the great vegetarian debate

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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lyndon taylor
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Mon Feb 24, 2014 5:28 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
lyndon taylor wrote:Anyway a lot of misinformation is being spread on the Buddha's position, how about some scriptural evidence that the buddha ever said buying meat at the market that had been killed for consumption was permissible?????


Anguttara Nikaya 8.2 (summary of the relevant passage):

After hearing a Dhamma talk by the Buddha, (the military commander) General Siha addresses one of his staff and tells them to go to the market to purchase some meat for the Sangha. The Niganthas (Jains) complain that the Buddha and his monks will be eating meat from an animal killed for them. But the Buddha explains that no animal was killed specifically for the meat according to the 3 fold rule. The passage does not specifically state whether the Buddha ate the meat or not. Later it is reported that the "pure stainless eye of the Teaching appeared to the general Siha seated there itself; Whatever arisen thing has the nature of ceasing" (Anguttara Nikaya 8.2) which implies that he attained stream entry (sotapanna). This suggests that lay people can purchase meat without violating the First Precept since it is an indirect connection and no specific animal ordered to be killed.

However, in spite of the above, I still choose vegetarian for myself, since I find it in the spirit of the First Precept and ahimsa, even if it is not specially commanded or recommended. But you got to admit, the above passage is probably the most convincing statement on the issue that meat eaters may not be violating the First Precept. Of course on the vegetarian side, there are plenty of other statements by the Buddha against killing or causing to kill, but in this instance General Siha actually goes to the market to purchase meat and the Buddha does not stop him nor scold him.

Full passage here: http://obo.genaud.net/dhamma-vinaya/pts ... re.pts.htm


And this is the only reference to animals killed for market being purchased in the scriptures???
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 lyndon taylor » Mon Feb 24, 2014 6:00 am

culaavuso wrote:
lyndon taylor wrote:
culaavuso wrote:
This appears to distinguish two cases based on causality. In one case a purchase directly instigates a slaughter. In the other case the slaughter happens independently, meaning the act of purchase does not directly instigate that killing.


So hypothetically, if I hire someone to kill you, and they do, its all their fault and I have nothing to do with it???


That would be the first case mentioned above, where the purchase directly instigates the killing. Thus by the logic quoted above hiring a killer in that way would be a violation of the first precept.



Actually you're wrong, In the case of buying meat at the supermarket, you're not actually paying for the raising and killing of the animal you're eating, you're directly paying for (instigating) the raising and killing of future animals that will then be available for you and your friends at the supermarket, so your percent of purchase price that goes to pay the butcher pays for future killing, and if enough people quit buying the meat, the butcher wouldn't get payed and the animals wouldn't get killed, is that kamma direct enough for you???

So you are hiring the butcher to kill animals in the future, just like hiring a killer to kill a person. Just like sending a country off to war to kill people, just like ordering an atomic bomb to be dropped on Hiroshima. You are responsible for the killing because you ordered it and/or paid for it.

You're actually trying to tell us that its perfectly OK to pay to kill animals (no bad kamma) but to actually be payed to kill an animal is horribly worse kamma, I know you think you're getting it from the Buddha, but from a logical standpoint it makes absolutely no sense at all.

If trafficking in meat is wrong livelihood, how can financially supporting the wrong livelihood be any better. Without financial support the wrong livelihood would cease.
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 seeker242 » Mon Feb 24, 2014 11:37 am

chownah wrote:
seeker242 wrote:
chownah wrote:Seeker242 wrote: " A farmer who raises animals and does not kill them, but sells them to a slaughterhouse, is still engaged in wrong livelihood. "

I think this is wrong. I think the Buddha never taught this. Is there a Sutta reference which says this?
chownah


Yes, the sutta I posted before, and the other discussion where Bhikkhu Pesala translated the pali of the sutta and the sutta's commentary.

:anjali:

The Sutta you posted before most certainly does not speak of raising animals at all....it only talks about a business in meat......on that Sutta the Buddha dies not say that raising animals is part of the business in meat....there is no mention made at all of the raising of the animal. It is only some people's interpretations of the Sutta which include anything about the raising of the animal....and what you don't mention is that there are a lot of people who interpret it differently.


Who interprets it differently? What is the suttas definition of "business in meat"? Where in the sutta does the Buddha say what is included as "part of the business in meat"? What does that actually mean in a real life day to day situation? Do you have a sutta reference?

All animals are born and so they must die.......you seem to be saying that if someone raises an animal then that person in some way becomes responsible for the animal's death......
chownah


If a person breeds animals for the purpose of making meat, kills them themselves or sells them to a slaughterhouse to be killed, then yes they are responsible for the animals birth and responsible for the animals death. It is about intent. The intent is to make meat. The intent to make meat = intent to kill, or intent to have someone else kill, both of which are wrong. You are not raising animals to allow them to go live out on the pasture for the rest of their natural lives or plow a field somewhere. You are raising them to kill them, or have someone else kill them, to provide meat. Which is the intent to kill.

But of course I'm never going to agree with you and it seems your mind is already made up about it. So it's probably better to say "agree to disagree". :smile:

:anjali:

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Feb 24, 2014 6:13 pm

lyndon taylor wrote:And this is the only reference to animals killed for market being purchased in the scriptures???


Yes, as far as I know, this is the only example of where a lay person purchases meat and the Buddha does not scold nor stop him.

lyndon taylor wrote:In the case of buying meat at the supermarket, you're not actually paying for the raising and killing of the animal you're eating, you're directly paying for (instigating) the raising and killing of future animals that will then be available for you and your friends at the supermarket, so your percent of purchase price that goes to pay the butcher pays for future killing, and if enough people quit buying the meat, the butcher wouldn't get payed and the animals wouldn't get killed, is that kamma direct enough for you???


I agree with this line of thinking and this is why I am a vegetarian too. But for some reason, the Buddhist texts do not make this connection and place the greatest blame on the one who orders a specific animal (not a future one at the market) to be killed directly and also to the killer. One line of thinking that I have come up with is that perhaps the Buddha wanted a more gradual transition since the Dhamma was a new religion and most were omnivores. He didn't want to upset the current practices and to be a burden on lay people about what they could prepare and offer the monks. Today there are numerous choices at the market and also numerous meat substitutes for those who like the taste of meat type foods. King Ashoka actually did instigate some laws to gradually phase out meat consumption.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby culaavuso » Mon Feb 24, 2014 6:40 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:One line of thinking that I have come up with is that perhaps the Buddha wanted a more gradual transition since the Dhamma was a new religion and most were omnivores.


Another line of thinking is a thought experiment about a meat seller having a "going out of business" sale. With an existing inventory, the seller wants to raise funds to start a new and more wholesome business. Whether the meat sells or not, the funds will solely be applied to the new business which will no longer be wrong livelihood. Any unsold product will simply be thrown away. In this case, there is no killing caused by purchasing the meat and there is no life saved by not purchasing the meat. Such a situation, while admittedly contrived, makes it rather clear that there is no inherent connection between a single act of purchasing meat and the killing of an animal.

Taking this a step further, one can consider a meat seller who intends to remain in business and a purchaser who only purchases once and will never return to the shop. The purchase itself does not cause the death of any animals, and if the meat seller creates additional death in the future expecting the purchase to be repeated then that will only cause a loss of profits from having to throw out an excess of inventory. Any additional death created in that case would be from a misunderstanding of the seller.

At the other extreme, one can consider a meat seller who kills and butchers animals because they derive some pleasure from killing. Such a meat seller might only sell the meat as a convenient way to get rid of the byproducts of their killing and butchering. In that case, regardless of what purchases are made the amount of killing is unchanged. The purchase in such a case is simply unrelated to the motivation of the killer.

The distinction becomes much less clear when the purchase is part of a regular, predictable pattern of purchasing from a seller motivated primarily by profit. This creates much more of a justifiable conclusion on the part of the meat seller that meat should be acquired in the future for that purchaser. It's much easier to construe such a pattern as a standing order for future killing. While this is a rather common situation, it is not inherently the circumstance of every instance of meat being purchased.

The suttas state that the Buddha spoke very directly against the practice of killing sentient beings, and also quite clearly defined trade in meat as wrong livelihood. If those who choose to kill animals would heed his advice, the transition to a vegetarian society would be complete. It seems reasonable to address the harm immediately at the source of the harm that is being done rather than to focus on behaviors that will only end the harm as a second or third order effect, if at all. If all meat purchasers stopped purchasing meat today, the killing would not stop today. The momentum of expectations of those in the meat industry would take time to reach an end. Hunters may continue indefinitely to kill animals primarily for enjoyment of the experience even in the complete absence of sales. However, if all animal killing stopped today then all animal killing would stop today.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Mon Feb 24, 2014 7:26 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
lyndon taylor wrote:And this is the only reference to animals killed for market being purchased in the scriptures???


Yes, as far as I know, this is the only example of where a lay person purchases meat and the Buddha does not scold nor stop him.


I appreciate your comments, David. In reference to my original statement, I was under the impression that the Buddha didn't usually condone buying meat from the market, you seem to be saying that too, that in most scriptural references buying meat killed for the market was looked at as not good, or was breaking the precept??
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 Cittasanto » Mon Feb 24, 2014 8:27 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
lyndon taylor wrote:And this is the only reference to animals killed for market being purchased in the scriptures???


Yes, as far as I know, this is the only example of where a lay person purchases meat and the Buddha does not scold nor stop him.

I am unaware of anywhere the Buddha the Buddha "scolds or stops" lay people buying anything. can you give a reference?
“Mendicants, these two [types of persons] defame the Tathāgata.
(The mendicants asked) What are the two [types of persons]?
(The Lord Buddha responded) The malicious, or the inwardly angry, and the one with (blind) faith or the one who holds things incorrectly.
Mendicants, these two [types of persons] defame the Tathāgata.”
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.
"Others will misconstrue reality based on personal perspectives, firmly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our personal perspectives, nor firmly holding them, but easily discarded."

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Feb 24, 2014 8:55 pm

No, that is the only incident that I know of either way (scolding or not scolding) where it comes up where a lay person purchases meat. And in that one instance, the Buddha did not stop him, as I mentioned.

The only other incident that comes close is a Brahmin who was planning a large sacrifice which consisted of 3,500 animals of cattle and goats. Typically the meat of sacrificed animals are ate by the participants of the festival. The Buddha explains to him that a bloodless sacrifice is much better, such as giving gifts of generosity and practicing the precepts. He explains about a king who practices sacrifices of generosity for his people and how "in this sacrifice, Brahmin, no bulls were slain, no goats, or sheep, no cocks and pigs, nor were various living beings subject to slaughter."
(Digha Nikaya 5.18)

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Feb 24, 2014 9:16 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:No, that is the only incident that I know of either way (scolding or not scolding) where it comes up where a lay person purchases meat. And in that one instance, the Buddha did not stop him, as I mentioned.

The only other incident that comes close is a Brahmin who was planning a large sacrifice which consisted of 3,500 animals of cattle and goats. Typically the meat of sacrificed animals are ate by the participants of the festival. The Buddha explains to him that a bloodless sacrifice is much better, such as giving gifts of generosity and practicing the precepts. He explains about a king who practices sacrifices of generosity for his people and how "in this sacrifice, Brahmin, no bulls were slain, no goats, or sheep, no cocks and pigs, nor were various living beings subject to slaughter."
(Digha Nikaya 5.18)

Thanks David,
It seemed like you were indicating that there were instances of "scolding or stopping" the purchase of something.
“Mendicants, these two [types of persons] defame the Tathāgata.
(The mendicants asked) What are the two [types of persons]?
(The Lord Buddha responded) The malicious, or the inwardly angry, and the one with (blind) faith or the one who holds things incorrectly.
Mendicants, these two [types of persons] defame the Tathāgata.”
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.
"Others will misconstrue reality based on personal perspectives, firmly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our personal perspectives, nor firmly holding them, but easily discarded."

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby cooran » Mon Feb 24, 2014 9:35 pm

Just wondering.....

In the Buddha's time, killing a cow, sheep or pig and cutting the body into saleable pieces would mean there would have to be a sizeable population in order to sell and consume the meat within a day or so - with no refrigeration, storing the meat for later consumption would be risky to health. Any thoughts?

With metta,
Chris
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby daverupa » Mon Feb 24, 2014 10:00 pm

After the bulk was sold on a given day, probably they would preserve whatever remained with salt, smoking, drying, pickling, etc., and this would last some days.
    "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 Cittasanto » Mon Feb 24, 2014 10:21 pm

cooran wrote:Just wondering.....

In the Buddha's time, killing a cow, sheep or pig and cutting the body into saleable pieces would mean there would have to be a sizeable population in order to sell and consume the meat within a day or so - with no refrigeration, storing the meat for later consumption would be risky to health. Any thoughts?

With metta,
Chris

it is hard to tell, I done a search for indian meat preservation and it wasn't exatly beaming with information.
But, this is all I could really find
http://www.preservearticles.com/2011053 ... ation.html
In the rural parts of India, perishable foods are stored in cool earthenware pots covered with wet sand and gunny cloth, wire baskets, meat safe. Grameen Sheetal is an indigenous device for keeping seeds at lower temperature.

and a little remark on sun drying on another sight.
“Mendicants, these two [types of persons] defame the Tathāgata.
(The mendicants asked) What are the two [types of persons]?
(The Lord Buddha responded) The malicious, or the inwardly angry, and the one with (blind) faith or the one who holds things incorrectly.
Mendicants, these two [types of persons] defame the Tathāgata.”
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.
"Others will misconstrue reality based on personal perspectives, firmly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our personal perspectives, nor firmly holding them, but easily discarded."

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby chownah » Tue Feb 25, 2014 4:10 am

daverupa wrote:After the bulk was sold on a given day, probably they would preserve whatever remained with salt, smoking, drying, pickling, etc., and this would last some days.

Indeed, and all these are still done in Thailand today even though everyone has refrigeration. Isn't there a rumor going around that the Buddha died shortly after eating some pickled meat?
chownah

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby cooran » Tue Feb 25, 2014 5:40 am

Hello chownah,

No, The Buddha most likely died of a Mesenteric Infarction,

How The Buddha Died - Venerable Doctor Mettanando Bhikkhu
http://www.budsas.org/ebud/ebdha192.htm

With metta,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Feb 25, 2014 9:23 am

lyndon taylor wrote:Actually you're wrong, In the case of buying meat at the supermarket, you're not actually paying for the raising and killing of the animal you're eating, you're directly paying for (instigating) the raising and killing of future animals that will then be available for you and your friends at the supermarket, so your percent of purchase price that goes to pay the butcher pays for future killing, and if enough people quit buying the meat, the butcher wouldn't get payed and the animals wouldn't get killed, is that kamma direct enough for you???


Personally I'm not too worried about any negative kamma associated with buying meat, it's more that I like animals and don't like to think about them being mistreated and killed. I realise that my personal food buying habits won't make much difference to the big picture, but from an ethical point of view I really don't want to add to the demand for meat, even in a small way. Also I'd feel like a hypocrite buying meat because it means I'd be expecting somebody else to do the killing and butchery - things I wouldn't do myself.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Aloka » Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:23 am

Spiny Norman wrote:
Personally I'm not too worried about any negative kamma associated with buying meat, it's more that I like animals and don't like to think about them being mistreated and killed. I realise that my personal food buying habits won't make much difference to the big picture, but from an ethical point of view I really don't want to add to the demand for meat, even in a small way. Also I'd feel like a hypocrite buying meat because it means I'd be expecting somebody else to do the killing and butchery - things I wouldn't do myself.



Yes, this is how I feel about it too.

:anjali:

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby clw_uk » Tue Feb 25, 2014 9:20 pm

Is it practical for everyone to be vegertarian?

If you cut out meat then wouldn't you need to cut down more forests (and kill more animals) to make way for larger and larger crops?


The idea that if you buy meat then it's unwholesome because you are supporting the killing of animals, albeit indirectly, can also be used in terms of supporting a vegetarian mode of food production which kills animals to supply the vegertarian food (cutting down forests, pesticides etc)

You could even extend this further and argue that everytime you use electricity you are killing animals, via the pollution and method of obtaining the energy (mining for coal etc)


To me that shows how absurd the argument is and how it's more aligned with Jainism than Buddhism, as It would mean that we are always trapped in kamma unless we live like a Jain.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby waterchan » Tue Feb 25, 2014 9:34 pm

I'm not even sure why this is a debate. Buying meat isn't unwholesome, and in itself, can never interpreted as unwholesome in terms of the suttas.

The appeal for vegetarianism made by sensible Buddhist laypeople and monks comes purely from a sense of compassion for the animals that suffer. Vegetarianism is entirely optional for Buddhist laypeople and ultimately irrelevant to Buddhist monks — they must eat what they're offered.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Aloka » Tue Feb 25, 2014 9:38 pm

clw_uk wrote:Is it practical for everyone to be vegertarian?


Craig, did you read the link to Ajahn Sujato's blog entry "Why Buddhists should be vegetarian" that I posted earlier in the thread ?

Excerpt:

Animals suffer much more today than they did 2500 years ago. In the Buddha’s time, and indeed everywhere up until the invention of modern farming, animals had a much better life. Chickens would wander round the village, or were kept in a coop. Cows roamed the fields. The invention of the factory farm changed all this. Today, the life of most meat animals is unimaginable suffering. I won’t go into this in detail, but if you are not aware of the conditions in factory farms, you should be. Factory farms get away with it, not because they are actually humane, but because they are so mind-bendingly horrific that most people just don’t want to know. We turn away, and our inattention allows the horror to continue.

The other huge change since the Buddha’s time is the destruction of the environment. We are all aware of the damage caused by energy production and wasteful consumerism. But one of the largest, yet least known, contributors to global warming and environmental destruction generally is eating meat. The basic problem is that meat is higher on the food chain as compared with plants, so more resources are required to produce nutrition in the form of meat. In the past this was not an issue, as food animals typically ate things that were not food for humans, like grass. Today, however, most food animals live on grains and other resource-intensive products. This means that meat requires more energy, water, space, and all other resources. In addition to the general burden on the environment, this creates a range of localised problems, due to the use of fertilisers, the disposal of vast amounts of animal waste, and so on.

One entirely predictable outcome of factory farming is the emergence of virulent new diseases. We have all heard of ‘swine flu’ and ‘bird flu’; but the media rarely raises the question: why are these two new threats derived from the two types of animals that are most used in factory farming? The answer is obvious, and has been predicted by opponents of factory farming for decades. In order to force animals to live together in such overcrowded, unnatural conditions, they must be fed a regular diet of antibiotics, as any disease is immediately spread through the whole facility. The outcome of this, as inevitable as the immutable principles of natural selection, is the emergence of virulent new strains of antibiotic resistant diseases. In coming years, as the limited varieties of antibiotics gradually lose their efficacy, this threat will recur in more and more devastating forms.

So, as compared with the Buddha’s day, eating meat involves far more cruelty, it damages the environment, and it creates diseases. If we approach this question as one of weights and balance, then the scales have tipped drastically to the side of not eating meat.

http://sujato.wordpress.com/2012/01/28/why-buddhists-should-be-vegetarian-with-extra-cute/


:anjali:

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby lyndon taylor » Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:49 pm

80% of farmland in the US is used to grow grain for animals, if everyone stopped eating meat presumably the last farm animals would be eaten by desperate meat eaters, freeing up 80% of the farmland of which maybe only 25% would be needed for the new demand of vegetarian food, that means 50% of the farmland could be returned to forest, Clw UK you full well know that and yet you insist on your fallacious arguements in favour of meat eating, if you're going to make an arguement stick to ones backed up by scientific facts not nonsense.
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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