some very specific vegetarian questions

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some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby kc2dpt » Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:59 pm

The Buddha taught it is unwholesome to urge another to kill, that it is a violation of the fifth precept.

Does purchasing meat at a meat store constitute urging another to kill?

What if the man selling you the meat does his own animal slaughtering? That means he himself gets the money from the sale and he himself makes the decision to kill.

What if the man selling you the meat places orders from a slaughterhouse? That means he gets the money and then he urges another to kill.

What if the man selling is an employee of the store and not in charge of placing new orders? That means he takes your money but he doesn't get it. Rather he gets a set salary regardless of which items he sells you. It also means another person you never see looks at the total sales for the week and decides how much to order the next week in the hopes that the same number of sales will be made.

What if local sales numbers aren't looked at by anyone. Rather national averages are used to determine how much new meat is ordered?

What about buying vegetables in a store that also sells meat? That means economically supporting that store.

What about buying non-organic vegetables rather than organic vegetables? That means rewarding those who use pesticides to grow their food.

What about you, a doctor, treating the illness of someone who works in a slaughterhouse? By treating them you allow them to return to work.

At what point in the chain of relations and interdependencies is our behavior deemed wholesome or unwholesome?

What about giving money to a homeless person? They are likely going to spend that money on alcohol, a violation of the fifth precept. Is that act of giving unwholesome?
- Peter

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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Mar 05, 2009 9:08 pm

Rather than answering my opinion on each of those, I think I can do it with just one answer:

You could use those examples for just about anything, such as alcohol, guns, or anything else that the Buddha deemed unwholesome. The Suttas refer to those in the trade of meat, weapons, alcohol, etc. To me this means just the owners, not the delivery people, employees, etc.

So my opinion would be the owner of the unwholesome business and anyone who directly buys the unwholesome products, such as poisons for killing, assault weapons, alcohol, and then yes, meat. Unwholesome, perhaps unethical, not illegal.
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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby kc2dpt » Fri Mar 06, 2009 4:01 am

TheDhamma wrote:To me this means just the owners
...
So my opinion would be the owner of the unwholesome business and anyone who directly buys

Which is it? Just the owners or both the owners and buyers?

...anyone who directly buys the unwholesome products...

The product itself is unwholesome? In that case then how could any meat be deemed blameless by the Buddha?

And you didn't answer my question at all.
Does purchasing meat at a meat store constitute urging another to kill?
The reason for all those cases is for you to demonstrate exactly how the buyer is urging the killer.
Needless to say, if you don't want to address the question then don't bother posting. :rolleye:
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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby GOTAMIST » Fri Mar 06, 2009 5:06 am

Which is it? Just the owners or both the owners and buyers?


Traditionally speaking just the butcher. Most would say there is no blame in buying meat since the intention is just to buy food. However this is a complex issue. It is true the buddha permitted the eating of meat. This should however not be taken as a rule to eat meat. Times were very different.

The product itself is unwholesome? In that case then how could any meat be deemed blameless by the Buddha?


Trade in meat as a profession is unwholesome. Meat itself is just meat, nothing more. Buying meat indeed is a way of urging a butcher to kill more animals so what is going on here? The buddha said not urge others to kill right.

Buying meat just to buy food cannot be the intention of a rational human being. You would have to be completely ignorant. The full intention must be this:
Buying meat just for food while not caring about beings being killed and not caring about urging the butcher to kill.

This cannot be a wholesome intention. What is true however is that it is still up to the butcher to kill or not. He doesn't have to kill, it is a choice he makes.

There is no simple answer to this. I would say this:

Do you care about the animals being killed: yes? then don't buy meat.
Do you care about the butcher accumulating bad kamma when killing: yes? then don't buy meat
Do you care about the worldhunger eating meat has a great part in: yes? then don't buy meat.

the buddha never bought meat! :lol:

Be aware that the buddha bhikkhus and bhikkhunis mostly ate scrap meat when they consumed meat. Meaning that it was forbidden if it was killed for them especially. And if they were prescribed meat as a medicine (wich happened) it was only to keep the body alive in order to eradicate suffering and teach the dhamma to humans and devas so they may be happy.

Also the most important thing to keep in mind that if all people in the world followed the 8thfold path, eating meat wouldn't even be possible! Who would be there to kill animals for meat? The buddha cared about human beings and other living beings. That means that global vegetarianism would have been one important results in teaching human beings if everybody in the world followed the dhamma. Not because eating meat as a substance is bad but because killing is bad and global vegetarianism would be a result of not killing. Unfortunately i don't see this happen any time soon :lol: .

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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby Prasadachitta » Fri Mar 06, 2009 6:28 am

Peter wrote:The Buddha taught it is unwholesome to urge another to kill, that it is a violation of the fifth precept.

Does purchasing meat at a meat store constitute urging another to kill?

What if the man selling you the meat does his own animal slaughtering? That means he himself gets the money from the sale and he himself makes the decision to kill.

What if the man selling you the meat places orders from a slaughterhouse? That means he gets the money and then he urges another to kill.


I would not use those words to describe what is happening. However there is complicity.

Peter wrote:
What if the man selling is an employee of the store and not in charge of placing new orders? That means he takes your money but he doesn't get it. Rather he gets a set salary regardless of which items he sells you. It also means another person you never see looks at the total sales for the week and decides how much to order the next week in the hopes that the same number of sales will be made.

What if local sales numbers aren't looked at by anyone. Rather national averages are used to determine how much new meat is ordered?


What if? Either way when meat is purchased it necessitates killing. It does not matter who has to do it. You could buy meat from a source which has better practices in terms of the living standards and methods of killing livestock. We can always work on our ethics and this is a simple area to improve in I think.

What about buying vegetables in a store that also sells meat? That means economically supporting that store.


We can support all kinds of people in all kinds of ways but that does not mean we are complicit in all the unskillful deeds they do. Its no different with an institution.

What about buying non-organic vegetables rather than organic vegetables? That means rewarding those who use pesticides to grow their food.

Again, there is always room for improvement. We have the Buddha to remind us of that.

What about you, a doctor, treating the illness of someone who works in a slaughterhouse? By treating them you allow them to return to work.


The doctor might also be allowing them to go and get ordained and become enlightened. You never Know.

At what point in the chain of relations and interdependencies is our behavior deemed wholesome or unwholesome?

If you regularly make a decision which necessitates killing I would say its a relatively unwholesome act. It is true that much of what we consume and enjoy involves killing but that does not mean it necessitates it. National security is a good example. I enjoy the relative peace and security which some argue necessitates killing. But there is room for me to argue that it is possible to enjoy such security without that kind of killing.
With eating meat there is no way to out. A being must get deliberately killed by someone for that food to be enjoyed.

What about giving money to a homeless person? They are likely going to spend that money on alcohol, a violation of the fifth precept. Is that act of giving unwholesome?


Once again, they might buy food.


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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby kc2dpt » Fri Mar 06, 2009 1:37 pm

gabrielbranbury wrote:I would not use those words to describe what is happening. However there is complicity.

How does "complicity" relate to the Buddha's teachings on killing?

when meat is purchased it necessitates killing.

Not exactly. When mean is purchased it necessitates that a being has been previously killed.


The doctor might also be allowing [the butcher] to go and get ordained and become enlightened. You never Know.
...
Once again, [homeless person] might buy food.

Why are you willing to make up stories for these cases but not for buying meat from a butcher? A person buys inventory for their store and this often is done on credit. They have to sell their stock in order to not be in debt. By purchasing a butcher's existing inventory, animals that were killed in the past, you are freeing up the butcher to close up shop and take up some other form of employment. Unlikely? Maybe but any more so that your stories above? If you are going to say "This actions is OK because it has a possible, though unlikely, outsome" then shouldn't you apply that thinking fairly across the board?
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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby Prasadachitta » Fri Mar 06, 2009 2:41 pm

Peter wrote:
gabrielbranbury wrote:I would not use those words to describe what is happening. However there is complicity.

How does "complicity" relate to the Buddha's teachings on killing?


I think it relates to the spirit of the teaching if not technically the letter.


when meat is purchased it necessitates killing.

Not exactly. When mean is purchased it necessitates that a being has been previously killed.


Yes Exactly. It necessitates that a being has previously been killed. If one wishes to eat meat in the future that person knows it will continue to necessitate killing.


The doctor might also be allowing [the butcher] to go and get ordained and become enlightened. You never Know.
...
Once again, [homeless person] might buy food.

Why are you willing to make up stories for these cases but not for buying meat from a butcher? A person buys inventory for their store and this often is done on credit. They have to sell their stock in order to not be in debt. By purchasing a butcher's existing inventory, animals that were killed in the past, you are freeing up the butcher to close up shop and take up some other form of employment. Unlikely? Maybe but any more so that your stories above? If you are going to say "This actions is OK because it has a possible, though unlikely, outsome" then shouldn't you apply that thinking fairly across the board?


I didnt make any stories up. People do get ordained and homeless people do buy food. These are things I have direct experience with. It is unfathomable to me that the purchasing and eating of meat could go on without there necessarily being animal slaughter.

I dont judge people who eat meat. We can all work on our ethics. I think if we spend too much time rationalizing our actions according to a "code of conduct" we will miss the kind of attitude that is implied by the code. In my opinion the more successful we are at cultivating a skillful attitude the less we will have to think about such rationalization.

I used to love eating meat. I can see in my own experience how I am more comfortable and at ease since I stopped. I remember that I used to spend a small but significant amount of mental energy justifying or trying not to be aware of how I was complicit in the killing of animals.


Metta

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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Mar 06, 2009 3:10 pm

Peter wrote:Which is it? Just the owners or both the owners and buyers?
And you didn't answer my question at all.
Does purchasing meat at a meat store constitute urging another to kill?
The reason for all those cases is for you to demonstrate exactly how the buyer is urging the killer.
Needless to say, if you don't want to address the question then don't bother posting. :rolleye:

I did answer those questions in the other thread. I am not sure why we are discussing the same exact things in two threads, but I answered those about 7 hours before you posted this yesterday.

See: viewtopic.php?f=13&t=805&start=35

But anyway here it is again:

Just the owner of the trade, be it poisons, assault weapons, alcohol, meat and in my opinion those who directly purchase those items; not the delivery people, employees, etc.

You could replace meat with alcohol, poisons, etc. and see that it is just those directly involved, for example the person who buys alcohol and the owner of the liquor store; both unwholesome, not illegal.

Every time someone buys a vegetable or fruit in a grocery it is sort of a "vote" for those items. It is supply and demand. It doesn't matter if the store also sells meat. If someone only buys the non-meat items, it is those items that will become in short supply and then the manager will order more of those items. I see nothing wrong or unwholesome in purchasing vegetarian items at a store that also sells meat or ordering vegetarian at a restaurant that also serves meat. So as mentioned above, just the owner of the business or the one directly buying is something I would not do, the delivery people, etc. pose no harm.
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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby David N. Snyder » Fri Mar 06, 2009 3:19 pm

GOTAMIST wrote:the buddha never bought meat! :lol:

Be aware that the buddha bhikkhus and bhikkhunis mostly ate scrap meat when they consumed meat. Meaning that it was forbidden if it was killed for them especially. And if they were prescribed meat as a medicine (wich happened) it was only to keep the body alive in order to eradicate suffering and teach the dhamma to humans and devas so they may be happy.

Also the most important thing to keep in mind that if all people in the world followed the 8thfold path, eating meat wouldn't even be possible! Who would be there to kill animals for meat? The buddha cared about human beings and other living beings. That means that global vegetarianism would have been one important results in teaching human beings if everybody in the world followed the dhamma. Not because eating meat as a substance is bad but because killing is bad and global vegetarianism would be a result of not killing. Unfortunately i don't see this happen any time soon :lol: .

Make up your mind and be honest to yourself.

:goodpost: :twothumbsup:

Excellent post, Gotamist.
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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby Jechbi » Fri Mar 06, 2009 6:05 pm

Hi Peter,

I'll give you my opinion based on my understanding of the Dhamma, which may well be flawed. If this doesn't help toward answering your question, then just ignore.

Seems to me the only important question from the above is this one:
Peter wrote:At what point in the chain of relations and interdependencies is our behavior deemed wholesome or unwholesome?

To which the answer is: In the present moment.

All of the other questions are hypotheticals that aren't going to do much good in helping you decide in the present moment what is wholesome to do. Each of us needs to make that decision based on the best application of the wisdom that we have developed to that point in time, and it's always going to be different for each person in each circumstance. That's the kind of "moral relativism" that drives some folks nuts, but really, it's the best we can do. Literally the very best.

When you're at the grocery store, trust your insights. You may make a mistake. If so, be mindful of any apparent consequences you can discern. Keep on practicing, and don't worry.

Peter, you know more about this stuff than most of us here, so if this view I've put forth is at odds with your understanding, I'll welcome your feedback.

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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby Individual » Fri Mar 06, 2009 10:27 pm

Peter wrote:The Buddha taught it is unwholesome to urge another to kill, that it is a violation of the fifth precept.

Does purchasing meat at a meat store constitute urging another to kill?

No, but it does constitute providing a livelihood for killers of animals, torturers of animals, and it's a very big contribution to global warming, without a wholesome justification.

Peter wrote:What if the man selling you the meat does his own animal slaughtering? That means he himself gets the money from the sale and he himself makes the decision to kill.

What if the man selling you the meat places orders from a slaughterhouse? That means he gets the money and then he urges another to kill.

What if the man selling is an employee of the store and not in charge of placing new orders? That means he takes your money but he doesn't get it. Rather he gets a set salary regardless of which items he sells you. It also means another person you never see looks at the total sales for the week and decides how much to order the next week in the hopes that the same number of sales will be made.

What if local sales numbers aren't looked at by anyone. Rather national averages are used to determine how much new meat is ordered?

What about buying vegetables in a store that also sells meat? That means economically supporting that store.

What about buying non-organic vegetables rather than organic vegetables? That means rewarding those who use pesticides to grow their food.

What about you, a doctor, treating the illness of someone who works in a slaughterhouse? By treating them you allow them to return to work.

At what point in the chain of relations and interdependencies is our behavior deemed wholesome or unwholesome?

What about giving money to a homeless person? They are likely going to spend that money on alcohol, a violation of the fifth precept. Is that act of giving unwholesome?

Even when it comes to farming, farming often relies on manure (which is produced by animal husbandry -- and the owners again often breed and sell livestock for meat), milk and all related dairy products tend to come from cow farmers who also breed and sell livestock for meat, and furthermore farming involves the killing of insects through field-plowing and the use of pesticides.

So, with both of our examples, we can see that there are problems with the extremes of moral absolutism, such as taking, "Do not kill," as a radical extreme or absolute. And that is what I would say is the key problem. It's not that extreme vegetarianism or extreme opposition to vegetarianism is the problem, but rather, it's when people appeal to a certain fixed standard out of craving and ignorance, without practicing discernment to understand what is truly the middle way, devoid of radical asceticism and hedonism.

"Do not kill" (which I would associate with humble vegetarianism) is a good guideline for skillful action, dependent on various observable factors of cause & effect. It is not, however, a divine issuance of absolute morality.
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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby kc2dpt » Sat Mar 07, 2009 8:18 pm

I am disappointed no one had the courtesy to address my very specific questions but instead resorted to answering unasked questions. Perhaps I was not clear enough in what I wanted to discuss.

I am interested in discussing the Buddha's teaching on what constitutes "killing" as it relates to buying meat. This is given as:

1. One kills living beings by one's own hand
2. One urges another to do it
3. One grants permission to another to do it
4. One speaks in praise of killing

Obviously when buying meat one does not kill by one's own hand (1). Also, the seller does not require permission to kill from the buyer (3). Also, I have never seen or heard anyone speak in praise of killing while buying meat (4). If there is any point of discussion I think it is point (2) urging another to kill.

Please note I am not asking if you are of the opinion that buying meat is wrong, or unwholesome, or unethical, or un-environmental, or something you just don't want to do. I am asking very specifically if and how buying meat constitutes urging another to kill.

In a scenario where the seller has live animals and a buyer says "I'll give you some money if you give me some meat" then I can see that constituting urging the seller to kill.

What about a scenario where the seller kills previous to any customers coming to buy? In this case we cannot match up a specific customer with a specific act of killing. Rather the seller considers that in the past he has sold meat, therefore in the future he might sell meat, therefore he will kill in the hopes that there will be customers tomorrow. Does this constitute the buyer urging the seller to kill? Maybe.

What about a scenario where the seller does not actually himself kill but it happens somewhere further up the supply chain? In this case there is no direct interaction between the buyer and the killer. If the buyer and the killer never meet, never have a direct interaction, then can we say the buyer urges the killer? With no direct interaction it seems to me to get hazy. We would have to think about how our action might be perceived by people we never meet, what effects it might have... this seems to me to stray from the Buddha's teachings, which tend to be very direct and immediate. Urging another to kill, if taken in the context of the rest of the Buddha's teachings, seems to me to refer to a very immediate and deliberate action. There would have to be the intention of urging, something like "May someone somewhere be motivated by this purchase to engage in future killing."

Your thoughts?
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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby cooran » Sat Mar 07, 2009 8:58 pm

Hello Peter,

Interesting thread. Lots of 'eel wriggling' going on. :smile:

It is forbidden for a monk to eat meat if:

1. One kills the living being by one's own hand
2. One urges another to do it
3. One grants permission to another to do it
4. One speaks in praise of killing

As I understand it, Devadatta (the jealous relative and disciple of the Buddha who tried to injure and kill him) split the Sangha over the Vegetarian issue.
He wished the Buddha to state that eating meat was completely wrong and the Buddha refused,even knowing that the cost would be splitting the Sangha.

Although the Buddha thought that Vegetarianism is the preferred manner of eating, he resisted making it compulsory for monks, who are allowed to eat meat as long as they are unaware that the specific animal was killed specifically for their benefit. From the Buddha's perspective, vegetarianism is connected with extreme forms of asceticism, which he wants to avoid.

metta
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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby Ben » Sat Mar 07, 2009 9:32 pm

Dear Members

Out of respect to Peter, the original poster in this thread, please answer some or all of the questions he posed. Please keep the content of your post on-topic or it will be removed without warning.
Thanks for your cooperation.

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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby appicchato » Sat Mar 07, 2009 9:34 pm

Chris wrote:From the Buddha's perspective, vegetarianism is connected with extreme forms of asceticism, which he wants to avoid.

Hi Chris,

May I ask how you formulated this conclusion?...
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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby cooran » Sat Mar 07, 2009 9:51 pm

Hello Bhante,

It is my understanding from various sources. Do you have Peter Harvey's "An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics"?

The chapter on "Attitude and Treatment of the Natural World (Meat eating in early and Theravada Buddhism)" is interesting.

EDIT: I am shortly going to Dhammagiri for the day for the Alms round, Sutta Study and Meditation. I'll look at typing out the relevant pages when I get back home.

metta and respect,
Chris
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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby Ben » Sat Mar 07, 2009 9:52 pm

Hi Peter,

What about a scenario where the seller does not actually himself kill but it happens somewhere further up the supply chain? In this case there is no direct interaction between the buyer and the killer. If the buyer and the killer never meet, never have a direct interaction, then can we say the buyer urges the killer? With no direct interaction it seems to me to get hazy. We would have to think about how our action might be perceived by people we never meet, what effects it might have... this seems to me to stray from the Buddha's teachings, which tend to be very direct and immediate. Urging another to kill, if taken in the context of the rest of the Buddha's teachings, seems to me to refer to a very immediate and deliberate action. There would have to be the intention of urging, something like "May someone somewhere be motivated by this purchase to engage in future killing."


Hi Peter
This is where I think many of us are at. We go to the supermarket or butcher and select packaged meat from a shelf. What I would ask in such an instance is 'where is the causation between my buying of meat at the supermarket or butcher and the death of that or another animal. In the first instance, there is no causation. I haven't caused the death of the animal whose meat I purchase. In the second instance, I don't believe there is a clear causal path between my intention to purchase meat and the death of another animal. In fact, I don't believe that it is clear that I am urging another to kill. There are also a number of market steps between the meat processor and the customer. What is urging another to kill is the financial imperative and the knowledge of past history of supply and demand, and market prices. Me as ultimate purchaser of the meat may, at an infintesimal level, influence things like market prices, but its a far cry from urging.

I hope I have made sense.
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in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
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saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby cooran » Sat Mar 07, 2009 9:55 pm

Hello Bhante,

What is your understanding of the Buddha's refusal to make a clear pronouncement that eating ANY meat is forbidden or unwholesome?
It would have been so easy for him to state this. And yet, he refused, and, as I understand it, it was a condition for a split in the Ordained Sangha.

metta and respect,
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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby Jechbi » Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:44 pm

Hi Peter,

Peter wrote:I am disappointed no one had the courtesy to address my very specific questions but instead resorted to answering unasked questions.

At the risk of being discourteous, I'd like to address once again this specific question:
Peter wrote:At what point in the chain of relations and interdependencies is our behavior deemed wholesome or unwholesome?

The answer is that this occurs in the present moment.

The rest of your very specific questions are not specific enough to answer in a way that would be meaningful or true in all cases. These are all hypotheticals, and in each case other factors also will come into play. You can discuss endless scenarios. I'm not sure if that moves you toward liberation, or toward papañca. You'll need to make that judgement for yourself.

Peter wrote:Please note I am not asking if you are of the opinion that buying meat is wrong, or unwholesome, or unethical, or un-environmental, or something you just don't want to do. I am asking very specifically if and how buying meat constitutes urging another to kill.
That will depend on the circumstances in each individual case. I assume you are asking because you would like to know what it would be wholesome for you, yourself, to do. The only opportunity you will have to make that determination is in the present moment when the circumstance is at hand. You can plan ahead all you want, but things will never be exactly what you expect when the moment arrives. All of these hypothetical scenarios that you are putting forth do not lend themselves to simple, black-and-white answers.

Peter wrote:Your thoughts?
You now have them. I hope I have been courteous. I realize you may still be disappointed.

Metta
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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby kc2dpt » Sun Mar 08, 2009 12:19 am

Chris wrote:the Buddha ... resisted making it compulsory for monks

I am not asking about monks on alms round but rather laypeople in the supermarket. I suppose a relevant question might be "Is there a difference between the two?" I think the choice of a lay person shopping versus the lack of choice of a monk receiving alms is a significant difference. Maybe you disagree?

Chris wrote:From the Buddha's perspective, vegetarianism is connected with extreme forms of asceticism, which he wants to avoid.

An intriguing angle. I'll be curious to see how you and Bhante Appicchato develop this thought.

Ben wrote:What is urging another to kill is the financial imperative and the knowledge of past history of supply and demand, and market prices. Me as ultimate purchaser of the meat may, at an infintesimal level, influence things like market prices, but its a far cry from urging.

[emphasis added by me]
Interesting. Thank you. I think this hits the crux of the issue.

Jechbi wrote:The rest of your very specific questions are not specific enough to answer in a way that would be meaningful or true in all cases.

Are you saying in some cases the buyer urges the killer and in other cases he doesn't? Usually people in this debate either assert buying meat always results in urging more killing or it doesn't always result in urging more killing. Perhaps you could pick one of the above cases and demonstrate a more specific example wherein there is urging and another specific example wherein there is not urging. Perhaps take the simplest example: purchasing meat from a man who slaughters his own meat each morning to serve the expected day's demand. Under what circumstances whould there be urging and what circumstances wouldn't there be urging?
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.
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