the great vegetarian debate

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation
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Re: David's Book: Vegetarians/Bhuddists Q/A

Postby David N. Snyder » Sat Oct 13, 2012 9:59 pm

Hanzze wrote:Does anybody know how old "buddhist" the vegetarian boom is?


That is hard to say. Is there a boom? There does seem to be somewhat of an increased interest among convert Buddhists. There appears to have been some interest at least all the way back to Ashoka's time, which was very soon after the parinibbana of Buddha.

Ashoka's Edicts wrote:Those nanny goats, ewes and sows which are with young or giving milk to their young are protected, and so are young ones less than six months old. Cocks are not to be caponized, husks hiding living beings are not to be burnt and forests are not to be burnt either without reason or to kill creatures. One animal is not to be fed to another. On the three Caturmasis, the three days of Tisa and during the fourteenth and fifteenth of the Uposatha, fish are protected and not to be sold.

Formerly, in the kitchen of Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, hundreds of thousands of animals were killed every day to make curry. But now with the writing of this Dhamma edict only three creatures, two peacocks and a deer are killed, and the deer not always. And in time, not even these three creatures will be killed.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el386.html


Ron-The-Elder wrote:I think that I could have made Buddha into a vegan if I had introduced him to a Thai dish I have only found in Rochester, New York called : "Evil Prince in The Jungle". It is made with Thai egg plant, bean sprouts, rice noodles, chilly peppers, garlic, fresh basil, and minced onions. I don't believe onions and garlic were allowed, though. "Excellent Dish!" I don't really know why. :coffee:


I know you're joking since the Buddha followed the 3-fold rule, but "Evil Prince in the Jungle" ? :tongue:

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Sun Oct 28, 2012 10:39 am

This WIKI seems to cover most points including "What Buddha said". Unfortunately what he said to Theravadins, Mahayana, and Vajrayanins seems to differ. That may explain the variations in opinion regarding the topic:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_vegetarianism :anjali:
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-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby GraemeR » Sun Oct 28, 2012 12:53 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
So if as Buddhists we choose to buy meat we are expecting somebody else to engage in wrong livelihood.

Spiny


Hmmm If I pay a hired assassin (slaughterman) to kill my wife in an abattoir, do I avoid culpability for her death? :broke:

A clear conscience and all that insurance money :clap:

Graham

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Oct 28, 2012 8:37 pm

GraemeR wrote:
Hmmm If I pay a hired assassin (slaughterman) to kill my wife in an abattoir, do I avoid culpability for her death? :broke:

A clear conscience and all that insurance money :clap:

Graham

the difference here is one is actively engaged in the process of the murder of the wife (in the example).
there is murderous intent.

but how many people go to the shops with the intent to kill an animal?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby GraemeR » Sun Oct 28, 2012 11:29 pm

Cittasanto wrote:the difference here is one is actively engaged in the process of the murder of the wife (in the example).
there is murderous intent.

but how many people go to the shops with the intent to kill an animal?


I'm not sure where you can draw the line, if I was a farmer with a pig and I took it to an abattoir to be slaughtered for me, then I know exactly what is going to happen and I am instructing someone to do it,

If I walk to work and stand on an ant, then it's clearly not intention to kill, if I go in a supermarket and buy meat, I know someone has to kill the animal on my behalf.

It may not be direct intention, but I know exactly what will have happened.

Maybe I could argue it's not my direct intention for the assassin to kill my wife, just for me to receive the insurance money :)

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:08 am

GraemeR wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:the difference here is one is actively engaged in the process of the murder of the wife (in the example).
there is murderous intent.

but how many people go to the shops with the intent to kill an animal?


I'm not sure where you can draw the line, if I was a farmer with a pig and I took it to an abattoir to be slaughtered for me, then I know exactly what is going to happen and I am instructing someone to do it,

If I walk to work and stand on an ant, then it's clearly not intention to kill, if I go in a supermarket and buy meat, I know someone has to kill the animal on my behalf.

It may not be direct intention, but I know exactly what will have happened.

Maybe I could argue it's not my direct intention for the assassin to kill my wife, just for me to receive the insurance money :)

Graham

The fact that there is no intent to kill is the line.
Knowing death happened and being the cause through intention are not the same, when you see fruit and veg the same has actually happened, animals and other life have been killed in the production.

also each factor should be in place = object (a living being) -> intention (to kill) -> Effort (to cause death) -> death (through effort)

lets put this into your wife example
object (your wife) -> intention (to kill) -> Effort (hiring an assassin to kill wife) -> death (of wife through assassins effort)
so long as the there is an intent to kill the object, and through an effort to kill the object when the object dies the full fault happens.

i know there is a certain amount of insects going to be in vegetarian food and I know they had to loose there life at some point in the production also. that doesnt stop me eating vegetarian food.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Oct 29, 2012 11:17 am

GraemeR wrote:... if I go in a supermarket and buy meat, I know someone has to kill the animal on my behalf.
It may not be direct intention, but I know exactly what will have happened.


I agree. It isn't just about intention, it's about clear comprehension of consequences. We know full well that if we choose to buy meat it will lead to more animals suffering and being slaughtered, but some of us do it anyway - presumably because we like meat and don't want to give it up.
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the great vegetarian debate

Postby GraemeR » Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:23 pm

Cittasanto wrote:The fact that there is no intent to kill is the line.
Knowing death happened and being the cause through intention are not the same, when you see fruit and veg the same has actually happened, animals and other life have been killed in the production.

also each factor should be in place = object (a living being) -> intention (to kill) -> Effort (to cause death) -> death (through effort)

lets put this into your wife example
object (your wife) -> intention (to kill) -> Effort (hiring an assassin to kill wife) -> death (of wife through assassins effort)
so long as the there is an intent to kill the object, and through an effort to kill the object when the object dies the full fault happens.

i know there is a certain amount of insects going to be in vegetarian food and I know they had to loose there life at some point in the production also. that doesnt stop me eating vegetarian food.


Is wanting the insurance money different to wanting to eat a dead animal??

OK so if I just want the insurance money, her death in inconsequential to me and I am not accountable.

object (my wife) -> intention (to get insurance money) -> Effort (hiring an agent to take action to gain insurance money) -> death (of wife through third party's effort)

I know I'm being pedantic, but I think when you know the results of your actions will have a bad effect, then you should share some guilt.

Graham

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Oct 29, 2012 2:20 pm

Hi Graham
GraemeR wrote:Is wanting the insurance money different to wanting to eat a dead animal??

OK so if I just want the insurance money, her death in inconsequential to me and I am not accountable.

you are mixing up intentions here!
the intent to kill and intent to get the insurance money are two different intentions.

object (my wife) -> intention (to get insurance money) -> Effort (hiring an agent to take action to gain insurance money) -> death (of wife through third party's effort)

I know I'm being pedantic, but I think when you know the results of your actions will have a bad effect, then you should share some guilt.

if the "third party acted independently from you i.e., you had not engaged them for services; you would not be accountable for the death, even though the insurance still paid you.

your example and association with buying meat are on two different levels, although are not 100% removed, are not comparable.
what you are talking about is intention, particularly good-will, and kamma which is both light and dark; not the precept and dark kamma.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby GraemeR » Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:46 am

Cittasanto wrote:Hi Graham

you are mixing up intentions here!
the intent to kill and intent to get the insurance money are two different intentions.

<snip>

your example and association with buying meat are on two different levels, although are not 100% removed, are not comparable.
what you are talking about is intention, particularly good-will, and kamma which is both light and dark; not the precept and dark kamma.


Hi Cittasanto

I accept I'm being facetious for the sake of the debate, but try looking at it this way:

To get insurance money:
object (my wife) -> intention (to get insurance money) -> Effort (hiring agent to create a circumstance to get money) ->Effect (death of wife through agents action)
If my intention is only to get the money and I only instruct an 'agent' to create the circumstance, am I guilty if he chooses to kill her?

To eat meat
object (Piece of dead animal: meat) -> intention (eat flesh of dead animal) -> Effort (by buying meat, indirectly hiring agent to slaughter animal) ->Effect (death of animal through agents effort, part of corpse given to me)

This time I know the animal must die to achieve the objective. If I hire the agent to get the insurance money, he could choose an alternative method, perhaps fraud. If he chooses to kill her, instead of creating an insurance fraud, am I responsible for my wife's death?

Graham

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby polarbuddha101 » Tue Oct 30, 2012 8:51 am

GraemeR wrote:
To eat meat
object (Piece of dead animal: meat) -> intention (eat flesh of dead animal) -> Effort (by buying meat, indirectly hiring agent to slaughter animal) ->Effect (death of animal through agents effort, part of corpse given to me)

This time I know the animal must die to achieve the objective. If I hire the agent to get the insurance money, he could choose an alternative method, perhaps fraud. If he chooses to kill her, instead of creating an insurance fraud, am I responsible for my wife's death?

Graham


You seem to either be ignoring or not understanding the fact that the animal is already dead and you can't do anything about it. If you go to a grocery store to buy a steak, when you get there the animal has already been dead for days/weeks. You had nothing to do with the animal getting killed and there is no way you could have stopped that animal from being killed. If you're lost in the wilderness and hungry and you come across a dead deer carcass that was killed by wolves and decide to eat the deer meat, did you indirectly hire the wolves to kill the deer? No.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:30 am

GraemeR wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:Hi Graham

you are mixing up intentions here!
the intent to kill and intent to get the insurance money are two different intentions.

<snip>

your example and association with buying meat are on two different levels, although are not 100% removed, are not comparable.
what you are talking about is intention, particularly good-will, and kamma which is both light and dark; not the precept and dark kamma.


Hi Cittasanto

I accept I'm being facetious for the sake of the debate, but try looking at it this way:

To get insurance money:
object (my wife) -> intention (to get insurance money) -> Effort (hiring agent to create a circumstance to get money) ->Effect (death of wife through agents action)
If my intention is only to get the money and I only instruct an 'agent' to create the circumstance, am I guilty if he chooses to kill her?

To eat meat
object (Piece of dead animal: meat) -> intention (eat flesh of dead animal) -> Effort (by buying meat, indirectly hiring agent to slaughter animal) ->Effect (death of animal through agents effort, part of corpse given to me)

This time I know the animal must die to achieve the objective. If I hire the agent to get the insurance money, he could choose an alternative method, perhaps fraud. If he chooses to kill her, instead of creating an insurance fraud, am I responsible for my wife's death?

Graham

my responce does not change because you are being facetious.
yes it still falls on you. too a lesser extent but there is still culpability as there was a lack of heedfulness on your part.
you are, however, not hiring someone to get meat not already available and there is an example of this in the vinaya recently shared here.
VinMv.6.31.12-13 wrote:12. ....
And Sîha, the general, gave order to a certain man (among his subalterns, saying), 'Go, my friend, and see if there is any meat to be had And when that night had elapsed, Sîha, the general, ordered excellent food (&c., as in chap. 23. 5, down to the end).

13. ....
'Do not mind it, my good Sir. Long since those venerable brethren are trying to discredit the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Samgha; and those venerable brethren do not become tired of telling false, idle, vain lies of the Blessed One. Not for our life would we ever intentionally kill a living being.'

unless meat was unavailable and then you decided to kill to get meat there is a completely different intention which has been gone over here.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:57 am

polarbuddha101 wrote:You seem to either be ignoring or not understanding the fact that the animal is already dead and you can't do anything about it. If you go to a grocery store to buy a steak, when you get there the animal has already been dead for days/weeks. You had nothing to do with the animal getting killed and there is no way you could have stopped that animal from being killed.


But if we buy meat from a grocery store, the store will then need to order in more meat which in turn will result in more animals being killed - so there is a clear chain of cause and effect.
Or to put it more simply we know that if we buy meat it will lead to more animals being killed.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby seeker242 » Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:45 am

porpoise wrote:
polarbuddha101 wrote:You seem to either be ignoring or not understanding the fact that the animal is already dead and you can't do anything about it. If you go to a grocery store to buy a steak, when you get there the animal has already been dead for days/weeks. You had nothing to do with the animal getting killed and there is no way you could have stopped that animal from being killed.


But if we buy meat from a grocery store, the store will then need to order in more meat which in turn will result in more animals being killed - so there is a clear chain of cause and effect.
Or to put it more simply we know that if we buy meat it will lead to more animals being killed.


And likewise, to think that intentionally giving money to a slaughterhouse, has no karmic consequences, is shortsighted IMO. Saying that is like saying. "Well, it's ok to buy clothing from a sweatshop that abuses children, because the clothes are already made, so it doesn't really matter." That does not make much sense.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby GraemeR » Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:10 pm

Cittasanto wrote:my responce does not change because you are being facetious.
yes it still falls on you. too a lesser extent but there is still culpability as there was a lack of heedfulness on your part.
you are, however, not hiring someone to get meat not already available and there is an example of this in the vinaya recently shared here.


Hi Cittasanto

To me one of the most important aspects of my Buddhist practice is from the Eightfold Path: Right Action. Right Act includes doing no harm.

To me it is lack of heedfulness to buy meat, which I know is a produce of an animal's killing.

If I am am directly or indirectly responsible for the death of any creature, then I consider that I am doing harm and I have done wrong.

Of course this is only my humble interpretation and view.

The Golden Rule in Buddhism is: Do No Harm.
The Buddha practised the following code of conduct in his own life:

Respect life
Earn all that you have
Control your desire, rather than allow desire to control you.


Graham

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:59 pm

GraemeR wrote:
Cittasanto wrote:my responce does not change because you are being facetious.
yes it still falls on you. too a lesser extent but there is still culpability as there was a lack of heedfulness on your part.
you are, however, not hiring someone to get meat not already available and there is an example of this in the vinaya recently shared here.


Hi Cittasanto

To me one of the most important aspects of my Buddhist practice is from the Eightfold Path: Right Action. Right Act includes doing no harm.

To me it is lack of heedfulness to buy meat, which I know is a produce of an animal's killing.

If I am am directly or indirectly responsible for the death of any creature, then I consider that I am doing harm and I have done wrong.

Of course this is only my humble interpretation and view.

The Golden Rule in Buddhism is: Do No Harm.
The Buddha practised the following code of conduct in his own life:

Respect life
Earn all that you have
Control your desire, rather than allow desire to control you.


Graham

That would (like pointed out) be different from your provided example!

Mendicants, Now what is upright intention? The intention of renunciation, the intention of non-ill-will, and the intention towards non-violence.
Mendicants, this is called upright intention!

your example has purely come from the perspective of ill-will not until later did it swap to non-violence in a separate non-comparable example and altered initial example.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Spiny Norman » Tue Oct 30, 2012 1:46 pm

GraemeR wrote:If I am am directly or indirectly responsible for the death of any creature, then I consider that I am doing harm and I have done wrong.


That's the way I feel about it. I think it's important to understand the spirit of the precepts as well as the letter - and the spirit of the precepts is clearly embodied in the principle of non-harm. With this approach, causing somebody else to kill ( like a butcher or slaughter-house worker ) is breaching the spirit of the first precept. It's like we're saying "I'm a Buddhist so I don't like to kill, but I'm happy for you to do it on my behalf" - which to me seems like sheer hypocrisy.
For most us meat-free options are readily available, so I really don't understand the need to buy meat.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Tue Oct 30, 2012 4:17 pm

I don't eat animals for various reasons (which I won't go into here) but I don't kid myself that I'm saving anyone from suffering. Let's say that a wordwide epiphany occurs tomorrow and everyone turns vegetarian. All the chickens are released. Here's my mad vision of what would happen: for about a week there would be a heck of a lot of happy wolves, jackals coyotes and dogs, then no more chickens, except for the ones people decide to keep as pets. Cows? Not sure, except they don't do all that well in the wild. Cows who have escaped from killing fields usually wander off into someone else's yard to ruminate. Pigs: wild pigs are dangerous. I used to camp in the Smokies and those bristlebacks will attack a human. Not that I blame them. I wouldn't want to contemplate the vengeance millions of freed swine would wreak on humanity.

Animals in the wild live horrible lives; everything in nature is busy killing and eating each other, there are very few exceptions.In fact, I can't think of any. If an animal doesn't die from being devoured, it usually dies from painful accident or disease. The average life expectancy of a feral cat, for example, is maybe two years. I used to volunteer with a local group that went to feral cat colonies, capture the little beasts to spay and neuter them, and re-release them. We also brought them food in the winter. They live hard lives. Anyone who abandons a cat should be turned loose naked in the mountains for a month to forage on his/her own and see how they like it.

Why do I bring this up? Because even if we shut down the horrible factory farms there is no escape from suffering. For any of us. And animals have it especially bad, except my cat who thinks she's living in the deva realm. Let's not, as vegetarians, pat ourselves on the back and think we're saviors. All we've done is make a decision not to intentionally eat animals. That's all. Doesn't make us better or worse than omnivores. When I was the moderator for the Veggie Forum over at pitiful remains of E-Sangha, that forum was a hornet's nest. Talk about suffering. I believe I cleansed my karma for a kalpa.

I'll close with the following. About once every couple of months I'll break my veggie ways and eat a cheeseburger, because I have this superstitious belief that every time I do so, a self-righteous angry vegan chokes to death on their tofu.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Oct 30, 2012 5:05 pm

BubbaBuddhist wrote:Let's say that a wordwide epiphany occurs tomorrow and everyone turns vegetarian. All the chickens are released.


I know this is a hypothetical, but in reality it would never happen in such a way. If the world did go vegetarian or mostly vegetarian, it would be a slow and gradual process. As meat consumption goes down the need and demand for breeding more animals for slaughter will go down. So there won't be this massive release of farm animals to the wild, in fact there wouldn't be any release, because the number of farm animals raised for food would gradually go down to almost zero since it would be a slow process over decades or centuries (not that it would even happen at all, but for this hypothetical).

BubbaBuddhist wrote:Animals in the wild live horrible lives; everything in nature is busy killing and eating each other, there are very few exceptions.In fact, I can't think of any. If an animal doesn't die from being devoured, it usually dies from painful accident or disease. The average life expectancy of a feral cat, for example, is maybe two years. I used to volunteer with a local group that went to feral cat colonies, capture the little beasts to spay and neuter them, and re-release them. We also brought them food in the winter. They live hard lives. Anyone who abandons a cat should be turned loose naked in the mountains for a month to forage on his/her own and see how they like it.


Yes they do live horrible lives. That is why it is the apaya state, the states of woe. The human and deva states are sugati and generally happier. Just because the animals live horrible lives, we do not need to lower ourselves to their levels. It is in fact because we are human that we need to rise above them and take the ethical road, whatever that is, not saying anything is required here, but sila is a component of the human life for those who wish to progress.

BubbaBuddhist wrote:I don't eat animals for various reasons
I'll close with the following. About once every couple of months I'll break my veggie ways and eat a cheeseburger, because I have this superstitious belief that every time I do so, a self-righteous angry vegan chokes to death on their tofu.


As I am sure you know, the hard-core vegetarians and especially the vegans would say you're not really a vegetarian. They demand 100% compliance. :D My daughter gets mad at me all the time when I say I'm mostly vegan. She emphatically states I am not a vegan since I occasionally eat animal products when eating out at a restaurant or as a guest at someone's place or even sometimes eat lard or other animal fat (I consider it a by-product) in some foods at restaurants.

BubbaBuddhist wrote:When I was the moderator for the Veggie Forum over at pitiful remains of E-Sangha, that forum was a hornet's nest. Talk about suffering. I believe I cleansed my karma for a kalpa.
You KNOW you're glad I'm back


Of course, always good to hear your opinions! It is good to hear these differing opinions so people can understand the viewpoints of all sides. For the most part, we have had very civil discussion and debates here, which is great!

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:39 pm

Love ya David :D

I think 100% compliance to anything is attachment to views. And climbing on someone's case because they don't practice 100% compliance is definitely attachment to views. :tongue:

I think it's easy to be a "passive" vegetarian, very easy in fact. I know people moan about how hard it is to quit eating meat like it's a heroic struggle with hellish demons from the lower realms. No it isn't. I did it and never looked back. The stuff is disgusting when you think about it, flesh and gristle and veins.If you think that a cow or chicken is the same thing as a dog or cat the slab of flesh isn't as appetizing. Equally easy to go on about the poor little animals, but what percentage of we flesh-avoiders actually do anything other than abstain from eating them? How many volunteer at a no-kill shelter, adopt a rescued chicken or two, throw some cash at animal-rescue causes?

BB
Love them animals, even the ornery ones
Author of Redneck Buddhism: or Will You Reincarnate as Your Own Cousin?


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