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Thread: Question on the first precept...Meat eating

  1. #1

    Question on the first precept...Meat eating

    Greetings all,

    Sorry for all of my questions, and I'm sure this one has been addressed before. I wish to take Jukai this winter, but I currently eat meat. I do not hunt or fish, nor have I ever done either of those things. If I do wish to take the precepts, should I cease in eating meat? Though it would be difficult for me at first (and definitely annoy my wife to no end), I would stop eating meat if needs be. Thanks everyone.

    Gassho,
    Scott
    Sent from my RM-917_nam_usa_100 using Tapatalk
    Forever is so very temporary...

  2. #2
    Hi Scott,

    I eat meat but it is not my first choice of foods.

    Gassho, Jishin
    治 Ji (Healing)
    心​ Shin (Heart-Mind)

  3. #3
    Hi Scott,

    It is not mandatory to stop eating meat.
    However, let me add - as someone who used to eat meat but is now vegetarian (not because of Jukai though) - it is not that difficult to quit. At all.

    Gassho,

    Daitetsu
    no thing needs to be added

  4. #4
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    There is no need to stop eating meat to fully participate. I'm not vegetarian, and many here aren't.
    迎 Geika

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by ScottH View Post
    Greetings all,

    Sorry for all of my questions, and I'm sure this one has been addressed before. I wish to take Jukai this winter, but I currently eat meat. I do not hunt or fish, nor have I ever done either of those things. If I do wish to take the precepts, should I cease in eating meat? Though it would be difficult for me at first (and definitely annoy my wife to no end), I would stop eating meat if needs be. Thanks everyone.

    Gassho,
    Scott
    Sent from my RM-917_nam_usa_100 using Tapatalk
    Hello Scott,

    First and foremost, let me congratulate you on your decision to receive the Precepts.

    I am primarily a vegetarian, though I do have the occasional moment of weakness (and if someone cooks a meat dish for me, I believe that killing their generosity is a much more grievous offense than eating the meat). As others here have posted, vegetarianism is not required in order to receive the precepts.

    I'm sure that you've seen or heard of the endless polemics on the subject, but even though some sutras speak heavily in favor of vegetarianism (Lankavatara, Shurangama, and Brahmajala leap to mind), the Dharma Drum Mountain Sangha has published something that was pretty helpful to me on the subject. In part:

    Quote Originally Posted by Dharma Drum Mountain
    Perhaps the best attitude to adopt toward violation of the precepts is to understand that ordinary bodhisattva practitioners, meaning all of us, are "infant bodhisattvas." When babies first learn how to walk, they invariably fall down over and over again. However, it is only in this way-by taking a few steps, falling down, getting back up again, and taking a few more steps-that babies do finally learn to walk. Thus we, as newborns on the bodhisattva path, should not be disheartened by the repeated falls, or failures, along the road. Rather, we should know that as our legs become stronger and we learn what to do with them, we will fall down less and eventually learn not only to walk, but to run, skip, and jump! So our attitude toward keeping the bodhisattva precepts should not be one of fear and guilt, but rather one of open-mindedness, self-acceptance, hope, and joy.

    [ ... ]

    Still, it is better to break the precepts than not to have any precepts to break. With our initial vows to keep the precepts in mind, we can repent and renew our vows over and over again as many times as necessary. There is, in fact, an intimate relationship between repentance and the observance of the bodhisattva precepts: by virtue of repeated repentance, we become increasingly aware of the depth of our delusion and grow in our commitment to the cultivation of compassion. By continuing to practice with increased mindfulness and diligence, we can gradually purify the deluded mind and strengthen our resolve and ability to help all sentient beings attain Buddhahood. (Emphasis mine)
    If you view vegetarianism as necessary, transition to vegetarianism. If you break a precept, learn from your mistake and keep going. The Bodhisattva Path can be a long road; if we fall into a ditch we pick ourselves up, brush as much dust off of ourselves as possible, and get back on the road. Ultimately, though, we arrive with each step and depart with each step, not abiding anywhere. It's a pretty good hike.

    Hands palm to palm,

    Saijun
    To give up yourself without regret is the greatest charity. --RBB

  6. #6
    I eat meat... but remember the first precept isn't just 2 dimensional about eating meat.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  7. #7
    Hi all,

    Thanks to everyone for your answers. I think I'll try to eat vegetarian during Ango. If I think I can go beyond that, I'll stick with it.

    Gassho,
    Scott
    Sent from my RM-917_nam_usa_100 using Tapatalk
    Forever is so very temporary...

  8. #8
    Hi Scott
    When studying the precepts preparing for Jukai, there is a lot of energy put into the discussion of this precept. You should look at some of those past discussions that are still posted at Treeleaf. One of the things that becomes clear is that we can not avoid taking life. You say you do not hunt or fish, but if you choose to eat meat, someone had to do the taking of life. By eating that meat you are part of that process. Even if we are vegetarians we must acknowledge that lives are lost in the agricultural industry through accidents, pesticides etc. We must acknowledge those deaths. So it comes down to awareness of what has been given to provide us with the food we eat and pause before eating to contemplate on that.

    The best to you on your path.

    Jim

  9. #9
    Hello,

    it is a good question to look at the reasons for one's eating meat. Is it due to convenience, enjoyment, patterns due to one's culture or something else?

    I eat very little meat and will try to once more to go fully vegetarian in the not too distant future. The modern meat industry is a great and terrible perversion.


    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mognen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  10. #10
    Senior Member Entai's Avatar
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    Scott,
    I've been a vegetarian for about 25 years or so, and it works for me. That said, it's good to remember that something ALWAYS dies so that another can live, be it a cow or a carrot. My suggestion would be to honor whatever life sustains your own by the way you live your life. Not killing includes honoring life.

    Gassho, Entai

    Entai (Bill)
    "Be kind - for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle" - Plato

  11. #11
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    I think in some ways we have to understand what the precepts mean to us personally. We have to decide for ourselves what our own ethical values are, and then do so without judgement of others. For me, I have elected to cut out meat, dairy and animal products from my life. This is not something I proselytize, but it is an important part of my own practice and my own understanding of the precept of non killing. If asked, "Is it possible to be a Buddhist (or buddhish) and not be a vegetarian?" I would say yes. But it is not possible for me to be a Buddhist without being a vegetarian.

    Peace.

  12. #12
    Hi, I think this is going to be a big big issue for me.
    Somehow I knew I would have to face it one day or another.
    Please those of you vegetarians take no offense as you read the next words.

    As you may know, in Argentina it's a cultural habit to eat meat.
    I think we are one of the countries with the higher meat consumption ratio.
    Entire families gather around the barbecue pit. The "asado" is for us the main way to celebrate anything.
    Our culture is friendly, we gather a lot. Many people, friends, relatives, neighbours.
    And most times an "asado" is the perfect reason for gathering.

    And what is worst, over the years, for that cultural characteristic, I became very skillfull at grilling any meat cut, even whole animals.
    Every family meeting it's me who cooks the "asado". That's the place I've built myself. And they are all expecting me to do it.
    Last year my mother in law was asking my wife If I (now practicing buddhism) would celebrate Christmas.

    Here is common for example for christmas or new year to go to a farm, choose a lamb or a little pig and have it butchered for cooking.
    I've never hunted, and have recently quit fishing (which BTW never did it regularly) since I started to practice buddhism.
    I try to eat more vegetables, and have been gradually reducing meat consuption.
    I also made myself recently the vow to never order an animal to be killed as I described above for cooking.

    I'm not sure if I will prepare myself for Jukai, but if I do, this could be such a hard challenge.
    I would love to commit myself more with the practice and this path, but can not commit to something if I am not sure I will be able to fulfill it.

    I think it 's going to take a whole lot of reflection.

    Gassho,
    Walter.

  13. #13
    My opinions -- just a beginner, not a teacher at all, so take this with a grain of salt.

    The precepts are not commandments, and you can never live up to them. But you must give your heart and live them.

    I eat meat too, and vegetables. I also drink. I swear. I also get jealous and very angry.

    I kill things by virtue of living. But then there is also no death or life. These precepts come with a myriad of facets. Each precept is the entire Way in and of itself. And keep in mind, that we can kill many other things than just animals. Killing extends beyond what I would obviously think is killing.

    I don't have answers, but to me the path of Zen and practicing the precepts is all about engaging them, living with them, asking more questions than you have answers for. If you think you have achieved something by meeting the qualifications for precepts 1 - 10, that's not it.

    The cycle goes on, there is no end. There is nothing to achieve, so I can never be ready, and from that perspective I could never take them. But accepting them is like accepting a new path in your life... a challenge. It's a really beautiful thing but it shouldn't be rushed into. You know in your heart if it's right. The answer is going to come from a place different than giving up or continuing to eat meat. If that is important to you, you should. After all, it is your practice. But eating meat doesn't make you less of a Buddhist... or more importantly, less of a human being.

    Just be honest with yourself, your practice, and you'll be ready. This isn't about becoming a saint or a robot. This isn't about living on a mountain in medieval Japan. This practice is about what it is to be a living, breathing, stinking human being right here, right now, in the post-modern, crazy, nuclear proliferating, 21st century.

    It's about how to practice in that marketplace.. this marketplace that is better than our ideals of killing vs. not killing because it is real.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  14. #14
    Senior Member Jakudo's Avatar
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    For myself being a vegitarian is not only about the taking of life, but also about the conditions these animals must bear, the harmful effects of factory farming on the environment, and also the fact that consuming meat is so wasteful. I have had to work in meat processing factory's in the past so I am perhaps biased.
    Gassho, Jakudo.
    Gassho, Shawn Jakudo Hinton
    It all begins when we say, I. Everything that follows is illusion.
    "Even to speak the word Buddha is dragging in the mud soaking wet; Even to say the word Zen is a total embarrassment."
    寂道

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    Just be honest with yourself, your practice, and you'll be ready. This isn't about becoming a saint or a robot. This isn't about living on a mountain in medieval Japan. This practice is about what it is to be a living, breathing, stinking human being right here, right now, in the post-modern, crazy, nuclear proliferating, 21st century.

    It's about how to practice in that marketplace.. this marketplace that is better than our ideals of killing vs. not killing because it is real.

    Gassho,

    Risho

    Thanks Risho.

    That'll keep me reflecting for a while.
    For now, I can see that as I was raised in a Christian environment, I am so used to have someone else tell me evil from good and live on guilt.
    After a whole life of having a finger on me saying "you're a sinner, beg for mercy", I find it hard to trust my heart, my honesty.

    But since I've started practicing, I am gradually learning to see my deeds (and others') through compassion.
    And that leads me slow and steady nowhere but to right action and right speech.

    It's amazing what "just sitting" can accomplish when one gives in to it.


    Gassho,
    Walter.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakudo View Post
    but also about the conditions these animals must bear, the harmful effects of factory farming on the environment
    Thank you Jakudo ... we have talked about this before and I feel this too is important; along side the of the killing of animals. Not all folks can eat a vegetarian/vegan diet (health issues), but one can make a choice of where they get their meat and how the animals are treated.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  17. #17
    From thestar.com:

    Unlike most Buddhist monks, who dont eat meat because they believe its wrong to slaughter any sentient being, the Dalai Lama is not a vegetarian.
    In the 1960s, he tried it for a bit but had to give it up after he got sick with hepatitis, explains Takhla.
    His compromise is to eat vegetarian in Dharamsala and meat dishes when hes on the road and its offered by his hosts.

    He is on the road a lot.


    Gassho, Jishin
    Last edited by Jishin; 08-05-2014 at 11:52 PM.
    治 Ji (Healing)
    心​ Shin (Heart-Mind)

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakudo View Post
    For myself being a vegitarian is not only about the taking of life, but also about the conditions these animals must bear, the harmful effects of factory farming on the environment, and also the fact that consuming meat is so wasteful.
    That was actually my main reason to become a vegetarian (i.e. it had not much to do with my being a Buddhist). The mass "production" of meat is - as Hans called it - a terrible perversion.
    If things were like in the "good old times" I might still eat meat, but the way animals in industrial meat production are treated is unspeakable...
    And there are still lots of people nowadays who don't know what's going on and how the objectified meat in their plate came to the supermarket.

    As Shingen pointed out there are still other sources to get meat - where animals are not treated that way (although more expensive - at least that's the case here in Germany).

    IMHO it is already a good thing to reduce ones meat consumption. Nowadays many adults eat too much meat (some people almost every day). Reducing this is an important step, if one does not manage or want to completely go vegetarian.

    All in all the whole thing is an individual decision and I never proselytize (even several friends of mine don't know I am vegetarian).
    For me it boiled down to knowing that I don't need meat in order to nurture my body, and that the only reason for eating meat (and thus for the death of another sentient being) would be for my personal pleasure/taste.
    I personally could not reconcile eating meat with my conscience anymore and quit. In little steps btw, and in that way it was quite easy to stop completely when the time came.

    Gassho,

    Daitetsu
    Last edited by Daitetsu; 08-06-2014 at 01:57 AM.
    no thing needs to be added

  19. #19
    Senior Member Jakudo's Avatar
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    The Tibetan diet is much like our Inuit first Nation people. There simply is not enough arable land to grow vegetables to feed everyone.
    Gassho, Shawn Jakudo Hinton
    It all begins when we say, I. Everything that follows is illusion.
    "Even to speak the word Buddha is dragging in the mud soaking wet; Even to say the word Zen is a total embarrassment."
    寂道

  20. #20
    Yes, there are many good perspectives on all sides of this issue. We do always take this up in some detail during our annual Jukai reflections on the Precepts. I will post the below from an old thread on Vegetarianism and Buddhism. The historical Buddha likely ate meat if placed in his bowl (although he would not solicit it). South Asian, Tibetan, many Japanese and other Buddhist clergy will eat meat (some do not), although the call for vegetarian is very strong and strict in Chinese Buddhism.

    Personally, I (Nishijima Roshi did too) believe that meat can be taken in moderation. although we should consider the humane treatment of animals and the environment. I believe that industrial farming presents serious issues on respect for life, not only with regard to meat, but also eggs, milk and cheese and the like. We need to treat animals better even if cows for milking. I am not as concerned by a humane taking of life of animals as much as the poor treatment of animals in industrial farming prior to the taking of life, plus the effect of industrial farming on our environment.

    A small bit of trivia is that the Dalai Lama, and many in the Tibetan traditions, are not vegetarian either ... He was briefly, then returned to eating meat for health reasons.

    Quotes on Vegetarianism by the World's Most Famous Buddhist-
    His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama (1989 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate):

    In the mid 1960s, the Dalai Lama was impressed by ethically vegetarian Indian monks and adopted a vegetarian diet for about a year and a half. Apparently he consumed primarily nuts and milk. Unfortunately, he contracted Hepatitis B and his liver was seriously damaged. For health reasons, he was advised by his personal physicians to consume meat. While he has eaten meat in moderation ever since, the Dalai Lama has repeatedly acknowledged that a vegetarian diet is a worthy expression of compassion and contributes to the cessation of the suffering of all living beings. However, he eats meat only on alternate days (six months a year). He is a semi-vegetarian, though he wishes to be a full one. By making an example of cutting his meat consumption in half, he is trying to gently influence his followers.

    "While many of the great Tibetan teachers did and do eat animals, the Dalai Lama has broken new ground by publicly stating his case for vegetarianism. If we seriously consider the compassion inherent in His Holiness’ advice and actions, Buddhist meat-eaters could similarly try to eat vegetarian at least every other day to start out with. Since Buddhists have taken vows not to kill, they should not support a livelihood that makes others kill. Even if one does not have great compassion for animals this would meritoriously save humans from performing heinous deeds. The power of each human being becoming vegetarian releases the most intense suffering of the animal realm—the agony of factory-farmed animals. This profound action can help slow the grinding wheels of samsara, bringing to a halt the cycles of suffering of the entire animal realm and influencing their eventual liberation. When animals are not just looked upon as creatures to fill our stomachs, they can be seen as they really are—beings who have the same Buddha nature as we all do."
    -----------------

    Here is a bit of Buddhist trivia. Although subject to some debate, the historical Buddha (Guatama Buddha) was not quite vegetarian according to the original texts. Here is a summary.

    Monks then as now were expected to accept offerings from the faithful graciously and without question. Therefore, it is likely that the Buddha ate meat, since meat was a part of the offerings he received. However, it's also quite likely that he did not want animals killed specifically for his or his followers consumption. For example, the code of conduct for Buddhist Monks (ascribed to the Buddha) has a specific reference to the meat of an animal.

    If a bhikkhu sees, hears or suspects that it has been killed for him, he may not eat it. - Mahavagga of the Vinaya Pitaka
    Here is a more detailed discussion of the debate about the original texts on this issue, Note that, for the most part, the later Mahayana Sutras were more decidedly vegetarian, although the older Pali Suttas were not.

    http://buddhism.about.com/od/basicbu...etarianism.htm

    Nishijima Roshi (as with many Japanese monks) eats meat and fish, in moderation. He thinks there are certain proteins and such that can only be had from meat and fish, and that we are naturally meant to eat some meat. However, he is not in any way an expert on the bio-chemistry of vegetarianism, so many vegetarians say his understanding of replacing those proteins with other sources like tofu and such is wrong. I have passed the information on to him. I don't think he will change his view at age 90.
    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  21. #21
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    Coming from a Chinese tradition I was honestly very surprised to fine out so many Buddhists were not vegetarians. At first I didn't think it would be possible for me to work with a teacher who was a meat eater. To be perfectly honest it still bothers me a little bit. But, I've come to find that locating a zen teacher that I can relate to on an intimate student/teacher level is difficult enough. Finding one who is also vegetarian is almost impossible. Perhaps there might be something for me to teach the teacher if the opportunity presents itself, if not, I will just continue to practice with my own understandings. If the calling ever arises and I find myself in a teachers role, I would probably encourage those committed to eating meat to consider seeking a different teacher. Because my understanding of first precept of non-killing may be too strict. As for right here and now, I am a simple practitioner, so I only share my opinions on the subject when it arises in conversation. Otherwise I try to keep my opinions to myself.

    Since we are talking about it here, again, I would point to anyone interested the website http://dharmavoicesforanimals.org/ This is a group of Buddhist practitioners from all traditions committed to, at the very least, removing animal products from dharma centers.

  22. #22
    I couldn't finish watching the video at

    http://www.meat.org/

    I'm in deep trouble now.

    Gassho,
    Walter

  23. #23
    Daijo, I respect that view and appreciate your candor. I wonder if sometimes my desire to consume meat ignores the call of the Bodhisattva vows. I try to eat meat that is humanely raised, but it's still an animal being killed; how humane can that be?

    Why don't I eat my dogs? There is no rational division between "my dogs" and some "livestock"... it's the me vs. other. I don't know... it's something I wrestle with a lot.

    These are not easy questions, that's for sure.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  24. #24
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    I just listened to an interview by dharma teacher Dr. Will Tuttle on the issue of a peaceful diet. His position is that your "desire to eat meat" comes from conditioning and indoctrination through tradition. It's what we think, no, what we KNOW, we're supposed to do.

  25. #25
    I'm all in favor of lessoning our dependence on animal protein but I wouldn't judge others on it. Vegetarianism has been such a divisive issue in the various Buddhist schools and cultures that I Tend to respect wherever you are in the food spectrum.

    Kind regards. /\
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  26. #26
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    I guess I don't look at it so much as a Buddhist principle as I do a part of my belief in cause and effect. I'm coming at the issue from a very deep belief that there are unknown and known consequences to my actions, and also to my non actions. I believe that breeding, raising, slaughtering, butchering, and selling flesh for profit isn't just a moral dilemma but it is a negative karmic force. I really believe if I take part in it, I am part of it. Now certainly we can say, well you must kill the micro organisms, and step on bugs, and so on and so on.....but I find these to be A) excuses to defend our own attachment to animal consumption and B) things in which there is no clear and present choice. I am aware that I must unintentionally kill bugs while driving, etc.... But I can make a very clear choice to refrain from consuming or wearing animals. I can live a long and healthy life as a vegetarian simply by educating myself and making the effort to do so. As I said in my original post, I can do so without thinking the worse of others, But at the same time to honor my Bodhisattva vow to save all sentient beings I believe in respectfully challenging theories that support flesh eating. but again, only when the conversation is brought up.

    With respect and deep bows,

    Daijo

  27. #27
    Daijo, I respect that you are a vegetarian. And from an idealistic perspective you are correct. However, surviving in a frigid climate is not a theory that supports flesh eating, it is a reality that requires flesh eating. For me personally, I will make an effort to replace animal protein with vegetable protein. But I doubt if I could ever be 100% vegetarian again.

    Kind regards. /\
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  28. #28
    Hi all,



    Thank you to everybody for the wonderful conversation. I will definitely begin to be much more mindful on my food intake and where it comes from. I do think that during Ango I will limit my meat eating to the bare minimum (though if I know what's good for me, I'll eat what my wife makes, regardless :-p).

    Gassho,
    Scott


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    Forever is so very temporary...

  29. #29
    I have taken the precept not to take life, yet several minutes ago took the life of a mosquito. It had already drawn blood and was full, so it made a mess. That is one of the many contradictions I live. Not long ago I found a big green preying mantis sitting on a planter on a busy street. Kids were surrounding it and were starting to torment it. It made me angry and i stepped in, carrying it on a stick over to a park to release it. I felt a kind of awe, like it was a little god.

    Hunting an animal for food, seeing with your own eyes the taking of life, does not morally upset me. The First Nations people of this country are not karmically accursed for living that way for eons... context is the thing. Modern factory farms will one day be looked back on with disbelief... I hope. But at the same time I have a disconnect and do eat meat...on and off. Sometimes I can't. With exposure to the process I could become thoroughly repulsed by meat and it would fall away. It's amazing how we can live with these contradictions.

    Friendship with anti-meat activists taught me to observe the totality of conduct, not just what someone eats. I came along on a protest once and almost got strung up for apologizing to the manager of a Mcdonalds where they had been verbally abusing the customers with righteous venom. I felt ashamed to be associated with them, even though I feel in my heart that I should end the use of animal products..... within reason... meaning I will do my best.

    Gassho
    Daizan
    Last edited by Daizan; 08-07-2014 at 01:08 AM.
    大山

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Daijo View Post
    Coming from a Chinese tradition I was honestly very surprised to fine out so many Buddhists were not vegetarians. At first I didn't think it would be possible for me to work with a teacher who was a meat eater. To be perfectly honest it still bothers me a little bit. But, I've come to find that locating a zen teacher that I can relate to on an intimate student/teacher level is difficult enough. Finding one who is also vegetarian is almost impossible. Perhaps there might be something for me to teach the teacher if the opportunity presents itself, if not, I will just continue to practice with my own understandings. If the calling ever arises and I find myself in a teachers role, I would probably encourage those committed to eating meat to consider seeking a different teacher. Because my understanding of first precept of non-killing may be too strict. As for right here and now, I am a simple practitioner, so I only share my opinions on the subject when it arises in conversation. Otherwise I try to keep my opinions to myself.

    Since we are talking about it here, again, I would point to anyone interested the website http://dharmavoicesforanimals.org/ This is a group of Buddhist practitioners from all traditions committed to, at the very least, removing animal products from dharma centers.
    Hi Daijo,

    I honor and respect your position on this, but wonder what you would tell the historical Buddha himself who apparently ate meat with certain restrictions?

    And do you avoid the wearing of all leather products? (It is little known fact that leather was sometimes mentioned as one possible material for a Kesa.)

    Yes, Japanese Zen folks tend to some flexibility on this issue. Several stories such as the following are told about Suzuki Roshi. ..

    The two really life changing meetings for me are as follows....The background is that I was a vegetarian for a number of years and very rigid (and quite obnoxious ) when it came to issues surrounding eating meat.So... during a sesshin Loring Palmer who was the head cook, put fish stock in the soup. I got into it with him, quotes I can remember are ( him ) saying : "I'll throw your ass out of here" ( the kitchen that is ), and, ( me ) "yeah, you and what Army?.Reb happened to be around, so somehow I was lassoed and taken up for an interview with Roshi right away, as it was a sesshin and all.I went in , and bowed, sat down in zazen with Roshi, and blurted out : "Roshi, Loring put fish stock in the soup, and we don't usually do that here, and I haven't eaten meat or fish for six years, blah, blah, blah". and Roshi sat there just listening with no sense of judgment or reaction, and at a certain point my batteries just ran down, as there didn't seem to be any sense of resistance or support for my rant, and I shut up and we just sat, for what seemed like a long time (but it probably wasn't .)Then all of a sudden Roshi spoke, and it felt like thunder rolling through my head, (although I'm almost sure he didn't raise his voice at all ) and he said, "Let me tell you something. Your ideals are the death of reality." Then he said, "You can be 99% perfect in this world if you like, or even 90%, but don't ever try to be 100% perfect, because you just push the world away from you, and have no relation to it "From there he talked a bit more, the one thing I remember is him saying something about that he didn't really prefer to eat meat, but when he visited friends who served it, it was just easier to go along with it.
    http://www.cuke.com/Cucumber%20Proje...nis-white.html

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  31. #31
    Senior Member TimF's Avatar
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    I am a meat-eater, and have been doing so all of my 46 years. I plan on taking Jukai also this year, and the thought of stopping my consumption of meat has rarely (pun intended!) crossed my mind. With that said, I am 100% for the humane treatment of animals, and while it is more expensive to do so, try to shop for local stuff (hard to do in Las Vegas) whenever I can, as well as meats that are from farms where the animals are treated better than the disgusting way feedlots and mass-production facilities do.

    On a side note, while I love most veggies and fruit, I am a bit cantankerous when it comes to legumes...I can't stand the texture of most beans, which would seriously limit my protein selections if I were to try and take a trip to the vegetarian/vegan-side.

    Gassho,
    Tim
    "The moment has priority". ~ Bon Haeng

  32. #32
    Thank you all for your comments.
    I've learnt a lot from them.

    As a beginner, I am starting to face the challenges that this new path I've chosen brings along the way.
    I can't become a vegetarian instantly as much as I can not fully abandon anger and greed form one day to the other.
    It is imposible and unreal to change one's decades-long habits in the short term. True compassion is not developed instantly.
    One of the things that attracted me to buddhism, and specially to zen is the lack of heaven-or-hellish, guilt-generating pointing fingers.

    I've grown up with guilt and now I've decided to throw it away, however being honest and compassionate truly as much as I can.

    If I choose to be a vegetarian (for example) it must be after I've "realized" the need to do it, because if I try to force myself, that would be no choice, not a genuine option.

    Gassho,
    Walter
    Last edited by walter; 08-07-2014 at 02:15 PM.

  33. #33
    Hi,

    I love this Suzuki Roshi story from "Crooked Cucumbers."

    "Once when Tassajara, a mountain retreat center, was being built, a carpenter was working on it; he was not a Zen student but a yoga student; he kept a strict vegetarian diet, eating mostly fruit and nuts. He was driving Roshi back to San Francisco, along the Coast highway, when they both got hungry. Roshi wanted to stop right away but the carpenter kept on driving, looking for a place where he could get pure food. All they passed, however, were hot-dog and hamburger and taco joints. Roshi kept saying, How about stopping at this place? But the carpenter kept saying, No let's go on a little more. Looking for his fresh fruit meal. Finally Roshi told him to just stop at the next hamburger stand. The carpenter ordered a grilled cheese sandwich. Roshi ordered a cheeseburger. When the food came Roshi took one bite out of his cheeseburger. The carpenter took a bite out of his grilled cheese. Then Roshi made a face and said, I don't like this. He handed the cheeseburger to the carpenter, and took the grilled cheese for himself. You eat it, said Roshi."

    http://www.cuke.com/Cucumber%20Proje...ields-naj.html

    I have great respect for strict vegans. But having traveled that path myself, I was forced by health concerns to strike a middle way. I grew up on a farm and can readily see the difference between how animals (and crops) were treated then and now. It breaks my heart. But I have adopted Suzuki Roshi's habit, whenever one harms a sentient being, of saying "excuse me." This probably means nothing to those who are comfortable with other positions. But it is a way of continually being aware that we live only due to the work and sacrifice of others. It also implies that I too recognize that I am part of that food chain.

    Gassho
    John

  34. #34
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Daijo,

    I honor and respect your position on this, but wonder what you would tell the historical Buddha himself who apparently ate meat with certain restrictions?

    And do you avoid the wearing of all leather products? (It is little known fact that leather was sometimes mentioned as one possible material for a Kesa.)

    Yes, Japanese Zen folks tend to some flexibility on this issue. Several stories such as the following are told about Suzuki Roshi. ..



    http://www.cuke.com/Cucumber%20Proje...nis-white.html

    Gassho, J
    Respectfully I would say that the Buddha's exact views on meat eating have been debated by Buddhist factions for 2,ooo years. For instance the Lankavatara Suttra seems to contradict the view that the Buddha condones meat eating. Again, The Buddha's views, I would say are still open for debate. I would agree that the Buddha did say, when begging, to accept what is offered. I'm not sure I would interpret that as permission to place whatever I wish in my own bowl though. I also think it's worth noting that the Buddha did not live in a world where meat was industrialized, or a world where people were raised to eat it three times a day. We have to remember that in most of the world, for most of history, meat was a rare delicacy to begin with. It's hard to imagine it would have been offered to begging monks very often. "Beggars can't be choosers" if you will, but choosers can.

    As for leather, I haven't worn it for years now.

    I hope it's clear that I'm not trying to be argumentative or judgmental. Sometimes the typed word it can come across that way. I'm just sharing my own personal opinions on the matter. And my opinions plus $2.75 will get me on the subway.

  35. #35
    Hi All,

    Ive been struggling with the meat thing too. I have been vegetarian and mostly vegetarian before. I always believed that it was the healthiest diet, in addition to being more ethical. Over the years I had developed several auto-immune diseases, was really not doing well at all and spiraling slowly downward. I tried everything, nothing really helped. I started hearing about the Paleo/Primal lifestyle. I did lots of research and was surprised to find myself abandoning some of conventional wisdom about nutrition. Long story short, out of desperation I gave it a try (gave up grains & legumes, started eating more meat, etc.) and I am now healthier than I have ever been, and improving still.


    However, I am not comfortable with the ethics of meat eating. I am lucky to have local, affordable sources of humanely & organically raised meat, and thats great as far as it goes. But Id rather eat as low on the food chain as possible. I think about it every day and wrestle with it. I think I will probably have to give up the meat eating, it feels like the right thing to do. But I dread having all the auto-immune stuff come back. Its a problem, but I hope to find some way to be healthy and also in line with my practice. Working on it. Everyone has to find their own way.

    Gassho
    Lisa

  36. #36
    Hi all, I kept reading this interesting thread, and now a new question appears.

    Would it be better or "more skillful" to go to a farm (one where an animal lives rather free and easy) and get an animal butchered for consumption, or consume an already butchered one which you don't know in which conditions it was raised and killed?
    I don't want to mess things up.
    But I think that if we are discussing ethical or karmic issues, this is relevant.

    Gassho,
    Walter

  37. #37
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    I would say that it is probably more ethical to do so Walter. Perhaps the cow would disagree, but if you're going to make the choice to eat meat then doing so with the least amount of cruelty is probably the best approach. Though I'm not certain it's very plausible for most of us. If anyone does decide that veganism is the way, then I also suggest educating yourself first. Many people just cut out animal products but suffer from malnutrition because they don't eat the right foods. Protein isn't really a problem as protein is found in all plant based whole foods. You could nothing but eat white rice and potatoes (the lowest quantities of protein) and still get your daily recommended value. The problems usually come from eating overly processed foods, not supplementing vitamin b (though eating fermented foods daily will cover you), and not eating enough. So if one does decide to choose a vegan diet, use care to be sure to eat healthy. It's not for everyone, I admit that. But it isn't as difficult as it's made out to be. Most of us face the most difficulty due to our conditioned views that we are "supposed" to eat meat. It's cultural, and breaking from the normal view comes with all sorts of unexpected baggage.

    I'm going to bow out of the conversation now in fear that I'm coming across to "preachy". To each their own. I would be happy to discuss, or debate, or share recipes in private messages if anyone wishes.

    Peace, and much love to you all,

    Daijo

  38. #38
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raindrop View Post
    Hi All,

    I’ve been struggling with the meat thing too. I have been vegetarian and mostly vegetarian before. I always believed that it was the healthiest diet, in addition to being more ethical. Over the years I had developed several auto-immune diseases, was really not doing well at all and spiraling slowly downward. I tried everything, nothing really helped. I started hearing about the Paleo/Primal lifestyle. I did lots of research and was surprised to find myself abandoning some of conventional wisdom about nutrition. Long story short, out of desperation I gave it a try (gave up grains & legumes, started eating more meat, etc.) and I am now healthier than I have ever been, and improving still.


    However, I am not comfortable with the ethics of meat eating. I am lucky to have local, affordable sources of humanely & organically raised meat, and that’s great as far as it goes. But I’d rather eat as low on the food chain as possible. I think about it every day and wrestle with it. I think I will probably have to give up the meat eating, it feels like the right thing to do. But I dread having all the auto-immune stuff come back. It’s a problem, but I hope to find some way to be healthy and also in line with my practice. Working on it. Everyone has to find their own way.

    Gassho
    Lisa
    Be very careful not to put your health at risk. Causing yourself illness is never an ethical approach to life. But if you do attempt to go to a meat free lifestyle, I'm always available for questions....though if you have major health concerns directly related to food, I would refer you to those with medical expertise who happen to be proponents of vegetarianism.

  39. #39
    Hi Daijo,

    thanks for the good advice. BTW, I don't think you're being preachy at all, you've brought up several interesting points. Some I agree with, some I don't, but I enjoy the discussion and exploration.

    Gassho
    Lisa

  40. #40
    Thanks Daijo.

    Honestly, I don't feel capable of turning fully vegetarian now mostly due to the cultural issues I mentioned above, but also other reasons.
    It's not plausible for me to purchase all the meat my family gets from farms like that. Not even a small amount, since there are few if any such farms that I know in Argentina. At least for cow meat. One can purchase perhaps pork and chicken, but it is way more expensive and i don't know if I could afford it.
    So it's fully vegetarian or nothing, and for now I can't.

    But I surely can (and will continue to) reduce meat consumption and consume mindfully.

    Gassho,
    Walter.

  41. #41
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Sometimes meat,
    Sometimes not,
    Maybe, never again
    A bow to you
    迎 Geika

  42. #42
    Thank you all for your comments. This is something I struggle with. I was a vegetarian for many years before I started eating meet again. I'm able to get free range beef from the co-op down the street, but I don't do it as often as I should. Anyway, I appreciate the differing viewpoints in this thread.

    Andrew

  43. #43
    Member Jamie's Avatar
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    I really like Jundo's post of Suzuki Roshi's statement " ideals are the death of reality".
    I am vegetarian but three or four times a year when I am at someone's for dinner and they happen to give me meat, I'll eat it.
    Sometimes I feel like I would kill for a steak, but it passes - old habits.
    I don't drink alcohol but at a friend's 40 th a couple of months ago he was going around having shots of Jaggermeister with everyone. When he got to me, I had one with him. He said it meant a lot to him that I did that. It was delicious.
    I live in a meat eating, alcohol using culture. That's my reality.
    You worried meat eaters should look up Yottam Ottolegnhi's vego recipes. Ottolegnhi's is not vegetarian but he does great vego food, and suggests having a lamb chop as a side dish. The recipes are simple and delicious, and it may be helpful for you to try meals where meat is not the main event.
    Gassho
    Jamie

  44. #44
    The mantras I have found helpful here are these:

    "Compassion is the trump card." Compassion towards animals, plants, the self, and others. I stopped buying factory farmed meat, but I'll still eat the BBQ at my co-workers going away party, and I see no difference in eating meat (so long as the animal lived a non-abusive life) or a plant. Would I if I needed to, out of hunger? Yes, as compassion for the self, just as important as any other compassion. Do I cook factory farmed meat for my hungry, pregnant wife who truly believes she needs that steak? Yes I do.

    "If you need to kill, do so mindfully, acknowledging and respecting the life you are taking." We all need to eat to survive. Do so mindfully, within your needs. Do what you can, take the middle-path.

  45. #45
    It's important to think about the source of your food, whether omnivorous, vegan, or somewhere in between. If you are vegan but eat nothing but McDonald's french fries, Coca-cola, and heavily processed vegan meals flown 1000s of miles from somewhere else after being boxed up in a factory. Ethics and ecology go much deeper than what touches your lips... I'd honestly rather eat freshly killed deer than a brick of tofu. And I was a vegetarian for many years, vegan for several. Sourcing food locally is much more important to me now. I've looked into the eyes of the cows that provide milk. I'm lucky to live in farm country, though.
    Gassho,
    Kaishin

  46. #46
    I dont think we need meat. Im working on being a vegetarian.. Not 100 percent successful yet because Im having issues finding good protein substitute that Im not allergic to.. If you take in the meat it does not digest well and its what I hear can be causing a lot of colon cancers. You are what you eat.?? The screaming of the death ramble of a sientient animal is not an image I want to put in my mouth as a I put the meat there too. I imagine one would be far healthier as well without it.

  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Daijo View Post
    Coming from a Chinese tradition I was honestly very surprised to fine out so many Buddhists were not vegetarians. At first I didn't think it would be possible for me to work with a teacher who was a meat eater. To be perfectly honest it still bothers me a little bit. But, I've come to find that locating a zen teacher that I can relate to on an intimate student/teacher level is difficult enough. Finding one who is also vegetarian is almost impossible. Perhaps there might be something for me to teach the teacher if the opportunity presents itself, if not, I will just continue to practice with my own understandings. If the calling ever arises and I find myself in a teachers role, I would probably encourage those committed to eating meat to consider seeking a different teacher. Because my understanding of first precept of non-killing may be too strict. As for right here and now, I am a simple practitioner, so I only share my opinions on the subject when it arises in conversation. Otherwise I try to keep my opinions to myself.

    Since we are talking about it here, again, I would point to anyone interested the website http://dharmavoicesforanimals.org/ This is a group of Buddhist practitioners from all traditions committed to, at the very least, removing animal products from dharma centers.
    I think I agree almost completely: my "do not kill" is complete only if I do not kill *and* I do not pay others to kill.
    Otherwise, pay others to kill and deny that this causes death would be... to deny karma... or to accept my willing to kill, and I do not want to kill.
    Also I cannot consider to "kill" a carrot at the same level of killing a cow, neuroscience is quite clear about this point.
    I am a human, I *have* to eat life in order to survive (there is a difference between heterotroph and autotroph I have to keep in count :-) ) but I want to reduce this "disturb" to the smallest possible level, obviously respecting my life too and in order to survive with a good health status, I don't need meat at all.

    _/\_

    bya

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