify your mind - but is there greed behind your choice of eating? If yes, the mind that eats is not pure - be your choice vegetarian or not. " - stonepeace. You will realise that most people are not vegetarians because they are attached to the taste of meat - which thus makes their diet not pure - because it is based on greed.
TR: Meat broth for illness is mentioned in Nissaggiya Pacittiya 5. Another source claims that accepting 'impure' meat was a relatively minor offence, whereas accepting money was a major offence for a monk.
SS: An offence is an offence, big or small.
TR: From an article:
"Nevertheless, it does seem at least according to the Pali texts that the Buddha and his followers did eat meat so long as certain conditions were met. These conditions were that a monk should not have seen, heard, nor have any reason to suspect, that the meat was from an animal killed specifically for him. If these three conditions were met then the meat was said to be blameless. There are some four references to the blamelessness of eating meat-once in both the Majjhima and Anguttara Nikayas, and twice in the Vinaya. However, for a householder to have an animal killed in order to feed a monk was reckoned to result in great demerit. In the Sutta Nipata a previous Buddha, Kassapa, is admonished by a brahmin for eating stinking meat. Kassapa replies with a long list of unskilful mental states and declares that such are stench, not the eating of meat. There is also the notion from the Vinaya that meat and fish are excellent food for those who are ill. Interestingly, in the Chinese equivalents to the Majjhima and Anguttara Nikayas, the sutras dealing with the blamelessness of eating meat are absent."
SS: If there are choices of vegan medicine, why not go for them? Why should we base our health on the deaths of others? The Buddha would surely agree to the kinder alternative - if it is available.
TR: Interestingly, this author goes on to ignore this part of his own writing and argue meat eating is unethical.
SS: What did he say that you disagree with?
TR: If the Buddha ate meat, then shouldn't this be enough to show that he was not attaching blame to it? The Buddha did not have to accept anything that was offered, he had more than enough offers to chose from, and could have selected vegetarian dishes only. The sutras outlined above indicate the Buddha had no problem with eating meat under the right conditions.
SS: See previous comments above
TR: The Amagandha Sutta quoted in the Wikipedia article below specifically separates the eating of meat from "taking life," as not being the same.
SS: It was not mentioned it is the same. Swallowing a carcass is never the same as making a sentient being a carcass.
TR: Now, I have just read the wikipedia article below, which outlines the Mahayana passages on vegetarianism. I understand the difficulty much better now. If you believe the Mahayana sutras on vegetarianism are authentic, then that is your religious belief and I cannot argue with that. I respect your belief.
SS: Am never for blind adherence to scriptures. As mentioned, the vege choice of life needs not be informed by the Buddha.
TR: All I can say is that I doubt these sutras which condemn meat-eating of any sort. It does not sound like the Buddha, it sounds like Devadatta.
SS: The "sound" of it aside. Do you find the teachings logical? Try to listen to the message more than its tone. To me, it sounds like Devadatta when refuting that to perfect compassion as a practising Bodhisattva, it is alright to have no qualms about buying freshly killed meat at the market everyday. We need to remember that the Mahayana teachings focus on the perfection of compassion in direct and indirect ways. Seeing this, there are NO contradictions between the Theravada and Mahayana teachings on meat-eating. In the Theravada contect, those with greater compassion and wisdom might see that the criteria for "pure meat" is failed when it comes to consumer meat, while some might not. The Buddha should be fine with that. But when he was teaching to those who want to minimise harming any being directly or not, he is firm on the evils of meat-eating.
TR: Why is there no other mention of such extreme vegetarianism in many other texts that are regarded as authentic?
SS: The different Buddhist traditions are different - that's why they are different traditions - with different audiences and focus. The Mahayana sutras are more firm in ethical aspects for the benefits of those who want to perfect compassion to all beings.
TR: And to accept these passages would mean that the texts reporting the Buddha acceptance of meat eating, and himself eating meat, must be regarded as false; they are expressly declared to be false in the passages.
SS: As above, no contradiction.
TR: What you are doing is taking the teaching about whether one suspects that an animal was killed for oneself in particular, and using it to apply to whenever one suspects that meat is from an animal killed for any consumers of meat in general.
SS: Yes, why not? The Buddha did not give any other key criteria on comsumer meat to lay people in the Pali Canon. Is it not okay to apply the rule of "pure meat" to them too?
TR: The Mahayana text itself declares the teaching (about suspecting that an animal was killed for oneself in particular) to be false.
SS: False because it was a provisional teaching, false because it was not ultimate for the path to Buddhahood. Bodhisattvas aspire to save, not eat beings. It is actually hypocritical to wish all beings to be well and happy while devouring some of these beings everyday, while thinking one is TOTALLY blameless, as one happily buys meat off the racks.
TR: You cannot believe the Mahayana text to be true and the teaching about "suspect" meat to be true as well, because the Mahayana text declares the teaching about "suspect" meat to be false.
SS: Really? Thus, the individual can choose to use the non-dogmatic approach to see which makes more sense. http://viva.org.uk/goingveggie/index.html gives me enough reasons to choose.
TR: The reason why the Mahayana text declares the teaching about "suspect meat" to be false is because the Mahayana text recognizes that the teaching about "suspect" meat allows the consumption of meat.
SS: The Mahayana also allows meat-eating - but with 5 conditions, not three. See the Surangama Sutra link above.
TR: Even the Mahayana text recognizes that the correct meaning of the teaching about "suspect" meat allows the consumption of meat -that is why it is rejected as false. Could it be because many justified against their suspicions of consumer meat being killed for them, the consumers? So, if you believe the Mahayana text, then the teaching about "suspect" meat is false because it allows the consumption of meat.
SS: You need to see the 5 conditions to know that they encompass the three conditions.
TR: To say that the teaching about "suspect" meat actually is a prohibition against eating meat because all meat is suspect goes against both the interpretation of the passages teaching about "suspect" meat allowing meat consumption and the Mahayana text itself. The teaching about "suspect" meat was permission to eat meat, and the basis upon which the Buddha himself ate meat. Whether it is true or false depends upon which of the sutras are true or false.
SS: It was never mentioned that "suspect meat" means ALL meat cannot be eaten. There are many other forms of non-suspect meat other than random almsfood. See www.moonpointer.com/vege
TR: Even if the teaching about "suspect" meat allows the blameless consumption of meat purchased at market, with no karmic consequences, this in no way diminishes the respect toward the choice of vegetarianism.
SS: Of course :-] But if vegetarianism is respected more that meat-eating, why not go vegetarian?
TR: If all available meat for consumption were to disappear, I would not harbor an attachment to it. We may actually be called upon to be vegetarian, I just do not believe it is based upon the "suspect" meat teaching, which describes the conditions under which the Buddha himself ate meat.
SS: The only way to affirm to yourself, all animals and the world that you will not harbour attachment to meat is to go vegetarian. Otherwise, it is just speculation. Honestly, I would see that as probably subtle attachment to meat, which is why one still orders meat when one can choose not to feed the economics of murder.
TR: If however, you believe that the Buddha did not eat meat and that the "suspect" meat teaching, describing the situations under which the Buddha ate meat, was false, then I understand where you are coming from. I don't know if I agree, but in that case I understand you. I will consider it and meditate upon it.
SS: Thank you, on the behalf of the voiceless animals. May all beings free animals from the slaughterhouse by freeing them from their diet. There is simply no more efficient way to stop murder of animals. Do you agree? If you do, I sincerely hope you follow your heart and make the better decision, with or without refering to the Buddha's words.
TR: I hope that I have been respectful, and ask your forgiveness for any mistakes.
SS: Let me conclude with the opening quote of the main article, from the Buddha-
If a person does not harm any living being
and does not kill or cause others to kill -that person is a true spiritual practitioner. -The Buddha (Dhammapada)
It is my firm belief that consumers collectively are the causes of "others" to murder animals. If not, who? Ghosts? :-]
:End of Part 2