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.

MacBook Pro – Too Much To Ask For?

MacBook ProI was talking to a friend about something I want last night. It is a large expense and one I would not normally lavish upon myself when I can so easily think of other things I need to spend my money on first. A fence for the backyard, a new car for my mother-in-law, an iMac for the family, things the kids need and so on and so forth… But I really want a MacBook Pro.

There, I said it: I want a MacBook Pro.

How would I use this laptop? Umm, I would blog on it, I would be the bestest photo guy, always updating my Picasa, I would write my books that would make millions and then I would do homework with the kids on it in their rooms.

I am pretty sure the laptop would help me become enlightened too… I really think so. I could learn all about the Buddha and his teachings, I would study and then even write some sites devoted to offering those same teachings to others.

I know, I know; this all sounds very precocious and trite: but let’s look at some other items that would be great while we are on this subject. I could handle an iPhone, and iPodTouch. (I don’t think I really need the iPod if I get the iPhone, but might as well put it out there right?) I have a great little pocket camera already, but I need a sweet DSLR to get some action pics of my kids and their sports…

I know I will feel guilty about this as soon as I post it; but there it is.

What Would You Do With 150 Years

I watched a very good presentation by Aubrey de Grey on TED. I am going to embedd the video below and then talk a little bit about these thoughts.

So this is amazing to think about, to say the least. If I could live to 150 years of age what would I do with this time? Learn languages, become a yogi, work towards Enlightenment and watch the Cubs win another series?

I first became familiar with Aubrey when I joined a site called BetterHumans and began to read his comments on the forums and his papers. He struck me as a pragmatic optimist. He could see that there is a chance we, as a race, could attain immortality, and he had the tools to do his part.

This all made me wonder why aren’t humans immortal already. I mean, you can look around at the world and realize that biodiversity is wonderful and obviously brilliant, so why not an organism that can live forever? Doesn’t that seem like the goal? I don’t think it is actually.

The goal of every organism I know of is simple: reproduce. Create offspring and ensure that your genus survives the drought, or the winter or the predator or whatever. So why would your individual genes try to create the super-being, one that would live forever if left alone.

I know that I don’t want to live forever, not in this world of suffering. But I would take an extra 60 years to get myself ready for the bardo if I don’t wake up first.