the great vegetarian debate

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby beeblebrox » Thu Mar 27, 2014 1:35 pm

Another food for thought: (this is more in the line of a Jainist perspective, rather than Theravadan Buddhism:)

Most of the plants which produce vegetables have a natural lifespan of less than one year. This is from sprout to death. I think that those which are perennial (like artichokes, or asparagus) usually aren't destroyed, even commercially.

Also, for most of the vegetables that are harvested, their plants actually don't have to be destroyed either. That is true even for something like lettuce, if it is harvested in a certain way (usually it is cut off by the whole head)... but with some of others, like onion or a carrot, the whole thing is still uprooted, anyway.

Carrot is also a biennial... meaning that its complete lifespan is two years.

Cows have a natural lifespan of 15-20 years, and chickens even have a lifespan of 8-12 years.

Insects on the other hand, I think have a very short lifespan.

Personally, I still don't like to kill an insect. (Just for the record.)

:anjali:
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Freelance ExBuddhist » Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:28 pm

The single most-debated source from the Pali canon on this subject relies on some suspicious text inserted in square brackets.

QUOTE
“[Many people] claim that he said it was OK to eat flesh as long as you yourself have not seen, heard, or suspected that the animal was killed especially for you…
On the second point, if one reads the relevant Pali scripture carefully, one sees that the phrase ‘killed especially for oneself’ is not used by the Buddha. It is interpolated (in parentheses) by later commentators.”[...]

The crucial step here (from ignorance toward knowing something meaningful) is the willingness to recognize the difference between the original source text and “later interpolations”. This is a blindingly obvious point that was missed (or intentionally ignored?) in many works by supposed experts.
CLOSE QUOTE

[url]SOURCE: https://medium.com/p/c636fa4f37dd[/url]

That's a link to a long article with much worth knowing in it, for anyone sincerely engaged with the issue from a Theravada perspective.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Apr 08, 2014 4:19 pm

Interesting article. It looks like you have appreciation for the Buddha's teachings and that your beef (pardon the pun) is with Buddhists.

So is it your opinion that meat-eating is not fitting with the Buddha's path and that Buddhists have made excuses? Or is there some translation issue with some of the texts that seem to allow it?
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Tue Apr 08, 2014 4:25 pm

willingness to recognize the difference between the original source text and “later interpolations”. This is a blindingly obvious point that was missed (or intentionally ignored?) in many works by supposed experts.


I'm wondering how he can cite 'original source texts' when nobody living currently could possibly know precisely what was witten at the time....

How can we, with any authority state for certain precisely how the texts read?

All we can do, surely, is study and reflect on what we know is there NOW.
All we can do is to cogitate, meditate and ponder what we learn, and digest the teachings as they speak to us now, and decide, on that scrutiny, what the basis of our practice is.

Or am I being hopelessly thick, here?
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby daverupa » Tue Apr 08, 2014 4:40 pm

TheNoBSBuddhist wrote:Or am I being hopelessly thick, here?


Just off-topic, sort of, but these huge threads are monsters anyway.

Textual authenticity is one question that's often discussed throughout the forum, but not something that can get easily summed at the bottom of a vegetarian thread-bin.

Try exploring e.g. the Early Buddhism area for topics of that sort.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Anagarika » Tue Apr 08, 2014 11:14 pm

TheNoBSBuddhist wrote:
willingness to recognize the difference between the original source text and “later interpolations”. This is a blindingly obvious point that was missed (or intentionally ignored?) in many works by supposed experts.


I'm wondering how he can cite 'original source texts' when nobody living currently could possibly know precisely what was witten at the time....

Or am I being hopelessly thick, here?


I'm pleased that this year there has been some attention paid to the authentication of the early primary Pali texts, and that there is something of a return of the idea that the answers to some of the "What did the Buddha instruct on this issue?" questions can be found in the earliest texts, before, as was pointed out, interpolation and augmentation of the discourses that were promulgated by the Buddha, captured in the oral tradition, and later 'authenticated' and written down. I do feel it's not correct to fall back on a "we really don't know what the Buddha really said, so why even make the effort?" when strong scholarship is being done that authenticates to a reasonable degree of accuracy a significant amount of the teachings as found in the primary four Nikayas. Others have made the point correctly that many 'experts' in Buddhism have never bothered to learn enough Pali to read the texts, or have simply not bothered to read competent translations of the early Pali texts. Many of these experts then teach others, who carry forward the mistaken interpretations or lazy scholarship.

It's my nonexpert sense that when we struggle with questions of what the Buddha taught on certain key issues in dispute, we have in the primary source texts the answers, or at least a strong suggestion of what the Buddha's position on a subject is (ie dependent origination, kamma and rebirth, meat eating, etc). We need not speculate, or rely on suspect (albeit longstanding) opinions, when some good scholarship is being done on the DN, SN, MN, AN texts. We have within and outside the Theravada community some Pali scholars that can provide direction on these issues, and even when the scholars disagree about, for example, the interpretation of a Pali word or phrase, we can then measure these interpretations with our own reason and sense of the text as a whole.

It's some heavy lifting to really dig into these texts for the answers, but I for one feel fortunate that others have done (Eisel Mazard being one scholar among others on the cutting edge), and are now doing, the digging, heavy lifting, and construction that I would be unable to do. I may have confusion with, for example, a fine point made in one of Eisel Mazard's blog contributions, but just having the scholarship there to measure against others ( such as Ven. Thanissaro, or Ven. Bodhi, or Vens. Brahmali and Sujato) makes the investigation enjoyable, and brings to present life some sense of what the Buddha actually intended.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Freelance ExBuddhist » Wed Apr 09, 2014 3:35 am

(1) Re: "How can we, with any authority state for certain precisely how the texts read?"

In the specific instance mentioned (with the link to the article provided) we know precisely what the ancient text does not say. In this case, modern "interpreters" have added a whole phrase (with a concept not stated in the text), so we are not debating the significance of the canon in the abstract, but looking at a case of modern people intentionally mis-representing (if not re-writing) what the text plainly does say.

(2.1) Those are flattering words from Anagarika: sadly, however, my career in Pali has been over for several years now, and I will never again attempt the type of heavy lifting you describe.

You can read an interview about the final chapter of that career, here: https://medium.com/p/9df3f5f826e4

I no longer have any possibility of returning to work on Pali (nor any other form of Buddhist text).

(2.2) I agree, that this is the general situation: a majority of people depend on a small number who do (as Anagarika says) the heavy lifting. This is another reason why fraud and intellectual dishonesty (amongst that small number of people) can be so harmful (in the 21st century); the relationship is indeed one of dependency. Even amongst scholars, a relatively large number of researchers need to turn to a tiny number of Pali scholars to answer questions about what the texts do (and do not) say.

On this issue (vegetarianism) good luck getting an honest answer out of anyone (layman or monk); instead, we have a thousand years of people saying, "Don't worry, my butcher is muslim", and (the laziest excuse at all!), "There's no bad karma if you don't think about it, because karma only arises from mindful intention" --a doctrine that does, in fact, endorse mindless killing (!) as superior to mindfulness of the consequences of what you're doing, buying etc.

(3) I do not sympathize with the tendency to offer contrived cynicism about the possibility of knowing anything from the study of ancient texts. If you're looking for a religion based on pious ignorance, Theravada Buddhism is the wrong choice. I find that people only offer this cynical disclaimer when it suits them (e.g., in this case, as an excuse for eating meat, "Well, how can we really know what the ancient texts were supposed to say?") and then allow themselves to uncritically adopt other material without any skepticism.

The generalized lament of, "How can we know anything about ancient authors at all?" is certainly a strange contrast to the active, engaged attitude of scholars in establishing (e.g.) what we can (and cannot) know about an ancient author like Plato. I have a separate youtube video addressing this: we can and do know a great deal about the ancient philosophy of the Buddha, in exactly the same way that we know as much as we do about the philosophy of Aristotle --and it is, indeed, hard work (and heavy lifting).
http://youtu.be/GzOcSpxKVoA

I think it is very sad when people pretend that any of this is "unknowable"; I think that is simply an abdication of responsibility for one's own ignorance (and, BTW, the Buddha has a lot to say against ignorance).

Returning to this specific example (vegetarianism): as I argued in that article, the reality is that most people don't know what the canon says about it, precisely because there is so much dishonesty and discomfort for Buddhists themselves in confronting what those ancient texts say --and what the ancient philosophy really is (and isn't). I say that with some degree of sympathy for the people involved: for most people, it is very difficult to accept that their own grandparents were wrong, and that the opinions about Buddhism passed down in their own family may be deeply flawed (even if it is relative to the writ of the Pali canon).
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Wed Apr 09, 2014 4:16 am

I must admit I have long had a suspicion that the strength of the buddha's anti meat eating sentiment has been much diluted in scripture and commentary, I am interested to hear more about this.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby panang » Sun Apr 13, 2014 3:46 am

I realize this has been discussed in a great amount already, but I thought I'd just give my thoughts. Sorry in advance is I sound preachy.

I am a strict vegan. I do not eat meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey, or any animal products or by products. I know what even minute animal products are, and try to avoid them by reading labels, and such. The products I use are vegan to the greatest extent I can find. I don't wear leather, wool, cashmere. And, all of my other products I try to buy vegan. At home, I do not expect my family to prepare two meals, so I make my own food, and no one is bothered.

In my opinion, if you eat meat, you are inadvertently increasing the demand for meat. And, you are indirectly contributing to the death of animals. Even if you eat dairy, you are still contributing to the suffering of female dairy cows, and the killing of male calves for veal. You may not think so, but even if meat is offered to you, or it is already "dead", you still are perpetuating the demand for meat. And, in my opinion any of that is breaking the 1st precept.

Not many people would be offended if you denied an offer of meat. I do it all the time, and so far no one has been bothered. But, would you rather innocent beings die for you, or take the risk of someone maybe not liking you being vegetarian or vegan.

However, I try as well not to let it become a distraction. Most of the things I mentioned are second nature to me. So, none of it bothers my day to day life. If anything would be causing you harm, or causing you to become unmindful, do not partake. Taking things in small steps is best. :heart:
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:04 am

Anagarika wrote:
TheNoBSBuddhist wrote:
willingness to recognize the difference between the original source text and “later interpolations”. This is a blindingly obvious point that was missed (or intentionally ignored?) in many works by supposed experts.


I'm wondering how he can cite 'original source texts' when nobody living currently could possibly know precisely what was witten at the time....

Or am I being hopelessly thick, here?


I do feel it's not correct to fall back on a "we really don't know what the Buddha really said, so why even make the effort?" when strong scholarship is being done that authenticates to a reasonable degree of accuracy a significant amount of the teachings as found in the primary four Nikayas.


Thank you for your long and considered reply;
Just one small, minor and apparently insignificant point:

I note you did not duplicate my post in full; So I am at pains to eagerly point out that the above snipped morsel, from your text, is in no way indicative of my attitude to this dilemma.
I have now been directed to consider other points of information, to which i will avail myself for further education.
But please do not give others, through mis-quoting my comments, the impression that I take my ignorance so lightly.

I thank you.

:namaste:

By the way, I would add, as a very tardy Edit - that I am indeed, vegetarian.
:namaste:

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Sun Apr 13, 2014 11:17 am

I have for a long while, taken this instruction to be accurate;

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... .html#meat

Is this correct of me, or should i seek further input?
I'm certain it exists as is evident by comments in this thread - would pointing me in a different direction, reveal different instruction?
:namaste:

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Sun Apr 13, 2014 11:33 am

Pretty biased link; laments that "vegetarians want to impose their choice upon others" but its perfectly OK for meat eaters to impose their choices on others.....
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Sun Apr 13, 2014 11:39 am

lyndon taylor wrote:Pretty biased link; laments that "vegetarians want to impose their choice upon others" but its perfectly OK for meat eaters to impose their choices on others.....


Well in my experience, it only ever happens that way round; ie, vegetarians wish to impose their views on meat-eaters, on self-righteous moral grounds.
I have only heard meat-eaters put their views forward as a response, not as an attack, or an imposition of their views.

Meat eaters rarely, if ever, wish to 'impose their choices' onto vegetarians.
it's far more common the other way round.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Sun Apr 13, 2014 11:52 am

rubbish, obviously you've never put yourself in the position of the vegetarian in these arguments....
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Sun Apr 13, 2014 12:01 pm

I AM a vegetarian, and have been for 30 years.

To date, I have never, ever been approached by a meat-eater and either been told my stance/opinion is wrong, or has a meat-eater tried to impose their views on me.
:namaste:

You will not be punished FOR your 'emotions'; you will be punished BY your 'emotions'.



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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby seeker242 » Sun Apr 13, 2014 12:15 pm

TheNoBSBuddhist wrote:
lyndon taylor wrote:Pretty biased link; laments that "vegetarians want to impose their choice upon others" but its perfectly OK for meat eaters to impose their choices on others.....


Well in my experience, it only ever happens that way round; ie, vegetarians wish to impose their views on meat-eaters, on self-righteous moral grounds.


It's really not always "on self-righteous moral grounds" IMO. A lot of times it's simply about concern for the suffering of animals and to want animals to stop suffering so much. A lot of vegetarians do want to impose their choice on others. Why? To help the animals.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Sun Apr 13, 2014 12:20 pm

seeker242 wrote:
TheNoBSBuddhist wrote:
lyndon taylor wrote:Pretty biased link; laments that "vegetarians want to impose their choice upon others" but its perfectly OK for meat eaters to impose their choices on others.....


Well in my experience, it only ever happens that way round; ie, vegetarians wish to impose their views on meat-eaters, on self-righteous moral grounds.


It's really not always "on self-righteous moral grounds" IMO. A lot of times it's simply about concern for the suffering of animals and to want animals to stop suffering so much. A lot of vegetarians do want to impose their choice on others. Why? To help the animals.

:anjali:

I completely agree.
I worded it hastily, my choice of words could - and should - have been more in line with your observation.
I stand delightfully corrected.

:namaste:
:namaste:

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Apr 13, 2014 1:06 pm

seeker242 wrote:It's really not always "on self-righteous moral grounds" IMO.


Very true. And why do moral grounds have to be "self-righteous" anyway?
"I ride tandem with the random, Things don't run the way I planned them, In the humdrum."
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby TheNoBSBuddhist » Sun Apr 13, 2014 1:18 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
seeker242 wrote:It's really not always "on self-righteous moral grounds" IMO.


Very true. And why do moral grounds have to be "self-righteous" anyway?


oh, you know...... the words seem to flow so well together..... they seem destined to go hand-in-hand......

:tongue:


:jumping:
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Apr 13, 2014 1:20 pm

TheNoBSBuddhist wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
seeker242 wrote:It's really not always "on self-righteous moral grounds" IMO.


Very true. And why do moral grounds have to be "self-righteous" anyway?


oh, you know...... the words seem to flow so well together..... they seem destined to go hand-in-hand......

:tongue:


I don't feel self-righteous when I'm munching on my quorn fillets - I just know I'm doing right. Praise the Lord. :tongue:
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