Author Topic: On the impossibility of eating meat  (Read 3812 times)

Offline Chaz

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Re: On the impossibility of eating meat
« Reply #30 on: April 06, 2018, 02:43:37 am »
To experience pain an organism needs a central nervous system, and pain receptors. 

As far as we know, anyway.  There may be other ways of experiencing pain we are unaware of.

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Cows and pigs have these, while plants do not.  So not buying meat seems like an effective way of minimising the pain and harm we cause with our dietary choices. 

True, but I also think that refraining from calling others hypocrites would also go a long way as well.

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Also most livestock is fed on grain, and growing these crops kills lots of small creatures - many more than if you just fed people with the grain, since it's a very inefficient food chain.

Then there's gardening, lawn mowing, walking, driving, and so on.  Do you own leather.  Wool?  Even been to a sheep shearing?  The screams some of them make in the processing of shearing will curdle your blood.

Or is there a circmstance of pain we can accept without karmic burden?


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The plant argument is a familiar straw-man in these discussions. 

How is it a straw man argument?  I don't see anyone misrepresenting your position.  The "plant argument"  may be invalid, but that doesn't make it a strawman

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I think the basic issue here is that some people like their meat, and want to justify it, ignoring Buddhist practices like developing compassion and harmlessness, practising Right Intention, the implications of the first precept, Right Livelihood, etc.

I don't think that adopting a vegetarian diet can or will make you more compassionate.  Compassion is something all of possess to some degree or another via our level of realization of Buddha Nature.  In fact it's demonstrable being a vegetarian can make you less compassionate.  The OP shows it clearly.  I also think words like hypocrite applied to others are seriously lacking compassion.

So, I think rather than calling those without the same level of compassion as you, hypocrites, or refusing to speak to them,  you should contemplate Right Speech.

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: On the impossibility of eating meat
« Reply #31 on: April 06, 2018, 02:55:07 am »
I also think words like hypocrite applied to others are seriously lacking compassion.

Nonsense, I am just pointing out some uncomfortable truths. 

If we choose to buy meat at Buddhists, then we are expecting somebody else to do things which are unskillful and harmful in Buddhism terms ( killing and butchery ), and things we wouldn't be prepared to do ourselves.  That is hypocrisy.  Like my old headmaster used to say, "If the cap fits, wear it." 

In any case, my compassion is primarily for the countless animals that suffer and die to meet a dietary preference, an attachment to meat. 
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Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: On the impossibility of eating meat
« Reply #32 on: April 06, 2018, 03:22:14 am »
I'm quite happy to be meat free, but it's nothing to do with the Buddhism I practice, it's more about eating low in the food chain for the good of the planet. However, as a Buddhist I don't like the thought of eating plants or fungi either, as they are living things too. If anything has Buddha nature, they do too. If anything suffers, they do too. When I walk into a supermarket I see not only dead animal stuff, for which it is too late, but living plants which could be replanted and carry on living. I don't hear too many Buddhists showing any care for them.

To experience pain an organism needs a central nervous system, and pain receptors.  Cows and pigs have these, while plants do not.  So not buying meat seems like an effective way of minimising the pain and harm we cause with our dietary choices. 
Also most livestock is fed on grain, and growing these crops kills lots of small creatures - many more than if you just fed people with the grain, since it's a very inefficient food chain.

The plant argument is a familiar straw-man in these discussions.   I think the basic issue here is that some people like their meat, they are quite attached to it and don't want to give it up.  So they try to rationalise their choice to buy meat with hollow arguments, conveniently ignoring Buddhist practices like developing compassion and harmlessness, practising Right Intention, the implications of the first precept, Right Livelihood, etc.
Actually plants do feel pain. They respond to the environment and even respond to the pain of nearby plants. I was a trained Biologist and, although teaching for 30 odd years at a somewhat lower level, have always kept in touch with latest research and findings. They have their own ways to feel pain, although not quite like ours, they are still living things. The similarities between plants and animals far outweigh their differences, and in many cases it's hard to tell the difference.
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Offline allen-uk

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Re: On the impossibility of eating meat
« Reply #33 on: April 06, 2018, 08:15:04 am »
Thank you for your (mostly) considered and considerate replies.

I am disturbed by the way modern self-styled Buddhists seem to think that, like Flower Power, Buddhism is a 'pick 'n' mix' system of ethics, i.e. you take what you like, you ignore what you don't like, but hey, anything goes, man, so we're all Buddhists aren't we?

No, we're not. The Buddha laid down a simple system of ethical actions which could help lead adherents to a release from suffering. Maybe ancient Tibetans had valid reasons for deviating from the path (in respect of their diets); modern-day humans have no such reasons. They LIKE eating meat, simple as that, and my plea to them all (Buddhists or not) is to consider the implications of killing to eat. Maybe the essential difference is that I don't consider animals my inferiors.

Allen.

Offline Chaz

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Re: On the impossibility of eating meat
« Reply #34 on: April 06, 2018, 09:31:48 am »
Thank you for your (mostly) considered and considerate replies.

I am disturbed by the way modern self-styled Buddhists seem to think that, like Flower Power, Buddhism is a 'pick 'n' mix' system of ethics, i.e. you take what you like, you ignore what you don't like, but hey, anything goes, man, so we're all Buddhists aren't we?

No, we're not. The Buddha laid down a simple system of ethical actions which could help lead adherents to a release from suffering. Maybe ancient Tibetans had valid reasons for deviating from the path (in respect of their diets); modern-day humans have no such reasons. They LIKE eating meat, simple as that, and my plea to them all (Buddhists or not) is to consider the implications of killing to eat. Maybe the essential difference is that I don't consider animals my inferiors.

Allen.

No, you just seem to consider your fellow humans/Buddhists your inferior and treat them accordingly.  You pull your pants on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us, as they say, so you really don't have any ground to condemn others in such a blanketing fashion.

In my case, I understand the implications of killing animals for food, from both a mundane and a Buddhist POV.  I grew up in a "sporting" family where hunting and fishing put food on the table.  I know exactly what happens, in intimate detail, just what happens when a bullet passes through the skull of an animal.  When my wife and I first married, we were poor and supplemented our meat diet by raising rabbits.  Getting the blood of your food on your own hands is a grizzly business.  And educational.  I doubt it's an experience you and I share.  Although I gave up hunting, largely out of laziness and age  and have no regret.  I understand the Buddhist teachings well enough, but can't find enough compassion to stop eating meat.  It's karma I'll bear into future births no doubt and I'm ok with that.

But at least I'm that honest, something else you and I don't seem to share.  If you expect honesty to have to give it first and I think your stance is as dishonest and hypocritcal as people eating meat in denial.  You use the Dharma as a weapon against those who don't share the same zeal as you do, and you won't admit it.  You follow the course of the self-righteous - whose first defense is to hide behind what they call the truth.

 

Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: On the impossibility of eating meat
« Reply #35 on: April 07, 2018, 01:37:48 am »
But at least I'm that honest, something else you and I don't seem to share.   

This looks like an ad hom attack to me.
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Offline Dairy Lama

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Re: On the impossibility of eating meat
« Reply #36 on: April 07, 2018, 01:42:58 am »
To experience pain an organism needs a central nervous system, and pain receptors.  Cows and pigs have these, while plants do not.  S

Actually plants do feel pain. They respond to the environment and even respond to the pain of nearby plants. I was a trained Biologist and, although teaching for 30 odd years at a somewhat lower level, have always kept in touch with latest research and findings. They have their own ways to feel pain, although not quite like ours, they are still living things. The similarities between plants and animals far outweigh their differences, and in many cases it's hard to tell the difference.

So exactly how do plants feel pain without a nervous system and pain receptors?  What is the biological mechanism?  And how would you know if a plant was feeling pain?
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Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: On the impossibility of eating meat
« Reply #37 on: April 07, 2018, 03:13:58 am »
To experience pain an organism needs a central nervous system, and pain receptors.  Cows and pigs have these, while plants do not.  S

Actually plants do feel pain. They respond to the environment and even respond to the pain of nearby plants. I was a trained Biologist and, although teaching for 30 odd years at a somewhat lower level, have always kept in touch with latest research and findings. They have their own ways to feel pain, although not quite like ours, they are still living things. The similarities between plants and animals far outweigh their differences, and in many cases it's hard to tell the difference.

So exactly how do plants feel pain without a nervous system and pain receptors?  What is the biological mechanism?  And how would you know if a plant was feeling pain?
There are lots of scientific papers, but here's a good non-specialist article : https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/botany/plants-feel-pain.htm Of course you could argue that it's not exactly the same, but that is just being rather too fond of our own particular structures. There are even lots of people who deny that animals feel pain as we do.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Chaz

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Re: On the impossibility of eating meat
« Reply #38 on: April 07, 2018, 05:26:35 am »
But at least I'm that honest, something else you and I don't seem to share.   

This looks like an ad hom attack to me.

Well, you're wrong.  It's an uncomfortable truth.

I don't mind a little display of self-deprecation.  I'm a flawed being and I'm not ashamed of that.  I'm honest about it.  Eating meat, drinking, drugs, killing are all a part of my karmic arsenal.  I'm ok with that for this life.  Some of those things may change and some won't.  One thing I am not, is a hypocrite.  I do not pretend to be something I am not.

Our friend Allan argues from a position of purity and righteousness. but he is niether.  He demands honesty but won't be it himself.
 That's bad enough, but he won't admit to these things.

But then maybe it's not an uncomfortable truth.  A Straw Man?  Slippery Slope? Red Herring (are they even in season)?

Offline Chaz

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Re: On the impossibility of eating meat
« Reply #39 on: April 07, 2018, 06:09:42 am »
To experience pain an organism needs a central nervous system, and pain receptors.  Cows and pigs have these, while plants do not.  S

Actually plants do feel pain. They respond to the environment and even respond to the pain of nearby plants. I was a trained Biologist and, although teaching for 30 odd years at a somewhat lower level, have always kept in touch with latest research and findings. They have their own ways to feel pain, although not quite like ours, they are still living things. The similarities between plants and animals far outweigh their differences, and in many cases it's hard to tell the difference.

So exactly how do plants feel pain without a nervous system and pain receptors?  What is the biological mechanism?  And how would you know if a plant was feeling pain?
There are lots of scientific papers, but here's a good non-specialist article : https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/botany/plants-feel-pain.htm Of course you could argue that it's not exactly the same, but that is just being rather too fond of our own particular structures. There are even lots of people who deny that animals feel pain as we do.

I think that's largely true.  In debates over catch-and-release fishing, there are those that make the argument that a fish doesn't experience pain and fear as humans do.  I'm of the belief that while they may not experience pain the same way that humans do, they still experience it.

I think the vegetarian argument that plants don't have a central nevrvous system and so can't feel pain displays a kind of specieism.  You can't eat something because it's too much like us - we have a certain organic system that they do not.  It's an argument I don't buy.  It's quite possible that plants feel something akin to pain, but I have niether the facilities or skills to prove it.  Regardless, they are alive, but that isn't enough reason to not eat them.

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: On the impossibility of eating meat
« Reply #40 on: April 07, 2018, 06:45:03 am »
Philosophical vegans and other herbivores, who condemn meat eaters (carnivores) invariably overlook the fact that plants have many more senses than those for which we give them credit.  They are in fact sentient.  Do they feel pain?  Who knows?  But what all life has in common is that we die when eaten and are absorbed / adsorbed into the metabolism of those that devour us.  Plants consume our components and decompose them when we die and corrupt, thanks to bacteria and mold.  Mushrooms take a part, plants take a part, insects, and worms take parts, larger carnivores take parts including human cannibals.  In the end, none of us is exempt from the need for life to consume other life, with two exceptions:  1- scavengers, who only eat plants and animals which die either from accidents, intolerable environmental conditions, or old age.  2 - Fruit-a-tarians, which eat only fruit provided to them by plants which provide them so that you can deficate out their seeds as a part of their reproductive strategy.  Oh and if you can survive on nectar, then there are numerous plants that will provide you with that stuff as an enticement to spread their pollen to females of their species.

So, if you think yourself superior in some way in the Buddhist context with regard to diet, check to see if you are a fruit-a-tarian, a nectar collector, or a scavenger.

Otherwise, you are no better than the rest of us.  Life consumes life in onder to live.  This is the nature of the samsaric universe in which we live.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2018, 06:47:27 am by Ron-the-Elder »
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Offline stillpointdancer

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Re: On the impossibility of eating meat
« Reply #41 on: April 07, 2018, 08:06:13 am »
The point I was trying to make is that there are no easy interpretations of the 'what can I eat to be a good Buddhist?' variety. You have to make your own decisions, not cling to those that others offer up to you. As Ron said, better to look at being alive for what it is, not what you would like it to be, and then make your decisions. Personally, I dislike it when people are put off Buddhism by those insisting on rules such as having to be a vegan.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Offline Chaz

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Re: On the impossibility of eating meat
« Reply #42 on: April 07, 2018, 12:05:30 pm »
The point I was trying to make is that there are no easy interpretations of the 'what can I eat to be a good Buddhist?' variety. You have to make your own decisions, not cling to those that others offer up to you. As Ron said, better to look at being alive for what it is, not what you would like it to be, and then make your decisions. Personally, I dislike it when people are put off Buddhism by those insisting on rules such as having to be a vegan.

Well said!

I don't like when people insist on "rules" that are largely of their own devising.  Nowhere in the Buddha's teachings are there any requirements saying that lay people, such as us, have to be vegetarians.  Also absent are any requirements for anyone to run around putting people down for not being vegetarians.  So, it would seem that our friends Allen and Norman have no direction or sanction in the dharma to do or say what they do.

Diet does not define the Buddhist.  Neither is following "rules" found in the Buddha's teaching.  In the tradition and lineage I follow, it is refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha that is the defineing condtion, not what you chew on.

Offline Chaz

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Re: On the impossibility of eating meat
« Reply #43 on: April 07, 2018, 12:17:06 pm »
If doing no harm is what is really the issue here, even our vegetarian friends here and falling well short.  Agriculture, regardless of it's purpose, harms countless sentient being far beyond the fields.  If they are serious they might consider abandoning any and all cultivated foods and live on renewable, wild vegetables - nuts, seeds, berries, wild grains, leaves, legumes, roots and so on.  Consume no food gathered in a way that harms a living thing. Plants included.

If they could do that, and I seriously doubt that our friends could do that, I would be very impressed.

Read the book "Into the Wild"  by Jon Krakauer.  True story.  It will give you an idea of just what that sort of life can lead to.  Spoiler alert:  the guy wanders into the Alaskan wilderness, to live off the land, and proceeds to starve to death.  Sadly for him there was no one around for him to preach the purity of his lifestyle.

Offline Amanaki

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Re: On the impossibility of eating meat
« Reply #44 on: April 08, 2018, 04:32:37 am »
To eat meat in it self does not create karma in my understanding, But if you kill an animal on purpose to eat it you will do an evil deed in my understanding. If someone kill the animal directly for you ( so you dont need to kill) it will still create karma for both you self and the one who did the killing.

But the meat in it self is not wrong to eat since the animal is already dead. It is the killing that is wrong doing. This come down to the attachments and how much of the attachments we have been able to let go of.

Is the meat in the supermarked killed directly for you? No it is killed yes but it is killed for those who are not following rules of no killing. Normal people who do not cultivate does not understand that killing is wrong, they see it as a way of getting protains.

And when we go shopping, it is our free will or morality that kicks in if we do pick up meat. We can do without it yes, But  in my understanding it is more about our attachments to it.

 


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