Friday, March 6, 2015


According to Eastern philosophy, humans amass great amounts of negative karma from abusing animals and/or people. Since we can sense, but not see karma, it is assumed that karma is either a myth or a trivial matter - nothing to be concerned about. But the great Hindu saints and Buddhist bodhisattvas inform us that our karma, which we create all by ourselves, is the reason we continue to suffer and reincarnate. We knowingly or unknowingly create our own good - or bad - karma with every single thought, word and deed.

 Karma as the Webster Dictionary puts it:

1.) in Buddhism and Hinduism, the totality of a person's actions in one of the successive states of his existence, thought of as determining his fate in the next.

2.) loosely, fate; destiny.

Karma as the Random House Unabridged Dictionary puts it:

1.) Buddhism, Hinduism: action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation.

Here's how I define karma:

For every action there is an equal or opposite reaction. Karma travels with you; it never goes away and it always keeps perfect score, and your karma has been with you since your soul was created (how ever many lives that is). It is like a guide keeping you in line and making sure you get everything you deserve, good or bad. In other words when you harm others you are harming your self; when you are good to others you get good things in return.

Buddha's teachings warn people who are in the business of slaughtering animals for their meat and skin. These people are exhorted to forsake their killing and adopt a fair and honest livelihood, or else they will suffer the same agony they inflicted on their animal victims, according to the law of karma.

Contrary to the Cartesian view that animals are devoid of feelings, Buddhism teaches that even plants have some degree of feeling. Giving pain to living creatures is not wholesome, and the Buddha was adamant about not torturing, hurting, and killing sentient beings.

Buddha's life is heavily associated with plants and animals. In addition to having compassion for all living beings, the Buddha advocated love and respect for nature, including trees. Buddha encouraged monks to protect forests, and encouraged them to live in harmony with nature. His message of conserving forests was impressed upon Emperor Asoka who protected forests and planted trees alongside roads. Asoka banned indiscriminate killing of birds and animals for food, and he provided hospitals for sick animals.

The commonly performed animal sacrifices in India were prohibited by Asoka. Various non - food animals and birds were protected, while vegetarianism was instituted at court and 56 "no slaughter" days per year were implemented.

During the Buddha's time, animal sacrifices were common throughout India. To appease the gods, animals were sacrificed in appauling numbers with the hope of pleasing these almighty deities. As Buddhism gained stronger ground, animal sacrifices were greatly reduced and the remaining sacrifices were transformed and often replaced with certain fruits and vegetables.

Buddhist ideals and teachings opposed to animal sacrifices were, at that time, considered a severe criticism of this animal - killing Brahmanistic practice. Thus, Buddhism has done much throughout the centuries to save animal lives.

During the Buddha's time, forest areas were commonly given to the Buddha and his sangha. These wooded retreats - such as Isipatana Marukadayavana in Sarnath - were also wildlife sanctuaries. The deer park in Sarnath is where Gautama Buddha first taught the Dharma, and where the Buddhist Sangha came into existence through the enlightenment of Kondanna. Singhpur, a village approximately one km away from the site, was the birthplace of Shreyansanath, the Eleventh Tirthankara of Jainism, and a temple dedicated to him, is an important pilgrimage site.

Isipatana is mentioned by the Buddha as one of the four places of pilgrimage which his devout followers should visit, if they wanted to visit a place for that reason. It was also the site of the Buddha's Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, which was his first teaching after attaining enlightenment, in which he taught the four noble truths and the teachings associated with it.

Although plants are not protected under the First Precept, they are deserving of some protection according to the Vinaya code: Monks and nuns are forbidden to intentionally injure plants.

Several of the Buddha's Jataka stories point to the fact that animals, too, have feelings. For instance, when he saw children hitting a snake with a stick, he reminds them that snakes also want happiness, just like they do.

Regarding vegetarianism, the traditional view of the Buddha's teachings is that monks may eat meat offered to them if three conditions are met: if the monk has not seen, heard or suspected that the animal was slaughtered specifically for him. It has been noted that Buddha would have been pleased if everyone were vegetarian, then monks would not be given meat as alms.

Mahayana traditions view this matter differently. In the Lankavatara Sutra, the Buddha - portrayed as a strict vegetarian - states that not one living being has not been your mother, father, brother, sister, or son or daughter. Furthermore, people should cherish the idea of kinship with living beings, and all beings should be loved as if they were an only child, therefore people should refrain from eating meat.

From Wikipedia: In Mahayana Buddhism, bodhisattva is the Sanskrit term for anyone who, motivated by great compassion, has generated bodhicitta, which is a spontaneous wish to attain buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings.

Bodhisattvas vow to save all beings - including fellow humans, rats, dogs and reptiles. As Mahayana teachings spread eastwards to China from the 5th century onwards, and into Japan and Korea, so did the bodhisattva vow expand to saving plants and inanimate "beings" such as mountains and rivers.

This expansion of the Great Vehicle was especially associated with the T'ien - t'ai School  of Mahayana which originated in China in the 6th century. Of that school, Chan jan (711-82) considered plants and even soil as destined for enlightenment.

Protecting forests, rivers and mountains is logical because these areas sustain animals and humans. Even soil contains countless worms and insects, who also have a desire to live.

Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa (1730–1798) was a great master of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. The root of the Khyentse lineage, he was a tertön, or discoverer of treasure teachings, and revealed the Longchen Nyingtik, one of the most important cycles of meditative practice in the Nyingma school.
Jigme Lingpa said that in the scriptures he had only seen such injunctions as: "I have not allowed, I do not allow, and I will not allow the eating of meat. I have told all the ordained sangha that it is improper to eat meat . . .  From now on, the Shravakas should not eat meat." By contrast, he said that he never came across the Buddha saying, "Mark the heads of yaks and sheep that are to be killed."

Jigme Lingpa Rinpoche also said that the villagers in his neighbourhood would kill large and fattened animals out of desire for their meat, and they would bring the liver and other pieces of meat as offering to the lamas and meditators.

"Alas, these people!" he cried. "How generous they are and what pure perception of the lamas they must have! How brave they are, being able to kill like that! They do not think that killing is a serious fault! They think that their little gift will do them a lot of good and cleanse away their sins; and they think that the lamas can liberate beings as easily as pulling them with iron chains. It's totally impossible! Nagarjuna has said in his Letter to a Friend: [Suhrllekha]

Were I to make a pill of mud just berry-sized
For every mother who has given me birth,
The earth itself indeed would not suffice.

They may have horns on their heads, they may walk on four legs, but they are our parents and friends from the past. People never think about this. They imprison animals in pens and enclosures; it is quite terrible. And when these animals, all our parents, siblings, wives, and friends from the past, have fallen into the hands of their butchers, wicked, cruel men without
the slightest trace of compassion, they tremble with fear, terrified beyond measure at the mere sight of their executioners.

Their eyes fill with tears and they gasp with fright. They think to themselves, 'Who will help me now? There is nowhere for me to run; I cannot fly away; there is only death for me!'

For the Buddha has said in the Sutra of Close Mindfulness: 'Those who kill a single being will boil in the ephemeral hell for one intermediate kalpa.' The sutras say that to make presents of meat, alcohol, poison, and weapons is a negative action, whether directly or indirectly. Therefore it is quite improper to give meat as a gift. Even those who know no other practice should at least abstain from meat as much as they can. May these words of truth come to pass!"

According to the Tibetan classic "Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand," the great saint Pabonkga (1878 - 1941) said it is of utmost importance not to kill living beings. He stated that his own guru was particularly good at making people repent and give up killing other beings.

Pabongka relates: "Although we may persuade someone else to do the killing for us, this is no different than if we performed the act ourselves. If 8 persons should jointly kill a single sheep, the evil deed is not apportioned among them. Rather, each individual incurs a complete evil deed of killing a sheep."

When Pabongka travelled to Kham, he was able to end the massive slaughter of animals carried out by Sog Tsaendaen and other monasteries who engaged in animal killing to raise funds. Pabongka also said this was the best thing he could do in his life for the Dharma.

Comparable to the exalted Pabongka was Patrul Rinpoche (1808 - 87), an eminent Tibetan Buddhist saint. Patrul Rinpoche clearly denounced the slaughtering of animals in his classic work "The Words of My Perfect Teacher." This highly - esteemed text was written as a manual of practical advice for any Dharma practioner: from rough nomads and villagers to lamas and monks.

Without mincing words, Patrul Rinpoche describes people gleefully devouring the flesh of animals specifically slaughtered for them to enjoy. He  relates that sheep ranchers kill the mother ewe when they become to old to produce lambs, while not a single ram reaches maturity without being slaughtered, and anyone who owns a flock of a hundred or more sheep is assured of at least one rebirth in hell.

Patrul Rinpoche compares human beings to ogres because cattle are slaughtered so people can enjoy their flesh and blood. This remorseless bovine butchering, he notes, is done after the animals have spent their lives providing milk for humans. He writes in considerable detail about how a sheep is slaughtered, and how the negative karma of killing an animal is bestowed upon the person who actually did the killing and the person who requested the killing.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche is one of the outstanding living Tibetan Buddhist masters. Regarding great masters who eat meat he stated:

 "There are many persons—buddhas, bodhisattvas, dakas and dakinis—who benefit others, but aren’t vegetarian. Some bodhisattvas eat meat and some don’t eat meat—it is their choice, to do whatever is most beneficial for sentient beings. Their decision is made on the basis of benefiting sentient beings, not because they like to eat meat. They have a great purpose to benefit sentient beings, and some are vegetarian and some are not."

Lama Zopa continues: "Of course, individually we can’t say everyone who eats meat is bad. Many manifestations of buddhas, bodhisattvas and great yogis, who have very high tantric realizations on the basis of the three principals of the path, they eat meat, but they don’t eat it with the self-cherishing thought. They eat it to purify the animal’s negative karma, so that animal has a good rebirth, meets the Dharma in future lives, is reborn in a pure land, and achieves enlightenment as quickly as possible. So it is done to benefit the animals. When it comes to the individual person like that, it is a great, great, great blessing."


Venerable Hsuan Hua founded the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, located in Ukiah, California. A devout vegetarian, in 1979 Master Hua gave a discourse on the horrors of taking lives and eating meat. Visit:

Much of what Western societies believe about animals can be traced back to the ancient Greeks, Romans and various interpretations of the Bible. About the time Buddha reached full enlightenment, ancient Greek philosophers believed that Greek men were superior to all other humans and animals. In Eastern cultures, animals are given much more consideration than Western societies give them, although animal cruelty has always been a universal scourge. Animal cruelty exists for two main reasons: it provides income and/or it provides pleasure.

To a Buddhist or Hindu, it makes perfect sense not to kill animals. In Western societies, animal cruelty is considered an unavoidable fact of life, and in some instances, cruelty to animals is a preferred lifestyle. Yet, virtually all of this mass exploitation is unnecessary. Not a single slaughterhouse, fur coat, hunting season or rodeo do we need. This entire man-made cornucopia of massive butchering, suffering and subsequent bad karma is totally unnecessary.

Unlike the Judeo-Christian tradition, Buddhism affirms the unity of all living beings, all equally posses the Buddha-nature, and all have the potential to become Buddhas, that is, to become fully and perfectly enlightened. Among the sentient, there are no second-class citizens. According to Buddhist teachings, human beings do not have a privileged, special place above and beyond that of the rest of life. The world is not a creation specifically for the benefit and pleasure of human beings. Furthermore, in some circumstances in accordance with their karma, humans can be reborn as animals and animals can be reborn as humans.

In Buddhism the most fundamental guideline for conduct is ahimsa: the prohibition against the bringing of harm and/or death to any living being. Why should one refrain from killing? It is because all beings have lives; they love their lives and do not wish to die. Even one of the smallest creatures, the mosquito, when it approaches to bite you, will fly away if you make the slightest motion. Why does it fly away? Because it fears death. It figures that if it drinks your blood, you will take its life. . . . We should nurture compassionate thought.

Since we wish to live, we should not kill any other living being. Furthermore, the karma of killing is understood as the root of all suffering and the fundamental cause of sickness and war, and the forces of killing are explicitly identified with the demonic. The highest and most universal ideal of Buddhism is to work unceasingly for permanent end to the suffering of all living beings, not just humans.

Closely related to karma is the idea of not harming living beings. For instance, even by vegan standards, the Jains are very scrupulous about not harming sentient beings. Jains, for example, promoted the idea of ahimsa, which means "nonharming." They would (and still do) wear facial masks to prevent unfortunate insects from flying into their mouth, and they walk barefooted to prevent stepping on insects.

Buddha's emphasis was on avoiding intentional harming and killing. Therefore, it would be worse to swat a fly than to eat a dead animal.

According to the Jains, whether a person has the intention to kill or not does not make any difference, because the act is the same - intent has nothing to do with consequences.

Buddha thought the opposite and placed a premium on intention. Doing something in ignorance does not have the same effect as an action performed with intent. Along with this line of logic come notions related to intention: the sense of deliberateness with which one does something, the degree of planning and premeditation. Buddha was very clear on the importance of these factors, and many Western scholars have praised him for bringing this idea fully into view.

The Buddha generally agreed with the Jains on ideas of rebirth and non - violence, but their theory on karma was seen as too rigid. While it may be virtually impossible to go through life without stepping on a single ant, Jains have at least put much effort into minimizing animal suffering.

The traditional view of Buddha's teachings is that he allowed monks to eat "blameless" meat, which means the monk had not seen, heard or suspected an animal was killed specifically for him. Since monks lived off alms, they should not pick and choose food that was acceptable, or deprive laypeople of the good karma of donating food to monastics.

Regarding laypeople, killing animals to give their meat as alms generates bad karma, because of the pain and distress inflicted upon the animals. Buddhism's "right livelihood" prohibits "trading in flesh," as applies to butchers, hunters and fishermen. No serious Buddhist would engage in these occupations, and in Buddhist societies, butchers are commonly non - Buddhists.

In the Mahayana, the Lankavatara Sutra states that Buddha did not allow "blameless meat"  for monks, and the sutra takes a strong stance against meat - eating. The sutra postulates that all beings have been relatives in a previous life; meat smells bad; eating it hinders meditation and causes bad health. Meat - eating causes rebirth as a carnivorous animal or low - class human, according to this sutra.

Many Buddhist sutras, sacred texts, hagiographies and moral injunctions clearly condemn the killing and eating of animals, while these teachings commend a vegetarian diet for "all practioners of the Dharma," including monks and lay persons.

After all, the first basic precept of Buddhism is ahimsa or non-harming of sentient beings. This precept is not compatible with killing and eating animals. Indeed, it was centuries after the foundation of Buddhism that Buddhist practices varied from country to country and school to school regarding vegetarianism.

A well - known Mahayana Sutra, the Lankavatara Sutra, contains ethical injunctions strictly prohibiting the consumption of animal flesh by anyone who claims to follow the Path of the Buddha. The Lankavatara "no meat" injunction is unconditional: monks on their alms rounds are not exempt from this rule.

The compassionate heart, states this sutra, cannot be reconciled with the eating of tortured and murdered animals. This sutra states that meat is an "unnatural food," and all members of the Dharma are advised to view animals as no different from their own children.

Indeed, the Buddha is quoted as stating in the Lankavatara Sutra: "Meat eating is forbidden by me everywhere and for all time for all abiding in compassion." The sutra also notes that meat is "repulsive" and meat "stupefies the mind" while it involves one in the "habit - energy

of evil karma."

Other sutras, besides the Lankavatara, also condemn meat eating: Anglimalika, Mahamega, Mahaparinirvana, Hastikakshaya, and the Surangama. The last sutra states that anyone desiring to escape from karmic bondage should find meat eating totally abhorrent. 

The condemnations of meat - eating in these Mahayana sutras had a great influence in China, Korea and Japan, where the Sangha has traditionally been vegetarian.

In China, the Brahmajala Sutra contains Bodhisattva precepts that require vegetarianism. These teachings are used as a supplemental code of conduct for monastics and serious laypeople, with vegetarian feasts common at Buddhist celebrations.

Before 1872, in the Japanese tradition, no beef was eaten and vegetarianism was required of monks. However, in 1872, as part of Japan's modernization and desire to learn from Western societies, the formal ban on meat - eating in monasteries was abolished by the government.

Buddhism as taught by the Buddha, and practiced by his monks, encouraged attunement with nature: Repeatedly Buddha stated that monks should seek forests, meadows and foothills in order to find tranquility. Siddhartha Buddha himself was born in a park. He spent much time meditating in forests, eventually attaining enlightenment under a tree, and he frequently preached in outdoor, natural settings, since he lived close to nature.

The Buddha made a huge contribution to the idea of karma, and it meant a great deal to him. He absolutely believed in karma, and he taught that he became a Buddha because of his past lives and through the coming together of various causes and conditions.

The technical term "karma" refers to the relationship between actions and their consequences. Karma includes both the actual action (physical, verbal and mental) and the imprints these actions create within the mind. Eventually, under proper circumstances, these karmic imprints will ripen, resulting in the fruition of that particular karma.

All intentional actions, good or bad, matter. These actions leave a trace on the psyche which leads to future results. After the performance of an action, a causal chain is created within the mental continuum which continues throughout the present and future rebirths. Such a karmic potential is activated when it interacts with appropriate circumstances and conditions, thus leading to the fruition of its effects.

This dynamic of past actions has two main aspects:

1.) One never experiences the consequences of an action not committed.

2.)The potential of an action is never lost unless counteracted by specific remedies.

Kadampa Master Geshe  Kelsang Gyatso relates: The mind is neither physical, nor a by-product of purely physical processes, but a formless continuum that is a separate entity from the body. When the body disintegrates at death, the mind does not cease. Although our superficial conscious mind ceases, it does so by dissolving into a deeper level of consciousness, called "the very subtle mind." The continuum of our very subtle mind has no beginning and no end, and it is this mind which, when completely purified, transforms into the omniscient mind of a Buddha.

Every action we perform leaves an imprint, or potential, on our very subtle mind, and each karmic potential eventually gives rise to its own effect. Our mind is like a field, and performing actions is like sowing seeds in that field. Positive or virtuous actions sow the seeds of future happiness, and negative or non-virtuous actions sow the seeds of future suffering. This definite relationship between actions and their effects – virtue causing happiness and non-virtue causing suffering – is known as the "law of karma." An understanding of the law of karma is the basis of Buddhist morality.

After we die our very subtle mind leaves our body and enters the intermediate state, or "bardo" in Tibetan. In this subtle dream-like state we experience many different visions that arise from the karmic potentials that were activated at the time of our death. These visions may be pleasant or terrifying depending on the karma that ripens. Once these karmic seeds have fully ripened they impel us to take rebirth without choice.

It is important to understand that as ordinary samsaric beings we do not choose our rebirth but are reborn solely in accordance with our karma. If good karma ripens we are reborn in a fortunate state, either as a human or a god, but if negative karma ripens we are reborn in a lower state, as an animal, a hungry ghost, or a hell being. It is as if we are blown to our future lives by the winds of our karma, sometimes ending up in higher rebirths, sometimes in lower rebirths. - from Kadampa Master Geshe  Kelsang Gyatso

Buddhist scholars cannot deny that within Buddhist literature there is a definite appreciation of nature and respect towards animals and plants.

Vegetarianism and veganism is definitely compatible with Buddhism. It is common for Buddhist groups today to advocate vegetarianism. Thich Nhat Hanh stated in "For a Future to be Possible" (1993): "Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I vow to cultivate compassion and learn ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to condone killing in the world, in my thinking, and in my way of life." Visit:

Tibetan Buddhist master, Chagdud Rinpoche, stated: "Saving and protecting life creates tremendous virtue. All beings are equal in that they all seek happiness, don't want to suffer and value their lives as we do."

Eastern philosophy is a vast and extremely profound subject. Eastern religions have been a source of fascination, guidance, and enlightenment for thousands of years. To this day, India , Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet continue to produce most of the world's great enlightened masters. Understanding karma is critical to understanding Eastern philosophy.

- by Scott Palczak

From the book "Contribution of Jainism to Indian Culture":

Page 144) The Jain teachings of The Sutrakrtanga exhorts us to regard ahimsa as the quintessence of wisdom. Nirvana is nothing else than ahimsa. Therefore, we should not injure living beings. All beings from one - sensed to five -sensed ones are basically like oneself.

Page 136) 'One does not become noble (ariya) when one kills living beings. By harmlessness (or non-violence) towards all beings, one is called 'noble.'

In verse 300 of the Dhammapada, disciples of Gotama are shown as delighting in non - violence:

yesam diva ca ratto ca ahimsaya rato mano

Another concept, which is allied to Maitri is karuna (compassion), which also is one of the brahmaviharas. The whole Mahayana Buddhism is saturated with the concept of karuna.

According to the Prajnaparamita - sastras, Siksasamuccaya and other Mahayana texts, bodhisattvas show karuna chiefly by resolving to suffer the torments and agonies of the dreadful purgatories during innumerable eons.

- From the book "Contribution of Jainism to Indian Culture"


Buddhism teaches that it is a collection of thoughts or 'seed' of consciousness, not a soul, which lives on after our physical death and determines our next life. Therefore, much attention is given to the idea of negative thoughts, negative speech, and negative actions. Various mantras and practices such as circumambulating (walking clockwise while chanting mantras) holy shrines and stupas are considered important for purifying negative karma. Even listening to Buddhist teachings implants positive karmic imprints in the minds of people and animals.

Most of us are not highly-advanced meditators who can sit in samadhi 12 hours a day - or even one hour a day. Tibetan Buddhism, therefore, places importance on visiting and venerating stupas, reciting mantras, reading sutras, etc. All these practices leave strong karmic imprints in the mind. Animals, too, greatly benefit from hearing mantras and sutras.

Now, when you do any meditative practices, cats will sense your peaceful aura and sit on your lap. Let them sit there while you recite mantras for them. You can also recite mantras for dogs or any animal. Indeed, it is exceedingly rare for animals to come into contact with the Dharma. According to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, letting animals hear these precious mantras leaves strong positive karmic imprints in their minds and in their next life they will hopefully receive Dharma teachings - preferably as a human! The Chenrezig mantra OM MANI PADME HUM is an easy mantra to recite.

Here's an excerpt from the book "The Tibetan Book of  Living and Dying": "The greatest achievement of modern culture is its brilliant selling of samsara and its barren distractions. Modern society seems to me a celebration of all things that lead away from the truth. This modern samsara feeds off an anxiety and depression that it fosters and trains us all in, and carefully nurtures a consumer machine that needs to keep us greedy to keep going.
Obsessed, then, with false hopes, dreams, and ambitions, which promise happiness but lead only to misery, we are like people crawling through an endless desert, dying of thirst."
Buddhism also has common sense: why indulge in counterproductive angry, negative thoughts all day? A rational person realizes that constantly nurturing negative thoughts results in: alcoholism, criminal mischief, trips to jail, drunken tantrums, drunken debauchery, bar room brawls, contusions, street-corner ranting, visits to local mental institutions, etc.

Most, but not all, Christians believe that humans have a right to kill animals they intend to eat. Really? This seems to be another case of God said we can take what we want - so let's kill it and grill it! But how do Christians KNOW that humans have a right to kill and eat animals? Are they on a higher plane of consciousness where God is blissfully smiling down on all this remorseless animal killing? Are they in communion with God, and therefore know how pleased the Creator is to have his creatures butchered and eaten? Perhaps Christians "sense" that it is okay to eat meat, shoot animals, skin chickens alive - but what if they are simply wrong?

Exactly what Jesus ate for lunch and dinner we do not know, but we do know for certain that he was not a trapper, hunter, or rodeo cowboy. There's also no mention of him branding and castrating livestock. Interestingly, the New Testament contains references to people eating fish, but Jesus Christ himself ate fish only twice. There is absolutely no mention of Jesus Christ being a butcher or eating red meat. Because people ate fish in the New Testament, we cannot logically surmise that Jesus was a hunter or rancher. Such notions of Jesus being an animal abuser are impossible to support using scriptural writings. Simply contorting Jesus to fit personal ideas of morality is not true worship, and it leads to inaccurate impressions of what Jesus taught.

For instance, we cannot assume that because our football team is winning, that Jesus is on our side. Jesus Christ couldn't care less about football, and he'd prefer that people did not bash each other's heads for sport. Nor can we surmise that because animals abound, then it's God's will that we kill them. Unless we have obtained a very high level of consciousness - call it Christ consciousness, kingdom of heaven or whatever - we simply cannot be certain of God's will.

Where is it written that Christians must or should eat meat? Where is it written that Jesus was a hunter or champion bull rider? Where is it written that killing and butchering animals is the road to heaven? I can just as easily portray Jesus as a peaceful man who did not abuse animals, and I'd be far more accurate based on written accounts of his life. A careful study of the lives of Christian saints reveals that none of them indulged in animal killing or animal abuse. Many, many saints were fond of animals.

Indeed, untold millions of sentient beings have suffered immensely over the centuries because of ungodly people inflicting pain, misery, injustice and death in the name of their Almighty. Historically, people have rationalized their ungodly behavior. They will use any rationale - religion or philosophy - as an excuse to conquer, exploit, subjugate, discriminate, or inflict pain.

Eastern and Western saints tell us that Jesus was a very highly evolved being, that he was in fact an incarnation of God. Some contemporary Christians claim to have a relationship with Jesus. But how can mere mortals even begin to fathom Jesus Christ's extremely high level of consciousness? Wouldn't it be more wise to assume that Jesus Christ was very decent toward animals, as Saint Francis of Assisi was? Saint Francis was a great proponent of animals, and one of the most highly revered saints in Western history. I consider St. Francis to have been a much greater being than the average person who simply finds the idea of killing animals convenient or necessary. St. Francis was trying to teach people valuable lessons about animals and the natural world we share with these creatures.

The quality that has endeared St. Francis of Assisi to countless people throughout the centuries from his own time until now, is his unwavering love and concern for nature and for all creatures of the earth. He has rightly been declared the patron saint of ecology. To St. Francis, all creatures are entitled to humanity’s love and concern as creations of God. He definitely had a grasp of ahimsa: the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain belief of nonviolence toward all living beings.
- by Scott Palczak _____________________________________________________________________________
The Bhagavad-Gita expounds on the virtues of compassion: "The humble sage by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [or outcaste].” (Bg.5.18)

Thus, a wise person recognizes the value of life, the soul, within all species of living beings. Because he recognizes the soul in all bodies, he does not cause any cruelty to them. Cruelty or suffering inflicted on any living being will certainly cause harm to ourselves and regression in our own development, spiritual or otherwise. Compassion and kindness to all beings is how we make spiritual progress. Is there anything that is really more important that this? As Lord Krishna explains:

 “One who is not envious but who is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor, who is free from false ego and equal both in happiness and distress, who is always satisfied and engaged in devotional service with determination and whose mind and intelligence are in agreement with Me—he is very dear to Me.” (Bg.12.13-14)

Lord Krishna further explains in the Bhagavad-Gita (16.2-3): ahimsa or nonviolence is one of the transcendental qualities that belong to godly men endowed with divine nature.

Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada who brought the Hare Krishna movement to the United States in 1966, wrote in "The Nectar of Devotion":

Page 67)  Not Giving Pain to Any Living Entity

This is the statement of the Mahabharata: "A person who does not disturb or cause painful action in the mind of any living entity, who treats everyone just like a loving father does his children, whose heart is so pure, certainly very soon becomes favored by the Supreme Personality of Godhead."

In so-called civilized society there is sometimes agitation against cruelty to animals, but at the same time regular slaughterhouses are always maintained. A Vaishnava is not like that. A Vaishnava can never support animal slaughter nor give pain to any living being.

- by His Divine Grace Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada



Pg.45) Although the Buddha himself was a strict vegetarian and forbade the killing of animals for food, he predicted that some of his meat-eating followers would manipulate his teachings to make them appear to condone the practice of flesh-eating. Flexible as he might have been in other matters, the Lankavatara Sutra makes it plain that when it came to the eating of animal flesh he was fiercely uncompromising:

For the sake of love of purity, the Bodhisattva should refrain from eating flesh which is born of semen, blood, etc. For fear of causing terror to living beings, let the Bodhisattva, who is disciplining himself to attain compassion, refrain from eating flesh....

It is not true that meat is proper food and permissible when the animal was not killed by himself, when he did not order others to kill it, when it was not specifically meant for him. Again, there may be some people in the future who...being under the influence of the taste for meat will string together in various ways sophistic arguments to defend meat-eating...But meat-eating in any form, in any manner, and in any place is unconditionally and once for all prohibited.
- Teachings of the Buddha from the book "Food for the Gods"

Pg.82) It was from this region (Gangetic plain)  that Mahavira and the Buddha rose up against the Brahmin animal sacrificers and succeeded in abolishing the institution of ritual animal sacrifice that had been introduced into India by the Aryan invaders. Food historian Reay Tannahill credits the Jains and the Buddhists with being catalysts for the spread of ahimsa-based vegetarianism throughout India: "So influencial was the new religions'  (Buddhism and Jainism) anti-slaughter campaign that by the first century BCE, even the Brahmin priests had come around to it." - from the book "Food for the Gods"
Pg. 215) For the past 700 years, there have been two philosophical strains within the Church. they are represented on the one hand by the abstemious Cathar-inspired Francis of Assisi who treated animals as fellow beings with immortal souls and on the other by the gluttunous Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), who in his Summa Theologica treated animals as imperfect beings who could be cheerfully killed and eaten.

Steve J. Rosen: The Aristotelian – Thomistic view has, as its basis, the premise that animals exist for our pleasure – their purpose is only to serve us; that’s what animals are for. Period. The Augustinian-Franciscan view, on the other hand, teaches that we are all brothers and sisters under God’s fatherhood. Based largely on the world-view of St. Francis, and being essentially platonic in nature, this school emphasizes love and compassion and, consequently, lends support to the vegetarian perspective.

Pg. 223) Franciscan Brother Ron Pickarski: Yes, Francis probably was a vegetarian, but I would rather error on the side of caution and say he was probably a vegetarian, rather than say he was indisputably a vegetarian. In the Omnibus of Sources, a sick friar was told by Francis that if he were to eat a vegetarian diet, he would be healed. The friar obeyed, was cured, and went to live a healthy life as a vegetarian.

Pg. 213) Many of the monastic orders, such as the Augustinians, the Franciscans and the Trappists, as they were originally constituted, were vegetarian, but during the Middle Ages, they began conspicuously to fall away from their early asceticism. Indeed, they became notorious for their gourmandizing!


Speaking of Buddhists, one of the world's most respected spiritual leaders - the 14th Dalai Lama - has repeatedly spoken in favor of vegetarianism, and he also favors animal rights causes. A few years ago, the author of this blog mailed a letter to the Dalai Lama (to his Dharamsala, India address), and his personal secretary replied that His Holiness was very much in favor of vegetarianism. The information below was obtained from PETA's KFC website and other websites concerning the Dalai Lama.

In his appeal, His Holiness writes, “On behalf of my friends at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), I am writing to ask that KFC abandon its plan to open restaurants in Tibet, because your corporation’s support for cruelty and mass slaughter violate Tibetan values … I have been particularly concerned with the sufferings of chickens for many years. It was the death of a chicken that finally strengthened my resolve to become vegetarian. … These days, when I see a row of plucked chickens hanging in a meat shop it hurts. I find it unacceptable that violence is the basis of some of our food habits. … It is therefore quite natural for me to support those who are currently protesting against the introduction of industrial food practices into Tibet that will perpetuate the suffering of huge numbers of chickens."

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. 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.

This Thanksgiving, staff of the Fund for Animals are thanking the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, for recent statements in support of animal rights. In an audience with representatives of The Fund for Animals earlier this month, the Dalai Lama commended the animal rights movement for working to end the suffering of animals, and urged everyone to consider a vegetarian diet. Speaking with The Fund for Animals' national director, Heidi Prescott, and program coordinator, Norm Phelps, the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize recipient said, "People think of animals as if they were vegetables, and that isn't right. We have to change the way people think about animals. I encourage the Tibetan people and all people to move toward a vegetarian diet that doesn't cause suffering."

His Holiness also condemned the abuse and killing of animals for entertainment purposes, such as the practice of hunting wild animals for sport. The Dalai Lama invited the Fund for Animals to work with his government in exile in India to help encourage people to become vegetarian and to protect animals from suffering.

The Gyalwang Karmapa is the 17th Karmapa - a great Bodhisattva - and the most likely successor to the 14th Dalai Lama. The Gyalwang Karmapa, himself a pure vegetarian, gave a discourse on vegetarianism:

“When I spoke about this, I was primarily thinking about the way I lead my own life. I can’t really do anything about how other people lead their lives, but in terms of thinking about myself there are some reasons for this.” He then explained two key reasons that he personally does not eat meat. The first reason is the intense suffering that the animals who are killed go through. Every single day millions of animals are killed to feed us, and many are subjected to terrible conditions to provide us with food. Just a few days previously the Gyalwang Karmapa had shared a story of how, as a child in Tibet, when animals were killed for his family’s food he felt unbearable, pure compassion for them.

The second reason he doesn’t eat meat, the Gyalwang Karmapa continued, is because of his Mahayana training in seeing all sentient beings as his mothers. “We say I am going to do everything I can to free sentient beings from suffering. We say I am going to do this. We make the commitment. We take the vow. Once we have taken this vow, if then, without thinking anything about it, we just go ahead and eat meat, then that is not okay. It is something that we need to think about very carefully.”

Excerpts from The Heart Is Noble: Changing the World from the Inside Out - by The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje:

As we look for ways to enact our vision of a more compassionate society, one area crying out for attention is our treatment of our natural environment. Protecting the environment that we all rely on for survival is an immediate way to care for all beings.

We have seen that the global culture of consumerism that has been so devastating to our planet stems from an emotional force that creeps into human hearts - the force of greed. In that and other ways, human attitudes and feelings are causing large-scale destruction of our physical environment. Therefore our efforts to protect the environment are best effected by making changes to our attitudes and feeling.

In recent years, we have gained a great deal of information about the impact of our actions on the environment. We humans beings have tremendous intelligence, but it is clear that there remains a big gap between the brain and the heart.

There are ways of thinking about the earth that go beyond just acquiring knowledge, and actually lead us to feel deeply for our physical environment. A sense of wonder and appreciation of the earth's beauty is a helpful place to start in developing strong feelings about the environment. I found great affinities between the study of the environment and Buddhism. Each helped deepen my understanding of the other; each enlivened my feeling for the other.

I have noticed that sometimes people speak of our planet as a thing. This attitude will not lead to the feelings of closeness and affection that would move us to take care of the earth. As we know, the earth is not a dead rock floating in space. It is a living system, in itself as a whole and in each and every part. I do not see the earth as an inanimate object - a lump of stone. I think of it as being alive. Sitting on the earth, I feel that I am resting on my mother's lap. It is thanks to her that everything exists. In this way, we could easily think of the earth as a goddess - a living, breathing, and constantly living goddess.

Compassion is central to environmental protection because it moves us to act to cherish and care for others. Caring for the environment is an important way to care for all beings that depend on it for their existence. Compassion involves more than simply knowing about a difficult situation.

Karmapa: Vegetarianism from the Heart

Even witnessing pain directly does not necessarily prompt a reaction of compassion. I observed this for myself once while watching a documentary in which animals were being hung upside down to be slaughtered. As their throats were cut, blood spurted out and their legs jerked in terror and pain. It was extremely hard to watch - unbearable, really. But as the butchers sawed through the animals' necks to deprive them of life, the men were laughing and joking.

They could obviously see the animals' painful movements and hear their cries - the suffering was visible and audible - but they did not seem to recognize that these were signs of terrible pain. And even if the butchers did see that they were inflicting pain, the animals' suffering didn't amount to anything. They treated it as if they were watching a show.

In fact, some people even kill animals as a form of recreation. Hunting is considered a sport in some cultures, isn't it? Some people seem to believe it is courageous to kill animals. Unfortunately, nowadays we have developed the wrong kind of fearlessness - fearlessness in harming others. At some point, this "courage" in harming others is bound to turn on us. As people become habituated to taking the lives of animals with no thought for the pain they are causing, in the end it becomes easy to harm and kill humans. Even the pain of our fellow human beings can cease to catch our attention.

The real courage that comes from compassion is very far from this. When compassion is present, we do not overlook others' pain. Rather, there is a sense of urgency to end that pain, as if a fire has just been lit underneath you. When you have such compassion, as soon as you see suffering, you wish to jump up and act to end it at once. You have no fear and no hesitation in taking on the suffering of other people, animals, and even the planet itself. This is what I would call the right kind of fearlessness. This is the fearlessness of true heroes.

The fact that you have affection for your family members or pets is due to the compassion and love that is already within you. Even your wish to tend the garden outside your window is an example of love and caring.

Karmapa on Reasons for Vegetarianism - from "The Heart is Noble"

Vegetarianism involves many ethical issues, but it is also an issue of environmental protection. Our reliance on meat is a major cause of climate change, deforestation, and pollution. There is no shortage of facts to demonstrate this to us. Roughly 20 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions are caused by animals raised for human consumption. The methane gas emitted by livestock contributes more to climate change than does carbon dioxide.

As vegetarians, we would also make far more efficient use of what our planet offers us. Vast quantities of feed, water, land, fuel, and other resources are required to sustain livestock - far more than what is needed to produce a vegetarian diet. Studies indicate that the land needed to produce food for one meat-eater could support 20 vegetarians. This demonstrates how much smaller our ecological footprint could be just by giving up meat.

When I came to India six or seven years ago, I stopped eating meat. This happened after I watched a documentary about the meat industry. Seeing the images of animals being slaughtered made it simply unbearable for me to continue eating their flesh. Of course, I had contemplated becoming vegetarian before that, but it was only after seeing this documentary that I was moved to act.

Apart from the desire for the flavor, most people have no real reason to keep eating meat.

Now compare that reason to all the reasons why one should not eat meat - the ethical reasons, the health reasons, the environmental reasons. These authentic reasons outweigh all others.

At our annual Kagyu Monlam gathering in Bodh Gaya, India, I said that the best way to protect life was to give up meat. Being vegetarian is a supreme act of saving lives, I reminded them. But I spoke very directly, and made a heartfelt appeal.

To my great surprise, between 60 and 70 percent of those listening took a vow that from that day onward, they would stop eating meat of any kind. Some of those who did so were old Tibetan lamas with a long lifetime of eating meat. I have met them since, and they have told me they were moved to break the habit then and there, once and for all.

Word of this speech - and I think maybe also recordings of it - reached Tibet. After that, we heard that meat sales dropped noticeably in the area around Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. The word also spread to my monasteries and even into the villages. Since then, many monks, nuns, and lay people have stopped eating the meat that was always considered integral to the Tibetan diet.

As I mentioned earlier, studies show that a single acre of land could feed one meat-eater or 20 vegetarians. This tells us that if we are serious about ending world hunger, I think this fact deserves very serious consideration.

We know a lot about the physical effects of adrenaline, stress, and fear, and we can imagine the sheer terror and panic in the slaughterhouse as animals smell the blood of those who were killed before them. When you eat meat, you injest not only the chemical substances that animals are full of, but also the emotional and physical stress that animals experience throughout their lives and at the moment of their slaughter. That stress is also part of your meat.

When we think seriously about the impact our food practices have on our body, on the environment, and on the animals themselves, it is clear that logic supports abstaining from meat. 

- from The Heart Is Noble: Changing the World from the Inside Out - by The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje

GUIDANCE of LOVE - The Benefits of Being Vegetarian and Concern for the Living Being
In this YouTube video, the 17th Karmapa and other great Tibetan Buddhist masters give teachings on the value of vegetarianism.  From the Karmapa: " The Buddha forbade meat - eating in the Kalachakra, and also the Mahayana sutras such as the Lankavatara sutra, the Mahaparinirvana sutra and the Angulimala sutra. Thus there are proper reasons given to illustrate the need for us to give up eating meat. Moreover, if a vegetarian diet is implemented, it is beneficial from every angle; therefore there are very many arguments for it."
GUIDANCE of LOVE - The Benefits of Being Vegetarian and Concern for the Living Being

The Dalai Lama talks about the value of vegetarianism in this YouTube video:

I wholeheartedly support and compliment you on your campaign for raising the awareness of the faults of consuming meat and for promoting a vegetarian lifestyle.

The Buddha Dharma is basically rooted in compassion. All living beings cherish their own lives. Therefore, it is extremely clear that one who is practicing Buddha Dharma must refrain from killing. Not only Buddhism but also many other religious traditions, including Western Christian traditions and particularly Jainism are well known for practicing a pure, non - violent vegetarian path. They gave up eating meat out of their concern for the rights of the animals themselves.

Nowadays, groups of people within countries like China are also purely vegetarian. Previously in Tibet, due to the high altitude, freezing weather and lack of vegetables, we Tibetans had to eat meat, especially the nomads who had no other means of sustenance. Accordingly, the great masters of the past did not restrict meat - eating in Tibet. However, in the biography of Shabkar Tsokdruk Rangdrol, it is stated while he was in Lhasa he mentioned the prohibition of eating meat to the Dalai Lama and his teacher.

Tseley Ngatsok Rangdrol took 3 commitments which were: refraining from riding horses, abstaining from eating meat and not accepting offerings for teachings.

Nowadays, due to the ease of transportation and more favorable conditions, different varieties of vegetables and fruits are available. Since we ourselves have all the favorable conditions, we should try as much as possible to be vegetarian. For instance, I myself gave up meat and eggs completely at the age of 65 and became a pure vegetarian for more than 20 months . . .


The following is an explanation of karma from the book "The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying":

In the second watch of the night when Buddha attained enlightenment, he gained another kind of knowledge, which complemented his knowledge of rebirth: that of karma, the natural law of cause and effect.

"With the heavenly eye, purified and beyond the range of human vision, I saw how beings vanish and come to be again. I saw high and low, brilliant and insignificant, and how each obtained according to his karma a favorable or painful rebirth."

The truth and the driving force behind rebirth is what is called karma. Karma is often totally misunderstood in the West as fate or predestination; it is best thought of as the infallible law of cause and effect that governs the universe. The word karma literally means "action," and karma is both the power latent within actions, and the results our actions bring.

There are many kinds of karma: international karma, national karma, the karma of a city, and individual karma. All are intricately interrelated, and only understood in their full complexity by an enlightened being.

In simple terms, what does karma mean? It means that whatever we do, with our body, speech, or mind, will have a corresponding result. Each action, even the smallest, is pregnant with its consequences. It is said by the masters that even a little poison can cause death, and even a tiny seed can become a huge tree. And as Buddha said: "Do not overlook negative actions merely because they are small; however small a spark may be, it can burn down a haystack as big as a mountain." Similarly he said: "Do not overlook tiny good actions, thinking they are of no benefit; even tiny drops of water in the end will fill a huge vessel." Karma does not decay like external things, or even become inoperative. It cannot be destroyed "by time, fire, or water." Its power will never disappear, until it is ripened.

Although the results of our actions may not have matured yet, they will inevitably ripen, given the right conditions. Usually we forget what we do, and it is only long afterward that the results catch up with us. By then we are unable to connect them with their causes.

The results of our actions are often delayed, even into future lifetimes; we cannot pin down one cause, because any event can be an extremely complicated mixture of many karmas ripening together. So we tend to assume now that things happen to us "by chance," and when everything goes well, we simply call it "good luck."

As Buddha said, "What you are is what you have been, what you will be is what you do now." Padmasambhava went further: "If you want to know your past life, look into your present condition; if you want to know your future life, look at your present actions."

ECOLOGY & BUDDHISM - by Martine Batchelor and Kerry Brown

One of the early Buddhist texts exhorts us to cultivate loving kindness towards all beings in the following words:

In joy and safety let every creature's heart rejoice,
Whatever breathing beings there are,
No matter whether timid or bold,
With none excepted, long or big,
Or middle - sized or short,
Or thin or thick,
Or those seen or unseen,
Or whether dwelling far or near,
That are or that yet seek to be.

Let every creature's heart rejoice.
Let none betray another's trust,
Or offer any slight at all,
Or even let them wish in wrath,
Or in revenge each other's ill.

Thus as a mother with her life,
Will guard her son, her only child,
Let him extend without bounds,
His heart to every living being.

Shantideva in Bodhicaryavatara had similar ideas:

I should dispel the miseries of others,
Because it is suffering, just like my own,
And I should benefit others,
Because they are living things, just like myself.

When shall I come to dwell in the forest,
Amongst the deer, the birds and the trees,
That says nothing unpleasant
And are delightful to associate with.

When Buddhists travelled across Central Asia into China, the vows of the Bodhisattva to help all beings were explained as the appropriate response to the fact that all beings have at one time or another been a parent to us:

Out of his compassion a child of the Buddha must set living creatures free. Since all male creatures have at one time been our father, they should be regarded as our father. Since all female creatures have at one time been our mother, they should be regarded as our mother. In each life they have given birth to us.

Therefore, all living beings throughout the 6 realms can be considered as our father and mother. So to catch and eat any living creature is surely equivalent to killing our own parents and eating our old body? Furthermore, the 4 great elements of earth, water, fire and air are the components of both our own and others' bodies. For these reasons, we should (give life to others) by setting them free.

The 14th Dalai Lama states:

The earth is home to living beings,
Equal and impartial to the moving and unmoving.
Thus, spoke the Buddha in a truthful voice,
With the great earth for witness,
Playing with the lives of other beings,
Without sensitivity or hesitation,
As in the act of hunting or fishing for sport,
Is an act of heedless, needless violence,
A violence of the solemn rights,
Of all living beings.

TARA - Vows to Help Liberate Sentient Beings

One of the most popular stories of Tara tells of her birth from Avalokitesvara. Realizing that he could not liberate all sentient beings form suffering, Avalokitesvara's tears of mercy gathered into a pool from which a lotus was formed. From that lotus arose Tara. She consoled the great Bodhisattva, promising to help him liberate sentient beings from suffering.

From the 108 Praises of Tara:

You hold a blue lotus in your hand and say, "Fear not!
I will protect all beings! I will ferry all beings
Across the terrifying ocean of existence!"

O, Tara, you are bright, with beautiful eyes, joy of starlight,
Full of pity for all beings, savior of all beings;
Look down, gaze on all beings as your children.

Another legend has it that once, many eons ago during the time of Buddha Dundubhisvara, there lived a princess by the name of "Moon of Wisdom-knowledge" or "Moon of Primordial Wisdom" (Jnanacandra). In Tibetan she is called Yeshe Dawa. She was a very devoted disciple, and would daily set out many precious and costly offerings to the Buddha and his sangha. Eventually, she aspired to attain full enlightenment, in order to benefit all living beings.

Princess Moon of Knowledge eventually attained a meditative power called "Saving All Beings." Every morning before breakfast she helped to liberate millions of beings, and she repeated the feat each evening. Therefore, she became known as Tara, "Savioress." In the following eon, Tara vowed to protect all beings in the universe from harm.

Tara's purpose is to help all living beings, not only selected groups. Thus she aids every type of being, including animals and the beings of other realms, whether or not we can see them.
THE LAWUDO LAMA: Stories of Reincarnation from the Mount Everest Region

Introduction: According to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the main purpose of writing the biography of holy beings is to inspire others to follow their example. When our mind is weak and invaded by desire for worldly life, reading how great beings past and present have practiced Dharma helps to revive our courage, inspiration, and devotion. By developing faith and admiration toward them, we will be inspired to practice Dharma as they have done. Just by hearing about the wondrous deeds of the buddhas and bodhisattvas, we purify negative imprints in in our mind and develop a strong wish to devote our life to following their example to the best of our ability. Therefore, it is extremely important to hear, read and reflect upon the lives of highly realized beings.

Buddhist texts explain that at the time of death, beings are tortured by their own past actions and experience all kinds of terrifying visions. For instance, those who have killed many humans or animals have the experience of being attacked by the beings they have killed and they die with great fear. In Dharamsala, a Tibetan man who had been a butcher could see sheep and goats attacking him, but those around him could do nothing to help. Actually, no external beings are attacking the dying person, but their own negative karma creates all those terrifying mental projections. And these are just the visions before death; the actual experience of being reborn in the lower realms is far more frightening.

Even though intellectually you do not believe in future lives, at the time of death you have the intuitive feeling that you may have wasted your life and that some very heavy things are going to happen. So, if you sincerely check your heart, the answer about reincarnation is: not sure.

These questions are very important. You may not accept reincarnation because it is not your experience to remember past lives, but that is just fooling yourself. If that were the case, what about the things you did in this life that you don't remember? Would you say that you did not do those things? As a child you did many things that you do not remember now. You do not remember coming out of your mother's womb, but you have been told that you were born from her and you believe it. Using the same logic, you should not believe that either.

Some people argue that since the body disappears after death, reincarnation is not possible. This is a misunderstanding based on the lack of differentiation between body and mind. The body has form - color and shape - where as the mind is a formless phenomenon that has the ability to know objects and whose nature is clarity. What goes on to the next life is the mind, not the body; the body does not reincarnate.

In short, not a single person has realized that there is no such thing as reincarnation. Some people have such an assumption, but they have no direct realization. On the other hand, there are numberless persons, even just ordinary human beings, who have definitely realized the certainty of reincarnation.

 - from THE LAWUDO LAMA: Stories of Reincarnation from the Mount Everest Region


Q: Is it all right just to be a so-called "convenient vegetarian"? (Convenient vegetarians do not strictly avoid meat. They would eat vegetables out of a mixed vegetable and meat dish.)

Master: No.

For example, if food is put into a poisonous liquid and then removed, do you think it will become poisonous or not? In the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, Mahakasyapa asked Buddha, "When we beg and are given vegetables mixed with meat, can we eat this food? How can we clean the food?" Buddha replied, "One should clean it with water and separate the vegetables from the meat, then one can eat it."

From the above dialogue we can understand that one cannot even eat vegetables which are mixed with meat unless one first cleans them with water, not to mention eating meat alone! Therefore, it is very easy to see that Buddha and His disciples all kept a vegetarian diet. However, some people slandered Buddha by saying that He was a "convenient vegetarian," and that if alms-givers gave meat, He ate meat. This is truly nonsense. Those who say so have read too little of the Scriptures, or don't understand the Scriptures they have read.

In India, over ninety percent of the people are vegetarians. When people see mendicants in yellow robes they all know they should offer them vegetarian food, not to mention that most of the people have no meat to give anyway!   

Q: A long time ago, I heard another Master say, "Buddha ate a pig's foot and then got diarrhea and died." Is this true?

Master: Absolutely not. It was because of eating a kind of mushroom that Buddha died. If we translate directly from the language of the Brahmans, this kind of mushroom is called the "pig's foot," but it is not a real pig's foot. It's just like when we call a kind of fruit "longan" (in Chinese this literally means the "dragon's eye"). There are many things that by name are not vegetables but actually are vegetarian foods, such things as the "dragon's eye."

This mushroom in Brahmanic language is called "pig's foot" or "pig's joy." Both have a connection with pigs. This kind of mushroom was not easy to find in ancient India and was a rare delicacy, so people offered it to Buddha in worship.

This mushroom cannot be found above the ground. It grows under the ground. If people want to find it they must search with the help of an old pig which likes very much to eat this kind of mushroom. Pigs detect it by their smell, and when they discover one, they use their feet to dig in the mud to find and eat it. That was why this kind of mushroom is called the "pig's joy" or "pig's foot." Actually these two names refer to the same mushroom.

Because it was translated carelessly and because people did not truly understand the derivation, the following generations have been caused to misunderstand and mistake Buddha for a flesh devouring man. This is really a regrettable thing.

Q: Some meat-lovers say that they buy meat from the butcher, so it's not killed by themselves, therefore, it is all right to eat it. Do You think this is right?

Master: This is a disastrous mistake. You must know that butchers kill living beings because people want to eat. In the Lankavatara Sutra, Buddha said, If there was no one eating meat, then no killing would happen. So eating meat and killing living beings are of the same sin. Because of the killing of too many living beings, we have natural disasters and man-made calamities. Wars are also caused by too much killing.
VEGETARIANISM: Dharma Lectures by Grand Master WeiChueh

"The great compassionate mind is the Buddha’s Mind. The spirit of Buddhism is compassion and equality. If we wish to attain a mind of compassion and equality, first, we must not kill; second, we must save and protect lives; third, we must practice vegetarianism. If we can accomplish all three, our compassionate mind will manifest."

To Practice Buddhism is to learn from the Buddha, learn from the Buddha’s purity of body, speech, and mind. "To learn from the Buddha’s body" is to emulate the Buddha’s actions. All the actions in our daily lives should be proper and meet the highest standards. "Learning from the Buddha’s speech" is to always be proper in our speech – no bad-mouthing, backbiting, lying, or frivolous speech. "To learn from the Buddha’s mind" is to constantly examine and reflect upon the arising and impact of all our thoughts so that they are of the highest standard of perfection, truth, virtue, and beauty. Thus, we will attain the Buddha’s compassion, wisdom, samadhi, and even his spiritual powers and marvelous abilities.

Misconceptions about vegetarianism

There are many expedient means to help us attain purity of body, speech, and mind. Expedient means can be thought of as a bridge or a pathway. Whether at work or in spiritual cultivation, it will not be easy to succeed without using expedient means. In cultivation, a first expedient means is to practice vegetarianism. The spirit of Buddhism is compassion and equality. If we wish to attain a mind of compassion and equality, first, we should not kill; second, we should save and protect lives; third, we should practice vegetarianism. If we can accomplish all these, our compassionate mind will manifest. A compassionate mind is the Buddha’s mind. Therefore, even though practicing vegetarianism seems ordinary, its significance is profound and far-reaching.

However, many people nowadays feel that they need not be vegetarians to practice Buddhism. Some scholars have even publicized mistaken views which have influenced vegetarians to start eating meat. For example, they say that the Buddha did not teach vegetarianism and that it is not related to one’s cultivation; they even think that being a vegetarian cannot help eradicate bad karma or help one attain the Way or liberation. They also give many examples that misguide people, saying that animals such as cows, horses, and elephants eat grass but still are butchered and suffer in the three wretched realms; therefore, being a vegetarian does not help our cultivation.

In practicing Buddhism, if our viewpoint is wrong, the direction of our cultivation will be in contradiction to our goal; even though we spend much time and effort, we gain no benefits. Cultivation is in this very mind; the slightest error leads to endless mistakes. Acting against the Way, we stray further and further from the Way. If we encounter steep cliffs and precipices, we will fall into the precipice, creating problems for ourselves.

Being in accord with the compassionate mind

If we investigate the view that being a vegetarian cannot lead to liberation and that we may even become animals, we will see that cows, sheep, and horses eat grass not because of their own resolve. They have to eat grass, or they will die; therefore it is a form of retribution, a form of suffering. In Buddhism we must examine our intention. Only when our viewpoint is correct can we benefit from our practice. We should understand the true aim of vegetarianism. Cows and sheep are herbivores but they do not resolve to do so. We are vegetarians out of a mind of compassion and equality.

Furthermore, many people who have no religious beliefs are also vegetarians. This is due to their fear that animal flesh contains too many antibiotics, hormones, and poisons. They worry that eating meat will cause hardening of the arteries or cancer. Many in the health professions advocate vegetarianism, even raw vegetables. These views are based on the wish to maintain health. If the capacity of their mind is constrained to self-interest, then it is not in accord with the mind in Buddhist practice. Hence their blessings can be much less.

"To be in accord" means to have the mind of compassion and equality. To have a mind of equality and compassion is to be like a buddha or bodhisattva. The Lotus Sutra says, "When all sentient beings are happy, all buddhas are happy." A mind of great compassion is the foundation of all bodhisattvas. Great compassion gives rise to the bodhi mind, and the bodhi mind gives rise to enlightenment. What is a compassionate mind? It is what the Confucian sage Mencius said, "Seeing it alive, we cannot bear to see it die; hearing its voice, we cannot bear to eat its flesh." When we hear the loud and pitiful cries of animals before they are slaughtered, we know that it is cruel and feel very sad. Therefore, from a mind of compassion, we do not eat the flesh of sentient beings. The Buddhist sutra says that savage animals also have Buddha nature. Both humans and animals desire to live and fear death; that is their awareness. Therefore, the first reason for being a vegetarian is entirely based on the mind of compassion and that all sentient beings possess the Buddha nature.

Second, everyone is subject to the causality of the three periods of time – past, present, and future. If we now eat the flesh of animals, the pain and suffering we inflict upon them will similarly be inflicted upon us in the future. Everyone knows that if we eat eight ounces, we have to return half a pound. The principle of causality never changes, so we should not eat meat.

Third, all sentient beings were and are our relatives. Therefore, we should save and protect all lives as we treasure the lives of our families.

In order to be grateful and repay kindnesses, we must have compassion. It is due to previous karmic affinities that we are together with our parents, teachers, brothers, and fellow cultivators in this life. But, there are good and bad affinities. If we have formed good affinities with others in the past, we will get along with them in this life and help each other. If we stole from or cheated people, or did not get along with them, then when we meet them in this life, they will be our enemies. This is due to the causality of the three periods of time. If we observe carefully, we will realize that causality affects every aspect of our daily lives.

The suffering of transmigrating in the six realms

Once there were two great masters, Han Shan ("Cold Mountain) and Shi De ("Foundling"), who were the incarnations of Bodhisattvas Majushri and Samantabhadra. One day, when Han Shan was traveling and teaching amongst people, he saw a wedding feast in a village, with over a hundred banquet tables, accompanied by drums and cymbals. Everyone was having a good time. But Han Shan began to sob. When relatives and friends of the wedding party saw this, they scolded him: "You are crazy; this is a joyous occasion, why are you weeping?" They wanted to chase him away. Han Shan replied, "I am not crazy. You are the crazy ones!" They said, "You are acting like a fool. Why do you say that we are crazy?" Han Shan then sighed and recited the following poem:

Transmigration in the six realms is suffering!

The grandchild is marrying his grandmother,

Cows and sheep sit in the honored seats,

Relatives of the wedding party are being cooked in the pot.

Most people do not have the wisdom eye, the Dharma eye, or the heavenly (deva) eye; therefore, they cannot see the transmigrations in the six realms. They do not know that the bride and groom were actually related as grandchild and grandparent in the past. That is why Han Shan lamented that everyone is living in delusion and confusion. "Cows and sheep sit in the honored seats; relatives of the wedding party are being cooked in the pot." The wedding guests were cows and sheep that were killed in a previous life, and were born into this life as humans, sitting in the honored seats. The chickens, ducks, fish, and other meat that are being cooked were relatives of the wedding family from previous lives. The buddhas and bodhisattvas have the power to see into the past so they can see karma clearly. That is why, based on compassion and equality, they tell us not to eat the flesh of sentient beings.

Transmigration in the six realms is great suffering. If, from life to life, we do not practice the Way diligently, we will be reborn unceasingly. Of the six realms, the highest is the heavenly realm. If we practice the ten virtuous acts, the four dhyanas1, and the eight concentrations, we can ascend into the heavenly realms. The second is the realm of the asuras. Asuras have the blessings of heaven but not the heavenly virtues; they have ugly features. Third is the realm of human beings. We are now in this realm, yet each of our blessings and retributions is different. Fourth is the realm of animals, and fifth is the realm of hungry ghosts. Sixth is hell, the realm of greatest suffering; it is filled with great sinners. If we do not practice diligently, we will continue to transmigrate within the six realms and endure the endless suffering of birth, old age, illness, and death. After we have used up all the blessings of heaven, we will descend into the human realm, and if we have created bad karma, we will again descend into the wretched realms and become animals, hungry ghosts, or hell beings. So, like a carriage wheel, we are transmigrating endlessly in the realms of heaven, humans, hell, hungry ghosts, and animals. Human life is but a sea of sorrow and endless suffering.

Mahayana and Theravada positions on meat eating

Did the Buddha talk about vegetarianism? The Mahayana bodhisattva precepts clearly state that we must not eat the flesh of sentient beings, and must also observe the six fasting days (per month).

In the Theravada scriptures, the Buddha speaks of eating the "three pure meats" and "five pure meats," so we can see that the Mahayana and Theravada sutras both advocate compassion and the protection of life. Eating the "three pure meats" is only an expedient means that is provided because new cultivators and students of Buddhism still harbor the craving for meat. Even knowing that eating meat creates karma, people cannot break their old habits right away; they feel that it is not a real meal without meat. Therefore, the Buddha established the expedient means of the "three pure meats."

"Three pure meats" must fulfill three requirements so that the meat eaten will be pure and not cause sin: first, not seeing the animal being killed, second, not hearing it being killed, and third, not suspecting that it is being killed for us.

First, "not seeing it being killed." "Seeing it being killed" means that when people go to the market, they see chickens and ducks being killed, and feel that the meat is therefore very fresh. They not only let the animals be killed, but are eager to buy the meat. They do not have a compassionate mind; therefore, eating this meat creates sin.

1 Dhyana: A discipline to train the mind to focus and to develop profound insight.

Second, "not hearing it being killed." "Hearing it being killed" means that if we hear the agonizing cries of a chicken or duck when it is being killed, we should not eat its meat.

Third, "not suspecting it being killed" means that in the butcher shop or market place, the chicken was bought by the store owner and was not specifically killed for us. This is "not suspecting it being killed." If we go to a friend’s or relative’s house at New Year, everyone feels that it is a rare occasion to get together, so they enthusiastically have a chicken specifically killed for us. If we eat this meat, we then create evil karma. If we refuse to eat meat, this chicken would not have died because of us. Based on compassion, not only we ourselves do not kill, but also we do not ask others to kill for us. Some people are afraid to kill life themselves; therefore, they ask others to help them kill a chicken or duck or fish and then enjoy eating it, causing others to create bad karma. This is the same as asking others to murder; they are accomplices in crime, their minds are venomous and the act is sinful.

If we wish to protect our lives and have good health, yet cannot become totally vegetarian, we should at least eat the "three pure meats." After we are used to eating the three pure meats, we will gradually realize our virtuous roots and cultivate a compassionate mind. We then can go a step further and eat the "five pure meats." Besides the three previous rules, we add two more. One is "died naturally." If the animal died naturally from illness, old age, or an accident, we can eat it. But people now feel that the meat of an animal that died from illness or old age is unhealthy. Therefore, there is not much chance of eating this type of meat now. Another rule is "remnants from birds;" this is to eat the remains of animals from the mountains that have been eaten by wild animals and birds. Again, this is also rarely done. So we might as well give up eating meat completely; that is to be truly pure.

Observing the six fasting days

Another expedient means of practicing vegetarianism is to observe the "six fasting days." Many people, out of compassion, abstain from meat for breakfast or on the first day of the month. That is good. But it is not recorded in the Buddhist scripture. It is only an expedient means for people. According to the scripture, to truly attain benefits, we should observe the "six fasting days." Those are the 8th, 14th, 15th in the first half of the (lunar) month, the 23rd, and the last two days of the month. In those six days we should not only completely abstain from the meat of sentient beings, but must maintain purity of body, speech, and mind. The eyes only see what is proper; the ears only hear what is proper; the mouth does not gossip or slander others; the mind stays away from delusive thoughts; the body only performs good deeds—that is truly observing the six fasting days. Some people also take the eight prohibitory and fasting precepts during these six days or at another time.

All these can increase merits and eradicate karmic obstacles.

There is cause and effect for everything in this world. Why should we observe the six fasting days? Because on the 8th day of each month, the retinues of the four Heavenly Kings come down to earth to inspect the good and evil in men. If we do good deeds on that day, the retinues of the Heavenly Kings will record them and report them to the Kings; then one’s blessings and lifespan will increase. If we do bad deeds or are evil on that day, the Heavenly Kings may not wait for our retributions in the next life, but immediately send us great misfortunes in this life. On the 14th day of the month, the sons of the four Heavenly Kings will inspect the human realm. On the 15th day of the month, the four Kings will come down in person. The same thing happens in the second half of the month. Therefore, during these six days, we should "do no evil and perform all good." We should be diligent and unceasing in performing worldly good and spiritual cultivation. Then our merits and lifespan will surely increase.

Some may feel this seems to encourage us to only do good deeds when the Four Heavenly Kings come to inspect us. Actually, these six fasting days are just expedient means. When our good habits have fully developed, every day will naturally be a day of "fasting." Good habits are difficult to cultivate but bad habits are quickly learned. Yet the bad habits that we acquire and become addicted to are very difficult to break. Smoking, alcohol, and craving the nightlife are easy examples. Therefore, Buddhism teaches that we should first gradually get rid of our bad habits. After we develop good habits and good thoughts, our mind will be filled with brightness.

Right intention is the foundation

Vegetarianism has many benefits. But to truly achieve the aim and benefits of vegetarianism, we must generate a mind of compassion and equality. No matter what we do, we should have the right intention. If our intention is right, whether we recite the Buddhas' names, recite the sutras, or are vegetarians, we will gain infinite merits and blessings.

However, in similar situations, if we do not have right intention, there may not be blessings or merits. If we do not have a mind of compassion and equality, and only practice vegetarianism for the sake of our body, even though we may obtain good health, that is "ego-attachment (attachment to the false ego);" the mind’s ignorance and foolishness may increase, and there will be no merits. Animals that eat grass are like this. They do not do it from any resolve for compassion or equality; it is just the result of their past karma. People who say that cows and sheep are vegetarians but cannot attain liberation only see the surface; they are ignorant of the true reason that cows do not attain liberation.

In our cultivation, whether as laity or monastics, we must have right understanding and right view, and should study Buddhism from good and knowledgeable teachers who have genuine realizations. Making a resolve to be a vegetarian is very important to cultivators, but there is now an unhealthy trend in Buddhism: many people, originally vegetarians who have taken the five precepts, and cultivate very diligently, later hear that the esoteric sect allows people to eat meat and drink wine, so they start to follow those ways, feeling that the esoteric school is very good since they can enjoy the five worldly desires and still attain liberation and buddhahood. This is an erroneous viewpoint! They don’t realize the reason that the esoteric practitioners do not practice vegetarianism is because they once led the life of animal herders in Tibet and there were no vegetables there; therefore, they had to eat meat. Now that they have come to Taiwan, because the environment is different, many of them have become vegetarians. Therefore, we should know that in practicing Buddhism, we should be vegetarians based on a mind of compassion and equality. Those who want to cut corners and use the esoteric school to give themselves and excuse, give rein to the five desires and take the wrong road. This will only result in bad karma.

The mind gives rise to discriminations and attachments

Many people feel that vegetarian food is lacking in nutrients, or that it doesn’t taste good. Actually, this is a problem of the mind, not a question of whether vegetarian food is nutritious. Whether food tastes good or bad is relative; it is the result of a discriminating mind.

For example, some people like to eat lightly seasoned foods. Cantonese people like foods that are sweet, sour, and salty. People from Hunan, Sichuan, and Hubei like foods that are spicy and salty. Zejiang people like foods with strong odors, the stronger the better, just as some people like to eat fermented tofu, yet its smell gives others a headache. People from southern China like to eat rice; Northerners like to eat noodles, and if they have a garlic clove in spicy sauce to accompany plain wheat buns, that’s better than a New Year’s banquet. Once, a gentleman liked bitter melons so much that if someone invited him to dinner and didn’t serve any bitter melons, he would immediately leave. Brazilian people would not enjoy a meal without some sour dishes. Therefore, sour, sweet, bitter, and spicy – which food tastes best? When we see these different preferences, we realize that what tastes good and what tastes bad are illusive and unreal. It is all due to our own discriminations and attachments.

Buddhism teaches that "all dharmas arise from conditions; all conditional arisings are empty in nature." All phenomena arise from the coming together of causes and conditions; they are all illusory and empty in nature. Taste for food is the same. It is due to past habits and individual preference from discrimination and attachment.

Both lay people and monastics may have had the following experiences: before becoming vegetarians, they eat a lot of fish and meat; they were not accustomed to coarse food and simple meals. But after becoming a vegetarian or monastic for a long time, for 10, 20, 30, or even 40 years, they feel that vegetables are sweet, fragrant, and delicious; instead, the stench smell from meat and fish make them nauseous. This is also due to the mind’s discriminations.

Some people regularly rush to the bank before closing time to maintain their cash flow and are very distressed if they don’t get there on time. If their friend tells them, "I can’t help you with your banking situation, but I can invite you to dinner" – even though the food is plentiful and delicious, they cannot enjoy it because of their financial problem; their mind is filled with afflictions so food is tasteless. In our society today, there are many laborers who eat plain and simple food, yet they are very healthy. On the other hand, the rich eat sumptuous meals each day, and even take supplements, yet they have many health problems. That is because their minds are filled with afflictions; they are not able to digest or absorb their food, which is soon excreted. All these prove that the preference for vegetarian food or meat, what tastes good and what does not, is entirely due to the mind.

Vegetables have the most natural nutrients

Many people believe that a vegetarian diet is not nutritious enough. This does not make sense. More and more people today who have no religious beliefs have become vegetarians for health reasons. For decades, we as vegetarians have never eaten meat, yet we are quite healthy. This proves that vegetables are very nutritious. Vitamins and proteins are mostly extracted from plants and seldom extracted from animals. So how can people say that vegetables have no nutrients? Furthermore, don’t strong animals such as elephants, cows, and horses eat grass? This proves that plants are very nutritious. Therefore, the nutritious value of vegetables is not the real issue; it is our mind.

The lifespan of a human being is now relatively short. Many ancient civilizations have records of people who lived very long lives of a hundred, a thousand, or even ten thousand years. Think about this, now with the advances in medicine and science, we should be much healthier, but why is our lifespan shorter than that of people in the past? The reasons are easily seen. First, in the past, people ate natural foods including vegetables and fruits and used leaves for their clothing. Today, people eat and dress luxuriously yet their food contains many artificial ingredients and chemicals. Second, in the past, wood was used to build houses; Sui Ren Shi discovered fire by rubbing pieces of wood together; Yiu Cao Shi taught people how to build tree houses. For their health, people now also like to eat natural, organic food and live in houses built from wood. They are reverting back to these ancient practices. This shows that a vegetarian diet is surely healthy and nutritious.

"If the starting point is not true, the path to the goal will be convoluted"

In Buddhism, the reason for being a vegetarian is not so that people can live a long time but because of their mind of compassion and equality. First, sentient beings are future buddhas and bodhisattvas; therefore, we should not eat the flesh of sentient beings. Second, everyone has Buddha nature. Besides protecting our own life, we also must respect the lives of all sentient beings. Third, vegetarianism is based on the principle of causality that spans the past, present, and future. Therefore, we clearly understand the reason for vegetarianism is the bodhisattva cause, the right cause. With our actions based on these principles, the rewards will be limitless. If we do not have a correct "causal mind" (intention) in practicing vegetarianism, even though good actions lead to good retributions, the benefits will be greatly reduced.

This mind is very subtle. If our causal mind is right, all our actions will have immeasurable merits—they will be bright and virtuous deeds. If our intentions are not right, we may work very hard without getting good retributions; we may even create bad karma instead. Both Buddhist practice and worldly endeavors are like this. Therefore, whatever career we pursue, we must constantly examine this causal mind and ask ourselves why we wish to become a physician, an architect, a politician, a businessman, or even pursue knowledge. For example, with what mind do politicians campaign for office? If it is with a mind of compassion for the country and society so that all people will have peace, a mind to protect the jobs and families, and all their actions based on the love and care for people and things – then the higher their political office the better; they are already bodhisattvas! Because of their high positions in society, they can serve more people and do more important work. Isn’t that the bodhisattva way? However, if they only inflate themselves, are tempted by fame, profit, or desire when campaigning for office, it will be disastrous; they will not only suffer defeat and infamy, but will also descend into the suffering realms in the future.

The spiritual path is also like this. We must be clear on why we recite the sutras and meditate. For example, there are now so called "chanting groups" who are invited to go and recite the sutras at funerals. After the chanting, they ask for money; they are in the business of selling Buddhist blessings. In Buddhism this is called "to sell the Tathagata." This not only has no merits but creates sin. Reciting the sutras is a good thing; it is a Buddhist practice; how could it become sinful? This is due to an erroneous mind. Also, the practice of meditation originally is to help enlighten the mind and see our true nature, and to cultivate samadhi and wisdom.

But some people do not care about this and instead wish to achieve spiritual powers through meditation, or they wish that the bodhisattvas will come to tell them about the future or even give them the right lottery numbers in their meditation… Meditating with such ulterior motives is not only devoid of merits, but will easily lead to afflictions and even cause mental problems. Furthermore, monastics should also harbor a proper view in cultivation, and constantly reflect that their reasons for embracing the monastic life are because they wish to renounce the world, renounce the home in the three realms, the home of ignorance, and to benefit oneself and others. If our viewpoint is wrong, even if we embrace the monastic life, there will be no merits. Why? If we do so because of certain stresses in life, or to escape from debtors: "if the starting point is not true, the path to the goal will be convoluted;" when our viewpoint is not correct, we will not obtain the great benefits of embracing the monastic life.

The way of the mind is extremely subtle; to miss by a hair’s breadth, the result can differ by a thousand miles. Buddhism says, "All of the triple realms are only this mind; all the ten thousand dharmas are merely consciousness." Spiritual cultivation is nothing but how we regulate our mind, and how we use this mind. We must achieve a mind of samadhi, purity, and clarity, be able to discriminate what is bright and what is dark, what should be done and what should not be done. The mind must be perfectly clear.

Buddhism teaches us what is correct and true. If this mind is like a mirror or a pool of still water, without the least bit of defilement, without giving rise to a single delusive thought, constantly abiding in samadhi and wisdom, this mind is then the Buddha Dharma. When we truly attain this level, the mind will penetrate all the dharma realms and attain "spiritual resonance," so that we can achieve what people call "all our wishes will come true" and "when the mind is spiritual, blessings come naturally." Then both our studies and careers will surely be successful. If the mind is always scattered, drowsy, and confused, we will even have bad dreams at night, be lethargic in the daytime, unable to make clear decisions in anything; then how can we expect any spiritual resonance?

Nurturing blessings and wisdom

Vegetarianism is both intimately related to Buddhism and closely related to our merits, virtues, wisdom, and samadhi. Both the Mahayana and Theravada sutras extol the importance of no killing and compassion to all sentient beings.

Therefore, we sincerely hope that every practitioner of Buddhism will take the right road. In cultivation, we must first cultivate merits by upholding the precepts and have a compassionate mind. Yet, to develop compassion, we firstly must not kill; secondly, we should save and protect lives; and thirdly, we should practice vegetarianism. If we can incorporate these principles into our daily lives, discipline and train ourselves, we will eventually realize true compassion and impartiality; the mind will then become pure and we will attain liberation. Buddhism is the truest of truths. If we put in one measure of efforts, we will get one measure of benefit; if we put in ten measures of efforts, we will obtain ten measures.

Vegetarianism is also good for our health. From a medical viewpoint, vegetables can lower blood pressure and decrease the chances of cancer and many other diseases. But in Buddhism, we advocate an entirely compassion-based motivation for taking on vegetarianism. Therefore, whether people hope for good health, for spiritual progress, or increase wisdom, blessings, merits, or compassion, they all should practice Buddhism and vegetarianism. The first step is to gradually get used to eating the "three pure meats;" after that, eat the "five pure meats." From never killing lives, saving lives, and protecting lives, we go even further to vegetarianism. 

The foundation in practicing Buddhism is to establish right understanding and right view. I hope that everyone will have this understanding, and I believe that the wise surely know how to reflect and take care of themselves. We should work diligently from the right cause, instead of blindly wishing for the right result. Whatever we sow, we will surely reap. We must be steadfast in this right direction if we wish to make progress in our Buddhist cultivation.

- by Grand Master WeiChueh

1.) WIKIPEDIA: Vegetarianism & Religion

The First Precept prohibits Buddhists from killing people or animals.[37] The matter of whether this forbids Buddhists from eating meat has long been a matter of debate.



4.) DALAI LAMA: Buddhist Monks Reflections on Ecological Responsibility











15.) HINDUISM TODAY: Vegetarianism & Meat - Eating in 8 Religions

16.) SRI KARUNAMAYI VIDEO: Sri Vara Lakshmi Vratam is a holy day sacred to Sri Maha Lakshmi Devi, who showers her abundant motherly love and precious spiritual boons on those who perform puja to her on this day.



19.) A PLEA for THE ANIMALS - a book by Matthieu Ricard







26.) PETA PRIME: Can a Plant-Based Diet Cure Cancer?

27.) VEGAN DIETS FIGHT CANCER! - from the Huffington Post with Kathy Freston

28.) ANTI - CANCER DIET - by Dr. Richard Beliveau

30.) REVERSING CANCER WITH a VEGAN DIET ! - Video by Michael Greger, M.D.


32.) VIVA! - Plant - based Diets & Cardiovascular Disease Fact Sheet

33.) THE PLANT - POWERED DIET - scientific reasons to adopt a plant-based diet




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