Author Topic: Vegetarianism in Buddhism  (Read 633 times)

Offline billyhalim

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Vegetarianism in Buddhism
« on: December 23, 2016, 10:14:15 pm »
Hello,

Namo Buddhaya

I want to ask something related to vegetarianism in Buddhism. This question started when I read about vegetarianism according to several schools of Buddhism such as Theravada and Mahayana.

According to Theravada, the Buddha allows Buddhist and monks to consume meat if it is not seen, heard, or suspected as a sentient being is not slaughtered only for the eater. This is stated in Jivaka Sutta, MN 55. There were also monastic guidelines in Theravada stated that Buddhists are prohibited to eat 10 types of meat such as humans, elephants, horses, dogs, snakes, lions, tigers, leopards, bears and hyenas. This is because these animals can be provoked by the smell of the flesh of their own kind, or because eating of such flesh would generate a bad reputation for the Sangha. This makes sense for me but why is cat not included ? So, the monks are not prohibited to eat meat and the rule is also not stated in the Vinaya (227 Patimokkha precepts).

According to Mahayana, the Buddha doesn't allow his followers not to eat any kind of meat. Even if vegetarian food has been touched by meat, it needs to be washed away before it can be eaten. The Mahayana's precepts refer to the Dharmadatu. It means when you eat the flesh of a sentient being, it is the same as you eat the flesh of a single dhatu. For example, when you eat a chicken's flesh, it is the same as you eat the flesh of the chicken's mother.

The 2 schools have made me confused which one is the right one? Why the Buddha's preaching about vegetarianism is not same in Theravada and Mahayana schools. Is the Buddha who preached about those not only Sidharta Gautama? However, because of this confusing, I take the own way or Middle way, that is, not to eat meat too often in order to save the world because of the green house gases.

I hope the Buddhists here can help me to attain bright explanation of vegetarianism in buddhism. I'm sorry if there are misintrepreted sentences from me. Thank you

Sabbe Satta Bhavantu Sukhitatta. I hope all sentient beings can live happily.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2016, 10:17:46 pm by billyhalim »

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: Vegetarianism in Buddhism
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2016, 04:48:08 am »
Hi, billyhalim:  You wrote:
Quote
"The 2 schools have made me confused which one is the right one? "

Your question is a very good one.  It is a question which has been asked for thousands of years.  The Buddha was clear:  "Cause no harm to sentient beings.", which is stated in The First Precept.  How you interpret this precept is ultimately up to you as you will be the one who must absorb the consequences of your intentional actions.

As you correctly stated, Buddha instructed his monks to not question what they ate during alms rounds, as they were mendicants.  They took and ate what was given them, provided that the flesh of sentient beings was not specifically made for them.  Otherwise, they followed a vegan dietary life-style.

Since neither The Thervada, nor The Mahayana existed at the time that The Buddha was alive, neither is right.  However, both are asked to follow the first precept.

_/\_Ron :twocents:
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Vegetarianism in Buddhism
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2016, 10:07:16 pm »
One of the unfortunate aspects of religions is that certain principles that once made sense during the times of the original founders of the religion, in relation to the general knowledge and understanding that prevailed during those times, are sometimes religiously adhered to in modern times despite our greater, modern, scientific knowledge which might point to certain flaws or problems with such principles.

I think the ideal 'vegan' diet which seems to be in accord with fundamental principles of Buddhism, might be in that category.

However, it is fortunate that no early Buddhist texts categorically forbid monks or nuns to eat meat or the product of any animal, such as milk or eggs, because such rules could have had serious health consequences.

We now know that a strict vegan diet is very prone to deficiencies in certain nutrients which are essential for good health, such as Vitamin B12 in particular.

A person who wishes to try going onto a vegan diet should be aware of such problems. One needs to plan one's diet carefully in order to avoid the health problems which might result from such deficiencies.

Obviously, a Buddhist monk or nun who relies upon food handouts is not in a position to carefully plan his/her diet, so the rule that one can eat whatever is offered provided one is not aware that a meat product placed in one's alms bowl is from an animal that has been deliberately slaughtered for the purpose of donating the flesh to Buddhist monks, is very sensible.

I've attached a few links to articles which explain the nutritional problems of a strict vegetarian, or vegan, diet.

Happy New Year!

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/vegetarian-and-vegan-eating
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/08/03/vegetarian-vegan-nutrient-deficiencies.aspx
http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/abcs-of-nutrition/vegetarianism-and-nutrient-deficiencies/

Offline IdleChater

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Re: Vegetarianism in Buddhism
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2016, 08:03:21 am »
I don't  think there's  a right or wrong to consider in the matter of diet.  Some schools endorse it, some some enforce it, some ignore it.  All schools can point to enlightened beings in their respective lineages, so, it would seem that diet isn't a determining factor in path, practice and fruition.  That said, it becomes a personal matter.  IOW, it's pretty much up to you and you alone.

If anything, whatever you decide, it should be genuine - without the taint of self.  This, of course, will be most difficult, if not impossible, for most of us.  Just the same, it can be a guiding principal z something to be mindful of.

Offline Solodris

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Re: Vegetarianism in Buddhism
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2016, 12:06:20 pm »
Vegetarianism and veganism, in my humble perspective, are means of exploring the nature of suffering by investigating what it means to eat the product of other living beings. Meditating on this is a practice, and a decision can only be made once the practice have produced insight. Making a conditioned decision based on moral absolutes is not a practice.

Offline IdleChater

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Re: Vegetarianism in Buddhism
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2016, 12:22:30 pm »
Vegetarianism and veganism, in my humble perspective, are means of exploring the nature of suffering by investigating what it means to eat the product of other living beings. Meditating on this is a practice, and a decision can only be made once the practice have produced insight. Making a conditioned decision based on moral absolutes is not a practice.

Interesting.  Reminds me of what I've been taught about the charnel ground practices  of masters such as Padmasambhava.

Yours is as good a reason as any to abstain from meat and better than many I've heard.  Making eating a meditation is a good approach.  If you have time look into Oryoki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%8Cry%C5%8Dki

Offline VincentRJ

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Re: Vegetarianism in Buddhism
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2016, 09:21:45 pm »
I don't  think there's  a right or wrong to consider in the matter of diet.  Some schools endorse it, some some enforce it, some ignore it.  All schools can point to enlightened beings in their respective lineages, so, it would seem that diet isn't a determining factor in path, practice and fruition.  That said, it becomes a personal matter.  IOW, it's pretty much up to you and you alone.

What you write above is true only for people who are not concerned about their health and longevity. In a general sense, most people tend to eat whatever looks nice and tastes delicious, without much regard to nutrition.

For maximum health and well-being, one needs to address three, broad, interrelated categories, as follows.

(1) The nutritional quality and quantity of the food one eats, based upon the most recent scientific research on dietary matters, rather than the mere appearance and taste of the food.

(2) The amount, type and regularity of physical exercise. A traditional Buddhist monk will usually walk a significant distance every day with his alms bowl. The human body has evolved to require exercise.

(3) Development of a calm and peaceful mental disposition and the ability to control one's desires and aversions.

I'd call these the Three Noble Truths.  :wink1:

 


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