Bodhgaya - Is this a good idea?

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Bodhgaya - Is this a good idea?

Postby cooran » Mon Jan 11, 2010 9:33 pm

Hello all,

Considering that the majority of Buddhists in the world are not vegetarian, and that the Buddha ate meat when offered ..... is this a good idea ~ or will it be divisive?

Gere backs vegetarian zone at site of enlightenment
By Andrew Buncombe, NZ Hearld, Jan 9, 2010

DELHI, India -- Richard Gere the Hollywood actor who has spurned red meat for the past 30 years, has thrown his support behind a plan to transform the site of Buddha's enlightenment into a vegetarian zone to spread the message of peace.
The activist, who is taking part in a five-day training session with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist leader, in the Indian town of Bodhgaya, took part in a candlelit march this week highlighting the campaign. "Bodhgaya is a pious place and I want to come here again," the star of movies such as An Officer and a Gentleman and Pretty Woman told reporters, after joining around 500 monks and activists who took part in the march. "I am with the people who have launched this campaign."
According to Buddhist tradition, Bodhgaya, in the state of Bihar, is where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment around 500BC. Starting in the 19th century, the area gradually become a site of pilgrimage and is now visited by Buddhists from all over the world, whose presence gives it a very different character from the rest of north India's impoverished "cow belt".
Since the Dalai Lama's flight into India from Tibet in 1959, Bodhgaya has become the winter pilgrimage destination for thousands of Tibetans who live in India, and is the site of a large Tibetan market. While not taking life is the first Buddhist precept, it is not essential to be vegetarian to be a Buddhist. The Dalai Lama himself sometimes eats meat while he is away from his purely vegetarian kitchen in Dharamsala. Indeed, because of the climate and the difficulty of obtaining fresh vegetables and alternative sources of protein, many Buddhists in Tibet are not vegetarian. Neither is Gere.
The plan to turn Bodhgaya into a vegetarian zone is the project of a group called Tibetans for a Vegetarian Society that believes doing so would help spread a message of peace. Speaking last night from Bodhgaya, the group's founder, Tenzin Kunga Luding, said Gere's participation in the event had been a morale booster for the activists. "We have been calling for this since 2006 and slowly the campaign is building up," said Mr Luding. "He really was very supportive and very good to us. It has helped the cause a lot."
Mr Luding, born in India, was himself a meat-eater until the age of around 10, when he discovered how animals were raised and then slaughtered. He said that in Tibet the climate worked against a vegetarian diet but he said turning Bodhgaya into a meat-free zone would send a powerful message to the world. "In such a sacred place as this, people come to promote peace and non-violence and I think that if you kill an animal here and then sell it, then the sanctity will be spoiled," he explained. "This most sacred land will act as a model for other places to emulate and will impart more positive influence for the well-being of all humans, animals and the environment."
With the encouragement of Gere's support, the campaigners have also launched a signature campaign near the Mahabodhi temple, the world heritage-listed building said to sit on the precise spot of the enlightenment. They will next submit a petition to Bihar's chief minister, Nitish Kumar, asking him to order the city be turned into a meat-free zone.
http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php ... 44,0,0,1,0

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Re: Bodhgaya - Is this a good idea?

Postby bodom » Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:08 pm

I support any cause for the welfare of animals. Im on board. Im in.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Bodhgaya - Is this a good idea?

Postby poto » Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:15 pm

I don't think it's wise to force vegetarianism on anyone.
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -- C. S. Lewis
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Re: Bodhgaya - Is this a good idea?

Postby cooran » Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:18 pm

Do you think it will cause divisions and/or resentment among Buddhists ~ this is the holiest site. Do you think it will cause inter-sectarian aversion ...?

Did the Buddha ever suggest such a thing? .....that vegetarianism be compulsory anywhere, anytime, for anyone? Please give links to the suttas if so.

I am a vegetarian, by the way - but not a 'missionary' one, nor a 'superiority complex' one.

metta
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Re: Bodhgaya - Is this a good idea?

Postby retrofuturist » Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:19 pm

Greetings,

poto wrote:I don't think it's wise to force vegetarianism on anyone.


Agreed.

What if someone living in that city is not vegetarian, or even Buddhist?

Why should they have their diets dictated to in such a way when you've got people like Richard Gere forcing the issue despite the fact he eats meat.

Metta,
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Re: Bodhgaya - Is this a good idea?

Postby yuuki » Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:22 pm

I feel that vegetarianism is a good thing in general, since it seems like much less of a energy (and labor?) burden, given that animals we eat have in turn eaten many plants. To me it seems like there is a hierarchy of concerns here, each more important than the next:

1) Contemplation of both the life-taking nature and the necessity of feeding
2) Acknowledging gifts and encouraging donors
3) Trying to minimize the impact of our place in the food chain

I think it is a particularly Buddhist perspective to regard all food as precious and not try to absolve oneself of one's total impact on other lives. It is a middle way between normal feeding (ignoring the impact) and the kind of delusional vegetarianism that disregards the lives of plants and the human (and therefore animal) labor that goes into plant farming.

However I think the important issue here is politics. Every government of size necessarily violates at least two precepts by taking life and taking that which is not given. This particular policy will violate those two precepts. There will be money appropriated, without voluntary offering by the people, toward the execution of this policy, and violators of this policy will face a series of penalties that end in the taking of their lives. Don't follow the rule, get fined. Don't pay the fine, go to jail. Don't go to jail, get shot. Or some similar, perhaps longer route to killing. I don't think people tend to realize that no matter how enlightened the ends of policy are, the means of implementing policy is not pretty business.

Now as lay Buddhists we can be beneficiaries of government action, just like the Buddha can eat meat that he is offered as a gift while having a precept against the taking of life. However encouraging government action (which necessarily violates even the lay precepts), or encouraging particular policies seems to be the same as the Buddha asking to slaughter a cow on his behalf, or asking a burglar to steal on our behalf. It feels to me like a terrible misrepresentation of Buddhist virtue.

Personally it turns me off whenever a teacher says anything about government or gives a political position, and I even hesitate myself in writing this post.

Or maybe I have the entirely wrong perspective on this.

In short: it'd be nice if everyone were vegetarian (or if everyone were Buddhist, for that matter) but I don't see force as a very skillful means of accomplishing that.
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Re: Bodhgaya - Is this a good idea?

Postby bodom » Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:30 pm

My understanding is that this is only a campain and if it has enough support from the people it may be passed by bill. This is not the goverment enforcing anything on anyone. This is no different from anti-abortion or same sex marriage campaigns.

:anjali:
Last edited by bodom on Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Bodhgaya - Is this a good idea?

Postby cooran » Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:39 pm

My understanding is that this is only a campain and if it has enough support from the people it may be passed by bill


Which people? The millions of buddhists who are not vegetarian around the world? The hundreds of thousands who save all their lives and make a Pilgrimage to the holy sites, and add untold benefit to the lical economy? Which people?

And how does this reflect the Buddha's teachings on what is permissable to eat, as found in the Tipitaka?

Is this Vajrayana wanting to take over at Bodhgaya?

metta
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Re: Bodhgaya - Is this a good idea?

Postby bodom » Mon Jan 11, 2010 10:53 pm

cooran wrote:
My understanding is that this is only a campain and if it has enough support from the people it may be passed by bill


Which people? The millions of buddhists who are not vegetarian around the world? The hundreds of thousands who save all their lives and make a Pilgrimage to the holy sites, and add untold benefit to the lical economy? Which people?

And how does this reflect the Buddha's teachings on what is permissable to eat, as found in the Tipitaka?

Is this Vajrayana wanting to take over at Bodhgaya?

metta
Chris


I think its important to remember that this has not yet happened. This has not been forced on the people. Vajrayana wanting to taking over Bodhgaya is all speculation. Dont read so much into it.

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Bodhgaya - Is this a good idea?

Postby Ben » Mon Jan 11, 2010 11:48 pm

Hi Chris
cooran wrote:Do you think it will cause divisions and/or resentment among Buddhists ~ this is the holiest site. Do you think it will cause inter-sectarian aversion ...?

Did the Buddha ever suggest such a thing? .....that vegetarianism be compulsory anywhere, anytime, for anyone? Please give links to the suttas if so.

I am a vegetarian, by the way - but not a 'missionary' one, nor a 'superiority complex' one.

metta
Chris


I share your concerns. While I acknowledge the intentions of the organisers may be wholesome, I wonder how skilful the execution. Not only does the cause condition division, but it may also misrepresent the Dhamma as a path of vegetarianism. While I have adopted a vegetarian diet as an expression of my Dhamma practice, I think that the adoption of vegetarianism should be a personal decision and not one proscribed by another.
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Re: Bodhgaya - Is this a good idea?

Postby cooran » Tue Jan 12, 2010 12:45 am

Thank you Ben. This is what I was trying to say. :smile:

metta
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Re: Bodhgaya - Is this a good idea?

Postby suanck » Tue Jan 12, 2010 1:38 am

Ben wrote:
I share your concerns. While I acknowledge the intentions of the organisers may be wholesome, I wonder how skilful the execution. Not only does the cause condition division, but it may also misrepresent the Dhamma as a path of vegetarianism. While I have adopted a vegetarian diet as an expression of my Dhamma practice, I think that the adoption of vegetarianism should be a personal decision and not one proscribed by another.
kind regards


Well said, Ben. Sadhu!

I also noted that during my pilgrimage to Sri Lanka, when I visited Anuradhapura -- a well-known historical Buddhist site, I was told by our tour guide that the sale of alcohol is prohibited in this city.

Don't know if similar regulation applied for Bodhgaya of India?

Suan.
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Re: Bodhgaya - Is this a good idea?

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Jan 12, 2010 2:36 am

cooran wrote:Is this Vajrayana wanting to take over at Bodhgaya?


I don't think so when you consider that most Vajrayana Buddhists eat meat and most of the Rinpoches also eat meat. It appears to be more the work of some vegetarian Buddhists, who just happen to be Vajrayana Buddhists too. There are also many vegetarian Buddhists who follow Zen, Mahayana, Theravada, etc.

Here is what King Ashoka said:

The Major Rock Edict at Girnar is Ashoka's first rock edict, and reads as follows:

"Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, has caused this Dhamma edict to be written. Here (in my domain) no living beings are to be slaughtered or offered in sacrifice. Nor should festivals be held, for Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, sees much to object to in such festivals, although there are some festivals that Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, does approve of.

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."
Major Rock Edict, Girnar


It is clear that King Ashoka wanted to gradually phase out the killing of animals for food. Here we are over 2,500 years later and it appears the people are still not ready. So I don't know if I support the idea just yet. Perhaps a ban on slaughterhouses in the city of Bodh Gaya might be a reasonable compromise? I'm not sure though, because I know there are other religions represented there too, including a sizable Muslim community.
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Re: Bodhgaya - Is this a good idea?

Postby Sanghamitta » Tue Jan 12, 2010 8:58 am

Ben wrote:Hi Chris
cooran wrote:Do you think it will cause divisions and/or resentment among Buddhists ~ this is the holiest site. Do you think it will cause inter-sectarian aversion ...?

Did the Buddha ever suggest such a thing? .....that vegetarianism be compulsory anywhere, anytime, for anyone? Please give links to the suttas if so.

I am a vegetarian, by the way - but not a 'missionary' one, nor a 'superiority complex' one.

metta
Chris


I share your concerns. While I acknowledge the intentions of the organisers may be wholesome, I wonder how skilful the execution. Not only does the cause condition division, but it may also misrepresent the Dhamma as a path of vegetarianism. While I have adopted a vegetarian diet as an expression of my Dhamma practice, I think that the adoption of vegetarianism should be a personal decision and not one proscribed by another.
kind regards

Ben

Well said. I think for Buddhism to embrace any form of diet as a matter of insitutional collective morality would be an unwelcome innovation, The decision to include meat in the diet has always been a matter of individual choice for Theravadin Buddhists, and this would an attempt at cultural imperialism.. To impose values of some western Buddhists onto the Buddhist world at large. It wont succeed, and it doesnt deserve to. Buddhism is not Hinduism. It does not have a concept like the three gunas. It does not divide food into clean or unclean. The Buddha made the conditions in which meat can be ethically eaten quite clear. A preoccupation with secondary issues like what other Buddhists eat is to miss the point and to risk division.
I have a friend who is a follower of Kargyu Tibetan Buddhism, one of the two rival claimants for the leadership of this school a while back asked for all his centres to become vegetarian, according to my friend, who follows a group which supports the Karmapa who advocates vegetarianism, his request is being widely and quietly ignored. There is no history outside of some Chinese schools of vegetarianism being imposed on Buddhists.
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