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:
- No meat is to be prepared in the kitchen of any Kagyu Monastery or Center.
- No one is to be involved in the business of buying and selling meat — for all of his students this practice must stop.
- There is to be no killing of animals on Kagyu premises.
- 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.