the great vegetarian debate

Where members are free to take ideas from the Theravāda Canon out of the Theravāda framework. Here you can question rebirth, kamma (and other contentious issues) as well as examine Theravāda's connection to other paths
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appicchato
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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
Last edited by cooran on Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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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.
Metta

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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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,
Chris
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---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
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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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Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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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

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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby kc2dpt » Sun Mar 08, 2009 12:26 am

Considering the responses I've received so far, this is my current thinking. Wording the issue another way:

If your past actions are part of the measurements used to determine demand, does that mean you are urging those who take actions to create future supply?

Put this way the answer seems to me an emphatic "no". From my understanding of the teachings, Buddhism is not concerned with the unintended consequences of one's actions. It is only concerned with intention. There has to be the intention to urge another to kill for it to constitute an offense of killing.

When you buy a product, you contribute to the measured demand, true, but at the time of your action you have no idea whether there will be enough measured demand to prompt a replenishment of supply. I have bought the last of a product only to find it never replenished; obviously the store owner was relieved to finally have the product off his hands. I have also bought a product with the very clear intention of hoping the store owner would see my purchase as significant enough to continue to supply more. I have even at times verbalized my intent to the store owner. "Please continue to carry this item." I have also chosen products based on the choices available to me; if A is available then I'll buy A, otherwise I'll by B. Clearly, to me at least, not every act of buying results in the seller feeling urged to resupply, nor is every act of buying accompanied by the intention to urge.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.

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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby Prasadachitta » Sun Mar 08, 2009 1:06 am

Maybe this thread should be in the classical Theravada Folder.

Metta

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Re: Poll: Are you vegetarian/vegan?

Postby Jason » Sun Mar 08, 2009 1:33 am

In Theravada, vegetarianism is not a requirement; however, does that mean that purchasing meat is the same as purchasing produce? My answer is no. Essentially, the meat that one purchases from the grocery store must come from an animal that has been deliberately killed; but, the same cannot be said about the fruits and vegetables that one purchases from the grocery store. Fruits and vegetables are not sentient beings, and harvesting them does not automatically entail the intentional killing of any sentient beings. If any sentient beings are killed in the harvesting of a fruit or vegetable, it is conceivable that it was accidental rather than deliberate. In the case of meat, that is not the case. The animal must almost always be deliberately killed by someone. It is true that purchasing meat from the grocery store does not ential the kamma of killing for the purchaser; however, a well-informed practitioner should be aware that an animal has to be deliberately killed for that meat to be available. Abstaining from eating meat does not free one from the web of killing and death, but it is hard to argue against the fact that doing so would at least help by not directly contributing to the meat industry that is built around the raising and killing of animals specifically for their flesh.

The way I see it, no source of food is 100% free from harming sentient beings, but the consumer does have the power to limit the amount of harm done. This can be achieved in many ways, e.g., not buying meat or at least buying meat from farmers and companies who treat their animals more humanely, buying eggs from farmers and companies who allow their hens to roam freely, buying produce from farmers and companies who do not use any pesticides, etc. So the consumer is not powerless. They can have an effect on how many animals are killed, the manner of their deaths or how they are treated in general, as well as the amount of pesticide-free produce that is sold, etc. When going to the super market, for example, that particular store keeps a record of all purchases and uses that information towards influencing store policy. Theoretically, if the the majority of consumers cease buying meat, the demand for meat will go down and less animals will need to be killed in order to meet the demand. In addition, if the majority of consumers who do purchase meat and dairy products purchase them from farmers and companies who treat and kill the animals in a more humane fashion, other companies will naturally follow suit due to the potential profit of such business practices. The same holds true for the kind of produce we buy. In a capitalist society, money is the greatest impetus for change pure and simple.

All of this ties into to the idea of personal responsibility and how far we as individuals wish to be socially active in regard to our Buddhist beliefs and practices. It is a personal choice that we each must make. For some, purchasing meat is perfectly acceptable to them since they know that the animal has been killed by another person; but for others, the purchasing of meat might not seem so acceptable when they consider things such as what meat is and how it gets to the store. Therefore, while I completely agree that in regard to the first precept the Buddha taught about personal responsibility in the form of regulating our own actions of body, speech and mind, that does not mean that we should simply turn a blind eye to where our food comes from. Does that not also fall within the realm of personal responsibility? Hence, while I agree that vegetarianism in not a requirement, I do think that it is at least a compassionate option. That is why even though there is nothing in Theravada that states this lifestyle choice is necessary or even preferred, I generally try to avoid buying meat or anything with meat in it when I go to the grocery store, out to eat at a restaurant, etc.

Just to be clear, however, I am not trying to demonize meat eating or the meat industry because that is a pointless crusade. As I said, abstaining from eating meat does not free one from the web of killing and death. Killing and death are awful facts of samsara that have the potential to arise because there are sentient beings whose minds are defiled by greed, hatred, and delusion. Besides removing oneself from the cycle of birth and death altogether, there are worldly solutions to these problems, but these solutions can merely limit the potential harm to other sentient being. In essence, besides escaping samsara, there are no perfect solutions. On top of that, condemning or demonizing another for their complicity means that we should also condemn and demonize ourselves as well. If we want to, we can find reasons to demonize internet usage. I doubt that most people are aware of how many birds are killed each year by microwave towers, but one could reason that every person who surfs the web or sends out an e-mail contributes to those deaths. Shall we cease to use the internet then?

My point is that choosing to be more socially active in our respective practices is an admirable thing to do; nevertheless, we should never forget the very nature of samsara. In his introduction to The Four Nutriments of Life: An Anthology of Buddhist Texts, Nyanaponika Thera echoes, "If we wish to eat and live, we have to kill or tacitly accept that others do the killing for us. When speaking of the latter, we do not refer merely to the butcher or the fisherman. Also for the strict vegetarian's sake, living beings have to die under the farmer's plowshare, and his lettuce and other vegetables have to be kept free of snails and other "pests," at the expense of these living beings who, like ourselves, are in search of food. A growing population's need for more arable land deprives animals of their living space and, in the course of history, has eliminated many a species. It is a world of killing in which we live and have a part. We should face this horrible fact and remain aware of it in our Reflection on Edible Food. It will stir us to effort for getting out of this murderous world by the ending of craving for the four nutriments."
"Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya" (AN 7.58).

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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby Jechbi » Sun Mar 08, 2009 1:36 am

Hello Peter,
Peter wrote:
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?
No, I'm not saying that.
Peter wrote: 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?
How well do you know this man? How many other customers does this man have? If you stopped buying meat there, would the man be inclined to slaughter fewer animals? These and a host of other factors all could contribute to whatever it is that might be regarded as "urging," depending on the definition of "urging" that everyone is accepting for the sake of discussion. And all of it is hypothetical.

What I'm saying is that your very specific questions are not specific enough to be anything but hypothetical. If you want to know what course of action you, Peter, should take in order to engage in wholesome behavior, the only way for you to know this is at that very moment when you, Peter, are confronted with the actual situation. Until then, all of this hypothetical speculation might be interesting, but I'm not sure you're ever going to get a clear, black-and-white answer that will be applicable when you actually are out in the world.

Peter wrote:When you buy a product, you contribute to the measured demand, true, but at the time of your action you have no idea whether there will be enough measured demand to prompt a replenishment of supply.
Sometimes you will have an idea whether there will be enough measured demand to prompt a replenishment of supply.
Peter wrote:... Clearly, to me at least, not every act of buying results in the seller feeling urged to resupply, nor is every act of buying accompanied by the intention to urge.
Of course not. Life's a lot more complicated than that.

I'm probably missing something in this discussion, Peter. Are you seeking thoughts and input from others in order to decide what is wholesome to do, or are you asking rhetorical questions in order to make a point?

Metta
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Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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Re: Poll: Are you vegetarian/vegan?

Postby Jechbi » Sun Mar 08, 2009 1:58 am

Elohim wrote:... we should never forget the very nature of samsara.
Nyanaponika Thera wrote:Also for the strict vegetarian's sake, living beings have to die under the farmer's plowshare, and his lettuce and other vegetables have to be kept free of snails and other "pests," at the expense of these living beings who, like ourselves, are in search of food. A growing population's need for more arable land deprives animals of their living space and, in the course of history, has eliminated many a species. It is a world of killing in which we live and have a part. We should face this horrible fact ...
:bow:
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby Ben » Sun Mar 08, 2009 2:04 am

Hi Jechbi

I think there is merit in Peter's line of inquiry. I don't think they wander off into speculative fiction-making The reason is that many of us share the common experience of buying our grocery items via an intermediary such as a supermarket. Whether Peter is formulating his own ideas based on the collective wisdom of the forum or whether he is asking the questions to make a point, it still makes a worthwhile discussion.

I think the metal hits the pedal in our personal lives and our practices when we are confronted with the mundane and extraordinary moral dilemmas faced in everyday life. How we confront them, with the Buddhadhamma as our guide and anchor, can be easy or difficult given our predelictions, circumstances and states of mind. Having made an extraordinarily difficult decision yesterday which was a breach of the first precept. My heart also goes out to all those who, like me, really struggle with the difficult and day to day situations that may ripple and echo through the lives of others.

Let's keep this discussion going.

To Gabriel

The reason this thread isn't in the Classical Theravada forum is that all responses would need to reference the Pali Canon and posts containing personal experiences, insights gained from meditation, and etc, would be off-topic and removed.
kind regards

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby Jechbi » Sun Mar 08, 2009 2:45 am

Ben wrote:I think there is merit in Peter's line of inquiry.
Thank you, Ben. I agree, and I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. I do think the specific hypothetical questions are difficult to answer in a practical way, though.
Ben wrote:Having made an extraordinarily difficult decision yesterday which was a breach of the first precept. My heart also goes out to all those who, like me, really struggle with the difficult and day to day situations that may ripple and echo through the lives of others.
:anjali: I hope you are well.
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby kc2dpt » Sun Mar 08, 2009 4:25 am

Jechbi,

You seem to be having trouble understanding the premise of the thread. I will try to explain it in more detail.

The Buddha taught that one should not only abstain from killing but also abstain from urging another to kill. Some people maintain the act of buying meat always constitutes urging another to kill, the typical argument referring to the pressures of supply and demand. I am seeking to explore in closer detail the interactions of buyer to seller and buyer to killer and see if this interaction does indeed always include the element of urging. If we find that it does then we can conclude that buying meat is precluded by the Buddha's teachings. More likely we will find it some times is so and it sometimes is not so, that the situation is more complicated as you say.

Jechbi wrote:How well do you know this man? How many other customers does this man have? If you stopped buying meat there, would the man be inclined to slaughter fewer animals? These and a host of other factors all could contribute to whatever it is that might be regarded as "urging,"

I do not agree. These factors may contribute to whether the urging is successful but they do not contribute to whether there is any urging at all. If I say to you "Go kill me some meat. Please. I'll pay you. All the cool kids are doing it." etc, then I think we can all agree I am urging you to kill, whether or not you actually go and kill something. Furthermore, we can understand from the Buddha's teaching as a whole that the nature of an action depends on the doer of that action, not the recipient of the results of that action. For example, if I lie to you but you don't believe my lie that doesn't stop my action from being unwholesome.*

Jechbi wrote:depending on the definition of "urging" that everyone is accepting for the sake of discussion

I think since this is a Dhamma discussion we need to use the definition given by the Buddha. Perhaps instead of throwing our hands up in the air and saying "we can't know" we should instead ask what the Buddha means by "urging". I understand it to mean "an action taken with the intent of persuading another to do something."

I know you said otherwise, Jechbi, but it really looks like you're saying "sometimes buying constitutes urging and sometimes is doesn't." This is a fine answer that in no way invalidates the discussion in this thread. I think some people would disagree with your answer. That's why it's a discussion.

Jechbi wrote:I do think the specific hypothetical questions are difficult to answer in a practical way, though.

I think it depends on the question. I think asking "What should I do in this hypothetical situation" is very difficult to answer in a meaningful way. But I think asking "What does Buddhism teach regarding this hypothetical situation" is not as difficult to answer. It may require a more thorough knowledge of the teachings than you or I have at present, but that is a situation remedied by asking questions.

gabrialbranbury wrote:Maybe this thread should be in the classical Theravada Folder.

Maybe it should. I will think about it.


* On the other hand, the result of the action apparently determines the strength of it's nature. For example, a gift given is wholesome but a gift given to an arahant is more wholesome than a gift given to a puthujjana.
- Peter

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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby Ben » Sun Mar 08, 2009 4:44 am

Anyway, lets get back to Peter's questions...
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby Jechbi » Sun Mar 08, 2009 4:57 am

Ben wrote:Anyway, lets get back to Peter's questions...

I thought that's what I was doing. :shrug:

Hello Peter,
Peter wrote:You seem to be having trouble understanding the premise of the thread.
I don't think so, Peter. I think the answers I provided were based on an appropriate understanding of your premise when you created this thread.

Peter wrote:I will try to explain it in more detail.

The Buddha taught that one should not only abstain from killing but also abstain from urging another to kill. Some people maintain the act of buying meat always constitutes urging another to kill, the typical argument referring to the pressures of supply and demand. I am seeking to explore in closer detail the interactions of buyer to seller and buyer to killer and see if this interaction does indeed always include the element of urging. If we find that it does then we can conclude that buying meat is precluded by the Buddha's teachings. More likely we will find it some times is so and it sometimes is not so, that the situation is more complicated as you say.

Jechbi wrote:How well do you know this man? How many other customers does this man have? If you stopped buying meat there, would the man be inclined to slaughter fewer animals? These and a host of other factors all could contribute to whatever it is that might be regarded as "urging,"

I do not agree. These factors may contribute to whether the urging is successful but they do not contribute to whether there is any urging at all.
That's an oversimplification.
Peter wrote:
Jechbi wrote:depending on the definition of "urging" that everyone is accepting for the sake of discussion

I think since this is a Dhamma discussion we need to use the definition given by the Buddha. Perhaps instead of throwing our hands up in the air and saying "we can't know" we should instead ask what the Buddha means by "urging".
I would not advise throwing our hands up in the air and saying "we can't know." I would contend that actions are made up of multiple factors, so we have to be careful not to oversimplify and thus run the risk of rationalizing our actions, for example saying that we're not "urging" someone to do something when tacitly we are doing just that.
Peter wrote:I understand it to mean "an action taken with the intent of persuading another to do something."
Yes, and intent can be obscured or unknown to us or mixed with other intents. It's not black-and-white.
Peter wrote:I know you said otherwise, Jechbi, but it really looks like you're saying "sometimes buying constitutes urging and sometimes is doesn't."
I didn't say otherwise. But that's not what I was saying at the moment when you asked if that's what I was saying. It appears you were reading too much into my comments.
Peter wrote:This is a fine answer that in no way invalidates the discussion in this thread. I think some people would disagree with your answer. That's why it's a discussion.
I expect people to disagree with my answer, particularly if they layer the answer with extra nuances that were not part of the answer to begin with, which it appears you were doing.
Peter wrote:
Jechbi wrote:I do think the specific hypothetical questions are difficult to answer in a practical way, though.

I think it depends on the question. I think asking "What should I do in this hypothetical situation" is very difficult to answer in a meaningful way. But I think asking "What does Buddhism teach regarding this hypothetical situation" is not as difficult to answer.
Sure, but then you can build the hypothetical any way you want. There are countless hypotheticals. I agree it can be interesting and even informative, but at a certain point you have to realize all that hypothesizing will only go so far in helping you decide what is wholesome to do when the situation is at hand in the present moment.

Peter, I believe I'm answering your questions in a manner that does not fit with your expectations, but I believe I understand perfectly well what you're driving at. If you regard these comments as discourteous or off-topic or lacking in understanding, please have patience with me. You also may wish to avoid assuming that I'm saying something I'm not.

Metta
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Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Mar 08, 2009 5:39 am

Chris wrote: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.

I know some teachers and some lay people like to quote the Devadatta list often to "show" that the Buddha did not make vegetarianism compulsory, but the Buddha allowed monks to follow the rules or suggestions by Devadatta, if they wanted to. It was not forbidden to follow the list, if a monk or nun wanted to. The refusal of the Buddha to accept the complete list also does not mean that he disagreed with everything in the list.

The Buddha praised Kassapa doing some ascetic practices (forest dwelling, wearing rags, etc.), some of them from the list of Devadatta (Samyutta Nikaya 16.5) which shows that the Buddha was not opposed to everything in the list. In another passage the Buddha said:

"I do not say householder, that all asceticism should be practiced; nor do I say of all asceticism that it should not be practiced" (Anguttara Nikaya 10.94).

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David N. Snyder
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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Mar 08, 2009 5:45 am

Peter wrote: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?

Exactly. Most of the references people use from the Buddha about meat were discourses given to and meant for monks. For lay people, we find things like:

All beings tremble before danger, all fear death. When a man considers this, he does not kill or cause to kill. All beings fear before danger, life is dear to all. When a man considers this, he does not kill or cause to kill.”
Dhammapada, 129-130

Monks, one possessed of three qualities is put into Purgatory according to his actions. What three? One is himself a taker of life, encourages another to do the same and approves thereof.
Monks, one possessed of three qualities is put into heaven according to his actions. What three? He himself abstains from taking life, encourages another to so abstain, and approves of such abstention
.”
Anguttara Nikaya, 3.16

"He should not kill a living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should he incite another to kill. Do not injure any being, either strong or weak, in the world.”
Dhammika Sutta, Sutta Nipata, Khuddaka Nikaya

". . . he abstains from killing living beings, exhorts others to abstain from killing living beings, and speaks in praise of the abstention from killing living beings." Samyutta Nikaya 55.7

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Jechbi
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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby Jechbi » Sun Mar 08, 2009 5:48 am

Hi Ben and Peter,

To get all the cards on the table, I have the impression that this thread is intended to make the point that it's not unwholesome behavior to buy meat in the grocery store, or at least that the behavior is justifiable. I may be mistaken about this, but if my impression is correct, I think the intended point of this thread ought to be stated openly.

In this thread, we find the following very applicable statements:
Elohim wrote:... we should never forget the very nature of samsara.
Nyanaponika Thera wrote:Also for the strict vegetarian's sake, living beings have to die under the farmer's plowshare, and his lettuce and other vegetables have to be kept free of snails and other "pests," at the expense of these living beings who, like ourselves, are in search of food. A growing population's need for more arable land deprives animals of their living space and, in the course of history, has eliminated many a species. It is a world of killing in which we live and have a part. We should face this horrible fact ...

Full disclosure: I am not a vegetarian. I go into the grocery store and purchase meat for myself and for my family. I do not assume that my behavior is completely pure, completely wholesome. Rather, I do the best that I can given my understanding at this moment.
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.
To fail to recognize our role and personal responsibility in what occurs in society strikes me as a rationalization. When we purchase, when we consume, we participate in a social order that cries out for killing, that urges killing. This is samsara. This is our reality at this moment. We shouldn't think for a minute that just because someone else killed the cow that provided the beef for our Hamburger Helper, that that means we bear no responsibility.

Certainly it doesn't rise to the same level as if we went to the farmer and told him: "Kill that cow! I want to eat him." There are multiple levels and degrees of responsibility. This is samsara.

Metta
:smile:
Rain soddens what is kept wrapped up,
But never soddens what is open;
Uncover, then, what is concealed,
Lest it be soddened by the rain.

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Re: some very specific vegetarian questions

Postby kc2dpt » Sun Mar 08, 2009 5:54 am

TheDhamma wrote:the Buddha allowed monks to follow the rules or suggestions by Devadatta, if they wanted to. It was not forbidden to follow the list, if a monk or nun wanted to.

I understand the Buddha allowed the monks to follow Devadatta's suggestions if they wanted to EXCEPT for vegetarianism. The Buddha's rules required monks to accept whatever they were given.
- Peter

Be heedful and you will accomplish your goal.


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