Eating meat

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    • #31459

      Imagine a scenario I don’t kill animals but eat meat( which doesn’t have any subtle body ) so doest it become a Sin to eat meat.

    • #31460
      y not

      As far as I read, the Buddha allowed the eating of meat – as long as the kill was not carried out specifically for Him or the Bhikkhus. When the meat is there ready for consumption, the deed has already been committed.

      But this needs going into a bit further. If there were no killing of animals – no slaughterhouses, no fishing, no hunting -many communities on the planet would die of starvation. A counter argument by the ‘pro-life’ activists goes: if everyone started refraining from eating meat as from tomorrow, the demand would not be there, so eventually neither will be the supply. End of the problem.

      Yet the Dhamma takes Reality into account. It is in fact an account of Reality. People kill, even other humans. People steal, lie etc. So the Precepts address that which is real. Any kind of evil will always be around, as long as humans are around. That is, for ever. But Nature or Existence wastes nothing: it works even with the evil of humans to sustain them, bringing about kamma vipaka to those animals and paying back debts to the consumers in the process. And there must be other factors as well, of which I am altogether ignorant.

    • #31461

      Issues like this can be easily resolved by looking at what kind of actions will bring “bad consequences” in terms of kamma vipāka.

      The following are the dasa akusala or the ten immoral deeds:

      Bodily actions: killing, stealing, sexual misconduct
      Speech: lying, slandering, harsh words, frivolous talk
      Thoughts: greed, anger/hate, wrong views

      As we can see meat-eating does not fall into any of them.

      When you buy meat at the supermarket, that animal had been killed by someone else. That person had already done the “bad kamma.”
      – The Buddha did not prohibit meat-eating (even for bhikkhus) because of that.

      However, this is not an endorsement for eating meat.

      By the way, a very potent bad kamma is to have wrong views. These include not believing in the laws of kamma, rebirth, etc.

      P.S. This is not the correct forum for this question. The ‘General Forum” would have been better. Please pay attention to select the correct forum to post a question/comment.

    • #31466

      Not Food But Evil Actions That Matter

      1. A Brahmin, by name Amagandha, was an ascetic who lived in the region of Himalayas with his pupils.
      2. They ate neither fish nor flesh. Every year they came down from their hermitage in search of salt and acids. The inhabitants of the village received them with honour, and gave them hospitality for four months.
      3. Then the Blessed Lord with his monks visited the same village. The people, on hearing the Lord preach his Dhamma, became his followers.
      4. That year even Amagandha and his disciples as usual went to the villagers, but the villagers did not show the same enthusiasm.
      5. Amagandha was disappointed to hear that the Lord did not forbid eating fish and flesh. Wishing to have the matter confirmed, he went to Jeta Vana at Shravasti, where the Blessed Lord was then staying, and said:
      6. “Millet, cingula-beans and peas, edible leaves and roots, the fruit of any creeper; the righteous who eat these, obtained justly, do not tell lies for the sake of pleasures.
      7. “Thou eatest whatever food is given by others, which is well prepared, nicely got up, pure, and excellent. He who enjoys such food made of rice, he eats ‘Amagandha’. You say that the charge of Amagandha, does not apply to me, while eating rice with well prepared bird’s flesh.
      8. “I inquire the meaning of this from you, of what kind is your Amagandha?”
      9. The Lord replied: “Taking life, beating, cutting, binding, stealing, lying, fraud, deceiving, worthless knowledge, adultery–this is Amagandha, and not the eating of flesh.
      10. “In this world those individuals who are unrestrained in sensual pleasures, who are greedy for sweet things, who are associated with impure actions, who are of Nihilistic views, crooked, difficult to follow–this is Amagandha, and not the eating of flesh.
      11. “In this world those who are rude, harsh, backbiting, treacherous, unkind, excessively egoistic, ungenerous, and do not give anything to anybody–this is Amagandha, and not the eating of flesh.
      12. “Anger, pride, obstinacy, antagonism, deceit, envy, boasting, excessive egoism, association with the unrighteous–this is Amagandha, and not eating of flesh.
      13. “Those who are of bad morals, refuse to pay their debt, slanderers, deceitful in their dealings, pretenders, those who in this world being the vilest of men, commit such wrongdoings–this is Amagandha, and not the eating of flesh.
      14. “Those persons who, in this world, are uncontrolled towards living beings, who are bent on injuring others, having taken their belongings; immoral, cruel, harsh, disrespectful–this is Amagandha, and not the eating of flesh.
      15. “Those who attack these living beings either because of greed or of hostility, and always bent upon (evil), they go to darkness after death and fall into hell headlong–this is Amagandha, and not the eating of flesh.
      16. “Abstaining from fish or flesh, nakedness, shaving of the head, matted hair, covering with ashes, wearing rough deer skins, attending the sacrificial fire–nor all these various penances in the world (performed) for immortality, neither incantations, oblations, sacrifices nor seasonal observances, purifies a person who has not overcome his doubt.
      17. “He who lives with his senses guarded and conquered, and is established in the Dhamma, delights in uprightness and gentleness, who has gone beyond attachments and has overcome all sorrows–that wise man does not cling to what is seen and heard.
      18. “It is evil actions which constitute Amagandha, and not the eating of fish or flesh.”

    • #31484

      Appreciate the time taken by everyone for helping me to build up the correct view.

      // Hey, Lal sorry for posting the question here, for me it doesn’t show any text box in the general forum to type the question. I have another question.

    • #31530

      “Not Food But Evil Actions That Matter”

      With regards to the title, can we agree that the taking of life (for any purpose, but in particular for the purpose of the enjoyment of the taste of flesh) is an evil action? Meditators know that giving in to cravings multiplies kilesas. Giving in to the craving for flesh is no different. Killing (or paying others to kill) to obtain that flesh compounds the bad karma.

      Eating of meat itself, is ok, but how is one going to acquire that meat without killing, without condoning killing, without supporting/paying for killing?

      If someone found a fish that was dead on the beach and chose to eat it, that would be an acceptable action according to the criteria given in the Amagandha Sutra, as it did not involve killing, binding, cutting, stealing, torturing etc…. However if an animal is killed so that it’s flesh is made available for consumption, for the pleasure of taste, that is not acceptable, to the animal at the very least, and neither according to the criteria given in the Amagandha Sutra.

      In terms of the monks and alms, I understand the Buddha did not forbid eating meat because to do so would impose extra burden on alms-givers, cause the creation of bad karma amongst alms-givers and monks who break the rules and a monk should cultivate the mental attitude of accepting whatever comes into the alms bowl as part of the practice.

      There is great merit in giving alms to the Sangha, and imposing such rules on forbidding meat could cause the loss of such great merit to alms-givers. The Buddha could have weighed the harm in losing such great merit for alms-givers, against the harm done to animals in being killed for meat and evaluated the latter harm to be the lesser of the two. This does not lessen the culpability in having animals killed for meat.

      If one looks at the criteria given for acceptable behaviour (killing, hurting, harming other beings…) it is clear that meat procured through the industry we have today violates the criteria of “acceptable”, given in the Amagandha Sutra and in the overall spirit of Buddhism: Benefit sentient beings, do not harm sentient beings, purify the mind.

    • #31532

      Welcome to the forum, Chah!

      You wrote, “With regards to the title, can we agree that the taking of life (for any purpose, but in particular for the purpose of the enjoyment of the taste of flesh) is an evil action?”

      Yes. No one said otherwise. Taking a life is an evil action.
      – But someone buying meat at the supermarket is not taking a life. That animal was killed by someone else days ago.

      Now, there are some minor related issues. Those could become major issues depending on the “spiritual level” of the person.
      – Some people say that if people stop eating meat, that animal would not have been killed.
      – That is true, but that is why I said my statement is not to condone eating meat.
      – Some people (especially meditators) do not eat meat due to that way of thinking, and that is great.

      But as you pointed out, the Buddha did not want to “make a rule out of it” even for the bhikkhus. But bhikkhus are not supposed to accept a meal if an animal was killed for just that meal (i.e., if a chicken was killed for the meal, for example).

      The main point is that most of our actions involve hurting other living beings in some way. It is virtually impossible to live without doing harm to other living beings.
      – Even when we walk, we inadvertently kill so many small creatures.
      – The water we drink has so many microscopic creatures.
      – When we clean the house, we inadvertently kill many living beings.
      – Furthermore, if we push your argument a bit more, eating rice or any other food would be bad too. How many animals are killed by farmers when they grow any kind of food? An uncountable number of living-beings are killed when a farmer prepares the soil for planting, and even when harvesting the crop.

      It is a good idea to examine the relative strengths of such inadvertent actions versus some other actions we may not think about.
      – The “level of existence” or the “level of consciousness” plays a large role in the strength of a kamma. A human life is much more valuable than animal life. Even among humans, hurting one will magga phala would have much larger consequences. For example, killing an Arahant is an anantariya kamma, a much more potent kamma than killing an average human.
      – Even verbally hurting another HUMAN is much worse than deliberately killing many small animals.
      – Some of these discussed in, “How to Evaluate Weights of Different Kamma

      This and related issues were discussed at the forum several times in the past. The following is one: “Abstaining from damaging plants and seeds

    • #31545

      Hello Lal, thank you for your welcome and your reply. If I may respond:
      > But someone buying meat at the supermarket is not taking a life. That animal was killed by someone else days ago.

      True, however to put it in a familiar phrase, and as you allude to a little later, when the buying stops, the killing stops too. Paying someone else to kill on one’s behalf does not absolve one of the karmic repercussions, although I believe they would not be as bad as the one who did the actual killing. I understand your point about the different levels of karmic repercussions, eg: hurting an Arahant is worse than killing an animal. However, killing an animal is worse than not killing an animal.

      To address your point that by living we inadvertently hurt other beings, for example by driving, by walking in the garden, by boiling water. My understanding with regards to the taking of life, is that one should not take the life of a being that does not want to die, or equivalently, of a being that would suffer through the process of being killed. Obviously the animals killed for meat suffer during the process of their slaughter. However it is questionable whether the micro-organisms in water suffer when we boil the water. Bacteria lack the physiology of a nervous system to feel pain in the way more complex organisms do. Their behaviour also indicates that they do not try to avoid death the same way that mammals do, relying instead on their enormous numbers and average that some will always survive to propagate themselves. These points indicate that bacteria may not suffer in the same way that mammals do.

      I have heard it argued that the precept against killing applies to beings with a central nervous system capable of suffering in a way that we would relate with, having a central nervous system ourselves. I think that is a good criteria to use and thus I myself do not count the bacteria in water being boiled as breaking of the first precept.

      The above argument notwithstanding, your point that just by living we harm other beings is still true. However I believe we should take the approach of minimizing the number of beings killed. Refraining from supporting meat production, in the way meat is produced today does minimize this suffering.

      >An uncountable number of living-beings are killed when a farmer prepares the soil for planting, and even when harvesting the crop.
      The counter to this is that however many die when a farmer grows and harvests a crop, orders of magnitude more die when that crop is fed to animals who are then fed to humans, instead of feeding the crop directly to humans. This is because we must spend so much more resources to breed the animals to the point where they can reproduce and be ready for slaughter.

      I would also like to draw attention to the point that although many animals do die inadvertently as we walk through the garden, drive to work, or even through the production of vegetables we consume, the death of animals raised for food is not inadvertent. Their deaths cannot be counted as inadvertent deaths, but as deliberate systematic mass-produced slaughter with a volition of greed for both money and the craving for flesh being the motivation behind it. I apologize if the words I use in the previous sentence sound rather harsh to meat-eaters. Nevertheless they are true.

    • #31548

      I don’t disagree with many things you stated, Chah.

      Different people become passionate about different issues. I can understand your passion for animal lives.
      – But we all are forced to engage in unfruitful or undesirable actions at various levels. That is what I was trying to say. If one gets to the level of abstaining eating meat, one needs to be abstaining from all four types of wrong speech, because that affects other humans and thus would incur much more strong kamma. You could be at that level. I do not know. But I know most people are not.
      – Only an Arahant is completely free of dasa akusala.
      – There is absolutely nothing wrong with abstaining from eating meat. In fact, that should be commended.
      – If we can scrutinize all our actions to that level, that will definitely speed up the process of attaining Nibbana.

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