It’s Simple Really, Animals Are Not Food

On January 3, 2007, the leader of the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, made a strong statement against eating meat within his monasteries and centers around the world. These rules went into immediate effect that date:

  1. No meat is to be prepared in the kitchen of any Kagyu Monastery or Center.
  2. No one is to be involved in the business of buying and selling meat — for all of his students this practice must stop.
  3. There is to be no killing of animals on Kagyu premises.
  4. Karmapa is aware of monks in robes going to buy meat and does not want to see this ever again.

Below is a very well done video of the above rules that the Karmapa has laid out. Note: This video is important, but not for the feint of heart, nor for children.

I started thinking about vegetarianism a few years ago, but I was misinformed by the American medical and food industries. One book I read brought me a long way on the road to a meat free diet though, Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, I highly recommend it. I have educated myself, and with the help of some good friends, I am getting better and better at eating a solely vegetarian diet. This is not an easy task in America. This is the land of the fast food burger, pepperoni pizzas and even our American past time, baseball, demands you enjoy a hot dog or two.

December 28th, 2007, that was the date that I said, I can do this, to eating vegetarian. Yes, I have cheated a few times since then, but in large part I have been meat free. Beans have become my friends, though those around me may counter that comment. Salads are now a mainstay of my lunch and dinner. They have even become a breakfast option for me, and I like it too. Fruits and veggies were always high on my list, now they are simply the largest part of that list, along with grains, rice and other staples. Have I mentioned how much I love fresh tofu yet? Not the stuff you get in Wal-Mart or the local grocer either. Nope, I love the stuff you get in your city’s Asian district. Hey, I live in Oklahoma City, if I can find fresh tofu surely you can too.

Let me speak for a moment about vegetarianism from the Buddhist standpoint. The Buddha said, among other things, that we should give up evil actions. I view the killing of animals as an act of aggression against a sentient being. Every action produces karma, good or bad, without consideration as to our intentions or the outcome. Eating the meat is no different from being the person who slaughtered the animal for you to eat that flesh. To think otherwise is an illusion. Being a person on the path to Enlightenment, foloowing the Dharma, means I listen and try fervently to follow the Buddha and those in his lineage, such as H.H. 17th Gyalwa Karmapa, Orgyen Trinle Dorje.

I feel better physically when I am meat and dairy free too. I used to eat lunch or dinner and feel bloated and lethargic, not anymore. Here are some links you might find helpful.

  • Vegetarian books I can personally recommend are found here
  • Vegetarian cook books in general can be found here
  • Shabkar.org is an excellent site devoted to vegetarianism for Buddhists

I know this is a big step for anyone, let alone an American, so just think about it. Be mindful of your actions, show compassion and educate yourself.

The Essence of Buddha’s Teaching

I copied in whole this document from another site; http://www.lucidcafe.com/library/96jun/buddha2.html. I did so because all too often web pages that I enjoy and frequent are suddenly gone, and with the web being what it is technologically this should not happen. Once a page is available, the net should insure that the information contained on that document is always available.

Buddha set forth his teaching in the following doctrine.

The Four Noble Truths:

1. All things and experiences are marked by suffering/ disharmony/ frustration (dukkha)

2. The arising of suffering/ disharmony/ frustration comes from desire/ craving/ clinging.

3. To achieve the cessation/ end of suffering/ disharmony/ frustration, let go of desire/ craving/ clinging.

4. The way to achieve that cessation of suffering/ disharmony/ frustration, is walking the Eightfold Path.

The eightfold path to the cessation of suffering:

1. Right Understanding of the following facts:

  • the truth about suffering … (The Four Truths);
  • everything is impermanent and changes;
  • there is no separate individual self- this is an illusion. (We are one!)

2. Right Determination to:

  • give up what is wrong and evil;
  • undertake what is good;
  • abandon thoughts that have to do with bringing suffering to any conscious being; cultivate thoughts that are of loving kindness, that are based on caring for others’ suffering, and sympathetic joy in others’ happiness.

3. Right Speech:

  • Abstain from telling lies.
  • Abstain from talk that brings harm or discredit to others (such as backbiting or slander) or talk that creates hatred or disharmony between individuals and groups.
  • Abstain from harsh, rude, impolite, malicious, or abusive language.
  • Abstain from idle, useless, and foolish babble and gossip. Abstain from recrimination and negative statements.
  • Abstain from harsh speech—practice kindly speech.
  • Abstain from frivolous speech—practice meaningful speech.
  • Abstain from slanderous speech—practice harmonious speech.
  • Speak the truth if it is useful and timely. Practice only necessary speech. Let your speech be filled with loving kindness. Speak that which alleviates suffering.

4. Right Action:

  • Peaceful, honorable conduct; abstain from dishonest dealings; take concrete steps necessary to foster what is good.
  • Do things that are moral, honest, and alleviate suffering. Do not do things that will bring suffering to others or yourself.

5. Right Livelihood:

  • Abstain from making your living from an occupation that brings harm and suffering to humans or animals, or diminish their well being. This includes: activities that directly harm conscious beings, and activities that indirectly harm sentient beings, e.g., making weapons or poisons.

6. Right Effort:

  • Foster good and prevent evil;
  • Work on yourself—be engaged in appropriate self-improvement. The essence of right effort is that everything must be done with a sense of proper balance that fits the situation. Effort should be properly balanced between trying too hard and not trying hard enough. For example, strike the balance between excessive fasting and over-indulgence in food. Trying hard to progress too rapidly gets poor results, as does not trying hard enough.

7. Right Mindfulness or wakefulness:

  • Foster right attention.
  • Avoid whatever clouds our mental awareness (e.g., drugs).
  • Systematically and intentionally develop awareness.

8. Right Concentration:

  • Developed by practicing meditation and/or mental focusing. Proper meditation must be done continuously while awake, and should include work on awareness of body, emotions, thought, and mind objects.

Five basic precepts:

1. Abstain from killing living beings (from destroying/taking life)—or practice love.

2. Abstain from taking the not-given (from stealing)—or practice generosity, practice giving.

3. Abstain from sexual misconduct—or practice contentment.

4. Abstain from false speech (from lying)—or practice truthfulness.

5. Abstain from taking intoxicating drinks—or practice awareness and mental clarity.

Buddha said:

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. Do not believe anything because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything because it is written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and the benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

The following prose, attributed to Buddha, is a poetic expression of the way he saw the world.

Buddha said:

  • I consider the positions of kings and rulers as that of dust motes.
  • I observe treasures of gold and gems as so many bricks and pebbles.
  • I look upon the finest silken robes as tattered rags.
  • I see myriad worlds of the universe as small seeds of fruit, and the greatest lake in India as a drop of oil upon my foot.
  • I perceive the teachings of the world as the illusions of magicians.
  • I discern the highest conception of emancipation as a golden brocade in a dream, and view the holy path of the illuminated ones as flowers appearing in one’s eyes.
  • I see meditation as a pillar of a mountain, nirvana as a nightmare of daytime.
  • I look upon the judgments of right and wrong as the serpentine dance of a dragon, and the rise and fall of belief as traces left by the four seasons.